Information war of the right-wing conservatives

Information war of the right-wing conservatives

This article by Carole Cadwalladr (@carolecadwalla) in The Guardian talks about how a couple of single right-wing conservatives in the USA use money, technology and the Internet to manipulate public opinion: And they already have set course to repeat their manipulative endeavor in Europe:

Robert Mercer: the big data billionaire waging war on mainstream media
With links to Donald Trump, Steve Bannon and Nigel Farage, the rightwing US computer scientist is at the heart of a multimillion-dollar propaganda networ

The information warfare and manipulative deconstruction/reconstruction of opinion is currently developed as a military tool to interrupt recruitment activities of terrorist groups:

HTC Vive is a tech breakthrough

HTC Vive is a tech breakthrough

We have some HTC Vive VR systems at the Department of Design at the Aachen University of Applied Science. This system is a game changer for consumer grade Virtual Reality applications. I have to admit that I am awed by the engineering feat that Alan Yates and Valve have pulled off with the HTC Vive. I was not aware of the details when I first used the system.

Here is a schematic animation that illustrates the principle:

The whole idea circles around the translation of time to angles by measuring the duration between two IR signals (first one by an IR flash and one by rotating lasers that sweep the room afterwards). You can see the system that sends the IR signals in slow motion here:

The whole thing won’t work without the time measure being extremely precise and the rotation extremely constant. We are talking about measuring 120 times per second how much time elapses when something moves a millimeter at over 1.900 m/s — that is 6.840 km/h! And the 60 rotations per second spinning mirror heads are corrected to stay within 100 nanometers per turn (a human hair is about 18.000-80.000 nanometers!).

This is ridiculous per se — but completely insane to do this with consumer grade hardware for a couple of hundred dollars. Yates and his team had to invent own ways to produce the parts at the required specifications. They also had to create software that compensates physical effects, material inconsistencies and drift correction during operation.

Because the time measuring is done locally at the sensors that receive the light pulses and that are attached to the tracked objects, the system practically can simultaneously track any number of objects. The whole approach is a breakthrough in »positional tracking« and is not limited to VR applications. And there is still headspace left to develop it further to achieve better precision and wider ranges.

For the tech savvy here is a talk by Alan Yates discussing the obstacles they had to overcome:

John Searle: Consciousness in Artificial Intelligence

John Searle is the Slusser Professor of Philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley. His Talk at Google is focused on the philosophy of mind and the potential for consciousness in artificial intelligence. This Talk was hosted for Google’s Singularity Network.

New seminar in winter semester 2016/2017

Tomorrow the winter semester 2016/2017 starts. I will be an offering new seminar called »Forecast« that researches design for information systems that can be used to understand developments and future situations.

Documentary »Hello World! Processing«

Hello World! Processing from Ultra_Lab on Vimeo.

Hello World! Processing is a documentary on creative coding that explores the role that ideas such as process, experimentation and algorithm play in this creative field featuring artists, designers and code enthusiasts. Based on a series of interviews to some of the leading figures of the Processing open programming platform community, the documentary is built itself as a continuous stream of archived references, projects and concepts shared by this community.

It is the first chapter of a documentary series on three programming languages — Processing, Open Frameworks & Pure data — that have increased the role of coding in the practice of artists, designers and creators around the world.

The series explores the creative possibilities expanded by these open source tools and the importance of their growing online communities.

See more information at

Watching the Republican Presidential Candidate Race

Watching the Republican Presidential Candidate Race. The GOP party is now witnessing the result of their constant “dumbing down” of the public about politics and political reasoning. It makes it much harder for candidates to create momentum with rational arguments about politial issues. It oopened a chance for a candidate that is unfit for a presidency to run on hot air and profit from noisy bluffs and who would lie in a second to make a gain or strike deal.

Just one example of Donald Drumpf caught lying:

And while you can’t find a lot of positive clips about Drumpf it seems that people are not interested in the consequences of voting for pretender and flop like Drumpf. They are simply responding with a gut feeling and hope for a personal gain by voting for someone with aggressive rhetoric.

This push the right has also happened here in Germany a long time ago (and it is happening again).

All this is tragic. Even people with bad educations should know better.

Kids should learn programming!

Blogger Nico Lumma recently published a rant on Handelsblatt about Germany (and probably other countries) are wasting time by not letting children learn to program in school.

There have been initiatives like to promote »coding« as a basic skill of the future:

… or a recent German version »Jeder kann programmieren«

And maybe in 20 years from now kids will be creating interactive toys like these gloves of musician Imogen Heap:

Some even provide interactive tutorials for starters (more here).

Actually there are not many things that you can learn so well online like coding…

But why coding?

In the information age, being able to code turns you from a consumer into a producer. If software defines what you can do, then creating software is a way to of doing things for your own way.

This is not meant to be turning kids into software developers: Programming is a way to be able to experiment with information and data. In a world of data it teaches how to think about machines, processes, data and communication. It makes you aware of what technology can do and thus could become. Maybe for your personal profit, maybe for the profit of many.

A society where only few people can program a computer is unthinkable!

Fargo: Outliner for Bloggers!

Finally! Fargo is an online tool for writing in outlines to a WordPress blog.

Very good. Outlining has been underestimated as a writing tool – but there was barely any way to edit content without a desktop software – like OmniOutliner – this way. I was using Userland Software (Frontier with Manila – later Radio) for blogging … but switched to WordPress a while ago. Dave Winer continued the core software with the OPML Editor – and has begun to mix it with web technologies.

The stuff Dave Winer usually is working on isn’t always usable by everyone. But it is original and nerdy. And it always is an inspiring playground. He writes software for himself. But it does things that others like also. Like outlining.

Update June 2014

Dave Winer talked about the mechanics of change in the web at the State of the Net conference in Trieste last week.

I am following Dave’s work since 1996. He is a developer. He tends to say he is a software developer, but that doesn’t really explain it well. He does not develop software — I’d say he develops through software.

I am very glad to hear that his former employee Brent Simmons wants to resurrect Frontier. Frontier was an application invented by Dave in the early 1990ies that integrated a database with a scripting language in a way that allowed to be creative with code (and later the web). It was not a tool accessible for an average user, but nevertheless it took away a lot of complexity made you able to solve complex problems with it yourself.

Frontier allowed to create a completely own understanding of what you regard as data and text and work the web with it. You could take anything from anywhere to anything with it and transform it into what ever you wanted… and keep a record of everything along the way. One could to this today, but it became much harder. Too hard. Looking forward to a new version.

Qeexo detects different touch methods on an Android phone

Qeexo wants to bring new dimensions of touch to interactive surfaces, and make better use of the natural richness of our hands! Fingers have many “modes” – they do not just poke, as contemporary touchscreen interaction would suggest, but also flick, rub, knock, grasp, and many other actions.

SIGraDI 2012

I will be giving a keynote presentation at SIGraDI 2012 conference in Fortaleza in the middle of November and I am looking forward to that.

It has been quite a while I visited northern Brazil for a conference. I was presenting on the 1st Software Design Conference in Campina Grande, Paraiba, in 1996. The Internet was a pretty new thing at that time. A lot has changed in the past sixteen years. The Internet and the World Wide Web were still pretty new things in many places of the world. There ware barely 0.5 million internet users in Brazil at that time — and now there are well over 50 million. I was introducing »Interface Design« and applied that to the new activity of Web Design. Websites have been very simple things at that time that basically anyone could do professionally in almost no time by just following some basic common sense principles. There was no CSS, no dynamic manipulation of HTML with JavaScript and web layouts were done by abusing tables with invisible borders. Since that time everything has matured: the technology, the standards, the design know-how, the business and the educational agendas.