The Null Device
Someone has written a program for spidering Friendster and rendering a graph of the social network (downloadable, Windows-only).
Sounds interesting in theory, though in practice it depends on how many people have signed up. When I played around with Friendster, my network was very sparse, with few people being bothered to sign up and hassle their friends into doing so. It wasn't that nobody would be my friend. I had plenty of those; just that very few of them bothered to actually add any other friends (or fill in more than the bare minimum of details about themselves). Mind you, the fact that Friendster is all but useless except for finding sexual partners sort of limits its audience; perhaps in Australia, using computers for getting laid is still seen as the last refuge of sad losers, rather than the playground of cutting-edge cyber-nerverts.
tribe.net would be somewhat more interesting to graph, as it's a multi-use system (useful for posting announcements, selling stuff, shooting the bull about your favourite TV show/band/sports team and meeting people), thus giving denser social networks. LiveJournal would probably yield even more densely interconnected networks; also, since LJ has an open API, it shouldn't be too hard to rig up something to spider it and plot a graph, possibly even correlated with a physical map of the real world. I wonder whether anyone has thought of this already.
Mori's Uncanny Valley is the phenomenon in human perception of human-like entities that accounts for people feeling revulsion when they see zombies in a horror movie. Put simply, the theory postulates that the relationship between similarity to human appearance and movement and emotional response is not a straight line; instead, there is a peak shortly before the appearance becomes completely human -- and then response dives into visceral horror, as the not-quite-human object enters the realm of moving corpses, blasphemous abominations and Things That Should Not Be, looking too human, yet somehow loathsomely unnatural. First postulated in the 1970s, the Uncanny Valley theory is behind advise to make all human-like agents/robots look slightly stylised, just enough to appear distinctly non-human and not trigger the sensations of horror.
Via the story of the guy who mistook his girlfriend for a robot -- or rather made a lifelike animated head modelled on said girlfriend's head, and wired with cameras, motors and software. David Hanson, the roboticist in question, is not an adherent of the Uncanny Valley theory, or believes that he can cross said valley and come out at the other side. (via jwz)
Why wait for the redesign of Mt. Rushmore? Get your Texas Air National Guard George W. Bush Action Figure now!
Comes with detailed uniform (as imagined by base commander), sealed discharge papers, Coors Light keg, and "licensed to chug" bumper sticker... Winning bidder will be notified of upcoming GWBANG accessories; pile of dried branches, action pretzel, overstuffed bags with "$" printed on them, blindfold, bible with real, highlighted passages, and earplugs.
The Spanish troops sent to patrol Iraq are wearing the symbol of an anti-Moorish crusader. Spain's 2,000-strong contribution to Truth, Justice and Cheap SUV Fuel wear on their shoulders the Cross of St. James of Compostella, popularly known as "Matamoros" or "the Moor killer" for his role in the Christian reconquest of Moorish spain. The troops will patrol the sacred Shia city of Najaf.
Stupidity, or a calculated "fuck you" to the Islamic world? Perhaps someone in charge wants to foment anti-Western resentment in the Islamosphere, for some reason or other; like keeping McWorld in a permanent (and profitable) state of siege? (via Anthony)
Gibson's Law meets the Jon Katz Hellmouth, as school bullies adopt new technologies, from SMS harrassment to "Nigelling" (i.e., ostracising their victims from online chatrooms). (Though is "Nigelling" really so unusual? The less-than-popular kids have always been left out of the quarterbacks'/prom-queens' reindeer games for as long as children have been herded into the social pressure-cookers known as schools. And in this day of the Internet, the misfits would be likely to find their own cliques, even if they consist of a cluster of pseudonymous DeadJournals scattered across the world.
This Friday is Fair and Balanced Friday. Use said phrase on your website to protest Murdoch's attempts at censorship through copyright. (via Charlie's Fair and Balanced Diary)