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Technology Policy, etc. Living in San Francisco. Working for Facebook. Find me on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook.


Free Culture

About 5 years ago, my law school classmate and I hid a CD mixtape inside of a book at the library.

After some deliberation, we slipped the CD inside of Lawrence Lessig’s book Free Culture because it was *literally* the best possible hiding place. Lessig’s book discusses copyright law, the fight against piracy, and “the nature and future of creativity.” What better place to hide a disc full of our favorite songs for a fellow student to enjoy while studying?

During a recent trip to Williamsburg, I spoke to the W&M Student Intellectual Property Society. Afterward, I took a little stroll through the library to try and find the book and see if the CD was still there…

To my complete surprise, not only was the CD there, but through some quirk in the circulation process— and, likely due to the conservative policies of the law library— the CD was given a permanent home as well as a super-official disclaimer quoting copyright law to discourage users from making illegal copies of software.

Check it out!

A few weeks after I visited campus, a student tweeted to let me know she had found the book and the CD. So cool! Hopefully students will enjoy discovering the CD for years to come.

Fun Facts: I wrote my law school admissions essay about how I once received an email from Lessig. I later met him. He signed a book for me. I love that dude.

Amazing Adventures in Comic Books

We recently rediscovered my father’s childhood comic books.

We had last seen the collection when we lugged it downstairs from my grandfather’s attic. After briefly dusting off the comics in the mid-90s and trying to figure out if they were worth anything, we decided to put them back into another attic and sealed them up in a large rubbermaid sarcophagus for 15 more years.

When my parents recently moved out to California, the comics popped up in a moving box. I decided to spend the past weekend cataloging and indexing the collection to see just what my dad had collected.

As a disclaimer, I would not consider myself a comic book guy. I grew up as a sports card enthusiast, so I’ve got some general awareness of the hobby as a collector, but I really had no idea how to evaluate a collection of 200 books. Obviously, I know all the major superheroes who have blockbuster films that fill theaters, but for every Superman there’s a Tomahawk

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My father’s collection spans the early 1950s through the early 1960s. The collection is heavily weighted with material from the Silver Age of Comic Books, the period immediately following the era epically portrayed in The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Klay (a book my dad and I both love).

There are plenty of Western themed comics. My grandfather apparently loved these books. According to my father, he actually bought and read comic books way more than my dad did. We’ve got close to 100 Dell Comics and Golden Key Comics stacked up. A number of them are serials adapted from television Westerns. Titles like “Bonanza”, “Bat Masterson”, and “The Cheyenne Kid.”

There are also a bunch of military themed comics. In the aftermath of WWII and the Korean War, there were tons of titles like “Our Army at War”, “Submarine Attack”, and “Fightin’ Air Force.”

The superhero books are amazing from this era. Following the Golden Age, the writers had to figure out ways to make plots interesting again and revive the genre. They re-imagined characters with bizarre science-fiction twists, reflecting the public’s preoccupation of an atomic era. This is exemplified in my dad’s collection by comics like Justice League Vol. 1 #14 "The Menace of the ‘Atom’ Bomb"; Metal Men Vol. 1 #1 "Rain of the Missile Men"; Superman Vol. 1 #155 "Superman Under the Green Sun!".

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In order to organize the collection, I spent a solid hour researching various comic book websites, databases, and software systems. I considered hiring somebody on TaskRabbit to do the organizing for me, but this was just too interesting to pass up. I ended up settling on CLZ Comics as they seemed to have the most extensive database that was easiest to query. I organized about 100 of the books in their software, and I exported it to a spreadsheet. I decided not to organize the Dell and Golden Key Comics as it’s just too much work and they don’t appear to be valued as highly as the other comic books. image If you’re interested in the collection, please take a look. I’m interested in learning more about what we’ve got, but I’m also interested in finding out how much they are worth. I’ll be taking it to some local comic book shops to get them appraised soon. If you think you can help me find a good home for the comic books, feel free to drop me a line.

Up, up, and away!

10 Sites for Wedding Planning

I married the love of my life last summer.

I was really struck by how big a role the Internet played in helping us put together all the details. I thought it might be a good idea to write down a recap of some of the sites we used in case anybody else out there is looking for tips. I know I would’ve loved reading something similar last year.

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10 Sites for Wedding Planning…

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Hacking Space

Painting a QR Code on the Roof

FB QR Code

When the last of the employees moved in to our new Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, Mark Zuckerberg announced a “Space Hackathon.”  His post encouraged everybody to decorate the new space to make it our own—tag the walls with spray paint, hang cool posters, and hack the building with some patented Facebook personality. But a few of us interpreted the call to action a bit too literally. We decided that we wanted our “space hack” to actually be visible from space. We wanted to hack the globe.

It started with a comment on Zuck’s post. I wrote, “Hack yeah! I’d like to paint a gigantic QR code somewhere so we can RickRoll online maps, or point people to our careers site, or send them to a ‘Clarissa Explains it All’ GeoCities Page.” By the end of the day, that comment had nearly 50 Likes. I still wasn’t sure if people were seriously interested, so I started a Group. When over 100 people joined, it was game on.

Check out the post on the Facebook Engineering Blog to read more about how we pulled it off.

Hacking the FB Like Button

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Each year at the company Game Day, Facebook employees compete in fun games like tug-of-war, steal the bacon, and relay races. We split up into 4 different team colors and everyone gets very spirited. This year, Team Red hacked our HACK sign built into the courtyard at Facebook’s headquarters to shine their red colors. They raised $10,000 in the process. Props. Game recognizes game.

Well, Team Yellow decided we had to try and one up them. First, we set a goal of raising $10,001. We teamed up with LIVESTRONG and put together a LIKESTRONG grassroots fundraising page to celebrate Game Day and support a good cause. Next, we hacked the famous LIKE button sign in front of Facebook’s company headquarters and gave it a LIVESTRONG wristband.

Both of these space hacking experiences were a blast to be a part of, and I’m proud that they were representative of the type of fun and philanthropic culture present at Facebook.

I remember that as I sat in one of my last classes before graduation in 2004, I signed up for Facebook for the first time. Facebook didn’t exist before then, so there’s no way I could’ve known while at Duke that this is where I’d end up.

What Can You Do with a PPS Major? Work at Facebook | alumni.sanford.duke.edu

Recent interview I did for Duke’s Sanford School of Public Policy. It was fun speaking with a current Duke undergrad and answering questions about my career.

Obama Loves You Back

When President Obama addresses an adoring crowd, people frequently interrupt his speech and shout "We love you Obama!" One of my favorite things about Obama is the way he says "I love you back."

So I made a website to showcase it:

http://obamalovesyouback.com

I’ve been lucky enough to see President Obama speak on a number of occasions. He’s an incredible orator. Once, I even got to meet him. He seems super nice. What really stands out is the way he takes a crowd’s positive vibe, acknowledges it, and sends it right back. It’s a beautiful feedback loop.

Speaking of feedback loops, I’ve been amazed at the response this website has gotten in the 10 hours it’s been live. It only took me 10 minutes to make! And it’s already been sent all the way around the world. 

Right now, the site has received the following positive feedback:

  • Nearly 1,000,000 impressions on Facebook
  • Viewed by members of the Obama Campaign (including one who wrote “haha”)
  • UPDATE: The Official Barack Obama Tumblr gave the site some props, the campaign titled an email “I Love You Back

So what’s next?

  • Keep on sharing the site! 
  • Reblog this on Tumblr, Tweet, Share on Facebook, Click the Like Button, Call your Mom and Dad, etc.
  • Tell friends and family “I love you back” in that patented President Obama tone.
  • Donate to the campaign
  • Give President Obama your support. Tell him “We love you Obama!”
Props to NY Mag for editing together some of the videos for a slideshow they did in 2010.

"I love you back."

Internet Access for All

Vint Cerf, one of the “fathers of the Internet”, recently wrote an op-ed titled “Internet Access Is Not a Human Right.”

I see what Vint Cerf is saying, but it’s a semantic trick. Access to information is technically the “human right” that advocates are striving for when trying to bridge the digital divide. To create headlines like this detracts from that goal, all to make what point?

"Improving the Internet is just one means, albeit an important one, by which to improve the human condition. It must be done with an appreciation for the civil and human rights that deserve protection — without pretending that access itself is such a right." 

Yes, it’s just one means. But I don’t think those who seek more Internet access are doing so in a manner that lessens other civil and human rights movements.

Access to some essential information these days practically does require the Internet. Currently, 7 out of 10 people do not have internet access. The United Nations report Cerf references addresses this and analyzes the digital divide from both (a) lack of access to content; and, (b) lack of access to technical infrastructure.

Ultimately, the U.N. report finds that the Internet helps “enable individuals to exercise their right to freedom of opinion and expression, but also a range of other human rights, and to promote the progress of society as a whole.”

I recently attended a friend-raiser A Human Right to explore solutions to provide access to more of the 5 billion people in the world without Internet access. One of the first jobs I had out of college was working at One Economy to help leverage technology to empower underserved communities. I’m passionate about continuing to make the world more open and connected through my current role at Facebook.

Thanks to Vint for helping build this thing to connect us. Let’s make sure everybody has a fair shot at using it. 

Copyright and the 2008 Presidential Election

I wrote this paper in December 2008. Some of the topics came up recently in a discussion at work— and the media currently appears to be discussing the issue as well ever since a rock n’ roll star wrote a cease and desist letter to a presidential candidate. I thought I’d post it publicly in case anybody else is researching these type of matters. 

MEMORANDUM

TO: Prof. Marcus
FROM: Mark Pike
SUBJECT: Copyright and the 2008 Presidential Election

This memorandum seeks to clarify potential issues in the area of copyright law and the campaign advertising industry through a brief survey of the 2008 presidential election, applicable case law, and theory.

Because of competing interests, there is a clear tension between the First Amendment and copyright law— the former seeks to preserve the rights of free speech while the latter provides a limitation.

By highlighting the struggle of applying copyright law in a modern election, this memorandum aims to help candidates to effectively deliver their message and successfully navigate the challenges of intellectual property rights in the political context.

Questions Presented:

  • Have advertisements traditionally received copyright protection?
  • Do political ads satisfy the creative threshold?
  • Which elements of political ads are eligible to receive copyright protection?
  • How does the fair use doctrine apply to political ads?

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Major League Ballparks Visited

My first major league baseball game was in 1987 in NYC to see my beloved Yankees. I’ve loved going to games ever since so I thought I’d put together a list of ballparks I’ve visited.

The stadiums and teams have changed over the years, but it’d be nice to eventually be able to say I’ve seen each franchise play at home at some point. I’m not necessarily trying to complete a collection here, but each unique visit brings its own sights, smells, sounds and memories.

A list of ballparks I’ve visited (last updated 8/14/13):

  • Old Yankee Stadium (NY Yankees)
  • New Yankee Stadium (NY Yankees)
  • Shea Stadium (NY Mets)
  • Fenway Park (Boston Red Sox)
  • Olympic Stadium (Montreal Expos)
  • RFK Stadium (Washington Nationals)
  • Nationals Park (Washington Nationals)
  • Rogers Centre (Toronto Blue Jays)
  • Memorial Stadium (Baltimore Orioles)
  • Camden Yards (Baltimore Orioles)
  • Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium (Atlanta Braves)
  • U.S. Cellular Field (Chicago White Sox)
  • Wrigley Field (Chicago Cubs)
  • Progressive Field (Cleveland Indians)
  • Metrodome (Minnesota Twins)
  • Miller Park (Milwaukee Brewers)
  • AT&T Park (San Francisco Giants)
  • Oakland Coliseum (Oakland Athletics)
  • Petco Park (San Diego Padres)

Complete list of MLB stadiums on Wikipedia.

ATX

About a month ago I had an idea for a feature that I wanted a travel website to implement. So I wrote them.

Hi Kayak,

I love you.

I also love my long-distance girlfriend, which is why I’m writing you with the following feature request.

Cheapest way for person from city A to see person from city B. Sometimes the result will be person traveling from A to B. Other times it will be B to A. Finally, there’s the exciting option of city C (wherein both people travel). 

For context, my lovely lady lives in Cleveland and I live in San Francisco. If it’s overall cheaper for us to meet in Vegas, that’d be nice to know.

Keep up the good work.

Love,
Mark

They wrote back the next day. 

Hi Mark, 

What a great request (and if I may say so, it sounds like your girlfriend is a lucky woman).

Have you experimented with our custom airports search? You can specify both CLE and SFO as the To airport and LAS, say, as the From:

http://www.kayak.com/flights/CLE,SFO,nearby-LAS,nearby/2011-04-08/2011-04-10

Or …

Have you played around with our Explore or Buzz features?

http://www.kayak.com/explore
http://www.kayak.com/buzz

I wish you the very best in your travel planning!

Kind regards and happy travels,
Kristin

That’s some amazing customer service correspondence right there. Kayak, give Kristin a raise.

I’d still love it if they implemented my idea. But, in the mean time, I did some serious custom search exploring and found out that a long weekend in Austin, Texas was pretty affordable and looked like a great time.

Just got back from that trip to Austin and had a blast. BBQ, Barton Springs, lounging at Hotel San Jose— it was a perfect weekend vacation.

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