how social networking was used to catch saddam


There’s a fascinating five-part series on social networking and Saddam at Slate. There’s a nice Network Visualization tool by Daniel McLaren made for your facebook pages. Quite nice. An amazing set of social network visualization tools is collected here, and another set of five specifically geared to facebook.

Saddam's Network

the city of life


My friend Tom hurt my brain this morning when I finally looked into Conway’s Game of Life, which is–as I can figure out through Wikipedia–based upon patterns that are set up initially and then run on its own. There are ‘live’ cells and ‘dead’ cells organized on a grid, and there are four rules (e.g., if a live cell has fewer than two live neighbor cells, it dies). Anyway, some fine people used this as a basis for Voxopolis, a 3D automated city.

This also brought me to Digital Urban.

pjs and public space

cities, culture

PJs in Public

From Boing Boing, there’s a nice moment wherein we can see how the spaces of urban life create culture. Simmel wrote of social roles that spring up from urban life (e.g., the quatorzième), which Park picked up on, and Goffman writes about ‘make-dos’ in Asylums, to show how the constant existence within the semi-public spaces of a mental institution leads to little unauthorized strategies. A nice analysis by Chinese sociologist Zhang Jiehai, explains that the fashion is born as “a matter of practicality because people lived in cramped conditions with no clear line between public space and private place.” This, again, reminds me (again) of the winding walkways and the ‘unofficial streets’ of San Francisco, where public and private collide. What I’m a little surprised at is that this is hardly a youthful trend… From a quick scan of images (from National Geographic and Flickr) it appears to cut across age groups.

Of course, the reason this arises is because it is from an article on how the Chinese government is trying to crack down on this particular phenomenon.

corporations as persons, “not true?”

101, culture

I like showing the first few minutes of The Corporation when teaching Politics and Economics in 101.

I’ll have the opportunity to touch up that opening gambit on Corporate Personhood with a few recent news clippings. The first is the much-avoided (in the mass media) topic of the Citizen’s United ruling which, according to the majority opinion, is a validation of First Amendment free speech. (Justice Alito, when POTUS did a public shaming of the Court on this matter, reportedly mouthed ‘Not true’.) The other part is a nice news clip (and here) about how, in the economic meltdown, corporations have been walking away from their $4.4 billion debt, called an ‘underwater property’ (like the massive 56-building/11,282 property Peter Cooper Village and Stuyvesant Town complex), to ‘protect shareholder value’ while individuals are shamed into their debts: In the Wall Street Journal, the head of the Mortgage Bankers Association was quoted as saying, “What about the message they will send to their family and their kids and their friends?” (Morgan Stanley walked away from five San Fransisco office buildings last month too.)

Update 2/10/10: A student informed me that a PR firm, Murray Hill Inc., is running for the Republican primary in Maryland’s 8th Congressional District, tongue in cheek. Campaign Manager William Klein “plans to use automated robo-calls, ‘Astroturf” lobbying and computer-generated avatars to get out the vote.”