10 things I didn’t know last week #182

1. Lads loving trains inspired Dany Boyle’s Trainspotting as metaphor ot pointlessness in life. Thanks Simon

2.  The Gordon dynamics: because fishermen were “incurably optimistic” about their abilities to bring in a big catch, there were always too many fishermen working in the ocean, which, in turn, made it harder for them to earn a living.

3. Russian security agency recently bought typewriters to avoid surveillance.

4. Aerosmith Made More Money On Guitar Hero Than Any Albums.

5.  In 1976, the red M&M’s disappeared.

6. Awesome design tricks to upsell Starbucks customers.

7. One transatlantic flight emits more CO2 than an entire Formula 1 racing season .

8. in 1922 when scientist Niels Bohr won the Nobel Prize he was given a house by Carlsberg brewery. The house had a direct pipeline to the brewery so that Bohr had free beer on tap whenever he wanted. Bohr would have discovered several things being drunk.

smirnoff woody allen

9. Woody Allen for Smirnoff.

10. Internet was invented to fill timesheets.

More revelations to come: a few thoughts on Snowden


Don’t know what to assume of recent talks Edward Snowden gave to TED/SXSW recently aside from some bipartisan thoughts.

Besides being a hero showing up on stage inside a robot from hit Russian asylum, his commitment towards the defence of privacy raises lots of questions.

First and foremost, let’s not forget that privacy is historically tied up with industrial revolutions, which fostered the very notion of Individual. You don’t have to hate privacy to observe that we probably never enjoyed as individual privileges and rights as today (exposure means secret). Our tolerance towards violations is just growing more scarce. Hence in a necessary way, Ed is tilting at windmills.

At 9′, he’s pledging corporations to get rid of governments, or at least to don’t trust them. NSA and Prism are both highly condemnable but do we have to throw the baby out with the bathwater and defy institutions? What’s the alternative? Embrace corporate world as he’s suggesting? Burn flags and create a global village without borders?

I strongly support Snowden initiative to empower people trough tools to protect their privacy but I’m not comfortable when he promotes libertarianism (from his bunker golden jail).

If Snowden point is to make people distrust governments and new technologies, then we should probably turn Amish and hide away from the modern civilization.

As Evgeny Morozov wisely indicates, privacy concerns are matters of balance, not radicalism.

La surveillance généralisée ouvre un nouvel âge d’or du secret

watchdogs we are data ubi soft betc digital

Oui, nous devons nous méfier de la surveillance des institutions. Oui nous devons nous battre et nous indigner de ce viol de nos intimités.

Toutefois, en prenant le problème à l’envers, il y a aussi de quoi se réjouir.

D’abord parce que quand on voit ce que font les entreprises des datas, il n’y a pas (encore) de quoi s’inquiéter. Qu’un mec soit capable de savoir que j’ai texté ma copine pour acheter du gruyère râpé un soir de juin n’a aucune valeur. Qu’il sache que j’aime les bottes en caoutchouc ne lui permet pour l’instant que de revendre cette information inutile à d’autres tâcherons ou me retargeter comme un âne pour me le faire détester en 10 minutes.

Ensuite parce que cette situation globalement inédite (tout le monde a les moyens de surveiller tout le monde) a cristallisé une conscience collective qui mobilise des gens aux 4 coins de la planète. Sans parler de nouvelle idéologie, on ne peut que se réjouir de cet élan collectif post-historique.

Finalement parce que le secret a toujours survécu à la surveillance. Durant les grandes persécutions historiques (Inquisition, révocation de l’édit de Nantes…) ou au sein des récits fondateurs (Philip K Dick, Georges Orwell, Aldous Huxley…), l’individu réussit toujours à se soustraire au joug institutionnel.

Nous entrons dans une nouvelle ère du secret. Ce marché est fort prometteur.

[Update] cf. slides 21 et 28