Tag Archives: United States

Don’t Opt Out, Take Back

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Imagine you live at the end of a cul-de-sac in a subdevelopment that is only accessible by a single gate that leads out to a large, high-speed arterial road.  Your friends, your job, your kids’ school are all outside of this development which means life is lived through and on the road that connects your subdevelopment to the rest of the world. Now imagine that, without warning or any kind of democratic process, the company that maintains that road (private companies are subcontracted to do regular maintenance on public roads all the time) decides to add trees on either side of the road to reduce car speed. It’s a relatively benign design intervention and it works. In fact the trees work so well that the company’s engineers publish in a few journals which directly benefits the company financially, through prominence within the truly boring world of road maintenance. When the residents get wind of this experiment, and demand to know why they weren’t even notified, the owner of the road maintenance company says, “if you don’t like it use a different road.” That mind-bending response actually makes more sense than what has been coming out of OKCupid and Facebook these last few weeks. (more…)

Do We Need a New World’s Fair? (Part 1)

This is the first of a two-part series dedicated to answering the question “Do we need a new World’s Fair?” It is an honest question that I do not have an answer to. What I aim to do here is share my thoughts on the subject and present historical data on what these sorts of events have done in the past. In the first part, I explore what previous World Fairs have accomplished and what we must certainly avoid. The second part will investigate what a new 21st century fair might look like, and how it would help our economy. Part 2 is here.

electrical building

By Charles S. Graham (1852–1911). Printed by Winters Art Litho. Co. (Public domain c/o Wikipedia.)

A “World Fair” is first and foremost, a grand gesture. They are typically months if not a few years long. Think of them as temporary theme parks, or the the olympics of technological innovation. They are extravagant, optimistic, and brash. But let’s be clear here. All of the World Fairs held in Paris, Chicago, New York, and Seattle had sections that are deeply troubling. The 19th century fairs had human zoos and “freak shows.” The 20th century fairs were, in many ways, launchpads for the corporate take-over of the public realm and the plundering of the very cities that hosted them (more on that later). But that does not mean the form is totally useless or inherently bad. In fact, a new American World Fair might be just what we need. (more…)

Online Superiority: Developing the Capacity for Augmented War

Most of us here at Cyborgology have written at least one post about augmented warfare and revolution. I suggested that the panopticon has moved to the clouds, and PJ warns that we may soon see it descend into a fog. In the wake of the Arab Spring, we have all commented on what it means to have an augmented revolution (also here, here, and here). The Department of Defense is well aware of this global trend, and is dumping lots of money into understanding how to maintain what I will call online superiority. Just as nations fight for ground, air, and sea superiority in a given conflict, they must now maintain a presence in online meeting spaces. Surveillance and intelligence efforts have always been a part of warfare, and monitoring and disrupting information flows has always been a tactical advantage. While previous engagements in informational warfare have been about information exchange, what we see now are efforts to gain online superiority in order to directly disrupt physical, financial, or tactical resources.

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Hillary Clinton and Internet Freedom (Civilized)

This post originally appeared on one of our favorite blogs, OWNI, 18 February, 2011.

“Internet Freedom? There’s no app for that!” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s speech on Tuesday concerning Internet freedom resembled an online activism campaign from Steve Jobs. A year after laying the foundation for the “21st Century Statecraft” (the catch phrase invented by spin doctors to define diplomacy connections), Clinton was once again promoting Internet freedom, though this time she chose her words more carefully.

At the beginning of 2010, her speech coincided with the incident between Google and China. This time, Clinton waited patiently for positive results from the Egyptian and Tunisian revolutions before launching into her diatribe. With a storytelling air, she started her speech by referring to the temporary Internet black-out initiated by Moubarak:

A few minutes after midnight on January 28, the Internet went dark across Egypt.

She did not waste much time before mentioning Neda, (more…)