[Noisebridge-discuss] Advisory about recent thefts at Noisebridge.

Jonathan Lassoff jof at thejof.com
Sun Jul 10 19:02:54 UTC 2011

On Sun, Jul 10, 2011 at 6:11 AM, aestetix aestetix <aestetix at gmail.com> wrote:
> So, uh, besides the other privacy concerns... what makes you think that if
> someone will randomly "steal" a laptop, they won't also steal surveillance
> equipment you set up? I imagine there's an off switch somewhere on the
> camera, even if it's a power button, and I also imagine that taping a piece
> of black paper over the camera lens would make any surveillance attempts
> futile. Or, if "these people" are as paranoid as it sounds, what's to stop
> them from clipping the cables connecting things together?

Absolutely nothing. But at least we can have an image of them doing
just that. If you want to hack on something at 2169, take it apart,
etc I say go for it.
I also see no reason to hide the knowledge of any presence of cameras,
but perhaps we could put them in semi-hidden locations.

> I'm not saying don't do it, because I believe people should do things.
> However, I also believe in watching the watchers, and hackers have a natural
> inclination to question people who tell them what they are "supposed" to do.
>  I assume that if you were to install cameras, there would be a clear sign
> indicating where they are and why they are there, and anyone who wanted to
> see how they work, or hack them, would have access to them? Also, do you
> plan on having good explanations for why they are there for new people when
> you point them out on the tour?

Ugh. The explanations would probably not be so pretty. I don't cherish
the idea of having to describe to a first-time visitor that we
regularly have belligerent strangers visiting, so we put up camera.
However, I think it's just as fine to mention that they're there and
that there are places to go that aren't covered by them.

A recourse for getting logs purged is also not unreasonable, IMO.

> I am all in favor of using kindness and communication to thwart people
> behaving badly. I am not in favor of using technical hacks to solve social
> problems.

Agreed, cameras or locks can only be something to supplement social
pressure against unwanted behavior. It's no panacea.

> With Noisebridge, most people are highly
> technical, so it seems natural to jump to trying  a technical solution to
> solve a problem.

And make no doubt about it, this is what I'm doing of here. I'm not a
super social person, and greeting everyone that shows up isn't high on
my list of things to do. A couple people now and then I would be happy
to greet, but I find more than that just draining and stressful.

That said, based on some of the history here, it really seems to me
like just greeting and relating social norms to new visitors just
doesn't always work. What do you do if someone comes in who has never
visited before, ignores a greeter, and just starts putting things in
their pockets? I don't think any amount of social pressure will stop a
determined person.

It's really only in these extreme situations would it have been useful
to have better locks (and social key distribution) and camera to
record their misbehavior to share with the community so people who
weren't around when an incident happened can recognize the perpetrator
in the future.

> However, in this case, I don't really see a positive
> outcome from that approach.

This is where we may disagree, but I'm mailing the idea around to
solicit this kind of feedback. I respect your opinion a lot, Aestetix
-- if your *certain* this can only end badly or would stop you from
coming around, I'd really consider just dropping it.


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