Ramblings & ephemera

3000 ravers, dancing in silence

From The Sydney Morning Herald‘s’ “Clubbers to get into the silent groove“: For those seeking tranquillity at Glastonbury Festival, a dance tent packed with clubbers is not an obvious sanctuary. But this will be the silent disco – 3000 festivalgoers are to be issued with headphones this year so they can turn up the volume […]

Projecting a murdered woman’s image on a building

From BBC News’ “Police go big with victim picture“: A 60ft high picture of a murdered prostitute has been projected onto a derelict block of flats in Glasgow. Detectives hope it will help to turn up clues about the death of Emma Caldwell, whose body was found in woods in South Lanarkshire on 8 May. […]

Gam Ze Yaavor

“This too will pass” is “Gam Ze Yaavor” in Hebrew, which is represented by the Hebrew letters Gimel, Zayin, Yod (GZY). From “Israel Folklore Archive 126“: King Solomon once searched for a cure against depression. He assembled his wise men together. They meditated for a long time and gave him the following advice: Make yourself […]

Word of the day: disemvoweling

Disemvoweling: removing the vowels from a message board troll’s posts. First performed (to my knowledge) by Teresa Nielsen Hayden at http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/001551.html#001551.

What’s a socio-technical system?

From Ulises Ali Mejias’ “A del.icio.us study: Bookmark, Classify and Share: A mini-ethnography of social practices in a distributed classification community“: A socio-technical system is conformed of hardware, software, physical surroundings, people, procedures, laws and regulations, and data and data structures.

Thoughts on tagging/folksonomy

From Ulises Ali Mejias’ “A del.icio.us study: Bookmark, Classify and Share: A mini-ethnography of social practices in a distributed classification community“: This principle of distribution is at work in socio-technical systems that allow users to collaboratively organize a shared set of resources by assigning classifiers, or tags, to each item. The practice is coming to […]

Bring down the cell network with SMS spam

From John Schwartz’s “Text Hackers Could Jam Cellphones, a Paper Says“: Malicious hackers could take down cellular networks in large cities by inundating their popular text-messaging services with the equivalent of spam, said computer security researchers, who will announce the findings of their research today. Such an attack is possible, the researchers say, because cellphone […]

Subway’s frequent-eater program killed because of fraud

From Bruce Schneier’s “Forging Low-Value Paper Certificates“: Both Subway and Cold Stone Creamery have discontinued their frequent-purchaser programs because the paper documentation is too easy to forge. (The article says that forged Subway stamps are for sale on eBay.) … Subway is implementing a system based on magnetic stripe cards instead.

The difficulty of recovering from identity theft

From TechWeb News’s “One In Four Identity-Theft Victims Never Fully Recover“: Making things right after a stolen identity can take months and cost thousands, a survey of identity theft victims released Tuesday said. Worse, in more than one in four cases, victims haven’t been able to completely restore their good name. The survey, conducted by […]

Israeli car theft scam

From Bruce Schneier’s “Automobile Identity Theft“: This scam was uncovered in Israel: 1. Thief rents a car. 2. An identical car, legitimately owned, is found and its “identity” stolen. 3. The stolen identity is applied to the rented car and is then offered for sale in a newspaper ad. 4. Innocent buyer purchases the car […]

Open source breathalyzers

From Bruce Schneier’s “DUI Cases Thrown Out Due to Closed-Source Breathalyzer“: According to the article: “Hundreds of cases involving breath-alcohol tests have been thrown out by Seminole County judges in the past five months because the test’s manufacturer will not disclose how the machines work.” This is the right decision. Throughout history, the government has […]

Bruce Schneier on phishing

From Bruce Schneier’s “Phishing“: Phishing, for those of you who have been away from the Internet for the past few years, is when an attacker sends you an e-mail falsely claiming to be a legitimate business in order to trick you into giving away your account info — passwords, mostly. When this is done by […]

Laws & enforcement in virtual worlds

From James Grimmelmann’s “Life, Death, and Democracy Online“: … The necessity of a ‘Quit’ option is obvious; no adventure game yet invented can force an unwilling player to continue playing. She can always give the game the three-finger salute, flip the power switch, or throw her computer in the junk heap. … Banishment is the […]

The American Revolution: led by elites, sold to the masses

From James Grimmelmann’s “On the Second Life Tax Revolt“: The Boston Tea Party was the expression of mercantile anger at taxes: the protesters wanted was a revision of British tax policies to favor colonial merchants at the expense of merchants in England. Economically speaking, the entire American Revolution was a scheme to improve the fortunes […]

A game completely controlled by the players

From Ron Dulin’s “A Tale in the Desert“: A Tale in the Desert is set in ancient Egypt. Very ancient Egypt: The only society to be found is that which has been created by the existing players. Your mentor will show you how to gather materials and show you the basics of learning and construction. […]

Computer commands as incantations

From Julian Dibbell’s “A Rape in Cyberspace: How an Evil Clown, a Haitian Trickster Spirit, Two Wizards, and a Cast of Dozens Turned a Database Into a Society“: After all, anyone the least bit familiar with the workings of the new era’s definitive technology, the computer, knows that it operates on a principle impracticably difficult […]

The Creative Class & the health & growth of cities

From Richard Florida’s “The Rise of the Creative Class“: [The key to economic growth lies not just in the ability to attract the creative class, but to translate that underlying advantage into creative economic outcomes in the form of new ideas, new high-tech businesses and regional growth. To better gauge these capabilities, I developed a […]

A basic Japanese cultural trait

From Noel Burch’s To the Distant Observer, his study of Japanese films: … masochistic perseverance in the fulfillment of complex social obligations is a basic cultural trait of Japan.

Our reasons for giving reasons

From Malcolm Gladwell’s “Here’s Why: A sociologist offers an anatomy of explanations“: In “Why?”, the Columbia University scholar Charles Tilly sets out to make sense of our reasons for giving reasons. … In Tilly’s view, we rely on four general categories of reasons. The first is what he calls conventions—conventionally accepted explanations. Tilly would call […]

Magruder fools the Federals

From Shelby Foote’s The Civil War: Fort Sumter to Perryville (399): No wheeze was too old for [John Bankhead] Magruder to employ it. One morning he sent a column along a road that was heavily wooded except for a single gap in plain view of the enemy outposts. All day the gray files swept past […]