Multi-Headed · posted by vaibhav bhawsar Apr 23, 2007

Multi Headed Hydra Proto ~ a generative book


The idea that an autobiography can not only be of a person but also of data, ideas, concepts or other inanimate objects is of interest to us. We are interested in looking at how certain ideas have prevailed on the web over the years. Ideas of emotion, conflict, markets, networks and humor to name a few. The generative book is a narrative object that elicits such ideas/concepts/identities that have existed on the web for years and that which continue to be produced or appended to by people in present day cyberspace.

Why the form of a book?
The Internet is a fascinating source for content. Even more so since content today is generated by millions of people from certain parts of the world. Though the Internet and form it has taken is very different from that of a book- We are interested in re looking at one of the oldest methods of storing knowledge in the light of hypertext, networks, content syndication, concept databases such as WordNet and user generated content. In such a scenario what would a book such as this look like and contain? We are not only interested in what the book contains but also in how its content is generated and presented. For example the page of contents or narration is something we would like to revisit in a book like this.

What is generative about the book?
Every time the program is run it produces a unique book. No one book produced by this program is the same. It renders layouts, spreads, colours, type and other graphic elements depending on a set of relationships built from the queried data. The book is generated using an Idea as a seed.

What is this queried data?
The queried data would come from sites and search engines such as yahoo, flickr, craigslist, twitter, slashdot, wikipedia, open social networks, blogs, archives or the wayback machine to name a few. This would mean using open APIs and RSS feeds and some scraping wherever required.

The seed idea being “Love”
The program would start with concept search on LOVE using wordnet. It would query for hypernyms, hyponyms and synsets of the word LOVE. This is the phase where the program will expand the keyword by looking at its synonyms, antonyms and related words. This is essentially where we would like to create a context for querying information regarding the seed idea (in this case LOVE). Using the returned wordnet results the program would then query other sites using all its synonyms, antonyms, similar concepts.

AboutYouMeEverything? · posted by vaibhav bhawsar Mar 05, 2007

So I wrote a google search based scraping program for the Programming A to Z midterm. The idea was to find as much as one could about a person through the internet. The scraping program would rummage through texts online and bring back every sentence in which your name appeared. So for example if you entered your name it would bring back to you all the sentences online which had your name in it. I initially intended this to work specifically on a social network- more in the spirit of bringing back all the conversations about you (or even someone else).

Source files –






Gorden Bell's Sousveillance · posted by vaibhav bhawsar Feb 26, 2007

Gordon Bells’s been recording his life for about 6 long years now as part of the MyLifeBits project. The goal is to record “all of Bell’s communications with other people and machines, as well as the images he sees, the sounds he hears and the Web sites he visits.”
There is recent really long story about the project here

**If I record even 10 years of information then I will, on an average, will I spend at least three times the time to go through it??!! I know there are filters, “i like” algorithms, but this is just a question for sake of being a question!

**What if such personal information can be used against the person in a legal situation? Where and how do you store such sensitive information? Even others involved in a conversation are put to risk..because what they say is recorded too.

**What is personal remains personal in any given scenario. So to what use can you put all this information to?

**How important does search or even the interface become in such a scenario?

Voting via the internet in Estonia · posted by vaibhav bhawsar Feb 26, 2007

First national election through the internet in Estonia

This is the first national election in Estonia using the internet. The first one was a local election in 2005 where about 10,000 people voted online. Estonia considers internet access as a fundamental right of its citizens! According to 80% of the population of Estonia has access to broadband internet.

Wikipedia page on Electronic voting in Estonia
Page where the actual voting will be done
Open source software for the elections? 2005
old ref 2003 – Estonia, where being wired is a human right

Quantum Encryption · posted by vaibhav bhawsar Feb 26, 2007

Madas writes “Scientists working in Cambridge have managed to make quantum encryption completely secure (registration required) by putting decoy pulses in the key transmission stream. According to the story this paves the way for safe, encrypted high-speed data links. Could this allow completely private transmission of data away from snooping eyes and ears? Or will it mean film studios can stop movies from being copied when traveling on the internet?”

wikipedia entry on quantum encryption

Flock, flag, Disorient · posted by vaibhav bhawsar Feb 26, 2007

It is interesting to see how individuals within communities like youTube and Digg are congregating to flag content generated/posted by the rest of the users which they think is inappropriate. For example there is a group on youTube that is flagging videos that they consider as hate speech against Islam.
Maybe some of the institutions that have been accused of surveillance and censoring their citizens don’t have to worry, cause now there is the intelligence of the mob or swarm, of people online who do the same work for them for free and pretty efficiently. But now its not about blatantly blocking content but creating enough consensus around an issue that either informs you or disorients you. So in the end you don’t really know what to take away from such places. Or worse, your notions of things remain the same. So you never really learn to tolerate far away people, culture, religion and points of view etc.

I wonder if the internet is ever going to be a place to grow sensitive as a human being…or if it will ever make us all that much more tolerant of different backgrounds and cultures? Or it will further segregate some of us by lending itself to ideas of citizen(netizen) surveillance and morale policing by the netizens themselves.
See some news here for how mobs of netizens are probably turning comment boxes into toilet paper rolls!

Mob Rule at Digg
Mob Rule in China

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A blogger in Egypt jailed for 'insult' · posted by vaibhav bhawsar Feb 26, 2007

What does exercising free speech online against the status quo involve?
Abdel Kareem Soliman, an Egyptian blogger is probably the first blogger to be jailed for expressing his views online.
You can read more about it here-

You can find what other bloggers have written about this event

Abdel’s blog

Debatepedia Instead of Wikipedia · posted by vaibhav bhawsar Feb 26, 2007

Just what I was looking for!
Debatepedia and wikinfo are two projects (that I have come across so far) that are similar to wikipedia but offer users to enter multiple points of view. They favor diverse ways of looking at something rather than a “neutral” way of looking. Wikinfo claims that it prefers debate and sympathetic point of view over neutral point of view which is what wikipedia outlines as its fundamental principle.
One interesting part of wikinfo are its Green links which are imported articles from wikipedia open for a SPOV.

Now sometimes consensus is really really important. But if one talks of knowledge it may come from diverse backgrounds and beliefs..which may not be something another culture subscribes to or even understands. So then what does one do about such views? Do we represent them or seclude them? Even if they are a minority and that they don’t have enough people to vouch for them?

A new encyclopedia of arguments and debates


The article

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Let your computers sleep? · posted by vaibhav bhawsar Feb 25, 2007

You have probably heard about this but two guys are asking the world to abstain from using computers for one day on 24 March 2007. This is like some mega reboot the internet sort of thing. But after looking at what people are saying they will instead do- it frankly seems like a nice thing to do.

Comments people are leaving-
I don’t know what I will do, but I can live without technology for a day.

If you are man enough you will do it!

But then I ask myself why do I need a special day to do something like this? Why can’t I do it when I FEEL like doing it? The reason why such “We Feel Good” things put me off is that they eventually turn out to be a thing to do. Though I need to rediscover that life out in the real world is much more fun than it is online. Seriously. But I don’t need a day without computers to figure that out..I need a lifetime without them!
So far 14259 people have said they will not use their computer on 24 March 2007.
Though if the internet were to really sleep for a day it would be so much fun to see financial losses some of the BigBig companies might face.

Ref shutdownday

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Bloop TV · posted by vaibhav bhawsar Feb 25, 2007

Ok so this is funny and unique form of state run censorship. It’s interesting that there are many means by which a state censors its media. Both today and in the past. This is an account from a Dutch humanitarian aid worked Peter Casier while in Pakistan recently.
He talks about how certain portions of TV broadcasts that showed skin were manually censored by women sitting in a room full of monitors.

Walled Gardens · posted by vaibhav bhawsar Feb 25, 2007

from an article by Danah Boyd
Discussion that followed this article

Walled Gardens
The term “walled garden”:
implies that there is something beautiful being surrounded by walls.

A Walled Garden in context of online services-
A company or service Locks in your data to avoid you from migrating to other services. While their intentions might also be to protect your information.

One of the hardest things to do online is to build walls. The web is porous, even more when you can aggregate your data from different sources as well as publish to multiple websites. Danah Boyd points to one interesting change that search engines brought to the internet- they essentially poked holes into a network made of discrete nodes of conversations and ideas. A search engine could to an extent flatten that way you enter and experience the web. Along with the search engines came bots or web crawlers that sniffed around for what people were doing on the web and built a cache that could be later retrieved from a search engine.

While sometimes you may think that your content is private it may not be so when it comes to robots of search engines who can crawl and cache your content. Something even like your profile can be cached and made available to anyone using that search engine. Even if you don’t want it to. On the other hand your service provider may or may not allow you to export or migrate your media/content to another provider. And now this idea is worth pondering over as more and more people are generating content on the web. Shouldn’t this be something one should consider prior to deciding the social network he/she wants to publish their media in? Shouldn’t the social networks and services we use tell us explicitly how our content can be and will be searched, cached or retrieved?

Here is a online service that allows parents to find out if their kids are on the listed social networks.

there are very few doorways into the WWW · posted by vaibhav bhawsar Jan 29, 2007

This article briefly talks about how wikipedia is a growing source of references for ‘credible’ information. So much that there are more first ranking search results that point to wikipedia! What does this mean? Is this ‘collective’ knowledge base turning into what google is for searches? If so then does it mean that this is a triumph of the commons over the printing press- in the realm of digital publishing on the WWW? Can I even call it collective knowledge when a large percentage of the world doesn’t even use the internet?

the article

We all have probably heard and experienced about how Google has a profound influence on how we FIND information on the web. Personally this is sort of discomforting to me- the idea of relying at one single location or algorithm or corporation to find access points to the rest of the WWW. There has been a lot of talk about this on the web and off it. I am interested in finding out more about initiatives/projects that have dealt with this issue of building flat and seemingly friendly and SIMPLE doorways into the WWW or information.

Here is an article that talks about google and how flat it makes the www. What I like about it is that it provides some interesting business insights about why its better to collaborate with google than to compete with!!