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Smile! You’re on CCTV
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That sinister image beams down from walls and shop windows all over Brighton and Hove and seems to corroborate all the stories I’d seen from Europe about the UK being the CCTV capital of the world.
Wondering just how pervasive that surveillence is, I came across a street game called Snap Zap, part of the Tiny Games of Brighton Digital Festival 2013. The rules are as follows:
Of course I immediately started scanning my surroundings for tell-tale cams while pondering on the Hacker vs Warden concept.
At home I decided to see if anyone had mapped the cameras in Brighton as in Luxembourg and other places but a quick search (on ixquick if you’re interested) turned up just a list of public facing cameras in Brighton & Hove operated by the council and Sussex Police obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request and an article from local newspaper the Argus also based on an FOI request, listing the 400 cameras monitored by Sussex Police and debating the value of their cost of £1.3 million a year.
Seemed like there was nothing for it then but to do the mapping myself…
So here is a (not so) quick & dirty map of the cameras listed in Brighton by the council. I went out and checked a couple of them locally and they are where the coordinates say they are.
Maybe some have been added or removed since the list was published and these are only the cameras that the council and police say they operate and not the multitude of cameras on “private” property that are also monitoring public space.
So if anybody is interested in mapping more of the CCTV cameras in Brighton & Hove, get in touch.
While I was checking up on the local cameras I came across what must be one of the greatest signs about the boundaries of a private area ever in Churchill Square:
and here is a person crossing from public to private space at those very bollards:
While poking around Churchill Square this sign caught my eye:
So is a bus shelter a private space?
Hmm – time to investigate, and maybe do another #walkshop 😉
as the “data” provided by the council was just a list I had to convert it into a format that Open Street Map could use, so here is the data in usable formats if you want to play around with it cctvbtn.json or cctvbtn.csv
Sharing The City
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In this video, shot in Schillerkiez, Neukölln, Berlin for Edgeryders Local Action Heroes, I talked to Susa Stauch about the project Sharing The City
Building a self-hosted “Instapaper”
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I love Instapaper and (to a lesser extent, now that it is Pocket) Read it Later – “simple” apps that do what they say on the tin, saving stuff you want to read on the Internets for, well, later, formatting text in an easy to read way, and giving offline access to them. Great for the school run on the U-Bahn or the smallest room, those places where I get most of my reading done. What I don’t love is that my reading list is stored on a server somewhere that I have no control over, to be data-mined, sold off or cross-referenced to build a picture of me. Also these apps change constantly and require upgrades to operating systems and hardware.
So I’ve realised that I want the functionality, but I also want the information stored somewhere I have access to, not in the nebulous third party cloud. In fact, as much as possible, I’m moving all my stuff to somewhere I control as more and more attacks and takedowns happen, and as services are bought, sold or disappear taking my data with them or simply getting rid of it. Pete Ashton created his own “version” of Tumblr for similar reasons, but I guess doing an “Instaper” would be a bit more complex. I guess I’m looking for something like *diaspora or status.net
Has anyone got any ideas on how it could be done?
So I’ve got some answers via twitter & skype:
@jonhickman chirped in on twitter –
my half asleep pre coffee mind is thinking a bookmarklet that runs a script that scrapes text and dumps it somewhere…
the easiest ways to do that use services you’re trying to avoid but you could do it a harder way 🙂
in the meantime I suggest read later lists in PinBoard – at least they have a clear commercial relationship with their users
I think they have ifttt channels so could you use that to email them? Then d/l when in wifi. I’ll have a look later
@codehead skyped in –
How ’bout saving a page from Pocket to Dropbox? using ifttt – Ultimately, the page would end up in your HD.
you wouldn’t bypass the cloud, but you’d end up with complete control over the actual archive.
Interestingly enough, Readability has an API
So technically it’s possible to leave the heavy lifting to Readability itself
(however cloudy it might be)
Oh, looks like the API is for-pay, too
BUT pages sticking to Readability’s guidelines should be really easy to scrape:
In short, we could build an extension for this, but we maybe subject to the concerns outlined in Zeldman’s article.
… and of course @pr1001 brought up the subject of algorithms in the image above
Anymore for anymore???
@stef sez: trivial using open source Readability. Eg. https://github.com/basis-technology-corp/Java-readability and a little database for state – read/unread/fave/etc. heroku app in JRuby perhaps, little API in sinatra. Done.
So it seams like it can be done – thanks for all the help peeps!
#Edgeryders – Hacking for change
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I wrote the piece below for the “Hacking for Change” mission on Edgeryders, here’s the “mission brief”:
2011 was the year people across the world took to the streets, and the Internet, to try to change political systems they were unable to affect through the the “normal” channels of their respective countries, be they “democracies” or “dictatorships”. From the Arab Spring to the Indignados of Europe and the Occupy movements of the US and elsewhere, people of all ages, completely disillusioned with traditional politics, began to take their collective futures into their own hands through direct action, decentralised methodologies influenced in part by the free software movements, and hacking. Some of them actually hack: they develop and deploy technologies to enable dissenting citizens to communicate and mobiize on the issues they care about.
We’re creating situations that are impossible for governments to ignore, both in the street and online, but while some of those in power are taking note and trying to engage, traditional politics is responding in a traditional way, discrediting activists and looking for ways to block these movements and methods. Are you going to be on the sidelines dealing with the results or going to join in & hack the street?
Investigate and report about a hacktivist project. What problem is it tryng to solve? Do you think it is making a contribution? Why?
Some examples of projects which could be described as hacktivist are:
ChokePoint Project is a global censorship monitoring platform based on reliable data, visualised in a very accessible manner and featuring contextual information for each country. It will show up to date information for censorship circumvention and the legal implications involved.
GlobaLeaks is the first open-source whistleblowing framework. It empowers anyone to easily set up and maintain a whistleblowing platform. GlobaLeaks can help many different types of users: media organizations, activist groups, corporations and public agencies.
Tor is free software and an open network that helps you defend against a form of network surveillance that threatens personal freedom and privacy, confidential business activities and relationships, and state security known as traffic analysis
Telecomix is a cluster of internet and data loving bots and people, always striving to protect and improve the internet and defend the free flow of data. Telecomix, just like the Internet, knows no borders technological or territorial.
I’m Getting Arrested is an app to alert your lawyer, loved ones, etc … that you are being arrested with a click.
Sukey – Is an app to keep demonstrators safe, mobile & informed
Like all missions, this one is worth 250 reputation, but extra points are awarded for great content. Start now! Or get the bigger picture on We, the people.
Big big thanks to Cataspanglish for his invaluable help with this mission!
HACKING FOR CHANGE: CHOKEPOINT PROJECT – WHO WATCHES THE WATCHMEN?
February 6 2012
During the uprising in Egypt, in January 2011, the order was given to “turn off” the Internet, sending shock-waves around the world. Murmurs were heard of US security agencies and American politicians asking for access to a similar kill switch.
Since then Internet access has been manipulated in many other countries where citizens have sought to bring down regimes, while in other places there are ongoing restrictions to free Internet access, despite this access being declared a fundamental human right by the United Nations.
These actions force us to look at who owns The Internet?
The ChokePoint project is a response to the Arab Spring uprising where a group of us wanted to take action and do something useful. The project is made of 2 parts, one being a near real-time internet censorship monitoring platform. This includes a data collection part and a visualization element which is a public facing site. We will be able to monitor whether connections have been cut in specific regions of countries, helping alert journalists and activists. The platform will be based on reliable data, visualized in a very accesible manner, featuring contextual information for each country. This system could also help in natural disaster situations by detecting the extent of damage done. See a prototype here: http://euhackathon.chokepointproject.net/
At the same time we are developing an educational project to inform politicians, NGO’s, journalists, researchers, students and other interested parties about the realities of how the Internet works, including its underlying structures, through workshop modules aimed at the non-geek and focussed on participation.
When we began the project, we didn’t know the real scope of what we were trying to achieve, but it quickly became apparent that we didn’t have the skills needed to carry it out. We reached out through our networks and were lucky to find some very talented, very committed people and gained some buzz by winning the Next Idea category at Ars Electronica.
Some of the team came together at the Chaos Communication Camp in August to work on the system architecture and subject it to the scrutiny of people from around the world working on similar projects. The architecture is vital in this project because it is necessary to get real data from users worldwide, often in hostile environments and without compromising their security. Again the network responded and we made some very important contacts. Since then we’ve been working on the dataviz as well as doing outreach with politicians, hackers, journalists, bloggers, organisations, rights groups and anyone else with an interest. The prototype platform was developed at the the first EU Hackathon at the EU parliament in Brussels in November, and we’ve done workshops & presentations and attended many events. Oh yes, and started to work on fund-raising as we’ve been doing this in our “spare time” up until now.
Ironically, I’m not a “hacker” at all, if by hacking we’re talking about technical skills. But I do have a JFDI (Just F***ing Do It) mentality which I guess is similar to hacking. The situation now is probably worse than when we began the project so doubtless the knowledge aquired and contacts made so far will be even more useful in the future.
ChokePoint Project selected as 2011 winner of [the next idea] of Prix Ars Electronica
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Very happy to announce that the Choke Point Project has been selected as 2011 winner of [the next idea] voestalpine Art and Technology Grant as part of the Prix Ars Electronica 2011.
Here’s what the Ars Electronica post says about the project:
“As an upshot of recent revolts in the Arab world, the Choke Point Project raises the question of who actually exercises control over the internet. The WWW is generally perceived as a decentralized medium, and many people hold the opinion that it can be used as a means of communication beyond the reach of power relationships and unimpeded by authoritarian structures. Recent events, however, reveal that this view doesn’t correspond to reality at all. Rather, individual politicians are able to cut off internet access on the part of an entire nation. The declared aim of this project initiated by the P2P Foundation is to locate nodes of the internet and to demonstrate how simple it is to prevent large segments of the populace from getting online. But this project is much more than the visualization of a “map of the Web”; it also collects strategies and opportunities to evade just such weak spots in order to free th internet from the clutches of power structures and turn over control to the individual.”
The prize consists of a 3 month residency in the Ars Electronica Center and a cash stipend in the amount of €7,500.
In the meantime James & yours truly are have been putting together the team, looking for funding and learning tons of stuff. We'll be having the first meeting of most of the team on June 16th in Amsterdam, just realised it's 25 years since I last went there!
Cataspanglish, media140, past stuff
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media140 nos invitó a participar en su evento media140 frontiers que se celebrará en Barcelona durante el 13 y 14 de abril para organizar un espacio + info
media140 ens va convidar a participar en el seu esdeveniment media140 frontiers que se celebrarà a Barcelona durant el 13 i 14 d’abril per organitzar un espai + info
media140 invited us to participate in their media140 frontiers event in Barcelona on April 13/14 by programming & running one of the rooms + info
Kfé Innovación #kfe03 City projects
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Kfé Innovación #kfe03 from chris pinchen on Vimeo.
Forgot to mention in the video that people who can't be in any of the venues today can still participate via twitter and chat
Kfé Innovación Facebook discussions
NetworkedCity is a new project we're working on but the sites aren't really ready yet – watch this space
A Dance for the Republic (and other uses for blogs)
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So one day way back last summer, my friend Pep tells me about this book he’s recently published, Un ball per la República, which is the story of the Spanish Civil War and the Republic in the village of Alcampell where he grew up. And so we get talking and I ask if he’s going to do an English version, but he says it’s impossible because it’s published by a small Catalan publisher, and I suggest blogging about the book and, you know, making it more than a “book”, with hyperlinks and maps & photos and all the sorts of stuff that a small publisher can’t afford to do, even if they had the vision. Pep loved the idea and A Dance for the Republic was born.
I’m sure “the author” will excuse me for saying that he had a very linear & chronological approach to writing and it took him a few meetings to get his read around the idea of using the blog structure as a platform, the use of categories etc. Check it out if you’re at all interested in the subject matter or how an “online book” can work.
Ricard Espelt is well known to visitors of this blog for both his role as councillor for new technology in the village of Copons, as well as interviews & posts for TalkingAbout. Right now Ricard is doing a Phd on technology & rural communities and I’ve been helping him a little on his English language blog which he describes as:
“This blog is a platform to communicate with the rural communities and develop a research space for my Phd. My intention is to use this blog to help my Personal Learning Environment to find more connections and more dialogues with the rural-local researchers.”
So here we have blog repurposed as a publicly available academic research document and communication vehicle. Check it out here
[gfa] is the working title of a blog which we are using to document the investigation into the fascinating and obscure of life of Ana’s grandfather, Gerardo Fernández Agüadero. Read the post about it here or go to the blog itself
Barcelona Social Media Surgery, Cataspanglish, past stuff
Barcelona Social Media Surgery
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One of the workshops at PodCamp Barcelona will be a social media surgery. This is a format we have wanted to bring to Spain for a long time, but until now we haven’t had critical mass. After PodCamp we’ll continue doing the surgery on a monthly basis.
Uno de los talleres de PodCamp Barcelona será un quirófano de social media. Este es un formato que ya hace tiempo queríamos hacer en España, pero hasta ahora no había masa crítica sifuciente. Después de PodCamp seguiremos “operando” una vez al mes.
Un dels tallers de PodCamp Barcelona serà un quiròfan de social media. Aquest és un format que ja fa temps que volíem fer a Espanya, però fins ara no hi havia massa crítica suficient. Després de PodCamp seguirem “operant” un cop al mes