Saturday, July 21, 2018

 Smart Cities and IoT -- a new report from the Georgia Institute of Technology on progress being made.

Friday, July 20, 2018

"Facebook Suspends Analytics Firm on Concerns About Sharing of Public User-Data" -- Wall Street Journal

This Wall Street Journal story helps us understand how far we are in the world of judgment now, where Facebook is responsible not only for auditing how its data is used, but also for determining when to pull content from the site, setting up a First Amendment discussion for most of us.  Does Facebook have an editorial responsibility?

Thursday, July 19, 2018

 An administration at odds with its national intelligence agenciesEdit

As the president continues to obfuscate on what he might have agreed to with Putin, our national defense agencies continue their drive to block further cyber incursions into the country's critical infrastructure.  In this effort, the public and private sectors are united.

Friday, January 5, 2018

New resolution

Image result for advice from a risk detective
Inset at the National Academy of Science, Washington DC

Happy New Year, everyone!  This update comes with a firm resolution to post here more often.  I've gotten in the lazy habit of only describing the national environment when I write my monthly column for ASA News & Notes.  I'm resolving to post here at least once a week going forward -- probably from my UW office in the hour or so before I start to teach at the end of each week.

I'm happy to be teaching information ethics and policy this quarter, as the president continues to try to erase Barack Obama's eight years in office.  There are three branches of government, designed to provide checks and balances on one another; one branch, Congress, should be thinking of what is best for the country (rather than for their particular political party) when they vote on consequential issues like DACA, or review actions by federal agencies (FCC and net neutrality).  Then there is the judicial branch, soon to be weighing in on consequential issues like the immigration order and surveillance via data to be found on one's smartphone, for which they have already ruled that a warrant is necessary to examine.

Outside these three branches is the Special Prosecutor, investigating ties between the Russians and the Trump campaign team; and examining instances that may turn out to be obstruction of justice -- which we remember in detail from (for example) President Nixon's actions that led him to resign before he could be impeached.

As we move further into my information ethics and policy course, I'll be sharing some of the students' reflections on the questions they answer each week.

Friday, November 10, 2017

"In Flanders Field the poppies grow..."

My father was old enough to be my grandfather.  He served with distinction in World War I in the U.S. Army Dental Corps.  He's pictured above in the back row, last soldier on the right in the photo.  His first wife of about 25 years died, and he married my mother.  They had two daughters, of which I am the oldest.

He didn't discuss life in the Army except in terms of the discipline and the routines he had to learn, which he passed on to my sister Mary and myself.  We learned how to "fall in," how to salute, and how to march "over hill, over dale." We learned how to dry ourselves off after a bath with a towel handled with great precision.   We had an old coal shed in the back yard that we used as a playhouse.  There we were able to pore over souvenirs he had of his time in the military, including the photo, above.

The day we call Veterans Day is the 11th day of the 11th month.  That was the day celebrated throughout Europe as Armistice Day -- the end of World War I on that date in 1917.  It has been celebrated as "Remembrance Day" in Europe since that year, but here we now call it Veterans Day, to honor those who served in all wars since then as well.  We remember them also on Memorial Day in May, where paper poppies are sold and worn to support veterans of foreign wars.

From World War I, we also have a famous poem that Dad taught us:
"In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields."
                 -- John McCrae

Tomorrow I will be remembering my father and all other veterans.  Don't blame veterans for decisions that are political and made top of the house in this country.  Having veterans in my classroom over the years has added to the richness of every discussion. 

Bending swords into plowshares these days takes another shape -- the logistical/intelligence gathering/decision making/project management skills that veterans learned in their time in the service are absorbed easily back into civilian life.  We honor veterans for their service, and I continue to support organizations like Team Rubicon, who take those skills that soldiers have learned and deploy them for good, to turn the corner on disaster response in this country and abroad.  To read more about Team Rubicon's work and even make a donation, check them out at

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Celebrate Del

When I was a child, rituals made a great deal more sense than they do now.  I found more consolation in the religious trappings of pivotal moments in our lives until death.
Del Hazeley died abruptly and unexpectedly only two and a half weeks ago.  His funeral was last Thursday, an occasion to see again some of my former students and others from the university among a very large crowd that overflowed the church, too large to spend any time with his parents, his widow, or his brothers.
I have helped plan the celebration of his life that will take place next Monday at the University of Washington's Husky Stadium, in the Don James Room.  I was honored to be folded into the UW Police Department's planning process for the event.  Since Del's impact was so vast across so many different parts of the university, we expect a large turnout.  The UWPD has arranged for the jumbo-TRON that you see in the background of the photo above to display a joyous range of photos of Del at work and play.  Speakers will tell us stories that will make us laugh, and perhaps weep. There's music and a video and room for everyone to speak and to commiserate, but most of all to toast a remarkable life that had only just begun.  Del's mother, his wife and one of his brothers will join us.  Professor Harry Bruce, former dean of the iSchool, will be one of the lead speakers.
If you wish to join us, we'll start at 1pm and you can find instructions on parking and logistics on the UWPD website.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

He was so young.

I've only been teaching for five years, but have in that time never experienced the death of one of my students, particularly one that I continued to follow and mentor since he graduated in 2013.  I find his loss devastating, and would like to tell you a little bit about him.

Del Hazely was born in Sierra Leone, lived also in Gambia and came to the United States when he was eleven.  He took his undergraduate degree at Penn State University in Information Technology and African and African-American Studies.  He was a mid-career student in the University of Washington's iSchool Master of Science in Information Management (MSIM) program when I had him as a student.  A paper he wrote for the "Ethics, Policy and Law in Information Management" course later was published in the Reflections on Risk II volume of research notes.  It's called "Bridging the Digital Divide: The African Condition." 

After he graduated that year (2013), we kept in touch.  I invited him to speak each year in that same class when the topic was the digital divide.  He talked about more than the paper, though, and explained how he had kept his connection with Africa, investing both time and money in projects designed to reduce that digital divide.  He had wit and passion in equal parts, and was respected by all who knew him and benefited from working with him.

Del worked in the UW Police Department while he was pursuing the master's degree, eventually managing the entire IT operation.  Since then, Chief John Vinson tapped Del to oversee the building of a new police station, starting with design and architecture, on through to completion.  Last year, he tapped Del again, this time to become director of strategy & organizational excellence.  There are no surprises here at all.  Del was one of the most professional people I've met anytime in my career.  With his understanding of both police work and technology, the sky would have been the limit. I saw him as a future chief of the Seattle Police Department, or even eventually if he wished it, as the head of a government agency like the National Security Agency (NSA).

As an alumni, Del came back to the iSchool to work on our Curriculum Transformation Project, to include more diversity and inclusion into our courses.

Our thoughts go out to his wife, Rose, and family, especially because of the unexpected nature of his death.  He will be missed in this community, and back in Sierra Leone as well.  He had only begun to make a difference in the world.