16-May-2012 (Wed) Wherein there are some awards, and some photos, and some epic douchebaggery.

Congratulations to Bootie for winning "Best Event Producers" in SF Weekly's readers' poll, and to Bootie house band Smash-Up Derby for winning "Best Band"! And for the second year in a row, our very own Chupa won "Best Bartender"!

Did I mention that SF Weekly had decided to eliminate the category of "Best Dance Club" this year? Yeah, I think I did.


Oh, hey, have you heard of this "hot new startup venture" SceneTap? They've signed up twenty SF bars to allow them to install facial-recognition cameras to mine demographic data. Read the comments on this SF Weekly blog post about it to see the warm welcome they're getting -- e.g., "Thanks for the list of bars I won't be going to".

I'm sure this will never, ever be abused. It's not like SFPD isn't perpetually lobbying for clubs to be forced to install exactly these sorts of cameras and ID scanners. Oh wait, yes they are. In fact, one of the "standard conditions" that ABC is putting on all new liquor licenses now is a requirement to save video of every patron, and turn over the recordings whenever they ask. Since most people applying for liquor licenses don't have the luxury of fighting the default conditions -- which usually means paying rent on an empty building for six months during the appeal process -- you can expect to be seeing a lot more of that around town.

Anyway, back to SceneTap, I posted about this company on my other blog last year, but it probably actually belonged here instead, so I'll just cut-and-paste...

This douchebag's startup is actually getting bars to pay them for this:

"This is going to change the way the bar industry runs."

Facial detection cameras that will keep track of the number of people in a bar, including a running tally of ladies.

Cameras are set up at the bar's exits and entrances, says SceneTap CEO Cole Harper. The software is not savvy enough to, say, be linked up with Facebook and detect identity; it's just able to detect a face and its gender.

"This is going to change the way the bar industry runs," says Harper.

While the software can tell you the gender ratio, it unfortunately doesn't rate attractiveness.

This post is part of an ongoing effort to identify the people, places, ideas, products and companies that are poised to become central to the global conversation over the next six to nine months.

Cole Harper, may you never have sex again.

And you stay klassy, Forbes.

This idiotic idea is not even an original idiotic idea: there's a Twitter feed called "yo bro, where the wimmins at" (it's not actually called that but I'm not telling you its real name because I don't want them getting the hits) who have been doing this by mining the gender field on Foursquare checkins for years. Every time they at-spam us on the Twits I mark them as spam, but the account is still there, despite being a pretty clear violation of Twitter's ToS.

15 Responses:

  1. Michael Smith says:

    i think that app was removed from the app store.

  2. ryan__b says:

    Besides SceneTap, the SF Weekly article also blasts bars for live streaming video of their patrons. It's not connected to BarSpace, but DNA has done this for a while. Given jwz's concern about the police lobbying for customer data, even without names attached, could/does SFPD glean much from DNA's existing feeds?

    • davidglass says:

      DNA's camera feeds are from above and at a distance where individual patron identitites are impossible to discern.

  3. Pavel Lishin says:

    I wonder why SceneTap needs to install their own cameras, instead of, say, selling software that would allow bars to analyze their own security feeds, without presumably releasing any of that information.

    • Jamie Zawinski says:

      I'm sure you don't *actually* wonder that, because you know the reason: SceneTap's business model is to own all the demographic information and sell that to other people -- plus to get these other businesses to pay them for the privilege of creating a database that only SceneTap owns. Hey, maybe they'll even *sell it back* to them. It's exactly how Facebook and Google Plus work. Merely selling software that performs a service? That's some Nineteen-Nineties thinking. Collecting personal data and selling it to the highest bidder is the new hotness.

      • Pavel Lishin says:

        True, I do not wonder that - it was the comment-equivalent of a headline ending in a question mark.I remember having this whole product-vs-service talk with my dad, when he was involved with a company that would wire up buildings and tunnels to propagate cell signals. I asked him, why not just sell buildings the hardware, instead of selling them a service contract, etc. I was naive, then. (On the other hand, the company has been steadily run into the ground by idiot management, so who's to say.)

      • Mysterc says:

        loving the fact that you are using terms like "the new hotness"

  4. Sheilagh says:

    Hm. Would those trendy new moustaches chicks have been wearing be useful in confusing the camera's evaluation of gender by face images?

  5. SceneTap says:

    If you’re interested in taking a look, our CEO Cole Harper has written a letter to San Francisco addressing the concerns surrounding the app: http://scenetap.com/coles_letter_to_san_francisco. Hopefully that helps explain things a bit more.

    • DoctorMemory says:

      Consider getting a job where you wouldn't be ashamed to sign your own name to your social media outreach efforts.

  6. DC Dan says:

    App idea, TapOut an app that tells you which bars have this software to warn you not to go there.

  7. Morgan Woodson says:

    Great opportunity for an IR-emitting hat denial-of-service attack.

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