by Barry Chudakov

Where Is Here?

“People used to walk with eyes to the sand and water,” using the example of people strolling at the seashore. “Now everyone walks with a device. No one is looking at the sand…. The technology which looked so good 15 to 20 years ago now looks like it helps us miss out on the complexities and grittiness and ups and downs of what real life has to offer.” – Sherry Turkle

We’ve misplaced our nouns. Our persons, places and things used to be here somewhere, but now they are somewhere else. Persons, aka friends, are not here. The lights from our gadgets beckon, we’re skin-hungry and still they’re out there somewhere, at the end of a text or swimming in our Facebook stream. Places like bookstores, once here, are now booted to a virtual there, accessible easily from millions, even billions, of devices but these are not the place—they are access to the place. And things! We now have an Internet of things, a horn of plenty of stuff that is connected to other stuff. Most of that stuff isn’t here either.

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by Barry Chudakov

The Quantified Self

‘I was giving birth to our son, and instead of holding my hand and hugging me he was sitting in the corner entering the time between my contractions into a spreadsheet.’
Joe and Lisa Betts-LaCroix, self-trackers

There is a new logic afoot. It is a meme of staggering proportions that capitalizes on using the endless minutiae of everyday life to inform and enlighten us. From DailyBurn, a web site where you can track your body information (weight, body fat percentage), including workouts, nutrition, and challenges; to Sleep Cycle, an iPhone alarm clock app that analyzes your sleep patterns and wakes you when you are in the lightest sleep phase, the quantified self holds a compelling promise: to know yourself, quantify yourself.

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by Barry Chudakov

Black Hats and White Hats: Interview with an Ethical Hacker

Today on virtually any news site, you have to sneak around the headlines to avoid a story about hacking. Whether the recent phone hacking scandal of News of the World; the New York real estate brokerage, home to hundreds of upscale apartment listings, accused of hacking into a competitor’s computer system and stealing listing information; or Anonymous and V for Vendetta-masked LulzSec, hackers are gaining increased notoriety and profiting handsomely from their ventures.

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by Barry Chudakov

Hasan Elahi: Surveillance As Storytelling

Few people have as fully realized a Metalife as Hasan Elahi. Its necessity, a case of mistaken identity, was the mother of considerable invention. In 2002, when he stepped off a flight from the Netherlands, he was detained at the Detroit airport. FBI agents later told him they had been tipped off that he was hoarding explosives in a Florida storage unit. While subsequent lie detector tests convinced them he wasn’t their man, Elahi knew after this detention he would be carefully watched.

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by Barry Chudakov

Interview: Professional Shirt Wearer, DeAndre Upshaw

“Professional Shirt Wearer” DeAndre Upshaw wears his hair in Rasta braids that fall in beaded lines around his wide smile. A self-proclaimed “Social Media Ninja” who grew up forcing his friends and family to perform in short films he wrote, directed, and produced, DeAndre has spent the majority of his professional career helping people connect to others via social media. He performs for (‘works for’ doesn’t seem accurate) iwearyourshirt.com, a company that embodies multidimensional storytelling.

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by Barry Chudakov

Interview: Digital Forensics and Metalife

Most of us give little consideration to the further life of our digital explorations—the messages we text, the files we send, the photos we store. That is, until something that we thought was ‘ours’ becomes evidence of something else.

Douglas Brush is Founder and Chief Forensic Examiner of The Digital Forensic Group in New York City. The company’s mission is to use specialized computer forensic methodologies and tools for the identification, extraction, preservation, analysis and documentation of electronic evidence as it is used in civil and criminal matters. The Digital Forensic Group provides its services to law firms, corporations, government agencies, and individuals. In essence they devise a framework for investigating moments captured on digital devices in order to provide clarity and ultimately a report of what happened.

As we will see, Brush’s work is fundamentally about the unearthing and documenting of a Metalife. This life is a shadow digital existence with our name and footprints all over it.

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by Barry Chudakov

What Is Metalife? (The Interview)

“Would you have a drink with you?” the Stoli Vodka ad taunts us. “Create your alter-ego at Facebook.com/Stoli.” Alter-egos are all the rage now that 12 million people play World of Warcraft, and 500 million more have a second life on Facebook. Or perhaps, given the mounting evidence of how we are changing our lives, there’s more going on with this alter-egoing than meets the eye, or the I. We are all engaged in massively multiplayer online and offline role-playing. Is it a game, or a ruse resembling a game resembling a life? Whatever is happening as we evolve our identity, our tools and technologies, this is as good a time as any to ask a few questions. The following is an interview of the interviewer. The subject is Metalife. The Stoli’s on us. Both of us.

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by Barry Chudakov

The Blind Men and the Elephant Stampede

The Blind Men and the Elephant, a story dating back to the 13th century, has been used by Sufis, Hindus, and Jain, among others to convey a profound truth: we describe the world based on local observation, blind to the larger picture. This parable of how we understand the world now comes with a twist. Today as vast quantities of information come via numerous communication tools, each tool gives us a useful but incomplete view. Once the world was a simple, lone elephant; now the world is buzzing with digital pachyderms. The story rings true while it has gone high-tech: we are still groping around for a comprehensive understanding but now the elephants are in stampede.

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by Barry Chudakov

Gadget Angst

It was autumn of 1939, a time W.H. Auden would commemorate as a “low dishonest decade.” Ludwig Wittgenstein and his young Cambridge student and friend, Norman Malcolm, were walking along the Thames when they saw a newsvendor’s placard announcing that the Germans were accusing the British of an assassination attempt on Hitler. Wittgenstein thought it was likely true; Malcolm said such a thing was impossible because “the British were too civilized and decent to attempt anything so underhanded, that such an act was incompatible with the British ‘national character.’” Years later Wittgenstein wrote to Malcolm:

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by Barry Chudakov

Tracking, Sniffing & Fingerprinting: The Metalife of Identity

A recent burglary at the home of Washington Post writer and editor Marc Fisher was documented by a Facebook boast.  The burglar took Fisher’s new coat, his son’s iPod, savings bonds, cash and a laptop. Then the burglar opened his son’s laptop computer and posted a photo of himself to the boy’s Facebook page. In the photo, the burglar flashes the stolen cash and is wearing Fisher’s winter coat.

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