Tag Archives: society

Schneier shreds the Transparent Society

CCTV-warning-sign Regular readers will know I’m fond of citing David Brin’s Transparent Society concept as a potential solution to the escalating level of surveillance in our cultures. [image by takomabibelot]

However, it looks like I may have to reconsider the idea in light of an essay from security maven Bruce Schneier. The problem is that mutual disclosure doesn’t take into account the amount of power you have before a transaction begins:

“An example will make this clearer. You’re stopped by a police officer, who demands to see identification. Divulging your identity will give the officer enormous power over you: He or she can search police databases using the information on your ID; he or she can create a police record attached to your name; he or she can put you on this or that secret terrorist watch list. Asking to see the officer’s ID in return gives you no comparable power over him or her. The power imbalance is too great, and mutual disclosure does not make it OK.

You can think of your existing power as the exponent in an equation that determines the value, to you, of more information. The more power you have, the more additional power you derive from the new data.”

That said, Schneier is still definitely on-side with an increase in “watching of the watchers” – our ability to keep tabs on those who keep tabs on us is the difference between control and liberty. I just hope that, in light of the UK police’s increasingly Orwellian PR efforts, we haven’t already gone too far in trading freedom for supposed security.

Online but off the grid – Japan’s internet café homeless

Websurfers in an internet cafeIn an example of interstitial existence that sounds like it leaped straight from the pages of a William Gibson novel, the Japanese government has announced that there are over 5,000 “internet café refugees” eking out a living at the bottom of the social strata, taking what temporary work they can and dossing down in 24-hour internet cafés in the absence of a home of their own. Even in the shadow of our ubiquitous technologies, the same social issues that have existed for centuries are following us into the future … [Image by Kai Hendry]

WIRED autopsies crowdsourcing experiment

Crowdsourcing is one of the slew of neologisms that the past year or so has thrown up – and like a lot of neologisms, everyone who uses it seems to have a different idea of what it means. WIRED attempted to put theory into practice in the field of ‘citizen journalism’ by crowdsourcing a series of articles on crowdsourcing – very meta. While they got some pretty interesting articles out of it, including an
interview with Douglas Rushkoff in which he writes off the term as a way for corporations to get work done for free
, it didn’t work out to be the bed of roses they had hoped – the dissection of the project is well worth reading.


“Better Sweets to Prove Than Sleep” by Lisa Mantchev is the story of a woman caught between men, between demands on her time, and between life as a microsleeper and the pressures of a comatose society.

[ IMPORTANT NOTICE: This story is NOT covered by the Creative Commons License that covers the majority of content on Futurismic; copyright remains with the author, and any redistribution is a breach thereof. Thanks. ]

Better Sweets To Prove Than Sleep

by Lisa Mantchev

Jenna retrieved four poems memorized in third grade, the capitols of the fifty-four states, and the molecular structure of hydrogen. She dumped them in the recycle bin, shuffled around her free memory and recategorized the Townsend project as High Priority.

Zach grunted above her but she couldn’t concentrate on little things like his sweating body and enthusiastic penetration with so much junk swirling around in her head.

Distracted by the look of gleeful concentration on his face, Jenna lost her grasp on the sorting process and slipped into microsleep. Finalization of the new changes. Rapid cell repair and regeneration on the soles of her naked feet. QuickDreams of Cinderella at the masquerade, frolicking in fountains and surrounded by pink and gold fireworks. Then she jerked awake to the panicked repetition of her name accompanied by gentle slaps to her face. Continue reading BETTER SWEETS TO PROVE THAN SLEEP by Lisa Mantchev