In the United States, privacy is over…

This post is more in line with my research interests but it deserves the front page.   Watch this story to learn about the end of privacy which began in 1984 (no kidding) with a 9th circuit ruling updated to include  GPS surveillance.  Both privacy and property rights are at issue.  First, the property issue: the case in question involves police entering private property to put a GPS device on a person’s vehicle without a warrant.  Second, the issue of privacy is at stake with GPS tracking absent the justification to obtain  a warrant to conduct surveillance.  The ruling promotes a dual notion of the 4th Amendment right to privacy: the practical result  is that 4th Amendment privacy protections only include persons who can afford to secure their property from public access.

Learn how all transactional activities (e.g., cell calls, text messages, emails, Easy Pass, web activity, etc.) are one subpoena or peak away from the government


Open Access Publishing in Philosophy

For the last five years as a recent post-doc, I have consistently encountered a stark choice with regards to journal submissions. The accepted process requires that I send articles to prestigious first tier, peer-reviewed journals that will likely take 12-18 months to recognize the submission, and if I am very fortunate, request R & R (another 12-24 months). Then, if fortune still prevails, the article may be published within another 12-24 months. At a minimum turnaround schedule this requires 3-5 years between submission and publication, a seemingly unacceptable delay. During that time, for proprietary reasons, the work may not be presented or published elsewhere.
computer in chains

The alternative is to reject the accepted process and submit to open access journals with solid peer review processes. This path is fraught with danger insofar as hiring and tenure decisions in most philosophy departments require one to choose the traditional path as a precondition for consideration. Thus, it may seem reckless, but I am committed to the later open access path for the following reasons.

First, my research discusses technological changes in communication strategies and the effects on lived experience.  I am working on a phenomenology of being-in-the-web that considers the simultaneity of being both digital and physical in multiple modalities.  The pace of technological change demands that my research be both directed and dynamic, able to incorporate new modalities of being as they arise in lived experience.  The 3-5 year window required for traditional publishing cycles would cause insights on emerging technologies to appear dated at the time of publication.  A more nimble publication process in online journals or alternate publication streams provide the only answer for this problem.

Second, the pace of change and resultant styles of journal publication are changing rapidly in the direction of open access and increased efficiency in other academic disciplines.  These changes benefit scholars and those who might be interested in their research in myriad ways.  For a detailed argument in this direction see the following Hackthestate blog entry. It seems odd that philosophy, usually a pioneer in new ideas, is staunchly reluctant to consider open access publishing a legitimate resource for evaluating the quality of scholarly work.

Third, this new younger generation of scholars will be willing to pay their dues for only so long before abandoning traditional organizational structures.  Younger scholars are increasingly frustrated and horrified to learn that philosophy alone remains committed to antiquated procedures for journal submission/publication.  Discussions amongst younger scholars often focus on ways to change or subvert the current commercial models. This is a generation that grew up on the Internet, regularly abandoning dated domains for new territories.   We move on to new social networking sites or adopt cool tools for our iPhones shortly after launch.  The choice to abandon commercial for open access models will definitely happen in philosophy as it already has in many other academic disciplines.   The sciences are far ahead with tools such as and at Cornell University  . Libraries are going open access at an increasing rate and it will not be long before scholars begin to follow.

Last,  young scholars also reflect the values of the millenial, web-literate generation. We want to use new collaborative tools for research/publication that allow for quick peer commenting, feedback and review.  From this generation’s point of view waiting more than 24 hours for an email reply is a delay. Waiting 24 months for acknowledgment and comments on a journal article submission is untenable.  Young scholars in philosophy, like their peers in other humanities disciplines, want their work to be available to a wider audience for comment and critique.  Greater readership encourages rich dialogues that transcend traditional disciplinary boundaries and also expose ideas to the public much earlier than otherwise possible.

There are a number of excellent arguments and resources circulating in our field that successfully refute the idea that only first tier peer reviewed journals are legitimate places to publish.

In my humble opinion, the time for both open access and open publishing is now.  What do you think?

Microsoft’s Project Natal at E3 – Gestural Computing Again!

Microsoft’s research lab impressed the technorati with its E3 Xbox reveal of Project Natal & Milo. It debuted earlier today and presents so many interesting possibilities for a wide variety of applications that it is hard to know where to begin.

Since education seems a fruitful crossover application, imagine for a moment a perfectly programmed 4th grade math teacher with an AI engine that learns student weaknesses and can teach/tutor individuals privately based on perceived needs resulting from student/teacher interactions. The video makes a point of noting that the human interlocutor experiences immersion and steps into the simulated technological reality via the attached camera. From a phenomenological standpoint, this is a huge extension of the experience Heidegger termed being-in-the-world.

Entertainment Weekly’s John Young makes the following claim: “With inventions such as Natal, we’re quickly approaching a future in which humans can partake in a virtual experience that’s nearly indistinguishable from the real thing.” Though the Milo application is impressive, it cannot actually be confused or equivocated with the real. In brief, it lacks a textural element and the interaction does not seem spontaneous insofar as developers will constrain and control the possible sets of interactions.

Please do not misread my view. Gestural computing is a huge step in making the user experience more natural and less technological. To their credit Microsoft seems to have done a nice job of building in rich immersion for human/computer interaction. Nevertheless, we cannot discuss just any topic with Milo or ask him for random information. The possibilities are scripted in Milo’s database. His parameters are always defined and we cannot share spontaneous information that he does not already “understand” as a result of great AI programming. Milo is a very sweet, technologically impressive programmed boy, not at all easily confused with a real 10 year old.

See this impressive, but limited simulation for yourself: