Tag Archives: wired

Steve Jobs, adorably wrong, 14 years ago

Great time capsule from longform.org, a 1996 Wired interview with Steve Jobs, in which he makes a laughably wrong prediction on the impact of the web and an existential lament, long before his cancer diagnosis:

The Web is going to be very important. Is it going to be a life-changing event for millions of people? No. I mean, maybe. But it’s not an assured Yes at this point. And it’ll probably creep up on people.

It’s certainly not going to be like the first time somebody saw a television. It’s certainly not going to be as profound as when someone in Nebraska first heard a radio broadcast. It’s not going to be that profound.

We live in an information economy, but I don’t believe we live in an information society. People are thinking less than they used to. It’s primarily because of television. People are reading less and they’re certainly thinking less. So, I don’t see most people using the Web to get more information. We’re already in information overload. No matter how much information the Web can dish out, most people get far more information than they can assimilate anyway.

And here, maybe one of the more profound, humble statements from a CEO I’ve read. Puts those keynote addresses in which Jobs hops around the stage with a new gadget in a new light:

The problem is I’m older now, I’m 40 years old, and this stuff doesn’t change the world. It really doesn’t…I’m sorry, it’s true. Having children really changes your view on these things. We’re born, we live for a brief instant, and we die. It’s been happening for a long time. Technology is not changing it much – if at all.

These technologies can make life easier, can let us touch people we might not otherwise. You may have a child with a birth defect and be able to get in touch with other parents and support groups, get medical information, the latest experimental drugs. These things can profoundly influence life. I’m not downplaying that. But it’s a disservice to constantly put things in this radical new light – that it’s going to change everything. Things don’t have to change the world to be important.

Lady Gaga Beats DoD: re Bradley Manning, the Alleged Wikileaks/Collateral-Murder Leaker

Wired’s Threat Level blog blows open the door on the Wikileaks/Collateral Murder mystery by naming a suspect: SPC Bradley Manning, 22, of Potomac, Md., who apparently had top-secret access and was arrested two weeks ago:

Manning was turned in late last month by a former computer hacker with whom he spoke online. In the course of their chats, Manning took credit for leaking a headline-making video of a helicopter attack that Wikileaks posted online in April. The video showed a deadly 2007 U.S. helicopter air strike in Baghdad that claimed the lives of several innocent civilians.

He said he also leaked three other items to Wikileaks: a separate video showing the notorious 2009 Garani air strike in Afghanistan that Wikileaks has previously acknowledged is in its possession; a classified Army document evaluating Wikileaks as a security threat, which the site posted in March; and a previously unreported breach consisting of 260,000 classified U.S. diplomatic cables that Manning described as exposing “almost criminal political back dealings.”

Wired.com could not confirm whether Wikileaks received the supposed 260,000 classified embassy dispatches.

OK, if the charges are true, then this is the most alarming part of the story. Someone, who at the time of the alleged crime was barely old enough to legally drink, was able to copy volumes of top secret files because the military has an IT policy weaker than your Starbucks’ does. The famed air-gap – having servers completely disconnected from the Internet – was overcome by a kid who copied files onto a CD labeled “something like ‘Lady Gaga’”:

Manning had access to two classified networks from two separate secured laptops: SIPRNET, the Secret-level network used by the Department of Defense and the State Department, and the Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communications System which serves both agencies at the Top Secret/SCI level.

The networks, he said, were both “air gapped” from unclassified networks, but the environment at the base made it easy to smuggle data out.

“I would come in with music on a CD-RW labeled with something like ‘Lady Gaga’, erase the music then write a compressed split file,” he wrote. “No one suspected a thing and, odds are, they never will.”

“[I] listened and lip-synced to Lady Gaga’s ‘Telephone’ while exfiltrating possibly the largest data spillage in American history,” he added later. ”Weak servers, weak logging, weak physical security, weak counter-intelligence, inattentive signal analysis… a perfect storm.”

Even worse, he did this undetected until he was foolish enough, reportedly, to talk to an FBI informant, ex-hacker Adrian Lamo (who Wired profiled last month).

And hey, what about that time when WikiLeaks released footage of U.S. gunships gunning down civilians and the military said they couldn’t confirm it as totally real because they had lost their own copy? According to Wired’s account, Manning tells Lamo specifically where he got the video…why don’t we see if it’s still there?

“At first glance it was just a bunch of guys getting shot up by a helicopter,” Manning wrote of the video. “No big deal … about two dozen more where that came from, right? But something struck me as odd with the van thing, and also the fact it was being stored in a JAG officer’s directory. So I looked into it.”

Read More http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2010/06/leak/#ixzz0qB1oYOCN

One last point. The Wired article is pretty amazing in its detail; it’s pretty obvious that Lamo divulged the case to Wired in such a way that they felt comfortable working on it for a couple weeks before breaking the story. But, as @Wikileaks insinuates, how come no mention in the article of the relationship between the Wired author, ex-black-hat Kevin Lee Poulsen and Lamo…if any? Is this photo of Poulson and Lamo just a random-pose-with-a-celeb-hacker-on-the-street?

More from the NYT Lede.

Hypertext-Wired Brains and Irrelevancy

Something tells me that these two areas of study, unfortunately, have interrelated results:

From Wired, “The Web Shatters Focus, Rewires Brain” (Nicholas Carr):

Research was painting a fuller, very different picture of the cognitive effects of hypertext. Navigating linked documents, it turned out, entails a lot of mental calisthenics—evaluating hyperlinks, deciding whether to click, adjusting to different formats—that are extraneous to the process of reading. Because it disrupts concentration, such activity weakens comprehension. A 1989 study showed that readers tended just to click around aimlessly when reading something that included hypertext links to other selected pieces of information. A 1990 experiment revealed that some “could not remember what they had and had not read.”

From the New York Times, “The Impact of the Irrelevant on Decision-Making“:

An intriguing example of transparently irrelevant information that affects behavior comes from a 1974 report on an experiment by the psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky. In the experiment, subjects first spun a wheel that supposedly would stop at random on any number between 1 and 100. Then they were asked what percentage of African countries belongs to the United Nations. For one group of subjects, the wheel was rigged to stop on 10; for a second group, on 65. On average, the first group guessed that 25 percent belong to the United Nations, but the second group guessed 45 percent.

In short, even demonstrably false or irrelevant information can influence judgments, which in turn influence decisions. In such cases, Professors Tversky and Kahneman wrote in 1981, “the adoption of a decision frame is an ethically significant act.”

On a sidenote, also from the Wired article, this makes you wonder about print media’s early attempts to do news video:

In a study published in the journal Media Psychology, researchers had more than 100 volunteers watch a presentation about the country of Mali, played through a Web browser. Some watched a text-only version. Others watched a version that incorporated video. Afterward, the subjects were quizzed on the material. Compared to the multimedia viewers, the text-only viewers answered significantly more questions correctly; they also found the presentation to be more interesting, more educational, more understandable, and more enjoyable.