Daily Archives: May 9, 2007

Pearls Before Breakfast: Life in Cocoons

There was a fascinating story called Pearls Before Breakfast: can one of the nation’s great musicians cut through the fog of a D.C. rush hour? Let’s find out (Washington Post, 4/8/07, p. w10, Gene Weingarten) The story is not about social capital per se, indirectly about the cocoons that we live in such that 1000 commuters in Washington, DC, almost without exception, didn’t hear or stop to listen to the sublime beauty of violin virtuoso Joshua Bell who was busking in the Washington Metro as an experiment. One has to assume that these cocoons affect not only hearing Joshua Bell but also our ability to connect with friends and strangers.

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Life in the Network (II)

This is a postscript to the May 7th post about David Lazer’s quite interesting talk on using digital traces to uncover human behavior..  [Read that post first.] The presentation of David Lazer I mentioned in the earlier post is available here.  Videos of the presentation are available in two parts:  part 1 and part 2.

There is also an interesting  post by Ben Waber on the Kennedy School of Government Complexity blog on the instrumentation of human behavior-trying to discern human behavior like friendship from their proximity and call logs.

Also, The Economist in their April 28, 2007 edition has a special report on telecoms.  And in one story called “The Hidden Revolution” (p. 58) they highlight that a patented technique of American Express enables the use of RFID chips to track the flow of people in public places from the RFID tags in their clothing and carried products.  The Economist notes that they have “agreed not to use it without disclosing the fact, after pressure from privacy advocates.”  But already the article notes that “Prisons in America are experimenting with bracelets that have wireless chips embedded in them to keep track of inmates….Guards are also tagged, so prisoners may feel safer from abuse.”  They note that the new wireless communication will be virtually invisible to humans and the only sure bet is that how it will be used will surprise us.”