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Data waste

Four years ago when excitement about the 3D role-playing environment SecondLife was in full frenzy, a group of us constructed a playground promontory on the edge of the University’s main island. We built walls that changed their surface patterns and moved about in response to signals from mobile phones (in physical life). It was a … Continue reading

Riddle of the Sphinx

When is a riddle like a passcode? That’s not a riddle by the way. The Sphinx guarded the gate to the city of Thebes and required travellers to answer a riddle before gaining access to the city. Riddles are a bit like passcodes. They typically present as permutations, combination of elements, albeit for small numbers, … Continue reading

Second Life revisited

It’s eleven years since I explored the shared 3D world of Second Life. The University of Edinburgh owns a virtual island there, and in 2006 I was gifted a small promontory of land on which to conduct some experiments. This playground nook was always a mess. One of our team created a stylised version of … Continue reading

Mood machines

Machines that don’t work invariably put people in a bad mood. But the relationship between machines, mood and failure provides many sources of interest. “Mood machine” is not just an appealing alliteration. Type it into your search engine. There’s something intriguing about a machine that claims to put you in the mood (especially a good … Continue reading

Blog archive (and About)

What this blog site is about I draw on philosophy and cultural theory to help understand current affairs, architecture and developments in digital technology. These are not opinion pages, though my strongly held view that academic reflection really matters as we try to understand contemporary living may seep through. These posts are scheduled to appear … Continue reading

Site index

Results appear in reverse date order. You can also use the search box above or the Google menu. 3D printing 4D printing Accelerationism Activism Affective and emotion Africa Agon Alberti Ambience Anger Animals Anime Apocalypse Art Artificial Intelligence Attention Audience engagement Augmented reality Aura Ayn Rand Bad Actors Bauhaus Belief Big Bang Theory Big data … Continue reading

Hacking the city of the future

What happens when hackers get hacked? The headquarters of the US National Security Agency (NSA) is located between the cities of Washington and Baltimore. Amongst its many operations the NSA develops hacking tools for spying on other countries. But some of these tools leaked out, and earlier this year were turned on the city of … Continue reading

An anti-hacker puzzle

Following on from my previous post … Here’s a simple puzzle challenge. The SHA256 hashing algorithm (see earlier post: Immutable data) converts any string of text (integers or letters) into a (near) unique 64 character long string of numbers and letters. Using this algorithm the string “301253” (someone’s birthdate) translates to the string of characters … Continue reading

There’s an app for that

Long before smartphones existed I undertook a course that taught me to identify plant specimens. This was part of my landscape architecture degree. The course was to help designers select plants for parks, gardens, street planting, national parks, reclamation sites, etc. I learned the botanical names by rote of a couple of hundred species, mostly those available in and around Melbourne. I … Continue reading

Pictures devour reality

Most of us harbour the suspicion that being photographed removes something essential: if not our souls, then privacy, security, self image, the way we want to look. According to Susan Sontag the camera can “presume, intrude, trespass, distort, exploit, and, at the farthest reach of metaphor, assassinate” (Sontag, 1979, p.13) … and from a safe distance. … Continue reading

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