Tecnologie e Società


drove my Chevy to the levy but the levy was dry

Rob van Kranenburg







pdf (284 Kb)








or Have you ever found that you’ve cut out spaces in your foam trays and then wish you hadn’t? [2]




I don’t know how to say this really, as I never do, but I got this song in my head ‘Bye, bye, Miss American Pie, drove my Chevy to the levy but the levy was dry’ and it is a few days now, and tonight finally I figure out why. Let me tell you.

We’re in a dead end.

This the we.

That’s us; the people who make and consume both. The people who have been busy doing technology in the proper sense of the word, as in techné – messing with the specs of mediation, visualizing/experientalizing until then unknown connectivity.

This is the dead end.

If you take a look at the mobile industries wonderful 3G 4G powerpoint presentations you see pictures of a person in the middle surrounded by powerstations that connect all kinds of nodes that would somehow give this person more agency, then you notice that the pictures of the security industries are exactly the same but in their case the agency lies in the nodes, not in the person.

Now for both the systems logic is the same: to distribute yourself, your data- into the environment.

This is the key element in the digital revolution.

Which will therefore inevitably never happen.

Ambient Intelligence should have happened in the sixties! Where love, peace and trust were the key themes that could move emotions on a deep level for a while.

Now the key themes, the cultural and political views that shape the environment are insecurity, unsafety, and fear.

Who is going to distribute themselves into an environment that they are being constantly told of that they cannot trust it?

Take RFID:

For five years now I have been following it and I realized that it was inevitable pretty soon but could hardly convince anyone as the very idea of tagging every f..... thing is pretty unbelievable. We postmodern, so called fragmented ’I’s cannot believe that you can actually organize this on such a scale, that you could not find the driving need to convince all parties.

Well, they need no convincing!

As RFID works on all levels of implementation scenarios:

code: distributed computing
node: individuated logistics
link: amI
network: safety issues

So it inevitable as technology, and you can do nothing about it.

Or can we? Hmm.

Where is the challenge?

The challenge is at policy level, it lies in recognizing the dangers of this cultural/political axiom to highlight safety/insecurity as if there could ever be A SAFE DEFAULT position. This only leads to more fear, more distrust, more anger as things and explosions will inevitably happen and you will take the blame for not having been able to prevent it.

The challenge lies in marketing from a high level downwards the idea of distributing insecurity, realizing there is no safe default, but that uncertainty is the default position.

This is also necessary because the fear policy goes directly against the call for more and more innovation, innovation needs a risk friendly environment. If you scare your population, very few risks will be taken.

Allow me to bother you for a second with the current Dutch situation. I love it. I love it because never in my entire life had I thought to be able to witness such delibarate transformation.

With my students at St Joost, CMD and Willem de Kooning, all designers of all kinds we witness the process of disciplining and wonder if we can actually claim this most nono of lines: They are doing it. As if we can identify a ‘they’ anywhere as opposed to a ‘we’. So we sit and discuss and realize that coming up with imaginary ‘they’s that do this or that, is a bit too simple. Still, we do witness a treme nendous sameness in the visual and textual rhetoric that deals with unease, uncertainty, unsafety, and watch the hell out for rucksacks on trains and pickpockets as well mind you. Mind the gap, too.

Now we know that this process is not committee run, nor committee driven, but how come us noticing that all institutions are reinventing themselves, redesigning themselves in two basic keywords: transparency and control? What does a planning department of a city do if it wants to put these keywords into action? It cleans out the station of Amsterdam of all the bikes that have been standing there for over twenty years, re-disciplining the public square into the private merchants dream. What does a library do if it wants to put these keywords into action? The new library in Rotterdam simple cuts her bookshelves in halves, transferring the old serene experience of wandering among books hoping for this serendipitous moment into a full contact zone of wandering bodies, their backs aching. What does a department of health do if it wants to put these keywords into action? It scripts the notion of longing for a cigarette into the humiliating experience of having to walk to a ‘smoking pole’, not indoors, no, at the train station, in open air. What does the department of education do if it wants to put these keywords into action? It bans ‘apekooien’, this most wonderful of experiences when you are six or seven or eight and get to use all the stuff, yeah all the stuff that lay hidden in the vaults of the gym. You might trip over something and fall. Yeah! What do you do when you are another part of the department of health if you want to put these keywords into action? You launch a huge campaign against the dangers of fire and your clothes, are they synthetic? Do they burn easily? How long before you are on fire with your ourfit on Tuesday? And with that lovely white top? Are you sure? Walking up to the smoking pole – all them bodies cuddly together – in that white tope drastically fires up your getburnedifyouare in the wrong place statistics. Better watch out.

Better spent some time thinking about these things. Thinking about you.

Thinking about you. You.

Which is much more interesting from a disciplinary point of view, because if you spent all your time thinking of you, how would you organize? How would you even be able to experience any other kind of agency, but narcism? Would you be able to even begin to believe that things need not be like this? That things are designed at converging levels and can be designed otherwise? That revolutions do happen, can happen and must happen. And that you are the cause of one? Do you want to?

So, one fine afternoon, me and students from St Joost, Breda set off for Oisterwijck, a lovely quiet provincial town. As we had only ten suits, I could not wear one. The suits made the students look like some weird medics, the kind of people who come to clean out your chicken farm after some horrible disease has killed them all. Exactly not the kind of people you would trust. Hmm. At least that is what we thought. They were ten. Six had sticks you could point at things with; dangerous things. Dangerous things such as the sky. Don’t you trust it with all that satellite debris. Better watch out. Two had stickers that told of, and made icons of dangerous things. In a red triangle the dangerous object was represented in words: watch out umbrella, watch out window, watch out tree. You can bump into these things, you know. You better watch out. Be careful. Hey! The idea of this performance like intervention was to draw feedback of the kind that would get the joke, that would be aimed at the experienced top down disciplining process going on. What happened instead was far more interesting but also far more disturbing. Whenever they were approached with a question like what kind of organization are you from, they’d reply: the government. We are the Watch Out Team, a new government sponsored initiative. At the market where they dished out watch out umbrella stickers to grateful umbrella holders I overheard a daughter telling her mother: “They should have done this much sooner!”

We never had realized until then how utterly deep the ravine between this huge longing, this ocean of belief and the utter lack of credibility. As De Certeau argued a while ago; there is so much belief and so little credibility. We now saw it played out in front of us. We did not look like clinical scary government spooks, no we were potential saviours, safeguarding the people, the public from harm in every which way.

This is not so much a Dutch, as it is a current European, or global why not- situation.

It calls for a new vanguard, a swarmy small group of networked people who are able to design grand sweeping kitschy scenarios that will draw the frightened majority into embracing the Creole reality that will be ours in the 21th century.

Yes, this means building the Matrix.
If we won’t.
They will.

Designing grand sweeping kitschy scenarios requires:

- An ethical sense
- Memory loops
- Dignity Dosing
- Competition

Dignity Dosing

Take a look. Take a hard look.
Take in Fortino Samono, standing in front of his firing squad:



“Worthy people. The dignity usually is virtue of the poor men. Virtue of which it does not enrich books of History, plagued of appointments and of crab lice that always itch in the same egg. Llámese Napoleón, Solana, Nerón, Hitler, Julio To stop, Aznar, Narcis Serra, Carlos V, Alfonso XIII, Chirac or Felipe II. Nevertheless those were others that wrote the History, people that once and in some place said No, people like Fortino Sámano, falsifier of currency in shot Mexico and in 1913. A photo, the photo of seconds exists before its execution, where Fortino, with chulesca pose, smokes a pure one in paredón. It takes to the hands in the pockets and the tipped hat. It seems that it was waiting for the fiancèe. In the following photo, the squad aims; the finger in the trigger hopes to that an official with the saber in stop of the fire order. Fortino has taken off the hat and removed chest. Its attitude is challenging before the detachment. The only crime that has committed Fortino is the one to be free. To take the freedom to do he himself the currency in a country where the real interest of the money is over the legal value. A dignity lesson.” [4]

A dignity lesson.

“A schoolboy in Arizona, USA, was arrested and held for several hours by police for refusing to turn his baseball cap to the front. Morgan, who is black, was having lunch when school security guards approached him about his hat. It is against school policy to wear hats sideways because it can be a sign of disrespect for authority, the police report said, but Morgan said that the rule is enforced selectively. According to a police report, he pointed to several white students whose hats were on sideways. Shortly after Morgan’s arrest, classmates staged a protest with one student being suspended for 10 days. Morgan was later released without charge.” [5]

Suspected Madrid bombing ringleader Sarhane Ben Abdelmajid Fakhet did not wear his cap sideways. In fact, he did not even wear one. Nobody arrested him. Naturally, he did not wear a cap sideways. Bit he did put his lapel up.




One woman said: “They were odd. They always kept the windows shut.” Alberto, who lived two floors above, said: “They always had their lapels turned up.” [7]

Memory loops

Are you sure?

Can we believe our memories?

“ The use of photographs by psychotherapists as memory cues for the “recovery” of patients’ possible childhood sexual abuse has been called into question by a Canadian study. It found that a “staggering” two-out-of-three participants accepted a concocted false grade-school event as having really happened to them when suggestions regarding the event were supplemented with a class photo. “I was flabbergasted to have attained such an exceptionally high rate of quite elaborate false memory reports,” says University of Victoria psychology professor Dr. Stephen Lindsay.

The participants were encouraged to recall the events through a mix of guided imagery and “mental context re-instatement”–the mental equivalent of putting themselves back in their grade-school shoes. Half of the participants were also given their real grade one class photo, supplied by their parents.

The photo had a dramatic impact on the rate at which participants thought they had some memory of the imaginary Slime event.

“The findings support the general theoretical perspective that memories aren’t things that are stored somewhere in your head,” says Dr. Lindsay. “Memories are experiences that we can have that arise through an interaction between things that really have happened to us in the past and our current expectations and beliefs.” [8]

If we can not trust our memories:




would we not want an always on camera?

“Your daughter’s first smile. Your son’s joy the first time he catches a ball. The wink your favorite uncle always gave you, but that he’d never do on camera.

Spontaneous, unguarded, fleeting – they’re often the moments in our lives we most want to photograph. But these moments are also those we frequently miss – gone before we could reach for a camera.

But what if we could easily capture such priceless moments? What wouldn’t most of us give to have picture albums full of them?

That’s the thought driving a research project called Casual Photography, now running at HP Labs Bristol, UK, where researchers are exploring what it would take to truly never miss a moment we’d like recorded for posterity.” [10]

“If you are serious about never missing a moment,” says Phil Cheatle, Casual Photography team member, “you are drawn into the idea of an always-on camera.”

“You don’t want to be always waiting to take pictures,” says David Slatter, Casual Photography project manager. “You just want to get on with your life and be left with some nice photos.”

“There’s a moment we captured where one of my colleagues wearing the camera and holding his baby and turning him around,” recalls Slatter. “It’s a moment of real quality time with his child and when you see it you think, yes, people are really going to value that.”

Shall we just read this again?

“There’s a moment we captured where one of my colleagues wearing the camera and holding his baby and turning him around,” recalls Slatter. “It’s a moment of real quality time with his child and when you see it you think, yes, people are really going to value that.

Has Slatter gone mental?

Real quality with a child is holding him, her, and turning him around?

What I wonder would talking to a child be? Really real quality? True quality?

Taking your child to the beach, to go and fly a kite?

Would that be heaven?

An ethical sense

“The human body is capable of undergoing tremendous stress and strain and it is often not realised until put to test,” Ponwar said besides a table loaded with snake, monkey and dog meat on which the soldiers feasted. “Troops must live in all-weather terrain, eat and sleep like the guerrilla and strike as silently as the guerrilla,” said a trainer in CIWJS. Wisecarver said his men enjoyed the joint exercises in Mizoram’s lush green jungles. “Though the landscape may be reminiscent of Vietnam, we are enjoying our stay here,” the US colonel said. [11]

All very well, but the real question is: “Do they wash their hands properly?”

Cause if not, they might get sick.

“People are not good at handwashing,” said Janet Anderson, a nutritionist at Utah State University. “We find that unless sinks are very close to where people are handling food, they don’t wash their hands well.”

Studies show people typically fail to scrub around fingernails and between fingers adequately. The government recommends people wash their hands for at least 20 seconds; researchers find many people do not even use soap.

With just a flicker of blue light, little Johnny’s mother one day may know for sure whether her son washed his hands before dinner.

The blue-light scanners could dramatically improve hygiene among employees who forget to wash their hands after bathroom breaks. This practice is a leading cause of food poisoning that afflicts tens of millions of Americans every year. [12]

Did you wash your hands?

Terrorists don’t. They have their lapels turned up, as you are well aware by now and they don’t wash their hands properly.

Which is how, by the way, we are able to find them. Blue light scanners are installed in every restaurant in the London downtown area. [13]

“According to ABC News in the US, British security services believe the terror suspects arrested last week in raids in London and the south-eas were planning to make a bomb that would release a highly toxic chemical called osmium tetroxide.

Osmium tetroxide has a pungent smell and comes from the Greek word for ‘stench’. It is used in research laboratories as a staining agent in electron microscopy.” [14]

Competition goes ambient

Coca Cola has unveiled plans for a new type of vending machine. Sensitive to the climate outside, the machine raises the price of a can as the weather gets hotter. Pepsi has accused Coca Cola of “exploiting consumers in hotter climates”. [15]

“If we can’t defend against an attack, perhaps the rational response is to reduce the incentives to attack. Rather than designing space suits, maybe we should focus on ways to eliminate the reasons to annihilate us.

Rather than stirring up a hornet’s nest and then hiding behind a bush, maybe the solution is to avoid the causes of rage.” [16]

Even better is to reduce the capability of the weapons to attack with:

“The Royal Air Force bought 8 Chinook Helicopters for 259M pounds. The helicopters were supposed to be in service 6 years ago, but problems with radar systems, mean they can not fly in cloud. According to the BBC: “The Chinooks were originally supposed to be in service in 1998 but radar systems and software developed under a separate contract would not fit in the cockpit, the report said” [17]




A scenario

The public is insecure. We will restore faith in themselves by creating dignity poses: individual fake memories that will restore self confidence (the rescue of a child, standing up to an assailant on your younger brother….) The factuality of these poses will be enhanced because the public wears an always on camera, so it must be real. We will write the software to decide between different recordings of events, and so we hold the key to communal experience.

Rob van Kranenburg. Ghent, easter 2004.



1) [back]

2) This tray can hold 30 infantry and 15 Cavalry figures
Have you ever found that you’ve cut out spaces in your foam trays and then wish you hadn’t? We are able to make foam trays to fit most ‘standard’. [back]

3) From: “Tefft, Bruce” <>
Mailing-List: list; contact Delivered-To: mailing list
List-Unsubscribe: <>
Date: Mon, 5 Apr 2004 12:47:36 –0400 Subject: [osint] SPAIN: “Allah is great and we are going to die killing.” Allah is great and we are going to die killing, shouted one of the terrorists By Isambard Wilkinson in Leganes and Anton La Guardia (Filed: 05/04/2004) [back]

4) from Gentes dignas.
“La dignidad suele ser virtud de los pobres. Virtud de muchos que no enriquece los libros de Historia, plagados de citas y de ladillas que siempre pican en el mismo huevo. Llámese Napoleón, Solana, Nerón, Hitler, Julio Cesar, Aznar, Narcis Serra, Carlos V, Alfonso XIII, Chirac o Felipe II. Sin embargo fueron otros los que escribieron la Historia, gentes que una vez y en algún lugar dijeron No, gentes como Fortino Sámano, falsificador de moneda en México y fusilado en 1913. Existe una foto, la foto de segundos antes de su fusilamiento, donde Fortino, con pose chulesca, se fuma un puro en el paredón. Lleva las manos en los bolsillos y el sombrero ladeado. Parece que estuviera esperando a la novia. En la siguiente foto, el pelotón apunta; el dedo en el gatillo espera a que un oficial con el sable en alto de la orden de fuego. Fortino se ha quitado el sombrero y sacado pecho. Su actitud es retadora ante el destacamento. El único delito que ha cometido Fortino es el de ser libre. Tomarse la libertad de hacer él mismo la moneda en un país donde el interés real del dinero está por encima del valor legal. Una lección de dignidad.” [back]

5) Saguaro player arrested for wearing cap sideways.
Edited by: ScottAZPrepHoops at: 3/13/04 9:00:15 am [back]

6) From: “Tefft, Bruce” <>
Mailing-List: list; contact Delivered-To: mailing list
List-Unsubscribe: <>
Date: Mon, 5 Apr 2004 12:47:36 –0400 Subject: [osint] SPAIN: “Allah is great and we are going to die killing.” Allah is great and we are going to die killing, shouted one of the terrorists By Isambard Wilkinson in Leganes and Anton La Guardia (Filed: 05/04/2004) [back]

7) Suspected Madrid bombing ringleader Sarhane Ben Abdelmajid Fakhet (Photo: AP (file)) [back]

8) From: “Ian Pitchford” Mailing-List: list; contact Date: Sun, 4 Apr 2004 15:13:17 -0500
Subject: [evol-psych] Can we believe our memories?
Reply-To: “Ian Pitchford” Public release date: 31-Mar-2004 Contact: Dr. Stephen Lindsay
250-721-8593 Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council
His NSERC-sponsored research is published in the March 2004 issue of Psychological Science. A PDF version of the article “True Photographs and False Memories” can be found at

The published article is: Lindsay, D.S., Hagen, L., Read, J.D., Wade, K.A. & Garry, M. (2004). “True photographs and false memories.” Psychological Science, Vol. 15, 149-154.

Journal Web link: [back]

9) Deja View’s Camwear Model 100 captures everything you see, records it in a buffer so you never miss that moment! Simply press the record button and the last 30 seconds of video with audio will write to a removable storage device.The Deja View Camwear Model 100 easily clips to your glasses or hat is constantly buffering 30 seconds of what you experience while wearing our product. [back]

10) March 2004 “Photographic memories Always-on camera captures life’s fleeting moments”, by Simon Firth. [back]

11) From: “Mario Profaca” <>
Mailing-List: list; contact Date: Sun, 11 Apr 2004 00:53:58 +0200
Subject: [Spy News] US troops learn to eat snakes, fight in jungles
Reply-To: US troops learn to eat snakes, fight in jungles. [back]

12) List-Unsubscribe: <>
Date: Sat, 10 Apr 2004 08:48:27 +0200 Subject: [Spy News] New technology could detect dirty hands New technology could detect dirty hands.
Monday, April 5, 2004 Posted: 2127 GMT (0527 HKT) WASHINGTON (AP). [back]

13) unconfirmed. [back]

14) From: “Mario Profaca” Mailing-List: list; contact
Date: Sun, 11 Apr 2004 08:11:53 +0200 Subject: [Spy News] British terror suspects ’planned toxic bomb’,12780,1187003,00.html
3.45pm British terror suspects ’planned toxic bomb’ George Wright and agencies Tuesday April 6, 2004. [back]

15) Coke Tests Vending Unit That Can Hike Prices in Hot Weather
Read the article: “Coke Tests Vending Unit That Can Hike Prices in Hot Weather.”
1. Which TWO factors that influence the demand for Coke are described in this article (be careful to differentiate between change in demand and change in quantity demanded.)
2. Under what conditions would the vending machine raise the price of Coke?
3. When would the machine lower the price of Coke?
from the you-gotta-be-kidding dept.
December writes “Short article about Coca Cola testing vending machines that raise the price when temperatures rise.” I can see it now: at 33 degrees it’ll cost 2 bucks. And 38 it’ll cost 20. At 44 it’ll cost as much as a minivan
and at 48 it’ll cost ya your pension!! And it’ll still be cheaper than the freakin’ movie theater.
4. The above is one Internet-user’s response to the above article. Do you like the idea of Coke introducing temperature-sensitive vending machines? Why or why not? This material has been produced by UNITEC Institute of Technology under contract to the Ministry of Education. 05 September 2003. [back]

16) Delivered-To: Date: Fri, 09 Apr 2004 04:19:47 –0700 From: Dewayne Hendricks <>
Insanely Destructive Devices. Trying to defend against self-replicating weapons of mass destruction. By Lawrence Lessig [back]

17) From the RISK list: Date: Thu, 08 Apr 2004 06:42:36 +0100
From: Neil <>
Subject: Chinooks again [back]

18) [back]



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