In The Dark; Five Tips For Making More Accessible Visualizations; Privacy Tools
(NOTE: I'm cheating a bit re: "scraping theme" this week.)
In The Dark
You can't collect/scrape data over the internet if you don't have internet access, and I'm not talking about the lack of equity in service availability/quality in rural parts of the world.
Rest of World, an international nonprofit journalism organization, documents what happens when technology, culture and the human experience collide, in places that are typically overlooked and underestimated
Back in late April, Peter Guest (@PeterGuest) wrote a piece titled: "In The Dark: Seven years, 60 countries, 935 internet shutdowns: How authoritarian regimes found an off switch for dissent." It has four sections:
Prologue; Special Operation and Peace: where Russian censorship regarding the RUS-UKR war sets the stage, Censored Planet (an internet observatory that monitors internet censorship) is introduced; and the watershed moment, eleven years ago, wher the Egyptian government shut down the internet in an attempt to quell a massive protest that is now known as the Arab Spring.
Part 1; Kill Switch: where the reality of the tools available to oppressive regimes is discussed, noting that "ministries have access to a red plunger that turns off the internet. Sometimes, those kill switches are really just fax machines."
Part 2; Digital Sovereignty: where the often fast-paced, technical battle between publishers and censors is detailed, with a great/accessible 'splainer regarding deep packet inspection, and the tricks both sides use to achieve their outcomes.
Epilogue; We're Still Here: which explains how press and protestors manage to keep running despite digital, legal, and financial attempts at censorship.
The final ❡ notes that often what’s holding the free internet together are [heroic] individuals and concerned NGOs scraping together their funding to help embattled independent media clinging on.
There are plenty of data visualizations and other imagery which help tell the story.
And, just in case you're an American thinking "this can't happen here", perhaps think again.
Five Tips For Making More Accessible Visualizations
Frank Elavsky (@FrankElavsky, a data visualization researcher at the CMU Human-Computer Interaction Institute, posted a thread in response to the lack of accessibility across the myriad of data visualizations created for the recent French elections. Many of us equate "accessible" with "color impairment friendly", but it is so much more than that.
I won't post the thread here since Frank should get the 👀, but I will drop the main five points with my self-grading on how well I consider each as I drop datavis onto the world:
Provide a visible title + description with clear language. A takeaway or summary is best, if possible. (I'm trying to get better at this.)
Ensure screen reader access. (I'm trying and half-failing at this.)
Ensure you have minimum contrast or provide adjustable contrast. Respect system high contrast settings. (Post-production empirical analyses suggest I'm pretty OK at this.)
Don't rely on color alone OR allow toggling redundant encoding. (Recent enhancements to R graphics will enable me to actually do this in much easier fashion.)
ALL interactivity within a chart must be accessible with a keyboard. (The ALL caps was Frank's so I kept it in; I'm generally not a fan of interactive datavis — the average person has issues just dealing with static datavis — but, I suspect I'll be creating more of these, so will strive to apply this as much as possible moving forwared.)
There are plenty of examples in the thread, and I encourage readers who make charts/graphs on-the-regular to perform the same assessment (and also tell me if I'm being too kind to myself in my own self-assessment).
It's been a scary week+ when it comes to potential of increased privacy erosion in the United States. Thankfully, we don't have the same Potempkin village named "GDPR" that the EU has (sorry to say, EU folks, but that does little-to-nothing to ensure your privacy, it's just a fine-based money grab), but it would be great if we weren't actively trying to emulate Russia, et. al.
Privacy Tools (@privacytoolsIO) has a “simple” mission: Helping individuals fight surveillance and improve the privacy of themselves, friends, family, and community. It presents a categorized list of resources:
with scads of links to solid tools to help you improve your privacy.
Given the breadth covered by their site, I'll go through most of the categories over the coming weeks to help folks who haven't been focusing on this topic sort out the what/why and answer any questions you might have (publicly in the comments or privately).
In the meantime, I encourage folks to poke around and start familiarizing themselves with the resources mentioned.
If a live stream or AMA-style interactive forum chat would be useful when it comes to presenting privacy tools, let me know by dropping a note in the comments and I'll see what I can setup in the coming weeks. Remember to be kind in your interactions! ☮