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“Almost no funding was used,” Stalbaum responds. “Less than $20 out of my own pocket for a domain name; this kind of work is inexpensive…. All of the software work I do for the Walkingtools.net Laboratory is technically owned by the university, but since this particular bit of code has no commercial value, we will be releasing it as open source software. It needs some cleanup and to be turned into a more general ‘Geo Marker’ skin...so that anyone can improve, re-skin and repurpose it.

“Also, I am going to get a purely demonstrational version working, one that does not attempt to store marks to a server. That will function as a speculative science-fiction app of a near future where apps that let communities discuss local dangers will become more and more common. That is fertile terrain, because we are only starting to have a conversation, and social realization, that almost nothing that we think is private actually is, and that our Constitution’s 18th-century ideas about public and private are inadequate to today’s technology.”

Stalbaum hopes to put out the new version of Gun Geo Marker by the end of the year. In his latest email, he is calling it a “digital sculpture representing the voices and faces of those who oppose community accountability for gun owners who, for example, store their guns unlocked in places where kids can easily play with them.

“I don’t think I could continue to enjoy my gun hobby if I were not involved in cleaning it up, too. And this kind of activism is what I know. The major barrier remaining is an insistence that reasonable gun laws represent a slippery slope toward some paranoid fantasies about the government seizing privately owned guns.”

Someone has to have the last word

What Loewenstein anticipates in the second phase of Stalbaum’s project is that he will use public comments on Gun Geo Marker to “berate or make fun of people who spoke out or acted out against it. Stalbaum characterizes those people as radical anti-gun-safety people. I certainly opposed his application, and I’m not a radical anti-gun-safety person at all.

“He is not only an artist but an electronic activist,” says Loewenstein, who notes that in 2009 Stalbaum helped create an app that allowed Mexican immigrants more easily find water as they crossed the border in desert areas. “He tries to make social statements through his art. But that appeared to be aiding and abetting an illegal activity.”

But what of the original Gun Geo Marker as a practical tool, an experiment that was so universally condemned when it appeared that its opponents snuffed it out immediately? “It’s pretty obvious,” says Loewenstein, “if you think about the issues, that the application could not have had any benefit in terms of safety. It was only an attempt to stir the pot on one side of the issue.”


Stalbaum asks me to invite Loewenstein to meet us for further discussion over a beer. It may yet happen.

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CaptainObvious Nov. 16, 2013 @ 7:25 a.m.

If the app worked as intended, it would be a map showing the houses to not rob, leaving blank spaces where the sheep live.


shirleyberan Nov. 16, 2013 @ 4:34 p.m.

I don't think an app can find where illegal guns are located.


jnojr Nov. 17, 2013 @ 8:38 a.m.

Ahh, but when someone believes all guns should be illegal (or just illegal for everyone else, but they should be one of the special annointed elite), an app like this starts to make sense, in a twisted way.


Visduh Nov. 16, 2013 @ 10:27 p.m.

The many flaws in this scheme are so numerous that it is hard to know where to start. But I'll start with the old-time axiom of early computer users, "garbage in, garbage out." If there were some even slightly reliable source of this data, then the app might have some marginal value in identifying those who MIGHT misuse firearms. But in the absence of such a data base, Stalbaum wants users to report places where firearms are misused, or might be misused, or are stored, or . . . something. And then that will somehow prevent kids from being injured or killed. The connection is tenuous at best.

This gives him and his supporters grounds to then claim that those who don't like this strange process of tattling on your neighbors, or on people you don't like, or on those who have guns and profess to having them for any of a number of legitimate purposes, or . . . , are anti--gun safety. Again, there is not obvious connection. Most of those who have firearms around, and who occasionally use them in shooting sports or for legal hunting, are real bugs on safety. Those folks keep them locked up, unloaded, and definitely away from kids and anyone else who might misuse them.

The untrained person who gets a handgun as "protection" against some vague threat and keeps it in a nightstand, loaded, is the dangerous one. Does the neighbor know about that gun? Most unlikely. And ithe app will not protect a kid visiting the home from finding the piece and firing it unintentionally or heedlessly.

The circular logic used to justify the assembly of the data base and the app to access it is amazing. Just what the real motives are for this proposal isn't clear. After reading the story, can any reader say that Stalbaum is doing anything other than stirring the pot? He can't really think this will make us all safer.


elvishasleftsandiego Nov. 17, 2013 @ 7:52 a.m.

Gun owners are "anti gun safety"? It's this liberal bigotry and ignorance that has convinced millions of former Californians to flee the state. But please continue. California is increasing it's efforts to disarm the populace, and opening the flood gates to illegal immigration. Got news for you--Mexico's drug cartel violence is coming to San Diego, given it's proximity to the border. So keep encouraging them to come in. And please, give them welfare and unemployment, and drivers licenses so that they can vote illegally in our elections. One thing we can count on is the end result of ever increasing liberalism--FAILURE


dwbat Nov. 17, 2013 @ 9:55 a.m.

"It's this liberal bigotry and ignorance that has convinced millions of former Californians to flee the state." Huh? I believe most of the people who have left CA moved to states (NV, AZ, etc.) with a lower cost of living.


Visduh Nov. 17, 2013 @ 5:22 p.m.

I'm inclined to agree that it was economic issues that have driven so many people from California in the past decade or two. Nevada and Washington have no state income tax, and for many folks, that is a deal maker without any other considerations. Arizona isn't that much better on taxes, but in some other ways, probably has an edge on cost of living. But there are other considerations that I hear from those who have left, or are considering leaving, and "liberal" and "sanctuary" and "diversity" pop up in conversations about their desire to leave.


timbosocal Jan. 8, 2014 @ 8:10 a.m.

For everyone's safety maybe we should just identify all gun owners and potential gun owners. Maybe we could have them sew a yellow star on their clothes. That method of singling out groups in the past has worked out so well.


timbosocal Jan. 8, 2014 @ 8:28 a.m.

He talks about the app being "hacked" and full of false info. What did the app do to verify ALL data? If someone finds out I'm a gun owner and marks my property, what did he do to verify that I was an unsafe handler of firearms? Was the info only false if it was not what he wanted?

This was just another attempt to target law abiding citizens and label them as outside the mainstream.


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