The Great Text Speak Panic of 2003

I started school just as text messaging was making its transition from an obscure, barely-supported feature of mobile phones into a full-blown communication phenomenon. The medium itself was transformational; other than the few characters allowed on a pager screen or emails sent between PCs, digital text communication had not yet seen mainstream consumer adoption. Along with any new medium — especially those developed in tech’s formative years — comes interesting constraints, considerations and debates.

During the transitional era where computers were starting to fill homes all around the world, a collective social anxiety bubbled up to the surface and made its way into magazines, radio shows, and newspaper write-ins.…   [continue reading]

Cryptography; Ancient and Futuristic

When we think about secret codes, images of military intelligence agents in smokey basements decoding the Enigma probably come to mind. However, for as long as there has been the need to transmit information in secret, there’s been a way to do it — however rudimentary.

In this article, I’ll explore how the ancient methods of encryption have evolved, the security of WhatApp’s end-to-end encryption, and the political anxiety working against progression in the field of encryption.

Ancient cryptography

An early example of cryptography comes from Ancient Rome, and was recorded by Suetonius in his biography of Julius Caesar. Secret messages were encrypted by Caesar using an extremely simple system, but a system that would produce messages that his illiterate enemies would disregard, assuming they were in a foreign language.…   [continue reading]

Facebook’s Meme Explosion: Why Are There So Many Memes on Facebook?

It’s easy to disregard memes as the scourge of your news feed — which used to be populated with nothing but narcissistic diary entries — but they have a much richer history than that.

Memes are iterative visual jokes developed by a community. Confined to the internet, where the tools to remix and republish are in the hands of every user, they should technically see more innovation as distribution increases. As we’ve seen with the explosion of memes of Facebook, this is no longer the case.

Memes, which rise and fall democratically, are often jokingly referred to in economic terms.…   [continue reading]

Nameless: The Tragedy of Anonymity in Death

Death is a subject we find difficult to discuss. Strangely, it’s the only thing we all have in common. Though we’ll each feel its inevitable grip, we also experience its tragic totality in the loss of those we love. Usually when somebody dies, we celebrate their passing with a fitting memorial. We hope to receive the same, almost as some grand punctuation mark to our lives. We expect a headstone, of some description, or the grim dust of cremation’s ashes. Whatever we might choose as an epitaph, our hope is that our earthly names may at least remain.

For some, however, such immortality has been cold in its desertion.…   [continue reading]

A Still Tongue: Reacting to a World in Terror

Since we first founded Secret Cave, an enormous amount of widely publicised terrorist attacks have taken place. Tributes and reactions drown social media in their wake. In tandem, mainstream news outlets explode with coverage. Obviously, both of these things are understandable. We need reports and trusted sources on events. Otherwise, we’d live in a medieval world of ignorance. Likewise, it can be affirming to see the support and solidarity that comes with sharing our despair through platforms like Twitter or Facebook. It provides a crutch of community that can negate the inherent fear and shock that affects us all.

Why, then, does Secret Cave choose to consciously eschew mention of any terrorist attacks?…   [continue reading]

The Politics of Software: Open Source Utopia

In a time where it seems impossible for Netflix to make an original series that isn’t politically charged, where tech startup CEOs criticize Trump freely, and cryptocurrencies threaten to render the finance industry obsolete, software news has taken a step back from the dry figures of the latest Oracle merger and brought issues like power, accessibility, and discrimination to the forefront.

In this series, I’m going to explore the increasingly politicized nature of software. Here, I’m starting with one of the oldest and most contentious issues: open source licensing and distribution.

Before looking into it properly a few years ago, the phrase “open source software” conjured up images of gray, ugly, bug-ridden software that forever languished in the shadow of paid alternatives.…   [continue reading]

Forgotten Cave: Thoughts on an Alternate Universe

In his latest post, Benjamin wrote about the importance of archiving the internet. Reading it, it was alarming to learn just how much of the web fades quickly into void. Whenever a fledgling site finds itself in an eternally irretrievable tomb, it’s a surreal shame. Though many of these sites consist of nothing but abject posturing, it’s the equivalent of burning a printed page. Even worse is the notion that, in this metaphor, it would be the only remaining page on the planet with its unique content. Whether that page contains weak poetry, or sprawling and elegant prose, it’s symbolic of a loss that evokes death in its permanence.…   [continue reading]

Archiving the Web: The Future of Internet History

Imagine trying to find an article you remembered in a magazine from years ago without a solid starting point. Or trying to find the best quality version of a rare film without having access to a proper database. Even on the internet, two decades into its evolution, the attempts to catalog, index and archive the web have been isolated, underfunded, abandoned, or narrow in scope. Even the largest resource, owned by Internet Archive, stores just 0.2% of the pages indexed by Google. That’s despite having being used to hold politicians accountable, win legal battles, and verify sources for important information.…   [continue reading]

Volume #1: Birth – A Musical Gift for Zine Subscribers

This is an outdated post with links to now dead forms. Volume #1: Birth is now available on Bandcamp here!

This is something we’ve been planning and working on in the background since we announced our physical zine. While Issue #1: Birth is 100% free, including postage and packaging, we want to give all we can to subscribers. Therefore, anyone who’s signed up will also receive an equally free tape of music and MP3 download of the contents. For those who don’t make it onto our mailing list before publication, Volume #1: Birth will be available on Bandcamp. However, this initial run of tapes is going to be unique.…   [continue reading]

Tim Heidecker & Neil Hamburger: Live at Gorilla, Manchester [REPORT]

On a neglected side-street of Manchester’s city centre, Gorilla sits quietly in the surrounding sprawl. To its right, past a tunnel perfectly sculpted for a stealthy, drunken evening piss, lies Dog Bowl; a bar teetering on the edge of achingly hipster, offering ten-pin bowling as a cacophonous aperitif to overpriced culinary dirge. Given that even the local trams feature caricatures with Monopoly Man moustaches, it seems an inescapable aesthetic. While the stereotype can cause an itch when you’re handing over double for a Jameson and Coke, it’s a welcoming and, eventually, comfortable world to sparsely visit. Within Gorilla, where that sub-culture seems defined, Tim Heidecker and Neil Hamburger proved, in more ways than one, that assumption is all too often erroneous.…   [continue reading]