bots and riots

A Fistful of Euros asked Gavi Eran, an expert on botnets about the recent cyber-attack on Estonia. Incredibly, although botnets (massive number of PCs infected with viruses directed to do a specific operation) were involved, a good part of the traffic was a cyber-riot, consisting of Russian citizens attacking sites manually on the suggestion of forums and blogs. For more, go to the post here.
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the end of the long tail?

In the Guardian, Nicholas Carr suggests that "The net is being carved up into information plantations ." He observes that more and more Google searches are returning less and less sites—"if you Google any person, place or thing today, you're almost guaranteed to find Wikipedia at or near the top of the list of recommended pages"—and that traffic is increasingly consolidating in sites like Myspace. Carr's article is based on "The Shrinking Long Tail " by Richard MacManus at Read/WriteWeb. Indeed, this is a danger to the Long Tail, that no matter how much we obsessively fetishize our micro-cluster of consumption, for the most part, we all do the same things, or at least similar things.

On the other hand, does this mean we should lament the demise of the Long Tail? By no means. Rather, it suggests that yet again, we've been too simplistic in valorizing the meshwork over the hierarchy, something that Manuel de Landa so aptly cautioned we should not do in the introduction to his 1,000 Years of Nonlinear History. Since that is not available on the Internet, if you don't have it handy, you might find his piece on Meshworks, Hierarchies, and Interfaces worth a read. I'll cite the last few lines to tempt you:

Hence, demonizing centralization and glorifying decentralization as the solution to all our problems would be wrong. An open and experimental attitude towards the question of different hybrids and mixtures is what the complexity of reality itself seems to call for. To paraphrase Deleuze and Guattari, never believe that a meshwork will suffice to save us.

Time to work this into the network culture essay more directly, I suspect.

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Russia Unleashes Cyberwar on Estonia

The BBC reports that Russia has unleashed cyberwar on Estonia in retaliation for the Baltic country's moving of a Soviet-occupation era memorial that the Russian government says symbolizes war dead but that for Estonia symbolizes occupation. Unlike Russia (or LIthuania for that matter) Estonia is one of the most networked countries in Europe. Is this the first case of cyberwar? Politically acceptable dirty tricks? Well, I suppose it's better than the U.S.'s debacle in Iraq.

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dangerous reading

While doing research for my next paper at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, I ran across this pdf, the script of Three Days of the Condor, one of my favorite films.

In this brilliant collaboration between Robert Redford and Sydney Pollack, our hero is Turner, a CIA operative working in an office in ethereally beautiful 1970s New York. Turner finds himself on the run and is baffled as to why since all he does is read. Here's one of the key moments in the plot, here Turner is explaining himself to the character Kathy, played by Faye Dunaway.

Listen. I work for the CIA. I'm not a spy. I just read books. We read everything that's published in the world, and we–we feed the plots–dirty tricks, codes into a computer, and the computer checks against actual CIA plans and operations. I look for leaks, new ideas. We read adventures and novels and journals. I–I can-Who'd invent a job like that? I–Listen! People are trying to kill me!

The air is thick with Watergate-era government conspiracy as Turner tries to avoid being caught while tracing just who is trying to kill him by hacking into telephone networks.

Well worth watching, or re-watching. Well worth asking…just where is today's version?

Book Cover

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Network Power


Via Slashdot, Arstechnica reports that U. S. data servers now use double the power tha they did five years ago and now consume more power than color televisions.

One of the great myths of network culture is that networks and digital technology are virtual entities that don't pollute, dwelling in some kind of Platonic immaterial world.

Not True!



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