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  • Time Traveler Caught on Film in 1928?

    This has been circling the usual internet crazy sites lately, and now it's finally made the conspiracy big time that is Disinformation. Apparently, in the new DVD release of Charlie Chaplin's 1928 The Circus, you can "clearly" see a female extra walking by talking into a cell phone. Here's the video:

    The YouTube comments would be hilarious, if so many of them didn't seem to be serious:

    I bet anything that "woman" is really Nikola Tesla if you pause the video at 3:35 you clearly see he/she is holding a black box to her face. The nose, chin & right cheekbone look to be that of Tesla when he was in his 60's.

    Tesla was also a huge Chaplin fan!

    Nikola Tesla Predicted the Cell Phone in 1909.

    Also the person who first thought of the concept we now call the "internet ("world system") was yup you guessed it, Nikola Tesla.

    It's a conspiracy, you guys! Someone tie it in to 9/11, quick!

    [ Subscribe to the comments on this story ]

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  • The Real Privacy Scandal On Social Networks: The Feds Are Spying On Their “Friends”

    All the hoopla over the Wall Street Journal’s so-called Facebook “privacy breach” article, it’s subsequent and curiously-timed MySpace followup, and also the New York Times’ take on the ability of Facebook advertisers to target ads for nursing schools to gay men is unwittingly creating cover for a social networking privacy issue that’s much bigger.  It might be surprising to some, but it turns out that U.S. federal agents have been urged to “friend” people in order to spy on them.

    The feds operate such social sting operations aided by the fact that there are very few individuals that actually know every single person in their “friend” list on Facebook.  For instance, it is typical to connect to someone because one thinks they might have met them.  Or, a connection might take place because two people share common interests and want to view each other’s news posts going forward.  But that’s not how the government sees it.

    In a memo obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) discovered that the Feds see Facebook as a psychological crutch for the needy.  Here’s a direct quote from a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) memo: “Narcissistic tendencies in many people fuels a need to have a large group of “friends” link to their pages and many of these people accept cyber-friends that they don’t even know.”  And it gets worse.

    The memo explains that these “tendencies” provide “an excellent vantage point for FDNS to observe the daily life of beneficiaries and petitioners who are suspected of fraudulent activities.”  Translation: spy on unsuspecting people on Facebook and MySpace in order to catch the bad guys.

    Such tactics are decidedly creepy (how many completely innocent people are they spying on), but the argument could be made that if you have nothing to hide, then why worry?  Here’s why: many people post items to their profiles that they forget to update or that are not necessarily true, and which they certainly wouldn’t be saying if they knew they were under investigation.  Indeed, a recent study initiated by UK insurance company Direct Line concluded that “people are more likely to be dishonest when chatting using technology, such as Twitter, than they would be face to face.”

    Why is it that people might lie more on social media than in person?  According to Psychologist Glenn Wilson, “we sometimes use these means of communication rather than a face-to-face encounter or a full conversation when we want to be untruthful, as it is easier to fib to someone when we don’t have to deal with their reactions or control our own body language.”  This leads to a few common sense conclusions.

    First, government officials need to take note that one should not believe everything one reads on the Internet—even if it is generated by a “person of interest.”  Second, as the EFF’s Jennifer Lynch pointed out, “the memo makes no mention of what level of suspicion, if any, an agent must find before conducting such surveillance, leaving every applicant as a potential target.”  In a country that prides itself on freedom of speech, government should not be in the business of creating an atmosphere that could chill expression.

    On October 18th, Congressmen Edward Markey (D., Mass.) and Joe Barton (R., Texas) sent Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg a letter in which they expressed their concern about marketing companies that “gathered and transmitted personally identifiable information about Facebook users and those users’ friends.”

    To many tech folks, it seems more than a bit hypocritical for government representatives to be going after Silicon Valley companies for using social networking data when the government is doing exactly the same thing itself (and more).  In addition to bureaucrats urging agents to befriend targets, the EFF also discovered that the Department of Homeland Security used “a ‘Social Networking Monitoring Center’ to collect and analyze online public communication during President Obama’s inauguration.”  And, recall how Google Maps has been used to track down hoes with “unpermitted” pools in Long Island, NY.  Those Big Brother moves are much more disconcerting than Facebook applications using referrer URLs to better target ads.

    Editor’s note: Guest author Sonia Arrison is a senior fellow in technology studies at the San Francisco-based Pacific Research Institute and has been writing about privacy issues for over a decade. Follow her on Twitter @soniaarrison.

    Photo credit: Flickr/nolifebeforecoffee.

    Information provided by CrunchBase

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  • John Brockman's "Edge: Serpentine Map Marathon" (UPDATE: Now with more Boing!)

    Image (click for large): The map of the genome of the first synthetic cell
    J. Craig Venter: Genome Scientist, J. Craig Venter Institute; Author, A Life Decoded

    From the Serpentine Map Marathon. John Brockman writes:

    Three years ago, Edge collaborated with The Serpentine Gallery in London in a program of "table-top experiments" as part of the Serpentine's Experiment Marathon . This live event was featured along with the Edge/Serpentine collaboration: "What Is Your Formula? Your Equation? Your Algorithm? Formulae For the 21st Century."

    Hans Ulrich Obrist, curator of the Serpentine, has invited Edge to collaborate in his latest project, The Serpentine Map Marathon, Saturday and Sunday, 16 - 17 October, at Royal Geographical Society, 1 Kensington Gore, London SW7 2AR (Map).

    The multi-dimensional Map Marathon features non-stop live presentations by over 50 artists, poets, writers, philosophers, scholars, musicians, architects, designers and scientists. The two-day event takes place in London during Frieze Art Fair week.

    The event features maps by Edge contributors, and an Edge panel of Lewis Wopert, Armand Leroi, and John Brockman, on Sunday (17 October) 1:15pm-2:15pm. The gallery is a work-in-progress. We are posting Edge Maps as they are received.Information Technology, Genetics, Neurobiology, Psychology, Engineering, Chemistry of Materials (yes, even the chemistry of materials. We are made of matter, and therefore any effect on what we are or we will also become the chemistry of the elements that we are made or not?). All these matters, pertaining to domains that are essential for understanding what "means" to be "human."

    The whole collection is here, and more about the project here. Contributors whose works are included so far include Eduardo Salcedo-Albaran; Lewis Wolpert; Armand Leroi; Kai Krause; Tim Berners-Lee; Sean Carroll; Douglas Rushkoff; Marina Abramovic; Joan Chiao; Nicholas A. Christakis and James Fowler; Emanuel Derman; Jennifer Jacquet; Joel Gold; J. Craig Venter; Gino Segre; Bruce Sterling; Laurence C. Smith; Cesar Hildago; Bryan Hunt; George Dyson; Brian Knutson; Matthew Ritchie; Neri Oxman; George F. Smoot; James Croak; John Baldessari; Dimitar Sasselov; Dave McKean; Carlo Ratti; and Nicholas Humphrey.

    Update: A Boing Boing map is now in the mix.

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  • Merton Curates Our Favorite YouTube Videos This Week: The Improv Edition

    For this week’s YouTube Roundup, we’ve let viral star Merton the Chatroulette Piano Guy call the shots when it comes to theme selection. This week’s through-line of choice? Improvisation, of course.

    While I’m sure you’ve all enjoyed these weekly YouTube Roundups as they are — whose themes I have left to my own tyrannical whims — it’s time for a little bit of a change. Time to mix things up. Time to improvise. Every week from now on, a different YouTube star will help us out with the theme.

    By now, you all probably know the background of the viral virtuoso known simply as “Merton”: He entered the cultural zeitgeist a few months back after he started composing off-the-cuff jams during Chatroulette sessions, and then rose to new heights when those vids went viral and people started thinking he was musician Ben Folds (who created “Odes to Merton” for his part).

    And while we now know they’re not one and the same, the duo’s work has truly been a digital delight.

    Check out Merton’s pick — as well as those of the Mash staff — below. And, while you’re at it, get in the spirit and do something crazy this weekend. That microwavable pizza and Ballykissangel box set will hold…

    Reggie Watts, "Sugar Got It Going On"

    Merton: Reggie Watts is a comedian, singer, beatboxer, impressionist and actor. He improvises all of his material. This piece is a good example of his more musical side. He creates an elaborate background texture with several layers of electronically-looped vocal sounds, then improvises a story and lyrics. I think this song has a lot of heart, and is a great example of spontaneous music-making.

    John Scatman, "I'm the Scatman"

    Blake Robinson: I just remembered this from Beavis & Butthead -- and scat is improvisational at its core.

    Extras, "David Bowie"

    Lauren Rubin: "Little fat man who sold his soul...."
    Classic scene from Ricky Gervais's Extras.

    Adventures in Babysitting - "Babysitting Blues"

    Amy-Mae Elliott: "Nobody gets outta dis place without singin' da blues."

    Trigger Happy TV - "Giant Phone + Train"

    Matt Silverman: This is what my commute is like every day.

    Black Tie Beach

    Erica Swallow: Real-life people making a scene (over and over again) around NYC... you gotta love Improv Everywhere. The latest "Black Tie Beach" stunt looks especially fun.

    Merton Video #5 : Street Piano (8.10.10)

    Brenna Ehrlich: Because he's the curator. And because I'm having horrible flashbacks to improv class in college...

    Reviews: YouTube

    More About: chatroulette, favorite-youtube-videos, humor, merton, pop culture, video, viral video

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