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Monthly Archives: March 2004

Networked Personal Security

Following danah boyd’s post about her recently falling victim to a robbery, I got thinking about the possibility of using the networked society to solve these kinds of crimes. Then danah posted about the possibilities of capturing the perpetrators, so I decided to comment:

As much as I genuinely symphasise with you about your anger for these robbers, I question whether the “connected society” can ever act as such a formidable security measure as you suggest.

Firstly, I think you were lucky to get photographs of the perpetrators, and that stands you in good stead. But this is not going to be an option for most people who fall prey of identity theft.

Secondly, since you have a pretty high profile in blogspace and this is the first time someone high profile (at all?) has posted this kind of thing, then the novelty may well carry it to a solution (I REALLY hope it does!).

I question it because although 5.5 links should make for plenty of people to spread the word – it is not word that needs spreading – it’s images. The question is, can the images be transferred from webspace to offline space easily. And I don’t think that it’s easy enough to do. There’s the chance that people may visit your site to check out the photos, or one of the many sites that have reposted the photos, but I think this chance is a lot less than the chance of people talking to their friends about it, and spreading the word of the robbery, but not necesarily having them look at the pictures.

It may work this time, due to novelty, but I’m not so sure that this is a global solution.

Perhaps when we have a ubiquitous computing society, whereby transferring images from a webpage to a mobile device is as easy as touching the image on the screen and then pointing to your mobile device, but we’re not there yet and so the spreading of images seems inherently different (less penetrating) than the spreading of ideas. In this case, we’re spreading a link – a link back to danah’s page where the photographs are kept. This works well in cyberspace, where the link can be followed immediately. Transferring this to offline space seems to me to be an extra hurdle that I think people will be less likely to jump.

If I tell a friend at work about this robbery while I’m eating lunch in the canteen, then in order for that person to see the photographs, they will have to be interested enough to remember the story I’ve told them, remember the URL (if I tell them that at all) and then go back to their desk and go look.

What I guess I’m trying to say is that the propagation of images across the online world/offline world membrane seems to take considerable more effort than the propagation of words and ideas.

I really hope that I’m proved wrong!


Why blog?

There’s a cracking post at Crooked Timber asking questions of academics who blog. It’s a great demonstration using a blog as an online survey to get qualitative data. It’s also really pertinent to the recent direction of my own research about blogging and reputation. I’m sure I will write more about this after I’ve completely digested it all…

Dear Mr. Nielsen…

There’s a fantastic open letter to Jakob Nielsen of fame that seems to hit the proverbial nail on the head.

More Procrastination

How about some social networking acronyms…?

S.N.A.F.U: Social Networking, All Fucked Up – a take on the original, Situation Normal, All Fucked Up.

SNOW: Social Networks Orchestrate Whuffie – look at Cory Doctorow’s book for more about Whuffie.

WASSUP: Why Are Social Softwares Under-Planned – based on criticism of Orkut amonst others

FASCIST: FArming Social Capital Instead of Social Ties – referring to the difference between social systems that encourage exchanges (e.g. instant messenger), and those that encourage people to be socially expansive (e.g. Friendster, Orkut, etc.).

Currently Reading…

I’m currently reading “Linked: The New Science of Networks” by Albert-Laszlo Barabasi. It’s interesting and amazingly well-written.

MSN Image Display and Context

I’ve been using MSN Messenger for quite a while now, and am always changing the image that you can choose to display next to your conversation window when chatting with friends and family. But I’ve been thinking for a while that this image could be put to better use – to provide contextual information.

The image that you use with Messenger is held locally on the machine, and is not stored on a central server in the way that the buddy list is. This means that the image can be changed dependent of the computer being used. So when I use my laptop I have a different picture showing than when I use my computer at home. People keep asking me when I use messenger “are you at work or home?”. Generally when I’m at work I’ll use my laptop and my desktop at home, so by providing information in the display picture (such as a picture of me at work using my laptop, and using that on my laptop MSN messenger) a lot of information can potentially be shown, on top of the typical “I’m away from my computer”.

Perhaps future versions (or a plugin) might allow msn to detect the network on which it is working so if I’m using my laptop at work, on the work network, then the picture would show me at work, and if I’m on my home network then it’ll show me at home?

Random Music

I saw this and liked the idea. So using my MP3 Player, I set it to shuffle, and this is what I got…

1. Jurassic 5 – Setup
2. Grandaddy – Now it’s on
3. The Prodigy – Death of the Prodigy Dancers
4. Landslide – Drum & Bossa
5. Joss Stone – Fell in love with a boy
6. Joss Stone – I had a dream
7. Lamb – B Line
8. Remy Zero – Save Me
9. Moby – If things were perfect
10. Layo & Bushwacka! – Let the good times roll

That’s my first bit of procrastination for the day…


I love gadgets at the best of times, and up until recently I got my gadget fix from Gizmodo. But now there’s a new kid in town over at, started up by one of the guys from Gizmodo.

Semantic Social Networks



The Semantic Social Network