Flash Mob Snowball Fight

I got this invite over facebook. see you there.

Snowball Fight – The Flurry Fury – CHICAGO, IL

[submitted-2008-10-23 19:51:22 PST]

Wednesday, January 14th @ 4:48 CST
Where: S. Riverside Plaza, Outside Union Station, Adams Rd. Entrance
My name is Matt Nissenbaum and I am attempting to orchestrate a


Alright, we encourage people dress warmly, but costumes and other clothing statements are fine too. We will need some help because I would like to fill some styrofoam coolers with snowballs just in case the supply in that area is limited and I would like it if someone could videotape the event.

Now that you have received your “mission”… there better be no
excuses and don’t be late or you may completely miss out. The snowball fight will commence when the horn is blown and it will end when the
horn is blown a second time. When the second horn is blown… we all
need to immediately stop and walk away as if nothing had ever happen.
Ignore, deny and inform anyone that ask about the incident that you
don’t know what they are talking.
EMAIL ME AT mnissenb@yahoo.com


*****I’m looking for sponsors and a venue for the after-party.*****



Augmented Reality in the Military

I read an article in the Economist about how troops on the ground could have augmented reality goggles in the (not too distant) future.  The goggles would overlay information from satellite, plane and drone views so that troops would have a digital image of enemies over the hill or through buildings. The descriptions, at least in my mind, sounded almost too much like the little “blips” in Halo and other video games.

The Web: Door or Cocoon?

The internet provides people with all sorts of information at their fingertips, and they are able to reach anything they want whenever they feel like it. It seems like a good thing but people don’t always take full advantage of what is given to them. Cass Sunstien, a Harvard professor, has written about how internet can facilitate extremist views by allowing people to form bubbles of similarly like-minded views around them without exposing themselves to alternative viewpoints. The same phenomenon occurs off the web as well. Sunstien preformed an experiment where a bunch of liberal got together for a day-long conference and discussed politics. He also hosted a conference for conservatives. At the end of day the liberals were more liberal while the conservatives were more conservative. The web intensifies this trend even further. Extremist blogs have links to other extremist blogs and sites. This has a splitting effect where people rarely “cross over” to see what the other side has to say. The web certainly has the potential expose all viewpoints to everyone, everyone just needs to be listening.

Principles of Scientific Management

Scientific management ( is a theory of management that analyzes and synthesizes work flow processes, improving labor productivity. The core ideas of the theory were developed by Frederick Winslow Taylor in the 1880s and 1890s.   -Wikipedia

Certainly any kind of open source system needs some organizing set of principals for it to run smoothly. According to Taylor the (somewhat obvious) way to do  this is to structure a system by which benefits the worker when the end result benefits the company. For example, he argued that paying workers by the hour provided no incentive for them to work efficiently and managed several companies where he was able to pay the workers considerably more than they had been earning while still increasing his profits.

Seemingly, the Linux mode of production has achieved a way to reward its workers, who don’t even get paid at all. By working on what directly benifits you first, then sharing the results, all benifit.

Brakin: Brazzaville–Kinshasa

Open source city-planning though complete lack of “top down” control

I would argue that an “open source” methodology takes place in the cities of Brazzaville and Kinshasa. They are separated by a the Congo river and are national capitals of their countries, Congo and Democratic Republic of Congo.  Although the Congo river is a national border there is virtually no barrier between the countries. Individuals travel between the cities and carve out their own space as they see fit.  This is certainly not a trophy case of open source planning, but an interesting on nonetheless. A group of Jan van Eyck researchers studied the city and complied their work in a book called “Brakin” a mashup of the two cities names. The book includes several photo-essays and writings breaking down the city using unconventional methods that are often more telling what a census or other “standard” system could. But a census is out of the question because the city/cities are in constant flux many places have no official roads and hence no addresses. The majority of the population lives in “in between” spaces they appropriate on either a temporary or permanent basis.

For open sourcing to work on any scale, that of the city or that of the computer program, there must be some driving logic that solidifies the common goal.


“Tragedy of the Commons”

“The Tragedy of the Commons is the title of an influential article written by Garrett Hardin, first published in the journal Science in 1968.[1] The article describes a dilemma in which multiple individuals acting independently in their own self-interest can ultimately destroy a shared resource even where it is clear that it is not in anyone’s long term interest for this to happen” -wikipedia

How can freely edited programs and services such as Wikipedia and Linux continue to function without anyone “hijacking” them for their own good? It seems that they can avoid the tragedy of the commons due to the fact that it is in so many peoples interest for them to be accurate and functional.

There is certainly a bias to Wikipedia however. This past summer, someone hacked into Wikipedia and revealed who wrote “anonymous” entries.  It seems that large companies such as McDonald’s and WalMart as well as the US government edited pages to paint themselves in a more favorable view. But the very fact that this was uncovered is reassuring to me as people can truly track where their information is coming from if they have time on their hands.