It seems that the Wikileaks.org domain has been broken, due to thousands of distributed DDOS (Denial of Service) attacks by patriotic Americans. This is when you subject a site to repeated communication requests, and eventually it cannot keep up. EveryDNS, the organisation which passes on these requests, was forced to remove the link between wikileaks.org and its servers – They made a neutral statement explaining their reasons for doing this.
As a result, Wikileaks can only be reached via its IP address: http://126.96.36.199/.
Its is not often that you see one of the country’s top opinion-formers picking his nose. As I rounded the corner opposite the pub, I was greeted by the sight of Ebenezer, the celebrated blogger, raising his stubby finger towards his nostril. As it entered the nose, he gave his whole hand an expert twist, as if he were operating a corkscrew. He grimaced as something was levered loose, which he pulled out and began rolling between his thumb and his forefinger.
Meanwhile, his other hand was perched over the keyboard of his laptop, his fingers furiously typing.
His eyes were distracted from the screen as I approached, which put an end to his trowelling. He let his non-keyboard hand flop down below his thigh, and I percieved him flick something out onto the pavement by his tiny table. Then he stood up, and offered the hand in greeting.
I may have paused for a spit-second before I shook it, but I don’t think he noticed.
Ebenezer sighed in mock exasperation. “At last!”
I smiled, and protested. “Not my fault, I left the flat an hour ago. They’re working on the Northern line so I had to get a bus.”
He played along. “Well, you should have known. There’s an app for that, yeah?” He waved his nose-picking hand at the metal chair opposite his, and sat down.
There was half a free-sheet newspaper splayed across the seat. Upside down, the new Prime Minister’s gurning face looked back at me. I picked it up and chucked it onto the ground, somewhere near where the bogey had probably landed.
Then I sat down and placed my iPhone carefully on the table. Ebenezer rolled his eyes at me. “What are you drinking?” he said. I could see he had a half-finished pint of some kind of dark ale on the go, leaned up against his laptop.
“I’ll probably just have a coffee for the moment,” I said. I stood up with the idea of ordering, but a waitress had clocked me and was already striding over. She was bursting out of a tight white shirt and had one of those black ties with a huge knot sitting over the centre of her chest.
When I ordered myself a decaf latte, Ebenezer let out an audible snort, and shook his head. The girl bit her lip to suppress a smile, then disappeared inside.
“That knot must have been, like, a quadruple windsor or something” he said when she was out of view.
I decided to change the subject. “What are you working on?”
“Just a blog. But not for the main blog, though. Just my blog. Its about Dave.”
I nodded solemnly. Dave was dead.
Continue reading “Ebenezer and The Case of the Election Night Tweeter”
Here I am, writing on my blog at 2:45am.
I’ve just read an interesting short blog post by Nicholas Carr on ‘Nowness’:
The Net’s bias, Gelernter explains, is toward the fresh, the new, the now. Nothing is left to ripen. History gets lost in the chatter. But, he suggests, we can correct that bias. We can turn the realtime stream into a “lifestream,” tended by historians, along which the past will crystallize into rich, digital deposits of knowledge.
I think this is why James Bridle’s Tweetbook appeals to me. By pulling a large set of data into book form, James imposes a permanence on something that was previously transient. I plan to recreate the project for my own tweets one day soon – Not to publish to the world, but a single copy for myself. Twitter is a diary and it is upon diaries that some of the best history is derived.
I’ve found myself doing that with other creations too. I have hundreds of digital photos sitting on my hard-drive, but I busied myself last weekend by printing out about five of them as 8″x5″ and putting them in nice frames. I think that act of printing and fixing is an act of stepping out of the stream. An act of stopping. Only then can you look back, look forward, and perhaps, look properly inward, too.
One of the presents in my stocking from Santa was The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson. I’ve long thought that his epics, The Baroque Cycle and especially Cryptonomicon address some of the fundamental issues of our age, especially the impact of technology on culture. This passage from The Diamond Age, published in the mid-1990s, seems prescient of our computer culture, our obsession with gagetry (“guilty, your honour”) and the vogue for cosmetic surgery. It also made me laugh:
You could get a phantascopic system planted directly on your retinas, just as Bud’s sound system lived in his eardrums. You toild even get telaesthetics patched into your spinal column at various key vertebrae. But this was said to have its drawbacks: some concerns about long-term nerve damage, plus it was rumoured that hackers for big companies had figured out a way to get through the dedenses that were built into such systems, and run junk advertisements in your peripheral vision (or even spang in the fucking middle) all the time – even when your eyes were closed. Bud knew a guy like that who’d somehow gotten infected with a meme that ran advertisements for roach motels, in Hindi, superimposed on the bottom right-hand corner of his visual field, twenty-four hours a day, until the guy whacked himself.
(Hat-tip to Roger M for the book recommendation).
From a Primary Care Trust, to an associate of mine:
Recent monitoring of internet usage by staff has shown that there has been an excessive use of social networking websites such as Facebook, MySpace and FriendsReunited, resulting in high bandwidth usage … Staff are reminded that internet access for personal purposes is only permitted during their break times
Leaving aside the sinister concept of “monitoring” internet usage, I think this sort of thing betrays a poor understanding of how people are using the Internet these days. For many people, Facebook is now the communication tool of choice. It has a straight-forward e-mail function, which many people seem to prefer to more traditional solutions like Hotmail or Outlook (or Mac OS X Mail). But most of the other features on the site are messaging services of some form or another, for example on the ‘Wall’, or comments on pictures or status updates. Just because they occur in semi-public, its not clear to me why this sort of personal communication is considered time-wasting, while simple vanilla e-mailing is still acceptable. I bet that if they check the stats for Hotmail, Yahoo and GMail, the usage would also be very high. Moreover, these sites are incorporating more and more social networking features too. So it looks like this sort of prohibition is made rather inconsistently, a decision made by people who are behind the curve in their understanding of the online world.
There are wider points to make here too. The first is about the way an organisation treats its staff: Do you monitor and nanny their usage, or do you ask them to self-regulate in the hope that they will use it sensibly?
The second point is about the way in which people communicate these days. Instead of writing letters or having long phone conversations, we interact more frequently, in smaller packets (journalism is changing because of this too). Why should this be stifled? Will it create a more efficient organisation, or, indeed, a happy one?