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.

Connaissez-vous un espace de vie/travail à louer sur Bruxelles ? min 3 chambres, 2 SDB.

Nous (Alberto, Nadia, Kasia et Pierre) vivons à Bruxelles depuis quelques années maintenant et expérimentons une manière plus sociale et collaborative de vie/travail, moins onéreuse et plus fun. Inspirés par le projet, basé sur un nouveau type de cohabitation, de notre ami Simon à Milan, nous partageons un charmant appartement en Duplex situé en face du Parc de Forest. Notre propriétaire revenant vivre avec sa famille à Bruxelles, nous recherchons à présent un nouvel et plus grand espace de vie, et des personnes sympa et agréables avec qui le partager à partir d’Avril/Mai 2015.

Nous pourrions simplement louer un appartement pour nous quatre, mais nous avons tellement apprécié la cohabitation que nous souhaiterions aller plus loin dans ce projet et passer une nouvelle étape. Après réflexion, nous  avons pensé que ce déménagement était l’occasion de trouver un plus grand espace à vivre et d’inviter de nouvelles personnes à nous rejoindre. En ce qui nous concerne, on pourrait nous décrire comme un mix européen de gens ouverts d’esprit. Je suis ingénieur/designer et Alberto est un ancien musicien dans un groupe de rock devenu économiste, Kasia est assistante dentaire et Pierre travaille dans le secteur de la mode. Nos origines sont suédoises, italiennes, polonaises et françaises et parlons différentes langues (à la maison nous communiquons en anglais et en français, langues que nous parlons tous quatre). Durant ces années de colocation, nous avons réalisé que nous apprécions réellement cette diversité : alors, nous sommes prêts à accueillir de nouveaux cohabitants de tous âges, genres, nationalités et horizons – dans la mesure où ils sont prêts à expérimenter une grande convivialité tout en étant capable de respecter l’intimité et l’espace de vie de chacun.

Bien entendu, de temps à autre nous organisons des « secret supper club » et des soirées festives.

Notre zone de recherche préférée : le centre-sud-est de Bruxelles (Ixelles, Forest, Saint-Gilles, Canal, alentours quartier Louise…ou autre quartiers vivants bien desservis en transports ou proche du centre)

Taille: minimum 3 chambres et deux salles de bain.

Type d’espace: idéalement qui permette d’y vivre et y travailler (peut être loué par une entreprise) pour 4-8 personnes.

Budget: à ce jour, nous payons  1150 eu/mois + 80 eu de charges. Bien évidemment, avec 1 ou 2 colocataires en plus, il nous faudra louer un plus grand et plus cher appartement, mais nous serons donc plus à nous partager le loyer !

Si vous connaissez un endroit ou souhaitez nous joindre, écrivez à :

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.