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Portfolio

About

Miles McCain is a student at Phillips Academy Andover. He is an advocate for privacy and government transparency, the founder of Politiwatch, and the author of WorthHiding.com.

I want to use technology to improve the world—and to learn something along the way. My research areas include digital privacy, foreign policy, government accountability, and the intersection thereof.

My projects, research, and commentary have appeared in several major news outlets including the Washington Post, NBC News, CNN, the Daily Beast, Nightly News with Lester Holt, TimeOut National, New York Daily News, BoingBoing, Bustle, and TimeOut New York. My research with Dr. Sarah Kreps has been presented at Yale, Columbia, Cornell, and Georgetown, among other institutions.


Quick sections: Media Coverage and Publications, Research, Organizations, Projects, Professional Experience


Academics (Intramural Activity)

Phillips Academy Andover — class of 2019 (senior) — latest GPA was 6.0 (on 6.0 scale)

Current Classes

English, Math, Russian, Computer Science (seminar on machine learning), Independent Project (Digital Propaganda & Censorship)

Andover Awards

  • Webster Prize (for excellence in the social sciences)
  • David G. Wood Fellowship (for excellence in writing)
  • Top Score in Physics 400 prize exam (Andover Physics Department)
  • Winfield M. Sides Prize (for excellence in computer science)

Athletics

  • Varsity Rowing, 1st boat (current)
  • Wrestling (former)

Leadership Positions

  • Blueshells (founder)
  • Techmasters (co-president)
  • Computer Science Club (co-president)
  • GSA (gender & sexuality alliance; co-president)
  • UNICEF Club (board member)
  • Proctor (Flagg House)

Media Coverage and Publications

Academic publications are listed under research.

My projects and writings have appeared in several major news outlets including the Washington Post, NBC News, CNN, the Daily Beast, Nightly News with Lester Holt, TimeOut National, BoingBoing, Bustle, and TimeOut New York.

Authored pieces:

  • ...in WorthHiding (a personal site for publishing pieces related to computer science, political science, politics at large, privacy, and government transparency): more than 50 pieces (and 75k words).
  • ...in the Washington Post: "Congress keeps quiet on U.S. drone policy — and that’s a big problem" — an article I (co-)authored. Though listed also under Research, it belongs here as well.

This section does not include media written about me or about things I have made. It only includes written publications that I have authored. For information on coverage, see here

Research

Most of the research that I do is related to either computer science, political science, or both.

Major Research Projects

  • Origins of Oversight: A Machine-Assisted Analysis of Legislative Engagement on US Foreign Policy: using computers to parse the entire congressional record and study the determinants of foreign policy oversight in Congress. Co-authored with Dr. Sarah Kreps.
    • Source code open source.
    • Presented at Yale, Columbia, Cornell, Georgetown, and UC Santa Barbara.
    • Washington Post popular opinion piece here.
  • Deciphering Chinese Censorship: Introducing Censorscout and the Weibo Censorship Dashboard: created CensorScout and the Weibo Censorship Dashboard, two pilot applications that make several steps toward increased transparency into censorship on Weibo and provide valuable—albeit limited—information regarding the state of Chinese Internet censorship. Co-authored with Jeffrey Shen.

Minor Research Projects

Organizations

Politiwatch: Using technology to promote political accountability, digital rights, and social awareness. (501c3 nonprofit.)

  • I founded Politiwatch after I began to receive legal and death threats for various projects I created. (See projects below.) It has protected me against legal action, allowed me to build a brand for my sites, and eased the process of receiving tax-deductible financial donations.
  • Politiwatch is an American 501(c)(3) nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that advocates for freedom of information, digital privacy rights, and political accountability. It was founded in 2016 with the goal of combating political ignorance, promoting privacy, and making civic information more accessible.
  • Sponsors include Google (via their Google for Nonprofits program), ProtonMail, and DigitalOcean.

PACTF: a global cybersecurity competition with over 1,000 teams and $20,000 in prizes.

  • After being a participant in PACTF 2016, in 2017 I became the project lead (with Alex Reichenbach).
  • Managed sponsors, problem sets, advertising, and digital infrastructure (effectively the entire competition, though I couldn't have done it without help from the project mentors and the rest of the team).
  • Sponsors include Amazon, J.P. Morgan, DigitalOcean, ProtonMail, Cloudflare, Carnegie Mellon University CyLab (Security and Privacy Institute), Carnegie Mellon University Information Networking Institute, and Phillips Academy Andover.

(more upcoming)

Projects

Various projects that I have created, listed in no particular order. According to CloudFlare analytics, my projects receive more than half a million visits per month.

  • PolitiTweet - archiving the tweets (and publishing the deleted ones) of major public figures.
    • Threatened and hated by alt-right. (Report here.)
    • Cited by various major news publications including...
      • Nightly News with Lester Holt: "Wide Range of Celebrities Accidentally Tweeted Russian Propaganda During 2016 Election" — Famous Twitter users with big followers, from Ivanka Trump to comedians Trevor Noah and Sarah Silverman, inadvertently shared tweets that came from accounts linked to Russia, according to social media tracker PolitiTweet.
      • NBC News: "Russian Trolls Duped Global Media And Nearly 40 Celebrities" — Celebrities and global news outlets retweeted, republished and engaged with tweets by confirmed Kremlin-linked troll accounts thousands of times. (PolitiTweet named as source.)
      • CNN: "Twitter to tell 677,775 people they interacted with Kremlin-linked trolls" — Twitter will inform nearly 700,000 people in the U.S. that they either followed a Kremlin-linked troll account, or retweeted or liked a tweet sent by one of the accounts, the social media company said Friday. (PolitiTweet linked as source.)
      • The Daily Beast: "Michael Flynn Followed Russian Troll Accounts, Pushed Their Messages in Days Before Election" — Trump’s notoriously Kremlin-friendly national security adviser amplified Russian messages right when they mattered most—in the days leading up to Nov. 8, 2016.
      • Bellingcat: "Как кремлевский тролль обманул всю Америку" — Russian investigative journalism piece exposing the propaganda account @TEN_GOP (and cites/is sourced by PolitiTweet). Written by Ben Nimmo and the Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFRLab).
      • New York Daily News: "President Trump, Nicki Minaj, Ann Coulter among hundreds of thousands duped by Russian Twitter bots" — "Don. Jr has since deleted the February 2017 retweet from @TEN_GOP, but not before nearly 10,000 other social media users shared it, according to PolitiTweet, an online tool published by the nonpartisan, nonprofit tech organization, PolitiWatch."
    • Blocked by Charlie Sheen (whoops) .
    • (See also: impact tweet, relevance tweet.)
  • WhoAreMyRepresentatives.org — a simple tool to look up who represents a particular address in government.
  • WhyPrivacyMatters.org — a collaborative project to argue for privacy.
    • Translated into 11 languages (and counting).
    • Over 28 contributors.
  • Foia.fyi — a simple website that simplifies the process of submitting a FOIA request.
  • Concision.co — a simple word processing tool for quick copy-paste analysis
  • OPENWI:RE — a weekly newsletter highlighting the best of the week’s adversarial journalism and “think” pieces, with an emphasis on issues of foreign policy, digital privacy, and technology.
  • Deaddrop — secure, authenticated, and monitored file 'dead drops.'
  • LibreNews — a free, open source, speedy, and deeply customizable breaking news notification system for Android phones. Over three thousand active daily users.
  • DroneScout API — an API and web interface for processing the Bureau of Investigative Journalism's drone strike data.
  • 530ZULU — a twice daily concise email news briefing. (Sign up for it. It's great.)
  • Vog — an open source browser extension (Firefox, Opera, and Chrome) for extracting open-graph data from a webpage without having to deal with source files.
  • TrumpWire — a project (now defunct) that sent a SMS notification whenever Donald Trump signed an executive order.
  • Encompassed.press — the single most encompassing and important news story, found automatically.
  • MD-C Labs — a place for experimental web projects. Not production-ready, and from 3+ years ago.
  • BibleOrQuran.org - a game to combat islamophobia.
    • Among the most popular games on Reddit's WebGames subreddit.
    • Awarded "most wholesome [game] of 2016" by Reddit WebGames

Professional Experience

Note that my roles at Politiwatch and PACTF are excluded from this list, as they are listed under Organizations and listing them here would be redundant.

First Look Media (parent of The Intercept, summer 2018): worked on the engineering team and with the research team.

  • Worked to create an IETF Internet standard (currently a proposed standard) for OpenPGP cryptographic keylist subscriptions, as implemented by Micah Lee's GPGSync. The Internet-Draft is available here. (I am the primary/first author.)
  • Wrote an engineering blog post about the IETF project.
  • Worked with the research team to perform data analysis on several unreleased datasets.
  • Designed Presslist, a crowdsourced internal system to manage and track government contacts.

Torch (summer 2017): worked at a New York City tech+politics startup.

  • Led the development of Torch’s "scraping" technology (OpenParser).
  • Rebranded a major element of the Torch platform, making the platform more immediately useful and accessible to non-technical users.
  • Provided the company with gigabytes of invaluable civic information.
  • Position obtained after they reached out to me about WhyAreMyRepresentatives.org.

"Freelance" Programming, Writing, and Design (October 2014-November 2016)

  • Created software, text, and graphics for over 200 clients
  • Projects included full-blown desktop apps, company blog posts, product descriptions, websites, and logos
  • Specialized in data-driven applications

Volunteer Work

  • Coding Circle (September 2016—present): taught computer science to underserved students
  • PDO Writing (Winter 2017): taught writing to underserved students

Competitions

See 'Academics' for the list of awards I have received through my school. These awards are omitted in this subsection.

  • HackNEHS 1st place (Fall 2017): won first place in HackNEHS, a 'hackathon' for New England high schools.
  • Blueprint (@ MIT) 2nd place (Winter 2018): won second place in Blueprint, a national annual hackathon hosted at the MIT Media Lab.
  • CyberPatriot X (Fall-Winter 2018): competed in the Platinum division with Blueshells
  • HackACE 1st place (tied) (Winter 2017): tied for first place in HackACE.

Other Programs

  • Cambridge Scholars Programme (summer 2016): Attended Cambridge Scholars Programme the summer after my freshman year of high school. I did coursework in robotics and physics, and received an 'A' in all classes.
  • Mentors in Violence Prevention (Fall 2016 and Winter 2017): took part in a six-week course in preventing gender-based violence and how to be an ally.

Music

  • Ambps 0 — a five track EP of experimental ambient music.
  • Mesonoxian — a full-length album of classical pieces ranging from baroque to the avant-garde recreated using thousands of synthesizers.

Radio

I love 'Ham Radio,' and am an FCC licensed 'Ham Radio' operator. My callsign is KD2HZZ.


In Progress

and several other projects