Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

A few people who read my blog asked me to write a piece on the “Dead Bird” phenomenon. I was hesitant at first because I really don’t know where I stand on the issue. While I am a rational thinker, and do believe there is a scientific explanation for the dead birds and fish (and now, dead crabs in the UK) that died en masse, there is still that tiny conspiracy mindset. Doing some preliminary research on the matter, I found a few theories running around the internet.

The scientific community and government affairs departments all hold steadfast that one of three things is to blame. One – the birds were spooked by New Years fireworks and, being unable to navigate in the night sky, subsequently ran into building thus causing their death. Two – the harsh winter left the birds and fish susceptible to disease and famine and thus killed them. At the same time. Three – a rouge thunderstorm sucked up the birds into the upper atmosphere–killing them–and then spit their bodies out.

I’m more apt to believe story one. I don’t for a minute believe story two. Story three may have some merit. I did some preliminary research and their was some atmospheric action the evening of Dec. 31st, but I am nowhere near qualified to make a judgment on what it was and what the effect on the bird population would have been.

My friends in the conspiracy blogosphere are going insane right now. I won’t even indulge you on the theories they have come up with. They are, for lack of a better word, retarded.

I’m not going to reiterate what thousands of other web blogs and articles have already told you on the subject. Nor am I going to indulge you with conspiracy fantasy. So what is this blog post about then?

My original intention of this blog was to analyze social trends. I may have slacked with a few of my blog posts in the past, but I am returning to my internet vision. I’m going to break down the (mass?) hysteria I am beginning to see. Using one of my favorite tools, Google Trends, I chronicled the terms associated with this event that were increasing, at an alarming rate, in frequency.

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Time Warner Cable Cannot Possible Compete with the Small City of Wilson, NC

Update on Operation:Payback

Posted: December 20, 2010 in Technology

Urlesque.com wrote a great article on Anonymous. Read it here:

“Never doubt that a small group of committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that has” –Margaret Mead

I doubt Mead ever thought her quote and my writings of cyber warfare would ever meet. But it was this quote that echoed in my head on December 8th, 2010.

Visa, MasterCard, PayPal, Amazon, and a few others were targets of what is known as a Distributed Denial of Service, or DDos, attack. In the simplest of terms, it is as if someone or thing went to a website and hit the refresh button thousands upon thousands of times. When multiple attackers are involved, and the amount of times the website is refreshed is increased, the web site goes down.

Behind this attack was a group known as “Anonymous”. The group comes from the image board 4chan.org, which is a completely anonymous website that allows is users to post photos and text. They are responsible for many internet Memes and underground humor. 4chan’s creator, Moot, advocates the need for anonymity to foster honest conversation, and has even been recognized with his on Ted.com talk on the subject. Aside from internet shenanigans, 4chan is also for activism.

4chan and Anonymous stand behind freedom of speech, and rallied behind WikiLeaks. When it was discovered that Visa and MasterCard denied processing of donations to WikiLeaks and Amazon suspended WikiLeaks hosting on their servers, Anonymous was angered. They launched “Operation:Payback” against these companies using said DDoS attacks. In order to bring down these sites, fortified for high traffic, they would have to be organized and in mass numbers.

That is what surprised me. Not willing to compromise their identities and remain “Anonymous”, they did this without e-mail, phone numbers, or names. I can barely organize a group dinner without sending at least ten text messages, yet they were able to organize and attack that took down Visa, MasterCard, and PayPal consisting of almost 5,000 strong. Using vintage technology like Internet Relay Chat (IRC), and their nameless boards, they were able to take the servers out and suspend the access to these websites1, each soldier nameless.

Their message was heard.

The attack did minimal damage. While Visa and MasterCard websites went down, their processing servers were not affected. PayPal saw slower servers, but no downtime.

It did prove the power of the collective. Five-thousand stood up against what they didn’t believe in. Five-thousand anonymous people made their voices heard. They did not need names, they were one being.

The collective of garage hackers brought down the corporation. With barebones resources, they were able to take down giants.

David and Goliath, if there were 5,000 Davids. But there were. And it worked.


1 Amazon.com was not affected in the raid. Their servers have proprietary technology to prevent such an overload due to the massive traffic they get around the holidays.

Do you remember the first YouTube video you ever watched? I have a hard time thinking back that long, but mine was probably some Eve 6 music video. Feel free to pass judgement.

I recently heard a baffling statistic. If you were to watch all of the videos on you tube, back to back, no break, it would take you two centuries!

That is a tough number to wrap my head around. That’s 10,512,000 minutes of user-contributed content.

What is so fascinating about YouTube, and Web 2.0 for that matter, is the fact that we are each contributing to a giant history book. Years from now, historians will look to these social media outlets just as we look at cave drawings today.

A recent study reveals that 24 hours of video is uploaded every minute to YouTube.

While many videos are ways to pass time, or get in a quick laugh (see: sitting on the toilet), I look at the big picture. YouTube, along with many other user-controlled content sites, will become our window back in time. When we upload a video of that Sugar Ray concert we were at, or the aftermath of the Hawaiian tsunami, we are creating more and more primary sources that will fill the encyclopedia of human history.

I, for one, think that this is one of the greatest achievements of human kind. A collaborative effort by each human to write the pages of history has never happened before. And with the advances of technology, most importantly the affordability of technology and the ever increasing span of internet access, each person will have a vital part in defining that moment in history.

Voutaire wrote “History consists of a series of accumulated imaginative inventions”. I couldn’t agree more.