Tags: internet


bronies before honies: fandom is magic

Shit, there's no way to measure it
Not everypony grows up to be a pegasus
You gotta let people be hypocrites
Count your blessin's and mind your business

- Atmosphere, "Like the Rest of Us"

If, twenty years ago, you had told me I would be voluntarily attending a My Little Pony convention, I probably would have run into traffic. Twenty years and two death-defying auto accidents later, here I am, dancing to a techno remix of a song about dressmaking with a bunch of teenagers in homemade unicorn costumes.

This isn't as Lord of the Flies as it sounds. I can explain. Honest.

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caonima, censorship

china gets ballsy

For those of you who haven't heard already, computers in China launched a large-scale attack on Google, Adobe, and a number of other large web companies last month. Google has reason to believe that this attack was orchestrated by the Chinese government and not a private group of hackers. The target was apparently the Gmail accounts of human rights activists in China, only two of which were compromised. In response, Google senior vice president David Drummond announced in a post to the company's official blog that Google is going to lift the censorship filters at Google.cn (imposed as a concession to the Chinese government when Google.cn began in 2005), and is threatening to cease its operations in China entirely. Not just google.cn, mind, but also YouTube, Blogger, Gmail, Picasa, all the others. Word on the street says the attacks were launched from Google.cn itself in an attempt to gain access to source code for the rest of their network, and Google is cutting off its China operations to protect its intellectual property. Which is not as crazy as it might sound; the extent of China's cyberespionage program elsewhere is already an open secret.

This, as I see it, could mean one of two things.

1) The PRC believes Chinese human rights activists are planning something absolutely huge in China, and the Chinese government is desperate enough to expose a significant proportion of its cyberespionage resources in an absolutely unsubtle attack on the world's biggest, best-defended web company in order to stop it.
2) The PRC is acting like a superpower. Repercussions? Fuck your repercussions. We're the Middle Kingdom, damn it. Whatcha gonna do, rest of the world? Huh? Huh? Whatcha gonna do? Give us your best shot.

Neither of these bodes well for anyone except the Machiavellian overlords at the CCP.

A plethora of perspectives:
caonima, censorship

one man vs the internet (catch me if you can)

Only compelling article I've ever read in Wired: Writer Evan Ratliff abandons his previous life, starts a new one, offers $5000 to anyone who can find him.

This is the ballsiest move I've seen a journalist make since Stephen Colbert talking smack to power at the White House Correspondents Dinner in 2006. It's one thing to humiliate the most powerful men in the world right in front of them, it's another to invite every cyberstalker on the Internet to collect a $5000 bounty on your own head. You can hide from the government, but you can't hide from everyone. Not in this ultra-connected, instant-communication era. Not in the age of Chinese Internet lynch mobs leaving buckets of shit outside the Qingdao apartment of the parents of a Chinese exchange student attempting to mediate between pro-Tibet and anti-Tibet demonstrators in North Carolina, or 4chan vigilantes paying unsolicited visits to the homes of Wikipedia editors and inviting people to harass the friends, families, employers, and teachers of hackers, fetishists, porn stars, and anyone who doesn't pay Anonymous enough respect.

There is no privacy.

There is no escape.

There is no such thing as starting over.

It's funny how in the 1980s and 1990s people celebrated the anonymity of the Internet as our single greatest weapon against Big Brother, and now, in the 2000s, in an age where people put all their personal information on Facebook and broadcast their location live on Twitter, being tracked without their knowledge by GPS on their cell phones (how do you think 911 dispatchers know how to find you in an accident even when your phone is turned off?) and IP records on every instant message you send, every website you visit, every time you log in to check your bank statement or read your email. The public has become exactly what it feared of the government. None of this legal fiction about "public figures," now, anymore. On the Internet there is no such thing as a public figure. Or a privacy law, or a restraining order. Even the careful and the paranoid leave enough traces for anyone with Google to find real names, phone numbers, social security numbers, home addresses, work addresses, credit cards, screen names, email addresses, email passwords, driver's license registrations, satellite images of their homes, and those of friends and next of kin. I'm not exaggerating--I've done this sort of thing before. It's not like a '80s movie where it takes an awful lot of tech-savvy--the folks who do this are grandmas and bored teenagers. (I did it as a teenager!) Most of it isn't even illegal--and what the Internet lacks in rights of search and seizure it makes up for in sheer manpower.

Big Brother--ha. All this time we worried it'd be the communists, or the government. No, Big Brother is not the government. Big Brother is not the media. Big Brother is, to put it succinctly, you and me.

So it's strangely validating to see this one guy wipe himself off the Internet, anonymize his IP address, destroy his personal records, hop onto a bus to nowhere under an assumed name, and moon the Internet with "Come and get me, fuckers!" magic-markered on his ass as the bus zooms off into the desert. The guy prepared for months in advance; he knew all the tricks. He'd done plenty of research from when he'd written about it before. Left false tracks, took the battery out of his cell, logged in to the Internet via proxies, used gift cards, altered his appearance, infiltrated and misled his pursuers online in their private Twitter groups and IRC channels, told not a soul. His account of the experience is harrowing--the paranoia, dwindling financial resources, and soul-crushing loneliness became just as dangerous to him as the threat of discovery. Starting anew, making new friends, trying to construct a new identity--all of those efforts threatened to compromise his location. And yet, there was no way he could go without them.

He lived for twenty-five days as a fugitive before the Internet curb-stomped his dick.

In the end, one thousand minds are better than one. You can throw them off the scent for a while, but in the end, if you are an alleged traitor, a rebel, an outcast, or any other class of undesirable, the Internet lynch mob will get you. It does not matter if the charges are fabricated--all it takes to libel someone on the Internet is reasonable suspicion. And once the hunt begins, you are not safe anywhere.


dr. frankenstein's regret

Lomans, Not Shamans: This is the most beautiful anti-Web-2.0 war cry I've ever read. Not useful in terms of action or ideology, but beautiful nonetheless. (Can't we enjoy pretty rhetoric for its own sake?)

The author, Wonderchicken, is more interesting than your typical smug, grandiloquent blogger for the following reasons:

  • His web persona is a raging alcoholic. (Emptybottle.org...duh.) An eloquent raging alcoholic. The best kind of raging alcoholic to listen to.
  • A dear friend of his, who was partially responsible for giving him his screen name, died in the Bali nightclub bombings of 2002 and he has been writing about it since. (Start from the bottom of that page and scroll up.)
  • The guy himself is apparently a Web 2.0 developer, and like many Web 2.0 developers he has created a plethora of useful websites for both work and personal amusement. The difference between him and your typical Silicon Valley web monkey is that he refuses to get excited about the industry. In fact, he loathes it. Note this furious screed against Digg founder Kevin Rose's new Twitter-stalking site WeFollow.
  • Not A Howl, A Twitter. Allen Ginsberg, folks! And he actually does it right, unlike everyone else. This may be because, I suspect, he actually is Allen Ginsberg. (Or his late '00s successor, anyway.)

I wonder if, given that Wonderchicken has been around long enough to have had a part in making the Web what it is today, this is his way of looking at the Internet, laughing, danging his empty bottle upside down into the heavens, eyes red, screaming with bitter mirth, "What have I done? Dear God, what the fuck have I done?"

pygmalion's proteges (a commentary on false idols)

Have thirteen minutes to kill? Watch this fascinating Asahi Shimbun-created documentary on Hatsune Miku. Far more than a mere Nico Nico viral, now--and this video provides a rare opportunity to meet the people behind the meme.

The Japanese media is known for being aggressively technocratic, and I believe their bias is evident here. While I'm impressed by their enthusiasm, and am obviously a big Miku fan myself, given the number of her videos I post here, I'm not as optimistic about Miku's Western prospects as her creators are. It's not that the West is behind in the technology aspect--some form of this tech makes it to SIGGRAPH's Emerging Technologies booth every year, and papers presented at the conference no doubt were instrumental to the development of the software itself. It's that we have a cultural concept of musical integrity that is utterly foreign to the Japanese. The power, emotion, and energy that Japan admires in American rock, jazz, and blues, and strives to emulate in its own music, comes from a deep-rooted Western tradition of music as the extension of the self. Music, to us Americans (and to the British and Canadians), is a deeply individual and personal thing--note the truisms about having to suffer to play the blues, or that for punk rock what you lack in musicianship you must compensate for in enthusiasm. Our rock stars aren't just musicians, they're folk heroes. We write contemporary ballads about the tragic suicide of Kurt Cobain, or the doomed career and star-crossed love of Sid Vicious and his girlfriend Nancy, or the world-changing idealism of John Lennon. The memorials to Michael Jackson are scrawled black with magic-markered stories from people he never knew.Collapse )
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caonima, censorship

hurr, "youth escort"

A couple days ago, the People's Republic of China took their Internet censorship regime to the next logical step: the Green Dam Youth Escort program (绿坝·花季护航)! What is Green Dam Youth Escort? Well, it's a cute, fluffy (look at the bunny rabbits!), mandatory software package that will inspect all data coming to your computer at the socket layer and protect you from viewing subversive political materials pornography. Essentially, it will legally require every computer in China, whether imported from abroad or domestically produced, to be a telescreen. Your children can browse the Internet safely now that Big Brother is watching them.

This is not a hypothetical threat. It has already happened, as of July 1.

Of course, only manufacturers are legally bound to include the software in new machines. Users are free to uninstall it, if they wish. But, of course, what good law-abiding, CCP-obeying citizen would bother? Surely, if you have nothing to hide, there is nothing to be afraid of.

Fortunately, since Green Dam Youth Escort is CCP-commissioned software of the same caliber as the Golden Shield firewall, there are catastrophic security holes. Not just catastrophic to the proper functioning of the program, but...goodness, imagine being able to take down any legally purchased machine in China with a buffer overrun. Also, early reports say it only works on Windows machines, and it totally ignores Firefox.

Naturally, the Chinese-speaking Internet has responded to this new policy the only way they know how: with moe.

(More pictures of Dam-tan here.)

Internet culture? I think I love you.

(edit) Looks like ACWeb.cn, a Chinese clone of Nico Nico Douga, has gotten in on the action:

most accidentally cs-erudite spam email ever

Subject lines of two spam emails that appeared in my inbox today:

You can be a p * star
The rocket of a p * star

Insert joke about casting pointers to long.

Or: P's got 2^99 problems and a bitch ain't one.

Or, as a regular expression: Insert joke about expanding Ps.

Or, if you're more of a space geek: http://vsevcosmos.livejournal.com/14219085.html

epic marriage proposals on teh intarwubz

Now that I have thoroughly asserted my masculinity, I will bring it into question again!

Webcartoonists of the world, unite!

Nerrrrrrds. (Some the comments for this one are hilarious, especially after #100 or so.)

i has a mate

Nerrrrrrrrrrrrrds! (Note: this script actually runs.)

Not really thinking about marriage right now, but seeing the scraggly teenagers behind major Internet communities grow up, mate, nest, and spawn offspring is a little frightening. So much for the whole forty-and-living-in-your-parents'-basement stereotype.


in communist china, big brother watch you

Mr. Hu Jintao? If, as you claim, you are truly committed to "democracy, the rule of law, equity, justice, sincerity, amity and vitality" among your citizens--your own words--then you know what you must do.


LJ is blocked in China, but freedom finds a way. I hope your people find that way too, Mr. Hu. My people certainly have.

(A less concise summary.)