Book-Text-Read-Zines · Social/Politics · Technology

Silicon and surveillance: A tale of big data and bigger conspiracies


Thomas Pynchon’s novels have several recurring themes: paranoia and conspiracy, pastiches of high and low culture, synchronicity and coincidence, shadowy networks lurking around every corner, and the impact of science and technology. With the coming of the Internet age and the surveillance society that sprang up in the wake of 11 September 2001, it seems as though reality has finally caught up with his vision. In his latest work, Bleeding Edge, Pynchon takes full advantage of this convergence.

The first question asked of a new Pynchon book is: is this one of the sprawling, spiralling, time-tripping monsters with innumerable characters and a plot that is tricky to bring into focus, like Gravity’s Rainbow or Against the Day; or is it one of the fun detective stories with a well-defined protagonist, like The Crying of Lot 49 or Inherent Vice? Bleeding Edge is definitely in the latter category. There is a colourful cast of memorable personalities, and high jinks often ensue, but the tale is told linearly, from the point of view of an acknowledged main character, with something approximating an explicit goal.

Excerpt from an article written by Sean M. Carroll at Nature. Continue THERE

Digital Media · Film/Video/New Media · Public Space · Social/Politics

TPB AFK: The Pirate Bay Away From Keyboard

The Pirate Bay Away From Keyboard documentary, which tells the story behind the embattled Swedish Pirate Bay project, is now available on YouTube. The film just premiered in Europe and was simultaneously launched on line at Youtube and for download on Pirate Bay.

It’s the day before the trial starts. Fredrik packs a computer into a rusty old Volvo. Along with his Pirate Bay co-founders, he faces $13 million in damage claims to Hollywood in a copyright infringement case. Fredrik is on his way to install a new computer in the secret server hall. This is where the world’s largest file sharing site is hidden.

When the hacker prodigy Gottfrid, the internet activist Peter and the network nerd Fredrik are found guilty, they are confronted with the reality of life offline – away from keyboard. But deep down in dark data centres, clandestine computers quietly continue to duplicate files.

Bio · Book-Text-Read-Zines · Digital Media · Human-ities · Technology

When Biometrics Fail: Gender, Race, And The Technology Of Identity

From digital fingerprinting to iris and retina recognition, biometric identification systems are a multibillion dollar industry and an integral part of post-9/11 national security strategy. Yet these technologies often fail to work. The scientific literature on their accuracy and reliability documents widespread and frequent technical malfunction. Shoshana Amielle Magnet argues that these systems fail so often because rendering bodies in biometric code falsely assumes that people’s bodies are the same and that individual bodies are stable, or unchanging, over time. By focusing on the moments when biometrics fail, Magnet shows that the technologies work differently, and fail to function more often, on women, people of color, and people with disabilities. Her assessment emphasizes the state’s use of biometrics to control and classify vulnerable and marginalized populations—including prisoners, welfare recipients, immigrants, and refugees—and to track individuals beyond the nation’s territorial boundaries. When Biometrics Fail is a timely, important contribution to thinking about the security state, surveillance, identity, technology, and human rights.

When Biometrics Fail: Gender, Race, and the Technology of Identity
by Shoshana Amielle Magnet

Text and Image via BiblioVault

Architectonic · Blog-Sites · Social/Politics

Nextdoor: Know your neighbors

According to Nextdoor: Nextdoor is a private social network for your neighborhood. It’s the easiest way for you and your neighbors—and only you and your neighbors—to talk online and make all of your lives better in the real world. And it’s free.

Hundreds of neighborhoods are already using Nextdoor to build happier, safer places to call home.