Tag Archives: terrorism

Looking back on 9/11

911-memorialImagine trying to exit a burning building.

Based upon conversations with the WTC survivors, researchers from the Universities of Greenwich, Ulster and Liverpool concluded that more than half of them delayed evacuating because they wanted to gather information about what was happening; those intent on getting more info about the attacks before exiting took between 1.5 and 2.6 times longer to begin evacuating than others; and congestion in stairways was the main cause of delay in getting out, even though the towers were less than one-third occupied that day.

Also: Al-Qaeda HQ has harsh words for AQ in Iraq:

Taken in context, Zawahiri’s latest memos seem to indicate that al-Qaeda’s oft-cited “central front” is a persistent if increasingly difficult management challenge for the movement’s front office.

And some angry leftist observes:

Aside from everything else, 9/11 was the day our mainstream news people promised they’d stop focusing on the trivial.

Oh well.

[Bayonne, NJ 9/11 memorial, Sister72]

Surveillance state update: The war on documentation

big-brotherFormer FBI agent and current ACLU lawyer Michael German shares some insights into the mentality behind the arrests of journos and other mostly harmless people at some shindig or other that was going on in St. Paul, MN this week.

He cites guidelines issued to the LAPD:

It lists 65 behaviors that they say are behaviors related to terrorism, and the one that pertains here is “takes pictures or video footage.” [The entry on p. 40 reads: “Takes pictures or video footage (with no apparent esthetic value, i.e., camera angles, security equipment, security personnel, traffic lights, building entrances, etc.).”] “No apparent esthetic values?” So apparently they’re going to be sending police officers to art school to understand esthetic values.

But it actually mentions taking video footage of taking video footage of security personnel. So the mere taking of photographs or video footage of law enforcement – even law enforcement doing something improperly – they’ve identified that as a precursor to terrorism. So now you might understand why these police officers are focusing on people with cameras. It’s because it’s actual policy to do so.

[Interview: David Neiwert, firedoglake; image: mikecolvin82]

Second Life not actually crawling with terrorists after all – who knew?

'Desu' griefing attack in Second LifeYou may remember us linking to an arm-waving FUD-hype article from Australia last year claiming that OMFG Secund Life iz training ground for terr’ists!!1!

Just in case you were still worried about that (and I’m sure it’s been keeping you awake at night just as much as it has me) a report from Mercyhurst College concludes we can breathe easily:

“Communication for planning a terror attack is unlikely to be a threat due to the paranoia, suspicion of monitoring, and existing channels of communication such as web forums that are more efficient. Bomb making, weapons training, and other advanced training exercises are unlikely to take place in SL due to the need for in-person, hands-on experience.”

I wonder how much that simple exercise in examining the platform and applying a little common sense cost? It would have been easier to simply round up a hundred SL users and ask them the same question … although in recent times I think you’d be hard pressed to find a hundred SL users who’d been able to log in with any degree of regularity, but that’s an answer in and of itself. [image by believekevin]

And seriously, come on – Islamic jihadists in the metaverse? What were they supposed to be training themselves to do, bombard decadent capitalists with swarms of animated penises? That’s about as plausible as, oh, I dunno, Nazis on the frickin’ moon.

Using biometrics to identify potential terrorists

Airport Security Ever look at the guy next to you in the lineup at airport security and wonder, "Is he a terrorist?" Well, scientists at the University at Buffalo are working on automated systems to help answer that question before those questionable individuals ever get on the plane–although, unlike you, their suspicions hopefully won’t be fueled by a mistrust of bald men with earrings or the fact your ex-wife’s mother looked just like that before she started smashing your prize collection of Star Wars figurines.

Instead, the system will track faces, voices, bodies and other biometrics against "scientifically tested behavioral indicators" to provide a numerical score of the likelihood that an individual may be about to commit a terrorist act. (Via Science Daily.)

Smile for the camera! But not as if you have something to hide… (Photo from Wikimedia Commons.)

[tags]security, biometrics, terrorism, technology[/tags]

The metaverse: bad for marketing, great for terrorism?

a gathering in Second LifeThe corporate love affair with Second Life seems to be fading, at least in some camps, as businesses realise that having a sim isn’t going to instantly develop them a massive revenue stream. Chris Anderson, editor of Wired and the guy behind the Long Tail hypothesis, wrote a short piece explaining why he thinks metaverse marketing is a pointless proposition, which developed into an interesting conversation with SL uber-pundit Wagner James Au. The jury is still out, I guess … but as Jason Stoddard says, it’s early days yet, and it’s a wise move to get on the train while there are still plenty of seats.

However, according to a report in The Australian [via], terrorist organisations are taking to the metaverse like ducks to water, and allegedly using virtual worlds as training platforms to dry-run attack plans. There may well be a grain of truth in there, but the story reeks of sensationalist over-hype to me … however, it’s given Charlie Stross the opportunity to pat himself on the back for predicting that we’d see just such a story. To be entirely fair, though, Edward Castronova discussed the same ideas in his excellent book Synthetic Worlds: The Business and Culture of Online Games back in 2005 – which is well worth a read for anyone interested in the metaverse, whether as user or observer.

And your supplementary bonus link: Ian Hughes is one of the folk behind IBM’s big push into the metaverse, and he and a colleague are guestblogging over at TerraNova; his inaugural post examines the possibility of business becoming more like a form of emergent gameplay as interactions increasingly migrate into virtual spaces. Fascinating stuff. [Image by D’Arcy Norman]