Archive for the ‘Media’ Category

The Cloud and Your Mind

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If you have played online games like ESP, you may be working for free .  Clever entrepreneurs have been finding ways to get the public to do menial jobs for little or no pay via online games, and game like programs.   The new strategy for soliciting people around the world to gather and sift through information has tremendous potential and raises a myriad of ethical questions.  All the participant knows is that they are identifying images or arranging shapes.  They don’t necessarily know who the work is being done for and what will be done with the information.

In his presentation “Minds For Sale”  Jonathan Zittrain, professor of Internet law at Harvard Law School and social theorist, illustrates the great potential of this new labor model, while also raising the extraordinary dangers and ethical concerns the model presents.  It seems that with every new bit of internet ingenuity comes a morass of ethical and philosophical concerns, that we cannot afford to ignore, but also emerging are surprising testaments to the good will and trustworthiness of the vast majority of internet users, which Zittrain is zealous to point out.   I strongly encourage taking time to listen to at least one of Zittrain’s talks.

I have embeded Zittrain’s short presentation at TED as a means of getting acquainted with him and the insights he has to offer.  If you find the talk of interest, then I highly recommend his longer presentation, outlined and embedded bellow.

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Your Thoughts & Wants Are Not Your Own

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Duke University did an interesting study on the effectiveness of subliminal marketing.  What they found was that the result of subliminal marketing appears to be a notable effect not only on ones awareness and interest in a marketed brand, but an influence toward the behavior associated with the brand.  The BBC reported on a similar study and offers interesting insights into theories related to subliminal manipulation.

Written by Aaron Nee

April 27, 2010 at 11:06 am

The BBC Wants Your Sounds

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I find myself strangely inoculated to pictures.  It is not that I don’t appreciate pictures.  I have a great fondness for images, but they do not easily transport me to another time or place.  I imagine my condition is not unique to me.  A picture has the handicap of being framed by other sights which remind you that you are only looking at a picture.  We have also, for the most part, become sophisticated enough about pictures that we can see it not merely as a representation of something that exists or existed in space and time, but we evaluate it’s qualities as a picture: the framing, the color balance, the resolution, exposure, etc… which detaches us from the reality of the thing represented.

Sound is quite a different experience for me and I would wager others as well.  Perhaps the most notable reason is that if one closes their eyes and places headphones over their ears, there is considerably less sensory data to alert the mind to the fact that one is not where the ears suggest.

All this to say that the BBC is compiling a “Sound Map”.  They are collecting sound submissions from all over the world and placing them in their respective positions on a global map.  It does not take much imagination to come up with a great many  sure to be rejected submissions.  I am not sure what the filtering process is.  The BBC’s stated objective is not only to provide a way for visitors to experience the world, but also to preserve sounds that are going extinct.  So if you are looking to experiencing a little bit of the world while relaxing on the couch, or if you have some sounds that represent where you are, pay the sound map a visit.

Written by Aaron Nee

April 24, 2010 at 1:35 pm

Posted in Art, Education, Media

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Forget Wii’s Call of Duty, Wikileaks Offers A More Realistic Representation of War

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You may have heard of the classified video leaked earlier this week by Wikileaks that shows a US air crew in Baghdad on July 12th  2007 repeatedly opening fire on a group of men including Reuters photographer Namir Noor-Eldeen, 22,  his driver Saeed Chmagh, 40, and on a van that stopped to rescue a then wounded Saeed Chmagh.

You may have heard, but if you haven’t seen the video yourself, I would encourage you to watch.

And why would I do such a thing?  US policy calls for major censorship of images of warfare, and the result is a population that lives far removed from the realities of  pain and death.

If you read more about the story altogether, you will encounter what appear to be blatant false claims made by the US military, and more painful information including the surviving wounded children in the van. Really, though, if you choose to not read more, choose to skip over the background info given in the first 2 minutes of the video, and just watch the actual footage taken from the Apache helicopter and listen to the words of those behind the guns, you will be doing yourself a great service.

Familiarize yourself with war and death. Sure, you could play Call of Duty, I suppose, but watching actual men run for their lives, crawling to safety, only to be shot again and again, hearing the words of those doing the shooting and imagining what the experience must have been like for them, will hopefully leave you with a more accurate picture of war than any video game.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates on Tuesday has attacked wikileaks for releasing the video, stating, “”That is the problem with these videos,” Gates said. “You are looking at the war through a soda straw and you have no context or perspective.”

I would agree. It is a serious problem. Perhaps we do lack the correct context or perspective for the wars our country is currently involved in around the globe.

More on Robert Gates Response:,0,4550653.story

More on Wikileaks release:

More on Video Game Comparison:

More on US Military response and history of censorship:,8599,1978017,00.html

More on the Lack of Context:

Written by annnee

April 13, 2010 at 6:21 pm

What? No sex slaves?

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Every documentary filmmaker and journalist knows that it is impossible to present a truly accurate picture of reality.  No matter how hard they try to give an honest presentation of their subject, there is the inescapable reality that the limits of what a camera can fit in its frame and the necessity of editing will censor information – sometimes vital information.  With the inevitability of media distortion in mind, a measure of grace must be extended to any report, especially amateur journalism.  Never the less, I find it difficult to conjure the unfathomable amount of grace needed to forgive the disgustingly twisted, lying ACORN “expose” perpetrated by O’Keef and promulgated not only by the likes of FOX News, but also the NY York Times and just about everyone else reporting on the scandal.  A review of the uncut video used to expose ACORN, tells a different story than the popular narrative used to gut the organization.  Brooklyn District Attorney Charles J. Hynes announced recently that his office found no criminal wrongdoing by ACORN.

Rachel Maddow offers a look at how the tapes were creatively cut and comments on how O’Keef’s journalistic hoax cost innocent people their jobs and helped destroy ACORN.

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Written by Aaron Nee

April 9, 2010 at 10:32 pm

Manipulating the Manipulators

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Derren Brown devises an elaborate demonstration of how subliminal marketing influences even the masters of manipulation.

Embedding is disabled on the clip, so you will have to follow the URL to see it –

Brown performed the same demonstration in his US version of the program.  You can see the slightly modified US demonstration here,

I previously posted an interesting interview with Brown conducted by Richard Dawkins, which is also worth checking out.

Patent This!

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The subject of patents copyrights, trademarks etc. is a subject I find fascinating.  The concept of protecting an idea makes a good deal of sense to me while at the same time seeming absurd to the extreme.  What in fact is an idea and what rights does one have to an idea?  Making laws about something as philosophically slippery as ideas is bound to lead to trouble and abuse.  Bellow are two examples of US patent claims that belong in the Onion and yet are sadly real.

At there is a report on Global Findability, Inc. suing over the use of a fictional alien code in the film Knowing.  The code, a string of numbers, represents a time, place and event apparently in a similar fashion to Global Finability, Inc.’s patent.  It is not clear if the patent includes using aliens as the transmitter.

Even more offensive is US Patent Number 6368227 , an actual patented method of swinging on a swing.  The method patented is a way of swinging that most children in America have probably used independent of anyone teaching them.  The following is from the US Patent Office’s online database.

I claim:

1. A method of swinging on a swing, the method comprising the steps of:

a) suspending a seat for supporting a user between only two chains that are hung from a tree branch;

b) positioning a user on the seat so that the user is facing a direction perpendicular to the tree branch;

c) having the user pull alternately on one chain to induce movement of the user and the swing toward one side, and then on the other chain to induce movement of the user and the swing toward the other side; and

d) repeating step c) to create side-to-side swinging motion, relative to the user, that is parallel to the tree branch.

2. The method of claim 1, wherein the method is practiced independently by the user to create the side-to-side motion from an initial dead stop.

3. The method of claim 1, wherein the method further comprises the step of:

e) inducing a component of forward and back motion into the swinging motion, resulting in a swinging path that is generally shaped as an oval.

4. The method of claim 3, wherein the magnitude of the component of forward and back motion is less than the component of side-to-side motion.

Written by Aaron Nee

March 26, 2010 at 2:08 am