Illusions, whistleblowing and Anonymous: the power of the unseen [Wired 2013]

Wired Illusion

Wired 2013 logo lavender

The mid-morning session (dubbed “The Power of the Unseen”) of Wired 2013 kicked off with a rousing performance from TED alumni and cyber-illusionist, Marco Tempest with the MIT Media Lab.

Wired Illusion

As predicted, he impressed the crowd with his theatrical performance and explanation of why he does what he does — augmented reality, projection mapping system that he calls a storytelling tool. After this is delved into how the system works and ended with a new performance around card-sharping.

Card Sharping

The takeaway: It has to be seen to be truly understand the captivating method but nothing — in this day and age — has to be what it seems.

Second up was Oren Yakobovich, who works for Videre (“seeing is believing”), a fascinating research company that whistle-blows on injustice happening around the world. A moving (often unsettling) talk about his experiences from being a soldier to becoming a documentary maker. Today he and a collection of others help regular people document corruption and human right violations through camcorders and other methods.

Videre teaches people to film safely and covertly within things like clothes and key-rings. To date there are around 400 people helping Yakobovich that have has footage seen across hundreds of media outlets to not only create dialogue but drive real regime change. Clearly there is more to be done but it’s an impressive operation that is driving real changes in diabolical situations.

The takeaway: Physical worlds and technology will continue to collide when security is paramount. Videre still transport SIM cards in person in order to maximise the security of its videographers.

Closing the session was a fascinating talk by Jake Davis, an ex-member of Anonymous (known as Topiary) and LulzSec. Born in the Shetland Islands, Davis was an internet native from an early age. A school dropout, he was the pinnacle of what many might dub a “supernerd”.

It was here he found LulzSec and Anonymous where he fell in love with their power and reach. Speaking articulately and at times surprisingly humbly, Davis is clearly intelligent and yet displays a disbelief at some of the things he has just said. Regardless, his story is fascinating and his future is anything but certain but one thing is clear, it will be nothing if not interesting.

The takeaway: Understanding these niche individuals could be the key to understand bigger behavioural shifts needed that could see big real-world changes. Oh…and don’t use the same password everywhere.



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