Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Cyberwars: Estonian versus Russians-Israelis/Jews versus Islamists Oh My!!

The global network is heating up along identity lines just in time!

Mobius over at JSchool has a great post on the faultlines in Israel; Here's a NYX article on "Digital Fears Emerge After Data Siege in Estonia" when Russian hackers tried to take down whole Estonian broadband infrastructure and architecture:
When Estonian authorities began removing a bronze statue of a World War II-era Soviet soldier from a park in this bustling Baltic seaport last month, they expected violent street protests by Estonians of Russian descent.

They also knew from experience that “if there are fights on the street, there are going to be fights on the Internet,” said Hillar Aarelaid, the director of Estonia’s Computer Emergency Response Team. After all, for people here the Internet is almost as vital as running water; it is used routinely to vote, file their taxes, and, with their cellphones, to shop or pay for parking.

What followed was what some here describe as the first war in cyberspace, a monthlong campaign that has forced Estonian authorities to defend their pint-size Baltic nation from a data flood that they say was set off by orders from Russia or ethnic Russian sources in retaliation for the removal of the statue.
I'm doing research on examples of cyberattacks between Islamists and Israelis or Diasporic Jews. If folks know of examples, please comment in the response section.


Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Racism in Social Networks, Oh My?

Danah Boyd has a great post illuminating the societal divisions revealed in the "white flight" to Facebook and the resulting racial divide between MySpace and the same:
I've been trying to figure out how to articulate this division for months. I have not yet succeeded. So, instead, I decided to write a blog essay addressing what I'm seeing. I suspect that this will be received with criticism, but my hope is that the readers who encounter this essay might be able to help me think through this. In other words, I want feedback on this piece.

Viewing American class divisions through Facebook and MySpace

What I lay out in this essay is rather disconcerting. Hegemonic American teens (i.e. middle/upper class, college bound teens from upwards mobile or well off families) are all on or switching to Facebook. Marginalized teens, teens from poorer or less educated backgrounds, subculturally-identified teens, and other non-hegemonic teens continue to be drawn to MySpace. A class division has emerged and it is playing out in the aesthetics, the kinds of advertising, and the policy decisions being made.
Danah Boyd has a good heart. But over 10 years of life in LA, a deep personal connection to the LA riots fifteen years ago and an interest on the "mainstream media" that is so-easily scorned by hip Phds who love to carp on the dark, Imperial mainstream news gives me a different perspective.

Danah shouldn't be so apologetic. Our society is coded along racial lines embedded in ideological buzz words around immigration and "terrorism" issues. Those of us committed to change need to stop apologizing and confront those who exploit ignorance and employ strategies, which obstruct real, meaningful change. Blue Mandy had the pleasure of attending Danah's talk at the Annenberg DIY series this last school year.

One of the more troubling uses of images was found in Danah's talk as she used (appropriated?) a Black Panther image to make a point. However, probably because she was speaking to the converted, she chose not to address the larger issues of how copyright is used as a weapon to enforce enclosures around knowledge and punk us all (yes, we become their pawns, urr, consumers). That is, until asked about issues of control in the Q & A, Danah chose not to address them.

Blue Mandy was lucky to attend these talks and get to know Danah. What's interesting is that while most participants in DIY talks agree on issues of control, the more important issue is this: how many of them will step outside their comfortable Annenberg Centers or "Ivory Tower" comforts and, like Danah, take action? They're all so busy with publishing papers that things like the massive violence in Harbor Gateway or the LAPD MacArthur Park abuse are seen as little blips on the Professorial/Managerial radar screen, issues to pay heed and support, but take little action on.

Blue Mandy was also exquisitely attuned to this use after taking Cory Doctorow's Set Top Box seminar. One of Cory's undergrads in his Pawned Spring class created a great initiative, The teachingcopyright.org Launch Manifesto, which deserves publicity (link).

We all need humility and sophisticated analyses when dealing with an over-networked world in which racism and inequality neither fall along neat '60ish ex-yuppie/buppy/Arianna-ey radical lines nor match pronouncements from the Ivory Tower.

The next election is too important for pussy-footing.

Labels: , , ,

Monday, July 02, 2007

Spirit Corrupted and Set Free - Los Angeles, Summer 2007

This last week, a series of articles reveals the ruptures and profound crises afflicting our society. Christine Buckley's LA Weekly cover story, "Aaron Cohen: Sex Slaves, Drug Trade and Rock n' Roll" reveals the dark, insidious underside of globalization (link). Buckley writes:
American school kids are taught that slavery was wiped out with the Confederacy in 1865. But today it is a mounting international menace — the dark side, many believe, of globalization and the Internet explosion. Not to be confused with smuggling (which is always transnational and includes those who consent to the process), human trafficking implies the use of force, fraud or coercion and often involves ongoing exploitation. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, it is tied with the illegal-arms industry as the second largest illegal business in the world, after drug dealing.
Aaron Cohen, an ex-Jewish water polo student, Air Force school drop-out, hob-knobs with Hollywood celebrities - the George Clooneys, Laura Bickfords, Brad Pitts - and looks into the valley of the beast, the dark, hidden alleyways that you and I drive by everyday in Los Angeles (or skip in the back of The LA Weekly).

The LA Times Sport section yesterday features a duo of disturbing stories related in distinct, yet subtle ways. Childs Walker of The Baltimore Sun wrote a insightful commentary on the tragic death of Chris Benoit, the wrestling star who murdered his wife and child, then hung himself (link). Sam Farmer wrote an intersting piece updating the poor-old, ex-Trojan, still pretty boy, Matt Leinart's saga in Phoenix (link):
Leinart found an even more frenzied interest in his private life once he arrived in Arizona. All eyes seemed to be on him — and not just those of traditional football fans hoping he could help turn around the perennially moribund Cardinals.

'Girls were talking about it left and right,' said Megan Finnerty, who covers the club scene for the Arizona Republic. 'It's not like there aren't good-looking men in Phoenix, but when you're picked as one of People magazine's 50 most beautiful people, that's a huge endorsement.'

When Leinart arrived on the scene last year, Finnerty wrote an article headlined, 'Diagraming a Play for Cards' Sexy QB,' a guide for local women on how best to land Leinart as a boyfriend.

Leinart has a foot in two worlds — the public he accepts as a highly paid performer for an NFL team and private moments for which he yearns.

He says he moved into a gated community here about a 20-minute drive from Cardinals headquarters in an effort to preserve some peace and quiet. He felt too exposed in his first house, where twice his truck was stripped of its wheels, and once he looked in from his backyard pool to find an uninvited woman rooting through his kitchen cabinets.

'I was in my pool swimming with my dog, and I could see her through the windows,' Leinart said. 'I got out and said, 'Do you normally go in the house of somebody you don't know?' She was about 50, and I was like, that's some nerve to walk in somebody's house. I just told her to leave.'

That he wants some privacy doesn't mean Leinart always shies from the spotlight.

He threw a birthday bash last month that included a pool party at the luxury Mondrian Scottsdale Hotel, which was attended by Dallas Cowboys receiver Terrell Owens and several members of the Phoenix Suns, who had been eliminated from the NBA playoffs the night before.
Blue Mandy grew up with punks like Leinart, just in the water, playing water polo, and always wanting to learn surfing. What a Trojan tool.

Someone should force all Trojan athletes to read Buckley's piece, watch all the documentaries she referenced and others on the human sex trade. Hollywood glamorizes and fetishizes young, nubile bodies; USC provides the city with a plantation full of great sporting events, gardened for by a immigration underclass and alums/the public eat this up.

A years worth of graduate school paints a picture of society rupturing under the global forces of celebrity, scandal, sex, immigration, terrorism and the international drug trade. After studying with Manuel Castells and Cory Doctorow, it's easy to see these connections, and even more obvious to see that most people don't.

“There’s something so powerful about trying to bring light into the dark places,” Buckley quotes Lisa Miller, who made a documentary focusing on Cambodia and human slavery. “But we’re all trying to heal ourselves at the same time. So when you take it on, it can take you down.” What are the costs of silences and action? Walker returns to the same question. American audiences satiate their thirst for blood right in front of our eyes, channeled through media lust:
As a culture, we've decided that consenting adults are allowed to push themselves past safe limits for our entertainment and their reward. Drug testing and better medical care and safety precautions can lessen many of these risks but cannot stamp them out.

I don't know about you, but when a boxer loses his life in the ring or a football player is crippled or a wrestler turns up dead in his hotel room, I feel complicit.

If I know these acts are so destructive, why do I watch? Do I simply lack the moral fortitude to look past my desire to be entertained? I fear the answer is yes.

In the last few days, scores of wrestling fans have said on message boards that Benoit's death will kill their love of the spectacle. Many more have said that one man's deranged acts shouldn't end an art loved by so many. I agree with the latter and yet, I wonder.
So when Blue Mandy stumbles across something like this, it's worth sharing, courtesy of The New York Times wedding section:
On June 23, Ms. Roter and Mr. Stodel married under a wedding canopy entwined with white orchids beneath a cinematically cloudy sky at the Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel in Dana Point, Calif. During the ceremony, Rabbi Melissa Buyer paused when a passing helicopter interrupted the traditional seven Jewish wedding blessings and said: 'Let’s wait. This is important.'

Moments later, a pair of brown pelicans flew by in the easy, unconscious tandem of a veteran couple on a stroll.
Wow. But how many of us take the time to look and listen to the tranquil sights and sounds of birds in flight?

Labels: , , ,