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Tuesday News: Pinkmeth lawsuit, Nadine Gordimer dies, Worldreader brings Kindles to Ghana, and fascinating article on Virginia Woolf and privacy of self

Tuesday News: Pinkmeth lawsuit, Nadine Gordimer dies, Worldreader brings Kindles to...

Tor Project sued for $1 million in revenge porn case – Pinkmeth, a particularly horrible revenge porn site is being sued, and for a while, TOR was being sued right along with it. Although the action against TOR was quickly dropped,I wanted to start at the beginning of this drama, in part because it’s instructive of how difficult it is to negotiate the relationships between a site like Pinkmeth and a service like TOR. Techdirt has a lengthy analysis of why they think this is a completely baseless suit, and while I agree this is a CDA Section 230 (safe harbor) issue, I think this post at Naked Security on how the suit is now only directed at Pinkmeth is actually a more thoughtful analysis (and The Verge post is pretty good, as well). The lawsuit is aimed at completely eliminating Pink Meth’s entire Internet presence:

“A failure by this court to enter an all-encompassing order designed specifically to cripple PinkMeth will accomplish nothing other than to require the Plantiff to file a new lawsuit once PinkMeth finds a new company willing to host their illegal activities.” –Daily Dot

Nadine Gordimer, Novelist Who Took On Apartheid, Is Dead at 90 – Nadine Gordimer, whose novels about South Africa won her the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1991, died in Johannesburg on Sunday at 90. Despite claiming that she was not intrinsically a political writer, her books were intensely political, as was her own life in South Africa during Apartheid, where a number of her books were banned. Despite criticism from almost every faction in South Africa, Gordimer continued to write, and her books wove the country’s political history with the author’s own personal history in interesting ways.

When the Nobel committee awarded Ms. Gordimer the literature prize in 1991, it took note of her political activism but observed, “She does not permit this to encroach on her writings.”

That sentiment was one she said she clung to throughout her career. In 1975, she wrote in the introduction to her “Selected Stories”: “The tension between standing apart and being fully involved; that is what makes a writer. That is where we begin.”

In later interviews, she said that no one could live in a society like South Africa’s and stay isolated from politics. Looking back, she told an interviewer in 1994, “The fact that my books were perceived as being so political was because I lived my life in this society that was so much changed by conflict, by political conflict, which of course in practical terms is human conflict.” –New York Times

Ebooks for all: Building digital libraries in Ghana with Worldreader – Purely by coincidence, I had this story on a digital literacy project in Ghana (in West Africa, more than 3,000 miles from South Africa) teed up for today. Although not focused on the same issues that occupied Gordimer’s fiction, it’s an interesting narrative about (largely white and male) USians equipping Africans with technology aimed at increasing literary rates. Lots of complicated politics, racial and otherwise.

Of course, Kindles and Christianity are different beasts. But the fundamental posturing can feel eerily close. Those of us who work in technology tend to take religious-like stances over its ability to change the world, always for the better. My trickster-paranoia comes from an inherent suspicion towards technology, and an even deeper suspicion of presuming to know better. It’s too easy to fall into the first-world trope of “all the poor need is a little sprinkling of silicon and then everything will be fine.” It’s never that simple. Technology is, at best, the tip of the iceberg. A very tiny component of the work that needs to be done in the greater whole of reforming or impacting or increasing accessibility to education, first-world and third-world alike. Technology deployed without infrastructure, without understanding, without administrative or community support, without proper curriculum is nearly worthless. Worse than worthless, even?—?for it can be destructive, the time and budget spent on the technology eating into more fundamental, more meaningful points of badly needed reform. –Medium

VIRGINIA WOOLF’S IDEA OF PRIVACY – A very, very compelling article on what Joshua Rothman characterizes as “inner privacy,” which is aligned with a sense of inner self that is connected partly to the structures of Modernist prose, but also to an idea that interiority is most acutely recognized when it’s being defended against being seen or accessed without permission. The piece is pretty sprawling in its analysis and very difficult to summarize, so I’ll just suggest that you read it in full.

Woolf’s abstract, inner sense of privacy bears the stamp, of course, of a very particular time and place (not to mention Woolf’s very particular biography—she had an unusually rich hidden life). It’s indebted to feminism, and to the realization that men, but not women, have long been granted a right to solitude. It also flows from the particularly modernist idea that there is a coherent, hidden, inner self from which art springs. Today, we may be more likely to see art as a collaborative process—the product of a scene, rather than a person. We are also, I suspect, especially aware of how much we rely upon on social networks to help us know ourselves. In recent years, philosophers have argued that other people may know us better than we do.

To me, though, Woolf’s sense of privacy still feels relevant; when I keep it in mind, I see it everywhere. Adelle Waldman’s novel “The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P.” is, among many other things, a gender-reversed retelling of the love story at the center of “Mrs. Dalloway”: like Clarissa, Nate chooses the lover who can’t know him over the lover who’s determined to. (He does this, in part, so that he can continue to surprise himself—that is, continue to create.) Meanwhile, on Tumblr and Facebook, we seek out the same private sociality that Woolf described. Usually, we think of social media as a forum for exhibitionism. But, inevitably, the extroverted cataloguing of everyday minutiae—meals, workouts, thoughts about politics, books, and music—reaches its own limits; it ends up emphasizing what can’t be shared. Talking so freely about your life helps you to know the weight of those feelings which are too vague, or too spiritual, to express—left unspoken and unexplored, they throw your own private existence into relief. “Sharing” is, in fact, the opposite of what we do: like one of Woolf’s hostesses, we rehearse a limited openness so that we can feel the solidity of our own private selves. –The New Yorker

Monday News: Router company threatens a reviewer; credit card technology changing; the Amazon-Hachette spat; and ornamental alphabets

Monday News: Router company threatens a reviewer; credit card technology changing;...

How Does A Negative Amazon Review Result In Threats Of A Lawsuit? – This is a fascinating, frightening story of how an Amazon review of an wireless router earned the reviewer a threatened lawsuit and the router company a ban on selling its products on Amazon.

I highly recommend reading the story for all of the details, but in short when this guy was searching for a router he came across Mediabridge routers, which were incredibly well reviewed — except that he could not find any reviews outside Amazon. Furthermore, there were some assertions about the similarity of the router to another, less expensive router. When the guy posted these things on Amazon, Mediabridge took offense and sent him a cease and desist letter, insisting he remove the review or else face suit. What’s interesting is that when Amazon got wind of this situation, they revoked Mediabridge’s right to sell its products on the site. There is a link in the story to Mediabridge’s explanation, posted on Facebook, along with the information that Amazon has suspended their seller rights.

The letter T. received zeroed in on two of his assertions: that the product was identical to another product, and that it was “very likely” that Medialink was paying for reviews. The company, via its lawyer, not only demanded that T. immediately delete his review, but also told him that to avoid a lawsuit, he would need to “agree to never purchase any Mediabridge or Medialink product” and also agree “to never publicly comment in any online forum, directly or indirectly through others,” about the company’s products.

In other words, the letter basically says “if you don’t stop saying mean things about us forever, we will sue you.” –The Consumerist

United States credit card system begins complete overhaul in the next 18 months – The massive security breach Target suffered earlier in the year has resulted in a more efficient timeline away from traditional credit card technologies (the magnetic strip) to a pin and chip combination, which, among other things, may lead to more significant use of the so-called “mobile wallet,” namely apps that allow you to use your cell phone to transmit credit card information to POS stations. The process should be underway in the next year and a half.

According to research firm Javelin, the upgrade could take about three years, with international and premium cards getting the switch to the new system. For the record, there are already several cards with chip technology available to Americans, from American Express and JPMorgan Chase among other institutions. –Engadget

Here’s Why People Shouldn’t Freak Out About The Amazon-Hachette Fight – If you’ve read the rather hysterical piece in the New York Times on the Hachette-Amazon conflict (Amazon is delaying shipment of Hachette books), I hope you read this piece in Forbes that both reveals the biases in the Times’ piece (e.g. the Times seems to think it’s all about authors being victimized) and challenges the pearl-clutching panic. The way the Times reacted says a lot, though, and not much of it is professionally complimentary.

But the point is that a hardball fight between a retailer and a supplier is the oldest news in the world, that Hachette, a global multibillion dollar conglomerate, is hardly a helpless flower, and that this is how our economy functions. –Forbes

11 Beautiful Alphabets from Ancient and Medieval Times – To quote Monty Python, ‘and now for something completely different.’ And just plain lovely. It’s amazing just how modern some of these renderings appear, as well. –Mental Floss