After our burglary last year I went a little nuts on the house camera system. After awhile it became clear that the building out of such an extensive surveillance system was probably done more as a hobby and frankly (and pathetically) no small degree of ego gratification since footage tends to equal great share content. It's hard to tell where my genuine appreciation for frustrating bad guys ends and my deplorable need for online attention begins though I imagine it's a pretty fuzzy one.
Burglar loots my room in May 2018. The recounting.
Creeper footage is not just great Facebook fodder though -- the potential of technology, and in particular off the shelf consumer technology, to combat crime problems once considered 'just the way things are' is a personal genuine fascination. 'Combating crime' is of course done on a number of different fronts starting most fundamentally with making sure civilizations have a robust and just social fabric that encourages empathy between humans, provides reasonable safety nets, authentically educates, and that they exhibit compassion throughout all of their institutions. This array is followed quickly by prevention techniques and then in some short order, effective control, penal, and rehabilitative measures.
We will have achieved utopia when the only crime left is that which is motivated by pure impulse or some degree of mental illness. And we will of course never reach utopia. The limitations of our human brains leaves this reality window open as an effective fact of life to criminals horrific and more benign, like creepers.
Creepers as I deem them are people who are grounded down so far in life that they take to preying on the unguarded by slinking about probing unlocked cars, garages, and yard gates for loose treasure or any measure of sustenance. My over-investment in cameras catch these people in action and it's incredible to see how far they will go and the risks that they take - to the extent that they consider what they do 'risky'. It seems that as home camera systems have begun to proliferat these folks have become somewhat ambivalent.
There seems to be good reason. Based on my own experience in all this, as well as on the postings of creeper videos by others in social media or within proprietary camera network (such as Ring's Neighbors app), some things have become apparent.
First, it's amazing to me how having a real-time eye on places using all this great technology rarely translates into an intercept or in-time capture of various perpetrators (like this rare exception which is awesome). I am not sure I have a good understanding of why just yet but it seems to boil down the simple fact that while our cameras can be 24/7, our attention kept in sync with them, cannot be. The burglar in my apartment last year rummaged almost 20 minutes in clear view of my camera and was not challenged the least by it, tangibly or even psychologically. As I toiled away at work, my camera app tried to notify me, repeatedly, but I didn't notice.
Other people consistently and almost exclusively post video in social media of porch pirate and other illicit activity, but it's always video after the fact by hours or even days.
So bad guys are learning that no matter what they do in front of the camera's eye, the chances of a homeowner bounding out with a shotgun are probably nil. The same goes for anyone part of a social media group. Hundreds of people can be notified but the chances of certain confrontation are still low enough to mute the creeper's concern.
It's one thing to not always be ready for intercept; most of us are not poised to attack criminals all day long after all. People kind of 'get' that camera systems exist just as much, if not more in reason, to document evidence of a crime, not trigger an instant armed response. But even on this point the cameras are not particularly aggravating to swines.
At least for the 'creeper' ilk, where clear criminal intent exists but no (serious) criminal event actually winds up taking place, it seems that law enforcement attention is practically non-existent. Again in my personal experience, but also by an observed lack of engagement by police or others in the online forums where these things get posted. One may have the idea that police would take a keen interest in any video showing someone prowling about and that they would breathlessly integrate those postings into their daily patrol efforts. But if they are they aren't telling.
So, bad guys in this era of the constant eye are learning that even as an erection of some giant red flag about their existence, it's a flag that will be ignored. All this means that at the end of the day we have non-confrontation and lack of follow up in their favor. Cameras be damned.
I am of course guilty of daring to muse about all of this with no clear solution to propose. Creepers are a dime a dozen, rarely impact anything seriously aside from an intangible sense of safety perhaps, and police and for that matter the time in the lives of ordinary people, are too strapped to take every creep action as seriously as this blog post sort of asserts.
Even so, I still find it incredible that as a society we now have the means to build a literal video database of inclined behavior, yet we seem uninterested in doing anything with it other than gaff over the audacity of certain people's behavior in social media.
Okay I totally get that there was "no collusion" announced between Russia and the Trump administration when the FBI indicted 13 of them for influencing the election. Maybe they'll announce some finding of direct collusion later as the result of a different investigative thread but for now, nothing about the FBI's work presented today bears any such thing. Fine.
But running and clinging to a point nobody was making in the first place is in my opinion a way to avoid the real questions about what was discovered. Simply put the question really is and remains what did and does Russia see in Donald Trump to make him worth funding a million dollar effort to buzz into office any way they might-could?
I believe analysts within each of our own intelligence agencies figure the tactics to undermine our country are part and parcel of a more dire enemy perspective. My bet is they understand something else about them and are too embarrassed (for the country and perhaps for counter-strategic reasons) to fess up. They may even be too afraid.
Afraid because I suspect that what they and the Russians, and any foreign adversary/competitor can objectively explore and in turn seek to exploit, is a decline in both an educated American populace if not merely a less intellectual one, and a common platform of ideology and principle that is beginning to buckle under America's "only me" or "only the 'right' people" mentality. Trump is just a convenient caricature for both.
He is a strong blustery man, but in the broader sense, the one that counts in the game of competing civilizations, he is a weak one. Or more precisely, a naive one. Yet probably an inconsequential one to the aim of undermining the United States. Russia doesn't want him so much as they want his followers . It is his followers that they want to reproduce ideologically. With Trump as a sitting president he is a great growth agent for the thinking style the Russians would love to strangle us with.
Our intelligence agencies most certainly assess this or something darn close along these lines. But what can they do? Their insights and suspicions cannot insult the very people they serve; the very country they protect. I would guess that they tailor a response in kind in as little a directly documented process as possible, whatever such a response could be. For now, they seem to be resorting to warning against falling for the discourse rather than openly examining how people might have gotten so susceptible to it in the first place.
Trump and the rest of the country can bury the deeper questions by satisfying everyone that no polls were directly manipulated (though, make no mistake, the psy-op nonetheless most certainly affected tens of thousands of free-will executions at them) or that the Russians also fostered discord against Trump after the election, either loosely by interpretation or in my suspicion, as a way to obfuscate the actual and more potent goal of Trump-ifying America, as some kind of an insurance action. They did not fail to account for the possibility they would be "caught".
After all they don't think our CIA or FBI are stupid, they just count on the idea that we are.
With the continued marginalization of the World Wide Web and concepts like "web surfing", the next phase for the complete eradication of the open platform is its "mystification". People will be made to fear the concept of engaging online outside social media.
This is not hard to understand. As people gradually forget about a place they could publish freely, exchange files, and start dot com revolutions in their underwear, the protocol itself will be left to its die hard evangelists who buck the trend because they are not willing to give up their online liberty to Facebook.
That number of people is (relatively) small, but they will continue sharing information between themselves, some of which will be inconvenient to governments and corporations.
What better way to pinch the holdouts by pouring negative paranoid press about that other "non-Facebook" place that people are doing things. Mostly good or neutral, but to a small highlight-able number, bad things like breaking copyright laws, planning terrorist attacks, or patronizing or trafficking child porn. Those grim things are typically characteristic of the so-called "Dark Web" today but it is trivial to drop the semantics entirely, when it is time.
Imagine the headlines of 15 years from now. "Police Find 'Web Browser' on PC of Area Man Arrested For Credit Card Fraud".
This won't happen tomorrow but in the long future, it's where we're headed. The pure web does not natively monetize, track users as precisely as closed social media networks or mobile apps, and provides a loop hole for free anonymous expression to those who still take the time for it. With everything else comfortably controlled, this makes the classic WWW a threat.
If you care to stave any of this off, learn HTML, blog outside social media networks (and link to other blogs and bloggers), and refer to the "web" not "Facebook" when talking about web things.
I posted an open lament to Reddit that maybe we should concede the death of the WWW to social networks and phone apps. There's only so much digital energy in people day to day and they aren't expending it through a web browser on a computer unless they have to.
What I suggested was the continued maintenance of a "laptop" web by enthusiasts who "got" the point of the web and could continue to develop for it, living with the constraint that their output was no longer part of a (relative) mass media. My WWW site would be designed and posted for other WWW enthusiasts, and that would be fine.
I've realized since that unpopular post (largely downvoted and mocked by the web design audience whose gravy is HTML) that what I really meant should not be spun as a "laptop" web or a "WWW" web, but rather, a web surfers web .
After all, I'm not talking about just the tools of web browsing (e.g., a web browser, HTML) but the habits and techniques engaged in by people who web browse.
Phone apps and closed garden social media sites eliminate the hopping (read: surfing) behavior so characteristic of people using the original web. Then, web authors unabashedly linked to other authors and people followed these links for the sheer enjoyment of it.
To most people the web, now, is a feed and the behavior is more akin to web "darting". People dart out to individual web pages containing stories or still other feeds, based on social prompts by linked social media contacts. After they have finished consuming their content, they dart straight back to their feed.
I could still be very well talking about the preservation of a laptop or PC WWW by synonymous effect, but from now on I'm going to call it more precisely the preservation of the web surfing culture. And I for one am going to concentrate on providing for that culture.
I make this rant every year since returning to the northeast from Florida.
I hate northern summers. Really do. Everybody in the north 'manages' their AC so that it comes on later or earlier in the day, or only after a certain temperature is hit, or maybe on some days but not others, particularly during a seasonal transition from spring to summer or summer to fall. Nobody does it properly like in Florida where they keep the AC on all day long every day . You never know when you're walking into a restaurant for a nice meal in Pennsylvania or New York in July if you're walking into a sauna because the manager's whim that moment might be to coast through the slow shift without AC.
The net result is that northern summers are far more uncomfortable and sticky than Florida ones. It's an irony I can't stand. Stay tuned next summer for an approximation of this rant.
I really miss New York, I really do. I worked at LinkShare (now Rakuten Marketing) and would have passed this spot every single day going to and coming from work.
This isn't the only example of neatness. Union Square was on the nightly news for one reason or another at least twice a year. Protests, usually. It was a warm NYC feeling to have the place you worked so close to in the news cycle that much.
George Will has it right. Any respectful Republican should choose four years of idling over leaving themselves associated with Trump.
There is no good Trump outcome. If he is the actual Republican candidate for President he will lose to Clinton, or the person who replaces her in the event she is in fact knocked off by the corny e-mail server issue. So there's that loss just about guaranteed.
But even if I am wrong and he becomes President, then his followers will lose when, guess what, he doesn't actually build a wall or deport immigrants, at least to any significant degree his believers have convinced themselves he will. He'll blame a sudden cognizance of the legislative process that prevents him (Trump supporters will only then remember they were electing a President, not a King - that blasted democracy is still in their way), or some other excuse, but the bottom line is those things are never going to happen. So now he's President but his believers lose and those believers will hate the Republicans all the more.
But wait, maybe he miraculously builds a wall and then attempts to force Mexico to pay the bill. Of course Mexico won't do that so the only response is some kind of economic or military response, the former which itself will lead to the latter in any event. One can assume there is a lot of latent want for war with America the Mexicans can dig up...maybe they'll figure it's time for a second run over the Alamo if some goofball looking for a giant check wants to give them an excuse. Now we're at war with Mexico and everyone loses.
And during any of this there's always the possibility of a 9/11 or Pearl Harbor style surprise during his reign for which he has no temperament for responding logically to, at least any that he has demonstrated so far. At which point we're talking about a war bigger than one with Mexico and the whole wide world loses. Remember nearly all young people today view WW1 and WW2 as just overplayed black and white snippets on the History Channel. If Trump wants to war his way through problems in the world there's no fear of war itself to stop him.
And no, none of these outcomes is in any way mitigated if, on the side, Trump brings economic prosperity to the nation. In fact that would be a horrible catalyst because he would be more unhinged in the ways that actually matter by way of international diplomacy and control over nukes.
If Republicans don't distance their own party from this man with a giant red flag drilled into his skull that is impossible to miss, they will lose the only opportunity to be legitimately disassociated when people are scraping the ashes off their bodies looking at the party that let it all happen.
Today's web developers need to permission themselves to create "desktop only" websites. They then need to permission themselves to tell their audience of the fact. I am starting to adorn my various blogs and websites with comments like "this website is intended to be perused with a PC and a cup of coffee; while it may look fine and work on mobile devices, it is not designed with them in mind."
And that's it. My audiences now know they can go about their usual mobile digital lives and when they're finally relaxing at a keyboard, then and ideally, they can swing by my blog or web tool to digest it.
And if they don't own a computer any more? Then I guess my website is only for what is becoming an increasingly distinct technically oriented user base much the same way that IRC still exists for users even though most people are happy with one-to-one text messaging. When your blog isn't about making money but is instead about the thrill of communication and its utility in that process, you care less about the monetary gain and more about the birth and movement of new information.