Wednesday, February 23, 2011

CIA Flickr


The CIA has started a Flickr account, where you can see such strange things as Robot Fish Charlie, the Dragonfly Insectothoper, the oh-so-fashionable Bodyworn Surveillance Equipment and my favorite, the tasteful, purse-friendly Concealment Device (Modified Ladies Make-Up Compact) (I wish I had one of these; those shiny, oily spots on my nose have frequently blown my stealth capabilities when stalking bar-prey).

So stoke both your outlandish design sense and your paranoia by taking a look before it's all pulled down in favor of National Security or something.

[BTW, Robot Fish Charley looks suspiciously like something from Igor Ballyhoo (except not as pointy) and I believe the Dragonfly Insectothopter to be one of Glyph Graves' early projects...]

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Identity, sockpuppets and you

There's been a lot of blog activity recently about "identity" and "transparency" online. Here's something you might want to think about regarding these issues and the effects that may result...

The trove of emails released by Anonymous from the HBGary Federal just keeps revealing more convergence between government, the military and corporations in the slow-motion data war to cripple, pollute and control the net.

HBGary Federal is of course the company that got its pants pulled down by Anonymous after making bombastic and ludicrous claims that it had "uncovered key leaders and figures in Anonymous" (a claim later ridiculed, shown to be a complete lie and resulting in the electronic pantsing that is revealing so much information lately). Some of the emails Anonymous has leaked also include discussing black-hat hacking at the request of Bank of America. HBGary Federal is a defense contractor with ties to the federal government, Hunton & Williams, DOD, NSA, and the CIA...

The newest bombshell is the release of key emails between HBGary and a Federal job solicitation site ( discussing creating software that would field an an army of sockpuppets to suborne, distort and pollute commentators, bloggers and online sites. - i.e. astroturfing.

Before you start talking to me about paranoia, tinfoil hats and the like, you should take a few minutes to read the discussion and posted emails at DailyKOS. You should also read the posted Federal job opportunities page soliciting this kind of software.

HBGary email quote:

"To build this capability we will create a set of personas on twitter,‭ ‬blogs,‭ ‬forums,‭ ‬buzz,‭ ‬and myspace under created names that fit the profile‭ (‬satellitejockey,‭ ‬hack3rman,‭ ‬etc‭)‬.‭ ‬These accounts are maintained and updated automatically through RSS feeds,‭ ‬retweets,‭ ‬and linking together social media commenting between platforms.‭ ‬With a pool of these accounts to choose from,‭ ‬once you have a real name persona you create a Facebook and LinkedIn account using the given name,‭ ‬lock those accounts down and link these accounts to a selected‭ ‬#‭ ‬of previously created social media accounts,‭ ‬automatically pre-aging the real accounts."

Quote from the soliciting this software:

"Software will allow 10 personas per user, replete with background , history, supporting details, and cyber presences that are technically, culturally and geographacilly consistent. Individual applications will enable an operator to exercise a number of different online persons from the same workstation and without fear of being discovered by sophisticated adversaries. Personas must be able to appear to originate in nearly any part of the world and can interact through conventional online services and social media platforms. The service includes a user friendly application environment to maximize the user's situational awareness by displaying real-time local information. "

So how, exactly, is this any different that "hackers" managing huge botnets of zombies... or stealing your identity... or breaking the TOS of each of these sites (deliberately falsifying information)... or ballot-box/poll box stuffing. All of which are of course illegal. For now. So... the government is... advocating black-hat hacking, social manipulation and falsifying online presence for political purposes. Which is... exactly what the "we need total online transparency now!" people claim is the reason for needing total online transparency! *whoosh*

If you think that a government/corporation that would resort to this kind of deceptive, illegal and underhanded tactic would protect your personal information/identity online (just like the banks... who rant and rave about "hackers" and yet will sell me anyone's personal info I want for 25USD)... then I am sorry for you. There's a reason anonymous speech is/was/used to be protected by constitutional rights.

My data & identity must be transparent, but a corporation working for the government (or anyone else for that matter) can create false records, break TOS, engage in replicating fake "identities" and use those "social manipulation points" to attempt to drown and stifle debate, criticism or news? I think not.

This is gloves-off infowar. It's real and it's now.

"The social body constrains the way the physical body is perceived. The physical experience of the body, always modified by the social categories through which it is known, sustains a particular view of society. There is a continual exchange of meaning between the two kinds of bodily experience so that each reinforces the categories of the other. As a result of this interaction, the body itself is a highly-restricted medium of expression...

To be useful, the structural analysis of symbols has somehow to relate to a hypothesis about role structure. From here, the argument will go in two stages. First, the drive to achieve consonance in all levels of experience produces concordance among the means of expression, so that the use of the body is co-ordinated with other media. Second, controls exerted from the social system place limits on the use of the body as medium."

Mary Douglas, Natural Symbols.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Gaimin, Conan and Khan: Revolution in Progress

A few things this week stood out from the What's Miso Reading list that I thought worth sharing:


Following the HBGary Federal boasting about going after Anonymous for cyber attacks on companies terminating services to Wikileaks, the subsequent breach of HBGary by Anonymous releasing company memos implicating Bank of America, its law firm Hunton & Williams and the US Chamber of Commerce in proposals to recruit cyber criminals to "go after" Wikileaks and other "activists" by illegal methods and resultant uncovering of collusion between government and business.... whew! Head-spinning but crucial. One of the writers targeted by BofA, Glenn Greenwald, has an interesting article on the entire skirmish and its implications.


Neil Gaiman released a video on ORGZine being interviewed by the Open Rights Group about piracy, copyright, the net and business models.

"That's really all this is. It's people lending books. And you can't look on that as a lost sale.... What you're actually doing is advertising. You're reaching more people. You're raising awareness. And understanding that gave me a whole new idea of the shape of copyright and what the web was doing. Because the biggest thing the web was doing is allowing people to hear things, allowing people to read things, allowing people to see things they might never have otherwise seen. And I think, basically, that's an incredibly good thing."


Conan O'Brien, a hardcore Big Media Guy for 17 years, is an interesting case study in self-reinvention and embracing the digital world. Dropped from The Tonight Show only 7 months after moving the entire show from NY to LA and a digital naif, O'Brien has embraced the digital distribution model and is enjoying his 2.0 career immensely. This article from Fortune Magazine details his baptism and conversion process, talks about ownership and distribution partnerships and gives some excellent real-world statistics why he's more successful than ever.


The Khan Academy

If you aren't aware of this site, I've just done you a huge favor. Salman Khan founded the Khan Academy with the hope of using technology to foster new learning models. Begun as a series teaching simple math lessons for free through over 2000 YouTube videos, the Khan Academy has exploded recently with an influx of donations and support, expanding the math videos into a complete set of lessons, test exercises, and evaluations and adding whole new video courses on history, the sciences, finances and even venture capital. This is one of the bright and blazing stars for future education models. Oh yeah - it's also totally free.


Gaming search engines is a form of information pollution; skewing or slanting results through dubious and sly maneuvers. Sometimes those maneuvers pass the dubious-n-sly line, as this NY Times article on JC Penney's gaming of Google search results illustrates. There's also some nice names and techniques to delve into in the article as well as a critical look at Google's efforts to maintain an honest search engine.

Such articles are becoming more common and the reason why I use blekko and DuckDuckGo lately to cross-search (Memory Lane: I was a staunchly loyal AltaVista user until these same issues converted me to Google back in the day)


The InfoWars are heating up...

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Day-Glo @ Kelly Yap Galleries

Some very cool art in a new gallery by Kelly Yap. Dress up Bright and Dance among the Rooftop Forest of Soror Nishi! Prizes for the Brightest, the Strangest and the Most Cosmic!

Also take a walk down the Art Walk when you get time...lots of new artists! The Kelly Yap Art Walk is now hosting Eliza Quinzet, rant Ugajin, Ally Aeon, Bobbi Laval, Harter Fall, Em Larsson, lala Lightfoot, Callipygian Christensen, Penelope Parx, Peoney Feld, Gallery SYNergy, Sonia Stardust, Nik Gandt and ginou Forcella


Another Episode of IMprov Theatre

Trill Zapatero: I've decided that I'm not an artist but a creator
Trill Zapatero: creaTOR
Miso Susanowa: not creaTRIX?
Trill Zapatero: call me trixie
Miso Susanowa: ok call me Madge
Trill Zapatero: k Madge
Trill Zapatero: Madge and Trixie
Miso Susanowa: yeah and we can wear orange juice rollers in our hair
Miso Susanowa: and smoke too much
Miso Susanowa: and complain about how hard life is
Trill Zapatero: and laugh all loud with our mouths wide open
Miso Susanowa: with lipstick on our teeth
Trill Zapatero: and smak each other when it's a rullly rully good joke
Miso Susanowa: and laugh just a bit too horsily
Miso Susanowa: horseily?
Trill Zapatero: horsey
Miso Susanowa: and take "pep pills" in secret
Trill Zapatero: and drive like lunatics
Trill Zapatero: flipping everyone the bird
Miso Susanowa: and sometimes just sit in our kitchen and cry
Miso Susanowa: and remember when we were the Prom Queen and now look at us
Miso Susanowa: saddlebags, stretchmarks and a raspy cough
Trill Zapatero: sagggggy boooobs
Trill Zapatero: I swear I'm wearing a torn housecoat
Trill Zapatero: drinking beer in a coffee mug
Miso Susanowa: and really brokedown fuzzy duster slippers
Miso Susanowa: oh... i was going for gin
Trill Zapatero: i have those lips that all the lipstick smears up into the cracks
Trill Zapatero: yes
Trill Zapatero: you're the skinny one
Miso Susanowa: the skinny nervous one
Trill Zapatero: I smak you out of mirth and knock you over
Miso Susanowa: i mean i have a "condition"
Trill Zapatero: and you just laugh your skinny ass off
Miso Susanowa: except when i go maniac and act like a furious avenging bitch
Miso Susanowa: when i snap
Trill Zapatero: then I lock my fat self in the bathroom
Trill Zapatero: and you can't get to your heartmeds
Trill Zapatero: your blood pressure meds
Miso Susanowa: and i am pounding on the door screaming GODDAMIT MADGE I THINK I'M HAVING A HEART ATTACK
Trill Zapatero: I'm trixie you're madge
Miso Susanowa: it's the meds
Trill Zapatero: you really got it bad
Miso Susanowa: they confuse me sometimes
Trill Zapatero: so sad really
Trill Zapatero: and we haven't cleaned the cat box for two years, cause it's your turn
Miso Susanowa: i can't interrupt my programs
Miso Susanowa: besides... didn't our cat die like 3 years ago?
Trill Zapatero: nooooo he's just sleeping
Miso Susanowa: LMAO
Trill Zapatero: shut UP
Miso Susanowa: no YOU shut up
Miso Susanowa: *splashes gin on*

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Cut Off

So by now you know that a country can and will sever all connectivity; cellphones, internet connections, wireless with very little effort -

Egypt's big internet disconnect [guardian]

Egypt shuts down its net with a series of phone calls [wired]

Twitter shut down [wired]

This is why I sometimes write political omg no she said 'political' it's just not... done material you're supposed to be post-post ironically detached into an ostensive art diary/journal/cv/entertainment psychomirror diary of a mad webwalker?... mostly having to do with the politics of information and divergent mental states.

Viva l'Internet! Hurrah for connectivity! Down with the real bandwidth pirates!

Information just wants to be free. This is our frontier; this is our country of the mind and of the net. This is suppression of the people's right to assembly and to converse. This is relevant to everything I believe about living in and being part of the network of this technology and of the people inhabiting, forming and shaping it as the communications medium of the next century.

I know, it's a corny emotional soapbox dramatic but hey- it's my blog ^_^