Dutch IT contractor lays out the case for spying on everyone's wearables, always

A promo video from Pinkroccade, a prominent IT contractor to Dutch local governments, makes the case for spying on wearables (if your heart-rate rises because you're about to be mugged, the police could be alerted, and get GPS from your phone, find nearby phones belonging to people with criminal records, check the view from your Google Glass, and respond -- case closed).

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How your smartphone betrays you all day long


Ton Siedsma, a lawyer for the Dutch civil liberties group Bits of Freedom, volunteered to have a week's worth of his phone's metadata collected and analyzed by researchers from Ghent University and by Mike Moolenaar.

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Magnificent contraption: vacuum-cleaner/foam-ball particle accelerator

Niklas Roy's DIY particle accelerator contraption is based on vacuum-cleaner-powered pneumatic tube technology, installed in a beautiful glass pavilion located in the middle of a roundabout in Groningen, The Netherlands.

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How accounting forced transparency on the aristocracy and changed the world


In the 16th century, celebrated Dutch painters did a brisk trade in heroic portraits of accountants and their ledgers. That's because accounting transformed the lowlands, literally bringing accountability to the aristocracy by forcing them to keep track of, and report on, their wealth. As Jacob Soll (author of The Reckoning: Financial Accountability and the Rise and Fall of Nations) writes in the Boston Globe, from the 14th century invention of double-entry bookkeeping until the 19th century -- when accounting became a separate profession instead of something that every educated person was expected to practice -- accountancy upended the social order, elevating financial transparency to a primary virtue.

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Charity collection-boxes shaped like life-sized homeless people

The Dutch homelessness charity Badt dressed mannequins as homeless people, sawed coin-slots in their foreheads, and seeded them around Amsterdam with signs soliciting donations. It's a clever campaign, but it says something a little unpleasant, in that we are apparently more willing to give money to a doll with a slot in its forehead than an actual homeless person.

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Visualizing inspiring quotes about privacy


Kevin writes, "With the Privacy is a right project I try to visualize the global privacy debate by using quotes on the subject and turn them into large (in real life) visuals. I started out with key figures in this debate (such as Edward Snowden, Kirsty Hughes and even Cory Doctorow) but now everyone can react and share their view on the subject by submitting a quote on the site. Any inspiring quote will then be turned into art by me. Some of the visuals will be part of my graduation exposition (25th - 29th of June) for the Willem de Kooning Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences in Rotterdam, the Netherlands."

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Dutch court unblocks The Pirate Bay

A Dutch court has ruled that the country's ISPs need no longer block The Pirate Bay. The court ruled that the block was disproportionate and ineffective, and ordered (notoriously corrupt) rightsholder group BREIN to pay restitution to ISPs, including XS4ALL, an ISP with a long tradition of fighting for free speech and the open net.

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Dutch Masters recreated as exploded, mixed-media collages


Michael Mapes's Dutch Masters series recreates 17th century paintings as blown-mosaics composed of "photographic prints, insect pins, pinning foam, gelatin capsules, glass vials, optomotrist lens, paint samples, modeling clay, dried botanical matter, fabric, magnifying box, plastic specimen bags, cotton thread" (what a list!).

His other work applies similar techniques to other subjects. Man, I love this stuff.

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Skull chair with brain ottoman


Vladi Rapaport's Skull Chair isn't the first one we've posted (cf: stacking chair; armchair), but it's my favorite so far. Love the subtlety of the skull, the eamesoid styling. Works especially well accompanied by the brain ottoman, made from leather and foam.

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Late sixties "Internet" brand transistor radio


Mark Hill found this Internet Radio Product Ltd-branded "Internet" radio from the late sixties in a Dutch junk-market. It's an interesting find, not least because it suggests that the official etymologies of "Internet," dating to the seventies and the Arpanet crowd, is a bit muddier than previously thought.

Was ‘Internet’ First Used For A Transistor Radio? (via M1k3y)

Crowdfunding an in vitro meat cookbook


Eindhoven's Next Nature Lab is running an IndiegOgO fundraiser for a "Meat the Future Cookbook" -- a piece of design fiction setting out recipes we might be able to prepare when in vitro meat-growth is the norm. There's meat grown from your own flesh, cultured in a medallion you wear around your neck while it matures; rainbow meatballs, meat that you knit, meat-paint that kids use to paint edible pictures, meat cultured from samples of extinct dodos and dinos, and transparent meat "sushi."

There's four days left, and &eur;25 gets you a copy of the cookbook (&eur;15 for a digital version). Next Nature produces some gorgeous books on these lines, so it's a good bet that Meat the Future will be a lovely little piece.

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Smati Turtle: car made from scrap parts by Ghanian artisans and Dutch artists


The Smati Turtle 1 is an "African concept car" created by Dutch artist/researcher team Melle Smets and Joost van Onna, who worked with the artisinal car-makers of Suame Magazine, Ghana, to create a killer junker for the African market. Suame Magazine is a neighborhood full of people who take apart scrap cars and rebuild them for local markets, removing the difficult-to-maintain electronics, expanding the cargo areas. The Turtle 1 took three months to create, and had its test-drive inaugurated by the Ashanti king.

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Dutch ebook sellers promise to spy on everyone's reading habits, share them with "anti-piracy" group

Earlier this summer, the German Booksellers Association announced a daft "watermarking" process for ebooks that would introduce random variations in the text as a means of uniquely identifying them. At the time, I pointed out that this was just silly: firstly, it's not hard to detect and vary the watermarks (just compare two different copies of the text using a 40-year-old program called "diff") and secondly, because the fact that a pirate site has a copy of a book with "your" watermark in it doesn't mean that you've done anything wrong. It's not illegal to lose your computer, be hacked, or give your hard-drive away.

What I totally failed to anticipate was that booksellers and publishers would use watermarking as a rubric for tracking and sharing information about everything that everyone is reading. In the Netherlands, ebook sellers have announced that they will retain full reading records on their customers for at least two years, and will share that information with an "anti-piracy" group called BREIN (a group that already has the power to order Dutch ISPs to censor the Internet, without due process or judicial oversight; and who, ironically, were caught ripping off musicians for their anti-piracy ads).

I am not often shocked by the insanity of anti-piracy efforts, but this one has me agog. As a former bookseller, I can't believe that people in the business of putting books into readers' hands would casually spy on their customers' reading habits, and, worse still, turn them over to a sleazy third party with a track-record of bullying, corruption, and censorship.

It's hard to imagine a less ethical business practice. Piracy (that is, "reading books the wrong way") pales by comparison alongside of it. If the Dutch booksellers had set out to build the case for piracy as the safest, most virtuous reading practice, they could have done no better.

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Stolen Picasso, Monet, Matisse believed burned

Romanian prosecutors suspect that the paintings stolen from Rotterdam's Kunsthal gallery in the biggest Netherlands art-theft in a decade were incinerated. A Romanian museum is analyzing the ashes in Olga Dogaru's stove; Dogaru is the mother of accused thief Radu Dogaru, and she claims that she dug up her son's buried loot and burned it to protect him -- including paintings by Picasso, Matisse, Monet and others. Cory 16

Putting party hats on CCTVs to celebrate Orwell's birthday

Yesterday was George Orwell's birthday, and to celebrate, people in Utrecht perched little party hats atop CCTV cameras in public places.

By making these inconspicuous cameras that we ignore in our daily lives catch the eye again we also create awareness of how many cameras really watch us nowadays, and that the surveillance state described by Orwell is getting closer and closer to reality.

No one tried this in London, because there are not enough party hats in the universe.

George Orwell’s Birthday Party (via Making Light)