Archive for the ‘applications’ Category

Research is the New Music

Monday, February 23rd, 2009

I’ve started trying out a new service, called Mendeley. The quickest way to describe it is a “last.fm for research;” they have a desktop client that can monitor the pdf files that you are reading, and an online presence where each user has a profile. (Read about them on their blog; my profile is here). So far, it seems that they are at a very early stage. However, the basic functionality (seeing/tagging/searching papers you read) seems quite nice. On the other hand, an obvious difficulty is that of extracting accurate meta-data from research pdf files.

The similarity between research papers and songs is quite striking. Think of it this way: songs (research papers) are made by musicians (authored by researchers), have a name (title), and are collected in albums (journals/conference proceedings). Both have a time of release; both can be tagged/described/loved/hated; both are blogged and talked about. Sometimes artists make music videos, sometimes researchers make presentations or demos. (more…)

paths of least surveillance, broadcasting of text messages, and eternity flyers

Friday, November 14th, 2008

Today, I was reading Art Review and came across The Institute for Applied Autonomy (IAA), which is  an organization dedicated to the cause of individual and collective self-determination. Members of this organization are developing robots for supporting culturally resistant forces. For example: Pamphleteer, aka “Little Brother,” is a propaganda robot which distributes subersive literature; and StreetWriter/SWX is a vehicle that prints text messages onto the pavement in a manner much like a dot-matrix printer. They are also attempting to undermine or reverse the authoritative power associated with surveillance. Two projects in that direction: iSee is a web-based application charting the locations of closed-circuit television (CCTV) surveillance cameras in urban environments – users can find routes that avoid these cameras (“paths of least surveillance“) allowing them to walk around their cities without fear of being “caught on tape” by unregulated security monitor; and TXTmob is a free service that lets you quickly and easily broadcast txt messages to friends, comrades, and total strangers. See a cool video (mov) about how TXTmob was used by protesters in NYC – with TXTmob, protesters were able to disperse themselves before police reinforcements arrived only to reconvene around a new target moments later (this technique is called swarming and is considered by security experts the most effective tool at modern activists’ disposal)

I hope that, with my research, I would be able one day to realize my dream of  Eternity Flyers:

People who live outside an office of Scientology can make their WiFi hotspots available to store electronic flyers about Scientology. People who come along can then receive those flyers and further disseminate them using their Bluetooth-enabled mobile phones. Being better-informed, people can then decide whether to stop by and join a cult whose members “want the global obliteration of psychiatrists, who they say were to blame for the rise of Nazi Germany”. One may rightly argue that this news can be published on the Internet. A good point, surely, expect that people who did so on their homepages have taken it down after threats of lawsuits by Scientology’s lawyers (known to be deep-pocketed vigorous litigants). By contrast, if dozens of WiFi hotspots were to store this news, it would surely keep popping up, and it would do so just where needed – around the Scientology office.