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Mentioned Today On The Huffington Post Concerning Facebook’s Censorship of Advertisements Related To Cannabis
|| 8/24/2010 || 11:49 pm || + Render A Comment || ||

Animated GIF featuring 3 iterations of the Huffington Post’s front page

This morning after reading the article on the Huffington Post about how Facebook banned certain ads related to cannabis, I contacted my friend who knows the author about how Facebook also banned a bunch of ads I created earlier this year, and was subsequently included at the end of the article.

Text and screen grab below:

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Washington Monument Quilt #2
|| 10/22/2009 || 5:22 pm || + Render A Comment || ||

: rendered at 9,000 X 6,000 :
Washington Monument Quilt #2 by Nikolas Schiller

When the 2005 USGS aerial photography was released to the public in the spring of 2007 there were a few places that were censored through pixilation. On this blog I documented how the White House was censored. I documented how the U.S. Capitol was censored. And I even experimented with a QR-Code to show that the Washington Monument was censored. After doing some exploration within the newly obtained 2008 Washington, DC orthophotography, I discovered that the White House and the U.S. Capitol are STILL censored.

However, now that the construction of the new visitors center at the Washington Monument has been completed, which is the reason, I am told, why the Washington Monument was originally censored in the 2005 imagery, the imagery of the monument is now available without pixilation. Moreover, its the exact same imagery that is being used on Google Maps. While I expect to showcase the censorship of the White House & U.S. Capitol in some future entries, I decided to make make my first map of this new dataset of the Washington Monument because I wasn’t able to make it using the last batch of imagery.

To construct this map, I first rendered a full-size Hexagon Quilt Projection map using the original imagery, then sampled a portion of the resulting map, and used the sampled portion to create this derivative map. I chose to sample the portion in the first map because of two underlying aspects of the map. First, I really liked the way the shadows of the Washington Monument combined together. Secondly, I liked the way the apex of the Washington Monument was combined (see detail below) to create a pyramid. Over the years I have enjoyed playing with the notion of aerial & architectural chiaroscuro, as in, using shadows generated by buildings within the original aerial photography to create a new, larger shadow. This map embodies this ongoing design element perfectly.

View the Google Map of the Washington Monument on the National Mall in Washington, DC.

: detail :

View the rest of the details:

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Dear WashingtonPost.com: Either You Are Censoring Bloggers Or Your 3rd Party Widget Isn’t Working Properly
|| 8/18/2009 || 4:25 pm || 5 Comments Rendered || ||

Screen grab from the Washington Post article on the Real World highlighting the link that is supposed to show who is blogging about the article you are reading

On Sunday I was pleased to see that Washington Post staff writer Dan Zak had transcribed my poster in his article on MTV’s Real World filming in DC. So pleased in fact, that I spent about an hour writing and formatting a blog entry about the article.

Fast forward to this afternoon. I decided to go back to the article to see what kind of reaction Dan Zak’s article made on-line. The metrics for ascertaining this information is somewhat straightforward; the more comments the article generates, the larger the reaction. This, however, only gives the basic information of who decided to comment on the Washington Post website. The second metric that can be used to gauge the popularity of an article is to see who is blogging about it.

Since the Washington Post’s print edition does not make it’s way out of the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia to other parts of the United States and the rest of the world, bloggers are an integral part of the Washington Post’s digital distribution model. As a way to track this digital diaspora of off-site responses to an article, the WashingtonPost.com has a link posted in each article that is supposed to show who is blogging about the article you are reading (see red arrow above). This link is managed, err, powered by a third party called Sphere, which is supposed to track instances of when bloggers use the URL of a specific article in their blog entry.

Screen grab from the Washington Post article on the Real World questioning why my blog entry does not appear in the listing of who is blogging about a article

So why wasn’t my blog entry mentioned? Does this third party widget not work as well as it should? Are the 206,000 websites that Sphere.com says are using their product not really getting the best product they thought they were receiving? Or is there some form of censorship that is being employed at the Washington Post to scrub out blogs that the web editors don’t want their readers to see?

In my opinion, I think Sphere.com is not working to the best of it’s theoretical ability. I say this because I would rather not think there is some sort of censorship taking place– but I will not rule that prospect out. In my original blog entry I made sure that I hyperlinked to the article, used the entire name of the article, included the name of the author, and I even sent a trackback to the URL on the WashingtonPost.com. Combined together, all of these factors should have put my entry in the “Who’s Blogging” listing. But, alas, its not.

This has some important implications. First and foremost, the author of the article is not able to fully see the extent to which his article was covered on-line. His boss might incorrectly assume by reading the Sphere.com information that the article had minimal on-line reaction and possibly make future editorial decisions based on this partial & incomplete information. Secondly, WashingtonPost.com readers are unable to see other opinions about the article. Instead they are only offered the opinions written by other WashingtonPost.com readers (which I’ve griped about before) and not writers who have their own established blog and dedicated readership. Lastly, since I was not given credit for writing the sign transcribed in the article, I was further excluded from receiving any residual credit, and the WashingtonPost.com readers were never informed of why the sign was put up in the first place.

In conclusion, I hope the WashingtonPost.com and/or Sphere.com fix this widget or refrain from this type of subtle censorship. This exclusion of other viewpoints only hurts their readership and stifles subsequent information discovery. My opinions are just as valid as those expressed by the commenters on WashingtonPost.com and its disingenuous to present a link that appears to give accurate information about who is blogging about an article, when it’s clearly not showing all the bloggers who took the time to participate in the discussion.



Where did Google’s video rankings go?
|| 3/18/2009 || 2:55 pm || + Render A Comment || ||

About a week ago I noticed that Google had quietly removed my favorite component of their on-line video services: video ranking. It was an automated service that allowed users to be able to see which videos were viewed the most, blogged the most, and shared the most each day, week, and month. This ranking system offered a unique snapshot of the internet video zeitgeist and oftentimes helped me find videos that I otherwise would not have found.

There was also the ability to seek out the popular videos based on geography through the country search. This allowed me to find videos that were popular in England or Canada and compare them to the popular videos in America. All there is now is Hot Videos, which does not provide the same depth of understanding the other metrics offered.

So why the removal of a popular feature with no note to the public? Well there was a tangentially related note posted back in January on Google’s Blog about the discontinuing support for uploads to Google Video. However, in their FAQ and blog entry there was no wayward mention that the video rankings would be taken away.

I understand that Google Video, the video hosting service, had to spend a great deal of time & money removing copyrighted material on an ongoing basis. With YouTube already having to deal with this, it makes sense to consolidate the video operations within YouTube. But why remove the rankings that cross over to all of the videos hosted by Google, including YouTube? It just doesn’t make sense.

The only answer that I’ve been able to come up with is the suppression of popular videos. By removing the ability of users to see what videos are popular at a given time, Google can prevent users from sharing the popular videos with others. If they want to prevent the next Zeitgeist film or rant about the smelly New World Odor, they have found the perfect way to do so: don’t let people know what is popular through their on-line services. Instead, make them find it themselves through other means.

But why would Google do this? What would be their motive? I really don’t know, but it reminds me of the Samizdat in David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest, where Google wants to prevent its users from watching The Entertainment in order to help maintain social cohesion. But, alas, people will always find a way to obtain what they are looking for. The only difference is that it now appears that Google is not being the best search engine it can be.

In summary, I don’t care if Google stops allowing people to upload videos to their Google Video servers, people will find other servers, but don’t remove popular methods of finding video content. I want to know what the most viewed video was yesterday in _____[country]_____. I want to know why ____________ was watched by more people yesterday than any other video on the internet. Google once provided an excellent tool for knowledge discovery through it’s rankings system but has taken it away without a decent reason. So, dear Google, when will you reinstate the video rankings? …And why did you remove them in the first place?


The screen grab above links to what used to be the video ranking page and now forwards visitors to basic Google Video front page.


Related Google Entries:

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Google FINALLY updates the imagery of Washington, DC and now you can kinda see the message on my rooftop
|| 1/21/2009 || 4:30 pm || Comments Off on Google FINALLY updates the imagery of Washington, DC and now you can kinda see the message on my rooftop || ||

Back in July of 2007 I found that Google was censoring the imagery of downtown Washington, DC. This discovery lead to an article that was featured on the front page of the Metro section of the Washington Post. In the time since, Google has not updated the imagery, even after the release of Street View for Washington, DC.

The other day they finally decided to update the imagery of Washington, DC. I believe they did this because there were millions of people coming to Washington for the inauguration and they would have been showing them outdated imagery on their maps. Now that the imagery has been updated, you can almost see the message on my rooftop that I installed in the summer of 2006. Since the imagery has a somewhat low spatial resolution, its slightly difficult to make out the words “No War,” and it kinda looks like “No W@R.” Below is the photograph that appeared on the front page of the Style Section of the Washington Post in March of 2007 which shows me standing next to the now-visible rooftop sign.


“The mapmaker on his Washington roof with a message that he hopes will someday be reflected in both government aerial photography and the art he creates from that imagery.” (Photo by Michael Williamson — The Washington Post)


An Odd DC Indymedia Edit
|| 11/19/2008 || 4:30 pm || Comments Off on An Odd DC Indymedia Edit || ||

A long time ago, before I had created this website, I used to upload my original content to the D.C. Indymedia. I used the website the most from early 2000 to mid-2004 and the screen grab above is an entry I created in 2003 using an old moniker of mine. I stumbled upon it through some random searches and I’m glad I did. In the 5 years since I posted this entry the content has been suspiciously edited. First the date at the beginning of the entry has been changed to 9/15/03, when I originally posted it as 12/15/03. Second, and more importantly, the link to the .mpg that I uploaded has been removed. After doing some sleuthing, I found this website has the original link to the video the clip! Why was the link removed from the entry but the content kept on the website? After looking around some more, I found that someone put the exact same video clip on YouTube a few years ago and it’s received over 300,000 views:


George W. Bush caught off guard 9-11 Question

Click here to read the official transcript.


Related Censorship Entries:

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Google Street View of Washington, DC suffers from out-dated imagery
|| 11/6/2008 || 5:53 pm || Comments Off on Google Street View of Washington, DC suffers from out-dated imagery || ||

As a cutesy election day surprise, Google announced the release of their Street View feature for the Google Maps of Washington, DC. For the last year and a half I’ve been waiting for Google Maps to include the city I live in, while at the same time planning my next installment of my geopolitical art project Google Street View IED , the first google bomb for Street View.

In June of 2007, around the time Street View was first released, Washington, DC’s imagery was “updated” with newer aerial photography from 2005. However, the central business district of Washington, DC continues to this day being shown using out-dated imagery from 2002, and the rest of the District is being shown using the newer imagery from September 2005. In the time since this”update”, even after I assisted in exposing this passive censorship in the Washington Post, the imagery has not been updated and because of this the new Street View feature suffers.

In the screen grab above you are being shown the massive parking lot known as City Center which was the site of the former convention center. The old convention center was imploded in December of 2004, which makes a gross mismatch. By using outdated imagery the convention center is still being shown on the Google Map, but the Street View imagery shows a completely different temporal view. The disturbing part of all of this is that the USGS imagery is completely available to anyone in the world to download. It’s already being used by Google Maps for the rest of Washington, DC and I’ve been using in my maps as well.

So, Google, when are you going to update your imagery? If its for security reasons, why release Street View? This provides far more “on the ground” information the aerial views profide. Please tell your content providers that the imagery of Washington, DC deserves an update so you can better serve your customers. Maybe you can use your new satellite?



Related Google Maps Entries:

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View of a House Party Censored By Colored Dots
|| 10/18/2008 || 7:33 pm || Comments Off on View of a House Party Censored By Colored Dots || ||

Friday night I went to a house party in Columbia Heights. During the party teenagers four houses down were throwing ice and eggs over the fence into the party. A couple of my friends went up to the back deck to escape the carnage. I took this picture and decided to add randomly colored circles over people heads as a way to remember the urban warfare. After all, they were all targets down there….



Interviews with Alex Jones at the DNC in Denver and other videos
|| 9/11/2008 || 11:13 pm || Comments Off on Interviews with Alex Jones at the DNC in Denver and other videos || ||

My friend just put up the interviews on YouTube that I filmed while in Denver, I figured today was the best day to post these.


My interest in Alex Jones was first piqued in January of 2001 (pre-9/11) when I saw his cameo in Richard Linklater‘s innovative film Waking Life:


Continue reading:

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One year later and Google Maps has still not updated DC
|| 7/23/2008 || 1:41 pm || Comments Off on One year later and Google Maps has still not updated DC || ||

One of the little plugins I installed on this WordPress blog was a link at the bottom of each post which shows what I had posted the year before. The other day I noticed that my research related to censorship of Washington, DC on Google Maps, which culminated into the lead article in the Metro section of the Washington Post had appeared. I decided to check out Google Maps to see if there had been any updates and to my non-surprise, there hadn’t been. All I can say is: “what gives?” DC residents are still looking at downtown Washington, DC from 6 years ago. People visiting the MSM of the American Indian are still seeing it under construction, the newly built dorms on GWU‘s campus are still not being shown, and the list goes on….. So when will the imagery be updated? When will DC residents get to enjoy the benefits of Street View? Google has office in DC to lobby elected officials, but they’ve chosen to keep imagery of their own office outdated. This doesn’t make sense to me.

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Nikolas Schiller is a second-class American citizen living in America's last colony, Washington, DC. This blog is my on-line repository of what I have created or found on-line since May of 2004. If you have any questions or comments, please contact:

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