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Sociable encryption: The secret of the five keys

Will encryption save us? Social psychologist Shoshana Zuboff explains in detail the methods employed by Google and other digital giants to track our clicks, sell our data, and auction targeted advertising slots to monetise our private on-screen experiences. Our online behaviour is the resource. We are the product, not the consumer. Google’s clients are advertisers … Continue reading

The smart of the deal

I’m interested in the technologies, claims and challenges of the smart city: its structures, platforms, processes, security and surveillance systems, involving big data flows and encryption, as well as the city’s opportunists, underworlds, hacks and how cities get interfered with. While futurists, urbanists, academics and cultural commentators probe the city’s covert and overt sign systems, … Continue reading

Getting what he deserves

Gamification draws on a narrow understanding of game play: keeping score, leaderboards, rewards, competition, incentives of various kinds. In fact, stripped of ludic graphics and quirky interactions, gamification typically follows processes derived mostly from accounting: the technology of the ledger, or bookkeeping, more specifically double-entry bookkeeping. Gamification through the ages By most historical accounts this … Continue reading

Too much information

Someone (perhaps Slavoj Žižek) said that Trump’s greatest offence is not that he breaks the law, but that he breaks unwritten norms and conventions. There’s no law that says you have to be polite to everyone, say kind things, always be truthful, apologise when you make a mistake, or give credit where it’s due. Stick … Continue reading

City on a hill

The maze serves as a metaphor for the city. People get lost in the streets, corridors and communication systems of the city. Cities give the appearance of regularity, symmetry, and order, at least on a map. In his description of cities and places, the writer Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986) affirmed that a maze is a … Continue reading

The twist

“Now … every story ever told can be broken down into three distinct parts: the beginning, the middle … and the twist.” That’s a line spoken by the actor Jack Black in the kid-friendly horror film Goosebumps (2015). He’s actually playing R.L. Stine, the author of the popular book series on which the film is … Continue reading

Escapology 101

Biologists and animal behaviourists refer to their study of escape responses as escapology. Fish, cockroaches and higher animals move at speed in a direction away from an immediate threat from a predator, but not always, and not directly. The direction of the escape travel depends on the lay of the land, the position of likely … Continue reading

The lion and the jackal

Jackals are omnivores. They eat plants and hunt small prey. Jackals normally forage and hunt singly or in pairs, but will form larger alliances to scavenge a carcass. By stealth, they will steal from a lion. A lion, three jackals and a dead warthog A female lion catches a warthog in the early morning. Warthogs … Continue reading

Tags and codes

Graffiti tags are like the scents left by animals to mark territory. The territorial call signs of birds presumably fill a similar function. Territories are defined as much by secret conventions as they are by walls and boundaries. As explored in my previous post, one of the technical terms for such sign conventions is “deictic” … Continue reading

AI revisited

John Lee and I sat down to talk about AI (artificial intelligence). Both of us were involved in the field in so far as it related to computer-aided design. That experience dates back to the 1980s. In our conversation we touched on how the AI focus has changed since the 1980s. We started by identifying … Continue reading

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