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The Solar Protocol switches servers depending on sunshine

Brillant piece of net art about climate change that may or may not be actually useful engineering: The Solar Protocol (Opens in a new window), in which solar powered servers “coordinate to serve a website from whichever of them is enjoying the most sunshine at the time”. This is a natural next step from the solar powered website (Opens in a new window) some years ago.

Here’s a talk (Opens in a new window) by Tega Brain and Benedetta Piantella from NYU about the background of this project, “Reimagining The Internet Through Natural Logic”.

Solar Protocol is a web platform hosted across a network of solar-powered servers set up in different locations around the world. A solar-powered server is a computer that is powered by a solar panel and a small battery. Each server can only offer intermittent connectivity that is dependent on available sunshine, the length of day and local weather conditions. When connected as a network, the servers coordinate to serve a website from whichever of them is enjoying the most sunshine at the time.With servers located in different time zones, seasons and weather systems, the network directs internet traffic to wherever the sun is shining. When your browser makes a request to see this website, it is sent to whichever server in the network is generating the most energy. For example, right now you are seeing the version of this website that is hosted on Chile server located in Universidad del Desarrollo where it is 12:20 PM and the weather is haze.The Solar Protocol network explores the sun’s interaction with Earth as a form of logic that shapes the daily behaviors, seasonal activities and the decision making of almost all life forms. Solar Protocol honors this natural logic, exploring it as a form of intelligence that is used to automate decisions in a digital network.

Bisexual Gregor Samsa Couch

You've seen Ikeas Love Couches for Pride Month (Opens in a new window) two weeks ago, now enjoy the mental image of Kafkas Gregor Samsa making out on it (Opens in a new window).

Bunch of Stuff

Enjoy random dogs with Open Puppies (Opens in a new window).
Apple’s weather app won’t say it’s 69 degrees. (Opens in a new window)
Only superuncool people deal with Bitcoins, proven fact (Opens in a new window).
There’s a ‘Fast and Furious’ Musical Being Written on TikTok (Opens in a new window) because ofcourse there is.
Naming your kids Metallica, Slayer & Pantera (Opens in a new window)
0-100, sorted alphabetically (Opens in a new window)

Chile introduces Neurolegislation for Mind Reading

Chile erklärt Daten aus Hirnscans zu organischem Material (Opens in a new window), das einen untrennbarer Teil des Individuums darstellt und daher Neurorechte garantiert, die unter die Menschenrechte fallen. Damit lösen chilenische Juristen das philosophische Urdilemma des Körper-Geist-Problems und erklären die Seele als materialistischen Teil des Körpers, case closed.

Haha, no not really, trotzdem hochinteressant.

In Chile, two bills — a constitutional reform bill, which is awaiting approval by the Chamber of Deputies, and a bill on neuro-protection — will establish neuro-rights for Chileans. These include the rights to personal identity, free will, mental privacy, equal access to cognitive enhancement technologies, and protection against algorithmic bias.  The Chilean neuro-protection bill includes an innovative interpretation of mental privacy (that is, the control over access to our neural data and to the information about our mental processes and states that can be obtained by analyzing it). Rather than describing it in broad-brush terms, it proposes to treat neural data as a special kind of information that is intimately related to who we are and that partly defines our identity. The bill therefore states that neural data must be legally considered as organic tissue.


Noah Kalina (Opens in a new window) macht seit 20 Jahren ein Selfie, jeden Tag eines, und generiert daraus Videos, in denen er innerhalb weniger Minuten um Jahre altert. Er gilt als der Erfinder dieser Meme, wurde damit zu einer der ersten globalen Internet-Celebrities und hatte einen Sort-Of-Gastauftritt bei den Simpsons (Opens in a new window).

Jetzt hat er seine Technik aktualisiert und stabilisert sein tägliches Gesichtsgesicht per Machine Learning. (Opens in a new window)

In a first step, Michael used the machine learning library dlib ( and some custom Python code to detected in each of Noah’s photos 5 face landmarks (i.e. both eyes, the nose and the two corners of the mouth). These landmarks were then used to align the faces in all photos, so that the eyes and corner of the mouth were horizontally oriented and always an equal distance apart. After that, some small image intensity correction were applied to make very dark images a bit brighter and very bright ones a bit darker. This was followed by an upscaling of all images (where needed) to a 4K resolution.

In a second step, once the faces were upscaled and aligned, Michael looped through all of the images and averaged them with a sliding window approach: Each frame in the video shows the average face of the last 60 faces. Or in other words, each frame shows the 'average Noah' over the last 2 months. With a video frame rate at 60Hz, this means Noah ages in this video 2 month every second, or 10 years every minute.


Ryan Broderick has a pretty good piece about the industrialized outrage complex that is the populist rightwing in the US: Inside The Outrage Cycle (Opens in a new window).

Platforms like Twitter are warped from five years of Trump mania and now their recommendation systems are churning thousands of mini-Trumps every day. This is the “main character of Twitter” effect. I’m inclined to agree.As these trending main characters go viral on Twitter, hundreds of online outlets race to turn this into content. And there’s a real financial incentive for covering these stories. As most people working at various content mines can tell you, the thing Facebook readers love the most is getting mad about stuff that’s happening on Twitter.But this Trending Topic outrage aggregation is not just happening at mainstream outlets. It’s happening with particular precision in tabloids and on right-wing news sites. And as the DFR Lab’s Emerson T. Brooking observed recently (Opens in a new window), these right-wing outlets have a much bigger Facebook footprint, which means they can make these stories trend with incredible ease.


This is Water (Opens in a new window) ist eine Rede von David Foster Wallace vor der Abschlussklasse 2005 am Kenyon College in Ohio. In dieser Rede spricht er darüber, wie Fische sich des Wassers nicht bewusst seind, in dem sie ihr Leben führen, eben weil sie es darin führen, es sie umgibt, das Wasser ihr Alltag ist. Genau wie wir uns niemals dessen bewusst sein, dass wir in einer Simulation, oder wenigstens einer simulations-artigen Illusion leben.

Die Simulation ist wie Wallace’ Wasser, das offensichtlichste Ding, die Illusion von Realität durch unseren kognitiven Apparatus, da uns die vollständige Wahrnehmung der tatsächlichen Maschine, die tatsächliche Erkenntnis des Weltengenerators, entweder in den Wahnsinn oder zumindest zurück in den wohligen Flausch der Simulation treiben würde.

Und das Internet gibt uns allen die Macht, eine Myriarde simulierter Personae zu generieren, die digital vernetzte Simulation des Selbst innerhalb der Simulation, Avatare unserer Persönlichkeiten, kuratiert, optimiert, fixiert mit pixelperfekten Selfies, entledigt von lästigen Imperfektionen, bedacht mit der exakt genau richtigen Menge bilateraler Aufmerksamkeit um im digitalen Dschungel der social circles zu überleben.

“Be like water, my friend”, embrace the simulation.


Motherboard über Citizen, eine Mobile-Software für digitale Bürgerwehren. Selbstjustiz, there's an App for that: 'FIND THIS FUCK:' Inside Citizen’s Dangerous Effort to Cash In On Vigilantism (Opens in a new window).

Ich hatte in der Vergangenheit immer wieder vor socialmedia-ermöglichten/optimierten Menschenjagten als Merkmal eines inhärenten Digitalen Faschismus gewarnt. Jetzt gibt es ein Startup dazu und es dürfte nicht das letzte bleiben, denn nichts ist so engaging wie ein aufgepeitschter Mob auf Hetzjagd und das betrifft nicht nur Rechte und Nazis.

Creepy af, alles.

Ein Kommentar auf Reddit (Opens in a new window) fasst meine Horrors sehr gut zusammen:

There is a segment of society that not only has no qualms about mob justice, but become incredibly empowered by social media that tells them what they're doing is okay despite objective reality.This app might not be the one that goes on to cause a lot of harm, but this one is laying the groundwork for networked mobs and militias to enact coordinated efforts against people they don't like and are afraid of.Whatever your own political leaning or ideology, you should be very afraid of this kind of system becoming an acceptable form of community organization. It might sound great to think wrong-doers are going to face justice when the system fails, right up until you're the one being targeted by angry, fearful citizen groups with no oversight.I'm just waiting for the next incarnation of this app, it will simply be called "Lynch."

Social Identity and Attention in Plattform Capitalism

Großartiger (und sehr langer) Text von William Davies im New Left Review über "The Politics of Recognition in the age of Social Media (Opens in a new window)", ein Update von Charles Taylors philosophischen Beiträgen zur Identitätspolitik der 1990er Jahre für den Plattform-Kapitalismus. Der Text ist lange und schwer, aber er erklärt die komplexen Zusammenhänge zwischen der Psychologie der Identitätsfindung und der Aufmerksamkeits-/Reputations-Ökonomie im Plattform-Kapitalismus. Lohnt sich.

Economies of reputation

The public sphere under platform capitalism differs from that of print capitalism in a number of ways. Habermas argued that the latter emerged slowly from networks of private letter-writing, until the exchange of opinion gradually took on the public character of discursive exchange between strangers; eventually, ‘public opinion’ became a disembodied, autonomous phenomenon. The rise of platforms has reversed this process, in that public discourse is never divorced from the identity and status of the participants, save where identity is deliberately disguised as a political tactic, for trolling. An exchange on a platform leaves a trace, which remains attached to the digital identity of both parties, and serves as a type of investment (positive or negative) in their reputations. Opinion, judgement and critique no longer exist in any autonomous form, but become mediators of social relations and investments.

On a cultural and psychological level, this has the effect of making all users of platforms conscious of what impression they are making, and how this might benefit them in future. As Richard Seymour observes, the social industry ensures that we are all celebrities. To engage in potentially ‘unlikeable’ behaviour becomes a reputational risk. The template for public statements is that of financial pr: selling oneself and one’s content as a ‘buy’ that will pay off over time. Criticism loses the autonomy that it won in the bourgeois public sphere and instead becomes a type of recommendation, like a stock tip. This in turn drastically delimits the autonomy of the writer, critic or public intellectual, unless they can somehow disregard the data archive in which they and their followers are leaving their deposits. But even that disregard is a deposit of sorts.If reputation is a form of capital that accumulates over time, then reaction is the currency of investment. Liking, buying, sharing, following and, above all, attending are the ways in which a reputation accumulates positively. But unlike critique, which makes an appeal to some kind of external normative standard, the ideal of reaction is of an autonomic response that bypasses consciousness or deliberation. Like the focus on attention, manifest in eye movements, that was an early feature of modern psychology, reaction—a synonym for the behaviourist category of response—provides a means of bracketing out normative questions of choice and judgement. The surveillance infrastructure of platform capitalism has privileged access to the reactions through which reputations are made or unmade. If everything can be turned into an interface—from domestic technology to the human body and the built environment—then all behaviours can be tracked as reactions of one kind or another, as in the behaviourist fantasies of B. F. Skinner. At the frontline of platform capitalism is not just facial recognition but ‘facial analytics’, which seeks to detect how moods and feelings are changing in response to given stimuli.

If a reputation can be invested in and grown over time, it is equally possible to be ‘shorted’ by this quasi-financial market—harmed by trolling or concerted online attacks. Social-media platforms such as Twitter serve as a human-capital market, where reputations rise and fall in response to mass sentiment. Bubbles can develop in which a rising reputation results in more followers, wider reactions and still more followers. Part of the sadistic thrill of this gamified public sphere lies in the risk that people with high reputations face of being dramatically exposed in a negative way. As Emily Rosamond has argued, these high levels of ‘reputational volatility’ open the way for ‘reputational warfare’, in which capital value get attacked and destroyed. This generates the threat known colloquially as being ‘cancelled’, in which an individual reputation is simply annihilated, like a bankruptcy—but it also scales up to affect national politics. See the interventions of Trump, Bolsonaro, Modi et al.

In the analogue public sphere, recognition of achievement (ideally) required some act of representation: the critic represented the artwork, while celebrating or denouncing it, just as the spokesperson represented a political identity in the act of affirming it. Misrepresentation was often a cause of misrecognition. In the reputational economy of platforms, however, processes of representation are replaced by those of curation: a piece of ‘content’ is extracted from the vast archive of data and shared, as a type of investment—or divestment—in a reputation. Removing or toying with the context of the quoted material becomes a key way of acting upon reputations. In the digital public sphere, everything is a type of misrepresentation, the only question being whether it adds value to the misrepresented or subtracts it.

The normative idea of bourgeois civil society is that of the liberal marketplace, where strangers encounter one another as equals. The normative idea of the reputation economy is a capitalist one of rivalry and inequality. Each participant arrives with a different quantity of reputational capital and is immediately confronted by the dominance of those with more. Network effects famously produce power-law distributions, in which a few nodes receive an abundance of connectivity and engagement, while the vast majority receive very little. Culturally, this translates into a politically potent emotion: resentment. The virtuous and vicious spirals of reputation mean that merit and esteem never seem fairly distributed. Someone else has always had a head-start, which is why they must be brought down. The Trump Presidency was a powerful exhibition of the normative logic of platform capitalism: the most powerful man in the world, also a celebrity with 73 million Twitter followers, fixating constantly on how unfairly he was being treated, and how he deserved greater recognition—then extinguished by the platform’s ceo with an algorithmic tweak, displaying for a moment the old-fashioned political machinations of American capitalism behind the digital curtain.

This is the trap that platform capitalism sets for its users: it holds out the possibility of a recognition that it will never, can never, fulfil. If, as Taylor argued, modernity’s ideal of ‘inwardly generated identity’ gave a new importance to recognition, the digital public sphere sees an ongoing exposure of the inner self in the struggle to be recognized, but never achieves its goal. Rather than recognition, the self receives mere reaction, and hopefully appreciating reputation. For many users of social media, this produces an escalating exposure of pain, injustice and misrecognition, which meet with varying forms of reaction, some supportive, others less so. Emotion, which behaviourists traditionally studied in wholly observable terms, becomes exclusively observable, a type of public performance that splits off from the part of the self which, for Honneth, needs to be recognized to be fulfilled as personhood.

Generalized misrecognition

The reputation economy undergirded by platform capitalism has played an important role in the growth and mutation of the politics of recognition since the financial crisis. This is not simply to blame ‘the internet’ for identity politics, but to highlight how a new type of rationality has penetrated the social and cultural sphere, turning the distribution of esteem into a type of inter-capitalist competition. Controversies about the supposed threat to the liberal public sphere emanating from universities and the left often ignore a more structural transformation driven by Silicon Valley.

Cultural-political arguments in the Anglosphere frequently turn upon the question of free speech, and the need to rescue it from ‘identitarians’. In the uk, the Johnson government is intent on legislating to force universities to uphold ‘free-speech’ norms. While these allegations are often made in bad faith and on slim evidence—not to mention the accompanying crackdown on any free expression of Islamist views—the task should be to provide a more accurate diagnosis of the decline of liberal norms, not to deny that anything has changed. This requires paying close attention to the capitalist business model and the interfaces on which civil society and the public sphere increasingly depend. Arguments about censorship and ‘no-platforming’ of speakers are often driven by the quest for reputational advantage—on the part of institutions, individuals and social movements—and a need to avoid reputational damage. This is how the politics of recognition is now structured.


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