Stop or They’ll Shoot (because they are tethered to their cars like a Cyborg)

A common thread between the recent police shootings seems to be that of detachment: the police have shot people who were unarmed, and often at a distance, who may have not been a real threat, but apparently enough of one for the police to fire at them, rather than employ other means to capture them.

Radio paging to police officers in cars is recreating one of the early big problems that Martin Cooper, inventor of the cell phone, was trying to solve at Motorola early in his career, in order to help get police away from being tethered to their car radios (Applin 2014, Ph.D. thesis, forthcoming):

For 100 years, people who wanted to talk to other people were wired to their homes, they were latched, uh, chained to their desks, and really didn’t have much in the way of freedom. We were intact giving people communications in their vehicles, but even then that’s not much better than being tied to your desk, you’re still trapped in your car. So we found out from people like the Superintendent of Police of Chicago who told us that he had a real problem, the officers had to be in communications, the only way they could talk was to be in their cars and yet the people they were protecting were walking on the streets. He asked us, “how can I have my officers connected and still mingling with the people?” We discovered this was true of people in managing airports, people managing businesses, real estate people. So we became aware of the fact that real communications is portable communications. Put the device on the person (Big Think 2010).

In a print interview, Cooper is quoted as coming up with a clip-on microphone solution that officers could use within walking distance of the car “base.” “That’s when I really made the discovery that is my mantra today,” said Cooper. “That people are fundamentally, inherently mobile, that these policemen were much, much more effective when they could carry their radios with them than when they were trapped in cars” (Macaulay 2013).

Unfortunately, the police are back to being trapped in cars as an artifact of processes that shrink staff and attempt to optimize officer performance. Police are no longer policing the community by being immersed in the community; they are doing so via radio and car response to issues, not necessarily looking for unreported crimes or patterns (Applin 2014, Ph.D. thesis, forthcoming), nor are they looking for ways to engage. Many do not live in the communities they are policing, and many may shift communities day to day, covering for others.

If one is a car, and seemingly feels tethered to that car, the only way to stop someone from doing something is to run them over, chase them in the car and then shoot them, or just shoot them from the car. Thus, policing (suspected) street crime has turned into game hunting or the kind of hunting one does in a simulated game.  There is little physicality to these “enforcements” — just reactive shooting from the safety and detachment of a police car that in itself, may be transient in a community.

If police officers are, indeed, tethered to their cars like cyborgs, it may be much of the problem: all they can do in response is to drive, or, shoot.

What is missing then is the combination of physicality of “walking a beat” with  the consistency of knowing an area. If the police have become data driven, like so many other pieces of society, they have less and less stake in communities, and may have less and less stake in outcome or accountability of their actions.

Burning Man as PoSR, a Dynamic Cultural Structure

by Sally Applin

Last night I had a discussion with @interdome on Twitter. I’ll post it at the end of this piece, but what I think he was pondering was that non-academic press have a hard time with capturing the Burning Man culture and write that they have captured the culture when they have only partially done so, or captured one aspect of it.

I wrote that many might do so, but that that at Burning Man, there are different experiences, different burns, different years, different dynamics, and different people at Burning Man, and therefore the cultural dynamic of the event changes every year.

When we look at our research on PolySocial Reality (PoSR), we are looking at relationships between people, people and machines and machines to machines, and how the structure of those relationships change over time. While PoSR is the framework for the network of this, there are individual separate instances of PoSR with each communication attempt–and the structure of PoSR overall changes as the dynamics change in the communication.

This is also true for Burning Man. Each year, Burning Man is made up of a collection of people who come together at a particular time in a particular place. The culture of the event is the culture of that group for that Burn. To say that each year is the same, after 20+ years of an event, isn’t exactly accurate. Culture is dynamic and changes, and thus each instance of Burning Man could be considered as a temporary instance of PoSR within an overall structure of relationships that form and dissolve.

©2014-2014 Sally A. Applin. All rights reserved.

Work on Computers? Suffering from Depression? (You might be D3 Deficient)

by Sally Applin

It’s time to try to help those suffering from depression in our community to get some help.

Vitamin D3 deficiency affects mental health as well as bodily health and a deficiency can have serious consequences. D3 is not a vitamin in the traditional sense, it’s a hormone and it regulates a lot of bodily processes that have to do with way more than your bone strength. It effects mental state. Seasonal Depression in part is attributed to lack of sunlight (e.g. Vitamin D3) in humans.

If you don’t want to read any further, PLEASE read this:

Here’s why this matters for you:

People who work with computers may be indoors more than others and that means that they aren’t getting enough sunlight. Some sunlight doesn’t correct the problem. It depends on the season and where you live.

We get D3 from the sun. BUT, if we live North of 37 degree latitude in the Northern Hemisphere (and the equivalent distance in the Southern Hemisphere in their winter), we cannot get D3 from the sun in winter. The angle of the sun is too low. Even if we went out naked, it wouldn’t work and we’d need to supplement.

Here is the checklist to ask yourself if you might be D3 deficient, do you have any one or more of these?

1) Do you work indoors?

Are you programming a lot? You work indoors.

2) Do you live North of Latitude 37 degrees in the Northern Hemisphere?

Check this list:

If you live in ANY city NORTH of 37 DEGREES in the NORTHERN HEMISPHERE (the adjusted calculation for the SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE), then you CANNOT GET ENOUGH D3 from the sun IN WINTER and NEED to SUPPLEMENT.

3) Are you depressed?

4) Do your bones hurt?

5) Do you get frequent colds?

6) Do you always or very often wear sunscreen?

7) Do you AVOID DAIRY PRODUCTS? (are you Vegan? Lactose intolerant?)

You can’t get what you need if you are indoors in winter from food sources. It isn’t enough.

If you want to quantify first that you need D3 to rule it out as a source for depression, ask your doctor for the: “25 HYDROXY D3” blood test.

To correct it, you will NOT necessarily need megadoses. I corrected my deficiency with about a 2500-3000 iu of D3 from Country Life (gel caps).

My deficiency manifested more in bone pain than depression and it took a long time to detect D3 deficiency as the culprit. Here is my data to share with you.

Component Standard Range VitD,25-Hydroxy Tot 30-100 ng/mL      

8/21/2009    13 L
9/15/2009    22 L
10/2/2009    26 L
11/12/2009   32 (This is the bare minimum)
1/11/2010    42
4/7/2010     46 (Midrange from here all the way to the present)
1/18/2011    52
9/13/2011    51
1/3/2012     46

The range for D3 for my test was “30-100.” My first level was 13, which is 17 points BELOW NORMAL. I’m now in the middle range, which is where I should be. I started slowly, taking 1000 ui/day and it took about 4 weeks to get to the bottom of the range. I then upped it to 2000 iu/day.

I felt better. My bones stopped hurting and I’ve managed to keep myself at around 46-50 with a daily of 2500/iu for the past year, taking it year round.

D3 is fat soluable so you SHOULD NOT take megadoses (5000 iu/+) WITHOUT SUPERVISION.

This is the best article I’ve found on D3. Remember it’s D3:

Please, if you are seriously depressed, reach out.

You are valuable and you deserve to be here with us.

For Telephone support: 
Here is a list of our hotlines in the US
(800)442-4673 …..1-800-442-HOPE
(877)838-2838 …..1-877-Vet2Vet Veterans peer support line
(800)784-2432 …..1-800-SUICIDA Spanish speaking suicide hotline
(877)968-8454 …..1-877-YOUTHLINE teen to teen peer counseling hotline
(800)472-3457 …..1-800-GRADHLP Grad student hotline
(800)773-6667 …..1-800-PPD-MOMS Post partum depression hotline
For a list of hotlines outside the US go here:
For email support 24 x 7: 
It may take a few hours or more to generate a response
For online chat support: 
(none of these are 24 x7 but will tell you if online counselors are available) 
The first online network with 100% of its volunteers trained and certified in crisis intervention. 
( only available in Australia)

©2013-2014 Sally A. Applin. All rights reserved.

Disney’s Creepy My Magic+ Bracelet: A Clever Big Data Hack

by Sally Applin

The New York Times recently posted an article about a new method Walt Disney World is experimenting with to improve circulation in the parks. It’s called the ‘My Magic+’ bracelet.

The article says that visitors would “wear rubber bracelets encoded with credit card information,” which would then make it easy to conduct point-of-sales transactions. Visitors could then simply wave their bracelets at counters and stands to purchase their snacks, meals and souvenirs. Furthermore, the full version of Magic+ can add interactive components via pre-loaded database information, prompting characters to know something about a visitor as they shake their hand, so that characters can give each visitor with My Magic+ a personal greeting. The bracelets will also function as “room key, park ticket, Fast Pass and credit card.”

This means that within the Walt Disney World environment, each purchase, ride and interaction will be tracked, logged and recorded and connected to the individual. Name and personal history information (anniversaries, birthdays) will be collected if visitors opt-in for the full Magic+ experience. All this will be tracked to the bracelet, to one source, Disney.

The main cost of this for the visitor is in personal privacy. With My Magic+, the aggregate of a visitor’s personal data will go into one big source rather than having been distributed amongst different technologies as it is at the moment.

Disney does know what visitors buy (computerized register) and could certainly, and likely, does, collect the aggregate of that. What they don’t do is track people’s precise movements and interactions. A mobile phone might keep track of it’s owner via GPS as they move around, but currently that information is owned by their carrier. Ride specifics might be spotty depending on how a visitor paid, what sort of pass they have, and if they’re using old tickets or not, etc.

With My Magic+, Disney will circumvent the cell phones and credit card data, combining them into one private Big Data database. The credit card company knows the visitor made transactions at the park, and a phone knows roughly where a visitor was, but via My Magic+, Disney will know the specific details of what was bought or ate, when, where a visitor went, and to some extent, whom they interacted with on the Disney staff.

The aggregate of all that data of full human interaction will be private to Disney.

This is a most clever hack: Disney circumvents the platform of the mobile phone app world, and owns the entire data story. For privacy, this is troubling. If there are distributed bits and pieces of data around that isn’t being fully aggregated, there is some protection as things don’t necessarily fully overlap. In the case of My Magic+, a complete story of a visitor’s daily interaction pattern is now logged in one place and owned by Disney.

Disney’s main claim is that My Magic+ will be convenient for visitors and close up line bottlenecks on rides.

However, what is efficient for Disney is at the same time inefficient for their visitors: a big breach of privacy with fairly creepy implications.

Disney’s brilliance is in circumventing the mobile market to get access to the full data collection of all visitor interactions, locations and transactions.

At the moment, the system is opt-in.

Who knows how long it will be before we’re all wearing bands from every venue we attend?

©2013-2014 Sally A. Applin. All rights reserved.

The Future of Technology is in the Past or Why use Star Trek as a Model for Technology?

by Sally Applin

Why is it that so many tech companies base their designs and inspiration on past Science Fiction?

Why is 46 year old Star Trek a basis for future directions?

Why is Minority Report what people look towards?

Does our imagination need a Hollywood prototype to be realized?


Are we hoping to commercialize on that which has come before?


are grown adults trying to recreate their childhood fantasies?

©2012-2014 Sally A. Applin. All rights reserved.


by Sally Applin

Apparently, former U.S. President Clinton is barring Press badge wearers from his speech at the annual RSA security conference this week. But, as the article I read pointed out, members of the Press who have different badges (who are speaking, for example, can easily attend.)

So what is the motivation? Those with free passes shouldn’t attend, or is it more that that–that the Press shouldn’t attend?

Let’s say its to discourage the Press.

What a quaint idea. The idea that the Press are identified, tagged and clustered.

We have become the Press–all of us.

If someone has a way to record and report, essentially, they’re “the Press.” They might not be “official,” they might not practice “ethical” journalism–or even know what it is for that matter, but the days of thinking that there are such things as “the Press” that are different from every day conference attendees is way, way OVER.

How is the notion of decentralization and distribution of media so lost on someone so educated and as seemingly smart as Bill Clinton?

Trend: There is a big ole MEDIA GENERATION GAP.

©2011-2014 Sally A. Applin. All rights reserved.


by Sally Applin

About a year ago, I predicted that Zombies would be the fashionable Halloween costume in 2010.

Looks like the trend is heating up:

©2010-2014 Sally A. Applin. All rights reserved.