Author: Nadia EL-Imam

Co-Founder of Edgeryders. Currently working on #oscedays #unmonastery #openethnographer #stewardship #makerfox and several other initiatives. Engineer and designer by training, sustainable business developer by default.

How to build a new identity in the age of surveillance

in 2013, photographer and artist Curtis Wallen managed to buy the ingredients of a new identity. After purchasing a Chromebook with cash, Wallen used Tor, virtual marketplaces, and a bitcoin wallet to purchase a fake driver’s license, insurance card, social security number, and cable bill, among other identifying documents. Wallen saw his new identity, Aaron Brown, as more than just art: Brown was a political statement on the techno-surveillance age.

Its a fascinating story. Read it here.



Computer prediction, fake news and an eerie story of Market Forces

Chris Faulkner is a rising young investment banker in the mid-21st century. A typical business day for him goes something like this: He receives a panicked call from an employee in Colombia. The employee is trapped in a hotel, stalked by government police — stooges of a corrupt dictator. From his office in London, Faulkner puts in a call to Langley Contracting, requesting ”five extreme prejudice deletions with immediate effect.” He’s only slightly taken aback when asked what level of precision he would prefer: ”surgical, accurate, scattershot, blanket, atrocity.” And just like that, the bad guys are iced.

The snippet above is from a review of Market Forces, a dystopic novel describing what was at the time a near future. Today this story about computers supposedly being able to predict violent outbreaks caught my attention. Remember the imaginary ISIS attack on Louisiana?

It seems that some of the dynamics sketched out in the book may already be playing out on a social media channel and stock exchange near you.

“i bleed each month to help make humankind a possibility. My womb is home to the divine. A source of life for our species.”

Apparently the above photo by poet Rupi Kaur was removed by instagram. Whenever a controversy of this kind erupts I like to read comments in the hope that someone will challenge my own interpretation, or better yet offer some new knowledge about the themes, ideas or cultural contexts presented.

While many of the commenters interpreted this as a sign of diminishing of the value of women in society, I thought this comment offered an alternative explanation which is interesting, regardless of whether or not it applies to this example:

In native culture, it is not allowed around sacred objects because a woman on her menstr[u]al cycle is considered very powerful. She is connected to the oceans, the tides, and the moon, and this has always been respected. It’s not because it is considered a sin. Women used to go into Moon Lodges away from the rest of society during their cycle to practice their medicine traditions. A woman’s “magic” far outweighs that of a man’s, so men were not allowed to be anywhere near it. In fact, we have old traditions that a man has to go on 4 vision quests and ultimately find a woman in order to be considered a medicine man, and even then, the only reason he would be considered powerful, is because of her lending him her power.

I’d be willing to bet since your culture’s spirituality is also quite ancient, that women also used to be considered powerful as well, maybe those ways were lost. Men have always feared and misunderstood menstral cycles and were not allowed to be involved in women’s medicine. All that being said, that makes it even more important to respect the menstral cycle and I’m not entirely sure if I personally agree that posting photos of it all over the internet is [not] very respectful.

You can read the post and comment thread here.

Fellowship Opportunity: The Shuttleworth Foundation is accepting applications. Deadline April 1.

Hi Everyone, I recently had a chat with a lovely person at the Shuttleworth Foundation during which they told me a bit about their program, how they work etc.


It seems like a great opportunity and if you are doing work that you think matches what they are looking for, I would recommend that you apply…especially women- past fellows are mostly male, let’s balance this out maybe?

More information and application form on their website.


What we learned about community engagement at Masters of Networks

“Human behavior being highly complex and unpredictable, we are still a long way from learning what is shaping any person’s ability to contribute in a community. What’s pretty clear to me, having worked closely with Edgeryders and confirmed more of own intuitions, is that online community management is crucial and pays off when working for social change”

The Masters of Networks (#MoN3) event some Edgeryders attended this week in Rome re-asserted how empowering it is to have full, collective access to the data we are producing. Read Noemi’s full report here.

Could bottom-up citizen science projects challenge authority of orthodox science through community-led investigations? 

“New approaches to research investigation are looking to go beyond blanket objectivity to include experiential knowledge and local contexts. Dan McQuillan looks at the counter-cultural roots of the citizen science movement where activists strove to put science at the service of the people. He argues the current field of citizen science could catalyse something equally new by explicitly questioning the hegemony of orthodox science.”

Read the full post and decide for yourself here.