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Failed Architecture; Headfull Scraping; IPv4 Turf War
“Architecture” is defined as the art or practice of designing and constructing buildings (I'd argue the official definition should
s/buildings/spaces), and the practice of architecture is not confined to the minds and hands of architects, but also incorporates elements from economists, city/urban planners, historians, and politicians. Despite all these players in the mix, the fruits of architectural labor often fail, and do so miserably. You've seen these failed results anytime you encounter spiked studs — designed to prevent skateboarding — on public surfaces that also end up making said surfaces impossible to take respite upon. Other examples include legacy (19th/early 20th century) high density inner cities that ended up fostering cramped, miserable living conditions when they were intended for convenience and modern utility.
Failed Architecture (@failedarch) (FA) is a "platform for spatial criticism, reconnecting architecture with the real world." It examines all aspects of the built environments around us, diving deep into the meaning of architecture in contemporary society.
Why does architecture fail? We'll let the FA folks 'splain:
"Architecture continues to fail because we are stuck in a global economic system which puts profit above everything else, reproducing social and political conditions that undermine people’s control over their built environment. Meanwhile, the (architectural) media reduces the design of society to a spectacular image. As a result, the public is left with a shallow understanding of what architecture is and what it can be."
I dropped FA on y'all today because an FA essay by Zhile Xie recently hit my feeds. In "Smart Streetlights are Casting a Long Shadow Over Our Cities", Xie examines at one aspect of "smart cities": smart streetlights. On the surface, these streetlights have the promise of providing safer and more sustainable public spaces. But "behind the scenes, the technology is being appropriated as an instrument of surveillance within a larger network of smart sensors".
Xie goes into the history of streetlights, starting way back in 400 BCE, where citizens of Ancient Rome began the practice of installing oil lamps in front of every villa to prevent tripping or thefts. Enslaved persons would be designated to watch these lamps, thus creating the initial association of lighting with human control. When Paris was restructured between 1853 and 1870, gas streetlights were installed with the primary intent of controlling uprisings.
As the essay progresses to our modern "smart streetlights", Xie discusses the creepy and fairly dystopian surveillance state (and business) they are helping to build right in front of us with our eyes wide open:
" Besides gathering, transmitting, and storing video data, the system also includes an intelligent video service that uses AI to analyze videos and filter "suspicious" activities in real-time, thereby greatly reducing the amount of human labor required to interpret the surveillance data. In addition, radar and infrared sensors can detect not only moving objects without a light source but also auditory information."
It's a bit of a long-form read, but it's well worth your time.
The folks behind FA also have a podcast as well as Discord and Twitch communities.
This quick read by Pierce Freeman discusses the need to incorporate full-browser page captures in any modern scraping workflow, followed by a discussion of the shortcomings of using headless browsers for such a task, and then drops a solution in the form of headfull-chromium.
Beyond the utility of the pre-built container image, Freeman's expository on how he managed to get said headfull browser working may inspire you to try to wrap other GUI apps in similar fashion.
IPv4 Turf War
We've covered things built with cosmopolitan libc [GH] in previous editions, and the redbean universal and self-contained web server is one very cool project built on it. It's a web server in a zip executable that runs on six operating systems that lets you build a web app that runs anywhere. Just download the
redbean.com file, shove some
.lua files inside it using the
zip, and Bob's Your Uncle.
You can do lots of fun things with such a setup, like this IPv4 Turf War which challenges you to access it from as many IP addresses as you can. It's a small, easy-to-grok redbean project that you should really take a few minutes to clone and run on your own. If you get inspired to build your own hermetic creations, drop a link in the comments (also do so if you just deploy your own Tuf War).
Slackers can also play on the canonical instance of it.
U.S. election season is upon us and the folks at 538 made a neat U.S. House cartogram which I'm sure we'll see tons of across the coming weeks. If you're a budding citizen data journalist, you can riff off their creation with a small bit of R code and data that I threw together yesterday. ☮