Archive for January, 2014

Community service for “Big Brother” – should I start worrying?

Thursday, January 30th, 2014

Picture: By Борис У. (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

Almost seven years ago I wrote an article titled “A-synchronous “swimming”: How I stopped worrying, and learned how to love “presence”“. I wrote the article after I was introduced to “micro blogging” or “presence” services, especially Jaiku, a Twitter like service that no longer exists. A presence service is a cross-platform service where you can share information of your whereabouts and what you’re up to, and I immediately took it to heart stating that the presence services were “paving a road towards asynchronous Nirvana”, a Nirvana that would spell the end to instant messaging and phone calls, both of which I find extremely stressful, and they would also “fix” e-mail.

I did see some problems taking that road:

I know that there are problems with the presence services. The biggest problem is that the majority of the world, isn’t ready to volunteer personal information to the public. It’s a bit like doing community service for “Big Brother”.

This was in the days before Facebook shifted it’s focus to being a presence service too, so I guess the majority of the world were ready to volunteer personal information sooner than I thought.

I had no idea how right I was, but I only thought that it would apply to data that I volunteered, and I didn’t imagine that “Big Brother” would keep his own copy of my data, a bit naive since that was something Google already did. Nor did I imagine that the intelligence services would be as crafty as has recently been disclosed by The Guardian “Angry Birds and ‘leaky’ phone apps targeted by NSA and GCHQ for user data“, although we had already heard about something called ECHELON, and that it might be intercepting our e-mails scanning for keywords like Al-Qaeda.

At times I’ve done some pretty stupid things on social media, I’m not going to list them here, because the list is long, and some of them are really embarrassing. After some particular stupid updates, a good friend of mine was worried that I might be spied upon, I thought that he was being paranoid, but it was a wake-up call, and I think that I’ve been thinking a lot more about what I write since then. Now it’s clear that he could be right – we were all being spied upon, and the possibility that I, at some points, have been singled out, is not unlikely.

So what community services am I performing for “Big Brother”?

  • Carry a cell-phone with me all the time, and has done so since 1998, always using post-paid. Information of what cell-towers I use is logged, along with a lot of other metadata, and it can be linked to my social security number
  • Browse the web from all my devices (Mac OS X, iOS and Android), all of them are equipped with front-facing cameras and microphones.Metadata like headers and IP-addresses are logged by the ISP and can be turned over to the danish authorities
  • Run applications with access to the Internet on all my devices, who knows what they’re up to
  • Update Twitter from home and when I’m on the move, but I don’t geotag my tweets, something I actually thought that I did
  • Update Facebook from home, and sometimes my posts are geotagged, not very precise though, I assume it’s based on IP-lookup
  • Write the occasional article on my blog
  • Engage in disussions on blogs and websites
  • Write and receive e-mails using GMail
  • Receive e-mails from iCloud
  • Update my calendar using GCal and iCloud
  • Synchronise with Dropbox from all my devices
  • Synchronise with iCloud Photostream from Apple devices, I assume that my photos are geotagged and that EXIF metadata is preserved
  • Use Google Maps when I’m on the move, apparently this can be logged by the intelligence agencies
  • Update Flickr from home, my photos are geotagged and EXIF metadata is preserved
  • Update Danish Wikipedia from home
  • Update Wikimedia Commons from home, my photos are geotagged and EXIF metadata is preserved
  • Update Google+ from home, my posts are not geotagged, but Google could be logging my IP-address
  • Update YouTube from home and when I’m on the move
  • Update OpenStreetMap from home
  • Update LinkedIn from home
  • Update English Wikipedia from home
  • Update Instagram from home, not sure if my photos are geotagged and if EXIF metadata is preserved
  • Update Last.Fm from home
  • Used to update Foursquare frequently when I was on the move, but my cell-phone is too old to run that service anymore, probably not a bad idea, even though I found the service fun

Quite the list, and I’m sure I missed some.

Apparently all of this can, and probably has been, intercepted by the intelligence agencies and most of it by Google.

So should I start worrying?

The reason I felt that I shouldn’t worry seven years ago, was that I didn’t think that I had anything to hide, and I was of the opinion that openness would render “Big Brother” obsolete, since I constantly volunteered information of my whereabouts and what I was up to on Jaiku.

Like I said, this has turned out to be quite naive. “Big Brother” is alive and kicking, feeding on our data with immense, and seemingly unlimited, appetite, growing bigger and bigger.

It seems that I have taken a path that leads away from Nirvana, and as you can see, I do way too much community service, but instead of worrying, I will revisit my article from 2007:

Currently I use the presence services like a public notebook, and it’s so convenient that you can update the log simply by TEXTing the server, most of my presence messages on Jaiku can only be understood by yours truly and, sometimes, people that know me well.

The rest of the world might gain some insight later, because I tend to use the presence messages, as a stepping stone to a blog-post, like the one you’re currently reading, or it might serve as an inspiration for posting some pictures. The positing[sic] of a presence message, can also act as an inspiration for what pictures I actually take.

Think of my Jaiku presence stream as a (public) brainstorm.

If you replace Jaiku with Twitter, you might have an idea of what path I’ll be resuming to Nirvana, and I’m still not worrying, just acting more responsibly, and have been trying to do so for more than two years now – I’ll let you, my dear readers, be the judges of that, and if I ever need to go under the radar, I know what to do:


Den industrialiserede gris

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014

Domestic pigs
Billede: Wikimedia Commons ved Scott Bauer, U.S. Department of Agriculture. Public Domain

I aften, den 23-januar-2014 kl. 20.30, viser DR1 dokumentaren Det store svinerige.

Med programomtalens spørgsmål om hvorvidt der dagligt dør 25.000 pattegrise i svinestaldene, at søerne føder helt op mod 24 unger af gangen og at der benyttes ulovlige produktionsmetoder som halekupering og kastration uden bedøvelse, er tonen lagt an.

Svineproduktionen, og dens omkostninger, er et emne der har været taget op mange gange, jeg vil fremhæve et par eksempler.

Den industrialiserede gris (1978)

I gymnasiet så jeg filmen Den industrialiserede gris (1978), det jeg husker tydeligst var hvordan kastrationen af hangrisene blev udført, det var meget grumt, og gjorde et stort indtryk.

Umiddelbart er der ikke ret meget at finde om filmen “Den industrialiserede gris” på nettet, udover at den tilsyneladende fik Landbrugsrådet til at “se rødt”“. Jeg mener at huske at visning på Danmarks Radio blev stoppet, men det står for egen regning.

SvineRiget (2004)

I 2004 tog dokumentaren “SvineRiget” emnet op. Udfra programbeskrivelse lyder det som om “SvineRiget” tegner nogenlunde det samme billede som “Det store svinerige”, men jeg har ikke set den. i 2004 var vores årlige svineproduktion på 25 mio., nu er den oppe på 30 mio.

Dokumentaren der kan ses på SvineRiget. DR brugte ikke sin visningsret, med den begrundelse at den var “produceret i strid med DRs programetik”.

Svineriget i øst (2006)

Et andet eksempel er Svineriget i øst (2006) der handler om danske svineproducenter i Østeuropa. Dokumentaren belyser især konkurrencesituationen, der ofte benyttes som begrundelse for den måde vi producerer svin på. Enhedslisten ville dengang tage initiativ til at tage emnet op i Folketinget.

Håber på en konstruktiv dialog

Synes det bliver spændende at se om “Det store svinerige”, tegner nogenlunde det samme som billede som i de andre dokumentarer, specielt “Den industrialiserede gris”. En stor forskel kan være at produktionen i dag må være flere gange større end i 1978, noget der jo kan trække i forskellige retninger.

Der er naturligvis omkostninger ved at have en så stor en svineproduktion som den vi har i Danmark, og historien synes at vise at det er svært at gøre noget ved problemerne. Personligt synes jeg omkostningerne er alt for store, og jeg håber at “Det store svinerige” kan være med til at åbne for en konstruktiv dialog, så der kan ske nogle ændringer? Vi får se.


Rosetta, triader og de nørdede sammenhænge

Monday, January 20th, 2014

Billede: Wikimedia Commons User:IanShazell

Siden der i sidste uge blev skrevet om det europæiske rumfartsagentur ESAs rumsonde Rosetta, har jeg fulgt interesseret med. Rosetta, der blev opsendt for 10 år siden, 2. marts 2004, og har retning mod kometen 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

Interessen i Danmark skyldes nok, i høj grad, at rumsonden har været i dvale i 31 måneder, og at strømforsyningen der i dag, den 20. januar 2014, skal vække rumsonden af sin tornerosesøvn, er leveret af det danske firma Terma.

Med sig har Rosetta et modul der skal lande på en kometen, og da jeg så navnet på den undrede jeg mig, landingsmodulet hedder nemlig Philae. I forvejen vidste jeg godt hvad både Rosetta og Philae hentydede til, jeg kunne bare ikke se sammenhængen.

Det er ikke unormalt at man navngiver rumsonder og landingsmoduler med den slags hentydninger og betydninger. F.eks. Cassini-Huygens-sonden, der blev sendt til Saturn. Det giver god mening. Huygens opdagede saturnmånen Titan, hvor Huygens-soden landede, og Cassini opdagede en del af Saturns måner. Klar sammenhæng.

For at vende tilbage til Rosetta, så har den sit navn efter Rosettestenen, en sten med inskriptioner på både egyptisk og oldgræsk. Da oldgræsk var kendt, havde man nu en nøgle til at tyde de egyptiske hieroglyffer.

Philae er et tempel i det sydlige Egypten tæt på Aswan, dedikeret til gudinden Isis.

Det var klart at der måtte være en forbindelse mellem Rosettestenen og Philae, udover Egypten. Det viser sig at Philae, eller rettere en obelisk der tidligere stod ved templet, også har en betydning i forståelsen af de egyptiske hieroglyffer.

Oversat fra engelsk Wikipedia:

På [Philae] obelisken er der to inskriptioner, en i egyptiske hieroglyffer, en på oldgræsk. Ved at sammenligne de to tekster, selv om de ikke var direkte oversættelser af hinanden, mente egyptologen William John Bankes at genkende navnene Ptolemaios og Kleopatra skrevet med hieroglyffer, dette blev senere bekræftet af Thomas Young og Jean-François Champollion, og hjalp Champollion med at afkode de egyptisk hieroglyffer.

Og så er der mere. Et af instrumenterne ombord på Rosetta hedder OSIRIS: forkortelse for Optical, Spectroscopic, and InfraRed Remote Imaging System. Hvad hentyder OSIRIS så til? Osiris er en egyptisk Gud, der i følge Osiris myten fik guden Horus sammen med gudinden Isis. Osiris myten er en voldsom og saftig historie, den fulde tekst kan findes på Plutarch: Isis and Osiris

Tilsammen udgør Osiris-Horus-Isis en af de vigtige triader i egyptisk religion.

Jeg elsker den slags nørdede sammenhænge. Held og lykke til ESA med missionen, og søgningen efter de nye Rosettesten og Philae obelisker, og hils den kære Isis hvis i ser hende.