Sunday, 18 September 2022

the followers (10. 147)

Via the morning news, we discover that artist Dries Depoorter has triangulated the open surveillance of public spaces and a respectable social media viewership with the help of artificial intelligence to match poses in front of a range of landmarks with their sidling up to it and perfecting their casual-seeming pose. Confounding this perfectly staged moment with the apparent necessity of monitoring share-worthy sites speaks volumes to our definition and expectation of privacy tempered by desire for curation and what it is like to be spotted, caught.

Monday, 12 September 2022

ccc (10. 126)

Founded on this day in the offices of the West Berlin newspaper Die Tageszeigtung (TAZ) by journalist and information security advocate Wau Holland in 1981, Chaos Computer Club is Europe’s largest association of white-hat hackers was established with the mandate to champion freedom of information worldwide, transparency in government and business practices and universal access to digital information. Through its hacktivism and penetration-testing, it has exposed several weaknesses and structural shortcomings that undermine privacy and user rights and it often deferred to as an expert witness for German and EU legislation and court filings, informing policy and openly criticizing decisions that fail to redress concerns for public-welfare. Their activities rose to prominence first in 1984 when exposing the security flaws of teletext (Bildschirmtext, see also here and here), arranging a large transfer of funds from a bank to the club’s account. More recently, they demonstrated that inherent insecurity of biometrics by obtaining and publishing the fingerprints of the Interior Minister (lifted off of a water glass) in 2008. The group hosts the annual Chaos Communication Congress, originally hosted in Hamburg but since 2017 at the Leipzig Trade Fair Grounds (Leipzigermesse) in addition to retreats, camps and workshops to supplement its media outreach. The pictured flag (Pesthรถrnchen, Datenpirat—a variant on the federal postal service logo, indicting their careless custody of customer data) is from a local chapter.

Friday, 2 September 2022

7x7 (10. 106)

homesteading: a survey of the extraterrestrial real estate market 

music to moog by: a DIY Theramin from Linus ร…kesson—see previously  

enhanced pat-down: twenty years of Homeland Security and America’s penchant for security theatre  

battleship island: an exploration of the now deserted speck of land that fuelled Japan’s industrial revolution, most the most densely populated place on Earth

sampo: more on the epic MacGuffin from Finnish lore—see also  

posture pals: exercises to combat computer slouch  

extremely well-planned void: a Greek Revival property in Denton County, Texas—see previously

Wednesday, 31 August 2022

gorbymania (10. 101)

We’ve been familiar with Mikhail Gorbachev’s extended second career after the imminent statesman withdrew from political life—at least in an official capacity—and recall the Pizza Hut advertisement from years ago. This selection of international cameos, however, included one role—that of brand ambassador for a luxury goods maker, expertly photographed by Anne Leibovitz. Gorbachev is seated in the rear of a sedan, driving parallel to the remnants of the Berlin Wall that he helped to dismantle (the campaign reflective of one of his more quotable sayings) and pictured with the classic brown bag—which we weren’t familiar with. Though beautifully framed, the 2007 ad seems rather innocuous until upon close inspection, on top of the bag is a magazine with the headline: Litvineko’s Murder—They Wanted to Surrender Suspect for $7000. Alexander Litvineko was the former KGB spy and defector who was poisoned by polonium and died the year before, publicly accusing Vladimir Putin as the responsible party. Now with Gorbachev’s passing, questions linger whether or not he himself was privy to this subversive subtext.

Sunday, 28 August 2022

the tango briefing (10. 093)

The franchise created in the mid-60s and concluding in the mid-90s the Quillerverse stars the eponymous, pseudonymous protagonist created by novelist Elleston Trevor and was introduced to us in the form of a short-lived BBC television series with Michael Jayston, Moray Watson and Sinรฉad Cusack that first aired a decade later, following the success of the cinematic adaptation of the first novel, The Quiller Memorandum (under its American title) with screenplay by Harold Pinter and the acting talents of Max von Sydow, Alec Guiness and George Segal as Quiller. All iterations, the books, film and TV (all thirteen episodes below), are set during the Cold War and feature the mostly independent spy-master who works for a secret organisation known only as the “the Bureau.”

Tuesday, 31 May 2022

6x6

not to put words in your mouth: Google’s collaborative incubator discreetly withdraws from deepfake research—via Slashdot  

mermay: a month-long (didn’t get the memo but for next year) sketching challenge to draw merfolk with daily prompts    

bubasteion: necropolis sacred to Ancient Egyptian feline goddess yielded a trove of two-hundred and fifty perfectly preserved sarcophagi  

now listen to my heart—it says ukrainia: the Scorpions update their lyrics to Winds of Change to stop romancising Russia 

joueur-animateur en direct: French ministry of culture reforms guidelines on gaming jargon to combat anglicisation—see previously  

monk tone scale: Google adopts a better classification system for skin pigment to combat baked-in biases (see previously) for its algorithms and artificial intelligence

Friday, 27 May 2022

8x8

city in a bottle: a bit of micro-coding from Frank Force (previously) decoded—via Waxy    

kr: the Icelandic Graphic Design Association (FรT, Fรฉlag รญslenskra teiknara) issues a challenge to come up with a glyph for their krรณna  

nรฉcessaire: a French borrowing—see also—for kit and carry  

enough: TIME magazine’s cover lists the two-hundred thirteen US cities that have had mass-shootings this year, so far  

social sentinel: a look at the dubious pre-crime predictive software that ill-serves society and the reliance on tech to come to the rescue in general  

party line: last bank of public phones removed from New York City—see also here, here, here and here  

swiss miss: Tina Roth Eisenberg celebrates her seventeenth blogoversary tesserae: MIT Lab develops autonomous modular tiles to create structures and habitats in space

Wednesday, 20 April 2022

foia foil

Via Waxy, we are directed to a deviously difficult daily challenge in the Wordle vein to puzzle out a randomly, heavily reacted Wikipedia article—a skill to hone that could prove useful when confronted with sanitised, sensitive documentation, censored or anonymised for public consumption.

Tuesday, 19 April 2022

be the first to like this post

Some anonymous though obviously astute researcher left this decal on a lamp post a few weeks back coinciding with the return of testing stations which were prematurely removed in hopes that the unavailability of free screenings would encourage individuals to get their booster shots only to quickly learn and recover that one does not winnow down the arsenal in one’s quiver when facing a global pandemic. Medical authorities confer and confirm vaccination status with a QR-Code and a national app, though this has expanded, splintered into a suite of application and new codes to scan unique for every affiliate station. Feeling a bit under the weather with the arrival of Spring and the too-quick change in temperature, I wanted to be responsible and rule out a case of COVID and so availed myself of said near-by mobile PCR centre. I was relieved to learn that the results were negative and was given a mask (oh no) for my troubles, noticing the label on the packaging later on…

Sunday, 10 April 2022

facial recognition

Via Super Punch, we learn that one unique gashapon in Tokyo’s busy Shinjuku station is proving quite popular with commuters for vending capsules with the ID photos of strangers (though ostensibly fellow passengers) over the chance to connect on whatever social level with the crowd, unmasked. Those behind the concept are poised to launch the next series with people submitting their pictures to be added to the anonymous mix.

Saturday, 2 April 2022

concordance

We thoroughly enjoyed being formally introduced to rogue archivist and general force-multiplier Carl Malamud and his organisation public.resource that champions liberating information that otherwise eligible for the public domain but has been notoriously garden-walled by special-interests groups, profession associations and copyright trolls (see previously here and here) like instruction manuals under right-to-repair legislation, the codices of different jurisdictions that would rather not the full text of their laws subject to public scrutiny and safety codes and standards hidden behind paywalls, a high hurdle for entry and to continue municipalities’ practice of “incorporation by reference.” Much more at the links above.

Saturday, 12 March 2022

world day against cyber censorship

Observed as an occasion to rally against internet censorship and advocate for unfettered access to free and unrestricted expression since 2008 (on the 1989 anniversary of Sir Tim Berners-Lee submitting his proposal for a information management system for CERN which would eventually become the world wide web) by and incorporating the annually updated Enemies of the Internet roster from Reports without Borders (Reporters sans frontiรจres, RSF) that calls out countries for suppressing freedom of the press.

Tuesday, 15 February 2022

6x6

taxon: vintage animal family cards  

property values: Trump family accounting firm drops them as a client, disavows the validity of a decade’s worth of business assessments  

able baker: a collection of US museum ships—via Things Magazine  

daily constitutional: map out one’s lunch-hour ambulations 

wobo: Heineken breweries in the early 1960s produced brick-like bottles that could double as construction material, via Messy Nessy Chic  

metamates: Facebook staff receive a new official monicker aligned with corporate branding

Saturday, 12 February 2022

7x7

forum gallorum: step into this unassuming salon to inspect a piece of Roman London, reminiscent of discovering this shopping mall in Mainz—via Nag on the Lake  

burds: just a fun little cleanse—cartoony birds hopping about—via Waxy  

shred, white and blue: the totally normal and perfectly legal ways the White House handled official records 

neft daลŸlarฤฑ: a decaying offshore oil platform in the middle of the Caspian Sea  

the thoughtful spot: the Phrontistery (ฯ†ฯฮฟฮฝฯ„ฮนฯƒฯ„ฮฎฯฮนฮฟฮฝ, Greek for the thinking place) catalogues a treasury of rare and obscure words—via Kottke  

gumshoe: the bygone era of the hotel detective—via Strange Company’s Weekend Link Dump  

be mine: the Lupercalia and the origins of Saint Valentine

Friday, 11 February 2022

7x7

heiti and songti: the typefaces that helped China transition to the digital age 

no soup for you: the Fay-Cutler malapropism (see previously) of the week 

memphis milano: iconic design studio of Ettore Sottsass (previously) acquired by Italian furniture company  

earn it act: controversial bill restricting encryption—presented as an anti-trafficking and child safety initiative (see also) passes committee in the US Senate  

quantitative easing: lampooning practises that exacerbate inflation and speculation, an artist in Kuala Lumpur opens Memebank  

all hail hypnotoad: Futurama (previously) returns for an eighth season—with most of the original talent  

dingbats: a typographic homage to pre-emoji Webdings—see also for one carry-over

Monday, 7 February 2022

metadata

As Slashdot reports, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, Meta, is threatening to pull core services out of Europe altogether if EU privacy laws—including GDPR which has been enforceable for years now—prevent the company from sharing European user data with domestic operations. Good riddance to bad rubbish—I hope that that’s a promise that the anti-social media platform can deliver on.  We hope regulators do not relent and make concessions to the platform.

Friday, 7 January 2022

web 3.0 is going great and is definitely not an enormous grift that’s pour lighter fluid on our already-smouldering planet

Via Web Curios (definitely lot’s more to check out there), we are introduced to a project by Molly White who curates articles and discussion threads that illustrate the dark side of tech utopian-thinking and how we can’t just code our way to equality and out of an environmental crisis that is exacerbated by Ponzi schemes and chasing that greater fool. There are some choice headlines about corporate malfeasance, lack of disclosure and how riots and disruptions to the internet in Kazakhstan (to quash the coordination of said protests) reveal the extent of bitcoin mining occurring there, subsidised and underwritten by the government’s policy of producing cheap fuel from the dirtiest sources.

7x7

sick sad world: our crypto-bro, cyberpunk dystopia  

brik: aesthetic LEGO typography  

just keep swimming: mobile aquaria allow fish to drive—via the morning news  

molten path: an ancient—though not inaccessible—airburst over the Atacama shed shards of glass across Chile—see also   

thinking of you, i mean me: a Barbara Kruger (previously) retrospective in Chicago on capitalism and its critique

queued-up: Instagram versus reality

a listicle in eight parts: Cory Doctorow expounds on the scam of fintech—via the New Shelton wet/dry

Friday, 10 December 2021

everybody always confesses—you can’t help it

Slated to be released on the seventy-fifth anniversary of the original publication of nineteen eighty-four on 8 June 2023 and greenlit by the estate of George Orwell, the dystopian, cautionary tale will be retold from the perspective of Julia, Winston Smith’s erstwhile subversive, thoughtcriminal, inculcated to the Party at a young age and avid member of the Junior Anti-Sex League and the Two Minutes Hate directed against those who would betray the revolution but who quickly redirected her fervour to rebellion, though knowing they will eventually be caught and betray one another’s confidence.

Saturday, 13 November 2021

8x8

uap: an interview with former US DoD head of the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Programme says that “Tic-Tac” craft have been observed by the navy for decades  

dutch angle: dramatic tilt in cinematography  

comrade kiev: an exquisitely curated collection of posters from Soviet times  

p68/dulcimer: a prototype of the iPod—which celebrated its twentieth birthday last month—via Twisted Sifter  

subjective distance: more on the ordering of adjectives and the unwritten rules of language—see previously 

quesos y besos: a soft goat cheese from Spain beat out many contenders to be awarded the top prize for the annual World Cheese Awards  

shoulder-surfing: a patent to discourage lookie-loos with a screen blur for those without the proper headgear and glasses—via Slashdot 

discopter: Alexander Weygers patented the design for the first UFO flying vehicle decades before the craze in sightings and visitations