Entries in Augmentation & Surveillance (17)
I wish I had more time to respond adequately to a great discussion over at Savage Minds, so this is as much a reminder to self as anything else. Kerim Friedman posted his critique of Tom Boellstorf's Coming of Age in Second Life: An Anthropologist Explores the Virtually Human, a recently published ethnography of the virtual world I've been meaning to have a look at for a while. Kerim doesn't try to hide his personal dislike of Second Life as a platform but does raise a series of excellent points to which Dusan Writer and Tom Boellstorf amongst others respond. Virtuality, subjectivity, anthropology, post mortem avatars and a lonely cat - all the fun of the fair.
[Cross-posted from Ubiwar]
COIN and public diplomacy alike tend to encounter significant barriers to effective communication between the state actor and the intended audience. In part, this is due to gaps in cultural intelligence that will only be remediated by degrees with the careful advice of subject matter experts (SMEs) and the experience derived from an extended immersion in another society. The other aspect of the problem is that the target audience often has greater complexity and cognitive heterogeneity than the Western society from which the warrior or diplomat hails.
Strains on the sovereign entitlements of states, indeed...
A fascinating new article on "The Principles of Distinction and Neutrality in Cyberwarfare", by Jeffrey T.G. Kelsey, is the only recent bit of scholarship that I've seen that links cyber issues to radio broadcasting. It's not explicitly what the piece is about - Kelsey's points hover around embeddedness, non-lethality, and violations of sovereign neutrality - but he links the two through a case study that requires analogous reasoning. The lessons of radio and mass-mediated ethnic slaughter in Rwanda and Liberia, and broadcast nationalism in the former Yugoslav states, have been generally forgotten or ignored in the current wave of interest in information operations and strategic communications. So this is worth a read - as is past work by Jamie Frederick Metzl.
Metaphor is crucial to our understanding of 'cyberspace' and is both a determinant and function of our relationship with the supposed 'Other'. The complex terrain of our networked communication is largely negotiated through reference to an idealised rural past, but the language of our digital futures is likely to be built on something quite different.
Partly in response to the recent arrest of a Nottingham student for downloading the al-Qaeda 'Manchester Manual', Poetix writes on the dangers to academic freedom posed by the current security climate, and the nature of the university experience itself.
I've mentioned Slavoj Å½iÅ¾ek elsewhere before, and will doubtless do so again. The Slovenian polymath is both prolific and notorious, describing himself once as an 'orthodox Lacanian Stalinist', but he is of course much more than that. Å½iÅ¾ek is one of those authors who makes me want to steal his books, such would one's intellectual armoury be augmented if one could actually grasp a significant fraction of the ideas he throws at the reader. Browsing in the university library yesterday I happened upon a copy of his 1997 Plague of Fantasies
Updated on Monday, May 5, 2008 at 17:57 by Mike Innes
Cross-posting this after submitting it on Abu Muqawama, in response to a query AM initiated. You can read the full version here; my thoughts follow below. I told myself I wouldn't get too caught up with debates in the blogosphere, not because they're not worth it, but because I have a day job, and the body, as they used to say, is meat. This one was interesting enough in that it's caught up in some issues
Updated on Sunday, April 27, 2008 at 08:05 by Mike Innes
There I was, thinking that it would be a simple thing to contrast the cultural turn in US foreign policy and counterinsurgency, against the persistence and evolution of geo-spliced spatial analysis of conflict. Not so. Never underestimate the ability of scholars to adapt, improvise, and overcome - or to get it completely wrong; trust well-resourced academic departments at well-heeled U.S. universities to innovate.
The New America Foundation's Nicholas Schmidle again, in Slate's "Dispatches" section, this time writing about the state and the state of blogging in Saudi Arabia. The focus of the piece is a Saudi blogger, Raed al-Saeed who, in response to Geert Wilders' inflammatory anti-Islamic film, Fitna, crafted his own video on the less savory elements of Christian contemporanea and biblical history. According to Schmidle, the exercise in relativism was, in addition to being a healthy exercise in comparative propaganda, an online smash.
This is a quick follow-up to the earlier CTLab post on the spatial dynamics of counterinsurgency, which reported the ConflictSpace project at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). Up to now, public references to the project have only been made in passing. The first was in a Spring 2007 listing of funded UIUC research projects. The second is on the agenda of the upcoming 2008 Annual Meeting of the Association of American Geographers, as part of a paper session on the spatial analysis of conflict, scheduled for Friday, 18 April 2008.
Serendipity. I just stumbled across this post on En Verite, a blog on cointerinsurgency in Iraq. It's put together by a scholar and French reserve officer, Stéphane Taillat, who's also a member of the Insurgency Research Group at King's College London. I'm pasting it in here in full, because of its relevance to CTLab and because it makes some excellent points.
Harvard Program on Networked Governance Conference on Networks in Political Science
13-14 June 2008 Institute for Quantitative Social Science. More...
Social Network Analysis: Advances and Empirical Applications Forum
Oxford Multidisciplinary Centre for Social Sciences , July 16-17 2008. More…
ISA Workshop Program: Complexity Science in IR
San Francisco Hilton, Franciscan D, March 25, 2008. More...
This was interesting: "Dangerous Minds: Criminal Profiling Made Easy," New Yorker (12 Nov 2007). It looks at the sometimes less than rigorous inner workings of criminal profiling. Fascinating. Its author, Malcolm Gladwell, takes a good hard swipe at the practice, and generally demystifies the sort of analytical gobbledygook that can caveat any argument out of being especially right or wrong. Gladwell probably overstates the case, but makes a good point: beware the BS artist in investigator's clothing, professing metaphysical insights into the ways of the badman.
The Economist 's recent science and technology special published some of the most interesting, and sensible, items I've seen in a while on the interface between the virtual and the real. Two articles, "Playing Tag" and "Reality, Only Better", reviewed mobile social network platforms and augmented reality technology, respectively.
On a flight in mid-November, I managed to stay awake long enough to read through a great piece of magazine writing, Walter Kirn's "The Autumn of the Multitaskers," The Atlantic (Nov 2007), p. 66-80.
It's all the buzz in the blogosphere (OK, so what isn't?). Blog of Rand goes into it in more depth, and notes the irony, for anyone interested in reading the whole article, that full text is "NOT online - go figure. The one article that the overly-wired need to read can only be read in print or online by subscribers."