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What's your twenty

Date: 26-Jul-2006/13:48+3:00


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I've found the number 1020 in a number of prominent places. Maybe it's not as popular as ...---... for help or "420" for marijuana. But it's definitely there, inscribed as graffiti in music videos or elsewhere.
When studying production design in film school I really saw how many places there are in movies to allude to things like numbers and symbols. If you have a scene and there's a calendar on the wall, then you could open it to October and a have a big X on the 20th. It's significant to build such items in because it's somewhat harder to manipulate a movie than HTML...so those reusing or abusing the content have a hard time editing these decisions out (especially if they don't notice). You can slip your message past those who would censor it.
What's the value in planting things like that? I guess when someone sets a clock to "4:20" in a movie they might be underscoring that the character likes marijuana...helping the plot (?). But more frequently, I think it breaks the frame and says "the director, production designer, or at least a sneaky actor who set the clock affiliates with stoner culture". But even if it does neither, it may raise enough questions so that people are more likely to hunt for the number in other contexts.
This gets to the question: What does 1020 mean, and why do I keep finding it? And if it doesn't have meaning yet, what should I do to keep it from turning into a street name for some nasty pharmaceutical I don't particularly want anyone to take?
If I had to choose, I very much like the spin on the story of 1020 being a way to ask "Where are you?" I think that coupling it with clocks (as 1020.com has done) and compasses (as 10-20.com has done) is a very educational and empowering set of symbology, which will lead people to think rationally about some of the tools it might take to arrange a rendezvous. It reminds me a bit of the old simple-but-standard CIA seal, which uses an eagle and a compass, and they even explain why.
1020.com has a nice premise; to help people find who they are looking for, and moreover to provide the service free of charge. But there are some questions one might ask about the site as it stands. Why do emails to webmaster at 1020 dot com bounce (at least for me?) Also there is a clock on the mainpage of the site which speaks of someone's birthday and anniversary. Hidden in a java applet, no less...and you have to peek through the source to see that the dates are 05/18 and 11/16. Or are those not dates at all...perhaps they're luggage codes? Or maybe the key information for how to get the administration password for 1020.com if you need it?
That might sound like a bad idea. If you recall the movie Wargames, you might ridicule Professor Falken for having such an easy password to guess on a computer which was able to launch nuclear weapons and destroy the world. After all, it was just his son's name--not that hard to find out. Yet it might be that the computer was actually a cinematic tool--never able to launch anything--and the good Professor just wanted to teach a lesson to the people of the military (or if that wasn't possible, to a coming generation of talented kids who need a form of education you can't get in school).
Well, clearly in Wargames it's a cinematic tool--as it's a movie. But I mean to say, in the "real" world it may behoove scientists to think at a higher level than mere technology and employ the tools of storytelling.
A subtle case of the appearance of 10:20 that's interested me in my study of digital watermarking and forgeries is in this TATU video, widely distributed on the net. There's lots of unexplained dates and numbers in it....which the birthday/anniversary made me think of. Look in the lower left of the screen when the footage shows a camera clock:
Curiously it first says 10:30 then it says 10:20 later. (I have the same version of the video in a higher resolution so it's more obvious)
I've also seen the video play with various overlays of graphics and poetrym. I've mused if the poem was added in by a third party, and if the whole is some kind of very specific message...from TATU to fans, from a fan to TATU, or from one fan to another? I enjoy discussing such signaling mechanisms, but have a hard time finding anyone else who does.
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The accounts written here are as true as I can manage. While the words are my own, they are not independent creative works of fiction —in any intentional way. Thus I do not consider the material to be protected by anything, other than that you'd have to be crazy to want to try and use it for genuine purposes (much less disingenuous ones!) But who's to say?