Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

I was talking to Peter yesterday about the risk of accidentally getting on weird lists or being profiled as a threat. Hanging out with, or communicating with the wrong people online or on the phone could land you on a list that might get you hassled at the airport or worse. They apparently used social network theory to find the person who would know where Saddam was. Similarly, I could see people using all sorts of social network theory to figure out who to wiretap or hassle. The thought was that if you hang out with enough people, you might be able to confuse such analysis or profiling. Name-dropping on my blog is a form of social chaff since connections to random nodes must be confusing to analysis. I can see the gapingvoid card, now: "I'm just talking to you because you're social chaff". (Chaff is the strips of foil that fighter-planes drop to confuse radar as countermeasures to tracking.)


I expect to see that card by tomorrow.

finally, i have a goal.

someday, i, too, will be social chaff.

Just passing along a nitpick: When I used to talk about it as "social network theory," Barry Wellman corrected me, calling it "social network analysis." I don't pretend to be an authority, but Barry certainly is. Is there a "social network theory" apart from "social network analysis?" I dunno.

already sent it to Joi ;-)

Way to go Hugh!

If your behavior or anyone else's behavior in regard to who they socialize with is changed one iota by such spurious psy-op "threats" (even on an unconscious level) then that person deserves the small, cowardly life of fear they have carved out for themselves.

Sorry, but the thought of being called Social Chaff is really not a pleasant one - even if one is fortunate enough to be Joi's Chaff.

Chaff is also the outside of a wheat husk that is removed during the threshing process.. that was before husk-less wheat was invented.

The chaff is an invaluable waste product.. trivial and worthless.

The stuff thrown out of fighterplanes is reminisent of the husks of wheat blowing away in the wind during ancient winnowing processes.

Social Stick - authority figures whose words are used to beat people into line.

How 'bout "Social Flares" - I believe flares are dropped from fighter planes to misguide heat-seeking missiles.

Therefore very hot and popular people could use "flares" instead ;)

you da man Hugh!

Actually, I doubt that idea would work.

The "traffic analysis" I've seen in practice is to work outward from the people that the target talks to - i.e. it's who talks to *you*.

As opposed to who *you* talk to (not the same thing at all), within limits.

FWIW, and Joi may already be aware of this, chaffing is already a term of art in cryptography, see for instance:

it's not any great secret about who i am, i just don't make things searchable on the internet. but i want to request my fbi file as i am one of those rable rousers.