October 16, 2011

What a Hackable World?

Category: Academic,Advice,Anonymous — Biella @ 3:46 pm

I really don’t know what to make of this Cisco-made video “What a Hackable World.” It is sort of interesting that Anonymous and Lulzsec made it in but the video is not all that clever. And what up with the nerd-o-matic sys admin (most sys admin I know are more hoodie, less nerdie). But can anyone explain what/who the main featured dude is supposed to be? Hacker detective/destroyer? Cisco customer?

Going to São Paulo next week

Category: Academic,Anonymous,Debian — Biella @ 3:39 pm

lolcat_brazilian

First, is that image really the best LOLcat referencing Brazil that exists out on the Internets? I sure hope not as it is sort of lame but it was the only one I could find (in the 30 seconds I looked, which I admit, is not all that much time).

But all of this lolcat in Brazil stuff is really to say, I am heading to São Paulo tomorrow to give a talk on Anon on Thursday at this conference. If you are an Anon in the city and can make it, please do. If you are not Anon and are still interested, come along as well ;=)

If there are Debian developers as well in the city, it would be great to meet at some point. I am there from Tuesday morning to Friday night.

September 7, 2010

Ireland

This summer of 2010 has been memorable. It started with a difficult period following the hospitalization and death of my mother, a series of very intense and equally memorable conferences catapulting me out of my funk and ending with a trip to Ireland, perhaps one of my most pleasant trips ever. I have always wanted to go there, as I have some good Irish friends and I was also quite attracted to the place due to its history, so when the opportunity came for me to go, I did not hesitate to book my ticket. I was not left disappointed in any way, shape or form, although since I barely experienced the gray, misty, and rainy weather Irish is famous for, my experience may admittedly be a bit skewed.

These are some of things I did and some of my fragmented thoughts about Ireland and some photos, proof that the weather was UnIrish

Ireland and The Irish: Well I can’tas no one canspeak of The Irish as if they were some unitary group but I did learn a lot about Irish history and managed hang out with a number Irish folks (even a family) and one thing that seems to mark Ireland as distinct, what makes it stand out from the rest of its Western European brothers and sisters, is the pervasive sense of history bleeding into the ambiance, perhaps because it is so tragic. The short version of the history, if you don’t know it, is that the Irish, especially the Catholics, got repeatedly screwed by the British monarchs/rulers/planters/government/ for nearly a thousand years, the last five hundred of those being particularly harsh and ugly, a cycle of slight gains crushed by various forms of tyranny and violence at least until part of the country achieved independence (Northern Ireland is a bit of a different story).

I may have gone a bit out of my way to learn about Irish history, more than I have done for any other place, but this historical consciousness seemed to be inescapable, precipitating into all sorts of conversations and places. To take one example, I went to see Gaelic Football, one of the two beloved national sports (the other being hurling), and the minute you learn anything about this sport, you learn that it is intimately bound with the Irish fight for independence and nationalism.

The Irish are also very warm, kind, and outgoing. They also seem to curse an awful lot as well, so much so cursing is a bit of a national pastime, which yes, I (f*cking) loved as I tend to have a bit of a foul mouth myself, curbed I will admit, in recent years and in the classroom. It crept up in a lot of places but was most pronounced during the All Ireland Semi-Final Gaelic football game when the ladies (not lads, mind you) behind me were constantly yelling at the referee, hurling the c-word (rhymes with trunk) whenever they made a call they disagreed with.

EASA/Maynooth.: I went to Ireland to attend the largest Anthropological meetings in Europe, and in specific an all day panel on digital anthropology, which seemed like a great opportunity given we are a a bit of a minority. The conference was impressively large with roughly 1200 attendees (can you believe there are that many anthropologists?), smoothly run, and the all-day panel on digital media was quite lively and I got to meet some really interesting folks. I was a tad sad to find out Maynooth is the only university in Ireland with an Anthropology department (for crying shame lads!!!) but at least it is located in a darn stunning university: the old quarters of the campus are strikingly beautiful.

Anonymous: I have done some work on Anonymous and well when I found out there was going to be a raid/protest at the Church of Scientology (a pretty dismal, and run down church), I got in contact with Irish anon to let them know I was coming. Although someone first decapitated me (at least in character with their norms, right?), when I showed up in person, they were not only civil but really quite hospitable (greeting me with one of my favorite songs). Overall it was a great day. I was reminded of important differences among Anons (Irish Anon’s take their anonymity pretty seriously, the New York Anons do not) and also good to experience the social life and metabolism of a protest, especially one attended by folks who have lost family to the church.

Dublin: Since I stayed with my friend and his family in Dublin, this is where I spent most of my time. I was able to hook up with various friends, including one from graduate school who just got back from years of fieldwork in Rwanda and hearing about his experiences and stunning but stunningly sad project made me feel like mine in comparison was Child’s Play (in fact, it really was). I got to see the Debian crew (many who work at Google) and I finally paid a visit to the office, which was exactly how I imagined it to be (good and abundant food, good lighting, lots of toys and bikes, lots of Star Wars posters.. Yep, it could have been in Silicon Valley). But I was surprised at the young age of the marketing and sales folks who were hanging in their lounge when I ran into them. In fact when I saw them I thought like I was looking at my freshman class or something! It was great to see the Debian folks (though no one I met was actually Irish), as well, one of my favorite things to do whenever I visit a foreign city.

I walked my heart out in the city getting a blister in a shoe that I thought was blister proof and while not as picturesque as some other European cities, it has a ton of character and no shortage of Guinness and pubs (no surprise there). My favorite places/things were: The National Library (great exhibit on Yeats, but make sure to use the multi-media as that is where all the information is stuffed), St. Stephen’s Park (overflowing with chubby ducks and lovely flowers), the prison Kilmainham Gaol (would not advise a visit if you are feeling in any way down, there is some heavy shit you learn during the tour), the simple stained glass that seemed pretty common, and finally the Long Room in Trinity Church, which you enter after the Book of Kells (I realized just how much I adore books when I visited this old library stuffed from floor to ceiling with old old old books).

The West Coast: I did not think I was going to head out west but after hurricane Earl started its burst along the eastern Seaboard and I was able to change my ticket for free so I stayed a few more days. I went to the Burren and the Cliffs of Moher both totally stunning, really majestic. As is often the case with these type of these natural wonders, I am often left elated and awed but such strikingly wondrous places also seem to subsequently spur a more melancholic state of mind and heart.

Friends, Family, and Dogs: While in Dublin I stayed with my friend A. and his extremely hospitable family, which included, a brother, a father, and three Irish mutts, one of which, Buster (pitt bull/lab mix), pretty much stole my heart. Buster’s true love, is food, so much so he almost poised himself to death a little while back snorting down something he shouldn’t have costing the family a pretty penny to save him. My friend no longer lives there but came from Berlin and it was a real treat to not only spend days layered upon each other with a friend (it has been an awful long since I have done that outside of conferences) but also meet his family. You learn a lot about your friends that way and in this case, there is some serious and I mean serious intellectual jousting that happens, sometimes bordering on warfare but generally it plays out in more contained, civil and fascinating fashion. Now I understand why my friend is armed with seemingly endless knowledge: it was needed for purposes of defense at home.

So in essence, a great, great trip and a fantastic way to end a memorable summer and transition into what I hope will be a bit of a monkish (I call it monk mode) period for this academic year. I am (so so so) fortunate enough to have a fellowship at the Institute for Advanced Study and am going to try my darnest to take advantage of the fact I am not teaching (Hell Yes!) and hide away and accomplish all that I have set out to do.

December 20, 2008

Anon visits NYU, the audio

Category: Academic,Anonymous,Anthropology,Geek,Politics,Teaching — Biella @ 5:30 pm

Since they beat me to it and I am swamped with stuff/errands/cleaning/grading/everything else, here is the audio from Anon’s great visit to my class on Dec 8th. I will throw up a copy on my server tonight as well.

Warning: Not lots but in fact tons of expletives.

December 8, 2008

dino-anon (or how to end your hacker class on a lulzy note)

Category: Academic,Anonymous — Biella @ 2:36 pm


dino-anon, originally uploaded by the biella.

As I mentioned in my last entry, the end of the semester is one of overwhelming, seemingly unstoppable entropy. People and Professors are tired and to help move us through this thickness, I try to pick fun readings. Today I also had the opportunity to have a group of NYC-based Anonymous come to class today to give us a window into the politics of protesting Scientology and this of course worked magnificently against the end-of-semester-entropy.

In a nutshell: they did not fail or in their own lingo, it was an Epic Win. They provided a really nice set of presentations (and then also proceeded to collectively draw the lulzy image featured above) about their origins, their purpose and some of the tensions within the group. Then we had a class discussion about a number of topics, including their argot and “offensive” (offensive) [I am not sure whether to put " " or not] online language.

While I am still ambivalent about their use of “fag” and “nigger”, I greatly admire Anonymous for their politics of pleasure and aesthetic audacity (not to mention creativity). They insist that protest must be fun, must be wild, must go beyond simply rational discourse. If you are interested in this topic, check out Stephen Duncombe’s excellent (and very readable) book Dream, which I happened to be (somewhat randomly) reading right now and it helped give me a new fresh perspective about the politics driving Anon.
Duncombe is a professor at NYU Passionate (with a Capital P) about politics with a lot of real world political experience who examines the importance of desire, fantasy, and pleasure for progressives and leftists who tend to shy away or even denigrate such impulses. And it is certainly the case that Anonymous is experimenting, consciously and unconsciously, with these very questions and impulses which helps explain why many people jumped on board.

I hope to post the audio from the class a little later on.