Saturday, 25 April 2015

Tracking Tweeting in Katmandu Earthquake


A lot of very sad tweets are coming from the tourist area of Katmandu, which was hit heavily by the Earthquake. Tourists are most likely to be tweeting. The mobile networks seems to be up and running though.

And here is a crowded area in Katmandu where locals are tweeting. Few tweets but lots and lots of RTs of tweets that there are.

Friday, 24 April 2015

Statue of Liberty Tweets

This app tracks tweets coming from around the Statue of Liberty, which at this time is being evacuated.
Oddly enough for such a disturbing story I am not seeing New York City talking bout it yet.
This app tracks tweets coming from around the Statue of Liberty, which at this time is being evacuated.

Monday, 13 April 2015


In response to recent changes in the law of Spain, widely seen restricting the rights to protest, an innovative group of opposition has started a way to use technology to try and avoid penalties imposed by law on protest. The group called Holograms for Freedom holographic images, collected from the web, to 'beam' a virtual protest to a site, allowing people to participate without breaking the law.

Though this seems like an innovative idea, it seems more troubling than promising. Firstly the law could be easily be revised to extent to holograph representations. Also, as we have seen all too often, it would probably be easier to the state to track virtual presence than real presence at an event. And as I have noted with 'troll bombing' it is now possible for the state to use technology to create its own counter virtual protests, and now that they can use holographs.

It remains my conviction that the best roll of technology in protest is to extend, not try to racially replace existing forms of communal engagement. The web can give everyone a printing press, but if democracy is going to enter the virtual world it gives the advantage to existing power structures.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Tracking tweets from #OccupySLU protest

Map above gives real time level of tweeting activity around #OccupySLU protest, tweets below show what people are talking about.
For perspective look how much lower it is in downtown Saint Louis.

Monday, 29 September 2014

Another Twitter Protest Case Study: Hong Kong


The current protests in Hong Kong are giving us another case study to see how twitter mobile usage and retweeting are becoming tools of modern protest.  Above is a map of the levels of tweeting from 1 KM radius of the site, and below you see the actual tweets coming fem the area.

One of the things that make this interesting in Hong Kong is that users are well informed about security, and though twitter is active we see not as much tweeting as at a Taxim Square, reports say users are opting for Firechat to hide their identity from Chinese authorities.  If true the days of using Twitter to spy on protests in much of the world may be numbered.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Tweeting History

The app bellows measures the intensity of tweets coming from, or being RT from, the site of the September 11 World Trade Center attacks.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Mapping tweets from Ferguson Riots



Ferguson is a small town, but the riots there have given it global presence, reflected in the massive amount of twitter activity taking place there as opposed to the major city of Saint Louis right now. That said most of the tweets are retweets of Ryan J. ReillyVerified @ryanjreilly and Michael Calhoun
@michaelcalhoun.  This reflects the high level of global review of events in Ferguson, which can be measured by the ratios of RT to Tweets for the location.

Tweets and RT geo-tagged for Ferguson at 5:00 AM 14 of August 2014, at the height of riots

The same levee at the same time in Saint Louis, a city of 300,000 residents.  That is 15 times Ferguson's 20,000. 


Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Why Hackers Won't Save the World

Recent tweets from Hacker Of Planet Earth HOPEX conference, with popular meme 'speaking truth to power.'


I was a bit disturbed that so shortly after the MH17 was shot down using Russian supplied weapons that a self proclaimed Hackers conference, Hackers of Planet Earth no less, would carry out a massive love feast for Snowden.  I was surprised by such bad taste.  

This failure to deal with, or even understand, the political clumsiness of giving Putin's guest a platform at such a time underlines serious issues with hackers, and why hacker activism is not going to give us freedom anytime soon.  

Here are the key reasons I hackers are essentially useless as political and social agents for change:

  1. Hackers are elitists. In the communities hackers create they have shown themselves not able to create equality of either gender or race.  Hackers quickly become members of the elite programmer community, and thus are vested in the system as is no matter what they may say
  2. Hackers have terrible mental health.  We all know this terrible ugly generalisation is sadly pretty true. From Impostor Syndrome to Aspergers much of what makes a hacker a talented technologist is purchased at the cost of mental health. Skills of obsession, mass amounts of time to concentrate on a project and necessary isolation from social activities to do the work do not come with mental health. 
  3. Hackers are cowards. Taking on power takes courage. Hackers like to talk about how much courage their leaders and members have but in reality on the ground metal and valour are pretty rare.  Not to mention any names, but a political movement where the shinning stars kill themselves when facing a few months in jail, run to embassies to hide when accused of rape, or flee to dictatorships rather than face the power directly is not going anywhere.  Try to image a resistance to Fascism of Communism which involved running, hiding or killing oneself at the threat of prison time.  When you look at leaders who did change the world, for good or bad, like Che, Mao, Martin Luther King, Mandela, and others you see a willingness to face long prison terms and sacrifice their lives.  Nothing like this exists in the hacker activist community, which will go to great length to avoid any persecution at all.  Cowards never changed history. (for the record I am a coward as well, but I don't present myself as a leader speaking truth to power)
  4. Hackers cannot be trusted. Hackers have a long history of selling out to power, and a large number of hackers have ended up working for state entities to avoid prison time.  I would go as far as to say that anyone who is certain that Snowden is not helping the FSB must be a fool.
  5. A hack is not a solution. Hackers mistake specific technical skill learned via hands on playing around with wisdom gained through reading, thinking and discourse.  Rather hackers rely on re-usable often copied solutions to fudge or work around a problem.  Hacks promote short term shallow thinking.  A world view composed of hacks creates an isolated view of items without connections, histories or meanings.  Rather the world is a collection of hacks, short solutions or work arounds that exist by themselves. 
  6. Hackers are not social. This one is so obvious one wonders why it is not mentioned more often. Hackers tend not to know very much about what other people are thinking and writing who are not hackers.  Hackers tend to lack breath to concentrate on insane levels of depth, understanding a technical discipline and something about popular culture to extreme extents. 
  7. Hackers are shallow. Hackers rarely know much about larger political, economic and social issues. Educational system that producers programmers, or self taught programming, has not given the grounding to political discourse.  Hackers tend to be more interested in popular culture and technology, and often treat the entire world of history, sociology and economics as empty planes.  Kevin Kelly is an amazing example of this, he and the other Whole Earth Catalogue crowd in California have a long history of writing on social issues as if they were the first person in history to even notice that issues existed.  Many nerd types are today writing on issues of society, which they confuse for social networks, as if no human in history had ever noticed society existed.

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Moncton Case Study

Above shows a map of the area where the Moncton shootings took place, below is a picture shortly after the event of tweets from inside that area.



And outside that area but still in Moncton.