Author Archives: Peter McElroy

When Google Knows You’re Not a Dog: Electronic Identity and Social Media

These past few months I got to join a seminar on Social Media and Public Policy, led by Sanford grad Matt Perrault, now Head of Global Policy Development at Facebook. It’s been a terrific experience. From that source, musings on the potential impact on the social media landscape of evolving personal identification policies.

Am I who I say I am? I can usually satisfy that question with a plastic card, 2 3/8 by 3 5/8 inches in size, featuring my name, the date of my birth, and a scowling, fluorescent-lit semblance of my face. As any college freshman knows, it’s not hard to fake. Transactions requiring a higher level of security might shine a purple light on my ID, swipe a credit card, or ask for a utility bill, passcode, social security number, or name of my first pet. Still not sure? Trace my fingerprints, map the pattern on my iris or the reflectiveness of my retina, or take a snapshot of my DNA.

Aside from the last set (which are resistant to error, just hard, slow, and expensive), any two of these are more secure than the sum of their parts. It’s easy enough to steal my ID card and easier still to guess the name of a hamster (it’s Stuart), but hard to do both at the same time. Taken to a further extreme, this is the principle behind electronic identity cards.

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Religious Progressivism: A Contradiction in Terms No More

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For most Americans, Paul Begala once quipped, the term “religious progressive” makes about as much sense as “jumbo shrimp.” Devotees of cable news or talk radio may be forgiven for their confusion. Religion is often portrayed in those venues as a monolithic force, firmly entrenched on the conservative side of the culture wars.

But cast a net in the sea of public opinion and you may be surprised by your haul. For instance, as part of an extensive survey, respondents were asked to rate their feelings for the poor on a scale of 1 to 100, with 1 meaning completely negative feelings and 100 completely positive. The same respondents were asked if religion is “an important part of your life” and (if yes), does it provide “some guidance, quite a bit of guidance, or a great deal of guidance in your day-to-day life?” Across the board, the more religious a respondent was, the higher his professed level of sympathy.

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The First Year Out: Use Your Network

MUntitled1y time at Duke gave me numerous opportunities, but the one I’ve considered most important to my career was the space Duke afforded me to step back and take a look at what I really wanted to do with my future. Like many of my classmates, I came in with a vague idea of where I wanted my life to go. However, my two years at Duke opened my eyes to new opportunities and experiences that helped me develop some understanding of my future career path, where I wanted to be, and what I hoped to achieve in the long-term. Equally as important, my interactions with students and faculty taught me that there are no fixed paths, no defined roads to where you want to go. Speaking with people helped me learn and understand what I wanted, and what I didn’t want, in the future.

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This Week at Sanford September 29-October 5, 2014

Check out upcoming events at Duke’s Sanford School of Public Policy below. Continue reading

This Week at Sanford: Sept. 22-28, 2014

Check out upcoming events at Duke’s Sanford School of Public Policy below. Continue reading

Duke Sanford’s William Darity, Jr. Talks Race, Academics, and “Acting White” on the Radio

Prof. Darity

Sanford’s Professor William A. “Sandy” Darity, Jr. was part of a fascinating discussion on Minnesota Public Radio’s “The Daily Circuit” last week.

The jumping off point is a recent reflection by President Obama in recent town hall remarks:

“Sometimes African Americans, in communities where I’ve worked, there’s been the notion of ‘acting white’ … where, OK, if folks are reading too much, then, well, why are you doing that? Or why are you speaking so properly? And the notion that there’s some authentic way of being black … that has to go.” Continue reading