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Month: December 2010

Christmas + move break

It’s Christmas around the corner, and to top it up we are moving across Australia – from Perth to Wollongong (just south of Sydney), so the posts here will be far and in between until we are settled, which should hopefully happen by mid January.

Happy  holidays!

The inexplicable

There is a theory that once the Universe is figured out, it will instantly transform into something even more bizarrely inexplicable. There is a second theory that this indeed has already happened!

Douglas Adams

Freedom of speech in action

Today, Julian Assange was arrested and then refused bail – even though an anonymous donor offered 60,000 pounds as surety – ostensibly for having committed the crime of using a condom which broke midway through coitus. To make this an even bigger show trial, his defense was not given access to the case documents. Whatever happens next, WikiLeaks have managed another scoop – this time exposing the total hypocrisy of the judicial system of Western democracies.

Julian Assange on conspiracies

Way too much has been written on the motives and modus operandi of WikiLeaks, based solely on their image in the media. Arguably a better way to approach their actions and motives is through the  two key theoretical essays of Julian Assange – State and Terrorist Conspiracies, and Conspiracy as Governance. I am attaching them below – my commentary to follow.

Julian Assange

Every third tweet generates a reaction

This is an interesting Sysomos Research study on the use of Twitter, based on a sample of 1.2 billion tweets between July and August 2010. The study concentrated on the reaction to tweets – retweets and mentions – and the characteristics of those reactions. By far the most interesting results concern the percentage of tweets eliciting a response and the practical timeframe for a response.

Retweets and replies

29% of Tweets Generate a Reaction

“We found that 29% of all tweets produced a reaction – a reply or a retweet. Of this group of tweets, 19.3% were retweets and the rest replies. This means that of the 1.2 billion tweets we examined, 6%, (or 72 million) were retweets.”

Retweet time-span histogram

Most Retweets Happen in the First Hour

“We discovered that 92.4% of all retweets happen within the first hour of the original tweet being published, while an additional 1.63% of retweets happen in the second hour, and 0.94% take place in the third hour.

This means that if a tweet is not retweeted in the first hour, it is very likely that it will not be retweeted.

The graph below shows the fraction of tweets from the second hour onwards – the x-axis shows the time in hours since the original tweet, while the vertical axis shows the fraction of retweets within a particular hour. The 92.4% of all retweets, which happen within the first hour, are not displayed in the chart. 1.63% of retweets happen in the second hour, and 0.94% take place in the third hour.”

WikiLeaks and information warfare

Plenty has been happening while I was immersed in the joys of fatherhood. WikiLeaks, and the whole theater of deception surrounding it, has been the most thought-provoking flow of events by far. Plenty to write about, but for now this quote from Raffi Khatchadourian’s excellent piece on Assange:

“He had come to understand the defining human struggle not as left versus right, or faith versus reason, but as individual versus institution. As a student of Kafka, Koestler, and Solzhenitsyn, he believed that truth, creativity, love, and compassion are corrupted by institutional hierarchies, and by “patronage networks”—one of his favorite expressions—that contort the human spirit. He sketched out a manifesto of sorts, titled “Conspiracy as Governance,” which sought to apply graph theory to politics. Assange wrote that illegitimate governance was by definition conspiratorial—the product of functionaries in “collaborative secrecy, working to the detriment of a population.” He argued that, when a regime’s lines of internal communication are disrupted, the information flow among conspirators must dwindle, and that, as the flow approaches zero, the conspiracy dissolves. Leaks were an instrument of information warfare. These ideas soon evolved into WikiLeaks.”