Who Monitors the Birds? (#droneculture)

Posted by on November 16th, 2011

Citizen journalism went to new heights in Warsaw, Poland just the other day:

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After the Mayor’s efforts to restrict the Press during the “clear out” of Occupy Wall Street, this technology should soon be standard issue for anyone wanting to preserve Raw History.

Who should be the early-adopters of this than the “good” “folks” at News Corp:

Rupert Murdoch’s pet project, The Daily, has some impressive aerial footage today of the devastation in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, which was obtained with an unusual tool.The Observer was the first to report, back in November, that the staff of the iPad app was working with “a journalistic secret weapon,” the Parrot AR.Drone quadricopter, also known as “The Flying Video Game.” Now they’re finally putting the thing to use, with a new feature called “Daily Drone.”

And just to clarify, “drone” refers to the unmanned chopper itself, not the announcer’s rather dry intonation.

And the Military-Entertainment Complex lurches a step closer to the world depicted in the excellent Mexican cyberpunk movie, Sleep Dealer:

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All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace

Posted by on May 3rd, 2011
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Just stumbled upon the trailer for Adam Curtis’ new documentary – All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace and it looks, shall we say, extremely relevant to our interests.    For those unfamiliar with his work, Adam Curtis is a documentary filmmaker best known for his brilliant series of looks at modern history:  The Century of Self, the Power of Nightmares, and The Trap – Whatever Happened To Our Dreams of Freedom?   I can’t recommend those films enough for someone who wants to spend a few evenings coming to grips with what the hell happened in the 20th and early 21st centuries.   Propaganda, Psychology, Marketing, Nightmare Politics, Religious Extremism, and Game Theory – Curtis weaves them all together in a clear and concise manner into an extremely lucid and convincing secret history of modernity.

All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace is due sometime this year from the BBC.


The Facebook Tomorrow

Posted by on February 24th, 2010

At this year’s DICE 2010 Expo, Carnegie Mellon’s Jesse Schell gave a fantastic presentation that starts with why Facebook *shouldn’t* work in the way that it does and extrapolates forward into a half-creepy and half-inspiring vision for the embodied internet, the network of things, the culture of games and the SPIMEworld to come.

Xbox 360 GamesE3 2010Guitar Hero 5

The rise of the lifeloggers and self-trackers

Posted by on September 10th, 2008

The Washington Post has an interesting overview of the rising lifelogger scene. There is what might perhaps be a little generational-bias in there, but they have still come back with some interesting anecdotes:

When San Francisco couple Brynn Evans and Chris Messina heard of a new Web site called BedPost, they registered an account before the site was even out of beta. BedPost was created to map users’ sex lives online — everything from partner to duration of the encounter to descriptive words, which could later be viewed as a tag cloud….After all, they already use project-management site Basecamp to chart the nonsexual parts of their relationship.

They use location tracker BrightKite.com to study where they’ve been.

They track their driving habits on MyMileMarker.com, their listening habits on Last.fm, and their Web-surfing habits, to the minute, on RescueTime.com.

“Brynn uses a service to track her menstruation,” says Messina helpfully. (Two of them, in fact: MyMonthlyCycles.com and Mon.thly.info). Some of these trackings are visible to other people, but mostly the couple monitors the information just for themselves.

Before BedPost, they’d been using an Excel spreadsheet to track each interlude since the beginning of their six-month relationship, though they found the interface limiting. They saw BedPost and thought, “Oh, look, this guy’s doing this, too, and he’s actually making plots of it. Plotting was cool,” says Evans.

Messina and Evans prefer the term “data junkies,” spoken with the self-effacing self-awareness that comes from months of meticulous self-study.

Self-trackers like Messina and Evans could spend hours online, charting, analyzing, tracking. Life as a series of pure, distilled data points, up for interpretation.

It’s not about tracking what you do, they say. It’s about learning who you are.

In San Diego, statistics student David Horn already belongs to BrightKite, Last.fm and Wakoopa.com, which tracks his Internet usage. He’s also experimented with Fitday.com to map food intake and calorie expenditure…Horn is working with his engineer girlfriend, Lisa Brewster, to develop an all-encompassing life tracker, under the working title of “I Did Stuff.”

“I’d like to track the people I talk to,” says Brewster, “and how inspired I am six hours later. And definitely location history — where I am, what time — ”

“Correlated with weather history,” interjects Horn. “And allergy data, pollen and mold in the air.”

Plus, “Web sites I read and their effect,” says Brewster.

These ideas are the types of heady possibilities that will be discussed by the members of a new group in San Francisco called Quantified Self. Members plan to meet monthly to share with one another the tools and sites they’ve found helpful on their individual paths to self-digitization. Topics include, according to the group invite: behavior monitoring, location tracking, digitizing body info and non-invasive probes.

And on it goes.

What are they odds that we have readers in the Bay Area heading along to Quantified Self? Hit us back with a report if you go!

via @chris23


IBM’s PENSIEVE – Next-Gen searchable outboard memory

Posted by on July 29th, 2008

This is the PENSIEVE user interface (click through for high-resolution):

PENSIEVE UI

This is IBM’s promo video for it:

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This is ganked from PhysOrg:

“This is like having a personal assistant for your memory,” said Dr. Yaakov Navon, the lead researcher and image processing expert from IBM’s Haifa Research Lab. “Our daily routines are overflowing with situations where we gain new information through meetings, advertisements, conferences, events, surfing the web, or even window shopping. Instead of going home and using a general web search to find that information, PENSIEVE helps the brain recall those everyday things you might normally forget.”

…By simply typing the person’s name into PENSIEVE, you can recall when and where you met them, and any related information garnered at that time. You could even browse forwards or backwards in time to find out what events transpired before or after the initial meeting.

Another use of this technology is in reconstructing and sharing an experience or memory. If enough media-rich data was collected about a particular event, it can be used to build a more complex visual associative representation of the experience.

“This is where the real power of collaboration kicks in,” said Eran Belinsky, research team leader and a specialist in collaboration. “You can recall the name of the person you met right before you entered a meeting by traversing a timeline of your experiences, or share a business trip with colleagues by creating a mashup that shows a map with an animation of your trail and the pictures you took in every location.”

This is the corporate future and it is only just starting to get messy. Let us just say I would be very careful now about using any company property for personal reasons.

Obviously this is awesome technology for personal use though, but I would want to be controlling the database. In a secure location. (According to CSI) Police already take people’s mobile phones in the event of emergency or tragedy. Would you want to hand over an indexed/tagged, searchable lifestream?

That being said, how rad would it be if it pulled-in CCTV images of you walking around?

Philip K Dick :- becoming more a prophet of the modern condition every second.


Ankle bracelets for everyone!

Posted by on July 22nd, 2008

From NaviGadget:

Spanish brand Keruve has come out with a GPS device designed to keep an eye out for Alzheimer’s patients.

The system consists of a special bracelet and a PSP like handheld device that can show the location of the person wearing the bracelet. Speaking of the bracelet; it is water resistant and it can only be taken off using a special tool.

According to Engadget “it can also apparently fall back on cell tower triangulation (otherwise known as A-GPS) provide a location when regular GPS is unavailable”.

So what we have here is a device perfect not just for finding your favourite senile uncle, but also for any would-be stalker, controlling spouse, un-trusting parent, or anyone else who just can’t bare to not know where someone is.

That’s the Con side. The Pro being, you could stalk yourself, ie lifelogging. And I am sure this could be incorporated into some neat RL/ARG games.

via medGadget


The Naked Generation – Authenticity and Transparency

Posted by on May 9th, 2008

There’s a good post over here regarding Authenticity, Transparency and the so called “Naked Generation”. (Or alternately, “Generation Facebook” or “The Participatory Panopticon”.)   It touches on a few interesting bits, such as Authenticity vs. Transparency and alternate ways for networking sites to link users outside of pre-existing social networks.

Anonymity is one of the pillars of online communication. The ability to become someone else, mask some part of yourself, or lurk in the shadows increases paths to participation. The dark side of anonymity is irresponsibility, and we have already witnessed other social networks tackle Jon Swift problems by censoring their own communities to strengthen legitimacy. Even as we collectively accumulate personal profile pages that express our real identities, however, there are initiatives emphasizing anonymous disclosures. The Experience Project is designed around anonymity, asking members of the two-year-old community to connect through their experiences rather than extending existing social circles. In the end, though, this approach is about lowering barriers for people who could not otherwise participate in discussions. The impact of what is shared is dependent on the relationships we form with the identities we assign to ourselves and others.

The consequence of self-disclosure centers around the resilience of information.

Twitter, a microblogging service that exploded to a million members in about a year, uses the SMS constraint of 140 characters to lower the barriers to entry for potential authors. It is much easier to conceive of sharing a simple sentence or two than several paragraphs. The custom nature of the personal information stream (everyone can decide whose content they want to follow) implies a sense of control. However, the reality of Twitter is that the content is public. Even with private streams—where a member can require a mutual handshake before someone else can see their posts—the act of sharing content with anyone exponentially increases the likelihood that information will reach a public audience. The age of the intelligent web is here, and innocuous posts made in a semi-protected context one day can give rise to unexpected revelations in the future.

This has implications on future career paths, as comments in a Web Worker Daily article last September attest. Tim O’Reilly expects a Web 2.0 backlash and a return to private data. Perhaps. At the start of the year, Duncan Riley published a poll asking, should some things remain private in the age of lifestreaming. The nature of that flawed question led to a predictable response—less than 10% of respondents said “No”—and false evidence that we disclose too much about ourselves. A more relevant line of questioning would be what kinds of information should be private, for ourselves and from others.

That many of us in the wired world are living on the edges of a transparent society is not new, but there are still a lot of questions to be deal with regarding how much of our lives we share and where we draw that line.  Given how public I am about facets of my personal life on the web, and how I don’t try to hide my identity, this is a situation that’s usually on my mind.


Charlie Stross’s notion of Total History

Posted by on April 20th, 2008

Time to once more break up the shiny with a little social-SF futurism.

Let’s start with something simple, like changes in how we use email.

Remember the early days of web-based email; 5 MB accounts on Hotmail, constantly deleting to make room for the new.

Now think about recent services like Gmail; no need to ever delete, your capacity increments on a daily basis, a continual archive of every email ever sent and received, all filed nicely with labels and such.

Have you thought through the implications of these sorts of changes? Well, let me save you some time, and point you to a recent essay on just that subject, from uber-SF author Charles Stross.

Just start with this morsel from Shaping the future (emphasis mine):

This century we’re going to learn a lesson about what it means to be unable to forget anything. And it’s going to go on, and on. Barring a catastrophic universal collapse of human civilization — which I should note was widely predicted from August 1945 onward, and hasn’t happened yet — we’re going to be laying down memories in diamond that will outlast our bones, and our civilizations, and our languages. Sixty kilograms will handily sum up the total history of the human species, up to the year 2000. From then on … we still don’t need much storage, in bulk or mass terms. There’s no reason not to massively replicate it and ensure that it survives into the deep future.

And with ubiquitous lifelogs, and the internet, and attempts at providing a unified interface to all interesting information — wikipedia, let’s say — we’re going to give future historians a chance to build an annotated, comprehensive history of the entire human race. Charting the relationships and interactions between everyone who’s ever lived since the dawn of history — or at least, the dawn of the new kind of history that is about to be born this century.

Total history — a term I’d like to coin, by analogy to total war — is something we haven’t experienced yet. I’m really not sure what its implications are, but then, I’m one of the odd primitive shadows just visible at one edge of the archive: I expect to live long enough to be lifelogging, but my first forty or fifty years are going to be very poorly documented, mere gigabytes of text and audio to document decades of experience. What I can be fairly sure of is that our descendants’ relationship with their history is going to be very different from our own, because they will be able to see it with a level of depth and clarity that nobody has ever experienced before.

Meet your descendants. They don’t know what it’s like to be involuntarily lost, don’t understand what we mean by the word “privacy”, and will have access (sooner or later) to a historical representation of our species that defies understanding. They live in a world where history has a sharply-drawn start line, and everything they individually do or say will sooner or later be visible to everyone who comes after them, forever. They are incredibly alien to us.

When you have digested that, go back for the full meal.

Total History. Coming soon. Prepare yourselves.