zenpundit.com » media

Archive for the ‘media’ Category

On the foolishness of some current algorithms

Tuesday, August 30th, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — shouting caveat lector in a crowded theater ]

I don’t know what a wise algorithm is, whether any such algorithms exist, how they would qualify for that title, what the definitive definition of wisdom is, and so forth. Some algorithms in contemporary use, however, strike me as foolish.

Tablet DQ 600 algorithms


  • WaPo, Three days after removing human editors, Facebook is already trending fake news
  • Fusion, Facebook recommended that this psychiatrist’s patients friend each other
  • It is in this context that we might wish to read:

  • NY Times magazine, Inside Facebook’s (Totally Insane, Unintentionally Gigantic, Hyperpartisan) Political-Media Machine
  • .
    Readers who clicked through to the story were led to an external website, called Make America Great Today, where they were presented with a brief write-up blended almost seamlessly into a solid wall of fleshy ads. Khan, the story said — between ads for “(1) Odd Trick to ‘Kill’ Herpes Virus for Good” and “22 Tank Tops That Aren’t Covering Anything” — is an agent of the Muslim Brotherhood and a “promoter of Islamic Shariah law.” His late son, the story suggests, could have been a “Muslim martyr” working as a double agent. A credit link beneath the story led to a similar-looking site called Conservative Post, from which the story’s text was pulled verbatim. Conservative Post had apparently sourced its story from a longer post on a right-wing site called Shoebat.com.


    I wouldn’t trust Shoebat as far as I could bat a shoe. But then, how much does it matter whether we’re led by the left ear or the right ear?

    This has been an addendum to Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds.

    Big Ideas and MediaGlyphs

    Tuesday, August 16th, 2016

    [ by Charles Cameron — Mad Scientist asks, John Robb responds]

    Today’s call and response comes to me via two blog posts that followed one another in my RSS feed — in the reverse order to the one I read them in. I’ve straightened that out so response now follows call for your convenience.

    From Max Brooks (World War Z) lecturing for the Army’s 2016 “Mad Scientist” initiative:

    One of the US government’s biggest challenges today, particularly in the context of military issues, is its inability to communicate big ideas to the American people .. This has caused a significant portion of the population to disengage from government, including and especially from the military .. It may take several decades to reverse the trend ..

    There’s more there in the report at the Atlantic Council‘s Art of the Future blog, as Brooks discusses particular big ideas that need communicating — but it’s the communication issue itself that caught my eye.


    So how does communication happen most powerfully in todays media environment?

    Here are a few points from John Robb‘s thoughts on that very question, posted today at Global Guerrillas. First, a sample of what’s commonly known as an internet meme, but which John would prefer to call a MediaGlyph — his candidate for the punchiest mode of delivery:

    And now his comments under the header All Hail The MediaGlyph, The New King of Political Communications:

    Successful mediaglyphs blanket social networks, often going viral to reach tens of millions of viewers in days as they are rapidly with an ever expanding network of friends.

    Collectively, mediaglyphs generate tens of millions of impressions an hour. Several orders of magnitude (100x) more than any other form of political communication.

    Unlike TV, Print, and most forms of online communication, mediaglyphs are built for consumption on smartphones and visual modes of social networking. They are also built for speedy consumption, providing a quick emotional hit in comparison to a long winded article with an uncertain payoff.

    Nothing other form of political communications compare.

    Mediaglyphs are one of ways online conflict, in this case political conflict, is being fought. These online wars are occurring everywhere, all the time, at every level. They are deciding the future.

    That’s why I’m writing a new book called as a natural follow on to my previous book: Brave New War:

    The War Online: How Conflicts are Fought and Won on Social Networks

    I look forward to reviewing John’s book, which will no doubt get into some detail not easily stated in a single MediaGlyph — my guess, however, is that John’s text will itself be a terrific mine for glyphs, given his obvious delight in short, quotable one-sentence paragraphs.

    Dabiq issue 15, specific notes part 2, Trinity

    Friday, August 5th, 2016

    [ by Charles Cameron — following on from Dabiq issue 15, specific notes part 1, Crucifixion ]

    The second part of my two-parter for LapidoMedia on the 15th issue of the Islamic State magazine Dabiq focuses on the Islamic State’s reading of the Christian doctrine of the Trinity in light of the Islamic doctrine of Unity or Tawhid. The post is headlined:

    West’s foreign policy only a secondary reason for hatred

    That’s true and important — and you’ll find it in the tail end of my piece — but the main focus, as I said, is Tawhid and Trinity. Here are the opening paras:

    Whipping up hatred against the West for religious beliefs it has barely heeded for a century is not without irony.

    But in the latest issue of Dabiq magazine, it is clear that IS are doing a better job of reminding the West of its founding faith – while getting most of it wrong – than any amount of papal bulls or clerical press conferences.

    The fifteenth issue of the eighty-page glossy takes on the Trinity which classical Islam views as polytheism, and so in contradiction to tawhid, ‘the defining doctrine of Islam’ according to the Oxford Dictionary of Islam.

    Tawhid declares that God is one without a second. Shirk, the greatest of sins, is its polar opposite, and means associating anything, even thoughts but especially partners, with God.

    The Qur’an Sura 4 verse 171 exhorts Jews and Christians – known as the People of the Book: ‘Do not exaggerate in your religion, nor utter anything concerning God save the truth. Verily the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, was only a messenger of God, and His Word, which He committed to Mary, and a Spirit from Him. So believe in God and His messengers, and say not, “Three.” Refrain! It is better for you, God is only one God.’

    This is possibly a reference to the tendency, still evident in remote Christian communities today, to identify the Trinity as Father, Son Jesus and Mother Mary, which is of course blasphemous.

    Read the rest on the Lapido site here.

    Dabiq issue 15, specific notes part 1, Crucifixion

    Wednesday, August 3rd, 2016

    [ by Charles Cameron — first of two parts of an essay on Dabiq‘s attack on Christian doctrines ]

    dabiq 15 cover


    I have written a two part essay examining the latest issue of ISIS’ Dabiq magazine, which is essentially an attack on Christianity and invitation ot Islam.

    The first part, dealing mostly with the Crucifixion, is now out at LapidoMedia under the title ‘Breaking the cross’: Pathetic ISIS ‘theologians’ get wires crossed. Here’s the opening:

    Misapprehension of Christian doctrine once again provides the excuse for Islamic State war-mongering.

    The latest issue of its propaganda magazine Dabiq focuses on the crucifixion of Jesus and the Trinity, although Judaism, secularism, atheism, and feminism also get a drubbing.

    The issue invites Christians in particular, and other non-Muslims in general, to abandon their beliefs and adopt Islam – an invitation accompanied by violent threats against those who refuse.

    The introduction exults in recent attacks in Orlando, Nice, Germany and Normandy, adding: ‘[W]e take this occasion of multiple massacres inflicted upon their citizens and interests to call them once again to the religion of pure monotheism, truth, mercy, justice, and the sword. ‘

    As in previous issues of Dabiq, the magazine opens with the declaration of the group’s founder, Abu Mus’ab az-Zarqawi, that the jihad will not end ‘until it burns the Crusader armies in Dabiq’ – a reference to the site of the great end-times battle in an otherwise obscure apocalyptic hadith [alleged saying of Muhammad].

    The back cover of the magazine closes with another hadith. ‘By the One in whose Hand is my soul, very soon shall the Son of Maryam descend in your midst, being an equitable judge. He shall break the cross, kill the swine, and put aside the jizyah.’

    Please click through to read the rest on the LapidoMedia site.

    The second part of my essay will be posted at Lapido shortly — likely on Friday — and mainly deals with the ISIS magazine’s attack on the Christian doctrine of the Trinity viewed as a denial of God’s unity (Tawhid).

    I’ll post an announcement here when it comes out.


    Also of note, from Tim Furnish:

    Tim Furnish is quoted discussing Dabiq 15 in a WND piece, ISIS: Christians are pagan ‘cross worshippers’. If he writes anything on MahdiWatch or elsewhere on the topic, Ill let you know.

    Meanwhile, Tim’s tweet gives the short version:

    Sunday surprise: peering digitally around corners 2: Blade Runner

    Sunday, July 31st, 2016

    [ by Charles Cameron — moving from a consideration of Holbein’s Ambassadors to a celebrated scene in Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner — and thence, wide-angle, to Kumbh Mela ]

    Here’s the Bladerunner scene:

    What Ridley Scott depicts is a camera with the ability to see around corners — a fantastic piece of science fictional cinematography, demonstrating a sufficiently advanced technology with a skill amounting to wizardry.


    How close, though, can state-of-the-art cameras come to seeing around corners? Here’s what Nature has to say:

    Andreas Velten, Thomas Willwacher, Otkrist Gupta, Ashok Veeraraghavan, Moungi G. Bawendi & Ramesh Raskar, Recovering three-dimensional shape around a corner using ultrafast time-of-flight imaging:


    The recovery of objects obscured by scattering is an important goal in imaging and has been approached by exploiting, for example, coherence properties, ballistic photons or penetrating wavelengths. Common methods use scattered light transmitted through an occluding material, although these fail if the occluder is opaque. Light is scattered not only by transmission through objects, but also by multiple reflection from diffuse surfaces in a scene. This reflected light contains information about the scene that becomes mixed by the diffuse reflections before reaching the image sensor. This mixing is difficult to decode using traditional cameras. Here we report the combination of a time-of-flight technique and computational reconstruction algorithms to untangle image information mixed by diffuse reflection. We demonstrate a three-dimensional range camera able to look around a corner using diffusely reflected light that achieves sub-millimetre depth precision and centimetre lateral precision over 40 cm×40 cm×40 cm of hidden space.

    Here’s another illustrative video:


    Okay, seeing is simple, but we’re Zenpundit, so there’s gotta be a military angle we can see around, no?

    Here are two possibilities — the first is called CornerShot:

    while the second is called ShotView:


    We’re still pretty far from Ridley’s Blade Runner, but the idea of seeing / shooting around corners has clearly caught the imagination of others.

    Okay, those last two videos are for those interested in matters martial.

    Kumbh Mela

    For my own sake, and for the possible interest of blog-friend Pundita, let’s take a look at a video of Ramesh Raskar, head of MIT Media Lab’s Camera Culture research group and one of the authors of the Nature paper quoted above.

    Here Dr Raskar is talking about that most fascinating of Hindu festivals — and largest of human gatherings? — the Kumbh Mela

    Talk about wicked problems — and crowd-sourcing solutions — and genius — and the manifold intersections of the secular and the sacred!

    Switch to our mobile site