Tuesday, November 30, 2004
Monday, November 29, 2004
Looking Forward to Election Voting 2.0
Virtually all systems provide some sort of confirmation of transactions. You have the slip from the A.T.M., the receipt for your credit card charge, the printout of your e-ticket reservation. If your e-mail message doesn't go through, there is still the copy in your "Sent" folder. This is the technology world's counterpart to the check-and-balance principle in the United States government. The first concept, robust testing, protects against unintended flaws. The second, accountability, guards against purposeful distortions.
Which brings us back to electronic voting. On the available evidence, I don't believe that voting-machine irregularities, or other problems on Election Day, determined who would be the next president. The apparent margins for President Bush were too large, in Ohio and nationwide. But if the race had been any closer, we could not have said for sure that the machines hadn't made the difference. That is because many electronic systems violate the two basic rules of trustworthy computing.
Saturday, November 27, 2004
Wisconsin Paper Speaks Up
The 2004 presidential election in this country remains an unsettled affair. That does not mean that the results are likely to shift. But it does mean that there are plenty of questions about the count in states such as Ohio and New Mexico that still must be resolved.Provisional ballots, which were cast on Election Day by citizens who had their right to vote challenged, are still being counted. Tens of thousands of standard ballots, which were cast but which did not appear to feature a vote for one candidate or the other, must be reviewed. And, of course, there are still plenty of questions to be resolved with regard to voting machines that did not create a paper trail to permit a proper recounting of ballots.
Newsday Speaks Up on 2004 Vote
Republican Supports the Paper Trail
Friday, November 26, 2004
Losing the Faith
Yale Professor: "Validate the Vote"
The legitimacy of our democratic process is an issue more important than Mr. Kerry's future or the results of 2004. That legitimacy has been called into question repeatedly over the past few weeks, and doubts will linger as long as credible indications of error, negligence, disenfranchisement and fraud are not addressed.
We would like to believe that voting irregularities were identified and corrected, that participants fulfilled their duties appropriately, that the machines performed reliably and that the total discrepancy between voter intention and recorded results was less than the margin of victory in relevant contests.
Thursday, November 25, 2004
On the Paper Trail
The GAO investigation is a welcome development in an effort that has encountered a great deal of resistance, not only from Republicans -- who fear that the Berkeley study and other serious critiques are the work of partisan groups whose only goal is to reverse the election -- but from a surprising source: the mainstream press. The Berkeley team was pleased that its efforts were reported in many broadcast and print venues, but coverage was won at a considerable expense of time and effort to persuade a few key editors that this was not just another "conpiracy theory," but the work of serious scholars who had something important to say beyond politics and the recent election. As the GAO observed yesterday, the larger issue is the sanctity of our voting system, and a thorough investigation is a must for winning back the confidence of many voters, Democractic and Republican, who may look askance at the new voting system next November. As the Nadler announcement noted, "the core principle of any democracy is the consent of the governed. All Americans, no matter how they voted, need to have confidence that when they cast their ballot, their voice is heard."
So, what kind of reform are we talking about? What the GAO investigation shows is that the new voting system may be threatening one of the important safeguards for voter confidence: transparency. Most counties that use the Diebold electronic voting machines provide no paper trail for the votes. This is a flaw so great, and so obvious, yet it is only beginning to penetrate mainstream media consciousness. There are many voices advocating simple reform on this issue, and thegoodseed predicts that they will finally have their day in court. So will the Berkeley research team, which seems to have developed a reliable "smoke alarm" for warning voters when something may be wrong. It's doubtful we will want to audit every election. But when the alarm is beeping, that would be a good time to walk the paper trail.
Wednesday, November 24, 2004
Thursday, November 18, 2004
Questioning the E-Vote
UC Berkeley Research Team Sounds 'Smoke Alarm' for Florida E-Vote Count
Thursday November 18, 1:01 pm ET
Statistical Analysis - the Sole Method for Tracking E-Voting - Shows Irregularities May Have Awarded 130,000 - 260,000 or More Excess Votes to Bush in Florida
Research Team Calls for Investigation
BERKELEY, Calif., Nov. 18 /PRNewswire/ -- Today the University of California's Berkeley Quantitative Methods Research Team released a statistical study - the sole method available to monitor the accuracy of e- voting - reporting irregularities associated with electronic voting machines may have awarded 130,000-260,000 or more excess votes to President George W. Bush in Florida in the 2004 presidential election. The study shows an unexplained discrepancy between votes for President Bush in counties where electronic voting machines were used versus counties using traditional voting methods - what the team says can be deemed a "smoke alarm." Discrepancies this large or larger rarely arise by chance - the probability is less than 0.1 percent. The research team formally disclosed results of the study at a press conference today at the UC Berkeley Survey Research Center, where they called on Florida voting officials to investigate.
The three counties where the voting anomalies were most prevalent were also the most heavily Democratic: Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade, respectively. Statistical patterns in counties that did not have e-touch voting machines predict a 28,000 vote decrease in President Bush's support in Broward County; machines tallied an increase of 51,000 votes - a net gain of 81,000 for the incumbent. President Bush should have lost 8,900 votes in Palm Beach County, but instead gained 41,000 - a difference of 49,900. He should have gained only 18,400 votes in Miami-Dade County but saw a gain of 37,000 - a difference of 19,300 votes.
"For the sake of all future elections involving electronic voting - someone must investigate and explain the statistical anomalies in Florida," says Professor Michael Hout. "We're calling on voting officials in Florida to take action."
The research team is comprised of doctoral students and faculty in the UC Berkeley sociology department, and led by Sociology Professor Michael Hout, a nationally-known expert on statistical methods and a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the UC Berkeley Survey Research Center.
For its research, the team used multiple-regression analysis, a statistical method widely used in the social and physical sciences to distinguish the individual effects of many variables on quantitative outcomes like vote totals. This multiple-regression analysis takes into account of the following variables by county:
* number of voters
* median income
* Hispanic/Latino population
* change in voter turnout between 2000 and 2004
* support for Senator Dole in the 1996 election
* support for President Bush in the 2000 election.
* use of electronic voting or paper ballots
"No matter how many factors and variables we took into consideration, the significant correlation in the votes for President Bush and electronic voting cannot be explained," said Hout. "The study shows, that a county's use of electronic voting resulted in a disproportionate increase in votes for President Bush. There is just a trivial probability of evidence like this appearing in a population where the true difference is zero - less than once in a thousand chances."
The data used in this study came from public sources including CNN.com, the 2000 US Census, and the Verified Voting Foundation. For a copy of the working paper, raw data and other information used in the study can be found at: http://ucdata.berkeley.edu.
Wednesday, November 17, 2004
News -- Berkeley Challenges the E-Vote
FLORIDA E-VOTE COUNT
RESEARCH TEAM CALLS FOR IMMEDIATE INVESTIGATION
When: Thursday, November 18, 2004, 10:00 am PST
Where: UC Berkeley campus, Survey Research Center Conference Room—2538 Channing Way (intersection of Channing/Bowditch). Parking on Durant near Telegraph.
What: A research team at UC Berkeley will report that irregularities associated with electronic voting machines may have awarded 130,000-260,000 or more excess votes to President George W. Bush in Florida in the 2004 presidential election. The study shows an unexplained discrepancy between votes for President Bush in counties where electronic voting machines were used versus counties using traditional voting methods. Discrepancies this large or larger rarely arise by chance – the probability is less than 0.1 percent. The research team, led by Professor Michael Hout, will formally disclose results of the study at the press conference.
To attend the conference or request dial-in information, contact:
UC Berkeley Media Relations
Saturday, November 13, 2004
Do Microsoft and Google Need SEO?
But thegoodseed invites you to go to MSN and try for yourself. Eight out of the top ten links -- including the top link -- are stories and comments about the two tech giants and the horned (hor-ned) one. Hard to make a good story disappear, we guess, but perhaps it's time to call in the experts.
A "Head" Start on the Next Election
As the professors predicted, people tend to prefer charismatic leaders when reminded of death. But when people are not reminded, charismatics get a very small percentage of the vote. What to do? The authors recommend that people be taught to “vote with their ‘heads’ rather than their ‘hearts’.” There’s reason for hope; past research shows that death thoughts are “attenuated by instructions to think rationally.” The authors conclude, “asking participants to think rationally about which candidate to vote for should eliminate the preference for charismatic leaders induced by MS.” But alas -- this cheerful observation only came after MS of another kind. The authors observe that, “the events of September 11, 2001 have left a pervasive sense of MS throughout America, and the results of this study suggest this may have consequential effects on electoral outcomes.”
Friday, November 12, 2004
Vino Santo Bistro
Thursday, November 11, 2004
His message: A great boss doesn't need a larger-than-life persona, and leadership isn't composed of heroic gestures and brilliant insights. Rather, it's the unglamorous and old-fashioned work of building relationships, being committed to employees' success and holding them accountable. Feiner's laws of leadership, as he calls them, came from witnessing other bosses' mistakes, as well as his own. He recounts some of his management goofs in his book, but mostly he helps would-be bosses understand how to lead people rather than manage them.
Wednesday, November 10, 2004
A Blogger Code of Ethics?
I will tell the truth.
I will write deliberately and with accuracy.
I will acknowledge and correct mistakes promptly.
I will preserve the original post, using notations to show where I have made changes so as to maintain the integrity of my publishing.
I will never delete a post.
I will not delete comments unless they are spam or off-topic.
I will reply to emails and comments when appropriate, and do so promptly.
I will strive for high quality with every post – including basic spellchecking.
I will stay on topic.
I will disagree with other opinions respectfully.
I will link to online references and original source materials directly.
I will disclose conflicts of interest.
I will keep private issues and topics private, since discussing private issues would jeopardize my personal and work relationships.
Tuesday, November 09, 2004
Listen Up, Corporate Marketers: Your Brand is Your "Shadow"
Marketing types either don't see this trend or choose not to talk about it. In the words of advertising legend Jim Mullen, "Of all the things that your company owns, brands are far and away the most important and the toughest. Founders die. Factories burn down. Machinery wears out. Inventories get depleted. Technology becomes obsolete. Brand loyalty is the only sound foundation on which business leaders can build enduring, profitable growth." Similarly, in the new book Brands and Branding, Rita Clifton, chair of Interbrand UK, puts it this way: "Well-managed brands have extraordinary economic value and are the most effective and efficient creators of sustainable wealth." These assertions claim that while factories, source code, and patents are ephemeral, brands are real. But in fact, their long-term value is shrinking. They're becoming nothing more than shadows. You wouldn't expect your shadow to protect you or show you the way. It only goes wherever you do.
On a related topic, we're several days late in following up on our Saturday note about Starbuck's recent CSR announcement. But here we are. The question is, should Starbucks -- or any other company for that matter -- talk about the good that it's doing when a networked community of consumers knows full well what the company is doing? And what's the value of talking about something if some of your actions contradict the spirit of what you are saying? Some things are better left unsaid. Nothing incites true believers to action like the faintest hint of greenwashing, intended or unintended.
For another look at the power of the networked consumer, see John Battelle's Google-meets-the Universal Product Code fantasy in his search blog. You may never look at shopping the same way again.
Sunday, November 07, 2004
Bollywood Stirs the Melting Pot
With an early curfew, we had to miss what must have been the highlight of the show -- two hours of traditional and contemp dancing led by India dance-champion Mona Sampath. The entire evening felt like a wedding to us, so we drove away feeling envious of those who remained, imagining the dance floor erupting into a reprise from Monsoon Wedding (the bhangra beat throbbing in our skulls as we shuttled back home on El Camino). But for us, the high point was at the start of the event, when the children of the ICC took the stage and paid homage to an odd mix of cultures -- Mexico, China, Turkey, Ireland, Kenya and the U.S. -- in song, costume and dance. We were most amused with the U.S. bit, which featured a young lad dressed like Elvis, lip-synching to Bruce Springsteen, and dancing like John Travolta. And it doesn’t happen too often -- except at weddings -- but we felt a lump in our throat when the kiddies came out in sombreros. Yes, we’re Puerto Ricans from New York, but that was close enough. Emcee Sandya Patel (an ABC meteorologist) explained the Disney “small world” theme by observing that the Valley has become a true “melting pot.” That much we’re sure of, and we were pleased to be stirring in that pot late last night.
Saturday, November 06, 2004
Starbucks Takes a Bow
Friday, November 05, 2004
Foreign Policy Gets the Network Effect
Wednesday, November 03, 2004
Tuesday, November 02, 2004
--John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-92)
To-day, of all the weary year,
A king of men am I.
To-day, alike are great and small,
The nameless and the known;
My palace is the people's hall,
The ballot-box my throne!
The rich is level with the poor,
The weak is strong to-day;
And sleekest broadcloth counts no more
Than homespun frock of gray.
To-day let pomp and vain pretence
My stubborn right abide;
I set a plain man's common sense
Against the pedant's pride.
The wide world has not wealth to buy
The power in my right hand!
Monday, November 01, 2004
Google Blogger Uses Blogger
The CIA Gets Some Silicon Valley Action
Silicon Beat reports that In-Q-Tel, the technology funding arm of the CIA, has made a profit. Google recently bought In-Q-Tel-funded Keyhole, the 3-D mapping company that someday will enable Google users to retrieve a picture of, say, your backyard at the speed of a click (though you can imagine a lot more intriguing uses). The Beat notes that the CIA's motives are strategic, not financial, but it's always interesting to see strategy of this kind rewarded in the public marketplace.