Tag Archives: swarms

09-f9-11-02-9d-74-e3-5b-d8-41-56-c5-63-56-88-c0, Swarms, Outrage, and the socialbookmarkosphere

Two front-page stories on Slashdot (Censoring a number and Digg.com attempts to suppress HD-DVD revolt), on six front-page stories on reddit (Digg exiles! Welcome to Reddit!, Digg is on a campaign of widespread user and story censorship, Digg founders took HD DVD Sponsorship — Digg fighting user revolt over HD-DVD code ban, Digg shuts down story submissions, Digg users are showing the true power of users on user run sites, Wikipedia bans HD DVD code and related discussion pages)

The swarm has worked, at least partially. Digg founder Kevin Rose wrote on the company blog:

Digg This: 09-f9-11-02-9d-74-e3-5b-d8-41-56-c5-63-56-88-c0

Today was an insane day. And as the founder of Digg, I just wanted to post my thoughts…

In building and shaping the site I’ve always tried to stay as hands on as possible. We’ve always given site moderation (digging/burying) power to the community. Occasionally we step in to remove stories that violate our terms of use (eg. linking to pornography, illegal downloads, racial hate sites, etc.). So today was a difficult day for us. We had to decide whether to remove stories containing a single code based on a cease and desist declaration. We had to make a call, and in our desire to avoid a scenario where Digg would be interrupted or shut down, we decided to comply and remove the stories with the code.

But now, after seeing hundreds of stories and reading thousands of comments, you’ve made it clear. You’d rather see Digg go down fighting than bow down to a bigger company. We hear you, and effective immediately we won’t delete stories or comments containing the code and will deal with whatever the consequences might be.

If we lose, then what the hell, at least we died trying.

What is the long number in the title? And why is this on tdaxp Read below the fold to find out…

The number is actually a key to allow people to use HD DVD disks they may buy. Historically, large media companies try to limit the usefulness of new technology, because technology is inherently disruptive and posses a risk to them. So, for instance, the Motion Picture Association of America thought that VHS was a terrible idea and should be criminalized. Fortunately, Congress and the Courts were on the side of the consumers on that issue. More recently, the MPAA opposed allowing people to record DVDs in the same manner that we can record TV with VHS. Again, the Courts agreed with consumers and disagreed with the studios.

Unable to criminalize consumers actually using the movies they buy, the studios resort to technical tricks which just make it hard to use the movies. Because of the computer code surrounding HD DVDs, typing in the number 09-f9-11-02-9d-74-e3-5b-d8-41-56-c5-63-56-88-c0 allows users to get around the troublesome software and record their own movies.

Eventually, some stories mentioning the number made it on digg, a popular social bookmark site (thanks for the list, Jayson!).

I’m less interested in the number (not having an HD DVD player) than I am with the reaction. Blogs were “outraged” by this, just as they were by the JL Kirk, NationMaster, and Wiley Interscience affairs. However, because HD DVDs effect even more people than negative reviews of Tennessee job placement agencies, negative reviews of online databases, or critical interpretation of journal articles, the swarms’ reaction is even bigger. The reason is that while censoring of blogs outrages bloggers (a vocal but small minority of internet users), censoring online bookmark sites outrages even more people. The group of bloggers is maybe 5% of the internet population, but the group of social bookmarks is huge. Indeed, with social bookmark integration with popular webbrowsers (see Delicious for Firefox, Digg for Firefox, Reddit for Firefox, etc) it is possible within a few years a majority of internet users will also be social bookmark users.

Outrage is not a rational reaction, but whether a consequence of perceiving two things: that your own group is weak and that another group is attacking it. By successfully (for a while) forcing Digg to censor its own users, the MPAA convinced social bookmarkers that they were weak and being attaked. They became outraged. And now a number that I did not care about for quite a while — 09-f9-11-02-9d-74-e3-5b-d8-41-56-c5-63-56-88-c0 — is all over the news.

JL Kirk eventually was mentioned by Instapundit, and John Wiley & Sons met The Volokh Conspiracy. Now the MPAA, and 09-f9-11-02-9d-74-e3-5b-d8-41-56-c5-63-56-88-c0, know reddit and digg.

John Wiley Interscience and Defensive Swarms

In spite of an overly concillatory (if understandibly so) reaction, Jonh Wiley & Sons’ “Wiley Interscience” slappd-down of Retrospectacle apperas to be over. Boing Boing, SEED, Slashdot, Nature and other big shots entered the fray Even Scientific American spoke out on the power of the blogosphere’s immune system:

The most effective fighting force a blogger has is other bloggers. I cannot be certain that Wiley relented for any other reason than bad press, which they were getting from a number of people–including bloggers associated with other journals, like Nature, who are now valid members of the scientific community.

While some criticize the value or justness of autoimmunity, all bloggers can be thankful that there are other bloggers to stand up for them when powerful interests threaten them with judicial violence.

Distrubted Political Blog Swarming

Daily Kos Bandwidth Thieves,” Little Green Footballs, 8 August 2005, http://littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog/?entry=16978&only (from Jim River Report).

An interesting article on network attacks

Joe Sherlock discovered that a Daily Kos “diary” singing the praises of Keith Olbermann was using an image from his car blog The View from My Windshield—and committing the ultimate internet faux pas of “hotlinking” to the picture, stealing bandwidth from Joe’s site.

Of course, when someone commits this sin, the offended party has options available. Go see the result now at Daily Kos before they wake up: Daily Kos: Tonight! Everyone Watches Keith.


John C. Dvorak on Swarms

The Scheme to Discredit BitTorrent,” by John Dvorak, PC Magazine, 20 June 2005, http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,1759,1829684,00.asp (from Slashdot).

Following up on a 4GPS2 network-on-network attack

Swarms. What Bram managed to figure out was a way to maximize throughput on P2P file distribution that went beyond server-centric methods, multicasting, edge buffering and all the other schemes that have come and gone. Moreover, this idea ends up not costing the person distributing the file a lot of bandwidth [what else besides “files” can be distributed in a physical person-to-person P2P network? — tdaxp[, because the file itself goes into the Net, becomes what is called a swarm, then uploads and downloads itself all over the place in bits and pieces from machine to machine. When you begin to download a file using BitTorrent, your machine immediately starts uploading the exact same file to someone else. This process is kind of like the fission demonstration with the mousetraps and the ping-pong balls, since your download becomes enhanced by others and you get multiple download streams. Meanwhile, you are still delivering bits from your file. Data is flying every which way and higher demand makes it work better!

Swarm, Waiting

Mr. Bram invented bittorrent, a popular tool for trading files. It is easy to see how the same concepts could be applied to war, and how is “bittorrents” could be applied as “wartorrents.”

Not all swarms are friendly. Or even non-deadly.

Swarming and the Future of Warfare and Other Good Theses

Before I went on vacation, I set tdaxp to automatically posts sections of my thesis, A Computer Model of National Behavior. A much more interesting, better written, and fascinating work is Sean J. A. Edwards’ “Swarming and the Future of Warfare. Written as a dissertation for the Pardee RAND Graduate School, it looks at an ultra-violent form of distributed denial of service attack.

For a taste, try footnote 15 from the Introduction

On April 14, 2004 a Marine amphibious assault vehicle carrying supplies came under RPG fire, made a wrong turn into unsecured Fallujah area controlled by insurgents and was ambushed. The vehicle caught fire and the 17 man crew sought refuge in a nearby home. Within minutes at least 100 insurgents converged from all directions towards the firefight and plume of smoke, firing RPGs and small arms. A rescue force of 4 tanks, 6 Humvees, and a dismounted platoon with air support fought their way through enemy held terrain, moving with a 360 degree defense, and rescued the encircled crew.

A quick segue into computer science: some lines from Edwards masterpiece remind me of Doug Jennewein’s An Analysis of the N-Best Ant System: a General-Purpose Meta-Heuristic for Combinatorial Optimization, from which a powerpoint of the defense is available from USD’s Computer Science Research page. Also, many concepts can be horizontally mixed with Zacher and Bielenberg‘s blog clustering thesis

But all that distracts from the real point: Read Sean Edwards’ Swarming and the Future of Warfare. Hat-tip to new tdaxp commentator John Robb.