The ten rules of infowar

Paul Raven @ 27-08-2009

By now you’re probably all familiar with the notion of 4th Generation Warfare, even if the name doesn’t ring a bell: it’s network vs. nation-state, the sort of seemingly unwinnable cluster-f*ck that keeps sucking up money and sending back bodybags from Afghanistan. But what about 5th Generation Warfare?

5GW is the next step along: network vs. network. It’s the sort of war that’s happening right now in the media channels and websites of the United States: an information war, largely bloodless but savagely partisan, driven by irreconcilable ideologies. It’s politics, in other words; politics in a networked age. According to Umair Haque, there are ten rules to learn if you want to win.

He’s directing them at the Obama Administration in light of the public drubbing they’re getting from the obfuscatory tactics of the opposition, but the rules probably apply just as well anywhere, from the world stage to the office where you work. Here are a couple of samples, but you’ll want to read them all:

5. Darwinian counterattacks. What happens after a networked offense? A counter-attack: the remaining nodes link up, share resources, and then launch a portfolio of different counterattacks. The fittest ones — those most threatening to the enemy — survives. It’s like what hedge funds do, except it’s not lame. To enable a Darwinian counter-attack, you’ve got to offer suggestions, tools, and methods for a range of potential counterattacks.

6. Hack your enemy’s weapons. In a 3G or 4G war, you can’t hack the enemy’s guns, bombs, or knives. In a 5G war, you can hack the enemy’s information weapons — and that’s an often explosively powerful tactic. “Death Panels”? Call them “Life Panels” instead, explain that old Republican Senators already benefit from them — and enjoy your rise to the top of Google.

[via Global Guerrillas]


Games and economic misbehaviour

Tom James @ 03-08-2009

wolfram_fractalsGeorge Dyson has an excellent and compelling essay on game theory, economics, information theory, computer science, banking, finance, technology, and John von Neumann:

We are surrounded by codes (some Turing-universal) that make copies of themselves, and by physical machines that spawn virtual machines that in turn spawn demand for more physical machines. Some digital sequences code for spreadsheets, some code for music, some code for operating systems, some code for sprawling, metazoan search engines, some code for proteins, some code for the gears used in numerically-controlled gear-cutting machines, and, increasingly, some code for DNA belonging to individuals who serve as custodians and creators of more code. “It is easier to write a new code than to understand an old one,” von Neumann warned.

The monograph over on Edge discusses von Neumann’s intellectual antecendants and the development of game theory and statistical modelling. It also includes some interesting commentary on our recent economic difficulties. Definitely worth a read.

[image from kevindooley on flickr]


News cycle identified

Tom James @ 13-07-2009

lipstickonapSome glorious and fascinating reportage-porn at memetracker that shows how news stories are taken up and how long they last and what their impact is:

They found a consistent rhythm as stories rose into prominence and then fell off over just a few days, with a “heartbeat” pattern of handoffs between blogs and mainstream media. In mainstream media, they found, a story rises to prominence slowly then dies quickly; in the blogosphere, stories rise in popularity very quickly but then stay around longer, as discussion goes back and forth. Eventually though, almost every story is pushed aside by something newer.

There is something truly wonderful about seeing this information laid out in such an intuitive manner. This kind of analysis of the growth, spread, and retention of ideas is certainly an area that will expand and grow over time.

[via Physorg, from MemeTracker]


Data von Teese

Sarah Ennals @ 28-06-2009

Data von Teese - Does Not Equal

Does Not Equal is a webcomic by Sarah Ennalscheck out the pre-Futurismic archives, and the strips that have been published here previously.

[ Be sure to check out the Does Not Equal Cafepress store for webcomic merchandise featuring Canadians with geometrically-shaped heads! ]


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