New Year, New Media

Much obliged by the program and after having understood how helpful it would have been to write a blog for last term’s documentation, it is with great pleasure that I write my first blog post. It may start sort of in the middle of things, but exactly like that is how I am at the moment.

This term started off with A LOT of things to do and I am super excited about it! There are two main projects that I will be working on. First, I will be working with Graham on one of his projects, doing some programming mainly, but I will get to experience first hand what it means to be a part of a large project that engages with relevant issues. Also, there is the fact that most of what I will be doing relates to text analysis and is relevant to a project I want to do later on which has to do with text analysis of messages sent via WhatsApp, but that is another story.

Second, I will begin my work on the “I see you” project which is basically to send a message to a person that walks past a certain spot a text message with those words. It has all sorts of interesting layers for me, discourses on privacy and security as well as ubiquity of technology are some of the things I hope to make evident to the user by making them feel really uncomfortable as a trigger. The idea sounds so simple that I had no idea how much needs to go into it. After several weeks of going over it (yes, I though about it during the Christmas break) I finally talked to Ji on the first day back and she pointed me in the right direction: she told me about a similar project that some people in NYU did and the solution was to build your own GSM antenna and have mobile phones connect to it. Again, it sounds very simple in principle and you only need one piece of hardware, a Software Defined Radio, or SDR as we call it, that can be controlled by four different open-source softwares to manage the GSM connection (http://openbts.org) as well as the SMS system (http://smqueue.com/) as well as a couple of things for the in-betweens (http://www.asterisk.org/ , http://gnuradio.org ). The only big problem is the price tag of the SDR. Finally after looking around a lot and with the help of this blog post I decided on the relatively inexpensive Nuand bladeRF x40 which I was able to afford thanks to the support of my fellow imiants who agreed to give me all of our budget just for this. I am very grateful for that!

It should be interesting to work on that project but for now I can do nothing but wait for the SDR to arrive and thus I will begin working on Graham’s project and read some of the dozen things that I must read every week.

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