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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

Index fever

In writing about the post-digital condition, media commentator Florian Cramer identified a “semiotic shift to the indexical”(22) and away from symbols. The indexical relationship is a direct connection between an object and its sign, as if the sign is caused by its object (as smoke or soot are caused by fire). According to C.S. Peirce, … Continue reading

Encrypted city

Urban metaphors are powerful in the world of computing. The reverse is also true. Computing brings metaphors to bear on how we think of cities — as flows of data, networks, circuits, grids and an Internet of things, as if cities are made up of bits, memories (RAM), sensors, actuators, and with communication systems, inputs, … Continue reading

Romancing the blockchain

The blockchain idea is addictive for some. It’s technically fascinating, mysterious and counter-intuitive. It depends on cryptography to function, and inherits the fascination many of us have with cyphers and codes. Who can resist the lure of a secret message? The way blockchain platforms function also mystify with their abstruse methods and terminology: proof of … Continue reading

Sign here ……………………

How do signatures function? A signature is a sign, seal, or mark on a document indicating its authenticity, as when a painter signs a painting, or someone signs a letter or legal document. The signature and the thing it marks is meant to be a one-off. The signature marks an original document, before the thing … 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

Immutable data

An application on the exorbin.com website can convert any block of data into a near unique 64 character string of characters. Fun with SHA256 So “abc” converts to ba7816bf8f01cfea414140de5dae2223b00361a396177a9cb410ff61f20015ad My name, “Richard Coyne”, converts to ba7c5c9e90f05540084e798effd0389b60ec98677662017065d34a0b880778a7 Here’s some Shakespeare “To be, or not to be — that is the question: Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to … Continue reading

Wasting time in the bit economy

One way to demonstrate your wealth is to show how much free time you have. Freed from the drudgery required to keep fed, secure and comfortable, the wealthy have time on their hands to sit around in coffee shops, take long holidays, indulge in unprofitable hobbies, and acquire esoteric skills and affectations that are surplus … Continue reading

Do digital devices influence your mood?

I put this question to a class of students in digital media and culture. As if we were ever in any doubt, most people agree that technologies do influence the way you feel, and networked, social-media-enabled mobile and laptop devices offer more than other tech. At the very least they provide channels for mood altering entertainment. … Continue reading

Social media help you to believe what you want to believe

The Scottish referendum on independence has helped expose something we knew all along about what it is to have an opinion. Some of us are good at filtering out the evidence we would rather not see, and accepting only what supports our beliefs. In an article in The Times yesterday, journalist Hugo Rifkind identified the current mood of the so-called … Continue reading

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