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.

Augmented Irrationality

by Sally Applin

It isn’t much of a surprise that Augemented Reality (AR) is gaining traction. In the past 7 months that I’ve been following it, AR developer software has been getting more robust, more distributed and there are more and more people using it, and talking about using it to develop applications. In a way, layering information over the world through a visual field to bring contextual information to people can be a great thing. It enhances reality with the data that can support a more contextually and/or historically relevant enriched experience.

Yesterday I was in San Francisco and walking on a pier. A very run down pier. The infrastructure had begun to collapse and parts of it were sectioned off with warnings advising of certain peril. Then, merely a foot away, there were no warning signs and no troubles. It was not hard to imagine what had happened to the pier that it had caused its decay. Cuts in services? No budget for repairing infrastructure? I found myself wanting know true “why” of what had happened to the pier. This was partly out of curiosity, and partly out of a sort of “architectural sadness.”

As I walked along, there were things about the pier that I wanted to identify and couldn’t. It occurred to me, and not more than once, that “An AR app right about now would be great.” It would easily reveal to me the history and significance of the pier and its uses throughout the years. It would tell me why the pier was curved, what purpose it had served in the past, what the best spots on it were for taking photographs of the Golden Gate bridge and Alcatraz Island, and the even the history of The Dolphin Club of San Francisco and why that man was swimming along side it in freezing water without a wetsuit.

Then I thought about it.

Would it?

AR might be an easy way to get at that information, but to get at it, I would likely have to look at advertisements, graffiti, people’s messages to one another, catalog ads, bot profile “suggestions” and who knows what else. (I was already negotiating skateboarders, casting fishermen, segulls and other pedestrians.)

Do I want the sanctuary of my body space, which I now augment with eyeglasses, clothing, and a mobile phone, to get another layer…..of advertising?

“Oh, but AR is transparent!”

AR is touted as a semi-transparent layer over existing data and one of the buzzwords that seems to have been going around for the past few years is “transparency.” It was one of the Obama campaign promise platforms and has come up over and over again in my research. What is “transparency”? Who wants it? In some ways, people are demanding it. In others, the mere fact of getting it–and seeing what is really underneath, is frightening.

In parallel, the world has been getting more, well, cryptic. Opaque. Last night on the Twitter feed, @bruces wrote:

9-11, Enron, Iraq, Katrina, mortgage crisis, bailout, euro crisis, climate crisis, oil spill — we’re led by liars and sleepwalkers. Every major event that hits us is a fake, a fraud, a provocation, a panic or an organized denial — never anything we foresaw or averted. We’re way past the point of rationally managing events and into a business and politics of “lemming retention.”

How much is data augmenting a distraction? If we derail ourselves from the world at hand, we won’t have to see what “piers” are crumbling. The more we are distracted, the more those who remain opaque can, and will continue to practice their opacity.

The disasters that Sterling refers to aren’t happening to those who are building and shaping AR.


The people with good jobs in the computer and data industry who are on the edge of the next technology wave are employed, as people are rushing to build and deploy AR software, entertainment and advertisements. For them, Augmented Reality will enhance reality in the same way that I wanted to just simply “learn more” about the pier. That said, for those whose reality has just been augmented without choice, through disaster or corporate or political oversight, (or hey, all three) it creates almost the opposite experience.

My questions:

How much do my brain and body want to fight it out?

Would money be spent to describe the history of something rather than actually preserve its usefulness?

If my brain continues to be “enriched” what is the cost to not only my body, but to the collective bodies of all of us and the space that we inhabit?

Trend: AR is on its way. For now, it will be your choice whether to augment your reality, or to look deeper into what’s left standing and determine how to augment that, instead.

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

Walt Banksy and Magic Mister Brainwash

by Sally Applin

“Exit Through the Gift Shop” is Banksy’s confession about commerce. Most people who see the film know that Banksy is behind Mister Brainwash. This is an attempt to understand why.

The basic plot of the art film is about a Thierry Guetta, a French videographer, with a OCD video disorder that compels him to film everything.

Guetta films the “Street Art” scene, following it for 10 years, which culminates with his meeting the reclusive artist Banksy.

In the film, Banksy encourages Guetta to make the Street Art documentary that he had talked of making for the past 10 years. When Guetta finally does make the film, Banksy dismisses it — referring to it as something like “a basic channel changing ADHD nightmare.”

As a result, Banksy encourages Guetta to become a street artist on his own and to have a show, while Banksy makes the documentary.

“Exit Through the Gift Shop” is the film that Banksy made about Guetta’s pursuit of a “career” as a Street Artist.

Guetta hocks his possessions and hires talented graphic designers, artists, set-builders and others to create art for him. In doing so, Guetta creates a post-modern Warhol factory–churning out an inventory of pop-art manifestos. The pieces are described as the end result of Guetta’s imagination running wild.

Piece after piece of art emerge in the worst mash-up of all commerical styles: there are classical paintings with gas masks, pop-figures depicted as Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe, giant matchbox cars, paint cans, a boombox and tomato soup cans (but in a “spray”) in the style of Warhol’s Brillo Boxes, and other paintings–all baring the distinct style of the artists that Guetta has followed–particularly Banksy, and Banky’s idol: Andy Warhol.

The end-product of all this manufacturing is a giant art show, where Guetta, who has now renamed himself “Mister Brainwash” or MBW, makes his debut.

The Street Artists and Banksy are interviewed and react with amazement that with no real training or talent, Guetta was able to create more pieces than anyone else, faster than anyone and to mount a massive art show that is a commercial success.

The thing is about all of that, is, well, it’s a story. A fantasy. From Fantasyland.


The pivotal point in the film isn’t when Banksy takes over the camera.

The pivital point is when Banksy and Guetta go to Disneyland during the mounting of Banksy’s big show in Los Angeles, two years before.

In 2006, Banksy came to LA to prepare for a warehouse show of his art. (In the film, he claims to leave during the mounting, but it was a few months before the show.)

Banksy took some time off to visit Disneyland and while there, installed a “Guantanamo Bay detainee” in the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in Frontierland. Guetta accompanied him.

When Banksy and Guetta first arrive to the park, Guetta inquiries if Mickey Mouse is there. The ticket agent says that Mickey Mouse is in the park, in Fantasyland–and will be there all day.

Banksy installed his art and Guetta filmed and photographs the installation. While Banksy is changing clothing, Guetta notices he is being followed and tries to leave the park–and is subsequently caught.

As the Disney security interrogates Guetta in their own “Guantanomo Bay,” the film repeatedly cuts to photos of ‘It’s a Small World,” in Fantasyland.

After Guetta’s interrogation, Banksy says in the film that after this episode, he had no trouble at all deeply trusting Guetta.

It is at this point, that Banksy realized that Guetta could also potentially be the “front” for Banksy wanting to sell his art more commercially.

Banksy makes Guetta the “Mickey Mouse” to Banksy’s “Walt Disney.”

As the film continues, we return to Mister Brainwash and his show. The public laps it up and thinks MBW is a genius.

The real genius is Banksy, who knows that if he were to suddenly start selling greeting cards, coffee mugs and posters, the value of his identity as a “Street Artist” would plummet. So Banksy invents the character “Mister Brainwash” who creates and sells the art for him.

(A note about Disney: Walt Disney dreamed up the Disney characters and Disneyland, and yet, when political or ethics movements make a play at mocking corporate America, they avoid the artist of Walt Disney, and instead use his character of Mickey Mouse to take the rap.)

“Exit Through the Gift Shop” is about commerce. A large-scale advertisement for Banksy’s Mickey Mouse:  Mister Brainwash. It’s a way to sell the MBW themed items through the giant gift shops that are the worldwide installations of the Mister Brainwash exhibitions.

Trend: Scapegoating for profit! Everybody’s doing it–from Guantanemo Bay to Disney to…….Banksy.

Now! NOW! Now! How do you like it? How do you like it? Now! Now! Now! How do you like it? How do you like your NOW?

by Sally Applin

Lately, I’ve been thinking about advertising.

The web model has been advertising and more advertising. Now its more advertising plus geo-location so its “extra targeted” advertising.

The thing about advertising, is that it doesn’t need to have legacy. In fact, it isn’t about history at all–its about now.

I follow a mix of people on Twitter–some my age, some about 10 years older, and some quite a bit younger than me.

The younger ones–have no sense or interest in history. It appears to be irrelevant to them. The consulting work that they do, is to create a better and more profitable “now” for their clients. That “now” could be a UI, a strategy, or anything else, but its focus is about the “now.” Not two years from now and not about two years ago. Now and now only.

When do their clients want it, by the way? NOW!

There isn’t a sense of planning, longevity or meaning–and there might not need to be.

If media commerce is advertising based, then the only thing that really matters in that world *is* now.

(Unless, yanno, society needs to actually prepare for something.)

Trend: All now. All the time. Now with a side of NOW, please. Oh, and can you do it NOW?

Trend: More Grasshopper, less Ant. (If this puzzles you, read the fable. Aesop wrote it sometime between 620-564 BC.)

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