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Topic: SMILE SMILE SMILE
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Zebra 3 Report by Joe Anybody
Monday, 14 February 2011
Wednesday, 9 February 2011
No Internet due to the nGovernment "shutting it down" - Suggestion are here
Now Playing: How to Communicate if the Government Shut Down the Internet
February 9th, 2011
(LibertyNewsOnline) – Scenario: Your government is displeased with the communication going on in your location and pulls the plug on your internet access, most likely by telling the major ISPs to turn off service.
This is what happened in Egypt Jan. 25 prompted by citizen protests, with sources estimating that the Egyptian government cut off approximately 88 percent of the country’s internet access. What do you do without internet? Step 1: Stop crying in the corner. Then start taking steps to reconnect with your network. Here’s a list of things you can do to keep the communication flowing.
NOTE: If you have advice to add, please log in and Aadd your comments.
MAKE YOUR NETWORK TANGIBLE
Print out your contact list, so your phone numbers aren’t stuck in the cloud. Some mail services like Gmail allow you to export your online contact list in formats that are more conducive to paper, such as CSV or Vcard, and offer step-by-step guides on how to do this.
BROADCAST ON THE RADIO:
CB Radio: Short for “Citizens Band” radio, these two-way radios allow communication over short distances on 40 channels. You can pick one up for about $20 to $50 at Radio Shack, and no license is required to operate it.
Ham radio: To converse over these radios, also known as “amateur radios,” you have to obtain an operator’s license from the FCC. Luckily, other Wired How-To contributors have already explained exactly what you need to do to get one and use it like a pro. However, if the President declares a State of Emergency, use of the radio could be extremely restricted or prohibited.
GMRS: The General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) is a licensed land-mobile FM UHF radio service in the United States available for short-distance two-way communication. It is intended for use by an adult individual who possesses a valid GMRS license, as well as his or her immediate family members… They are more expensive than the walkie talkies typically found in discount electronics stores, but are higher quality.
Family Radio Service: The Family Radio Service (FRS) is an improved walkie talkie radio system authorized in the United States since 1996. This personal radio service uses channelized frequencies in the ultra high frequency (UHF) band. It does not suffer the interference effects found on citizens’ band (CB) at 27 MHz, or the 49 MHz band also used by cordless phones, toys, and baby monitors.
Microbroadcasting: Microbroadcasting is the process of broadcasting a message to a relatively small audience. This is not to be confused with low-power broadcasting. In radio terms, it is the use of low-power transmitters to broadcast a radio signal over the space of a neighborhood or small town. Similarly to pirate radio, microbroadcasters generally operate without a license from the local regulation body, but sacrifice range in favor of using legal power limits.
Packet Radio Back to the ’90s: There do exist shortwave packet-radio modems. These are also excruciatingly slow, but may get your e-mail out. Like ham radio above it requires a ham radio license because they operate on ham radio frequencies.
Set up a phone tree: According to the American Association of University Women, a phone tree is “a prearranged, pyramid-shaped system for activating a group of people by telephone” that can “spread a brief message quickly and efficiently to a large number of people.” Dig out that contact list you printed out to spread the message down your pyramid of contacts.
Enable Twitter via SMS: Though the thought of unleashing the Twitter fire hose in your text message inbox may seem horrifying, it would be better than not being able to connect to the outside world at all. The Twitter website has full instructions on how to redirect tweets to your phone.
Call to Tweet: A small team of engineers from Twitter, Google and SayNow, a company Google acquired recently, made this idea a reality. It’s already live and anyone can tweet by simply leaving a voicemail on one of these international phone numbers (+16504194196 or +390662207294 or +97316199855) and the service will instantly tweet the message using the hashtag #egypt. No Internet connection is required. People can listen to the messages by dialing the same phone numbers or going to the Twitter account, speak2tweet.
Alex Jones and infowars.com have a telephone number for people to listen to his radio show by phone, in case the internet goes down, or if you don’t have internet. The phone in listen line is 512-646-5000.
If you need to quickly send and receive documents with lengthy or complex instructions, phone conversations may result in misunderstandings, and delivering the doc by foot would take forever. Brush the dust off that bulky old machine, establish a connection by phone first with the recipient to make sure his machine is hooked up, then fax away.
You may not need a fax machine to send or receive faxes if your computer has a dial-up fax application.
NON-VIRTUAL BULLETIN BOARD
Sometimes we get so wrapped up in the virtual world that we forget about resources available in the real world. Physical bulletin boards have been used for centuries to disseminate information and don’t require electricity to function. If you are fortunate enough to be getting information from some other source why not share it with your friends and neighbors with your own bulletin board? Cork, magnetic and marker bulletin boards are as close as your nearest dime store and can be mounted just about anywhere. And if push comes to shove you can easily make your own with scrap wood lying around the house.
Getting back onlineWhile it might be relatively easy for a government to cut connections by leveraging the major ISPs, there are some places they wouldn’t get to so readily, like privately-owned networks and independent ISPs.
FIND THE PRIVATELY RUN ISPs
In densely populated areas, especially in central business districts and city suburbs there are multiple home WiFi networks overlapping each other, some secure, some not. If there is no internet, open up your WiFi by removing password protection: If enough people do this it’s feasible to create a totally private WiFi service outside government control covering the CBD, and you can use applications that run Bonjour (iChat on Mac for example) to communicate with others on the open network and send and receive documents. **needs more clarification
If you are a private ISP, it’s your time to shine. Consider allowing open access to your Wi-Fi routers to facilitate communication of people around you until the grid is back online.
RETURN TO DIAL-UP
According to an article in the BBC about old tech’s role in the Egyptian protests, “Dial-up modems are one of the most popular routes for Egyptians to get back online. Long lists of international numbers that connect to dial-up modems are circulating in Egypt thanks to net activists We Re-Build, Telecomix and others.”
Dial-up can be slow. Often, there is a lightweight mobile version of a site that you can load from your desktop browser quickly despite the limitations of dial-up. Examples: mobile.twitter.com, m.facebook.com, m.gmail.com.
Most wireless routers, PCs, laptops, and even some ultramobile devices like cellphones have the ability to become part of an “ad hoc” network, where different “nodes” (all of the devices on the network) share the responsibility of transmitting data with one another. These networks can become quite large, and are often very easy to set up. If used properly by a tech-savvy person, such networks can be used to host temporary websites and chat rooms. There are many internet tutorials on the internet for ad hoc networking, so feel free to google some.
Apple computers tend to have very accessible ad hoc functionality built in, including a pre-installed chat client (iChat) that will automatically set up an ad hoc “Rendezvous” chatroom among anybody on the network, without the need for an external service like AIM or Skype. Ad hoc network-hosting functionality is built in to the Wi-Fi menu.
Windows computers have several third-party ad hoc chat applications available (such as Trillian) and setting up an ad hoc Wi-Fi network is almost as simple as on a Mac.
Linux operating systems, of course, have plenty of third-party apps available, and most distros have ad hoc network-creation support built in.
BUILD LARGE BRIDGED WIRELESS NETWORK
Using popular wireless access point devices like a Linksys WRT54G, you can create a huge wireless bridged network — effectively creating a Local Area Network (LAN), or a private Internet that can be utilized by all users within range using a Wi-Fi enabled device.
You can also link multiple devices together wirelessly, extending the range of your network. Most access points will cover a 100 meter area and if your wireless device is built to support the 802.11n wireless standard, you will get almost a 500 meter coverage area for each access point.
To build a wireless bridge, check out the dd-wrt wiki, and learn how to configure Linksys WRT54G as a wireless client using this Anandtech thread.
A used DS family device can be purchased inexpensively. In addition to wi-fi, the DS supports its own wireless protocols. Using Pictochat, it is possible to chat with nearby DS users without having any DS games. Unfortunately, the range is quite short.
Some games, such as the fourth generation Pokemon games, support mail items. Thus you can send your message under the guise of just playing a game. Mail items can be sent through the Internet if you can get on the net and you and your partner(s) have each other’s friend codes.
The original DS and the DS Lite do support the Opera web browser, but finding the game card and memory pack may be very difficult. Starting with the DSi, Opera is downloadable.
Your computer has the ability to set up your own INTRANET. This was done BEFORE the internet was popularized in two ways: Your computer dialed up other computers and sent them the contents of a message board, or local people people dialed into your computer. A nationwide system can be set up this way with a central location sending to many cities then each city sending out the info locally.
If you’re going to post government secrets on your work-around site, you may want to set up an untraceable account. Really, you only need a mail drop, an assumed name, a prepaid credit card you can get at many stores to set up service.
GET SATELLITE ACCESS
You can have very, very slow internet if you have something similiar to an Iridium phone, which would allow you to do dial up at 2400 baud, which at least gives you e-mail. This will also work when your government has shut down GSM and telephone access, and will work pretty much anywhere on the planet. If you’re in the right place, get yourself KA-SAT access which is satellite broadband and will not be routed through any internet exchange that certain local governments may monitor or block (unless that government is part of EU or er … Uncle Sam.
BACK TO BASICS
Make some noise: Have an air horn or other loud instrument handy. It may just come down to being able to alert people in your local geographic area, who would otherwise be unaware of an emergency. You may also want to learn a bit about Morse code and have a cheat sheet available.
Tuesday, 8 February 2011
FBI want to join with Portland Police - Listen about FBI spying on Antiwar-Peace groups
Now Playing: Tom Burghardt expains how FBI
Topic: FAILURE by the GOVERNMENT
Monday, 7 February 2011
Portland Indymedia Principles of Unity
Now Playing: UNITY AND - YOU BE THE MEDIA ((( i )))
Portland Indymedia Principles of Unity
==============================================================PRINCIPLES OF UNITY 1. The Independent Media Center Network (IMCN) is based upon principles of equality, decentralization and local autonomy. The IMCN is not derived from a centralized bureaucratic process, but from the self-organization of autonomous collectives that recognize the importance in developing a union of networks. 2. All IMC's consider open exchange of and open access to information a prerequisite to the building of a more free and just society. [3. All IMC's respect the right of activists who choose not to be photographed or filmed.] 4. All IMC's, based upon the trust of their contributors and readers, shall utilize open web based publishing, allowing individuals, groups and organizations to express their views, anonymously if desired. **see appendix: Open Publishing document --> still in proposal phase, at this address: http://lists.indymedia.org/mailman/public/imc-communication/2001-April/001707.html http://lists.indymedia.org/mailman/public/imc-communication/2001-April/000874.html 5. The IMC Network and all local IMC collectives shall be not-for-profit. 6. All IMC's recognize the importance of process to social change and are committed to the development of non-hierarchical and anti-authoritarian relationships, from interpersonal relationships to group dynamics. Therefore, shall organize themselves collectively and be committed to the principle of consensus decision making and the development of a direct, participatory democratic process] that is transparent to its membership. 7. [All IMC's recognize that a prerequisite for participation in the decision making process of each local group is the contribution of an individual's labor to the group.] 8. All IMC's are committed to caring for one another and our respective communities both collectively and as individuals and will promote the sharing of resources including knowledge, skills and equipment. 9. All IMC's shall be committed to the use of free source code, whenever possible, in order to develop the digital infrastructure, and to increase the independence of the network by not relying on proprietary software. 10. All IMC's shall be committed to the principle of human equality, and shall not discriminate, including discrimination based upon race, gender, age, class or sexual orientation. Recognizing the vast cultural traditions within the network, we are committed to building [diversity] within our localities.
Sunday, 6 February 2011
A defense mechanism, which they labeled backfire...
Now Playing: Stephen Dufrechou - Are We Too Dumb for Democracy?
Thursday, December 23, 2010
Stephen Dufrechou - Are We Too Dumb for Democracy? The Logic Behind Self-Delusion
That's not a rhetorical question. But I also am not convinced "dumb" is the right word. Dufrechou is solid footing in referencing George Lakoff, but much less so when referring to psychoanalysis.
To be honest, Dufrechou has it backwards in saying that psychoanalysis supports Lakoff's research - it's the other way around. There is little to no empirical support for psychoanalysis, while Lakoff, as a linguist, is rivaled only by Chomsky.
Anyway, this is an interesting look at why people hold on to false beliefs in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
Saturday, 5 February 2011
TWEET - Hear Me - ... Oh I do!... ReTweet Tweet tweet
Now Playing: Social Media & Why one person usees Twitter
A few thoughts from John Fleck, a writer of journalism and other things, living in New Mexico
Posted on | February 5, 2011 |
Three interesting case studies this week in the use of social media in my journalism (or in one case just my life), which I hope might be of some interest to others (especially colleagues who have been skeptical of its utility – you know who you are).
New Mexico had a historic storm this week, a freeway-clogging, school-closing, pipe-freezing, gas-service-interrupting mess. One of my jobs at the newspaper is to pay attention to the weather and explain/warn as needed. I could not have done that, or done it as well, without Twitter.
Every newsroom I’ve worked in over the decades has had, as its soundtrack, the chatter of a police scanner. We know how to use that – quick bursts of information, often unconfirmed, that are worth paying attention to in a low level, background way.
My Twitter feed is like that, but on a broad range of topics. It includes, for example, a number of people working at the National Weather Service’s Albuquerque office, who do a great job of sending out links to their latest forecast information, interesting data, and a heads up when the weather is about to get interesting. (That’s Kerry Jones and Daniel Porter you see in the accompanying picture, passing along a link to Daniel’s latest storm update.) My feed also includes other journalists, emergency services folks (both agency and individual feeds) and a lot of regular people who live around New Mexico. When an event like our epic cold happens, the chatter picks up, creating an ambient awareness of the developing situation – tidbits to check out, alerts from government officials, journalists linking to their latest info, people asking questions, other people giving answers.
There is, for example, Melwell Romancito up in Taos, where the gas has been off for more than 48 hours. I have no idea who she is, but people started Retweeting her stuff, I followed her, and she’s become a great source of information. (She just pointed out a problem with some info that’s currently making the rounds from an earlier gas company release. Turns out we still have that info on the newspaper’s web site. Must get it fixed.) Or TaosJohn, who shared a link to the Taos Police Department Facebook page. There also are official channels, like the New Mexico public safety folks.
This is the sort of ongoing, rapid fire communication that has always gone on in a story like this – trying to reach out and communicate as quickly as possible with a range of people who might have relevant information. Twitter is simply a huge force multiplier.
The second case study is far simpler and less freighted, but has a lot of similarities.
I don’t write much directly about economics, but it is an important boundary condition for a lot of what I cover – water policy, energy, environmental issues. So I try to have a sort of ongoing ambient awareness about what’s going on in the economy, to help me understand when I need to dive into in more detail. My Twitter feed includes a list of economists and economics journalists (and probably some people who are both) that acts as a sort of police scanner for the economy. When Friday’s confusing set of jobs/unemployment numbers came out, I didn’t have the time or the expertise to sort it out myself. But that was OK, because the people I follow on Twitter did it for me in a 24-hour burst of shared links – first alerting me to the data release, then taking me through the sorting out they were all doing.
Again, this is the sort of thing I could have done (and often still do) in other ways – hunting through the econ blogs and work of various journalists or diving into the data myself. Twitter made it far easier and more serendipitous.
There are a lot of other subject areas like these – New Mexico politics and the state legislature, climate science and politics, energy policy, western water – where a carefully assembled Twitter feed of smart people chatting about what they know is an incredibly useful way of tracking what’s going on. Having the equivalent of a police scanner for the water policy beat is awesome.
In the previous cases, I am my own “curator”, picking which feeds to follow, getting a feel for who to listen to and how. The previous cases also relate directly to my job. The final case study is Egypt, where I’ve joined 39,414 other twitter users (as of 8:27 p.m. MST Saturday) and outsourced the curation to Andy Carvin. Amy Gahran at Knight Digital Media explains a bit about who Carvin is (NPR “senior strategist”, whatever that means) and how he’s doing it. The bottom line is that he’s find and sharing information at an amazingly rapid fire and amazingly useful rate.
Plus, there’s ro_bot_dylan.
Related posts brought to you by Yet Another Related Posts Plugin.
I have my Twitter info page here:
Thursday, 3 February 2011
Mubarak intensifies press attacks with assaults, detentions
Mood: don't ask
Now Playing: protesters in Egypt ATTACKED
Mubarak intensifies press attacks with assaults, detentions
New York, February 3, 2011--Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak unleashed an unprecedented and systematic attack on international media today as his supporters assaulted reporters in the streets while security forces began obstructing and detaining journalists covering the unrest that threatens to topple his government.
"This is a dark day for Egypt and a dark day for journalism," said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon. "The systematic and sustained attacks documented by CPJ leave no doubt that a government-orchestrated effort to target the media and suppress the news is well under way. With this turn of events, Egypt is seeking to create an information vacuum that puts it in the company of the world's worst oppressors, countries such as Burma, Iran, and Cuba.
"We hold President Mubarak personally responsible for this unprecedented action," said Simon, "and call on the Egyptian government to reverse course immediately."
Here is a round-up of attacks on the press:
Monday, 31 January 2011
No Internet - Human RIghts and Social Media Protesters
Now Playing: INTERNET BLACKOUT IN EGYPT DURRING PROTEST
INTERNET BLACKOUT IN EGYPT The Think Tank Cafe in the Smart Villages hi-tech park in Cairo. (Image: Smart Villages) WASHINGTON -- Egypt has been aggressively attracting tech companies to its wired office parks to help create jobs for its young, educated and often English-speaking workforce.
The Think Tank Cafe in the Smart Villages hi-tech park in Cairo. (Image: Smart Villages) WASHINGTON -- Egypt has been aggressively attracting tech companies to its wired office parks to help create jobs for its young, educated and often English-speaking workforce.
But by cutting off Internet access last week in the wake of civil unrest, Egypt's government demonstrated just how quickly it can unwind its hi-tech goals.Microsoft is among the 120 companies located in Cairo's Smart Villages , an office park created in 2003 to be Egypt's "prime" information technology park.
It includes a health club, swimming pool, video conferencing services, a conference center and a pyramid-shaped restaurant called the "Think Tank Caf."
Egypt's move to block Internet access prompted Microsoft to respond. Asked about the situation in Egypt, Microsoft said in a written response to a query that it "is constantly assessing the impact of the unrest and Internet connection issues on our properties and services.
What limited service the company as a whole provides to and through the region, mainly call-center service, has been largely distributed to other locations."Another tech firm with a presence in Smart Villages is Hewlett-Packard, which has asked it employees to stay at home .
President Barack Obama and other administration officials are urging the Egyptian government to restore Internet services and see access as a human right. "It is our strong belief that inside of the framework of basic individual rights are the rights of those to have access to the Internet and to sites for open communication and social networking," White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said at a briefing Friday.
Egypt's decision to cut Internet access was apparently intended to disrupt the ability of protestors to use social networks to organize . But hi-tech companies have similar flip-the-switch abilities and can shift services in response to a natural or manmade disaster. It is almost certain that tech companies in Egypt will respond to the current uncertainty much the same way Microsoft did -- if they haven't already.
Phil Fersht, the CEO and head of research at Horses for Sources, an outsourcing research and advisory firm, said top-tier providers rely on Egyptian resources largely for call center work and software support and development. For these firms "it's a massive, massive concern when the government shuts off the internet and all hell is breaking loose," he said in an e-mailed response to questions."
Egypt has proven capable as a good quality resource location for the Middle East, Africa and European regions in areas such as IT, BPO and call center services and has invested significantly in promoting its capabilities worldwide," said Fersht. "The country has invested millions to promote its capabilities -- and now that investment is looking under threat."Not surprisingly, the government agency responsible for hi-tech development in Egypt, the Information Technology Industry Development Agency, (ITIDA), has been offline.
Efforts to reach officials by telephone, e-mail or through a Facebook account have been unsuccessful.Fersht suggested that the current problems in Egypt could prompt hi-tech firms to re-think the risks they face in other regions."If situations, such as what is currently happening in Egypt, proliferate to other countries with sourcing support services, the first reaction of governments now seems to be to 'shut off the Internet,'" said Fersht, "You have to question how this impacts ITO/BPO services that are hugely reliant on the Internet to succeed."
The Egypt situation is a serious blow to many of the developing nations seeking to take their share of global services [that] have potentially questionable political stability," said Fersht.Smart Villages said that by the end of 2009 there were 28,000 professionals working at various companies in the office, and that by 2014 it expected that more than 100,000 would be working at some 500 companies.Microsoft is one of numerous tech firms with a presence in Egypt's Smart Villages hi-tech park.
His e-mail address is email@example.com .
Sunday, 30 January 2011
Working Around the Internet Kill Switch - Egypt workarounds
Now Playing: Explaining the tech work-arounds for keeping the "net connected"
Without Internet, Egyptians find new ways to get online
Nancy Gohring and Robert McMillan
"When countries block, we evolve," an activist with the group We Rebuild wrote in a Twitter message Friday.
That's just what many Egyptians have been doing this week, as groups like We Rebuild scramble to keep the country connected to the outside world, turning to landline telephones, fax machines and even ham radio to keep information flowing in and out of the country.
Although one Internet service provider -- Noor Group -- remains in operation, Egypt's government abruptly ordered the rest of the country's ISPs to shut down their services just after midnight local time Thursday. Mobile networks have also been turned off in some areas. The blackout appears designed to disrupt organization of the country's growing protest movement, which is calling for the ouster of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
"[B]asically, there are three ways of getting information out right now -- get access to the Noor ISP (which has about 8 percent of the market), use a land line to call someone, or use dial-up," Jillian York, a researcher with the Berkman Center for Internet & Society, said via e-mail.
Egyptians with dial-up modems get no Internet connection when they call into their local ISP, but calling an international number to reach a modem in another country gives them a connection to the outside world.
We Rebuild is looking to expand those dial-up options. It has set up a dial-up phone number in Sweden and is compiling a list of other numbers Egyptians can call. It is distributing information about its activities on a Wiki page.
One of the dial-up numbers is run by a small ISP called the French Data Network, which said it was the first time it had set up such a service. Its modem has been providing a connection "every few minutes," said Benjamin Bayart, FDN's president, speaking in an online chat.
The international dial-up numbers only work for people with access to a telephone modem and an international calling service, however. So although mobile networks have been suspended in some areas, people have posted instructions about how others can use their mobile phones as dial-up modems.
The few Egyptians able to access the Internet through Noor, the one functioning ISP, are taking steps to ensure their online activities are not being logged. Shortly before Internet access was cut off, the Tor Project said it saw a big spike in Egyptian visitors looking to download its Web browsing software, which is designed to let people surf the Web anonymously.
"We thought we were under denial-of-service attack," said Andrew Lewman, the project's executive director. The site was getting up to 3,000 requests per second, the vast majority of them from Egypt, he said. "Since then we've seen a quadrupling of Tor clients connecting from Noor over the past 24 hours," he said.
Even with no Internet, people have found ways to get messages out on Twitter. On Friday someone had set up a Twitter account where they posted messages that they had received via telephone calls from Egypt. A typical message reads: "Live Phonecall: streets mostly quiet in Dokki, no police in sight. Lots of police trucks seen at Sheraton."
Others are using fax machines to get information into Egypt about possible ways to communicate. They are distributing fax machine numbers for universities and embassies and asking people to send faxes to those numbers with instructions about how to use a mobile phone as a dial-up modem.
Members of the hacker group Anonymous have also been getting in on the act. They are reportedly faxing some of the latest government cables from WikiLeaks which reveal human rights abuses under President Mubarak, to locations in the country, according to Forbes magazine.
We Rebuild describes itself as "a decentralized cluster of net activists who have joined forces to collaborate on issues concerning access to a free Internet without intrusive surveillance." It has set up an IRC for people who can help with ham radio transmissions from Egypt. They are trying to spread the word about the radio band they are monitoring so that people in Egypt know where to transmit. Some ham enthusiasts are setting up an FTP site where people can record what they hear and post the recordings. So far, they say they've picked up Morse code messages.
Allen Pitts, a spokesman for the National Association for Amateur Radio, said no one has picked up any voice transmissions from Egypt for the past couple of days. But it's possible that people in Egypt are transmitting over shorter-range frequencies that carry only 30 or 50 miles, he said.
One problem with ham radio is that most people who know how to use it in Egypt were probably trained by the military and may be opposed to the protests. Others may be wary of transmitting because they are worried about who might be listening.
During earlier protests in Iran and Tunisia, the governments clamped down on specific websites, but access to the Internet was not severed in such a wholescale fashion.
It is not unprecedented though. In a blog post Friday written with a colleague, York from the Berkman Center for Internet & Society noted that in 2005 the government of Nepal cut off the Internet connection there, and in 2007 the Burmese government did the same in that country.
Wednesday, 26 January 2011
Monkeys and Inequity - Nobody likes to be treated unfairly
Mood: not sure
Now Playing: If its unfair ...me and my monkey will be pissed off!
Topic: ANYBODY * ANYDAY
If you expect equal pay for equal work, you're not the only species to have a sense of fair play. Blame evolution. Researchers studying brown capuchin monkeys (Cebus apella) have found that the highly social, cooperative species native to South America show a sense of fairness, the first time such behavior has been documented in a species other than humans. The question of whether human aversion to unfair treatment—now shown by other primates—is an evolved behavior or the result of the cultural influence of large social institutions like religion, governments, and schools, in the case of humans, has intrigued scientists in recent years. The new finding suggests evolution may have something to do with it. It also highlights questions about the economic and evolutionary nature of cooperation and its relationship to a species' sense of fairness, while adding yet another chapter to our understanding of primates. "It looks like this behavior is evolved … it is not simply a cultural construct. There's some good evolutionary reason why we don't like being treated unfairly," said Sarah Brosnan, lead author of the study to be published in tomorrow's issue of the science journal Nature. Brosnan, a biology Ph. D. candidate schooled in zoology and psychology at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center and Living Links Center at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, said her research was inspired, in part, by studies into human cooperation conducted by Swiss economist Ernst Fehr, who found that people inherently reject unfairness. Monkey Business To test whether or not such behavior is found in other species, Brosnan designed an experiment for brown capuchin monkeys, a species well-known for strong social bonds and relatively cooperative behavior, particularly in shared food-gathering activities like hunting squirrels and locating fruit trees. Individuals were drawn from two large, well-established social groups of captive brown capuchins from colonies at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center and paired with a partner. Pairs were placed next to each other and trained to exchange with human handlers a small granite rock within 60 seconds to receive a reward, in most cases, a piece of cucumber. "That may actually sound simple, but not very many species are willing to relinquish things, especially intentionally," Brosnan said in a telephone interview. (Think of trying to pry a large bone from a dog's mouth.) Only female capuchins were tested because they most closely monitor equity, or fair treatment, among their peers, Brosnan said. Partners of capuchins who made the swap either received the same reward (a cucumber slice), or a better reward (a grape, a more desirable food), for the same amount of work or, in some cases, for performing no work at all. Brosnan said the response to the unequal treatment was astonishing: Capuchins who witnessed unfair treatment and failed to benefit from it often refused to conduct future exchanges with human researchers, would not eat the cucumbers they received for their labors, and in some cases, hurled food rewards at human researchers. Those actions were significant. They confirmed that not only did capuchins expect fair treatment, but that the human desire for equity has an evolutionary basis. Susan Perry, a primate expert at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, studies the behavior of Cebus capucinus, a capuchin species closely related to brown capuchin monkeys, in the wild. Based on her review of a brief summary, Perry described Brosnan's research as a "fascinating paper." "It is not so surprising to me that the monkeys act in this way," Perry wrote via e-mail. "After all, humans often respond in an apparently irrational way … accepting no reward for both them and their partners rather than accepting unequal rewards … in the ultimatum game," she wrote, referring to the classic laboratory test of inequity aversion. Primate Culture The study is the latest in a series of findings on human and primate behavior, culture, and evolution that has spurred new fields of inquiry. In recent years, researchers have identified an array of unique behaviors found among distinct groups of primate species, including chimpanzees, orangutans, and capuchin monkeys, and associated them with culture. Scientists have sought to explain the social-learning processes by which such behavior is acquired by individual members. In 2001 Andrew Whiten at St. Andrews University, Scotland, together with Jane Goodall and other researchers analyzed five decades of data on chimpanzees and identified 39 distinct behaviors tied to mating, eating, grooming, and tool use, concluding that chimps have culture. Researchers are turning their gaze to other primate species. "People are looking at these so-called cultural behaviors, which are behavioral variants between two different groups of the same species that can't be explained by their ecology," said Brosnan. "In other words, how come some [chimpanzees] nut-crack and some [chimpanzees] don't, even though both of them have nuts available that could be cracked?" "Social learning is believed to be the mechanism by which cultures evolve," said Brosnan, who notes that the ability to socially learn and a species' sense of fairness must be linked, in her view, since both require individuals in a social group to closely observe and monitor the behavior of their peers. Brosnan's research strengthens the tie between aversion to unfair treatment and cooperation in species. However, scientists have yet to tease an answer from the chicken-and-egg dilemma of which came first, cooperation or a sense of fairness? "We don't know whether individuals become cooperative and then learn to not like being treated unfairly, or the other way around," said Brosnan. "But that opens up a whole new research field." Her study and other research leads scientists to ponder just why cooperation evolved and what benefits it bestowed to species. Cooperation Economics The finding adds new information to the debate about why species cooperate and the economic decision-making process behind such behavior. "No one really seems to know why individuals should cooperate," said Brosnan. Some economists and scientists have argued that cooperation is not a rational, or logical, behavior for species individuals since energy or other resources must be expended in the effort—with no direct benefit to the cooperative individual. But Fehr, the Swiss economist from the University of Zurich presently based at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, among others, rejects such thinking. He argues that logic applies not just to the ends but to the means during economic decision-making. "There is nothing irrational in being altruistic," he said in a telephone interview. Brosnan echoes similar notions. "People often forgo an available reward because it is not what they expect or think is fair," she said in a press statement. "Our findings in nonhuman primates indicate the emotional sense of fairness plays a key role in such decision-making." Fehr, who has published key research on the economics of human equity, cooperation, and altruism since 1999, observed: "The new finding that even monkeys reject unequal pay is very important, I think, because it suggests that this is a very deeply rooted behavior that we observe among humans."
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