The Null Device


A (somewhat cursory) look inside the neo-Bokononian world of social network analysis, which uses computers to analyse patterns of interaction between people or their preferences and map the informal, emergent social structures (or karasses as Bokonon called them) in organisations or societies. This has applications from art to hunting terrorists (or anyone else of interest; apparently this area is known technically as conspiracy detection) to detecting breakdowns in communication within a larger society:

The karass is that group of friends from college who have helped one another's careers in a hundred subtle ways over the years; the granfalloon is the marketing department at your firm, where everyone has a meticulously defined place on the org chart but nothing ever gets done. When you find yourself in a karass, it's an intuitive, unplanned experience. Getting into a granfalloon, on the other hand, usually involves showing two forms of ID.
Krebs used InFlow to analyze the network of book purchases surrounding two best-selling titles, one from the left (Michael Moore's Stupid White Men) and one from the right (Ann Coulter's Slander). "What I got were two cliques that were about as distinct as they could be. I kept looking for paths that crossed between them. Every time I tried to follow one of these paths, I'd go out three or four steps, and then boom, I'm right back in the clique." Most strikingly, the two networks intersected only on a single title: Bernard Lewis's What Went Wrong. Otherwise, the two groups were engrossed in entirely different reading lists, with no common ground.

(via FmH)

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US-born "peace activist" crushed by Israeli bulldozer whilst trying to save Palestinian house. Tragedy or Darwin Award candidate? Does her American nationality make her death more tragic than that of, say, a brown-skinned third-world collateral-damage casualty? And given her involvement in radical anti-American activities, would this make her posthumously an "enemy combatant" like John Walker Lindh?


The latest aspiring pop starlet in London is Osama bin Laden's niece. Waffa bin Laden, 26, has been described as a "Natalie Imbruglia lookalike" and has been working with producer Nellee Hooper. She is a US lawyer by training. (via Rocknerd)

Simon Cowell, the Pop Idol judged renowned for his put-downs said: 'There's only one worse surname you could have to launch a pop career - and that's Hitler.'

Actually, didn't one of Mussolini's granddaughters have some sort of celebrity career a while ago?

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