A Logo is Worth a Thousand Words

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This year’s eG8 logo bares a striking resemblance to the free and open source packet sniffing software Ethereal. Packet sniffing refers to the process of inspecting the contents of packets, the unit that describes the sets of information that make up digital communications networks such as the Internet. Packet sniffers are used for debugging and optimising network protocols, but can also be used to intercept, prioritize or filter network communications.

Nicolas Sarkozy, the host of this year’s eG8 Forum, will be leading a charge to increase government control of the Internet, using the rhetoric that centralisation is necessary to develop a “civilised Internet”. I can’t help but feel the similarity of these two logos is a sobering reminder of the implications of Sarkozy’s proposal; even though it is unsurprising to see another Internet gatekeeping manouvre by a sovereign power. At the end of the day, there is always Gilmore’s Law to consider.

Logo similarity spotted by g8internet.com

Wirelessness, Radical Empiricism in Network Cultures

I must get my hands on a copy of this book by Adrian Mackenzie. Want.

After years talking about the revolution in space perception induced by the real time IT networks, the strong industrial trend to go wireless whenever possible has pervaded space and habits. We’re slowly “getting rid of cables”, pushed by the industry as if cables were parasites, but unconsciously changing our culture without being aware of what is really happening technologically. Mackenzie fruitfully questions the use of taking wireless connections and communications for granted (as if they were some obscure “public service”). His definition of “wirelessness” states that it “designates an experience trending toward entanglements with things, objects, gadgets, infrastructures, and services, and imbued with indistinct sensations and practices of network-associated change.” This experience of change is explained well chapter by chapter, through transmission algorithm principles, the physical perception of transmitters, antennas, postcolonial investments in third world countries, wireless coverage and a quantity of other related activities. Moreover his “radical empiricism” is indeed a godsend. He combines a theoretically rigorous approach with empirical considerations, never losing the reader’s interest. Mackenzie delivers an analysis of contemporary networks that is grounded on the visionary idea of a “Hertzian Landscape” by William Mitchell, while tracking the meaning of the disappearing origin of signals, in a compelling style. He probably would have loved the performances of Men In Grey too, but they just came after this important book.