Intelligence: November 7, 2003


The counterculture has become part of counterintelligence. The Burning Man festival is sort of a latter day Woodstock, with more emphasis on lifestyle and attitude than music. Held each year (since 1986) for a week in the western desert, it features a wide variety of lifestyles to strut their stuff. This includes lots of  technology geeks. The first few years, it was a celebration outside San Francisco. But as attendance grew (it's now about 25,000), a more remote venue was found. The participants are not just hippies of all ages, the affair attracts at lot of geeks and assorted freaks as well. Lots of computers and technology are found among the organic food and exotic exercises. This year, a number of scientists and techies working on new surveillance technologies decided to try out their new toys at Burning Man. Among the items tried out were people sniffers that may be able to pick out individuals "Tagants" (individual odor) that can be used to trace someone's movement. Another popular items was the "Rhubarb" sifter, a gadget that can "listen" to the burble of a large crowd and pick out particular words or phrases. No word on how successful the tests were, or who the new technologies were being developed for. Or where they might be used next, although it's interesting to note that these tests were done during the most recent Burning Man get together (Aug 25-September 1, 2003) in the desert, 190 kilometers north of Reno, Nevada. 


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