Archive for the 'technology' Category

I’m at the Allied Media Conference!

This weekend I’m attending my very first Allied Media Conference!! It’s been wonderful though a bit overwhelming so far. No time to blog, really, though I’ve taken some good notes on a couple of sessions (links soon!) I’ve also gotten to meet a few folks I’ve known only through the blogosphere for years, like Alexis and Blackamazon and Brownfemipower, and have run into other folks I’ve not seen for a while like Maegan La Mala, which has been awesome.

And tomorrow, I present! I’ll be wearing my techie hat for From Open Source to Community Source: Collaboratively Created Tech for Movements:

The daily choices we make around technology, storing and sharing data, and communications have political implications for issues important to our movements: privacy, self-determination, labor and economic justice, corporate control, amongst others. Our session will address such issues, including strategies for reclaiming control of our technology, and ways we can shape it to serve our movements. We will explore how “free” software often demands risky compromises, how open source can help avoid those compromises, and how community organizations and activists can and must be involved in shaping open source. We will us and as examples of community source tech developed by and for our movements.

If you’re at the AMC, come check it out!

i <3 radiohead

Jon Hicks' cover art

(cover art by Jon Hicks)

Radiohead has been one of my favorite bands since I first adopted “Paranoid Android*” as my anthem of teenage angst back in 1997. But with In Rainbows, they’ve gone and outdone themselves, at least in my esteem. (I have this sneaking suspicion that the phrase “outdone themselves” usually has a negative connotation, but I’m certainly feeling completely positive about them.) Not only have they put out an album that looks to be very good (though I’m still not convinced it beats OK Computer or Hail To The Thief), but they’ve also chosen to distribute it themselves, over the internet, for whatever price one deems fit. Including no price at all. Really. I paid $13 myself, thinking it worth at least the cost of an iTunes album, plus a little more to show my love. I can’t find the article, but I did read about one person who paid a whopping 100 euros for it – guess he has more love and/or cash for them than I do! Anyhow, I paid my 9 euros and change, got the confirmation, downloaded, and have been enjoying it since.

Radiohead’s bold move definitely pleased the anti-big-business, anti-RIAA, open source loving and tech geek in me. They did so even if they didn’t exactly mean to make some huge statement; this is what guitarist Johnny Greenwood had to say about the band’s motivations for releasing the record in this manner:

Just getting it out quickly. It was kind of an experiment as well; we were just doing it for ourselves and that was all. People are making a big thing about it being against the industry or trying to change things for people but it’s really not what motivated us to do it. It’s more about feeling like it was right for us and feeling bored of what we were doing before.

It’s just interesting to make people pause for even a few seconds and think about what music is worth now. I thought it was an interesting thing to ask people to do and compare it to whatever else in their lives they value or don’t value.

Fittingly, there’s some open source cover art creation going on over at Jon Hicks’ blog, as the official cover art has not yet been released. The cover art up top is Jon’s design.

* To listen to OGG files (and play just about any other audio or video file you can find), get the open source, totally free VLC player.

Time to switch to AMD processors?

This is a little old and has probably made the round of the blogs already (if I could finally start keeping up with the blogosphere already, I’d know!) But being both a techie and an angry brown butch, I couldn’t possibly let this one slide without posting it.

Racist Intel Ad

Those runners on their mark look a whole lot like rows of faceless, muscular Black men bowing down before a professional-looking white dude, who is apparently going to “maximize the power” of his employees with them. And yet somehow no one at Intel noticed that this ad is majorly fucked up until, well, everyone else noticed. The wide-reaching outcry prompted Intel to pull the ad and offer up a rather weak apology: “We made a bad mistake … this ad of using African-American sprinters did not deliver our intended message and in fact proved to be culturally insensitive and insulting.”

Now, cases of multi-million dollar corporations doing stupid, racist things are a dime a dozen, but an interesting point is being made and getting attention on the heels of this gaffe. The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights is using the case to draw attention to Intel’s support for a California ballot initiative that they claim will “eliminate class action lawsuits over civil rights issues.” I haven’t managed to find out much more about the initiative besides the info including in the article linked to above and the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights’ website, but I’d be willing to wager that any lobbying group whose board member organizations include the rogue’s gallery of mega-corporations listed in this PDF from their website isn’t looking out for the common man first. It’s a good reminder that, while the racism and classism of large corporations occasionally gets revealed through highly-publicized advertising gaffes like this one, there’s plenty going on behind the scenes as well.

NYPD activist surveillance documents surrounding the RNC released

After a long legal battle, I-Witness Video has obtained and posted more than 600 pages of NYPD RNC-related activist surveillance documents, spanning from October 2003 to September 2004. On the I-Witness site, you can read more about the preceding legal fight, download a large PDF of the documents, or perform single-word searches on the documents.

I’ve already been going through them for about an hour, and am about to stop myself from looking at them all night. Otherwise I’m going to have nightmares. Lots of the stuff is really creepy. Some of it is creepy because of the infiltration factor that’s evident in what they’re able to find out; how disturbing to think of organizations and groups being infiltrated. However, some of the stuff isn’t creepy at first because it’s such public information, so the methods of obtaining the info aren’t so creepy seeming. But then, when you think about it a little more, it’s almost creepier, because the things they’re documenting seem so tame and so benign. I’m talking regular old community organization meetings, happy family-friendly kinds of marches and activities, that sort of thing. Green Party events held in sunny Tompkins Square Park, for fuck’s sake. These guys aren’t just worried about their infamous scary black bloc anarchists here, the kind of mythological threat that the cops and the press like to put on display to terrify the populace. Nah, they’re after anyone who has the slightest inclination towards evil anti-American concepts like justice or equality or liberation.

And that’s just the shit from the document that hasn’t been redacted (blacked out, usually with comments like “law enforcement privilege.” (Oh yeah, we know all about law enforcement privilege.)

Obviously, I know that the police and the rest of the government are fucking insidious, and all of this shit has gone on for decades upon decades in this country (centuries upon centuries, probably) and will continue to do so for a long while to come. And it’s not as if I don’t know that the groups and movements and coalitions and even social groups that I live and work within are heavily surveilled, even when we’re doing things that seem so innocent, so harmless, so tame, so right.

But it’s still scary. And it still might give me nightmares.

I think it might also convince to me finally start practicing better technology privacy and security measures – you know, encrypting emails, that sort of thing. I always think that I don’t say or write anything interesting or sensitive or important enough to really worry about. But I think I’m realizing that the cops find a whole lot more interesting than I would’ve thought.

I have smart friends.

Many of them, in fact. Here’s some recent words from two of them.

My friend Dean writes about polyamory in “For Lovers and Fighters” on Make. This article really resonated with me, as a currently poly person, in so many ways. In it, he touches on many things: “how interrogating the limits of monogamy fits into [his] queer, trans, feminist, anti-capitalist, anti-oppression politics,” how we treat people we’re dating or in a romantic relationship with vs. how we treat our friends (and how we might do well to treat our friends more like our dates and our dates more like our friends, sometimes), and how polyamory is emergent in communities that question and break gender rules and norm. He also talks about the negative aspects of the relative popularity of polyamory in some communities – how sometimes polyamory is seen as more “radical” and right on, while monogamy is seen as a throwback; how poly people can hold themselves up to stringent and unrealistic standards of behavior, with any jealousy or insecurity yielding feelins of shame and inadequacy. Dean writes:

It seems like the best answer to all of this is to move forward as we do in the rest of our activism, carefully and slowly, based on our clearest principles, with trust and a willingness to make mistakes. The difficulty of having open relationships should not be a reason not to try it, but it should be a reason not to create new punishing norms in our communities or in our own minds. We’ve done difficult things before. We struggle with internalized oppressions, we chose to live our lives in ways that our families often tell us are impossible, idealistic or dangerous, and we get joy from creatively resisting the limits of our culture and political system that are both external and part of our own minds.

In a post entitled “The internet ate my subculture,” Anne writes about whether something has happened in recent years to “completely destroy american public culture,” and whether that something might be the internet. She writes:

Is it totally trite to blame MySpace? Or Friendster? Or hell, livejournal? The timing is right. They keep everyone “connected” without having to, y’know, do anything together except catechise our daily living and fuck. Memoirs are now the best-selling genre of new book. Coincidence? We can get all the kudos and sexiness we need without ever leaving the house, without ever extending ourselves beyond our individual choices of which job, which identity, which sound card, which sex act we prefer. Narrativize it, publish it, let the appreciative comments pour in…

behold, another blog

Poplicks recently posted a list of 30 more facts that are difficult to face (guess I missed the first list), which includes the following fact, amongst other horrors and amusements: “According to Harper’s Index, a new blog is created every second.”

Well, I’m happy to say that I contributed to that particular statistic today by launching my new technology blog. On which I will blog about, you guessed it, all things tech – news, gadgets, accounts of my own (mis)adventures, that sort of thing. I’d been wanting to blog about tech stuff for a while but didn’t really want to get it all mixed up in this blog. I like my blogs to be nice and discreet. Which may result in me launching yet another blog in the near future for personal stuff (though maybe I’ll just use my Livejournal for that.)

So, yes – if you like tech stuff, check it out!