Could Li-Fi Be the New & Improved Wi-Fi?


By Bec Crew | Science Alert

Expect to hear a whole lot more about Li-Fi – a wireless technology that transmits high-speed data using visible light communication (VLC) – in the coming months. With scientists achieving speeds of 224 gigabits per second in the lab using Li-Fi earlier this year, the potential for this technology to change everything about the way we use the Internet is huge.

Related Article: New Technique Could Boost Internet Speeds AND Security

And now, scientists have taken Li-Fi out of the lab for the first time, trialling it in offices and industrial environments in Tallinn, Estonia, reporting that they can achieve data transmission at 1 GB per second – that’s 100 times faster than current average Wi-Fi speeds.

“We are doing a few pilot projects within different industries where we can utilise the VLC (visible light communication) technology,” Deepak Solanki, CEO of Estonian tech company, Velmenni, told IBTimes UK.

Related Article:Arguing for Faster Internet, Obama Goes to Bat for Municipal Broadband

“Currently we have designed a smart lighting solution for an industrial environment where the data communication is done through light. We are also doing a pilot project with a private client where we are setting up a Li-Fi network to access the Internet in their office space.”

Li-Fi was invented by Harald Haas from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland back in 2011, when he demonstrated for the first time that by flickering the light from a single LED, he could transmit far more data than a cellular tower. Think back to that lab-based record of 224 gigabits per second – that’s 18 movies of 1.5 GB each being downloaded every single second.

The technology uses Visible Light Communication (VLC), a medium that uses visible light between 400 and 800 terahertz (THz). It works basically like an incredibly advanced form of Morse code – just like switching a torch on and off according to a certain pattern can relay a secret message, flicking an LED on and off at extreme speeds can be used to write and transmit things in binary code.

Related Article: 10 Mind Blowing Science Ideas that Will Change the World (Video)

And while you might be worried about how all that flickering in an office environment would drive you crazy, don’t worry – we’re talking LEDs that can be switched on and off at speeds imperceptible to the naked eye.


One In Five Kids Who Grew Up With The Internet Believe All Of It Is True

photographer: Lucélia Ribeiro

photographer: Lucélia Ribeiro

By Frida Garza | Quartz

Teenagers today still struggle to judge the truthfulness of information they find online, according to a new survey on children’s media consumption (pdf) by UK communications regulator Ofcom.

Although kids born after 1999 might seem Internet-savvy, Ofcom found that only 50% of British 12- to 15-year-olds who use search engines use critical judgement when filtering through results. Nearly 20% of the same age group blindly trust search engines, saying they believed that all results returned must be true (down from 33% in 2011).


Related Posts: 

Related Article: New Media Deal May Bring More Propaganda to Facebook

Related Article: How To Spot Disinfo – James Corbett

Related Article: 19-Year-Old Instagram Model Exposes the Ugly Truth Behind Social Media

AT&T Hit with $100mn Fine After Slowing Down ‘Unlimited’ Data

By Mike Blake |Reuters SlowInternetAhead-37696917_m-680x380

The Federal Communications Commission hit telecommunications giant AT&T with a $100 million fine, the largest it has ever levied, for slowing down the internet speeds of customers with “unlimited” data plans. The company said it will fight the fine.

Thousands of AT&T customers complained to the FCC about the issue, saying they noticed that when they had used up a certain amount of data watching movies or browsing the web, AT&T “throttled” their internet speeds so that they were much slower than normal. Millions of AT&T customers were affected by the practice.

In a press release announcing the fine, the FCC said the company “severely slowed down the data speeds for customers with unlimited data plans” and “failed to adequately notify its customers that they could receive speeds slower than the normal network speeds AT&T advertised.”

“Consumers deserve to get what they pay for,” FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said in a statement. “Broadband providers must be upfront and transparent about the services they provide. The FCC will not stand idly by while consumers are deceived by misleading marketing materials and insufficient disclosure.”
AT&T stopped offering unlimited data plans in 2009, but many customers were grandfathered in before the company began slowing down internet speeds in 2011. The company said it disputes the charges and will fight the fine.
The FCC has specifically identified this practice as a legitimate and reasonable way to manage network resources for the benefit of all customers, and has known for years that all of the major carriers use it,” the company said in a statement, reported the Washington Post.
Other companies have been targeted for similar practices, according to CNN money. Verizon was criticized by the FCC for its efforts to slow down 4G connection speeds and ceased the practice in October 2014. T-Mobile was also issued a warning, while the FCC sued Tracfone for $40 million in January for falsely advertising its unlimited plan.
AT&T argued that the cap only goes into effect after an unlimited plan customer hits a certain threshold, and that the slow speeds last only until the end of a billing cycle. However, the FCC found that unlimited customers were being hit with slower speeds for an average of 12 days – nearly half the billing cycle – and that this often affected mapping services and streaming video over AT&T’s network.
Chairman Wheeler said that by not properly disclosing the policy to customers, the company violated FCC rules on corporate transparency.
Robert O'Leary 150x150Robert O’Leary, JD BARA, has had an abiding interest in alternative health products & modalities since the early 1970’s & he has seen how they have made people go from lacking health to vibrant health. He became an attorney, singer-songwriter, martial artist & father along the way and brings that experience to his practice as a BioAcoustic Soundhealth Practitioner, under the tutelage of the award-winning founder of BioAcoustic Biology, Sharry Edwards, whose Institute of BioAcoustic Biology has now been serving clients for 30 years with a non-invasive & safe integrative modality that supports the body’s ability to self-heal using the power of the human voice. Robert brings this modality to serve clients in Greater Springfield (MA), New England & “virtually” the world, with his website, www.romayasoundhealthandbeauty.com. He can also be reached at romayasoundhealth andbeauty@gmail.com.

Edward Snowden: The World Says No to Surveillance

By Edward J. Snowden | The New York Times


Editor’s Note: Since the Patriot Act & USA Freedom Act have been so much in the news lately, amid a heated debate   about security & civil liberties, it is informative to see what one of the men, so instrumental in making a lot of this happen, has to say about society’s progress in finding the right balance between governmental rights & private citizen rights. The following is that commentary.

MOSCOW — TWO years ago today [i.e., June 5, 2015], three journalists and I worked nervously in a Hong Kong hotel room, waiting to see how the world would react to the revelation that the National Security Agency had been making records of nearly every phone call in the United States. In the days that followed, those journalists and others published documents revealing that democratic governments had been monitoring the private activities of ordinary citizens who had done nothing wrong.

Within days, the United States government responded by bringing charges against me under World War I-era espionage laws. The journalists were advised by lawyers that they risked arrest or subpoena if they returned to the United States. Politicians raced to condemn our efforts as un-American, even treasonous.

Privately, there were moments when I worried that we might have put our privileged lives at risk for nothing — that the public would react with indifference, or practiced cynicism, to the revelations.

Never have I been so grateful to have been so wrong.

Two years on, the difference is profound. In a single month, the N.S.A.’s invasive call-tracking program was declared unlawful by the courts and disowned by Congress. After a White House-appointed oversight board investigation found that this program had not stopped a single terrorist attack, even the president who once defended its propriety and criticized its disclosure has now ordered it terminated.

This is the power of an informed public.

Ending the mass surveillance of private phone calls under the Patriot Act is a historic victory for the rights of every citizen, but it is only the latest product of a change in global awareness. Since 2013, institutions across Europe have ruled similar laws and operations illegal and imposed new restrictions on future activities. The United Nations declared mass surveillance an unambiguous violation of human rights. In Latin America, the efforts of citizens in Brazil led to the Marco Civil, an Internet Bill of Rights. Recognizing the critical role of informed citizens in correcting the excesses of government, the Council of Europe called for new laws to protect whistle-blowers.

Beyond the frontiers of law, progress has come even more quickly. Technologists have worked tirelessly to re-engineer the security of the devices that surround us, along with the language of the Internet itself. Secret flaws in critical infrastructure that had been exploited by governments to facilitate mass surveillance have been detected and corrected. Basic technical safeguards such as encryption — once considered esoteric and unnecessary — are now enabled by default in the products of pioneering companies like Apple, ensuring that even if your phone is stolen, your private life remains private. Such structural technological changes can ensure access to basic privacies beyond borders, insulating ordinary citizens from the arbitrary passage of anti-privacy laws, such as those now descending upon Russia.

Spymasters in Australia, Canada and France have exploited recent tragedies to seek intrusive new powers despite evidence such programs would not have prevented attacks. Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain recently mused, “Do we want to allow a means of communication between people which we cannot read?” He soon found his answer, proclaiming that “for too long, we have been a passively tolerant society, saying to our citizens: As long as you obey the law, we will leave you alone.”

[Read more here]

At the turning of the millennium, few imagined that citizens of developed democracies would soon be required to defend the concept of an open society against their own leaders.

Yet the balance of power is beginning to shift. We are witnessing the emergence of a post-terror generation, one that rejects a worldview defined by a singular tragedy. For the first time since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, we see the outline of a politics that turns away from reaction and fear in favor of resilience and reason. With each court victory, with every change in the law, we demonstrate facts are more convincing than fear. As a society, we rediscover that the value of a right is not in what it hides, but in what it protects. ☐

TPP Could ‘Undermine Health of Web’ Say 250+ Tech Companies and Digital Rights Groups

‘We simply cannot allow our policymakers to use secret trade negotiations to make digital policy for the 21st century,’ says Electronic Frontier Foundation

"The Fast Track process actively silences the voices of Internet users, start-ups, and small tech companies," say digital activists. (Photo: Backbone Campaign/flickr/cc)

“The Fast Track process actively silences the voices of Internet users, start-ups, and small tech companies,” say digital activists. (Photo: Backbone Campaign/flickr/cc)

More than 250 tech companies and digital rights organizations on Wednesday sent a joint letter to Congress, blasting the corporate-backed trade deal they say “actively silences the voices of Internet users, start-ups, and small tech companies…while undermining the health of the entire Web.”

The letter (embedded below)—whose signatories include AVG Technologies, DreamHost, Namecheap, Mediafire, Imgur, Internet Archive, BoingBoing, Piwik, Private Internet Access, and more than 200 others—calls on Congress to come out against Fast Track, or Trade Promotion Authority, which they say “legitimizes” the secret process under which mammoth trade pacts are negotiated.

“The Fast Track…process actively silences the voices of Internet users, start-ups, and small tech companies while giving the biggest players even more power to set policy that benefits a few select companies while undermining the health of the entire Web,” said Evan Greer, campaign director of the digital rights group Fight for the Future.

In particular, the letter expresses concerns about how the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership—which it notes goes “far beyond the scope of traditional trade policy”—would impact everything from net neutrality to online freedom of expression to digital innovation.

“We simply cannot allow our policymakers to use secret trade negotiations to make digital policy for the 21st century,” said Maira Sutton, global policy analyst at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “The TPP is a huge threat to the Internet and its users. Full stop.”

Leaked portions of the TPP agreement and the current Fast Track bill indicate “that no one is even considering the impact on the digital economy and digital rights,” added Mike Masnick, founder of the Copia Institute, a new ‘digital-native’ think tank.

For example, the letter reads: “The TPP Investment Chapter contains text that would enable corporations to sue nations over democratic rules that allegedly harm expected profits. Companies can use this process to undermine U.S. rules like fair use, net neutrality, and others designed to protect the free, open Internet and users’ rights to free expression online.”

David Heinemeier Hansson, partner at Basecamp and creator of the popular Ruby on Rails web development framework: “TPP makes a mockery of democratic legislative ideals. It’s shrouded in secrecy exactly because it would wither in sunlight. It’s a terrible piece of overreach to endow a few special interests with enormous and unsavory power. The whole thing needs to be scrapped and started over. International trade is too important to have it hitched to this collection of wishful thinking by a select few.

That such provisions have been crafted with minimal transparency should serve as a warning, said author and journalist Cory Doctorow, who declared: “Democracies make their laws in public, not in smoke-filled rooms. If TPP’s backers truly believed that they were doing the people’s work, they’d have invited the people into the room. The fact that they went to extreme, unprecedented measures to stop anyone from finding out what was going on—even going so far as to threaten Congress with jail if they spoke about it—tells you that this is something being done to Americans, not for Americans.”

The full letter is embedded below:

Dear Members of Congress,

We write to you as a community representing thousands of our nation’s innovators, entrepreneurs, job-creators, and users to express our concern over trade agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Despite containing many provisions that go far beyond the scope of traditional trade policy, the public is kept in the dark as these deals continue to be negotiated behind closed doors with heavy influence from only a limited subset of stakeholders.

The recently-introduced Fast Track bill (the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015, “the Bill”) would not remedy the utter lack of transparency of the negotiation process, nor does it include any language to ensure that these deals would contain safeguards to protect our interests in freedom of expression and innovation online. These are just some of our specific concerns we have:

*    Threats to Fair Use: The TPP contains language that could prevent countries from expanding exceptions and limitations to copyright. The Fast Track Bill also contains nothing to promote balance in copyright law. This is despite how much value fair use has added to the U.S. economy and could add for investors in the growing economies of our trading partners.

*    Expensive and Harmful Costs of Online Enforcement: U.S. law incentivizes online content providers to take down content over a mere allegation of infringement. The TPP will likely emulate these rules, continuing to make it expensive and onerous for startups and small companies to oversee users’ activities and process each takedown notice.

*    Criminalizing Journalism and Whistleblowing: TPP’s trade secrets provisions could make it a crime for people to reveal corporate wrongdoing “through a computer system.” The language is dangerously vague, and enables signatory countries to enact rules that would ban reporting on timely, critical issues affecting the public.

*   Investor-State Courts Jeopardize User Protections: The TPP Investment Chapter contains text that would enable corporations to sue nations over democratic rules that allegedly harm expected future profits. Companies can use this process to undermine U.S. rules like fair use, net neutrality, and others designed to protect the free, open Internet and users’ rights to free expression online.

Overall, the Bill would legitimize the secret process that has led to these provisions, while doing nothing to ensure that these agreements would enable lawmakers to work towards striking the right balance between the interests of copyright holders and those of users and innovators. As such, we urge you to come out against the Fast Track bill and call on your colleagues in Congress to do the same.


ACN Telecommunications & Energy
Adafruit Industries
Advanced Surfaces and Processes Inc.
Airborne Surfer Media
Aldine Publications, LLC
Alpine Travel Services
Archer Law Offices PC
Astonishing Legends Productions, LLC
Automation Technology, Inc.
Autopia, Ltd
AVG Technologies
Babel Consulting, Inc.
BAGeL Radio
Bay Buys, LLC
Bead & Reel
Bilerico Media LLC
Black Hills Computer Consulting, Inc.
Blue Dog Mobile Marketing
Blue Gothic Design Studios, LLC
BlueTree Website Design
Bohemian Jedi
Boing Boing
Breakwind Farm
Butterflies & Blueberries, Inc
Catalysta LLC
Cell Nation, Inc.
Cheezburger Network
Chocolate Pocket, LLC
Civic Hall
CoachAccountable, LLC
Collaborative Design and Planning
Comatose Podcast
Computer Fix-It
ComputerGiant Consulting, Inc.
Concentric Sky, Inc.
Connect Everywhere LLC
Copia Institute
Create Your Health, LLC
CREDO Mobile
Cultural Circle Poetry Workshops
Curren Media Group
Deskninja Studios LLC
DJs Computers
Dobson Computer Svcs
Duct Tape Programming
eCnet Solutions
Eden Foods
Edison Cimputers, Inc.
Electronic Frontier Foundation
Ellicottville Real Estate
Engineered Fear, LLC
Eric A. Wessman, Photographer, LLC
ET Productions
Euphonic Studio LLC
EvoText Inc.
Expri Communications LLC
Extracto Enterprises (dba Extracto Coffee Roasters)
Facture Studios
FarSight Data Systems
FDA Consulting, LLC
Fight For the Future
Floorchan Networks
GCP Design & Marketing
Giganator games
GlowHost.com, LLC
Golden Frog
Great Scott Technology LLC
Griffae Design, LLC
GSM Nation
Hacktron Technology Inc.
Handmade Interactive LLC
Harrison’s Websites
HD Supply
HomeWorks REI
Honor Health
Humblebee Media
Ignition Digital
Infinite Functions, Inc.
Inspiro Business Solutions
Intelligent Solutions, LLC
Internet Archive
JJ Industry
Juan Calvillo Photography
JWorks Studios
Kaup Communications
Kestrel Biologic
Knowledge Ecology International
Koame Systems International
Lakehub, LLC
Laurel Digital, LLC
Liquid Mastering
Local Loop Farms
Local Wave Maker, LLC
Ludwig Sewing Machine Company
Lulu Luna
m & e tech new york
Marc Berner Music
Married to Health
Massachusetts Pirate Party
MCM Inventions, Inc.
McSwain Photography
Mechvision, Inc.
MediaIgniter, LLC
Melody Lanes Recording
Merchant Services Group LLC
Metamuse Media
Minvera Hosting, LLC.
Mojo Bureau
MonadCloud LLC
Moons Over Missouri
Mortar Data Inc.
Move To Amend
MrG Associates
Munnich Design LLC
Myrick Visual, LLC
Namecheap, Inc
Natalie Cannon’s Editorial Services
Native American Films
Nelson Specialties Co.
Netcetera, Inc.
New Games
Node-Nine, Inc.
North Coast Radiology
NY Tech Meetup
Occupy Bellingham
Ocean Motion Media, LLC
OceanSky Web Design
Off-Road Concepts
OnHolyGround Networks, LLC
Open Heart Press
Out Front Magazine
PacifiCAD Incorporated
Pacius Designs
Panelist Media
Participatory Culture Foundation
Pawzii, Inc.
Penny Films
Personal Democracy Media
Personal Technology Consulting, LLC
Pete Miller’s Water and Wildlife Studio
Phoenix Quintet
Phosphoros Media, LLC
Pixel8, Inc
Private Internet Access™
Pryor Computer Forensics
Purple Sail Creative LLC
Quaraishi Enterprises
QuipTracks LLC
Ralphie’s Portal
Read Andra Watkins LLC
Relatively Free Press
Research Associates
Right Angles Technologies Inc.
RO Productions
Rylen & Rhys Originals
Ryno Media House
San Juan Tech Services
San Juan Update
Sentinel SDK
SEO Hosting and Design
SHS Forum
Silicon Engines
Sixth Sensitivity
Snap Synapse LLC
Social Hamlet
Sound Data Services
Spilled Milk Catering
Spiritbody Inc
Studio Z Mendocino
Sturgeon Advertising
Success Systems International
Sue Kauffman Fitness
Synergy Marketing
Tau Ceti
Tax Lien Software Development and Analytics LLC
TechPointPro LLC
That Ruled Productions
The Eagle Directory
The General Store Seattle
The Laboratory Arts Collective Llc
The Modern Trade
The Naked Villain Society
The Public Society
The Regulator Online
The Sound Guy, Inc.
Thirstea Cafe
ThisGuys Development
Thompson Films, LLC
ThoughtWorks, Inc.
Thunder Puppy Art
Thunderclap, Inc
Tiny Design Studio
tNY Creative LLC (DBA tNY.Press)
Tom’s computer repair
Trade Inflo
Trophies ‘N Tees
TunnelBear Inc.
Twin Peaks Creative
Unchained Creations
Update International
USA Corporate Services Inc.
Web Magi
Well Spent
Whatsits Galore
Whistling Kettle, LLC
Wicked Liquid
Willow Technology, Inc.
Wizards Familiar
Wolfestar Design
woolly&wise LLC
X Desk Publishing


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

Breaking Video: Net Neutrality Advocates Blockade FCC Chairman’s Georgetown Home

Source:  PopularResistance.org

Advocates for net neutrality blockaded FCC Chair Tom Wheelers driveway this morning, Monday, November 10, 2014, just as the Chairman was getting into his car. Six people participated in the blockade with a large banner that read “Save the Internet.” They also held signs demanding that Wheeler listen to the people. They chanted “Don’t let the Internet die. Time to reclassify!” and sang “Which side are you on Tom? Are you with the people or with the Telecoms?”

The protest, which kicked off at 6:55 am, is organized by PopularResistance.org, the same group that Occupied the FCC from May 7 to May 15. They are demanding that Wheeler drop plans to advance so-called “hybrid” rules that fail to protect free speech, and fully reclassify the Internet as a common carrier under Title II.

[Editor’s Note: Scroll below to see link to President Obama’s statement on this issue, released later this morning]

“We’re blockading Tom Wheeler’s driveway because he’s made it clear that when he goes to work, he’s not working for the public, he’s working for Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T, the companies that used to pay his salary when he was a lobbyist for the Cable industry,” said Kevin Zeese, co-director of Popular Resistance, “The future of the Internet is a life or death matter for marginalized people all over the world. We cannot in good conscience allow this corrupt official to carry on with business as usual.”

“The Internet is an essential tool in all of our lives for many reasons such as the growing citizen’s media, information sharing and access to goods and services. All people must have equal access to content without discrimination. Wealthy corporations should not get faster Internet delivery service than start-ups and citizens’ groups. ” said Margaret Flowers, MD, co-director of Popular Resistance.

Zeese added “The FCC received a record number of comments, with more than 3.7 million responding to the rulemaking proceeding on the future of the Internet; 99% of those comments favored net neutrality and reclassification. How dare Chairman Wheeler ignore the overwhelming majority of the people in favor of corporations like Comcast, Verizon and AT&T. Tom Wheeler is playing with fire. We will be escalating our protests if he continues down the path of ignoring the people. If Wheeler is unable to fulfill President Obama’s promise to protect net neutrality, then he should resign or be removed from office.”

Wheeler served as the top lobbyist for  cable TV and telephone corporations before becoming chair of the FCC. “This is a crisis of democracy. The people have clearly spoken and Wheeler is supposed to represent the public interest, not the interests of Comcast and Verizon. It is time for him to listen to the public and reclassify the Internet as a common carrier so it can be regulated like a public utility,” added Flowers.

Popular Resistance is urging people to join them at a Vigil to Save the Internet tonight, November 10th, at Tom Wheeler’s Georgetown home. Journalists or activists interested in attending should contact Margaret Flowers or Kevin Zeese at info@popularresistance.org. Following successful nationwide protests last week, the group is also working with other net neutrality advocates to hold a Dance Party to Save the Internet at the White House on Thursday evening, November 13th, at 6 PM in Lafayette Park.

At approximately 9:30 this morning, the White House released this video:


How Secret Societies Stay Hidden On the Internet

Matt King | Theatlantic

Alessandro Bianchi/Reuters

Alessandro Bianchi/Reuters

It all started with a Facebook message from a dead guy.

His name was Ernest Howard Crosby and his profile picture showed an old-time portrait of a man in a dapper vest sporting a bushy Civil War beard. The message came on behalf of New York University’s Eucleian Society, a literary club formed in 1832 around the same time that secret societies began sprouting up at university campuses across the country.

“The Society is interested in your potential membership and would like to invite you to learn more… Time is of the essence.”

There was a link to a Facebook group that contained a long list of male undergraduates, mostly white (like me), a few Latinos and Indians, and one black guy. The list also contained the avatars of a few other dead guys, like Crosby, and the identity of the Group itself was similarly concealed beneath another guise: “Vote Arthur Watkins for Second Circuit Judge.”

The page, paired with the campaign-ready photo of an old guy holding an open book, appeared to be a 1930s-era political campaign. The comments field on the Group page was disabled, but a note in the Description section directed us to fill out a questionnaire (via Google Forms) that asked about our backgrounds, our political views, and our religious ideologies.

Before submitting to interrogation, I first searched online for any information I could uncover about the “Eucleian Society.” A Wikipedia page drew on sources from NYU’s Bobst Library and Digital Archives, as well as academic books that covered the broader topic of “secret societies in America.” The society was founded the same year instruction began at NYU, first operating out of the Main University Building, where it held oratory debates and readings. Topics under discussion spanned philosophy (“Whether humanity is naturally depraved,” Decision: Affirmative) to legal theory (“Should the capital of large moneyed corporations be limited by statute?” Decision: Negative) to romantic truths (“Resolved that adultery is the only true way to cohabit”). The names of Eucleian alumni would later grace major buildings around campus (Elmer Holmes Bobst Library, Jerome S. Coles Sports & Recreation Center) and university curricula (Gallatin School of Individualized Study).

Then, in 1942, the society seemed to have disappeared.

NYU archives showed no official record of the society after this date, meaning everything that has turned up since then regarding its members and any ongoing activity is hearsay. Most recently, in 2009, there were student newspaper reports of a “beeper” prank which was attributed to the society: a handful of devices were choreographed to go off at the same time in various classrooms on NYU’s campus. Each device was attached to a signed note:

Truth is something you find outside of the classroom, outside of the walls of this university, and only from the professor in front of you insofar as he can serve as an experienced guide… NYU has its secrets too.

The prank elicited little response from the student body, perhaps a sign of the changing times. Maybe a new generation raised on unprecedented levels of connectivity was less intrigued by antiquated notions of “secrecy” or “privacy.”

My recruitment with the society was doomed from the beginning: Three months after I received the original Facebook message, I was slated to leave the country and study abroad for a year and a half. But I was still curious. I submitted my answers to the online questionnaire and almost forgot about the whole thing—until a week later, when we recruits received our first directive.

* * *

A mass email was sent to recruits’ NYU accounts, which we had provided in the questionnaire. The sender’s alias was “John S. / Odysseus” and he introduced himself as a senior member of the society and head of its recruitment efforts. He told us the process couldn’t begin until we chose a nom de plume for ourselves and created a corresponding Gmail account to be used exclusively for all society-related communication. His email included a list of links to over a dozen Blogspot pages, YouTube videos, and Google Groups, all of which he told us to read through and absorb “ASAP.” He also sent us a Google Calendar invite to join a weekly online group chat, the first of which would focus on discussing this trove of information.

Screenshot courtesy Matt King

I browsed the webpages, many of which contained abridged histories of the society, largely regurgitated from Wikipedia. One recurring storyline was the society’s relationship with Edgar Allan Poe, a frequent guest lecturer during its early era. After Poe’s death, the group adopted the raven (from his popular poem) as its unofficial mascot. Meme-ified photos captured various society shenanigans around Washington Square Park—a raven perched atop theGiuseppe Garibaldi statue; a faint trail of raven footprints around the fountain. Other blog posts included opinion pieces extolling Society philosophy (“Social Capital as Exclusive and Intergenerational”) and shared YouTube excerpts of films—like a scene from the 1990 comedy-drama Metropolitan about essential Manhattan evening wear—as though it were educational material.

Finally, I reached the page displaying an index of suggested Greek pseudonyms along with their associated mythological histories. I settled on Calchas, a famous soothsayer whose contributions included the Trojan horse scheme during the Battle of Troy. I created my corresponding Gmail address and notified John S. and the other recruits of my new name. I felt like I was wading through a time or reality warp, still doubting whether any of this was real.

The initial emails from John S. had been staid and boilerplate, but the impression he gave off in the online group chats was almost bipolar. He started the conversation by asking who was drunk, or trying to get drunk, or already hungover. Complete sentences collapsed into incoherent fragments, his tone swinging between mildly serious and almost manic. One minute, he sounded like a fraternity president rallying his rushes:

“let’s be clear there are going to be guys who you are doing shit for as apprentices that you don’t really hear from etc. if we ask you to send a get well card to sean sure he may not be around but get him one. if we want mike in Afghanistan to have a piece written for him about how he’s a fucking war hero of the type that has never been seen ditto”

The next minute, he devolved into misogyny:

“let’s run thru this like a girl on x and coke at a fraternity party”

“i hope you hit that lil girls ass so hard it looks like two jap flags”

Many of the recruits took turns responding with a “haha” or “lol.” Later they invented obscene one-liners of their own in a show of one-upmanship, a chorus of fake Greek names shouting obscenities at each other in digital bursts.

The “serious” work accomplished in these online chats involved appointments. Each Google Group represented an “initiative” the Society was pursuing around campus. These were coded in confusing acronyms (PUR, ICR, TT) but included relatively traditional ideas like an academic law review, a political debate club, and a community service organization. Recruits were to volunteer their time to lead as many projects as possible.

The strange thing was that no part of any of these “initiatives” had been established yet. It was apparently our class’s job to build the entire ecosystem from scratch. John S. advised that additional directions would later follow, but the best place to start was with a good-looking website—it was “the quickest way to make any org look legit.”

At this, my suspicion grew deeper. Given the hastily constructed webpages John S. had shared, this offhand piece of advice almost felt like something from his own playbook. He claimed to be an NYU alum, but was there any definitive reason to believe him? He could’ve been someone else entirely. A con artist performing one of his ploys or scams. Some prankster or hacker kid prodigy with an affinity for orchestrating elaborate online pranks in his spare time. Maybe the Eucleian Society really did die in 1942. And this is the problem inherent to secrecy, especially one as hyped-up as this: It leaves open the possibility for endless conspiracies.

About a month after we received the original Facebook message, two online group chats had taken place, dozens of virtual toasts and dirty jokes were shared, and all but one of the Google Group “initiatives” had assigned leaders (my task: a weekly newsletter covering the conservative side of issues affecting millennials). To celebrate such progress, John S. decided it was time we finally met each other in the actual world for our first “social.” Thursday, 7:30pm at La Maison Française, NYU’s French Intellectual House.

Maybe John S. was for real.

* * *

When I arrived 15 minutes late, there were no open seats left. The front of the room was blocked off by two large tables formed into a V. Seated on the near side were the familiar faces from the Facebook profiles of my fellow recruits. Standing before us were three strangers. A man with light-black skin and large freckles smiled and introduced himself as John S., his voice calm and cheerful. Behind him were two white guys introduced by first names only, fellow members of his induction class. All three of them were middle-aged and paunchy, wearing loose-fitting suits. John S. conceded that society activity had dwindled since the early days of their induction, but said a core group of guys, many of whom we’d meet later, were dedicated to reviving it.

He explained that we had been handpicked as potential members due to our academic achievement.

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