The sociologist of science Ludwik Fleck on the evil spirits of popularization

GKnowledge is not a criterion for truth. Even those who are sure, that means, are therefore not right with an assertion. The reverse is also true: Uncertainty is not an indication of falsehood; those who are not entirely sure of their cause need not be wrong. When scientists become public experts who do not pretend that there is one hundred percent certainty, but who use provisional probability statements to influence far-reaching political decisions about social life and our scope for freedom, then it is just as useful not to forget a widespread latent need for certainty: that expresses itself initially and mostly as a willingness to doubt.

Trivially, the need for certainty or security expresses itself with power precisely when life is thrown out of the ordinary and when it is a matter of increasingly dealing with uncertainties. Once it has been awakened, it will not simply be lulled back to sleep with the psychological comfort that is often given; much worse than total or growing uncertainty – if it existed – would be absolute certainty, because it robs the future of its openness.


On the death of British rock musician Spencer Davis

WITHEstablishing and popularizing musical genres either requires an original genius who draws entirely on its own or, as one would have said earlier, an orchestra conductor. This is of course true in jazz, but, in a technically and academically less demanding way, also in rock music. It falls to the latter to recognize talents, to bundle them and then to get the best out of them, if necessary at the expense of one’s own vanity. There are band leaders, like Manfred Mann, who has just turned eighty, who have renounced solo glamor their entire life and put creative ambitions aside, but who have still achieved essentials for music by holding the store together or putting it back together again and again.

Edo Reents

The British blues and the rhythm & blues that emerged from it in the mid-sixties had the grandmasters Alexis Korner and John Mayall in particular. The fact that Spencer Davis is usually mentioned here respectfully, but already under “also ran”, may have to do with the fact that not nearly as many greats have emerged from his stable, strictly speaking only one, but he had it himself: Steve Winwood. This is the man “who played with Spencer Davis” and who made the Spencer Davis Group, founded by the Welsh language student in Birmingham in 1963, a sensation with its deceptively realistic Ray Charles imitation. This then still underage soul-throat fledged after two years and three records (and founded the band Traffic); Spencer Davis deserves the credit of raising it the way Captain Beefheart raised Ry Cooder on the American West Coast.

The Spencer Davis Group, which in addition to Davis and Winwood also included his brother Muff (bass) and Pete York (drums), provided evidence, which had long been considered impossible, that white people can also play real rhythm and blues. In the strictly cultivated, strict orientation towards American models, it became a decisive force within the transatlantic cultural exchange and recorded a narrow, remarkably cohesive work. What she heard, not only in the form of her blockbusters “Keep On Running”, “Gimme Some Lovin ‘”, “Somebody Help Me” and “I’m a Man” was pretty much the most sensitive and at the same time most exciting thing there was at that time; only the Northern Irish Them (with Van Morrison) and of course the Rolling Stones came close to this specifically black style of music.

With Winwood’s departure, the Spencer Davis Group was deprived of its actual attraction, but continued, at times without its namesake. Spencer Davis was still behind the scenes and supervised, under the supervision of Chris Blackwell, the founder of Island Records, whose new stars Bob Marley and Robert Palmer, in between recorded his own rock, folk and blues records with prominent help and also recorded more this way his fame as one of the key figures of the so widely ramified British rock family, which without such level-headed, collegial leaders would hardly have grown to this size. Last Monday, Spencer David Nelson Davies, as he was correctly called, died at the age of 81 in his second home, Los Angeles.


“Comics is not a means of popularization but an art in its own right”

The cross : This cycle of conferences at the Collège de France, organized as part of the year of comics, is it a symbol of the recognition of comics, or even of its institutionalization?

Benoît Peeters : It’s a very good signal. It is the first time that such a prestigious cenacle has examined comics as a visual art in their own right and not as a means of popularization to transmit other knowledge. University studies on comics are very recent and still too few.

But things are moving in the right direction. The Académie des Beaux-Arts also participates in this positive development with the entry of Catherine Meurisse into its midst and the exhibition dedicated to Emmanuel Guibert, two authors also invited by the Collège de France (the third is Jean-Mar Rochette) . I do not think, however, that it is in danger of freezing in an institutional form. No more than it hurt the cinema or the photography, it will hurt the 9th art to be studied.

What will be the content of your conference, entitled “Comic strip genius, from Töpffer to Emil Ferris”?

B. P. : I want to talk about the genius of comics, that is to say everything that makes this art unique, the forms and the narrative possibilities that belong only to them, while walking through history and geography comic book.

Even if wall art or the Bayeux tapestry have links with comics, it was not really born until 1833 with Monsieur Jabot’s story by Swiss author Rodolphe Töpffer (1799-1846), who offers for the first time a sequence of drawings and texts articulated together.

I will stop at manga and graphic novels, like that of Emil Ferris (What I like are the monsters, Fauve d’Angoulême in 2019). Other major remarkable works will also be mentioned, from Krazy Cat at Spirou and Fantasio, Peanuts at Persepolis.

During the ten chapters of my conference, which will be more thematic than chronological, I will explain how the board imposed itself in comics, or how the phylacteries are not necessarily part of the criteria defining the format. The silent boards by Claire Bretécher or Moebius are also comics.

How did the professors of the Collège de France react?

B.P. : Many of them have expressed interest in this cycle. There were also more candidates than elected to dialogue with the invited authors. We are far from the outraged reactions of those who, for a time, considered this to be lack of culture. It is probably a question of generation. The recent development of non-fiction makes it possible to reach new audiences who arrive through the subject.

What do you recommend to confirm the recognition of the comic?

B. P. : I plead for it to be better received in schools, not to be considered a lesser evil, but a full entry into reading. We have to get out of the idea that comics are just a first step towards reading. Great comic book readers are also great book readers.

I also dream of a major exhibition at the Center Pompidou which would show the proliferation of extremely creative art. Museums should also develop an acquisition policy or be encouraged to do so. Some older authors are unsure of what to do with their funds.

Do you think that a chair in comics should be created at the Collège de France?

B. P. : No, because their number is limited. There are none on cinema, photography or the theater. Let us not imagine the Collège de France as an encyclopedia.


Privacy and security issues shake up Zoom’s success | Innovation

A simple line of code has opened the Pandora box for the privacy and security of the Zoom video conferencing app. A line with which the company itself activated a software development kit – better known as the SDK for its Facebook acronym – that allowed both the social network and the application to collect certain data, such as IP, without the consent of the users. , the type of device, the operating system, and the location and time use of the connection. “It has only affected the Apple ecosystem. This Monday they already amended the error, but the damage has been done. They have amassed massive data whether you have a Facebook account or not. Now they can profile those who have connected, “says attorney Natalia Martos, founder of Legal Army.

Just yesterday, INCIBE warned that Zoom has released a security advisory warning of a vulnerability for Windows users that could allow cybercriminals to steal confidential information and execute files on the victim’s device.

All of these practices have prompted New York Attorney General Letitia James to open a judicial investigation. In a letter sent to the organization, it asks that it specify what kind of information it collects, for what purposes and to which other entities it provides consumer data. “It is a company that does not take privacy into account. Although difficult to prove, this is a full-blown data sale. It has taken a slice. No one sells information for free. More or less is what happened with Cambridge Analytica ”, argues Martos. But this lack of privacy only represents the tip of the iceberg of all the controversies that the coronavirus-imposed quarantine has uncovered in an application whose downloads have grown thanks to 86% confinement in a month, according to the Crunchbase portal.

An investigation of The New York Times It has revealed this Thursday that the application had a data mining function, as soon as they started the session, which automatically linked the names of the users and the email addresses with the profiles of LinkedIn. It didn’t matter that during the call someone used a pseudonym or opted for anonymity. If a user activated the LinkedIn Sales Navigator service, they could access the profiles of this social network of other participants in the video call by clicking on an icon next to their names. The company’s CEO, Eric S. Yuan, has announced that he will freeze these types of options for the next 90 days to correct them and reverse the security and privacy problems detected.

Attacks by trolls, intrusion into external video calls, public links to the rooms, a default configuration for file sharing that allows sending malware… An excessive accumulation of vulnerabilities for recently reaped success. The use of Zoom has become popular during this crisis thanks to the arrival at forced marches of telework, video calls between friends and family, distance classes and all kinds of remote connections.

As the days go by, the controversies multiply. Some users have confirmed that it is relatively easy for someone to monitor their activity while using the application. For example, the One Zoom feature alerts the caller if a guest has been in the foreground for more than 30 seconds without the open program. That way a boss could know if someone has followed a meeting with more or less attention. The management of emails has also generated controversy. The app automatically adds other people to a user’s contact list if they sign in with a mail that shares the same domain. It can help in the search for a specific partner, although the hidden face is that the company, by unifying them as if they worked for the same organization, exposes the personal information among everyone. “If this occurs in the European Union, the fine would be impressive,” ditch Martos.

Zoom has defended itself against the allegations with an entry on its corporate blog. He argues that he does not sell any type of personal information; that it respects privacy laws such as the European Data Protection Regulation and the Californian regulations, known as CCPA; and that it does not control meetings or the content exchanged. The latter has raised a stir. It was advanced by the digital medium The Intercept by claiming that there is no true end-to-end encryption in video calls, but one TLS. That is, third parties do not access audio and video, but the app Yes, you can do it through the server through which the information runs. “We will continue to improve and evolve our privacy approach to ensure that we are doing the right thing for our users,” says the company.

In the meantime, the cybercriminals take advantage of the moment to scam users. Despite being a free application, in mobile stores we can find it for about four euros. It is an obvious example of phishing –A set of techniques that seek to deceive a victim, earning their trust by posing as a trusted person, company or service. They supplant the Zoom image with an identical one, as if they superimposed the false identity on the original one. “There are no magic recipes to detect it. You have to be very careful and check everything. If we look closely, companies often incorporate authenticity data, ”says Óscar Lage, a cybersecurity expert at Tecnalia.

Repairing part of the errors is already impossible. As Lage maintains, these problems are the result of products that simply focus on functionality. “Privacy and security are not included from the beginning. The only solution they have left is to patch the app. The ideal would be to use open source, community-maintained and auditable applications, ”he explains. There are more options to maintain digital contact or continue working from home. Each with its characteristics and limitations, but the success of Zoom has not monopolized video calls. “Google Hangouts and Skype would be good alternatives. They are subject to very strict privacy, “concludes Martos.