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Or, how the telecom world mistook this brilliant young African American woman for me -- a middle aged male white guy with a beard.
A most fascinating story of implicit bias which, I have to confess, is somewhat personally flattering. For those who don't want to click through and watch the 8 minute video (you should), here's the story. J.J. Ghatt  is a talented lawyer (and numerous other talents) who used to do telecom policy (but has since moved on to other things). 5 years back, she was dong a telecom blog with a picture of herself up on top wearing professional lawyer costume and a website that was all business brand professional lawyer. Studying her analytics, she saw that she got a lot of incoming from important places -- FCC, NTIA, Hill staff -- but that people left fairly quickly and didn't stay particularly engaged.
Ghatt decided to try an experiment. She created a plain, anonymous, Wordpress blog called "Broadband Lawyer," on which she placed parallel content written in the same style. Now she started getting engagements. She was getting comments. She had a whole community form around this blog.
She also got a bunch of emails from readers trying to identify her. In the video she says that nearly all of them thought she was a "white middle aged guy." I only know it was me most people guessed because JJ tagged me on Facebook. As you will see when you click through, and if you then look at my staff picture on the Public Knowledge website, you will no doubt understand the confusion. I mean, separated at birth, right?
I end up having decidedly mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, it is disheartening that this brilliant woman of color was not regarded as sufficiently worth reading when everyone knew the blog was being written by a woman of color. It is also disheartening that everyone assumed that the same material on an anonymous blog *had* to be written by a middle aged white guy, because only middle aged white guys can sound that brilliant and authoritative and witty. 
But on the other hand, I'd be lying if I pretended I wasn't flattered that when so many people saw a new anonymous broadband policy blog they loved, they assumed it had to be me. 
To paraphrase Spock from "Friday's Child:" I intend to be insufferably pleased with myself for at least a month. 
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 I had an unusual experience on Twitter. When I initially read this article in Tema Smith "Are Jews White, American History Says It's Complicated," I was annoyed. But after an exchange with the author, I understood her actual point. Not only did I actually agree with her, but now that I understood the article it got me something about the issues in new ways. She, in turn, thanked me for pushing her in a way that prompted her to clarify her language to make her point more clear.

I unpack below . . .

Read more... )
To conclude, I have now come to the view that there is a clear distinction between "passing" in the African American sense of the word and the life experience enjoyed by Jews who are not outwardly distinctively Jewish. I am also extremely indebted to Tema Smith for being willing to engage with me in a meaningful and thoughtful way. For all the very real problems with social media these days, we should remember that it is also a tool for good an can be life enhancing when not ruined by trolls. 

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An excellent 5 minute piece by NBC on the digital divide, why 5G is not the answer, and how coops is one possible answer.
https://www.nbcnews.com/video/will-5g-end-up-leaving-some-people-behind-1397372995714 ;
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 Expands money for broadband grants, but limits availability to areas that are "unserved." That means fewer than 10% have access to broadband, defined as 10/1. No reference to affordability or price. Loans, however, are still eligible even if they don't meet the 10% or less criteria.

Analysis here

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 In this latest blog post, I discuss what you as a consumer need to know about selecting a "5G" or "Wi-Fi 6" device. The short version is that you should get Wi-Fi 6 is you're upgrading but not upgrade just to get Wi-Fi 6. Like every other 802.11 protocol upgrade, the rest of the industry will incorporate this upgrade into their equipment on rolling basis going forward. By contrast, unless you are an early adopter who likes having an attack filled with things like HD DVDs and WiMax enabled equipment, you may want to wait a few years for things to shake out in 5G land.
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 Spun this off from a debate in a subthread of one of my FB posts. It's long enough that it is worth posting here, but too controversial to give broad exposure on FB.


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Verge article  about how Amazon sellers manipulate Amazon's harsh rules against each other.
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NYT Story https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/18/technology/facebook-privacy.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage

FB Response  https://newsroom.fb.com/news/2018/12/facebooks-partners/
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 It's Time For a Bill of Data Rights . https://www.technologyreview.com/s/612588/its-time-for-a-bill-of-data-rights/

As someone who has championed a "property" concept, I will say that it requires a more nuanced idea of property. The original use of the term by Brandies in his seminal article "the right of privacy" calls back to the Lochian concept of property as meaning more than real property or chattel but all rights in which the individual has a continuing and ongoing relationship. (Think "property" as used in this sentence: "One property of elements classified as "metals" is conductivity.")
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Fascinating. Comprehensive efforts to reenforce racial and ethnic identity via conflict. The point of the campaign is to reenforce division and, when targeted to African Americans, increase alienation.
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Judge orders convicted deer poacher to watch Bambi repeatedly while serving jail time. 
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This op ed does the best job I've seen so far of explaining why Zuckerberg's statement that FB does not "sell" user data is perhaps true in a hyper-technical sense, but wrong in just about every normal human sense. Good explanation of how FB's vast information collection and targeted advertising actually work.
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 There is a common saying: "Politics is the art f the possible." I have a saying: "Advocacy is about making the impossible, possible." This rather important distinction between politics and advocacy is illustrated by this news clip from Politico's Morning Tech. Discussing a new privacy bill drafted by Senator Schatz and joined by a dozen Democrats, Schatz discussed the rather thorny question of preempting state privacy laws -- notably the California privacy law that passed this summer.

The elephant in the room: Schatz said any federal privacy legislation that pre-empts state law must be sufficiently robust or it won't pass the Senate: "I just think we're in a relatively strong bargaining position because they need something to happen federally, because otherwise something goes into place that they fear very much," he said. That's a reference to the industry's desire to pass a bill that would pre-empt California's privacy law, set to take effect in 2020. Schatz also acknowledged that while his bill lays down "broad principles," it doesn't cover everything that would be needed in comprehensive privacy legislation.  (emphasis added)

The first reaction, of course, is why this is about negotiating with industry at all. When last I watched School House Rock, there was no stage in which you had to get sign off by the industry being regulated to get legislation passed. But Schatz is being honest about the "art of the possible." And to be clear, Schatz is one of the good guys. he is trying to get good legislation passed. And since there are members (in both parties) who will act to protect the interest of the industry, getting "industry to the table" and trading off strong state protections for adequate federal protection is what the art of the possible requires. Without that industry sign off, getting decent privacy protections for everyone is impossible.

As an advocate, however, I believe that sucks. So my job is to create a political environment where that impossible thing becomes possible. Part of that is explaining to voters, so that y'all equally decide that it sucks and tell your members of Congress (and state level reps) that as a voter you want strong privacy protection. That is, after all, how the "impossible" privacy legislation got through the California legislature. There are other strategies I (and other advocates) use to make the impossible not merely possible, but required. I will not go into them here. 

But my point is that for democracy to reach good results it requires an active an engaged citizenry. It requires trained and professional advocates who can counter the industry lobbying presence and who understand the strategy. And yes, sometimes it means getting less than a good result -- at least for the moment. (Industry never has a problem coming back latter -- why do public interest groups think that what we get this time around is all we'll ever get. Think like incumbents!) But it is a different job from the actual policy makers. That is how our "adversarial" system of law and government works. It's why politics is the art of the possible, and why advocacy is so critically important to getting real change.
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Some came here. some built their own communities. Fascinating interview with the author of a fascinating paper.
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I recently posted my advice to men on mentoring women. I just got a note from a former mentee. She is now a member of her state legislature. She wanted to let me know that she did not think she would have had the courage or skills to run if she had not learned what she had learned from me.

This is extremely nice for many reasons. One, of course, is that I am enormously proud of her. But the other is that it is always difficult to evaluate oneself. I think, based on feedback, that I do a good job mentoring. But it is things like this that confirm that I'm not kidding myself. Always nice to know.
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The American Community Survey is an important part of what the US census does. This survey tracked patterns of broadband Internet adoption (which was defined as anything faster than dial up). The results show that poor urban core neighborhoods have similar low levels of adoption as most rural communities.

ACS blog post: https://www.census.gov/library/stories/2018/12/rural-and-lower-income-counties-lag-nation-internet-subscription.html?eml=gd&utm_campaign=20181206msacos2ccstors&utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery

Overall ACS report: https://www.census.gov/newsroom/press-releases/2018/2013-2017-acs-5year.html ;
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A big part of my job these days is mentoring/training younger attorneys. I ran across an article from the Wall St J that some men in the financial sector are reacting to the recent heightened awareness and consequences of sexual harassment by simply cutting out mentoring activities with women. This, in turn, prompted someone to ask me what advice I would give to these men to cal them down and provide them with guidance on how to behave in a way they won't "get in trouble."

Yes, this assumes that men are genuinely worried about this and it isn't some form of coordinated patriarchal punishment or injured privilege. As someone who actually talks to men and has a tendency generally to try to understand people I'm talking to, I would say there is a mix. Sure, you have your sulking babies who are like "well fine, if I can't just be me then I won't even socialize with women at work, so there! That will show them. I bet they're sorry now." But you also have lots of men who have absorbed all the popular culture about how some women (not all women, but some women) will manipulate the system to their advantage, or mistake something innocent for something else. Many humans list interacting with other humans as their biggest source of anxiety. It's why public speaking is such a big fear. So combine the fact that the apparent risk is huge and the culture (and your personal workplace) sends all kinds of contradictory and confusing messages and, yes, there are men out there who are genuinely anxious about screwing up and will follow advice that is being ladled out as to how to be "safe." Shouting at people who are anxious and confused to stop being anxious and confused because they should just  know how to behave properly unless they are intrinsically bad people who can't figure out how not to be sexist assholes is hardly reassuring.

As it happens, I have a huge advantage. I have had several good women mentors over the years. So I knew when I reached the level where I was actually mentoring other people that cross-gender mentorships are not merely possible, but can be quite positive. In any event, here is my advice.

1. Establish the same pattern for all your mentees, no matter gender. If you are regularly having lunch with all your male mentees, then no one will think twice about doing the same thing for female mentees. If anyone does imply you are doing something inappropriate, either you or the mentee can simply point out that this is how your mentorship works.

2. By the same token, always keep your talk professional and appropriate for the workplace regardless of gender. Do not have "guy talk" with your male mentees any more than you would with your female mentees. For one thing, they may be equally uncomfortable with "locker room talk." Even if your male mentees are not uncomfortable with it, such language is horribly inappropriate and sets a bad example. 

3. Part of being a good mentor is taking an interest in your mentee's personal life. But that does not mean anything creepy. Feel free to talk about things like holiday plans, inquiries as to family heath, and respond in kind to similar inquiries. But understand the limits. Don't ask about someone's dating or personal details. Also, if someone signals that their family is an uncomfortable subject, take the clue. 

4. Have confidence that your mentee is actually looking to have a good mentorship experience. If you are a good mentor, then your mentees are not going to hatch elaborate revenge plots. Indeed, given the importance of lifetime networking, any mentee will want to maintain a positive relationship. Be empowering and supporting.

5. Do avoid things that can make people uncomfortable, such as hotel rooms (unless you have an office suite and have set up as an office there). When traveling, I am quite happy to meet with mentees over breakfast or in the lobby of a hotel. I do not ask them to meet me in my room. Nor do I ask for their room number. We all have cell phones these days.

6. Finally, a good mentor/mentee relationship involves friendship and trust. Do you have friends who are women? Good. Then you can mentor women. If you are one of those benighted idiots who thinks that men and women cannot be friends because invariably sex must come between them, please don't mentor anyone -- male or female. Srsly. You are a lawsuit waiting to happen. Unlearn the idea that the only possible relationship between a man and a woman is sexual (or maternalfamilial). Then we can talk. 
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In my latest Wetmachine blog post I discuss how the recent decision by Tumlr to ban adult content illustrates one of the less appreciated aspects of consolidation, the loss of open spaces for controversial creative content.
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