Frag Bombers

A fascinating story in the New York Times , by Steve Erlanger and Chris Hedges reports on the details of Quaedist methods.

For example, Al Qaeda benefited from Europe's national fragmentation throughout the nineties. National police focussed on their nation's particular fragment. Only the terrorists had the big picture.

The fragmented, multilayered approach of Al Qaeda extends also to their decentralized operational methods. " 'For these groups, there are no borders,' said Judge Bruguière. 'They may consider it better or easier to have explosive materials in some countries and support bases in other countries, electronic matters in others, financial support — forged papers, or forged credit cards and so on — in still others.' "

They draw converts from many nations, dissolving local ties in the bonding experience of training camps. The warriors are then sent out into the world, trained to dissolve any appearance hinting at their new life mission, so they can be layered invisibly into the matrix of local life. There they can await the time for specific tactics. Cells can be quickly formed for tactics, and then dissolved and recombined for new missions.


More Net/ Less Tube: Community & Diverse Information Gaining on TV Land

Alec Klein of the Washington Post reports on a study, the UCLA Internet Report 2001(largely funded by the National Science Foundation) claiming a correlation between Internet use and reduction of TV watching. "Internet users watch 4* hours a week less television than do non-Internet users, the study shows. And the longer people have been online, the less they watch TV. Among those who have been online for less than a year, about 30 percent said they watch less TV. But of those who have used the Internet for five years or longer, about 35 percent said they have cut back on television."

Among the net's competitive advantages are variety, community, and connection. It is very popular with children. "Cole, the study's lead investigator, insisted that people are not becoming more antisocial. As it turns out, Internet users spend more time with their families than non-users and even get more exercise. "

Dennis Wharton, National Association of Broadcasters counters "Because you use one new medium, don't automatically assume that it draws away from another. [The study] seems to suggest that you can't walk and chew gum at the same time, and you can."


Customized News Fragments Society

Cass Sunstein's Republic.com focuses on consequences of information filtering. He argues that self-constructed news gathering, via the internet, weakens democracy and increases extremism within the groups created by such viewpoint filtering.

See also Hyperinformed below


Ghosting: TV overlays images onto everyday

"The WTC towers are ghosting now in different ways, appearing in our dreams, catching us off guard when they pop up in old books or family photos. We clip and save the "before" and "after" shots in magazines and newspapers as a way to make sense of the loss. On paper, the buildings are profound, then profoundly absent. On the tube, the images bombard us faster and from every angle, tougher to pin down. In its flickering half-light, television remains the most powerful, the most troubling and the most ghostly medium." Joanne Ostrow, TV/Radio, The Denver Post


License Plates Undergo Affinity Fragmentation

New York has 250 different affinity license plates. Alabama has special plates for the "Atomic Nuked Veteran." The monoculture breeds multiplates. An article by Eric Felten, in the Wall Street Journal.


Ad-layering Web Technology Draws Complaints

More on the heavily-layered future of marketing's invasion of everything. Now, even the advertisers are grousing about it.


Packet-switched Protest Movement Routes Around Easy Global Analysis

There is no single issue. There is no single message. There is no single target. There is no single authority. There is no unified leadership. This is the packet-switched protest that routes to the nearest vulnerable node: G8, where major lines of governmental and corporate interest intersect.

"The global justice movement may be on the cusp of something, but nobody seems to know what. It is far too multifaceted and scattered to 'lead,' or even steer."

Geov Parrish, AlterNet, July 24, 2001

It is exciting that the Global protests are now starting to emerge from the inadequate label of "anti-globalism." (see: Thomas L. Friedman, "Evolutionaries", The New York Times ) It will take some time, but it will help if the protesters begin to see that the global imperative is entirely human, even when being apparently inhumane. The aspirations of all humans lead inevitably to global arrangements. The transnational corporations, too, will have to abandon their simplistic images, and stop interpreting the protests as just more marxist rumblings from misguided rich kids.

The array of issues is bewildering. The variety of perspectives on any issue is equally so: just look at labor issues from the viewpoints of a networked protester, an asian shoe worker, and an american shop owner.

Communications technology makes it all possible: the global business, the global protest, the global learning.


Genoa Protests Signal a Split between Whether To and How To Globalize

Thomas L. Friedman, "Evolutionaries", The New York Times,

6/ 27/01

Multifaceted Threats, Layered Deterrence

From an article by Donald H. Rumsfeld, U.S. Secretary of Defense, in The Wall Street Journal

"As Russia's defense minister, Sergei Ivanov, said after our meeting at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, 'There are not only more threats facing us now in the 21st century, but they are multifaceted, much more so than they were in the past.'

In the 21st century, our challenge is to deter multiple potential adversaries not only from using existing weapons, but also to dissuade them from developing dangerous new capabilities in the first place. Just as we intend to build 'layered defenses' to deal with missile threats at different stages, we also need a strategy of 'layered deterrence' that can deal with a variety of emerging threats at different stages."


From an article in Newsbytes:

TV Ads to Begin Fragmented Delivery in Cable Test.

Demographic segmentation will give different ads to different viewers. It all starts with simple demographics such as income or whether there are kids in the house. As this practice gains traction and data purchased from 3rd party aggregators is brought to bear, viewers will begin to sense that the marketers are watching and seeing your own house and family. The unified mass-market media products of TV break up into a multi-faceted outreach into individual's reality.


"Digital Insertion" will Layer Commercial Images on Top of TV Reruns

From an article by Stuart Elliott in the New York Times (requires reader registration)
"Viewers of reruns of the crime drama "Law and Order," which is moving to the TNT cable network as of June 5, could see sponsored imagery interpolated where it had not been before as a result of an agreement in principle to allow the insertion of computer-generated make-believe items like cans, bottles, signs and logos into scenes... Whatever the outcome, this could be the start of the potential removal of another brick in the wall between sponsored and unsponsored content amid the increasing commercialization of the entertainment culture."


FBI's Dice & Slice Data Dossiers Present a New Cubist You

The FBI's new citizen database, bought from Choice Point Inc., collages accurate information with misinformation from many other people. The Privacy Foundation's Richard M. Smith bought printouts of his family member's dossiers and found new meaning for Cubistro's phrase "fragmentation and simultaneous multiple perspective." The data aggregation around his very common name highlights a disturbing oddity of big databases: they trade in "truth" but do not actually have the whole truth, nothing but the truth. And the difficulty in correcting errors makes their collages of misinformation persistent.


Television Screen Further Fragmented by Info Clutter

From an article by Joe Flint in The Wall Street Journal.

Screen clutter, in the form of logos, and promotions for upcoming shows, is increasing. The networks are polluting their own programming with these grapho/informational tidbits.

"The creative community's concern is that all the clutter distracts from the story and prevents the viewer from staying focussed and engaged;" Meryl Marshall, chairman of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

While layering their product with these graphics, they are also shrinking the size of shows. Half-hour comedies are down from 22 minutes down to 21 minutes or less, and hour dramas are down from 44 minutes to 42.

Are Marshall's concerns about viewers well founded? Are viewers disengaged by increasing fragmentation? It is entirely possible that television has trained viewers to expect heavily layered information, and to decode it effortlessly.


Workplace's Fragmented Focus Cuts Off Kids

From Sue Shellenbarger's "Work & Family" column in the Wall Street Journal.

(The author is reporting that integration leads to fragmentation. The layering of workplace and personal realms leads to fractured consciousness. )

"The psychological principle at work, documneted in Robert Karen's 1994 book, "Becoming Attached," is that a parent's emotional availability forms the foundation for attachment in infancy and for intimacy in adulthood. It means giving a child undivided attention, accepting negative and positive feelings, being patient with emotional demands and expressing affection.

Workplace pressures often weigh in the opposite direction. The trend toward integration, or blending work and personal pursuits through the day, is a practical solution for people with multiple roles and responsibilities. But it can spawn a fregmented, task-oriented mindset that weighs against focusing quietly on children."



Continuous Partial Attention

From an article by Thomas L. Friedman, "Cyber Serfdom", in The New York Times

The article predicts backlash against "device creep" — the proliferation of tech-widgets expected to be used by modern information executives and operatives.

"My favorite, though, was that we now live in an age of what a Microsoft researcher, Linda Stone, called continuous partial attention. I love that phrase. It means that while you are answering your e-mail and talking to your kid, your cell phone rings and you have a conversation. You are now involved in a continuous flow of interactions in which you can only partially concentrate on each.

'If being fulfilled is about committing yourself to someone else, or some experience, that requires a level of sustained attention," said Ms. Stone. And that is what we are losing the skills for, because we are constantly scanning the world for opportunities and we are constantly in fear of missing something better. That has become incredibly spiritually depleting.' "

While they are busy fragmenting our attention, the devices themselves are moving toward seamless invisibility, using their simultaneous, multiple perspectives to keep the user always on the job.



New Think Tank

The Hybrid Vigor Institute

From the Hybrid Vigor home page (www.hybridvigor.org):

"Our Mission: Cultivating Disciplinary Diversity

Interdisciplinarity is fast gaining cachet as traditional, discipline-based research shares the limelight with new, more inclusive approaches. Disciplinary diversity, it is now widely acknowledged, can yield fresh research agendas, new discoveries and increased understanding about the extraordinarily complex facing global society today.

An ideal Hybrid Vigor topic is studied by several disciplines and has the greatest potential for shifts in traditional thinking, and/or future technological developments or breakthroughs.

By applying this topic-centered approach, Hybrid Vigor will cultivate networks of researchers that span departments, institutes, and continents.

As a result, the Institute will spawn new forms of collaboration and communication that promote interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research in ways that traditional research institutions and organizations have been unable to accomplish."