Recent Activity Pt 4: Europe Week 1

Week one in Europe was busy. The day I arrived Esther picked me up and we headed to Qiy’s offices where i got to run into John Harrison who I last saw a year ago at IIW Europe. He is organizing a consortium to go in for FP-7 money (80 million) put out for projects around Identity in the European Union.

Wednesday was Nov 9th Identity.Next convened by Robert was great bringing people together from across Europe. 1/2 the day was a regular conference and 1/2 the day was an UnConference that I helped facilitate.  I ran a session about personal data and we had a good conversation.  I also learned about a German effort that seemed promising – Pidder - their preso in The Hague

November 10th I headed to London for New Digital Economics EMEA along with Maarten from Qiy.  It was fantastic to be on stage with 5 different start-up projects all doing Personal Data along with one big one :)

It was clear that the energy in the whole space had shifted beyond the theoretical and the response from the audience was positive.  I shared the landscape map we have been working on to explain elements of the overall ecosystem.

Digital Death Day was November 11th in Amsterdam was small but really good with myself, Stacie and Tamara organizing.  We had a small group that included a Funeral Director a whole group form Ziggur. We were sponsored by the company formerly know as DataInherit – they changed their name to SecureSafe. Given that Amsterdam is closer then California to Switzerland we were hopping they would make it given their ongoing support…alas not this year.

One of the key things to come out of the event was an effort to unite the technology companies working on solutions in this area around work to put forward the idea of a special OAuth token for their kind of services perhaps also with a “Trust Framework” that could use the OIX infrastructure.

It as also inspiring to have  two two young developers attend.

  • Leif Ekas  travelled from Norway – I had met him this summer in Boston when he was attending summer school at BU and working on his startup around aspects of digital death.
  • Sebastian Hagens – Sebastix
It made me wish Markus had made it there from Vienna.
When I was at TEDx Brussels I was approached by another young developer Tim De Conick well more accurately visionary who got some amazing code written – WriteID.
Given the energy last summer at the Federated Social Web Summit and these new efforts that could all be connected together/interoperable. I think there is critical mass for a developer / hacker week for Personal Data in Europe this Spring Summer and I am keen to help organize it.

Demand for Web 2.0 suicides increasing

I went to the suidicemachine and got this message

We apologize to all our users for the breakdown of our service! Within the last hours the huge demand for 2.0 suicides completely overblew our bandwidth resources!

We are currently considering relocating to another serverfarm. Please consider suicide at a later moment and accept our apologies!

You can still try to catch a free slot, but chances are quiet low at the moment!

More from their site….

Faster, Safer, Smarter, Better Tired of your Social Network?

Liberate your newbie friends with a Web2.0 suicide! This machine lets you delete all your energy sucking social-networking profiles, kill your fake virtual friends, and completely do away with your Web2.0 alterego. The machine is just a metaphor for the website which moddr_ is hosting; the belly of the beast where the web2.0 suicide scripts are maintained. Our services currently runs with facebook.com, myspace.com and LinkedIn.com! Commit NOW!

You can even see video’s about what happens as one uses the machine.

ok the FAQ’s get eve better…..

I always get the message “Sorry, Machine is currently busy with killing someone else?”. What does this mean?
Our server can only handle a certain amount of suicide scripts running at the same time. Please consider your suicide attempt at a later moment! We are very sorry for the inconvenience and working on expanding our resources.

If I kill my online friends, does it mean they’re also dead in real life?
No!   

What do I need to commit suicide with the Web 2.0 Suicide Machine?
A standard webbrowser with Adobe flashplugin and javascript enabled. So, it runs on Windows, Linux and Mac with most of browsers available.   

I can’t see my friends being killed, what happened?
Probably your flash-plugin is older than version 10? But yikes – you cannot stop the process anymore! Once you entered the login details, the machine is running the suicide script.   

If I start killing my 2.0-self, can I stop the process?
No!   

If I start killing my 2.0-self, can YOU stop the process?
No!   

What shall I do after I’ve killed myself with the web2.0 suicide machine?
Try calling some friends, talk a walk in a park or buy a bottle of wine and start enjoying your real life again. Some Social Suiciders reported that their life has improved by an approximate average of 25%. Don’t worry, if you feel empty right after you committed suicide. This is a normal reaction which will slowly fade away within the first 24-72 hours.

Do you store any data on your webserver, like password of the user?
We don’t store your password on our server! Seriously, it goes directly into /dev/null, which is equal to nirvana! We only save your profile picture, your name and your last words! Will the 2.0 suicide machine be available for other networks such as twitter and plaxo? We are currently working on improving our products!. Currently we are working on Flickr and Hyves, but of course we are eagerly thinking of ways to get rid of our “Google Lifes”.   

How does it work technically?
The machine consists of a tweaked Linux server running apache2 with python module. Selenium RC Control is used to automatically launch and kill browser sessions. This all driven by a single python/cgi script with some additional self-written libraries. ?Each user can watch her suicide action in real-time via a VNC remote desktop session, displayed on our website via an flash applet rendered live into the client’s webbrowser. We are also running some customized bash scripts plus MySQL in the background for logging and debugging, jquery for the website and a modified version of the great FlashlightVNC application built in Flex. Web2.0 Suicide Machine consists of roughly 1800 lines of self-written code.   

Why do we think the web2.0 suicide machine is not unethical?
Everyone should have the right to disconnect. Seamless connectivity and rich social experience offered by web2.0 companies are the very antithesis of human freedom. Users are entraped in a high resolution panoptic prison without walls, accessible from anywhere in the world. We do have an healthy amount of paranoia to think that everyone should have the right to quit her 2.0-ified life by the help of automatized machines. Facebook and Co. are going to hold all your informations and pictures on their servers forever! We still hope that by removing your contact details and friend connections your data is being cached out from their servers. This can happen after days, weeks, months or even years. Just deactivating the account is thus not enough! [emphasis mine]

How much does it cost to kill myself?
Usage of Web 2.0 Suicide machine is for free.   

Can I build my own suicide machine?
Theoretically yes! You’ll need a Linux WebServer (apache2) with perl and python modules (php should be installed as well). Further, you’ll need VNC-server and Java packages by Sun to launch selenium-remote applets. If you feel like contributing or setting up your own machine, please get in contact with us via email.

Death in first person shooter games

I wonder if this applies to the death of an online persona too?
We shall see….

From Slashdot:

“Brandon Erickson has an interesting post about an experiment on players’ emotional reactions to killing and being killed in a first-person shooters (FPS) with a group of students who played James Bond 007: Nightfire while their facial expressions and physiological activity were tracked and recorded moment-to-moment via electrodes and various other monitoring equipment. The study found that “death of the player’s own character…appear[s] to increase some aspects of positive emotion.” The authors believe this may result from the temporary “relief from engagement” brought about by character death. “Part of this has to do with the intriguing aesthetic question of precisely how the first-person-shooter represents the player after the moment of death,” says Clive Thompson. “This sudden switch in camera angle — from first person to third person — is, in essence, a classic out-of-body experience, of exactly the sort people describe in near-death experiences. And much like real-life near-death experiences, it tends to suffuse me with a curiously zen-like feeling.” An abstract of the original article, “The psychophysiology of James Bond: Phasic emotional responses to violent video game events” is available on the web.” Obnoxiously this alleged scholarly research is not available for free, so we’ll just have to speculate wildly what it says based on the abstract.

identity of the dead – digital afterlife experiences

Dana Boyde posted this about events unfolding surrounding the death of Christine Dao a Junior at Berkeley this week.

There is no good way to mourn the loss of someone young, but what fascinates me about these messages on Christine’s Profiles is that they are all written to her but visible for everyone to see. A persistent, public signal of mourning. Her friends are speaking _to_ her, not about her…What does it mean to write persistent comments for the dead? Is it a sign of respect, of public remembrance? I hope so. Rest in peace Christine.

I wonder how our mourning rituals will change as we become more ‘presence on the web? How will our digital identities live on.

My mother passed away almost 11 years ago now (the year before I was a freshman at Cal [Berkeley]). If you google for her she does not exist in that medium. I have thought several times over the years about making an online memorial to her and the work that she did. Inviting those who knew her to perhaps reflect publicly on her life and the impact that she had on them.