Nonsense about RFID tags in Benetton's fashions

RFID tags in Benetton clothing. Benetton is buying 15 million RFID (radio frequency identification) tags to attach to the labels in their clothing as an anti-theft measure. People are freaked out (again) about privacy issues, but the reality (at least today) is that the range of RFID tech is too short for someone to drive by your house and scan your closet. Still, it does make sense to zap the tags out of commission once items are paid for. Link Discuss [Boing Boing Blog]

Yet another example of magical thinking and technological ignorance driving debates. This post is about the only one I’ve seen out of dozens that points out that everyone’s fears are based on false assumptions about the technology. So, for example, we see this kind of nonsense quoted in a Wired News piece on the issue [by way of Privacy Digest]:

Mike Liard, an analyst with technology research and consulting firm Venture Development, said the more companies that embed RFID tags in their products, the more likely it is for someone to drive by a home and say, “Look what we’ve got in there. An HDTV is in there, and she wears Benetton.”

It wouldn’t surprise me if some marketing analyst would like to do this. It also wouldn’t surprise me if some unscrupulous technology consultant would take their money without bothering to explain that the range of RFID scanners is on the order of 2 meters. But that doesn’t make the actual prospect of black vans roaming the suburbs any more likely or any more feasible. If it still bothers you, line your closets with aluminum foil, but wouldn’t it be easier to develop a shred of understanding about what is and isn’t technologically possible?

Where all of us live

Where All of Us Live.

Lance Knobel posts a very nice map of where people live:

Global population distribution: Based on population estimates from 1994, when global population was 5.5 billion. It is estimated to be 6.3 billion today

Update: Excellent! Thanks! Eric Eisenhart says:

A higher resolution version with an explanation and credit is available at

Posted by Eric Eisenhart at March 6, 2003 04:06 PM

Update: And there is the still bigger version at [Semi-Daily Journal]

Fascinating info-graphic

Images of the future circa 1950

Radebaugh's lost future. Jeff sez, “A Web site of the futuristic illustrator Radebaugh. You'll recognize some of his illustrations as magazine covers from the 1930s through the 1950s. Our vision of the future was, in part, molded by these types of illustrations. One of my favorite films is The 5th Element where the art direction seems to come right from Radebaugh's brush.” Link Discuss (Thanks, Jeff!)
[Boing Boing Blog]

Great illustrations. I'd love to have one of these prints on my wall.

Idea flow through the blogging universe

Ivan’s adventures in weblog space. A story about how Ivan, a meme, is created by Alice and makes his way through weblog space. I wrote this little story to try to illustrate how microcontent cruises through blogs. I try to include all of the applications and services that I use regularly when I blog. It’s probably a good place to start in inspiring me to make my glossary. If anyone notices any technical mistakes or things I should add to make this story more interesting, I would greatly appreciate it. [Joi Ito’s Web]

A nice overview of how an idea flows through the tools and services that make up the blogging world.

Model rockets as terrorist threat

Educational Flying Model Rockets Ruled Terrorist Threat. Model rocketry is educational, it’s cool, it’s safe, and it’s fun. It’s launched everything from science fair projects to the careers of NASA engineers and astronauts as well as that of at least one SFT writer. Too bad the already-passed and signed Homeland Security Bill is going to kill this great constructive hobby for kids and adults. On May 24, every employee of any shipping entity who could possibly touch a package of in-transit model rocket engines on their way to a kid’s mailbox or store has to be explosives-handling certified, fingerprinted and pass a criminal background check. UPS, some trucking and railroad firms have stopped shipping the motors; Fed Ex employees have indicated to some model rocket flyers they likely will follow suit in the coming weeks. “It is the heart of the problem we face. Because if manufacturers like Estes can’t get rocket motors delivered to stores, the hobby is completely dead,” according to Tim Van Milligan, president of Apogee Rockets in Colorado Springs, Colo. Jay Apt saw his first model rocket catalog at age 13 in 1962. and went on to fly four shuttle missions that included two spacewalks and a mission to the International Space Station. “If we are to keep challenging our technology-inclined young people, we need to keep the benefits of model rocketry in mind when we pursue a tendency, natural in troubled times, to restrict anything which might be abused,” Apt said. “It makes no more sense to restrict aerospace modeling than it would have to ban rental trucks after they were misused in Oklahoma and New York.” U.S. Senator Michael Enzi, R-Wyo., intends to introduce legislation as early as this week to make what’s being called a “technical correction” to the 1970 Safe Explosives Act so that the material used inside the small motors is removed from the “explosives list.” Perhaps you might like to send a copy of this SFT story to your Representative or Senator along with your thoughts? [Sci-Fi Today]

Why is it that reason and thought are such unpopular activities? It seems to be some deparate desire to “do something” that disconnects reason from action. I guess I’m showing my age, but “think before you act” still seems like better advice than “ready. fire, aim.”

In business settings, we rightly fear “analysis paralysis” and celebrate action. But the record shows that the problem is about paralysis not analysis.

Truth and story

Truth & Story. This posting on truth and story made my day. I read it on Serious Play this morning shared it this… [UNBOUND SPIRAL]

An interesting story about story. I’ve been a proponent of storytelling in knowledge management settings and have always envied effective storytellers. This provides some good food for thought.

North, HarvardMan, North

Come South Young BlogMan.

Dave Winer is debating which route to take on his trek East: “I talked about the northern route, below, now let’s talk about the southern route. Stop in Phoenix where I have a dinner invite, catch some baseball, then cross New Mexico and Texas, swing into New Orleans for some gumbo with Ernie the Attorney….” [Scripting News]

Yes, Dave come South.  The weather’s great, the food is outstanding (the crawfish are really great this year), and you can come stay at my house and let your new laptop soak up the Wi-Fi cloud that permeates my humble abode.

[Ernie the Attorney]

The southern route may sound appealing, but your destination is Cambridge and Harvard Yard. That means cold, gray, serious. New Orleans would only delay the inevitable.

North through Chicago, however, acclimates you to your new climate. After a stop in Chicago, Boston and Cambridge will feel springlike and appealing. You need time to thicken that Southen California blood after all those years.