Practical Collapsonomics and ISDT talk

I’ve put together some worksheets that are intended as a kind of infrastructure and authority analysis kit for fledging Collapsonomicists. It’s still a very beta thing, but feel free to download and play around. The source files are SVG’s and can be accessed on GitHub. They use the Museo-slab 500 font, but probably shouldn’t. Feel free to fiddle with it and by all means push back. The “slides” from my talk from ISDT, “Infrastructure, Authority, and the Industrialization of the Internet”, is available here inSVG format (warning: 26 MB!

Tracking without cookies

During a session at IDP 2011 (conference on Internet, Law and Politics) in Barcelona I started thinking about the issue of opt-outs / opt-ins for tracking cookies. If we were to imagine a situation where most people reject tracking cookies – which would be nice – then those who are interested in tracking users would have to resort to other methods. I just came up with one. I haven’t seen this before but it’s fairly obvious, I’m sure that there are dozens of variations on this theme or even much better approaches.

The Insanity of Purity

Q: How much of the sterility of modern airport terminals and air travel in general can be attributed to the hypochondriac aviator Howard Hughes? A: None. Howard Hughes may have had a less than healthy approach to the issue of hygiene, but the sterility of airports is not a germ-theoretical one. Any time spent sitting on the floor is sure to convince the intrepid traveler of this. Rather it is a cultural sterility born in part from an urge to project a 1950′s feel of jetsetter’s class and distinction, and partly as a failed attempt to normalize the experience of airports across the world, cussioning travelers from culture shock while not discriminating.

NOTW and the impact of Information

The News of the World scandal is over, kind of. The newspaper will be shut down and lawsuits are under way. While there’s a lot of discussion in favor of this and I’m definitely not disagreeing with that, I can’t help but feel that this entire scandal is proof of a double standard. In basics, reporters at the News of the World decided to actively engage in small scale surveillance of public figures using techniques that most anybody with technical understanding of how cellphone systems work would dismiss as too cumbersome given the much easier methods available?

The Silent Volcano

Wednesday was marked with rumors flying around about the imminent eruption of Iceland’s volcano Hekla, which news reports dubbed as “one of Iceland’s most feared volcanoes”. The mountain has entirely failed to grip me with fear despite it erupting roughly every decade since the 1940′s, so naturally I felt somewhat puzzled by this news report and wanted to know where it came from, how the rumor floated around, and how it hit the world media without the famous stratovolcano giving any occasion to.

Bring Copyright Back to its Roots

Before doing public talks I often do a short writeup of what I intend to say. I normally end up saying something completely different, but I thought I’d throw out the draft text for my opening remarks for a panel at the European Parliament last Thursday, where I was speaking at the S&D’s conference on “Copyright and Intellectual Property in the Digital Age”. Thanks to the S&D group, in particular MEP Tanja Fajon, for inviting me to participate.

The Constitution so far

There’s been a lot of bad information floating about the Internets, mostly after a slightly misleading Guardian article a couple of days ago. I really wish people would try to write articles based on their understanding, rather than trying to fit the information they have to a preconceived idea, but that’s the way the media works I suppose. The Icelandic Constitutional Council has now been operating for around two months and the new Icelandic constitution is coming together.

The End that Hasn’t Happened

As everybody now knows, Harold Camping was wrong. Big surprise. For the record, I can also pull arbitrary dates out of my ass and assign cosmological significance to them, and I don’t need a civil engineering degree or almost two decades of consideration to do so. Early reports do show Camping himself to be missing, but after his radio station allegedly spent over $100 million on an advertising campaign for what is effectively vaporware, I’m not surprised – either he’s hiding in the mountains with a fat wad of purloined money, or he’s worrying that the tripple mortgage will foreclose.

Bouncing bad ideas

Those who have read my previous two posts may think I have some beef with the AVMSD, or, if they read the last three, they might think I have a problem with the European Union. Both assumptions would be true, but I’d like to try my hand at putting this into a larger context. My work for the past several years has had many different forms and facets but one overarching theme: the individual’s right to self-governance and, as a prerequisite to that, the right to information.

Does HUMED implement AVMSD?

A couple of weeks ago I was in Brussels speaking at a public hearing on the interplay between ICTs and human rights. It was a very interesting event with great insights from all sides, and I thank the Green MEPs Jan Phillip Albrecht, Eva Licthenberger, Indrek Tarend and Heidi Hautala for organizing it and inviting me to participate. While the discussions were primarily focused towards freedoms online, with a lot of focus on ideas such as filtering and blocking, state interference in communications and, interestingly, how state and corporate censorship can be seen as interference and violation of free trade agreements, an issue I’ve been looking into a bit and will undoubtedly write more about in coming months.