Culture Category Archive


I didn't want this to be the first post in a while but what the heck...

I've been thinking a lot about the nature of time again recently. Especially the future. Gibson's quote, "The future is already here - it is just unevenly distributed." keeps coming back to me, and it is very much inline with my thinking.

And as I was just thinking about it again a few moments ago, how what some might think is futuristic is very much "now" for others, I thought:

"What is now to me is in your future."

Which brought back an old memory, from Art History in college. Renaissance artist Masaccio's "The Holy Trinity" features a tomb at it's bottom, with a skeleton and the inscription:

"I was once that which you are, and what I am you will also be."

In that context it is very poignant of course. And absolutely not in the scale nor scope of what I am thinking of, but a neat parallel anyways.

Revisiting an old curse

A supposed chinese curse goes "may you live in interesting times."

First of all, we need to update this to "may you live in an interesting time and place," as surely there are always "interesting" things going on somewhere.

By interesting, it is meant "where things are happening," sous-entendu some sort of considerable upheaval, like war or profound societal changes.

To be frank, that isn't much of a curse in my eyes. There is nothing so mind numbingly boring and soul draining as a stable, well fed, content society, selfishly pursuing "happiness." "May you live in comfortable times" seems to me a much more damning pronouncement, let alone situation to find oneself in.

I should rant about the navel-gazing idiocy most of us find ourselves in, were it not for my own lack of the fortitude required to drop into a war-zone, just to get a taste of what being alive really means.

There is no room for the thinking man in a quasi-utopia; the artist reduced to carnival clown feeding on the scraps presented to him on a silver platter at the feast. When the layers of abstraction are painted on so thick, how can he begin to see what is real?

I live in a comfortable time and place, and I am damned. And I damn myself by staying here.


I'm at a loss for words to describe this.
Johnny Depp on promo tour in Japan is audience to ... well... this.

Watch for the girls playing the synths. Incredible.

Part 1 and Part 2 (Youtube disabled embedding)

via Ado.


There's something in the air

Digitalism - Pogo
It's been quite of a while since i could experience your brightness
Now you've got a brighter smile and i think i'm going to like it
Talking 'bout the better things, you know how to maximize
Everything around you will become super-sized
You have to set up
Away from what matters
And get it prepared

Also fun:
Zdarlight - Digitalism

Claire de lune

Clair de lune from musanim on Vimeo

Gorgeous. More pieces here. From the Music Animation Machine, which isn't a machine at all. ;)

This fits perfectly with a thought I had last week about time: how the past is memory, the future, conjecture, and the present a separatrix, a non existing line, between the two, but how music seems to allow you to hang on to bits of now after the note has been struck, and anticipate what comes next...

We want your soul

We want your soul video

by Adam Freeland

Show us Your Habits, Your Facts, Your Fears
Give us your address, your shoe size, your years
your digits, your plans, your number, your eyes
your skedule, your desktop, your details, your life.
Show us your children, your photos, your home.
Here, take credit, take insurance, take a loan.
Get a job, get a pension, get a haircut, get a suit.
Play the lottery, play football, play the field, score some toot

We want your Soul x5
(in background...Your Cash, Your House, Your Phone, Your Life, Your Cash, Your House, Your Life)

Here's programmes, here's matters, here's Britney, here's Cola
Here's pizza, here's TV, here's some rock and some rolla
Watch commercials, more commercials, watch Jerry, not Oprah
Buy a better life from the comfort of your sofa
Here's popcorn, here's magazines, here's milkshake, here's blue jeans
here's padded bras, here's long cars, here's football shirts, here's baseball caps
here's live talk shows, here's video games, here's cola lite, here's Timberlake
here's fingertips, here's colegen, here's all night bars, here's plastic

We want your soul x5
(In the background...Your Cash, Your House, Your Phone, Your Life, Your Cash, Your House, Your Life)

Your cellphone, your wallet, your time, your ideas
No barcode, no party, no iodine, no beers
your bankcard, your license, your thoughts, your fears
no simcard, no disco, no photo, not here
your blood, your sweat, your passions, your regrets
your office, your timeoff, your fashions, your sex
your tits, your pass, your face, your ass.

Kyoto Jazz Massive

Shuya Okino of Kyoto Jazz Massive is playing Montreal tomorrow night:

Shuya Okino of Kyoto Jazz Massive fame as he embarks on a North American tour supporting his latest United Legends EP. This stop in montreal is going down at Acadamy with support from Moonstarr and guests on the decks. Expect to dance to the sounds of dancefloor jazz, broken beat and deep house vibes. Starts at 10pm. Admission is $8.

Some tracks to sample.

It blows my mind they've booked Academy, which is a tango-or-salsa-or-whatever school by day... seems to be a rash of piss-poor bookings of world-class acts around here lately... Hello! Joakim at Main Hall?! WTF?

Anyways, for a good time... go. :)

Pecha Kucha Night Montréal

 Pecha Kucha Montreal

James and I are putting on Pecha Kucha Night Montreal at the S.A.T. on June 14th. Doors open at 7:30 and attendance is free.

"It's all about taste"

New friend Patrick went on a fantastic tear about how fascinating Karl Lagerfeld is after I showed him The Sartorialist and we scrolled over his picture.

The above video was a 2 minute promotional made to announce Lagerfeld's line for H&M afew years ago, which apparently many regarded as a sellout move of sorts. The piece fiercely parodies the fashion world, and much of Lagerfeld's own clientèle...

... his retort to being called "cheap" at the end is golden:

"It's all about taste. If you are cheap, nothing helps."

A few years ago, Mike said something similar to me: "Taste is all you have. Without it, who cares?" (something along those lines ;)

Just a band

Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip 'Thou Shalt Always Kill'

"thou shalt give equal worth to tragedies that occur in non-english speaking countries as to those that occur in english speaking countries." (1:54 in)



fluokids, kinda interesting DJ crew in france, seems to be made up of some funloving kids.

However, what I find the most interesting, is their awesome logo:


Made by Arthur Röing, a swedish teenager. He says:

Submission for graphic design contest arranged by fluokids, a french dj crew. I custom made a font by arranging circles and rectangles into different shapes, later evolving to the different letters in the logotype.

Beautiful job man.



Found The Sartorialist a few months back (via Mike I think?) and am really *really* enjoying his candid snaps of pure style. As the two above are an example of.

Let your environment inspire you. Jump into the flow. Be unconventional, thoroughly. Being present is not enough.

No way

Tomorrow at 3pm I am meeting someone who was instrumental in introducing the Shibuya Kei style of music to North America in the 1990's. If it hadn't been for this, I would never have heard of Pizzicato 5 and my journey of discovery of Japanese culture would ... well not have started there. Which it sorta did.

Cornelius, Joi's second cousin, was/is a major figure in Shibuya Kei, and one of my favorite musicians ever.

Tomorrow night, 2 Many DJs, a.k.a. SoulWax are starting a two night stand at Womb in Shibuya. One of my very first comments on Joi's blog, and thus contact with him, and, oddly, seminally, Adam Greenfield, whom I handed a CD with 700megs of mashups to at SxSW that year, was about... 2 Many DJs.

The mind reels, as the story unfolds.

Oh and Saturday, the guy who used to run the record shop which is now occupied by the geek room at Laïka, plays at Yellow. Contexts collapsing galore.

L'habit ne fait pas le moine

It's not the clothes, it's how you wear them.

Style is: adapting to the context.
Fashion is: making that adaptation.

As every river has a source and ends in an estuary, every quality individual manifestation of style (natural selection?) follows the flow of growing adoption, becoming a trend, and finally being incorporated into the prevailing environment / context.

The individual constantly adapts and seeks to maintain his individuality. In this climate of ever more focused observation of this phenomenon, the individual becomes marked as the trendsetter.

The dance is fun to watch.

Oh and it's not about clothes at all. That's the point.
You are either actively engaged with the culture or you are passively engulfed by it. Either is fine, as long as you are aware of your choice. :)

À propos, 2ManyDJ's - Radio SoulWax - Tomorrow's World (2002)

Esthetic urban decay by design

Decay Blocks 1

The view above is common in Tokyo: rough, old and weathered giant stone block walls. Images of ninja scrambling along them... er I digress.

Walking back to Shibuya from Harajuku a few weeks back, I noticed this wall:

Decay blocks 2

Obviously, some recent repair work had been done and a section of the wall renewed. However, I wondered why these new blocks were so dirty, and the older ones not? There was no puddle of mud on the road that could have splattered, even if so perfectly avoiding the old wall, onto them.

Upon closer inspection:

decay blocks 3

What is that? Why is there so much crap splattered over all these... oh wait a minute. This isn't dirt splatter; this is half rotten wood! Half rotten wood chips IN the concrete blocks!

Wood chips are mixed into the concrete blocks. Over time, with humidity and rain and temperature changes, the wood expands and contracts and accelerate surface erosion of the concrete blocks, giving them a nice, ancient, weathered rock look and feel, probably within a few months.

How great is that? It's a good thingTM


Mao Surreal

New friend Verena is in Beijing this week and she posted this picture she took while driving my Tiananmen Square.

I find the image of Mao mesmerizing. Not becase it's Mao (it means nothing to me for I have no direct experience of communism, Chinese or otherwise, except for few misguided marxist acquaintances), but because of the image.

Look at it.

The baby blue to pink fade background.
As gaudy as any knock-off sneaker rolling off factory conveyor belts by the billions.

The grey perfection of the suit.
The shadows crisp and jutting out into this world from that one. Boo! We're comin' to get'ya!

The iconic old-well-fed-chinese-man face.
It screams "I love dumplings! You will too!"


If you ever need the Bangla keyboard mappings and some fonts for Mac OS X, Apple conveniently links to them.

Be prepared though...

bangla keyboard layout installer

It's like being there!!! ;)

Oops, you'll need some fonts with that. Thank you come again.

Why do I need them? Rendering issues.

What's that movie?!

Help me out here...

Mid 80's, I think the main actor was a WWF wrestler (first guess was Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake, but IMDB doesn't list any movies for him). Something about aliens already here, controlling society on earth via subliminal messages in advertising that only this main actor guy can see thanks to special sunglasses.


AHA! Thanks Mike! It was Rowdy Roddy Piper, and the movie is "They Live"

"Nada, a down-on-his-luck construction worker, discovers a pair of special sunglasses. Wearing them, he is able to see the world as it really is: people being bombarded by media and government with messages like "Stay Asleep", "No Imagination", "Submit to Authority". Even scarier is that he is able to see that some usually normal-looking people are in fact ugly aliens in charge of the massive campaign to keep humans subdued."

Why do I bring this up?

Because of this: "BBC News - Hiding messages in plain sight"

Japanese firm Fujitsu is pushing a technology that can encode data into a picture that is invisible to the human eye but can be decoded by a mobile phone with a camera.

The company believes the technology will have spin off implications for the publishing industry.

"The concept is to be able to link the printed page into the digital domain," said Mike Nelson, general manager for sales operations at Fujitsu Europe.

Aaron, get some yellow markers too!

田中 - quarter half - 1/4 1/2 - ricefield center

When I saw this, I thought "quarter half".
In japanese, it reads ta-naka. It is a family name. (I actually have a friend who's family name is Tanaka.)

The kanji characters mean:
ç”° -> rice field
中 -> center, middle, or between

田中 ... to me it's 1/4 1/2

What is it to you?


Amazon taps into otaku culture. Or what's left of it anyways.

from Metropolis (no permanent URI--"permalink". get a clue people!)

Now that otaku are the new trendsetters, you’ll be sure to find what’s hot in Japanese subculture wherever they congregate. The country’s largest online retailer, Amazon Japan (, has created a dedicated spot for these self-proclaimed nerds to go gaga over the latest video games, DVDs, figurines, graphic novels, magazines, cosplay gear and so much more.

The Otaku Store is organized by its own editors, ranked by popularity and reviewed by peers, making it the go-to place for all coveted items on the otaku radar. One way to browse it is by popular anime character names, among which Evangelion, Suzumiya Haruhi and Nodame Cantabile are the most widely searched. Otaku living overseas can also partake in the shopping, since the majority of these items (excluding video games) can be shipped internationally. With some 30,000 products currently listed, this new resource brings the chaos of Akihabara right onto your computer screen, in a more organized way.

Anyways, the term otaku much more broadly means anyone who's a geek for any interest, not just japanese anime, computers and robots and videogames... but whatever.

Crunkin' fo' Jaysus

Someone at AP didn't do their research. Consider:

Atlanta rappers take crunk to the pulpit

"We represent harder than any other person," he said. "We are born-again, sanctified, delivered in Jesus' name. Some people have a problem with the way we represent. It's time for some ... Christians to stand up and represent in the industry and the media."

Right, I'm sure you boyz reprazent ow' brotha Jesus wif nuff respec'... except that...


Crunk is /.../ derived from a combination or a portmanteau of the words "crazy" and "drunk", or a combination of "chronic" and "drunk", referring to the state of being both drunk from alcohol and high on marijuana, at the same time.

So what they are saying, essentially, is you have to be totally high to believe in all this Jesus stuff right?


A consciousness

(get past the melodrama and the fact that it's an anime / "oh it's cheesy scifi" ;)


Just as there are many parts needed to make a human a human
there's a remarkable number of things needed to make an individual what they are.

A face to distinguish yourself from others.
A voice you aren't aware of yourself.
The hand you see when you awaken.
The memories of childhood, the feelings for the future

That's not all.

There's the expanse of the data net my cyber-brain can access...*

All of that goes into making me what I am.
Giving rise to a consciousness that I call "me."

And simultaneously confining "me" within set limits.

* Drop this phrase for a moment, and consider "what am I? What constitutes "me"?". Then consider that your knowledge and memories are all products of your experience, as transmitted to your mind via your 5 senses. Then imagine that you have a new sense, which feeds knowledge directly into your mind (regardless of I/O: be it visual/audio, direct neural stimulation, whatever).

What is "real" then, and what makes you, you?
And when everyone you interact with is at that same level, where knowledge and experince sync happens, what differentiates you from me? (this is explored in the later TV series, where 9 AI robots develop personalities even though they are continuously synchronizing their minds.)

We are still far from accessible "augmented reality" systems, let alone sync'ing capabilites, but we do have their early forbearers now: weblogs, social network aware software (still crap), aggregators, moblog photo sharing. All these things contribute to peripheral awareness enhancements of select people and data sources around us. Most of those who have been exposed to all this have stymied the "data overload" by retreating a little bit, hitting our aggregators a little less often, etc, but we have tasted the fruit and we do seek to stay connected.

I'd like to start building better tools and UIs for this peripheral awareness, this external, tele proprioception.

Vicious Interface

vi Cheat sheet

the above is a cheat sheet for the vi terminal-based text editor. it is evil in it's powerful complexity. amongst geek ideology wars, vi is often pitted again emacs. the emacs camp backronyms vi to mean "vicious interface"

my intention in posting this is to communicate the idea that this cheat sheet is, in effect, the GUI of vi, and that that is indeed vicious.

editing crontab in vi is a pita.

Ok that wasn't so hard... ;)

When the money comes knocking, egotism answers.

Flickr patents "Interestingness".

Media objects, such as images or soundtracks, may be ranked according to a new class of metrics known as "interestingness." These rankings may be based at least in part on the quantity of user-entered metadata concerning the media object, the number of users who have assigned metadata to the media object, access patterns related to the media object, and/or a lapse of time related to the media object.

Sorry guys. I am officially revolted. Peh.
An awesome bit of code, for sure. A great idea, no doubt. An idea that needs to be "protected" and hoarded and kept from anyone else benefitting from? Hmmmm... hooray for progress!
Peh. Lame, lame, lame.

The party's over...

Absolutely most see.

"Robert Newman gets to grips with the wars and politics of the last hundred years - but rather than adhering to the history we were fed at ... all » school, the places oil centre stage as the cause of all commotion."

45 minutes well spent.

Everything part II

continuation of previous post

They say there is opportunity in chaos. The chaos they speak of exists generally outside, and on the fringes of, "The System". Humanity, for better or worse, seeks always to order, structure, the chaos and benefit form it somehow, bringing it into "The System". This is how we, as a society ("The System"), move forward.

Intrinsic to this ordering, is contextualizing. It is what it is all about. Contexts are signifiers, icons, containers... parts of a system.

Find the context that you are interested in, even passionate about. Learn as much of it as you can, and never stop learning about it.

Then, go out to fringes and look at what's new in the chaos. What new elements and attributes are relevant to your contexts. Identify them and think of how they can be made useful, valuable to yourself and all around you.

The chaos is the environment. The world in it's myriad evolutions and revolutions. What new elements and bits has a shift in technology, medium, politics, economy, etc... created.

Then, just do it. But do it because it's what you must do, need to do, want to do. Everything else will come.


(rambling alert!!!)

Everything is a node.
And every node can be, at once, part of many contexts, and can also, just by being, create many contexts.
Every node has many properties.
And contexts can add and modify properties of nodes.
And every context has many properties as well.

This is what is on my mind. It is infused in everything I do and everything I am; from building multi context web aggregators, to how I view my self, society, and my place in it.

I am
I, the base node in my experience, who's core context, my self perception, which is only clear to me when I am lying quietly, alone... am.

Some examples

I do
Professional context: web specialist. This context groups me with a large number of people (globally). Some are friends, acquaintances, etc (relationship contexts), most I don't even know exist.

Where I do
I live and work in Montreal. This reduces the number of people in my professional context to a geographic context of "Montreal". (In my case this is deceptive: I am not part of the local web scene really and therefor I know very very few of my fellows here. But for arguments sake, let's ignore that.) We can further refine the geographic context with a location context: Laika. If I were more connected in teh social context of Montreal, very likely I could identify more web-workers at Laika.

Profession context: web-worker
Geographic context: Plateau, Montreal, Quebec, Canada (AND or OR)
Location context: Laika, BoLab

What I like to do:
Professional interests context: web-based communications, mobile connectedness, peripheral awareness, etc etc.
Personal interests: (some overlap... ;) Phenomena of culture, movement of society, perception and translation of environment and how that affects, feeds, informs and drives the previous two.

Who I like to do with:
Relationship contexts. Some broad ones, many specific one, and as many individual ones as individual nodes I interact with. Much overlap (node from Friends Context A is [relative of] node in Acquaintance Context Y, etc)

Time context. File created? File updated? File last accessed? File access frequency, across time. Forgetfulness, fog of time.
(Replace "File" with "Relationship", "Interest", "Location", etc... When was the last time I was in Vienna? Often had I been there? How frequently do i return? When was the last time I thought of snowboarding? Went? When was the last time I saw her? Emailed him? ... ... ...)

And so on... just imagine.

RDF (Resource Descriptive Framework) exists for the purposes of modeling the information sphere on the reality of nodes and contexts.

Wheels within wheels, the myriad creatures.

Awww kick me in the lifestyle why dontcha


Crystal Method and LCD Soundsystem both produced 45 minute-ish tracks for Nike+; engineered specifically for jogging workouts, designed specifically for dumbasses like me.


Teh LCD Soundsystem track *sucks*. Oh and fuckyouverymuch, Apple "Fairplay".

Update 2
Ok, ok, it gets interesting at 28 minutes.

Well stated

Lucas Gonze puts into words what most iPod/iTunes users haven't quite become aware of yet:

why you need more music

from Wired -- The Day the Music Died:

I thought at first I had misheard him.

"... library of 90,000 songs, and iTunes can't handle it." [...] I had
no idea people were amassing collections of this size.

My own paltry iTunes library runs just shy of 500 songs -- a little
over a day and a half of music -- and that includes every selection
from Pipes of the Edinburgh Military Tattoo. Now, I spend a lot of
time listening to music, but like most people I tend to play my
favorites a lot.

Research I have seen supports that writer's number. 500 songs is about the average.

I remember times in my life where I had a strictly limited music collection, and I kept things fresh by listening at finer and finer levels of detail. Those days should be over for most of us, though. It's important for individuals to grow their collections past the "enough" marker, whether that's 50,000 songs or even just 500, because at that point you stop listening in the old way.

The new way is to treat music more like a newspaper than a book, so
that a continuous stream of fresh content is intrinsic to the media.
If you hear a good hook somewhere, the next day you should find that
hook remixed into another song. You should never again, post 20th
century, post the era when music and manufactured goods were
synonomous, think of music as something so static that 500 songs could
encompass it.

The idea that a 500 song collection makes sense is based on a
misunderstanding of the medium. Maybe you'll only have 500 songs on
hand at any one time -- that makes sense. But which songs those are
should be a constantly rotating subset of a gigantic collection which
lives out in the cloud.

Yep. I was thinking about another facet of all this just last night as I was reminded how I haven't had time in a long time to a) get new music, b) maintain my playlists and c) update my iPod. There are now enough services which could theoretically stream me new tunes constantly, but so far they all require some acrobatics, which is annoying.'s player comes closest to what I want, but there's no way to take anything with me if I want it.

(Podcasting and radio streams have too much blah blah. Shut up already. If the price for not triggering my language centers with inane claptrap is my having to take the time to manage my own music, then I guess I may have to go that way. Just saying. ;)

In any case, it isn't a terribly high priority for me at all, hence the cost/benefit barrier not being overcome. Back to 80Gig library.

Oh and nevermind the insanity of attempting to manage so much media. Between file and metadata management, it all becomes a pile very quickly. ;)

Create a culture of design

This is exactly what I hope to set up around me, for my eventual team, modulo all the emphasis on games/gaming:

pasta and vinegar � Creating a culture of design research

1. Create a space that encourages design research: “the office space we inhabit is filled to bursting with games, toys, and other play objects”
2. Build a design research library: ” retail game titles, books and graphic novels, DVDs and videotapes, magazines (we have many subscriptions), board and card games, and toys of all kinds.”
3. Attend and create events: “GameLab has attended films, exhibits, conferences, and other events connected to games, design, and popular culture / we also host our own design research affair”
4. Let them teach
5. Encourage side projects: “We encourage our staff to pursue personal projects.”
6. Create contexts for experimentation: “from time to time we create opportunities for our staff to undertake experimental, noncommercial projects as a form of design research. ”

The original full text is here: Creating a Culture of Design Research - Eric Zimmerman

It's nothing new, and makes total sense: people need to be in envirornments that stimulate.

MIT Center for Collective Intelligence


Our basic research question is: How can people and computers be connected so that—collectively—they act more intelligently than any individuals, groups, or computers have ever done before?

Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated.

Aligmatically challenged

I just cursed someone AND invented a word all at once!

Aligmatically challenged: someone who is incapable of lining stuff up.
Makes me crazy. It's gotta flow dammit! I don't care how "rough outline" or "general idea" it is!


Breaking out of the Document

An email from Julian sent me into a whirl.

If I wanted to publish scrapbook-like, and I mean really willy-nilly ad-hoc layouts... is it doable in web-standards today?

I can build a CMS that takes care of navigation, blog-style, across time stamps and various context mechanisms (categories, tags, authors etc...)...

But then what? I can give you a <div> and, following current web-tech, you are stuck with inline or block display.

There's a bunch of threads I can follow from here...

Weblog CMSs have mostly focused on making it easy to build and maintain the infrastructure of personal websites--archives and their navigation, etc--with a passing concern for clean markup in the actual content. But that's "in the div" and, again, it's fairly constrained. Even the most "into it" web designers don't bother doing custom layouts and CSS for their weblogs' content.

And there's a reason: doing even simple stuff in XHTML+CSS isn't simple. Or at least, not simple enough to warrant the time cost. The cost of benefit is too high, exactly how maintaining a personal website used to be too high a cost for the benefit (which we all know now; the benefits of weblogging I mean.)

Is there benefit in maintaining an online multi-media "scrapbook"? You bet there is. You know why? Take your weblog, and replace words with video and audio and drawing and pictures etc. (Hi Marc Canter!) Just ask any of your friends who maintain scrapbooks in their Moleskines.

As is always the case, I think we are at that intersection where a) all the technological pieces necessary are in place (web standards, aggregators, open APIs, UE), b) people have already tried to do similar things (for a while now, a bunch of people have been talking about this, in various ways and from varying angles) and c) there is evidence of a desire in the culture/society/people (scrapbook maintainers, YouTube/MySpace video sharers, rebloggers, bloggers even... Six Apart's "Vox" and Microsoft's "Wallop" are versions of this as well and both have been in development for a looong while... and all I've been doing for 2 years is building aggregators for people...)

Open ended thought... as usual a ramble... back to work.

p.s.: RDF could be the wiring. Like I told Julian:

"[This stuff is still] bare... it's like saying "we want a multimedia room in our house" and you step in after the electricians did their part [and go "hey, wtf?!"]"

Dance with me

This makes me love humanity.

(New album from Nouvelle Vague. Yay! Music video is a scene from Goodard movie "Bande à part")
Merci Karl!


Very interesting:

The Citizendium, a "citizens' compendium of everything," will be an experimental new wiki project that combines public participation with gentle expert guidance. It will begin life as a "progressive fork" of Wikipedia. But we expect it to take on a life of its own and, perhaps, to become the flagship of a new set of responsibly-managed free knowledge projects. We will avoid calling it an "encyclopedia," because there will probably always be articles in the resource that have not been vouched for in any sense.

We believe a fork is necessary, and justified, both to allow regular people a place to work under the direction of experts, and in which personal accountability--including the use of real names--is expected. In short, we want to create a responsible community and a good global citizen.

# Registered users will be able to edit as "authors" but there will also be "editors" who have more authority because of their background as specialists in a certain field. While this is being intrinsically ruled out in Wikipedia's approach, Sanger strongly believes that the valuing of expert knowledge would attract more people from the scientific community and thus improve the overall quality.

I especially like this comment by Nathan Rasmussen on the Smartmobs article.

Speaking of shopping

This XMas video by Jer does a nice job of subtly and subconsciously communicating just how surreal consumer culture can be.

Remember, only X shopping days till Christmas!

Buy movies...

Ok here we go.

Amazon just unveiled "Amazon Unbox", their movie and TV show purchasing & download store.

Apple is rumored (damn near confirmed) to release their movie download service next week as well, however with fewer studios signed up (whatever).

Two easy consequences:
DRM will be shoved down everyone's throats and everyone will accept it because hey! I can download "24" and "CSI" and watch it like now! I don't care about my cultural rights! (and why would I for pabulum like that?!) /snark

Mad scramble to find easy solutions for piping movies from your computer to your home entertainment system. This sector has been growing steadily for years but this will probably crank it up a few notches.


Ok Go do their crazy treadmill routine live on the MTV Video Music Awards.

The first comment puts it... the way you could only expect i tto be put on the Internet...

I believe that the narrowminded and obnoxious message people need to sit back, and realize that this only made it to the MVA 2006 because of the OK Go on youtube. Realize that this is not 'performance' or 'gay' or 'is it art?' You are seeing a paradigm shift. Internet Hype made this happen. Bow before the net. It is the new God.

(Merci Patrick)

"George Galloway Savages SKY NEWS"

George Galloway on Sky
(SKY is apparently the british equivalent of Fox News, both Rupert Murdoch properties. Rupert also owns MySpace now. Beware, the brainwash machine expanded by a couple million more brains... very narrow brains mind you... ;)

Erasure of memory, loss of history, point of view with interests-backed agenda. Manipulation of medium and message, hence what most people today call reality, long ago ceased being an art and is now a fully mechanized business operation.

Matt Jones has a great little doodle in the banner of his weblog which depicts Umberto Eco saying "Lying about the future makes history*", which is certainly true. The reverse is true as well though: lying about history makes the future.

*Though the actual quote is "Lying about the future produces history."


Mike Pinkerton, developer of Camino, who now works for Google and doesn't seem so enthused about it all, says:

So did you ever notice how most people nowadays start new thoughts or interrupt discussions with "so"? I wonder how that started. Pretty much everyone I know does it, be it west coast or east coast. Wonder if it's an American thing.

Yup. Absolutely. I do it ALL the time. I learnt it from Joi. No joke.

So, I was thinking...

So is the new like.

To save Bethune

Bethune and the gull
EastSouthWestNorth: Extraordinary Chinese Sayings, 1840-1999 - Part 1:

When the Chinese Communist leaders found out that Dr. Bethune was ill, they ordered a full-scale effort to save him. Zhou Enlai issued a secret order to the party underground in Shanghai to obtain penicillin and other essential medicines not available in the interior. The party underground leader had no choice but to look up Shanghai's big triad boss Du Yuesheng (杜月笙) for help. Du stared at the shopping list and did not say anything for a while. The party underground leader got anxious and slowly articulated one word at a time: "If Mr. Du can help, we promise that we will always remember this." Du Yuesheng sighed and said: "This list of medicine will be difficult to procure. This is a lot harder than the little things that I have helped you on previously. But if a foreigner was willing to risk his life to come here to help us Chinese fight the little Japanese ghouls, what can we Chinese say? Please proceed to the Huangpo River tomorrow night to pick up the material. Let us say that all related expenses will be donated by me."

(photo by Ella)

Here they go again

"Ok Go" just raised the bar...

Location Portals

Michael finally went and got himself a "this is not personal!" weblog where he will talk about something that is central to everything he hopes and dreams about (in a non personal way! hehe).

If you're interested in location based, locative media, especially how it relates to community and all that (I'm drunk, bear with me), please visit, and subscribe to Location Portals. Having conversed with Michael over the years many times about all this, I assure you he has some terrific insights, not to mention in depth experience, and wishes to share that, and build on it.

Go go go!

Noise in the background of my head

Here is a "signature of the music I listen to", analysis of my iTunes playlist, based on 60 most listened tracks.

Take a peek.

Generated by the sparse yet full operational "iTunes Signature Maker" by Jason Freeman. Nicely done.

Warning: The iTunes Signature Maker is a Java applet that you have to "trust". I don't know what else it may be doing so decide for yourself if you trust it or Jason Freeman. I'm thinking it's a safe bet but you never know. ;)


The big electronics chain in Canada is British Columbia based "FutureShop", now a division of (american electronics chain) "Best Buy".

The FutureShop website has a promo section up, announcing the arrival of the new Nintendo "Wii" system. Clicking on "order today" we are presented with this choice piece of english:

Check back this page after for updates on upcoming games, purchase date and stock availability.

Release date subject to change by manufacture without notice. Final product might look different than what is illustrated. Final specification is subject to change by manufacture without notice. Please check back for updated information and stay tune for a release date.

What is that? Aside from jarring? ;)

A Million Ways to surf the viral wave


million ways

Just a bit over a year ago I pointed to this homemade musicvideo by this band, "Ok go!", wherein they perform a quite complex choreographed dance routine in one take in a backyard. It went sort of viral at the time, probbaly picked up some steam through the summer and probably exploded on YouTube when that went supernova...

So what's a band to do in such a case? Easy: dance contest.

So far, 22 entries within 2 weeks. And they just get better.

(My favorite are the three asian kids featured above 'cause they had to adapt for being one short and they still pull it off amazingly well.)

Other long tails I'd like to see

I would love to see stats on requested engravings on Apple iPods. Surely there are all kinds of "customizations" that are requested over and over and over...

I'd also like to see how unique a request of "Defective by design" engraving is, and how often it may have been spec'ed.

(This comes to mind as "Defective by design" is the oh so clever engraving Jer asked for on his free iPod that comes with the MacBook we ordered for him yesterday... which shipped from Shenzen this morning.)

Random 90's memory

As the Wikipedia entry says, Tom Cochran's song "Life is a Highway" was huuuuge back in '91. It's a good song, really. I'm glad for Mr. Cochrane as it's getting success again, even though the "country music boy band Rascal Flatts remake for the Disney/Pixar animated film Cars" of it is... pathetic.

Sigh... early nineties canadian rock.


Quick! Someone make a t-shirt for these people.

It should say:

"Non-conformity is the new conformity"
"zealotry is sexy again!"

("I'm with stupid"'s already been done.)

Pride is such a terribly dangerous thing. And too often people confuse pride in their work (what they have produced, with love and attention and skill and experience and and), and pride in their tools. (Or worse, instead of pride in one's society's culture/contribution to humanity, pride in one's rivers and lakes, cities and towns, laws and forms of government, ideologies and religions, color of eyes, hair and skin... etc etc...)

Pride yourself on (the quantifiable) doing good, not (the terribly subjective) being good.

/rant off. ;)

Musical Nokia

I'm poking around Nokia trying to decide between an N70 or N80, but that's not the point.

I called up the Nokia main portal page, then moved my attention over to something else for a moment, and in so doing inadvertently moved my mouse... over the "Business Solutions" button... twice.

Two notes rang out. "ding" "dong"


Further ludic exploration reveals that the two green "Business Solutions" and "Culture of Mobility" buttons have the playful characteristic whereby sequential notes of a melody are played on individual mouse-overs.

Neat. I played with it for a while. I suspect I know who inspired this.

10 years on

I just came across this interview with Joi done in 1995.
Reading it I am struck by a few things:
- 10 years ago Joi was roughly my age.
- He saw very very clearly what was going on, on many different levels and across many sectors, and thus it was very very easy for him to predict certain things (most of which came to pass) and bank on them successfully.
- Having that vision comes from being open, attentive, curious and having access to a lot of people and information.

Note to self.


Some reporter
Originally uploaded by Mezito.

I see at least 4 layers of reality in this photo. How about you?
(There are many more of course, but not directly portrayed, or even portrayable, at least not easily/cheaply, yet...)

Don't do evil

Oops, seems in their fervor, the community has forgotten to define *what is evil*.

Last year Google hired the bipartisan lobbying firm Podesta Mattoon, whose lobbyists include Daniel Mattoon, a Republican and longtime friend of House Speaker Dennis Hastert, and Lauren Maddox, a former top aide to Newt Gingrich.

Now it has also brought in the DCI Group, which has strong ties to presidential adviser Karl Rove. Its Senior Vice President Stuart Roy is a former aide to Rep. Tom DeLay, The New York Times reports.

Yes, Google as an entity must do what it must do in order to not only survive but to grow as big and as fast as possible within the frameworks of its socio-economic-political environment.

When nature allows something to grow larger than its environment normally allows, we call it an anomaly, a grotesque freak. We observe it with morbid fascination, and are not surprised when it inevitably collapses and dies.

Conversely, we have the bizarre fascination and compulsion to grow our own systems to such gargantuan proportions, totally warping all sense of reality and sustainability. One day one of these experiments will take us with it when it goes down.

It's happened before you know. Many many times.

Summing it up

My post on "it's not about you" the other day sparked a good thread of debate which culminated in Hugh staking some key points, and Karl responding very clearly and directly, and in my opinion, right on the money, so to speak.

If that's not your thing, here's a picture of me scratching my neck in front of some sakura.



It's not about you

At least not the way you may be led to believe it is.

With apologies to Stewart and Caterina, the whole Flickr team and all the folks involved in this "Web 2.0" stuff, who, for the most part, are truly wonderful people and bring us wonderful things.

It's not about you, it's about your data--or "bits of your life digitized and uploaded"--and the way you structure it and contextualize it and share it. That's what the big money hubbub is about.

You see, what happened is this: enough dot-com bubble casualties, many of them web designers and programmers and information architects and the like--people who knew how to publish to the web, be it text or photos or audio files or video pieces--got tired of doing it by hand, coding up html and maintaining whole websites. They decided to build tools to automate all that. They called them Content Management Systems before, when they still had their jobs building large e-commerce sites in 1997. But now they started using them to self publish, and they added a few really nice features like comments and "RSS feeds". Weblogs were born and slowly but surely over the last 3-4 years... well you see what happened.

"The promise of the web has been realized!" "The read and write web!" More or less. It is truly great stuff, don't get me wrong. I ain't knockin' it, even if I am nibbling on the hands that feed me.

But that's not what the bankrollers are on about. They don't care about your newfound ability to publish your thoughts or your pictures. They are just glad that you are doing so. Why? Because in an information based economy, data is your primary natural source. And flow of data creates movement which can be harnessed.

Like a water-mill.

The difference is that these millers don't need to go find a river: they can make one. And that's what sites like Flickr,, Upcoming, YouTube, Newsvine and the lot of them, have done.

Centralize, centralize, centralize. Concentrate and control.

What that means:
1- your data is not under your direct control.
2- what is done with your data, is not under your direct control.

So what? What are these people doing with your data? It's pretty simple: they use it to drive advertising revenues.

Here's how. I mentioned structure and context. When you publish something, share it, you try tell a story; you labor to package it up, give it meaning (semantics through communication technologies, like language) and you place it on the web within a context, be it via categories, tags, links to related information. You are organizing data.

To folks like Google and Yahoo!, that is worth gold. Literally.

Before I continue, lest I be labeled disingenuous, I should make clear that I am NOT railing against all this. I use Flickr every day--more like 300 times a day; it's my #1 destination, almost as often as my email inbox--and I manage weblogs that sport Google Ads and Technorati tags and links and all that stuff. I just want to try to make sure people actually realize what is going on.

We are all working for them. For free. That's how it's "about we". It's not a "media revolution", it's a reversion to feudal medievalism. "Voluntary servitude" it's been called (back in 1548!) (This is worth a read too though it has quite a Marxist taste to it. ;p

The counter argument is "but they are providing a service which in order to survive must sustain itself economically somehow, and you free information people are the first to yell "information wants to be free" and so it is and we can't rely on subscription or pay-per-content schemes." Totally fair. And services like all the above mentioned all do fairly decent jobs of providing ways to export and retrieve your data. One way or another, you gotta pay to play, right?

The malaise remains however: they are profiting from our ignorance (or forgetfulness). Whether it is ignorance of their actions or ignorance of your abilities (to do any of this yourself in a de-centralized way) or rights.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go check what pictures my friends uploaded, what links they bookmarked and who's talking about me.

This has been another poorly formed and expressed rant brought to you by a bottle of sake, three deadlines and 12 hours in front of too many screens.


from the excellent excellent Banksy "Wall and Piece" book:

People abuse you everyday. They butt into your life, take a cheap shot at you and then disappear. They leer at you from tall buildings and make you feel small. They make flippant comments from buses that imply you're not sexy enough and that all the fun is happening somewhere else. They're on TV making your girlfriend feel inadequate. They have access to the most sophisticated technology the world has ever seen and they bully you with it. They are The Advertisers and they are laughing at you.

However you are forbidden to touch them. Trademarks, intellectual property rights and copyright law mean advertisers can say whatever they like wherever they like with impunity.

Screw that. Any advert in public space that gives you no choice whether you see it or not is yours. It's yours to take, re-arrange and re-use. You can do whatever you like with it. Asking for permission is like asking to keep the rock someone just threw at your head.

You owe the companies nothing. You especially don't owe them any courtesy. They have re-arranged the world to put themselves in front of you. They never asked for your permission, don't even start asking for theirs.

Banksy - Brandalism

David Suzuki

I've been meaning to write about David Suzuki for a long time, and haven't yet mainly because I have not done what I told myself I'd do first: actually get acquainted with "his stuff", knowing it would affect my life pretty profoundly, beyond the effect of watching "The Nature of Things" growing up.

Go on, go on, read up.

Anyways, I have yet to dive in, but I came across this article in the Harvard Gazette: Suzuki's passionate plea for change, talking about his acceptance speech for an award he just won:

The human footprint on the Earth is very different from what might have been surmised when modern humans first emerged on the African savanna 150,000 years ago, Suzuki suggested, as not-very-impressive creatures who walked upright and didn't have much hair.

"If any human being in those early days had said, 'Ha! Piece of cake, we're going to take over this whole savanna, we're going to take over this planet,' we would have laughed him into a cave and said, 'Don't listen to him, he's nuts.'" (this is classic Suzuki stuff! I can *hear* him saying it, grinning on CBC on Sunday evening.)


For more than two decades, Suzuki noted, scientists have been warning about impending global environmental crisis. In 1992, a group of leading scientists of the world, including half the world's living Nobel laureates, issued a warning to humanity: "'Fundamental changes are urgent if we are to avoid the collision our present course will bring about,'" he quoted from their statement. "No more than one or a few decades remain ... . A great change in our stewardship of the Earth and of life upon it is required."

"The media response was terrifying," Suzuki said, pausing for effect: "There was none."


In addition to the news media, Suzuki also blasted conventional economics as "not a science but a set of values posing as a science," which tends to dismiss concerns like the ozone layer and underground aquifers as mere "externalities."

But, he emphasized, "There is no environment out there. We are the Earth."


"the Earth is our mother; not poetically, not metaphorically, but literally."

So with that, my friends, I tell you this: I've been working with a lot of human rights and freedom of speech people lately and it's time I also dive into the sustainable development and environmentalist camps.

Get me my hippie spray. ;p

Orwell's "Notes on nationalism"

Don't have the time to expound on this seminal text more profoundly at the moment but wanted to point it out.

First a salient quote:

Indifference to objective truth is encouraged by the sealing-off of one part of the world from another, which makes it harder and harder to discover what is actually happening. There can often be a genuine doubt about the most enormous events. For example, it is impossible to calculate within millions, perhaps even tens of millions, the number of deaths caused by the present war. The calamities that are constantly being reported--battles, massacres, famines, revolutions--tend to inspire in the average person a feeling of unreality. One has no way of verifying the facts, one is not even fully certain that they have happened, and one is always presented with totally different interpretations from different sources. What were the rights and wrongs of the Warsaw rising of August 1944? Is it true about the German gas ovens in Poland? Who was really to blame for the Bengal famine? Probably the truth is discoverable, but the facts will be so dishonestly set forth in almost any newspaper that the ordinary reader can be forgiven either for swallowing lies or failing to form an opinion. The general uncertainty as to what is really happening makes it easier to cling to lunatic beliefs. Since nothing is ever quite proved or disproved, the most unmistakable fact can be impudently denied. Moreover, although endlessly brooding on power, victory, defeat, revenge, the nationalist is often somewhat uninterested in what happens in the real world. What he wants is to FEEL that his own unit is getting the better of some other unit, and he can more easily do this by scoring off an adversary than by examining the facts to see whether they support him. All nationalist controversy is at the debating-society level. It is always entirely inconclusive, since each contestant invariably believes himself to have won the victory. Some nationalists are not far from schizophrenia, living quite happily amid dreams of power and conquest which have no connection with the physical world.

Now this was written somewhere near the end of World War II, and as such is very dated, not only in it's use of examples but in it's language and structure of classification of things. Orwell seemingly used, though with disclaimers right from the start, the word "nationalism" to encompass the sea of all -isms, despite diving into a few of the more fashionable ones from his time. All of which is perfectly acceptable and reasonable but reading it today it begs updating, not just historically but semantically as well.

That said, please take the 20 minutes to read it, suspending for the duration any hang ups on historical frameworks, localized criticisms (he's on about British intelligensia of the time which really is just a micro-representation of society of any time and place, always affected by environment and circumstance of course)... and yeah... read it with, for lack of a better term, "the timeless eye".

And then ask yourself: "What is acceptable to me? And why?"


Tetris Fuck

I know you know how this feels.
(thx Stevey. Everyone, go see Stevey, he blogs neat stuff! Like robot sharks with frikkin' lazers! And that guy who makes ski area maps!)

Vhat ze heck ist zis?

I'm not sure what to make of this series of new Volkswagen GTI commercials: "de-pimping your auto."

Part of me is laughing pretty hard, but another is cringing, especially at the racial/cultural stereotyping: ugly rigid "weirdo eccentric" german guy pulling "urban street style" crouched pose and VW handsign while saying: "Vee und Double You in ze house, rrreprezenting Deutschland."

Cringe. Funny as hell, but cringe nonetheless. Makes me not want a MkV VW GTI (as if the fact that it looks like a rice burne... ahem... Honda Civic, the arch-nemesis of the VW Golf line, wasn't enough... ;)

Not that I am looking to buy, mind you. My beaten up 5 year old Mk4 VW Golf 2.0l is paid for. Amen.

"America's Online Censors"

Rebecca does an absolutely great job of summing up many of the issues and thoughts and results of the U.S. Congressional hearings held last week concerning U.S. technology companies and their roles in Internet censorship regimes around the world.

We must not allow American companies to deprive Zhao and his generation of their right to shape their country's political future. But we must do it in a way that shows we respect the rights of the Chinese people--and the rights of every human being on the planet--as much as we respect our own.

On the success of weblogs et al

The success of all these things such as weblogs, websyndication, etc, is directly attributable, I think, to one basic fact: weblogs are basic, rudimentary Content Management Systems. At risk of over-simplifying, I say that human intellect, human intelligence itself, in vasty varying levels of sophistication, is also a Content Management System.

And while over the course of human development we have evolved methods to bridge all our individual Content Management Systems, by using such technologies as speech, writing, printing and their myriad extensions, in keeping with the acceleration afforded to it by "electric communication", it is in the past 10 years that we have built the infrastructure for what we have over the last 3, seen emerge.

It is still early. We have not yet transposed semantics into what we have built recently yet. That will come. Soon.

I gleefully repeat to anyone who will listen, that we are "building out telepathy", echoing McLuhan's "we are extending our central nervous systems"... though we have overshot that already! The nerves are laid out in fiber optic, cable, wireless and POTS world-wide, the basic methods of sending data standardized in protocols layered in the TCP/IP stack (HTTP is a layer in that; the Application layer).

We began relaying messages at first. Now we have begun structuring the messages. This will continue.

All our technology is externalization of ourselves. As such it is fundamentally organic and follows easily predictable paths; if you have the patience and know how to tend a bonsai tree...

歲歲平安 Suìsuì píngãn

(Everlasting peace year after year)

恭喜发财 Kung hei fat choy to my chinese friends celebrating the new year; may it not be a dog.


Sadly ironic, my sister's puppy somehow managed to asphyxiate itself with a plastic bag yesterday while everyone was out of the house. As she cried, my 4 year old nephew consoled his mother by saying "at least it wasn't one of us..."


"Have the courage to change what you cannot accept,
the strength to accept what you cannot change,
and the wisdom to know one from the other."

I've long admired this proverb but it never quite sat well with me. I know why now. Or rather I always sensed why, but now I can explain it.

True wisdom lies in accepting all, including what may seem unacceptable.

The trick lies not in the acceptance, but what you do with what you have accepted. To not accept is to reject, and when you reject something, you are finished with it; you no longer have any possibility to do anything with it, be that change it or place it on the back shelves of your consciousness.

When the world presents you with a gift, you accept it. Now you can choose to do many things. If it is repulsive to you, have the courage to change it, or the strength to hide it away and bear the weight of doing so. If you cannot change it yourself and you feel you must, have the temerity and drive to recruit others to help you.

Equally important is, if the gift is joyous, have the generosity to share it others. :)

This has been on my mind for a very long time. Very often when speaking of buddhism and zen with people, their perception of these philosophies is that they are dismissive and lead to complacency because of their focus on accepting the world as it is. This is very far from the truth however. One cannot truly appreciate anything without accepting it when it appears before us. Accepting something affords us to chance to inspect it and to know it more deeply.

I accept that there are atrocities in the world. So far I have shouldered the burden of merely carrying this knowledge along with me, all the while being mindful of it, watching it, learning it, and my relationship with it. All of this is by no means an excuse for inaction--another misunderstood concept of zen and buddhism; action and inaction. I accept also my actions/inactions but know that they will eventually move into directed action.

The lesson here is that acceptance is not a destination, it is a starting point. Once you have accepted something, you must choose what to do with it and how you will live the relationship with what you have accepted.


On a whim I poked around Flickr's obey, obeygiant and andrethegiant tag aggregators.

Why I would do such a thing might be explained here. This evening it started with finding a Space Invader in the Flickr japan tag aggregator and showing it to Karl.

Here are two photos, taken about a month apart over a year ago and posted on the same date, by two people who apparently do not know each other nor of each other's photo, of the same Obey The Giant graffiti in New York City.

October 20th, 2004 & November 26th, 2004

Seems that part of town is heavily pasted.

"after building up a fan base on the internet"

Sheffield rock band the Arctic Monkeys have topped the UK singles charts with their debut track, after building up a fan base on the internet.

"I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor" trumped pop trio the Sugababes after three weeks in the number one spot.

Arctic Monkeys gained a significant following thanks to the marketing power of the internet, and were eventually signed by Domino Records.

Arctic Monkeys were widely predicted to enter the charts at number one.

The band has been communicating with fans almost daily on their [myspace] forum, and concerts have sold out around the UK. The buzz was picked up by record label Domino, home of Franz Ferdinand, who signed them in June 2005.

And to boot... they're actually good. BBC Radio 1 had them on Steve Lamacq's show a bit back:

From groups such as the Gorillaz, the poster-band for the digital age, advancing the possibilities of music and live performance in ways others are struggling to keep up with to bands such as the Arctic Monkeys who are leading the way for the underground. They are all realising the future of music.

Good good. Reminds me of The Streets' song "Let's push things forward" (early 2002).

Thanks for the tip Adrian.

Expression Under Repression

Rebecca and Ethan and a few other of the Global Voices Online team were WSIS in Tunisia this week and today gave a workshop presentation on "Expression Under Repression", despite technically having been canceled "by the authorities".

Very exciting, awesome job gang, bravo!
Ethan and Rebecca (and John and many others I'm sure) have some interesting reports from WSIS.

urban street w[e]ar

urban street w[e]ar:

"Here's what they'll soon be wearing in the banlieues, les territoires abandonnés, of urban France. According to the manufacturers, the Sweat Anticon garment is "simple et élégant comme un sweat à capuche... Que vous soyez graffeur, moche, snow boarder, ou simplement super heros, vous serez satisfait par ca simplicité d'utilisation." Doubt if the rioters qualify as "super heros", but one never knows today."

[A nice little quote from Eamonn Fitzgerald's Rainy Day]

Bad joke, but neat idea! Zip it all the way down! Ninja!
Where's my credit card?

Human hands

In the process of clearing up a misunderstanding, Ethan points to a great article by one Justin Mason about cellphone repair stalls in the streets of India. Amongst other things, it speaks to how most people in a consumerist culture regard the articles they consume as "black box" products (buy, seek help to repair and/or discard; "black box" refers to anything which you know more or less how to use and what it's function is but have absolutely no idea how it does what it does, nor how to fix it if it stops doing what it does. For most of us, our cellphone is a "black box".)

More specifically, it points out how consumers of black box products somehow assume that if they don't know how a thing works, surely no one but the manufacturer could possibly know. This is of course total crap.

Let me put it this way:

What human hands can build, human hands can take apart.
What a human mind can conceive, another human's mind can deduce.
Who does which is a question depending on distribution of value (time, money, sentimental attachment, depth of consumerist streak, etc) and occurrence of need.

Even if I knew how to resole my shoes and could afford the time to do so, I probably wouldn't. If I had a cobbler down the street who could do it for n% less than the cost of a brand new pair, I'd consider it...

See what i am getting at?


Friend Hugh started up a neat "sorta Project Gutenberg for audio books" called LibriVox. The project has gotten some good traction and attention - Hugh was invited to the recent Open Library launch shindig by Brewster Kahle - and he's confident that the catalogue's growth is progressing exponentially.

LibriVox volunteers record chapters of books in the public domain in digital format, and we release the audio files back into the public domain (catalog and podcast). We are a totally volunteer, open source, free content, public domain project. Our objective is to make all books in the public domain available, for free, in audio format on the internet.

LibriVox is always looking for volunteers, to read and record chapters of books in the public domain, but also to help with other aspects of this growing project: technical (cataloging, social networking, web design, communication); graphics; publicity; coordination of volunteers etc etc... We have about 80 volunteers right now, more than 10 books finished, and we expect to have 30 done by the end of 2005. Right now all our titles are in English, but we hope to have other languages soon. Come help us out.

Up for some reading out loud? :)

BBC catalogue begins development

Biddulph and Hammersley are on the case.

Screenshot 1 (Searching for "John Peel") and screenshot 2 ("John Peel's contributer page")

I think I would have dropped everything to play on this project too. Sigh. ;)

My favorite line in Biddulph's entry is:

"Nearly a million programmes are catalogued, with descriptions, contributor details and annotations drawn from a wonderfully detailed controlled vocabulary."

Ahhhh structured data.

And from Mr.Hammersley:

it’s all developed in Ruby on Rails, and has oodles of Ajax, and tags, and RDF, and FOAF, and Sparklines, and Microformats, and just about everything else we can fit in. If you’re a Semantic Web or Microformat bod who wants a particular feature, email me and I’ll see what I can do.

I am very pleased by these two entries, the fact that the BBC archive is happening aside; both guys mention traditionally defined as Semantic Web tech, like RDF and FOAF, alongside the young whippersnapper "Web 2.0" stuff like "AJAX" and... uh... what's the other... oh yeah Microformats. (heeeheheeee... I am gleeful to notice just now, no mention of "RSS" and "OPML"! Yay!!!) All done in the programming language Ruby, using one of it's web-app frameworks, Ruby on Rails. (I tried getting into 'rails but just couldn't grok the environment. "Hunh? Better to not use Apache? Hunh? I need to initialize an instance? Whaaa?" Oh well. Django, the Python equivalent seems much simpler...)

I digress... point is, I'm glad the dust is settling and we are seeing that it's all good and let's move forward just building cool stuff. Right? Right.

So, as Manuel would say: "Yes! You... Men! Work."


Some people...

Walid Elias Kai, who has a doctorate in search engine marketing, and his wife Carol of Kalmar, Sweden, have named their son Oliver Google Kai

1955, Glenn Gould remixes live, on piano

I came across an outtake track of Glenn Gould's historic 1955 Goldberg Variations recording session. On it you hear various studio chatter and joke cracking and mumbling and false starts and cursing.

Near the end of the track, Gould springs a heck of a musical gem, and political commentary by essentially "remixing" "The Star Spangled Banner" and "God Save the King" in real time on the piano.

His explanation is as interesting as the performance of it:

"I figured out that by leaving out the repeats in The Star Spangled Banner and starting your entry at the 13th bar of God Save The King, and then playing God Save The King over again and altering the harmony of the second half of The King to modulate to the supertonic region, it has the most marvelous effect. Listen to this..."

The intellectual complexity of achieving this is pretty stunning.

One of the things Gould's 1955 Goldberg variations recording is famous for is the fact that Gould mumbles and hums his way though it, and he *insisted* on leaving them in the final product. These could be interpreted as personal scribbles or what not. Or subvocalization; something we do when we need to glue several layers of complex data together.

My other new blahg!

Yahoo! SiteExplorer

Michal: there's no escape.

.htaccess [1]
robots.txt [2]

sudo apachectl stop [3]

ACL [4]
i don't want to stop talking, I want Them to stop listening ;)

ha, yeah

The popular misconception is that Big Brother is some sort of government consipracy. This is wrong. Big Brother is a commercial enterprise. :)

All your blog belong to us. Keep talking.

Stop da man:
[1] .htaccess: special file used by Apache webserver which allows, amongst other things, to block access to specific resources (like web pages) based on rules.
[2] robots.txt: special text file used by convention to kindly inform respectful search engine "spiders" (a.k.a. robots) to please not index this, that and that.
[3] Command for quitting the Apache webserver process. In other words, turn off the webserver.
[4] ACL: Access Control Lists. 'Nuff said.

Diabolical [PSP] marketing

Sony PSP advertising campaign in Malaysia.

ps201.jpg ps200.jpg

Clear bubble-wrap over the PSP's controlpad button icons (X, O, triangle, square).
Diabolical for the following reasons:

  1. As everyone else is saying, who's never had fun popping bubble wrap? It is addictive. A marketers wetdream.
  2. Tactile engagement, via an addictive activity, with the marketing object. Physically enforce the message via a movement not unlike the movement required of the actual product, i.e.: pushing buttons with the thumbs.
  3. via tactile engagement, semiotic enforcement of the icons related to the actions (X, O, triangle, square) into the mind of the user.

A man came up to me and said
"I'd like to change your mind
By hitting it with a rock
," he said,
"Though I am not unkind."


Implementation-wise, genius. The structure of the bus shelter provides the architectural framework. A quick paint job and logo application, icon grid in the existing ad space frames. The bubble wrap can either be prepared as boards with the grids and easily replaced, or some sort of frame bracket allowing easy periodic replacement of just the bubble wrap. Replacement cost is dependent on length of campaign.

Via Régine, via Marketing alternatif.

Lord of War

Lord Of War Poster 0905

Ok, first of all, it IS a Hollywood movie, which means it is replete and chock full of everything a Hollywood movie needs: clichés, one liners, understated deadpan melodrama; the works. Second, Nicholas Cage gives a great rendition of Nicholas Cage as an international arms dealer.

That said, go see it.

I didn't say much above cause I was sorta speechless. Essentially, it's a wake up call to a ot of people. There were a handful of scenes that literally caused the audience to recoil in horror; not out of goriness, but a sense of "this is real... frightfully real".

Walking out of the cinema I thought how important it would be to harvest this recoil and sense of disgust of the audience into some sort of positive action they could engage in, but nothing came to mind. (long day... heh...)

Well it seems someone is doing something. Amnesty International USA has some materials in place and a campaign. Though I am reminded of part of the proposal that Michael and I submitted to (they went with a direct email marketing solution provider.. go figure) wherein we - well, really, it was Michael - pleads such organizations should use the webtools we see today (RSS, etc) to allow us to really get involved. Keep us up to date with developments, hook us up with regional meeting info, etc...

Anyways, how lucky... how damned damned damned lucky I am to not know war; to not fear a bullet striking me, or a machete hacking my flesh.

Potter spam

It seems only fitting that along with drugs, gambling and porn, I am seeing lots and lots of Harry Potter hawking email and weblog comment/trackback spam.

More detritus of today's society and culture... :p

What we need is more McLuhan

I've been meaning to send some link love (daaah, cannot believe I used that phrase) to Mark Federman's new weblog. Mark's the Chief Strategist at the McLuhan Center at the University of Toronto. He used to write at their official weblog but understandably a situation arose where Mark's voice was being confused with the Center's "official" voice. It's been a few months actually. Sorry Mark for not mentioning it earlier.

So, free to use his own voice, Mark's been writing some really kick ass stuff.
If Corporations are Obsolete, What is Their (Reversal) Successor?
The Obsolescence of Mass-Media Journalism
Trusted Computing (a hot topic around here lately ;)
and Fascism Anyone? (I love this one, mainly since I have been saying this for over 10 years to anyone who will listen... without credentials or references mind you, just on gut instinct...)

Of course I am biased; as anyone who's had a deeper conversation with me will attest to, I always end up talking about McLuhan... or buddhism... or both combined.

Anyways, good stuff. Check it out, and Mark, keep it up. :)

Google swallows the internet whole, and you with it

First, it was about "indexing" all of the web. Then, it bought a small chunk of that web (Blogger). Then Google said "hey, there's more than the web out there!" and Google Mail was pushed out. Quickly followed by Google Talk.

There was some murmuring recently about something initially called "Ajax Office", wherein you could do all your word processing and spreadsheet work in a web browser and the files would be stored on a remote server. Google was mentioned as "a good place to do it".

I'm not sure what the deal is here but check this out... Google Wifi. Here's the salient part of this:

Why would I want to download and install Google Secure Access?

Google Secure Access allows you to establish a more secure connection while using Google WiFi. By using Google Secure Access, your internet traffic will be encrypted, preventing others from viewing the information you transmit.

Does Google Secure Access connect to a VPN server?

Yes, Google Secure Access connects to Google's VPN ("Virtual Private Network") server provided for this service.

As with everything Google does, yes this is a very good and very much needed service. But what this means is that everything you do on the network goes through Google's servers.

What sort of information does Google have access to?

If you choose to use Google Secure Access, your internet traffic will be encrypted and sent through Google's servers to the Internet. The data that is received will then be encrypted and sent back through our servers to your computer. Your privacy is important to us, we strongly encourage you to read our Privacy Policy to be fully informed about how your privacy is protected.

Oh please. Policy? A few words to soothe my worries? "Policy" is as weak as the paper it is written on, not to mention the laws of the country they are used in. (For example, it is the policy of Yahoo! China to share the contents of their database with chinese police.)
Encryption? You're joking me right? We're talking about the single largest networked computer in the world. Not to mention they are the ones encrypting the tunnel for you. You don' think they can decrypt it?

Is there a fee for using Google Secure Access?

No, Google Secure Access is free.

Of course. You are supplying them with their main invaluable natural resource: content. For free. Who's getting the real bargain here?

Nothing is free, and if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. ;)

Trust is something that must be fluid and reflexive. Faith is very very dangerous.

That was quick!

"Apple supports video podcasting"

Seems they "turned it on" without telling anyone.

Told. you. so. :D



"Lead Camino developer Mike Pinkerton has announced that he has accepted a position at Google."

Public (and there are more such announcements coming)

  • Micah Dubinko -> Yahoo
    XForms Specification Editor

  • TV Raman IBM -> Google
    Participant of many W3C working groups

  • Flickr Team Ludicorp -> Yahoo
    includes Stewart Butterfield, Caterina Fake, Eric Costello, Cal Henderson, George Oates, John Allspaw, Heather Champ, Aaron Straup Cope, Corey Fake, Serguei Mourachov, Paul Lloyd, Kakul Srivastava, Ana Zavala, Dathan Pattishall

  • Dave Beckett Bristol Univ. -> Yahoo
    RDF / Semantic Web, created of librdf

  • Vinton Cerf MCI, ICann -> Google
    One of the "Fathers of the Internet"! What a catch!

  • Mike Pinkerton AOL -> Google
    Camino/Firefox developer, joins Google's Firefox dev team

"I am leaving King Yao. He is so obsessed with the ideas of benevolence that I am afraid something ridiculous will come of it. In any event, funny or not, this kind of thing eventually ends with people eating each other raw.

"At that moment, there is a great wave of solidarity. The people think they are loved, and they respond with enthusiasm. They are all behind the king because they think he is making them rich. Praise is cheap, and they are all competing for favor. But soon they will have to accept something they do not like and the whole thing will collapse.

"When justice and benevolence are in the air, a few people are really concerned with the good of others, but the majority are aware that this is a good thing, ripe for exploitation. They take advantage of the situation. For them, benevolence and justice are traps to catch birds. Thus benevolence and justice rapidly come to be associated with fraud and hypocrisy. Then everybody doubts. And that is when trouble really begins."

"Flight from benevolence"
Chuang Tzu

Brush up your french and read this page by Karl. Or, hehe, trust the Google translation of it. ;)

Also, an amusing, cheesy, tongue-in-cheek but really quite accurate tale of Google as the 9 billion names of God. (Er, not the sentient part... that's just silly.)

Modernity | Hold -> Musak -> Static

As mentioned, I spent a "good" amount of time on the phone with various customer support lines over the last 2-3 weeks. This means alot of time on hold.

In the evolution of phone-based services, "hold" was of course an entirely necessary development. As despicable as it is, it's just a reality. To assuage the wait time, the brilliant idea of piping in muzak was introduced, and thus created an entire sub-industry for musicians. (In interview, Sting was once asked "at which moment in your career did you realize you had 'made it'?", to which he answered-paraphrased-"the day I stepped into an elevator and heard 'Roxanne' in soft tones.")

Now, a development behind-the-scenes, on the technology level, has truly dropped the experience to lower-wrung of hell conditions. Yes, IP-based telephony is now used in all but the most backwards call-centers (and really, do you want to deal with a company that can't afford to save money?), which has created two new realities: scratch-breakbeat-electronic-soft-jazz for the adult-contemporary-urban listener on hold, and IP static.

Brccccchhh dooot dooo dooo dooooo brrrchchhhhhhh doot doot brchhhhhhhh

"Your call is important to us. All our representatives are busy with other callers. Please remain on the line. Did you know you can access all our self-help support features at double you double you double you dot we love widgets dot com?"

Brccchhhhhhhh ...

I wonder how long the modern urbanite could go on without having to call Customer Care.

Documenting human rights abuses

(I can't find the info or name of this conference... Michael what was the name again?)
Earlier this week, I ran over to Concordia University to listen to some presentations grouped under the title (gaaaaahhh something about genocide and media/documenttion).

Off the bat, I was very unimpressed to find that the presentations consisted solely of the presenters reading their papers. Nothing glosses my eyes over than a lecture. Anyways.

The first presentation was something about archives of Holocaust related media. The second was about pornographic re-interprattions of Holocaust media. Whahunh? The presenter was a homey looking young woman from I think Edmonton who used the words "fuck" and "shit" without flinching. That in itself was impressive.

From there we went to Africa with a thoughtful paper on, I think, the re-contextualization of photographs from Somalia by a certain photographer. Sadly, the projector stopped cooperating and I only remember seeing two photos.

Can you tell my attention was non-existent? I actually started playing with a reBlog beta Michal had sent me...

The last presentation, thankfully, picked up a little as the presenter was at least inflecting her tone as she read her paper. No joke, this helped alot. Her paper was about the first case to have been called a "crime against humanity", perpetrated in the Congo in the early 1900's. She examined the effect pictures of child mutilations - children who would have hands and feet amputated - had on bringing an end to the abuses. (I should have taken notes on this one ... doh.)

The whole thing was replete with lines like "and so Lacan tells us...". Ugh. After a few self-congratulatory comments from the audience (you call that a question?!!?), I was ready to go postal. I decided instead to fight my urge to scream and raised my hand...

(paraphrasing myself with buzzwords! hah!)
"Say I am in a position where I am going to be building a web-based system for the collection of grass-roots media documentation of real-world, happening-now human rights abuses. In some cases the photos, videos, texts, audio objects will come from designated "reporters" and in others by ordinary people contributing whatever they can. What, in your esteem, is the most important thing I need to keep in mind when designing and building this system?"

All eyes on me, you could hear a pin drop.

I am SO glad I asked the question because it knocked loose some very good feedback, albeit from a group of people who seem to have missed the point of this little thing called "the Intarweb".

"You must preserve context!"
"You must prevent re-approriation, especially to stem off mis-representation!"

I almost went postal again, but instead took a deep breath and didn't bother shouting "Information wants to be free!!!"

Reality is what you say it is.

Safe travels gaucho

So, Steven's probably sitting on the tarmac at Pierre Elliott Trudeau Airport right now, beginning a 2 month trip to Cuba and, I suspect, to the core of himself.

No, he's not going to go sit on the beach. He's brought with him his bicycle, his Powerbook, his dSLR... and all his knowledge and experience in IT, networking, web communication. Not to mention a desire to do some good.

Over dimsum yesterday, I asked Steven exactly what his plan is. At least, where is going to start, what's he going to do.

Well, first he's meeting with a leading cuban paediatrician in hopes to have cuban participation in, an international research networking project Steven undertook for the Pasteur Institute.

He's also going to go visit the Linux user group at the Universidad de La Habana. They have an Ubuntu-based Linux distro, which apparently comes bundled with pre-configured Jabber client and RSS aggregator. I have a feeling he'll be dropping some of his ace WiFi-fu on them, having established his own community WiFi network in his hometown.

And then he's off to cycle all over the island, staying with families in their homes along the way. Apparently Cuba is extremely well suited to such cycling trips, with excellent roads and government subsidized rooming houses all over.

I made him promise to blog and photolog as much as he possibly can.

Bonne route mon ami. Be safe.

Break it down, build it up

(just a quick note.)

Existant data-object storage and retrieval systems:
- Hard hierarchialization ("taxonomies", "categories with parent/child relationships")
- Analytico-synthetic ("Faceted categorization", "Semantic Web")
- Unstructured labelization ("Tags", "Labels")
- Statistical extrapolation ("Keywords")
- Unstructured data ("Full text search") [Disclaimer: not taking into account grammar and vocabulary within, i.e. a paragraph of intelligible english text. See the nightmare that is natural language processing.]

Find a UI metaphor that incorporates all in an intuitive, easy to use way.

(Title refers to a natural cycle that all things go though. Birth and death. Development and decay. Information is no exception.)

You know they're on crack when...

I just got a "letter" from American Express offering me a $20,000 loan. Obviously, it's not because I'm special or anything; it's what they do. However that's not what they'd have you believe of course:

As one of our most financially responsible Cardmembers, you have been preselected...

Excuse me what? Please allow me to laugh out loud. Damn! I WISH I was!! If I'm one of their most financially responsible Cardmembers, they must be RAKING in the interest payments...

Ahem. Oh. They are. ;)
(It's in the trash now)

Yeehaw, mon

Willie must be high

Countryman is Willie Nelson's first reggae album.

I'm crying here. Along with baby jesus.

some pig

OMG... well.. videocasting is here and the predictable severely rapid decline of "culture" * may begin.

You should check out the Internet TV channel "some pig".
If you don't have DTV, you can get it here:
And then subscribe to this channel:

So yeah, click on "some pig" and then look for "Rezelscheft"... and marvel at what technology has done for us.

"some pig" videos are directly available here. Do check out Magnifitrick. It is genius.

* I am currently reading "Air Guitar: Essays on Art & Democracy" by Dave Hickey ("Winner of the 'Genius' Award!", "Macarthur Fellow 2001-2005"!), and so far it is a fun ride with incredibly well written insights and is as terribly entertaining as it is smart, in an off-the-cuff way, apparently out of the norm for Mr. Genius. My favorite line so far is "(Define culture!)", which he casts as a sideways shouted taunt at his fellow academics at a University in Las Vegas where he seem to have holed up. I almost yelped an "amen!" out loud...
In any case, Hickey seems to be all up for participatory culture so I would love to hear what he thinks of this. I wonder if I can get my mitts on him...



We envision a country where Cambodians can learn and use computers in their own language, a country that does not have to change to a new language in order to use computers!

Bravo. They're translating and localizing stuff like Firefox—renamed Mekhala— and OpenOffice and an email client, as well as providing Khmer Unicode software for people's computers. Fantastic.

Steven's also been telling me about the Cuban Linux distro, based on Ubuntu, which comes bundled and pre-configured with a Jabber IM client AND account, as well as an RSS aggregator.

Judge a book by it's thumbprint

A few months ago I enabled a feature on Joi Ito's weblog which I called his "blog thumbprint". What it is, is a weighted list of the most frequently used words in the entirety of Joi's blog, with the text size adjusted to represent the frequency of use. The bigger the word, the more Joi uses it. It's useful to see what's on his mind, long term.

It looks like a tag cloud, but it isn't. It's just a word count, mashed into a list of keywords. I'd like to point out that this display method is very useful for things other than just tags, thank you very much.

Amazon calls it "concordance" and it's a feature that seems to be on for some of the books in their database, along with text stats. (Here are some other definitions for that word.)

Check it out. Very cool. And clicking on any term in the thumbprint gives you it's actual "concordance", i.e., shows it to you in the context of the line it is in, in the book.

Oh how I dream of a Sony Librié type device with a 80Gig 1.5" HD, with an open OS so that we the book geeks of the world could hack out awesome software, like this and who knows what other fantastic heuristics, for traversing our personal libraries.

"I read somewhere ... gimme a sec..."

Flickr & Creative Commons


Help push the more widespread awareness of the use of Creative Commons licenses on Flickr.

You can copy and paste the code below into your Flickr Profile's "Describe Yoruself" field:

And of course pick a license and use it yourself...


Damn... I'm on the verge of popping a reblog feed of Andrew's blog in my sidebar...

The Karl Rove situation is a litmus test for just how far the Bush administration is willing to go to cling to power and lie to the American people, and just how Bushwhipped the mainstream media has become. Bush should have already been impeached over the Downing Street Memo. If he attempts to gloss over this with self-righteous rhetoric, y’all need to take to the streets.
You should read the whole thing.

Equally stinging is Steven's remix of the US Department of State's "Consular Information Sheet" on Cuba.

Zingers, gentlemen, zingers!

Sophisticated krishnas

The Hare Krishnas from down the street just went by. They seem to have hired a new arranger cause instead of just chanting, they had an accordion and some real bongos and were doing the traditional "hare hare krishna krishna" thing in a very ... moderne arab/parisian/world style. Sort of a mashup of the original chant, Yann Tiersen ("Amerlie" soundtrack), Manu Chao/Mano Negra and Les Negresses Vertes.

Pretty catchy... ramaaa ramaaa... *snaps fingers*...

Andrew emailed shortly after my posting this to say:

The head Krishna also appeared to be wearing a headset of some kind. To coordinate what, I don't know."

Hiiiihihihihihiii. Their ascension to the big love-in the sky of course! (Yes yes I know, Krishna have nothing to do with love-ins etc... it's funny to me tho :p

Pointing thataway

I just want to point out that Joi's recent entry on the whole Live 8 thing has the best comment stream I've seen over there in a long time. (Sorry Joi... it's not you, it's the nutjobs and relentless pessimists that get me down.)

I've nothing much really to add to the conversation as it seems to me to be right on track, at least in civility, however most interesting to me are two things, both brought up in these comments:

a) how much awareness is actually raised, how is it raised, what ideas and views are actually implanted, how effective are these ideas in spurring action, and how efficient is this methodology?


b) who's really benefitting at all? I'd hate to think it is the WaBenzi (link via Ethan's stream, well worth adding to your inbox), though it looks like it is. As more than one commenter says, corruption is the biggest barrier to relief. In nature, as in all things, corruption and decay invariably lead to death, which makes room for rebirth, renewal and change. In human affairs though, the greedy desire for maintaining the status quo, trying to maintaining some system of forced control, stretches that time out, often with the result of passing off the death and dying to innocent bystanders...

You don't need $ to make a hot video as long as you have the right moves

A few reasons why this is one hell of a music video:

  1. Decent tune. It's in the current not-totally-mainstreamed-to-death-yet bracket. Barely.
  2. DIY. Cheap home camera, on a tripod or picnic table. Looks like iMovie for post prod, what post prod there was...
  3. Real. no set, no effects, no cliché scenario. Just four guys dancing.
  4. Coordination. What these guys saved on video expenses, they put into choreography and practice time.
  5. Four words: SINGLE TAKE. Holy crap.

via Ken, whom a year ago I told, in essence: "Ditch the goddamn $60k-videos-on-a-$20k budget. You have a digital video camera and a G4. Your expenses are covered. Go make some goddamn films!" (No I won't stop bringing that up. ;)

Public WiFi snoops

You can always tell the person running the network sniffer at public WiFi hotspots; the maniacal grin as he scans the room observing all the surfers one by one wondering "who was looking at *this*?"...

"I read your email"...

Money, death and the French

The word "mortgage", which is french, translates directly to "death bet": when the bank gives someone a mortgage, they are essentially gambling on the hopes that the poor sod will pay them back before he dies. In french however, a mortgage is called "une hypothèque", which, while I do not have the exact etymological information on hand, does have the same root as "hypothesis" and "hypothetical". So, 'hypothetically', he'd be paying them back before he "buys the farm", so to speak.

I suppose some frenchman at L'Academie at one point thought "mortgage" was a bit too morbid and blatant. Not that it matters; one has to pass a medical exam and have life insurance these days to get any money from a bank anyways, so it really isn't much of a gamble anymore, is it? Not much sportsmanship left in banking... and faith and trust never worked too well with financial matters to begin with.

Another such an example is "entrepreneur". Also a french word, literally translated it comes out as "between taker", but the meaning is "one who undertakes [something]"... or, put another way, an undertaker...

Go figure.

I'm watching you

Gen Kanai
Johnny Shoepainter
miyuki jane
Pete Barr-Watson
Jean Snow
Yuka Oishi
Ryou in the box

Now they've done it adds filetype tags automatically to media files.

I could go into boring things like implicit metadata, the coupling of a flat tag pool with a flat:hierarchical:organization... but really, there are more fun things that come out of this.

Like, for example, discovering a spoof of the ending of the movie Se7en involving The Shat brilliantly playing himself in three roles, a stunning demo video from inside Sony's computer sciences lab of some futuristic UI (especially cool is the "hyper dragging" in the closing seconds), and Triumph the Insult Dog unleashed (hehe) at the Michael Jackson trial.

Who needs TV?
Who needs radio?

Go, make your own channels...

UNESCO slaps U.S. & WTO's wrist, fighting to preserve cultural exception

This is a few days old, but I didn't see it anywhere else. (Found in Sylvain's stream)
French article and it's Google MangleTranslation.

I'll try to un-mangle the more salient parts:

After two weeks of negotiations, involving 500 experts from 130 countries and coming at the end of two years of often difficult deliberations, the ad hoc intergovernmental committee formed by UNESCO unanimously adopted, with the exception of the U.S.A. and Israel, the final text of "a convention for the protection of the diversity of cultural content and artistic expression".

This means a few things, if I understand correctly:

1- Cultural and artistic "products" would be hands-off for any WTO laws/resolutions
2- Governments are thus free to circumvent traditional "free-market rules" in order to protect their culture(s). Essentially it is permission for protectionist market tactics; in this case a good thing (as opposed to political protectionism of culture).
3- America's extreme anger at this (almost assured) adoption stems from the fact that they want nothing more than to export their cultural products as far and wide as possible, and the seemingly rock solid belief that a free-market economy can do no wrong.

The sad thing in all this is the necessity to view cultural production as an industry, and it's fruits as products. The line between art and entertainment is so incredibly blurred...

Some more points:

Culture is valued as a means of exchange, development and social cohesion. "Cultural diversity is an essential resource of a society's cultural capital, as biodiversity is crucial natural capital [of an ecosystem]". States are implored to favor, "by a multiplicity of means", the diversity of "the cultures of social groups and societies."

The Americans were generally unhappy with the participation of the Europeans, denying them recognition of any competence in cultural matters (!!!). [Keep in mind there were 500 representatives from 130 countries from around the world. China, Brazil, Mexico and India in particular were also very outspoken and in opposition to the U.S.'s position.]
The U.S. is categorically denying rumors that they are threatening to pull the plug on UNESCO financing in retribution for this, what they consider a slap in the face.

I want more Cornelius in my day

Suddenly realized I hadn't heard any new music from Cornelius in a while, so I popped over to his site.


Poking around, I found this little film he did the music for. Sugoi.

with James Brown!

So... New album? Joi, can you ask? ;)
And still no weblog?! Tsk tsk tsk...

Shall wonders never cease?

Two words, people:

transparent duct tape.

Ok, ok, that's three words...

Torrential ninjas

Two days ago, I had this ninja movie, Red Shadow, coming in on BitTorrent at, like, 450k/s ... it was sooooo sweet... I was really pumped. Then at 64% the only seeder disconnected. I thought I was totally gonna flip out and kill people... but he just came back on... That is so totally awesome. I can feel it in my ...

Real ninjas love bittorrent... it's the best place to get films of other ninjas totally flipping out and killing people all the time...

it is so totally awesome. and that's a fact. I am really pumped. Now I just need to get hooked up with fries.

[for this to make any sense, if indeed there is any sense to it, you must see this.]

[yes, I know it's old. it still makes me giggle uncontrollably... as does this. Ooooooooo.]

Just don't call it Brussel sprouts!

"Economic democracy" is a powerful concept in all kinds of ways both in its ambiguity as well as its linkages. There's a lot that goes with it practically and theoretically--and it should become a very familiar concept to the broader public and as part of the mainstream political discussion... it doesn't have to be framed in a purist way --which has been done by the utopians and marginal advocates for the approach--but as a continuoum--that begins with a little bit of democracy (active and honest consultation with the workforce) all the way to the full program--cooperatives and a fully integrated economic and political system...

The maxim "those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it" has a more positive cousin it seems: "if your kids don't want to eat their Brussel sprouts, call them little green leafy potatoes"... ;)

Tasty Brussel sprouts from Marx's garden! yay! Sounds ok to me.

Atmospheric stabilization in folksonomic tag clouds

Visual display of how choice of tags on a URL stabilizes over time on

I blame "suggested tags" ;)

Himiko water-bus

Himiko water-bus, originally uploaded by chipple.

I want to live in a plce where anime artists are commissioned to design public transport vehicles...

Not that I am a big anime fan or anything, it's just... I mean damn, look at that!

I wanna... I wanna... unleash a battery of mini missiles at it! Fwooosh!


[merci Patrick!]

Toronto subway station tile pattern buttons


... a collection of 1-inch buttons featuring replicas of the tile art and visual landmarks of Toronto's subway stations. Buttons are sold in packages of their respective subway line, or you can purchase a package of five stations of your choice.


Elsewhere everywhere

Elsewhere - iPod

David Bernal, a.k.a. "Elsewhere". The newest iPod commercial features this guy who's style is totally unmistakable. He's the second dancer, when the background turns green, also the very last, and 3 times during.

Elsewhere - Singing in the rain

You may recognize the fluid, biokinetic and sometime kinda freaky movement from the Volkswagen Gene Kelly remix of "Singing in the rain". In that one the CG artists mashed up ol' Gene's dance routine with movements from "Elsewhere" and two other dancers.

Elsewhere - Kollaboration 2001

Otherwise you may have seen him in one of a couple of "video memes" that have circulated in recent years. Interesting guy, not only for his moves.

Playing Flickr Peepshow

Playing Flickr

For one week in May, the diners in Restaurant 11 will be confronted with the photos the users of Playing FLICKR select. By sending a keyword through SMS, users can request all photos on the database that are tagged with that particular keyword.

Flickr peep-show

Users can interact with the installation by SMSing tags (keywords) to the server, after which the photographs on flickr tagged with those specific keywords will start showing up on the screens of the the installation.

Mediamatic. Good site. Wish it had a feed.

Yes, Minister

It always seemed rather strange to even myself that I thoroughly enjoyed watching this British political satire situation comedy. The writing was simply superb, the characters equally profoundly witty, when not nit-witted, and the clever pace helped via laughter, one's supper along it's digestion route.

B's in hoity-toity complicated english mode...

I think the only other person I've ever met who let alone knew the show, but also enjoyed it's ludic linguistics, was Anders.

This evening, however, I stumbled upon a weblog simply titled " - a weblog in logic, philosophy of logic, and the philosophy of language". (I think, Anders, you will like this too.) Amongst the very, um, yes, how shall I say, profund (not a typo) insights, et cetera, were these choice quotes from the aforementioned television programme:

Sir Humphrey:
If local authorities don't send us the statistics that we ask for, then government figures will be a nonsense.
Sir Humphrey:
They'll be incomplete.
But government figures are a nonsense anyway.
I think Sir Humphrey wants to ensure they're a complete nonsense.
Sir Humphrey:
It is so difficult for me you see, as I am wearing two hats.
Yes, isn't that rather awkward for you.
Sir Humphrey:
Not if one is in two minds.
Or has two faces.
Sir Humphrey:
A clarification is not to make oneself clear, it is to put oneself in the clear.
Sir Humphrey:
East Yemen, isn't that a democracy?
Sir Richard:
Its' full name is the Peoples' Democratic Republic of East Yemen.
Sir Humphrey:
Ah I see, so it's a communist dictatorship.
Personally I find it hard enough to believe that one of us was one of them, but if two of us were one of them ... two of them, all of us could be ... um could be ... um ...
All of them.

More great quotes from the show here, linguist breakdown of The Simpsons here...

Yeah check this out:

Episode: Mountain of Madness, Episode # 812 4F10
Deixis in personal pronouns:
Homer has brought his family along on a business team-building exercise in the woods, and Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie are stuck in the National Park Service building while all the employees are off team-building. Bart is standing in front of a Smokey the Bear statue, who has an electronic voice and a little 'quiz' to administer. Bart and Smokey have the following exchange:

Smokey: (electronic intonation)
"Who is the only one who can stop forest fires?
(examines response panel, which has two buttons, marked "you" and "me". He presses "you").
Smokey: (electronic intonation)
"You pressed YOU, meaning me. This is incorrect. You should have pressed ME, meaning you.
For those not familiar with "Smokey the Bear", his admonishment, or catch phrase, is "Only YOU can stop forest fires!".

Brilliant. Good commentary on UI design as well right there. :)

"Meet the world" flags

 Home Flags Brazil
 Home Flags China
 Home Flags Columbia
 Home Flags Usa
 Home Flags Europeunion

We started to research relevant, global, and current facts and, thus, came up with the idea to put new meanings to the colours of the flags. We used real data taken from the websites of Amnesty International and the UNO.

A couple more here, and the designer's statement here.

Link via Stevsey.

Semantic File System and the U.S. Patent office

This is very very very bad.

A data model represents semantic information associated with objects stored in a file system. The data model includes a first object identifier, a second object identifier and a relation identifier. The first object identifier identifies a first object stored in the file system. The second object identifier identifies a second object stored in the file system, wherein the second object is related to the first object. The relation identifier identifies a relationship between the first object and the second object.

Not the fact that someone is working on a Semantic File System - that is very very very good. Issuing a patent, to HP, or anyone, for this, is terrible.

The keitais are coming!

Slowly over the past year I've noticed a subtle transition in the mobile phone handsets that have been available here in my home market. But today it really struck me as apparent: the keitais are coming.

Not in features or cultural influence so much mind you; merely in form factor, but this in itself is indicative.

Accessing the "available handsets" sections of the three mobile service providers here in Montreal, a year ago you'd find mostly the small Nokia-style handsets. Today, Fido (5 clam vs 8 puck), Rogers (11 clam vs 7 puck) and Bell (10 clam vs 5 puck) all exhibit predominantly* clamshell models.

* After actually counting, Fido still has more "pucks" than clamshells, the funny thing being that it was while visiting Fido that the increased number of clamshells available struck me.

I find this very odd since that form factor is closely tied to the handset's usage, which is hard to explain to someone who's never seen it "in action". Think of it literally as your own little network access device, which you hold up as if checking your makeup in you pocket mirror - heh - and thumbing your way through the UI using a scroller, and typing kanji using the keypad. We don't have immersive information services, nor do we have a text-based mobile communication culture, so we don't use the like that.

I wonder why *this* shift. Why the skin and not the guts?

Also funny to notice them now finally hawking "we have cameraphones!". A year ago it was still "we have faceplates and ringtones!" ;)

Nobody Knows - Dare Mo Shiranai

Nobody Knows - Dare Mo Shiranai - Hirokazu Koreeda

Precariously perched,
Hope dies.
The world is so cold,
and chance rarely appears.

Stunning and devastating. I cannot say more.


The original.
The remix.

Cringe cringe cringe.

what daaa?

Jean Snow reports on something funny, yet inevitable, happening in one of his english classrooms:
What's a Cassette?

there was one kid (about 7 or 8 years old) who took the cassette box and put it up to his ear. He had no idea what it was. We opened the box for him, and he just stared blankly at the cassette inside.

Black tambourine

Two years ago Apple released a little snippet of code on its developer site called "Ascii Movie Player Sample". Basically you run it in the Terminal, feed it a Quicktime .mov and it plays it in ascii. Neat.

I heard that music labels are cutting back their artist promotion budgets ("because of the internet")... music video producers everywhere are gasping.

beck - black tambourine

Here's an example of how the environment shapes creativity, the market dictates fashion, the tools influence style.

(Of course this is also an example of how something can only be done once, or repeatedly only by the same "individual" before it becomes cliché. Another example of *that* is Apple's Saturated Colors iPod series of ads.)

(Beck link from Momus' Click Opera)

Employee of the month

Click opera - Employee of the month:

"People are strange when you're a stranger," sang Jim Morrison. They're even stranger when you're scrolling around a 1051x1557 pixel employee photograph on a corporate website.

Brilliantly, Momus deconstructs what otherwise would just seem a webmaster's silly oversight.

Let's expand on folksonomies

First of all, purely for background and some interesting ideas, the Wikipedia definition of "taxonomy".

Taxonomy (from Greek ταξινομία (taxinomia) from the words taxis = order and nomos = law) may refer to either a hierarchical classification of things, or the principles underlying the classification. Almost anything, animate objects, inanimate objects, places, and events, may be classified according to some taxonomic scheme.

and "folk taxonomy":

A Folk Taxonomy is a vernacular naming system, as opposed to a scientific naming system which is simply known as a Taxonomy or as a Scientific Taxonomy.

Folk Taxonomies are generated from social knowledge and are used in everyday speech. They are distinguished from scientific taxonomies that claim to be disembedded from social relations and thus objective and universal.

Anthropologists have observed that taxonomies are generally embedded in local cultural and social systems, and serve various social functions.

So, as I've said, I really think all this tagging stuff is great but will be much more interesting once we really start to do more integrating and more social stuff with them. Here's what I mean by that.

The current flat, one dimensionality of the tags-based info management tools we see today (, flickr, et al) is essentially "selfish" or "based on the individual"; the loner walking through the world ascribing his own names to the things he comes across. Sure the fact that those names are there for all to see and aggregated into intersected view (show me everything everybody marked as "funny"!) is neat, but not terribly useful for they lack context, increasingly, especially as the databases grow (and oh my are they growing).

The first thing I'd like to see are some basic true "folksonomies": taxonomies generated and maintained by folks. This of course creates a host of technological presuppositions, like personal tag management software/services and tag aggregation and dissemination. Even more tricky are the social and cultural ramifications, which we still suck at but can muddle our way through as always. ;)

Also, there are already a handful of folksonomic "tags" which are inherent to the system and/or the data in question: date & time stamps, media type, resource URI, ID3 tags (on MP3s)... any standardized-by-usage metadata really.

Key here is the understanding that nothing is forced; you either use the folksonomy or you don't, you either contribute to it or you don't. Up to you. Either way, it is very much like our transition from loose tribes to tight knit communities, with all the value - and headaches - that engenders. It is also consistent with the nature of true democracy, and social life: You have the right to not participate, but you have a duty to do so if you choose to benefit from it.

Politically correct in Quebec

(or "baladi-balado")

Ok some background. I live in Quebec, a predominantly francophone ("french speaking") province ("state") of Canada. The francophones here are ridiculously anxious about protecting "their culture" (while they love nothing more than buying american products and seeing their sons and daughters listen to american hip hop and heavay métale). Anyways, in an effort to "protect our language", some of our hard earned tax dollars are poured into an organisation called "L'Office de la Langue Française" ("The Office of the french language"). Never mind that the French, from France, laugh spuriously at us for this, and the anglophones refer to them as "The Language Police".

A-Ny-Ways. I must say I am impressed with how on the ball these bureaucrats are. They aren't sitting around on my 50% income tax and 15% sales tax! No sir-ee-bob!

Friends, I give you the official, politically correct translation for french Quebec... of PODCASTING:

Vous avez entendu parler du podcasting? Sans doute, si vous possédez déjà un baladeur iPod. L'Office québécois de la langue française vient tout juste, en cette fin d’octobre 2004, de proposer les termes, encore tout chauds, baladodiffusion et baladiffusion pour nommer en français cette nouvelle réalité.

La baladodiffusion est un mode de diffusion d'émissions de radio Internet qui permet à l’abonné aux fils d'information RSS (la version Internet du fil de presse utilisé dans le monde des médias) de télécharger automatiquement sur son ordinateur, à l'aide de logiciels spécialisés, les émissions de radio qu’il a préalablement sélectionnées, et par la suite de les transférer sur un baladeur numérique à disque dur afin de les écouter en différé.

Le terme anglais podcasting est un mot-valise qui a été formé à partir des syllabes finales des mots iPod (nom commercial d'un modèle de baladeur numérique à disque dur de la société Apple) et broadcasting. Les termes baladodiffusion et baladiffusion sont aussi des mots-valises; ils sont issus de la contraction de baladeur (en référence au iPod) et de radiodiffusion. Dans le cas de baladodiffusion, on a ajouté la lettre de transition o entre les deux formants. Ces termes ont été créés sur le modèle de radiodiffusion, télédiffusion et webdiffusion.

Sadly you need to read french to get the hilarity of this. However, as I said, this is impressive, if not for their choice of translation, but for the fact that they cranked this out back in October 2004, they actually explain what it is, complete with an analogy of RSS as being the Internet version of news feeds, and also displaying their pride in "naming in french this new reality".

Aaron suggests, and I agree, we should petition to have the word changed to "Pataticasting". This would make it truly quebecois.
("Patate" is joual/slang for potato.)


Why not... Here's a 30 minute mix of some stuff in my playlists.

Like Eating Glass - Bloc Party - Silent Alarm
Peach, Plum, Pear - Joanna Newsom - Walnut Whales
Destroy Rock 'N' Roll - Mylo - Destroy Rock & Roll
Search and Destroy - Iggy and the Stooges - The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou OST
Galvanize (Feat. Q-Tip) - The Chemical Brothers - Push The Button
Millionaire feat Andre 3000 - Kelis - Tasty
Tokyo - Books - The Lemon Of Pink
回復する傷 - Lily Chou Chou - 呼吸 OST

Cheers. :)


  1. RSS Enclosures is NOT in effect. I'm rolling my own RSS feed at the moment and, like, yeah right, I'm gonna go futz with that now.

  2. 128kbps MP3, to keep it smallish and dissuade piracy.

  3. I did my best to equalize volumes across tracks but hell I go from some zithery plinka plinka to Iggy Pop. Be warned. Also I think the overall playing volume may be a tad low... heh.

Thoughts on the legality of this:
Sure I'm providing full tracks here, liiightly sequenced, in poor quality settings. If you REALLY wanted to, you could convert it to AIFF, chop em out and re-export them to MP3. But that's a fair amount of work and you end up with crap, sans metadata. I figure, there are about 20-30 of you out there "listening" to this. If anything, this may incite you to seek out what you liked... and buy it. Or spark up your P2P app of choice. But that's your problem, not mine. ;)

Flavormakers we be.

Now what?

So AOL has updated it's Terms Of Use for AIM:

Although you or the owner of the Content retain ownership of all right, title and interest in Content that you post to any AIM Product, AOL owns all right, title and interest in any compilation, collective work or other derivative work created by AOL using or incorporating this Content. In addition, by posting Content on an AIM Product, you grant AOL, its parent, affiliates, subsidiaries, assigns, agents and licensees the irrevocable, perpetual, worldwide right to reproduce, display, perform, distribute, adapt and promote this Content in any medium. You waive any right to privacy. You waive any right to inspect or approve uses of the Content or to be compensated for any such uses.

(eWeek article)

It's bad enough that so much of our communications are going though their systems as it is, now they have the balls to claim they own it.

Just what kind of derivative work can AOL produce from millions of Instant Messages a day? Why, keywords of course. How much do you think a marketing exec would pay to know that his top brand was mentioned X more times today than his competitor? Hrmm? Homeland security would love a daily report of how often someone said "bomb" or "ok, we're set" in the last hour...

It's really too bad that IM didn't develop the same infrastructure as email, where every ISP would handle the account for you, every hosting package came with a IM server built in, etc... Just like mail and www now. Can it still be done? Is it perhaps Jabber's time, now that AOL could conceivably experience a mass exodus, now that there is a plethora of IM clients available, and that even the next version of iChat will support it? Hrm. Is there a business model which could run such a service?

The King of Yet-Also

Momus gives us this fantastic essay about Michael Jackson:
Nota: This is not about your or my or anyone's morals.

One of the reasons the Michael Jackson trial is so unfortunate is that the world of Either-Or will pass judgment on a creature of Yet-Also. The world of clear, unambiguous categories will pass judgment on someone who flies Peter-Pan-like over the binaries that confine and define the rest of us.


Consider all the extraordinary ways in which Michael Jackson is Yet-Also. He's black yet also white. He's adult yet also a child. He's male yet also female. He's gay yet also straight. He has children, yet he's also never fucked their mothers. He's wearing a mask, yet he's also showing his real self. He's walking yet also sliding. He's guilty yet also innocent. He's American yet also global. He's sexual yet also sexless. He's immensely rich yet also bankrupt. He's Judy Garland yet also Andy Warhol. He's real yet also synthetic. He's crazy yet also sane, human yet also robot, from the present yet also from the future. He declares his songs heavensent, and yet he also constructs them himself. He's the luckiest man in the world yet the unluckiest. His work is play. He's bad, yet also good. He's blessed yet also cursed. He's alive, but only in theory.

Do try to read the whole thing. I'd reprint it here but am weary of such things. Go go... it's a Peter Pan story!

VoIP FUD advertising

Ed Bilodeau found this new ad campaign by Bell Canada:

Bell has launched an ad campaign to make people believe that VoIP telephone services over cable are not reliable.

"It's a food-chain ecosystem," says I, "introduce a new species and it either eats everyone else, or tries to fuck 'em..."

Anyways, corner an animal and it'll fight to the death. Show it you have some food and you are willing to share and hey you're best friends. "Lets work together."

I just remembered something. The irony here is that Bell has been offering VoIP corporate services for at least 2 years now. Also, they spent the later part of the 90's laying fiber optic all over the greater Montreal downtown area (Plateau included), and are just sitting on it. They need a better marketing plan...

Music makers WANT to share

Creative Commons search index breakdown:

It appears that people licensing audio have chosen to offer more liberal terms than average while those licensing still and moving images have chosen less liberal terms than average.

And THAT, my friends, is VERY telling. VERY telling indeed. I'm looking at you, "the music industry".

(This also make me think out loud about the dichotomy between the aural and the visual "brainframes" and how we, as a culture spurned on by electricity, are moving from the latter to the former.)

Tetsujin 28 weblog

So this is all in japanese but here's what seems to be going on: there's this movie, "Tetsujin28", coming out that looks like a modern remake of some japanese giant robot series or whatever.

And here is the movie's... blog. WTF.

This is getting absurd. Way worse than e-commerce and dot-com combined...

The Old Man and the Sea

On monday night I went and watched "The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou". I went alone.
It took until last night for me to fully absorb it and realize that I really liked it.

A straight-faced dead-pan comedy adaption of Hemingway's "The Old Man and the Sea", shot with imagination and color. I found it mildly depressing for a day or two, despite the giggling fits brought on by listening to the soundtrack almost constantly for the last three days.

Google movie reviews (hmmm based on the ratings aggregated there, I'd say most people are equally perplexed emotionally by this film...)

Back in high school, being part of one of the worst rabble-rousing classes in the whole private french school I attended, over a five year period we went through four different english teachers. Mrs Nolan, from my 7th grade year, got promoted to vice-principal and the following 3 replacements all quit at various points out of disgust. with our treatment of them. That first year I had handed in a book report on "The Old Man and the Sea" and had gotten a fairly good grade. Taking advantage of the teacher rotation that followed, I managed to pass that same paper off 3 years in a row. Well sorta... On the third try, Mrs Nolan called me into her office and, smiling said to me: "You must really like that Hemingway story..." Seems the current english prof had told her "Boris handed in a really good book report..."

We laughed about that. And then Hemingway punched me in the mouth.

Viennese New Year

Radetzky-Marsch, Op.228
Johann Strauss, Sr.
(mp3 ~4.6meg)

This is the kind of stuff I imagine was being blared in the house I grew up in during my parents' yearly New Year's Eve parties, though I can't remember. The first few years I was too young to remember, the next few I was busy helping dad set off the fireworks, and at some point, we stopped having the parties.

Two days late, but hey! Clap along! Rada-dat, rada-dat, rada-dat-dat-dat! :)

From this album:

"Neujahrskonzert 1990"

Canadian public geo-data copyrighted and sold by the government

Some cool folks, working on a cool project, are looking for some reliable geo-data for Canada. Place names and GPS coordinates, mostly. So I turn to Natural Resources Canada of course, the governmental body that has this stuff.

The first shocker is that they want $100 for the text file "product" we could use. Ok, I figure, theoretically my taxes cover their activities in this field but hey, $100 is not so bad for the level of apparent quality of the data.

But oh my... the terms of sale are outrageous:

1. The End-User acknowledges that the Data is protected under the Copyright Act of Canada.
Why? This should really be public domain. We paid for it already, and it is meant to serve us.
2. The Data is licensed, not sold, to the End-User for use subject to the terms and conditions of this Agreement. The End-User owns the disk(s) or tape(s) on which the Data is recorded, but Canada retains all ownership interests in the Data.
Same as above. Why is it "theirs"? Isn't the Canadian government, essentially, "us"?
3. The End-User shall use the Data only on a single computer. The End-User must obtain a supplementary licence from Canada before using the Data in connection with systems, multiple central processing units, computer networks, or emulations on a mainframe or minicomputer.
Uh, hello 1973? The age of the standalone computer is looong gone.
4. The End-User may make one (1) copy of the Data for the purpose of backup only, which copy may not be used except in the event that the primary copy is damaged, destroyed or lost. The End-User shall reproduce on the backup copy the copyright notice appearing on the disk(s) or tape(s) on which the Data is recorded.
Gee, thanks for caring.
5. Except as provided in Article 4 above, the End-User shall not duplicate or reproduce the Data, in whole or in part, in any form or format whatsoever without the prior written consent of Canada.
Yeah right. Copy, paste. Try to stop us.
6. The End-User shall not sell, loan, lease, distribute, transfer or sublicense the Data or otherwise assign any rights under this Agreement to any third party without the prior written consent of Canada.
The fact that they are charging for this stuff makes this understandable... but that self same fact is itself not. In other words, I don't see why, or how, they can charge for this data AND hold us to these terms. Is National Resources Canada a business? If it is, why is it a governmental agency? What am I missing here?
7. If the End-User wishes to make any other copies of the Data for internal use, written authorization for such copies must be obtained from Canada prior to any copies being made and a royalty fee will be charged for each additional copy of the Data made by the End-User.
Yes big brother...
8. The Data is provided on an "as is" basis and Canada makes no guarantees, representations or warranties respecting the Data, either expressed or implied, arising by law or otherwise, including but not limited to, effectiveness, completeness, accuracy or fitness for a particular purpose.
Hah. After all that, and a hundred bucks, you don't take any responsibility for the quality of the data. C'mon get serious.

I dunno. Smacks me as wrong.

Capsule mansion


Boing boing just linked to a gallery of pics of the Nakagin Capsule Tower - Ginza, Tokyo - which was mentioned in that book I rambled on about a few weeks back (in a post titled "Boids").

Cid 2891685

I much prefer our Habitat '67 by Moshe Safdie.
(Of course, socio-cultural and space considerations are vastly different between the two...)
(CBC radio archive of an interview with people who lived in it. Originally broadcast Oct.25th, 1967)
Google search for Expo Habitat 67

Communication in Evolution: Social and Technological Transformation

An Interview with Derrick de Kerckhove
Director, McLuhan Program  
conducted by Álvaro Bermejo

AB: In spite of its totalising ambitions, can the Net develop a new Humanism, a new Enlightenment?

DdeK: Maybe, but Humanism and Enlightenment may not be the right models for the moment. The Net is really trying to provide as many people as it can reach with access to as much useful information as can be accessed. The Net is proposing a completely new modality of memory and information distribution. We are all in the aristocratic situation that Moliere described when he said: “A gentleman is someone who knows everything without having to bother to learn anything”. This is the natural condition of the new humanism.

AB: In 1962, when Man landed on the moon, we believed that in the near future we would be sleeping in the Jetsons' folding beds, and living in apartments shaped like flying saucers. Forty years on, our dream is to live in a log cabin on the shores of a lake, nuclear energy frightens us as much as do fossil fuels, and children in the Third World are being called Jonah, Rebecca and Moses, as in the Old Testament. Are these transitory tendencies or rebellion against the System?

DdeK: McLuhan invented the tetrad to explain just this kind of phenomenon:

  1. every new medium extends a human property (the car extends the foot);
  2. obsolesces the previous medium by turning it into a sport or an form of art (the automobile turns horses and carriages into sports);
  3. retrieves a much older medium that was obsolesced before (the automobile brings back the shining armour of the chevalier);
  4. flips or reverses its properties into the opposite effect when pushed to its limits (the automobile, when there are too many of them, create traffic jams, that is total paralysis)

So it is conceivable that new media will tend to evoke or recall much older human situations. Lifetsyle commercialism takes advantage of this without knowing anything about it. Some people start a trend without really thinking that they are, let say “Downshifters”, that is, people who would rather take a cut in salary to get out of the rat race and spend more time with their family, or in the country home with or without electricity, or “survivalists”, who believe in turning back into self-defense, not trusting civil society, or electronic hermits, people who live in total human isolation, but are hyperconnected via television, radio, the Net, SMS and what have you. In all these cases, all it takes is a handful of people with a discernable plan or attitude, for some clever advertising executive to spot it and turn it into a fad or a fashion. The next generation of media, based on quantum computers will bring back the age of spirituality and mysticism well beyond anything the New Age philosophy could achieve because it will supported by authentic scientific pretensions.


AB: In your books, in between the irony and the revelations, one senses a powerful call for a change of paradigm. What would be key to a new identity?

DdeK: The change of paradigm will depend on the third phase of electricity, the quantum phase. We have already absorbed the analog and the digital phases, and the quantum computer is already at a more advanced stage than the digital computer was when John Von Neumann began developing its architecture in the late forties. Today, we are at the post-Galilean moment when matter and science once solid are turning to liquid again. We may be getting back into a new kind of quantum cosmology where man is again at the centre of the universe, not as the centre of physical matter, but just of the information we have developed about it.  As quantum physicist Erwin Schrodinger put it:

Our perceiving self is nowhere to be found within the world-picture, because it is itself the world-picture.

The key to the new identity is what I call “selving”, that is the self in progress, in becoming, as in quantum physics where “things are not, they merely tend to be”. The new identity is in perpetual formation and reformation at the moment of use and on line it is fluid and aggregative as when people meet and change their perceptions of each other during the meeting. I sometime suspect that screens were invented only for the purpose of allowing several persons, minds, identities to meet and share thinking and speaking at a distance. The new connective thinking system is the screen.

A read well worth the time and attention and concentration.

Quick thought on copyright

Posted this comment chez Joi:

Copyright is a product of egotism and greed.
It is of the utmost arrogance to think that we own anything, let alone something so abstract and fleeting as "an idea".
Copyright was created because the socioeconomic model that forced it into existence made no other provisions for the sustenance of the artist and thinker. The legal entities known as "corporations" piggybacked on it and now control it outright. Corporations control culture, the product of art and ideas, to influence the markets they reap financial benefit from.

The moment you externalize any thought, in whatever shape you do so, you are sharing. You relinquish any and all "ownership". No, that is not a legal precept. It is a philosophical one. The philosophers always win. Always. ;)


Discovered amongst the tracks of the recently mentioned Blogothèque compilations (go go go grab it!!! Junkie Brewster's rendition of "Like a prayer" alone is worth the download!) is a gem called "We shall overcome".

Here is the video version.

Gustav, who finds herself in Vienna, Austria [ ‚ô•!!! ] put out an album called "Rettet die Wale", a tongue in cheek play on translation, the way I love'em, meaning "Save the election"... Wale is german for election... Save the whale... save the election.. get it? get it? hah! Brilliant.

Great song. Listen to the lyrics closely.


Amazon: 'Do Android Crows Fly Over the Skies of an Electronic Tokyo?: The Interactive Urban Landscape of Japan (Architecture Landscape Urbanism)' (Akira Suzuki)

Do Android Crows Fly Over the Skies
of an Electronic Tokyo?

The Interactive Urban Landscape of Japan
(Architecture Landscape Urbanism) 2001
- Akira Suzuki

Picked this little gem up at the CCA bookstore the day I attended the Devices of Design symposium. I bought it purely for the cover and intriguing title. Glad I did!

A book about Tokyo architecture and urbanism, Suzuki starts off with "The number of mobile phone subscribers in Japan already exceeds 60 million". Hooked me from the start. ;)

A short, oddly bound tome (each recto/verso page is one sheet folded in half and bound... a terrible waste of paper and feels very strange in the hand), one quickly goes through the 72 pages of texts, pictures and illustrations. We are led through a quick historical tour of such things as the traditional "yojōhan" 4 1/2 tatami mat room and its social role as the cha no ma - living room - to the splitting of the nuclear family, the advent of the one-room mansions and capsule mansions, the spread and ubiquity of the conbini - convenience stores ("twenty thousand stores in Greater Tokyo alone, or one for every one thousand five hundred residents"!), the cultural forces that brought about these developments, and of course the cultural changes these developments brought about.

Once we've understood that, things get... cyber. Starting with the mass adoption of televisions at the time of the 1964 Tōkyō Olympics, which shifted the seating arrangement in the cha no ma from one where family members faced each other around the central table to the corner where the television set sat. "The television replaced the father" and thus began eroding the fabric of the traditional japanese family unit. At the extreme opposite end we are shown the Gifu Kitagata Apartment Building project, in which one part, designed by Kazuyo Sejima, places the wash basin facing the large south facing window. This was done, the author surmises, for the daughter, and to highlight the role in social and urban change that the modern japanese high-school girl plays... or rather, that they all, collectively play.

This is where we dive into, you guessed it, cellphones!! Shibuya epiphany, sugoooiii!

(I'm digressing, but let me add that Mimi Ito's research of mobile phone usage in Japan speaks volumes on the communication, coordination and cooperation going on every second, in the virtual world that is the mobile, individualized data space.)

So, we have a shift to single/individual person dwelling needs, and infrastructure of conbinis - anything you need, anytime - and an overarching system of communications facilities - keitai, i-mode, internet, television. The result is "Tokyo is vanishing into invisible communities and communications", where the true goings-on - interactions, work, play, group activities - of it's inhabitants happen in an information-based "space". The physical environment is secondary and merely serves the basic needs of the citizens, and even that is seen to be collapsing into neglect.

Examples of how networked information spaces can affect physical space, and vice versa, are given as such:
- "Seijinshiki" coming of age celebrations, where thousands of 20 year old girls all initiate cellphone calls to their friends and asshii-kun - young men chauffeurs - in one area at once, crippling the network.
- The Pokemon "disaster", where almost 200 children suffered epileptic seizures due to rapidly flashing animation scenes, broadcast via television. Not only was the event precipitated by a network, but for the millions of others who only knew of it because of news reports, the apprehension of the reality of the event came via the network.
- The Tamagotchi Phenomenon. At first, large numbers of teenaged girls shared "tamagotchi breeding tips" via their cellphones. Not wanting to be left out of the fun, even larger numbers of salary men got in on the game, causing catastrophic tamagotchi shortages, networked-rumor spurred runs on stores... hilarity ensues...

The title of the book, which is only made crystal clear in the final paragraph, speaks of flocks of individuals, navigating an information-based world, by simple communications, through a marginally relevant physical environment.

"The real city is loosely absorbed into a number of network levels and it is in them that we see the phantom city we know as 'Tokyo'. The actual city of Tokyo has already become little more than a dummy through which we discern the happenings taking place among these invisible networks."

Notice the crow feather in the upper left corner on the cover's picture. Nice touch.

Apache Redux

 Images Tommy Debbie 1

So, I've just found out that the fellow in that "worst video ever" was one "Tommy Seebach". Apparently Tommy was briefly a huge star in his homeland of Denmark. It appears he went alcoholic and offed himself last year. :\

(thx for the tip CRW)



Hexstatic - "Apache"

Worst... music video... evaaar... hehehehee

Awesome MP3 compilation

La Blogothèque:

We have a long compilation tradition here. And we wanted to celebrate the site's second month. So here is a mix CD called Point d'écoute (Part. 1 + Part. 2 ) (Listening Post) that we made to sum up our discoveries in this period of time. Some of these bands have been produced, some don't have an EP yet. But all of them propose some free mp3s on their site¬†: that's where we collected them.

Not only is this a truly great idea, but so far I am 5 tracks into it and can already heartily recommend it as a worthwhile music download. Hell, I'd BUY this.

Matt on Etech et al

Matt posted a rant about the upcoming ETech:

It's just that the topics on offer: y'know - the copyfight, social software, bloody blogs, web services etc. might still be worthy topics for discussion, but I feel like I've been around those blocks quite a few times now, and I want some genuine outbreaks of the future.

We chatted briefly about it and I totally agree. In fact, and not to be too jaded about it, my one foray to ETech (and two to SxSW, self funded those were), though loads of fun and at times very interesting, were mostly just schmoozefests, a chance to meet many like-minded new friends. But by no means was I overwhelmed by genuine outbreaks of the future.

Put another way, what Matt, and I, agree upon is that while it is definitely necessary, important and interesting to consider "today", some of us who are already quite knowledgeable and comfortable with what is already going on really want to think more about what WILL be going on.

Geo-politcal/economic factors aside (we should all have signed up for mandarin chinese classes by now), I really want to explore the developments in, again as Matt suggests, things like bioinformatics, neuroscience, cognitive sciences - i want us to look at trends in art and culture, the weathervanes[1] of change - the development of architectures for interfaces as we emigrate our minds from our heads to our screens... The needs and effects of being, simultaneously, in ourselves, in the world and in cyberspace.

Did I mention I am lacking sleep thanks to reading too much Derrick De Kerckhove again? ;)

Perhaps a smaller event, perhaps similar to Design Engaged in structure, a symposium type-o-deal... presentation / conversation. Oye, I feel a rant coming on...

In any case, the only way I get to ETech this year is if someone gives me a good reason (flight, hotel, entrance fee being perfectly good reasons... ;) , and SxSW depends on how much work I take on between now and New Years. But show me an event which is truly about emerging, forward looking thoughts and technology, and I'll seriously consider getting excited and pulling out the (overused) plastic.

It's not that hard to get me excited, by the way.

[1] Q: What does the wind look like?
      A: The wind looks like what ever it moves...

Gratuitous political statements of the day

In the spirit of Turkey Day, here is "A thanksgiving Prayer" by William S. Burroughs

Thanks for the wild turkey and
the passenger pigeons, destined
to be shit out through wholesome
American guts.

Thanks for a continent to despoil
and poison.

Thanks for Indians to provide a
modicum of challenge and

Thanks for vast herds of bison to
kill and skin leaving the
carcasses to rot.

Thanks for bounties on wolves
and coyotes.

Thanks for the American dream,
To vulgarize and to falsify until
the bare lies shine through.

Thanks for the KKK.

For nigger-killin' lawmen,
feelin' their notches.

For decent church-goin' women,
with their mean, pinched, bitter,
evil faces.

Thanks for "Kill a Queer for
Christ" stickers.

Thanks for laboratory AIDS.

Thanks for Prohibition and the
war against drugs.

Thanks for a country where
nobody's allowed to mind their
own business.

Thanks for a nation of finks.

Yes, thanks for all the
memories-- all right let's see
your arms!

You always were a headache and
you always were a bore.

Thanks for the last and greatest
betrayal of the last and greatest
of human dreams.

And more generally, the words of Howard Beale ("Network", written by Paddy Chayefsky)

Get Mad

I don't have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad. It's a depression. Everybody's out of work or scared of losing their job. The dollar buys a nickel's work, banks are going bust, shopkeepers keep a gun under the counter. Punks are running wild in the street and there's nobody anywhere who seems to know what to do, and there's no end to it. We know the air is unfit to breathe and our food is unfit to eat, and we sit watching our TV's while some local newscaster tells us that today we had fifteen homicides and sixty-three violent crimes, as if that's the way it's supposed to be.

We know things are bad -- worse than bad. They're crazy. It's like everything everywhere is going crazy, so we don't go out anymore. We sit in the house, and slowly the world we are living in is getting smaller, and all we say is, "Please, at least leave us alone in our living rooms. Let me have my toaster and my TV and my steel-belted radials and I won't say anything. Just leave us alone."

Well, I'm not gonna leave you alone. I want you to get mad! I don't want you to protest. I don't want you to riot -- I don't want you to write to your congressman because I wouldn't know what to tell you to write. I don't know what to do about the depression and the inflation and the Russians and the crime in the street. All I know is that first you've got to get mad. (shouting) You've got to say, "I'm a human being, god-dammit! My life has value!" So I want you to get up now. I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go to the window, open it, and stick your head out, and yell, "I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!" I want you to get up right now, sit up, go to your windows, open them and stick your head out and yell - "I'm as mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore!"

Things have got to change. But first, you've gotta get mad! ... You've got to say, "I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!" Then we'll figure out what to do about the depression and the inflation and the oil crisis. But first get up out of your chairs, open the window, stick your head out, and yell, and say it: "I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!"

The Tube

You people and sixty-two million other Americans are listening to me right now. Because less than three percent of you people read books. Because less than fifteen percent of you read newspapers. Because the only truth you know is what you get over this tube. Right now, there is a whole, an entire generation that never knew anything that didn't come out of this tube. This tube is the gospel, the ultimate revelation. This tube can make or break Presidents, Popes, Prime Ministers. This tube is the most awesome, god-damned force in the whole godless world. And woe is us if it ever falls into the hands of the wrong people and that's why woe is us that Edward George Ruddy died. Because this company is now in the hands of CCA, the Communication Corporation of America. There's a new chairman of the board, a man called Frank Hackett sitting in Mr. Ruddy's office on the 20th floor. And when the twelfth largest company in the world controls the most awesome, god-damned propaganda force in the whole godless world, who knows what s--t will be peddled for truth on this network.

So, you listen to me! Listen to me! Television is not the truth. Television is a god-damned amusement park. Television is a circus, a carnival, a traveling troupe of acrobats, story tellers, dancers, singers, jugglers, sideshow freaks, lion tamers and football players. We're in the boredom-killing business. So if you want the truth, go to your God, go to your gurus, go to yourselves because that's the only place you're ever gonna find any real truth. But man, you're never gonna get any truth from us. We'll tell you anything you want to hear. We like like hell! We'll tell you that Kojack always gets the killer, and nobody ever gets cancer in Archie Bunker's house. And no matter how much trouble the hero is in, don't worry. Just look at your watch - at the end of the hour, he's gonna win. We'll tell you any s--t you want to hear. We deal in illusions, man. None of it is true! But you people sit there day after day, night after night, all ages, colors, creeds - we're all you know. You're beginning to believe the illusions we're spinning here. You're beginning to think that the tube is reality and that your own lives are unreal. You do whatever the tube tells you. You dress like the tube, you eat like the tube, you raise your children like the tube. You even think like the tube.

This is mass madness. You maniacs. In God's name, you people are the real thing. We are the illusion. So turn off your television sets. Turn them off now. Turn them off right now. Turn them off and leave them off. Turn them off right in the middle of this sentence I am speaking to you now. Turn them off!

Devices of Design

I attended the "Devices of Design" symposium, hosted by the CCA (Canadian Center for Architecture) and the Daniel Langlois Foundation for Art, Science, and Technology (Daniel Langlois was the founder of Softimage).

Devices of Design, a collaboration between the Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA) and the Daniel Langlois Foundation for Art, Science, and Technology, was initiated in response to the increasingly widespread use of digital media and software technologies in architectural design as well as in the domain of construction. A colloquium and a subsequent roundtable discussion will address both the consequences that this shift implies for contemporary architectural theory and practice, and the urgent need for better understanding of the archival and conservation issues that such new media and technology raise for research institutions worldwide.

The general question I gather they were tackling was "now that our work, the endeavors of architecture, is virtually totally digital, what do we archive for posterity?". This got sidetracked almost immediately to "what is virtual? what is a document, as opposed to a scribble? what is memory?".

[This event was VERY densely packed with great presentations and thought provoking materials. Therefore, not only am I having a heck of time writing it all down here, time wise, but also it makes for a VERY long entry... one which I will have to come back to and add to for a little while yet...]

My first Sony Walkman

Following a post by Nika, I thought it'd be cool to start a "thing", a "meme" perhaps... whatever. Use the TrackBacks, Luke!
To find your first Sony Walkman, check out Pocket Calculator's Vintage Walkman Museum: Sony

So, "I'll never forget my first Sony Walkman".

It was 1981 (read on for how I "remembered" that), and my parents had won a door prize at some charity ball, and since my father couldn't go, my mother dragged me off on a Caribbean cruise for two weeks. The cruise ship was anchored in New Orleans and just before embarking, my mother jumped into an electronics shop and bought [cue dramatic music] "our first Sony Walkman".

It was the WM-3 (again, interesting story on how I "remembered" that below). She also bought 3 cassettes:
- a greatest hits of Cat Stevens ("Ooooh baby baby, it's a wiiild world, a-do-do-do-do-dooo, and I'll always remember you, as a child, girl"),
- a sort of "addon/plugin" for the Walkman which gave it AM/FM capabilities,
- and, crucially for my remembering, Leo Sayer's "Living in a Fantasy" ("Oooohhohhhhohhhhh Jessee... I love you more than I can saaaay-e... I'll love you twice as much tomorrooow, oooh-ohhhh, I love you more than I can saaaay").

It was a memorable trip in and of itself: flying fish seen from the porthole window of our cabin, playing with the retractable lightsaber in the arm of my Luke Skywalker action figure, getting seasick and throwing up the water I had drank earlier...

My mom, being the indomitable soul she is and having enough of being couped up on a cruise ship with her semi-autistic son and a bunch of old people, decided we should jump ship in Porta Vaillarta, Mexico. We stayed in a nice hotel where I saw my first asian girl (it started young) and from which we still have the table set my mother stole from someone else's room service (a beautiful set of plates and bowls, simply yet beautifully decorated in lush deep blue) which had been abandoned, she said, in the stairwell. Kleptomania was a "thing" with us. She eventually got over that, as did I, after her second misdemeanor conviction: filet mignons from the grocery store. Sheesh. I digress.

After a few days there, we hopped a Cessna to Cancun where she had some friends working as G.O.s at the Club Med there. They let us stay at the club for a few days before hoping a flight back home.

Now, the story of how I "remembered" that.

It has to do with the web acting as "external memory". ;D

Two "keys":
The Sony Walkman itself and the two cassettes mom bought for us in New Orleans.

Searchinbg Google, I found a museum of "antique" Sony Walkmans, which allowed me to visually narrow it down between two models, one issued in 1979 (the TPS-L2) and the other 1981 (the WM-3).

One of the cassettes she bought was by Leo Sayer, which contained the song "More than I can say".
Searching Amazon I discover that the first Leo Sayer album to contain that song was "Living in a fantasy". Further Googling reveals a page talking about Leo Sayer's career, where it is stated "Leo had a new hit in 1981 with "More than I can say"".

Et voila.
I use the web the same way I use my own memory.
This is what I have become. ;)

NOW, how about YOU? Remember YOUR first Sony Walkman?
(This is interesting on several levels! Thank you Nika!)

Open Source Religion

"Release early, release often."

(disclaimer: many of the facts - names of cultures, places, people and dates - are not terribly known to me. I am not a scholar, I'm a hobbyist.)

There exists a fantastic Open Source project that has been under active development for well over five thousand years. I shall refer to it here as "The::WoRd", a cleverly played acronym for "Theologism - Western Religions".

Though there is disagreement over where and when the project exactly started, it is generally understood that various groups of people in various regions of the area we currently refer to as "The Middle East" started it. Each started with the basic goal of somehow explaining "The Great Mystery of what is Life and Death all about". (One would assume that prior to the beginning of the project, this involved a lot of gesturing, humming-and-ahhing, and head scratching... as is still very much the case today...)

In the initial Alpha stages, each group just sorta started from scratch, using their own language, and built up terribly buggy frameworks. Some quit, some crashed, others got picked up by local governments seeking to streamline their processes (as that whole project was also just beginning...).

Over time, developers from many of these efforts would sometimes meet, presumably at Bird-of-a-feather sessions or Foo Siege Camps. They'd swap ideas, what worked, what didn't, "how did you fix that problem?", etc. Every now and then some intrepid soul would come by and talk about standardizing and everybody would blink and take another sip of their coffee. Or whig out and kill him. Depended.

Some of these projects had neat codenames like "Zoroastrianism"! Still in use today even. Sumerians, the Ebla culture, the Mitannians, the Hittites, indus civ... a few amongst a seeming plethora.

Trade was booming thanks to the development of city states (hellooo government!), and one group seemed to move around quite a bit back then. Babylon, Egypt... all over really. It was during one of their mass migrations, or rather Exodus, that one of these aforementioned standardizers, fellow by the name of Moses, had a blazing vision and declared: "Enough of this Golden Bullsh!t."

Behold The::WoRd version 1.0. Codename: Judaism. Ten rules, two stone tablets and One God.

And thus begins a long process of unifying codebases, standardizing language (more or less... this whole project is amazingly language agnostic...), calculations, revisions, revisions, revisions, annotations, etc.

Every good Open Source project eventually branches. New needs, new features, new bugs. Heh. A brash young hell-raiser, Jesus, raised as a carpenter and so a real practical, hands on kinda guy, figures he wants to simplify it all. Things had gotten out of control, feature creep and whatnot. He felt the original power was hidden in too many doodads. (He wasn't to be the last.)

At this cross-roads, we are introduced to The::WoRd version 2.0., Codename: Christianity. What a killer app, w00t!

The rest of the story is fraught with many many more branches, revisions and all the holy wars and bloodshed such things normally entail. Not long after 2.0, one Mohammed shows up and declares he's got an even better idea and releases 3.0: Islam. Lean, mean and even more flexible than it's ideological inheritance, Islam is a smash hit with all the hip kids who are into this "new" thing called "open communication" and spreads like wildfire, or, if you prefer, like fresh hummus on a pita. (Mohammed's words, unlike his predecessor's, were immediately written down and copied and distributed. A bunch of northerners from Europe swiped the whole Christian codebase, bolted on a fancy, if bloated, GUI, limiting what one could do with it and enforced a monopoly known as the Christian Dark Ages of Silence. Meanwhile, the Middle East became the center of learning and culture; the processing and storage needed to saturate the lines of communication...)

The funny thing is, as a dear friend likes to put it, right around the same time all this started, a couple of chinese figured it all out, smiled and farted.

On Levendis

Few people have ever asked me what "levendis" means. Fewer still ever asked why I chose it for, amongst other things, my main Internet domain name.

I came across the word Levendis in a short story by one Harlan Ellison, published in Omni magazine back in 1992. It is a short story in 3 parts, written in a journal entry format. Ellison is an apparently well known science fiction writer of sorts. I was never really into sci-fi, but this story somehow spoke to me at the time.

It continues to revisit me regularly, on many levels and in many ways. The word and it's etymology and possible meanings. The story, it's format, what it says.

This evening, over ten years after first reading it, on a lark, I googled for it... and low an behold... the integral text.

It is cryptic, it is strange. There are parts that are not so good... but it will give you an insight into my world. I have much to say about Levendis.

My favorite "interpretation" of the ancient greek word "levendis" is "one who loves life".

"The Man Who Rowed Christopher Columbus Ashore"
Harlan Ellison

It's up to you

There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can't take part, you can't even tacitly take part, and you've got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you've got to make it stop, and you've got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you're free, the machine will be prevented from working at all.
- Mario Savio

Steinski - Mass Media - Television, It's up to you - Culture Remix
(temporary, 4.6M MP3)

Better late than never, DJ Shadow puts in a political effort.
"Would you buy a war fromt his man?" (temporary, 9.9M MP3)


New environments inflict considerable pain on the perceiver

The biologist Otto Lowenstein, is his book on The Senses (Penguin Books,Ltd.), has some most helpful observations on the problems that arise upon any change in sensory mode, such as a result from a technological creation of a new environment:

... patients, blind from childhood, on whom normal vision has been bestowed by an operation. Previous to this "opening of the eyes," they had been living in a world of tactile experience, of sound and scent, full of objects familiar to them in terms of their restricted range of sensory experience. How they shrink at first from the welter of additional stimulation, longing at times to return to the relative seclusion of their former world!

- Marshall McLuhan - War and Peace in the Global Village

In a postpostmodern state of mind.

In order to avoid ambiguity, over- or false- interpretation, it is crucial that one properly contextualize every element, in relation to every other element in it's environment.
Meaning can only be found in the relationship of each object with each other object in it's environment.
Each relationship, symbiotically influences the being of each object, connecting each into the whole.
This applies to everything: concepts, objects, individuals... humans.

Without you, I am less me. Or, conversely, with you, I am more me.

By easing communication, we enhance, strengthen the relationships, binding all elements tighter to the one.
By externalizing, reaching out, we draw in, collectively. Osmosis.

It is fascinating to me how many instances of evidence of these concepts are to be found in our cultures.

What is Apple doing with all that money?

fine italian pro...

Obviously not fixing their SpellChecker...


Style is the answer to everything.
Fresh way to approach a dull or dangerous day.
To do a dull thing with style is preferable to doing a dangerous thing without style.
To do a dangerous thing with style, is what I call art.
Bullfighting can be an art.
Boxing can be an art.
Loving can be an art.
Opening a can of sardines can be an art.
Not many have style.
Not many can keep style.
I have seen dogs with more style than men.
Although not many dogs have style.
Cats have it with abundance.

When Hemingway put his brains to the wall with a shotgun, that was style.
For sometimes people give you style.
Joan of Arc had style.
John the Baptist.
Garc??a Lorca.
I have met men in jail with style.
I have met more men in jail with style than men out of jail.
Style is a difference, a way of doing, a way of being done.
Six herons standing quietly in a pool of water, or you, walking naked
out of the bathroom without seeing me.

- Charles Bukowski See comment below.

Identites and celebrity

"Madame Hollywood"
Felix Da Housecat

Everybody wants to be hollywood
The fame, the vanity, the glitz, the stories
One day I'll become a great big star
You know like the big dipper
And maybe one day you can visit my condo
On the big hill you know like 9-0-2-1-0

Just imagine my face in the magazine
People analyzing my look, my body or
Any plastic surgery.

You know like the big dipper
And maybe one day you can shake
My hand on the planet Hollywood

You say I'm not underground
I'm rich, I'm famous, I vanish, I'm glitz
I am the story, I am the star
You know like the big dipper

Sex, Drugs & Rock n' Roll
It's Over
I decide it's over

Everybody wants to be hollywood
And maybe one day you can visit my condo
On the big hill you know like 9-0-2-1-0
Oh Yeah

How am I not myself?

- Do I bring my own chains?

- We always do...

I ‚ô• Huckabees

McLuhan Festival

Mark Federman at the McLuhan Program (UofT) JUST posted about the McLuhan Festival that started yesterday...

Either I was asleep or someone should have mentioned this earlier... Mark... ;)

It's on for a week so, um... if I can bloody finish this project from hell.. I think a road trip is order... Ken, you still have that couch for me? ;)

What Barry Says

I don't care who barry is, this is RIGHT ON the money:
What Barry Says

An un-apologetic criticism of US foreign policy and The Project for the New American Century. Animation follows the dialogue, giving visual poignancy and weight to Barry's words. The propoganda-esque style of the motion graphics further re-inforces the message. Is this a conspiracy theory? Far from it.

Here are places to download it (24 Meg QT .mov):

Watch it now. Show it to everyone you know!

[Thx Leonard!]

Tail wagging

As Joi links to me from his entry on Chris Johnson's Wired article "The Long Tail", I figure I should riff a bit on what I see in all this and why I reminded him of Momus' excellent "Pop Stars, nein danke!" article.

[This will mostly only make sense if you've read both articles and are mildly insane, like me.]

So if you look at this chart, way past the right most end of the "tail"... that's you and me. That's you and me and our friends who are in local bands, making our own electronic music/videos, writing poetry, taking pictures as hobby, etc. We don't actually figure on this chart, but we could if the numbers were stretched and the criteria slightly adjusted.

Right, so it is not only getting easier and easier to produce stuff (*cough* micro content), but it is getting easier and easier to share it as well. Also, it is getting easier and easier to aggregate it and more importantly "communitize" it, i.e.: "check out what I just found that you may like".

In Momus' article he speaks mostly of the indie music scene in early '90's Britain, which is an awesome example, even today, or rather more so today because everything he more or less predicted, or rather "saw happening", is happening or has happened. "Democratization of means of production and distribution."

"In the future, everyone will be famous for fifteen people." Provided those 15 people aren't your mother and your closest friends and that your stuff is actually of some appreciable quality, those 15 people may, just may, tell their 15 people about it... and so on.

(Legally, this is another place where Creative Commons makes ridiculous loads of sense, by the way.)

Following me?

One of the effects of all this is a fragmentation of culture, or micro-cultures if you will. If we look at western music classifications and their associated groupings, gone are the days of "I'm mod, I'm a rocker, I'm punk, I'm a rapper, etc." At this moment, the kids are saying things more like "well, I am into band x and y, but every now and then I'll listen to d..." There are of course still general lines of exclusivity that some less insightful people stick to... "But you listen to x! How can you possibly like d!?!" A-ny-ways. Xenophobia is hard-wired into lack of education/experience/knowledge/exposure.

All of a sudden I am reminded of U2's Bono yelling onstage during the Achtung Baby tour of 1992: "Is this rock 'n roll?! Is THIS rock 'n roll?!" And "good taste is the enemy of art."

You'll notice I am drifting further and further away from business model aspects. That's just because I am way more interested in the philosophical/sociological/cultural and metaphysical aspects... but I'll spare ya.

Oh! Let's go back to that first graph and reinterpret it, for my purposes, as signal/noise x audience ratio. The X axis is signal -> noise, the Y is number of "listeners". The better the signal (less noise), the more people tune in. Takes alot of work/talent to produce a good signal, right? But hey some folks listen to the noise, hoping for some good signal here and there. God bless mom, she loves all my noise. So do a handful of friends. As I get better at producing signal with less and less noise, network dynamics pretty much guarantee more listeners. And so I move left on the graph.

DJ Dangermouse at Web2.0 says:

Mashing is so easy. It takes years to learn how to play the guitar and write your own songs. It takes a few weeks of practice with turntable to make people dance and smile. It takes a few hours to crank out something good with some software. So with such a low barrier to entry, everyone jumps in and starts immediately being creative. I don't understand why that is illegal.

Right now, it is damn hard to get to the point far enough left on the graph where hobby/interest becomes an economically sustainable endeavor. That's because that point lies on the other side of such things as "the music industry", "the publishing industry", "the movie industry", "the blogosphere" *cough*. In the world of distribution-via-atoms (CDs, DVDs, books, magazines, movie theaters), these barriers were erected naturally by the economics of the undertaking. As these economic barriers slide right due to electronic dissemination/distribution (hello everyone from McLuhan to Negroponte and countless others), my barrier to feeding myself from my signal gets smaller.

And oh god are the barrier profiters fighting tooth and nail to keep those barriers to the left of that graph! Cornered animals they are.

This has been a high noise ratio rambling. Thank you for tuning in, SETI.

Lost in connections

Just noticed that in his track "God Only Knows" off of Fantasma, Cornelius samples, or rather, covers a piece of, The Jesus & Mary Chain's "Just Like Honey", which is the closing track of Lost In Translation as the credits begin to roll. In those credits, A Bathing Ape (Bape) are credited as fashion consultants. (The orange camo t-shirt that Bill Murray wears is Bape.)

Finding links for this entry, I realize that the #1 hit on Google for "Bathing Ape" is a link to an article on "A List Apart" (a webdesigner's staple, run by Jeffrey Zeldman) written by buddy Adam Greenfield, who organized the 1IMC, which is one of the reasons I went to Japan last year and where I ended up meeting Joi. I had met Adam in Joi's comments and then in person at SxSW 2003, where I also briefly met Zeldman...

Arrrgh! ;)

Tack this onto my previous entry titled ... omg... this is ridiculous... I couldn't remember the exact title of the post I want to link to here so I googled an approximation of it and add my handle at the end... and guess who comes up.

The mind reels...

Ah here it is: "Meshing storylines from my life".

One hour well wasted. ;)

Addendum: I should add that it was also at the 1IMC that I met a bunch of really great people whom I am very happy to call friends: Jim, Ado, Dav & Mie, Pete, Gen, Jane, Justin...

(I am NOT name dropping!! Just tracing lines!)

What am I listening to?

Update: Until I find a more stable way of including the list, it's gone. Damn.

So following the boss's... er... endorsement(?), I've had to figure out a quick way to include / audioscrobbler data on a webpage...

Joi does a good job of explaining what that's all about.

Ok, so if you look in the left sidebar on my weblog, under the "most recent photoblog entries" block, you'll see what I am listening to in iTunes. Rather neat, methinks.

How this works quickly:
The audioscrobbler "app" runs in the background on my computer and tells my profile what iTunes is playing. provides an RSS 1.0 feed of the last 10 entries. With a bit of PHP, I grab and parse that RSS and display the list here.

Now this is only the tip of the iceberg! allows me to have a little "player" which would allow you all to actually "listen" to what I am listening to. (This is the feature I think you want me to implement for you, right Joi?) Also, once I have provided it with enough of an "idea" of what I am listening to, it will start suggesting stuff I may like to check out. Also, seeing stats on what I am listening to is way cool for me, but also for you. Gives you one more look at "me".

Of course, i didn't really need to know that Joi's favorite artist seems to be The Smiths... ;)

Anyways, furthermore, if you start digging in the stats, as more people join up and "populate the database with data", you get a VERY interesting picture of what is popular...

I agree with Joi. This is not only way cool, it is damn smart. These guys are sitting on something HUGE.

Creative Commons Activists and Activism

I'm thinking that one of the things the folks at Creative Commons haven't done yet (perhaps it is in planning or discussion?), is provide a way for people who are so inclined, and so disposed, to "spread the word".

Activists, evangelists, et al. The so-called grass-roots.

While the Creative Commons website provides loads of information about CC (animations, cartoons, explanations of licenses etc ... all VERY well done!), I can't seem to find a resources center and a community support network for people to get really involved beyond choosing a license and applying it to their work - provided they get it and they actually produce stuff.

There are loads of people who don't read weblogs, or WIRED magazine, who not only don't know that they as creatives have options, but also don't fully realize the cultural lock-down they are living in. Ignorance of rights and responsibilities is the death knell for freedom, choice, democracy...

So, an example: the previously mentioned POP Montreal Festival starting this week. A music festival promoting mostly independent musicians trying to get exposure and "make it". They get more established acts to come and play and hook them up with smaller bands as openers to give them exposure. That's the basic idea, as I understand it.

Now, say I wanted to promote Creative Commons at these events. I am not a musician, but I know some people involved in the POP Montreal organization who would probably be interested in all this stuff. Where do I get materials I can show them? Materials I can print up and distribute, or a clear, concise statement of purpose, for this context, I can yell in someone's ear over a rock song as they stand in front of me and I hand them a flyer/sticker/whatever? A package I can hand to each of the bands performing at the festival, to get them thinking about all this?

I am looking at the Dean techy diaspora, busy at work creating community building tools such as CivicSpace. Take a look at this: "SpreadFirefox". A grass roots, organized effort to Spread the Word about Firefox (the popular-but-not-popular-enough-yet Mozilla based web browser).

This effort needs to be waged on many fronts, right? Not just the artists themselves, not just politicians (who don't act so quick as when they have a fire under their ass), not just the all-to-rare leaders of industry who get it... but the people, hitherto known as the consumers, as well.

I think this needs to be talked about...

La Lune de Gorée

Gilberto Gil - La Lune De Gorée

Gilberto Gil, performing "La Lune de Gorée" ("The Moon of Goree") at the Creative Commons Benefit Concert in NYC on Tuesday night.

Just one word: plastics.

I find myself cringing, internally and externally, as did Dustin Hoffman in "The Graduate", when confronted with that bit of advice.

Mr. McGuire: I just want to say one word to you - just one word.
        Ben: Yes sir.
Mr. McGuire: Are you listening?
        Ben: Yes I am.
Mr. McGuire: 'Plastics.'
        Ben: Exactly how do you mean?
Mr. McGuire: There's a great future in plastics.
             Think about it.
             Will you think about it?
        Ben: Yes I will.
Mr. McGuire: Shh! Enough said. That's a deal.

Except today it's "marketing", not "plastics", and the advice giver is Ben, and not Mr.McGuire.

I cringe at the inherent evil in any such enterprise: pursuing so unnatural an affair, just because you know you can capture and corner a market by making a widget no one else has thought of.

Unnatural how? Marketing is the plastic of culture. And just as now we have things that could not be made of anything other than plastic, we now have cultures entirely made up of marketing. It's an oily, greasy, dirty, fake, duplicitous affaire... and I don't like it one bit... but sacrebieu can it make me some moolah...

More thoughts on Björk, Medúlla and the music biz


  1. Previous Björk entry: Björk's Pirate Flag
  2. Bjö Medúlla Interview
  3. This Blog Sits at the: Björk: Shapes, not patterns
  4. - Le chant des possibles (fr)

First of all, Med√∫lla is still standing at the gates of my ear, ringing the bell hoping to get into my head. Melodic, yes; beautiful, yes; easy to digest, no. ;)

Second, as far as being "Avant Garde" or "fresh and new" or "on the cutting edge", lest it be noted that many have done technically the same thing (produced music from "found sounds"), not least of all Björk collaborators Matmos, before and for years now. (Recent discovery - for me - Matthew Herbert produces amazing stuff entirely 100% based on samples and live sound recordings. Check out "The Mechanics of Destruction" for a really conceptual opus.) Of course she may be the first "mainstream" (or ultrapeer) "recording artist" to do this, and she did a sweet job of it too.

The leading edge of culture is like an expanding bubble. Depending how near or far from the perimeter you are, the more or less "new" the artifact seems.

This is not my reason for posting this, mind you. It is just a lead in. ;)

So, we have this person who goes on a family camping trip for her grand parents' diamond anniversary. For fun, around the fire one presumes, they start singing songs; folks songs, pop songs, what have you. "Hmm" she thinks, and she proceeds to get family members to "sing" various instrumental parts of pop songs. Musta been a riot.

Back at the studio, she composes a few songs, pulls out a few she's had lying around, asks various friends to visit and sing little parts and stuff. Thank you! Lock the doors and edit it all together in ProTools (Apple's Sountrack at $199 could do the trick too) for a few weeks...

Now, the only reason Medúlla is sitting on store shelves, in Amazon's database, at the iTunes Music Store, is because it's Björk and that means two things:
a) she has major distribution deals via record companies
b) she has authority as an ultrapeer (established identity, voice, recognized output quality, etc... she's a celebrity)

I am NOT talking down to this. Credit is due and deserved! Totally.

What follows is not influenced by any purple kool-aid I may or may not be drinking at the behest of my current professional environment. It's just a thought. :)

In the above "context" list linked french article, Björk is quoted as saying essentially that she slightly regrets not fully exploring the potential of the process she employed.

Well... "Get back in there girl!" I say.

Take a break from contract requirements. Put some stuff together and start a new project, to further play with all this. While doing that, keep a journal, live on the web (cough weblog cough), have friends contribute to it as well. Keep a photo journal too.

When done, put it online. Seed Torrents, drop into NewsGroups, share it on Kazaa & Gnutella... Slap a CC license on it and let folks download it for free. Put up a PayPal "donate" link, and a few bucks may come back too.

"Why the hell would Björk want to do this?" one might ask. "Why the hell would she not?" I'd answer. Legal issues aside (the only fly in this ointment), it would be an awesome experiment. An extreme test of emerging music industry business models. While hundreds of struggling musicians are trying to use current tools to GET a voice, what happens when someone who HAS a voice uses them? Is it not the point here to get as many people a copy of one's work?

It would be Björk actually waving her pirate flag.


In broad terms, I posit culture is where the social - groups of individuals interacting - meets media/technology.

There are plenty of technologists with weblogs; the social sciences people jumped on board about 6 to 9 months ago (in force anyways, and from where I am sitting). Journalists got invited to a fight, and the marketing world has been flexing it's muscle lately as well.

What a joy it is to find the culture wonks getting in on the conversation!

More links to come!
(And thanks, Oblivia for the tip!)
(And Mr. McCracken, sorry for using the word "wonk". I should have said "cultural anthropologists". ;)

On demand living

Over the last few weeks, a realization has been slowly rising to the surface from the depths of my subconscious. (This is actually an apt portrayal of how generally my mind works, but I am going to share with you this specific one. Yes, I said slowly. My brain is one of those massive room-filling supercomputers with reams of storage and processing power but who take weeks and months to spit out an answer. I regularly get my ass handed to me by these whippersnapper desktop PCs who think they are so clever with their quick and dirty solutions... Hrmmm, I am also thinking of doing a quick re-read of Hemingway's "The Old Man and The Sea"... A-ny-ways...)

For the past few weeks I have very much immersed myself in work and almost completely shunned my local social network and it's related scene. More on that second part later.

Similar to what Joi describes, work-wise I have become very "On Demand". First of all, if I am not asleep and not out doing something, I am online. Work related Instant Messages and emails are responded to and acted upon, for the most part, almost immediately, and if not, queued up in my short-term memory (This is a process shortcoming I have to fix, mind you. Stuff starts falling through the cracks real fast. Ticket tracker, work log is in the planning stages.).

(Major design/set-up work notwithstanding, the nature of web work is such that many of my task requests from clients/friends are quick to-dos that can be done in real-time and on-the-spot. It literally takes more effort to log some of these than to do them.)

As for socializing and friends, a switch was thrown at much the same time. Today, when I think "who are my close friends?" I think of a short list of people, almost exclusively all of whom appear in my IM buddy list. No joke. Essentially, if I don't have quick and easy access to you (and you to me), you are lower on my list of people I keep in active memory as people I interact with (I do not wish to get into "what defines a friend?" at this time. I am speaking of people I want and can interact with, when I want.). This has had two immediate impacts in who I spend time with. None of my "going out/party/fun" social network is online, at least not to the extent required to be present in my mind. So, they have not seen me in ages. ;) On the other hand, the 3-4 local people who are accessible to me (Karl, Aaron, Anders, Francis, Steven... some friendster people... ;) have seen me on quite a regular basis, and I enjoy the time spent with them immensely, despite the fact that we can chit chat as much as we want online... and we do.

There is one exception and he demonstrates how decisively this works. Stevey lives one block from me, and he is online all day every work day, during business hours. Outside of that, he rarely appears on my Buddy List. Having a girlfriend, this is all fine and dandy, but we'll often say things like "hey we should hook up..." By his being just one step out of my loop, and my being SO "On Demand", there is almost never a situation where one of us will say "hey wanna go do this now?". However he contradicts my position by consistently being one of my best friends AND someone I will often think "hey if Stevey'd be into...".

Karl, I must say, is also a special case as he disappears downtown, ex-communicato, every afternoon. He does interesting stuff all the time that sometimes I'd love to around for, or I'll sometimes go do something I think he'd be into, but, hey, no way to reach the bum. ;) However, Karl is the one person I've seen the most in the last month. Perhaps because he is just as IM hooked as me, when he's around. Aaron, you're just always busy and you do a damn fine job of pinging me for coffees and lunch anyways. :)

(Non locals, like Ado, Joi, Jim, Dav, John, Jon, make me genuinely feel "really looking forward to seeing you again!")

This is all about availability and accessibility, On Demand. So far.

Now, the ramifications of this on my perception and use of time. Which has always been limbo-esque to begin with.

I always get asked "so whatcha been up to?" to which I always answer "work, mostly" because I feel at a loss to explain this very situation. It is a half truth, if not an all-out lie. I do not work any more than most people, in fact I work far less than most people. I also get asked "so, any plans for the weekend?" to which I also answer "work, mostly", but really, weeks mean nothing to me. Weekend, weekday; same diff. My time is measured in moments and events.

The reality is, I am On Demand. I am liquid. I do what I want/need, when I want/need. At any given moment, on any given day, be it a weekday or a weekend, I can be working on something or I can be out having a coffee, watching a movie, doing groceries, helping a friend.

Sounds great but it has drawbacks of course. Discipline is needed; discipline of the order I sorely lack still. That's why much of the time when I am not working, I am fretting about how I should be working... ;)

Oh god, no

This makes me so incredibly, furiously ill.

Why, oh why oh why oh why oh why does the human so single-mindedly seek to destroy his own humanity?
Eloquence eludes me. I just want to yell... Gah! You stupid fucking bastards. Wake the fuck up. Damnit. Damnit damnit damnit.

This poor girl, so full of life, so full of thirst for experience and joy. Snuffed out, her death precipitated by that self same flame that made her live; the catalyst in the environment she sadly found herself.

(To be clear, this is not, in my view, an islamic issue: it is human. This kind of madness has happened and continues to happen under every system we have ever conceived for ourselves.)

I'm going to go lie down and cry for there is nothing else to do. Sadly.

Do not go gentle into that good night
- Dylan Thomas

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Mourrir pour des idées
-Georges Brassens

Mourrir pour des idées, l'idée est excellente.
Moi j'ai faillit mourrir de ne l'avoir pas eu.
Car tous ceux qui l'avaient, multitude accablante,
En hurlant à la mort, me sont tombés dessus.

Ils ont su me convaincre, et ma muse insolente
Abjurant ses erreurs, se ralie à leur foi.
Avec un supson de réserve toutefois :

Mourront pour des idées, d'accord, mais de mort lente.
D'accord, mais de mort lente.

Jugeant qu'il n'y a pas péril en la demeure,
Allons vers l'autre monde en flanant en chemin.
Car, à forcer l'allure, il arrive qu'on meurre
Pour des idées n'ayant plus court le lendemain.

Hors s'il est une chose amère, désolante
En rendant l'√¢me à dieu, c'est bien de constater
Qu'on a fait fausse route, qu'on s'est trompé d'idée.

Mourront pour des idées, d'accord, mais de mort lente.
D'accord, mais de mort lente.

Les singes en bouche d'or qui prèchent le martir
Le plus souvent, d'ailleur, d'attardent ici bas.
Mourrir pour des idées, c'est le cas de le dire :
C'est leur raison de vivre, ils ne s'en privent pas.

Dans presque tous les camps, on en vois qui supplantent
Bient√¥t Mathusalem dans la longévité.
J'en conclus qu'ils doivent se dire en apparté :

Mourront pour des idées, d'accord, mais de mort lente.
D'accord, mais de mort lente.

Des idée réclamant le fameux sacrifice.
Les sectes de tous poils en offrent des séquelles.
Et la question se pose aux victimes novices :
Mourrir pour des idées, c'est bien beau mais lesquelles ?

Et comme toutes sont entre elles ressemblantes,
Quand il les vois venir avec leurs gros drapeaux
Le sage en hésitant, tourne autour du tombeau.

Mourront pour des idées, d'accord, mais de mort lente.
D'accord, mais de mort lente.

Encore s'il suffisait de quelques écatombes
Pour qu'enfin tout changeat, qu'enfin tout s'arrangeat.
Depuis tant de grands soirs que tant de têtes tombent,
Au paradis sur terre, on y serait déja.

Mais l'age d'or sans cesse est remis aux calendes.
Les dieux ont toujours soif, n'en ont jamais assez
Et c'est la mort, la mort, toujours recommencée.

Mourront pour des idées, d'accord, mais de mort lente.
D'accord, mais de mort lente.

Oh vous les boute-feux, oh vous les bons appotres,
Mourrez donc les premiers, nous vous cédons le pas.
Mais de grace, morbleu, laissez vivre les autres,
La vie est à peu près leur seul luxe ici bas.

Car enfin la camarde est assez vigilante,
Elle n'a pas besoin qu'on lui tienne la faux.
Plus de danse maccabre autour des echafauds.

Mourront pour des idées, d'accord, mais de mort lente.
D'accord, mais de mort lente.

Björk's Pirate Flag : med√∫lla special : interview

“You know, its ironic that just at the point the lawyers and the businessmen had calculated how to control music, the internet comes along and fucks everything up.” Björk gives the finger again, this time waving it into the air. “God bless the internet,” she adds.

And what about you, then?
“I'll still be there, waving a pirate flag.”

Glad to hear this.

Oh it's about branding, not human achievement!

Olympian struggle - Fans face boot for eating or drinking wrong brands at games

Strict regulations published by Athens 2004 last week dictate that spectators may be refused admission to events if they are carrying food or drinks made by companies that did not see fit to sponsor the games.

I am not shocked, dismayed or even surprised. I am merely curious to see how long this kind of stuff will go on for.

It is up to us, afterall. It is our minds and cultures they are corrupting.

us = all of us
they = corporations and marketing supported economic/political systems

"Surroundings Defend System"


The weapon against boring and weary surroundings

With seamless vision diminishers, adjustable safetybelt, 40 Watt stereo speaker installation and standard compliant 3.5 mmm jack-plug for fully compatible audio-experience, you can totally shut yourself off from the surrounding world and it's annoying inhabitants!

Yes, well, clever but... most people walk around completely oblivious to their environment as it is. No surrounding is "boring and weary" when your senses are fully engaged and you are actually processing the data they are feeding you.

Someone wearing this must be quite boring and weary themselves... not to mention obtusely jaded and cynical. ;)

(via near near future)

How things have changed

Ed Bilodeau: How things have changed

Some features of codes of professional ethics are common to all professions. A universal rule is that against advertising. Advertising among professional men has been defined as an ‘attempt to get practice by other then the legitimate means of proficiency in the profession and skill and success' in dealing with clients. […] ‘Probably, however, the principal objection of the honourable professions to advertisement is neither the fact that is misleads the ignorant nor that it is an unfair method of competition, but the indication it affords of a character who is more concerned with exploiting the profession for his own personal advantage than with the service to be rendered to society.'

A.M. Carr-Saunders, Professions, their organization and place in society, 1928.



The poets

Armed with poetry
poets lurk
streets and shoes
skirts and sun
poets lurk
armed with poetry

with lyre and
poets yell into a
sea of heads
bobing across
below the
shadow of the
all seeing buildings

armed with poems poets lurk
inside large rooms
conventions and stalk
armed with poems
words as pierceing
bits of glass
upon the skin
of knowing

that poets are armed with words...

Found in the comments of another blog. If someone knows the original author, I'd love to know.

The straight line

Hundertwasser -  The 30 Day Fax Picture

Mould Manifesto against Rationalism in Architecture

In 1952 I spoke of the civilization of make believe, the one we must shake off, myself, the first of all! I spoke of columns of gray men on the march toward sterility and self destruction.

In 1953 I realized that the straight line leads to the downfall of mankind.

- Friedensreich Hundertwasser

The straight line is an aberration, abhorred by nature. It is the tool by which man imposes his designs on his environment.
Thought too logical is equally a distortion of truth. The nimble mind can easily twist and bend any thing to suit its need and desire. The ego drives this unnatural machination.

I have little regard for the minutiae of philosophers' quibbles with their own neuroses. The neat little dream boxes in which we place our lives, properly labeled and dutifully forgotten. The prison bars, the lines of text, the thoughts of other men... bind me in no nutshell.

Reality frictions

The New York Times > The Hostess Diary: My Year at a Hot Spot

Not only is this an entertaining read, it is also an interesting account of one of the friction points between two very different realities: Celebrity and Mundanity.

(Some antonyms of mundane are: dreamy, idealistic, impractical, pretentious, unrealistic)

What does Fox know about reality?

Fox Networks Group to Launch Fox Reality Channel in Early 2005

Fox Networks Group President and CEO Anthony Vinciquerra today announced the creation of a new cable and satellite network, Fox Reality Channel. The new network is scheduled to debut in first quarter 2005.

Somehow this should have been a joke at The Onion...

Then again... Fox does seem to know a whole heck of alot about reality manufacturing...

Where there's smoke

A quick note on Michael Moore/Fahrenheit 9/11...

Yes, it is propaganda (not a dirty word, remember... propaganda is not always a synonym for "lies"...), yes he may present things out of context sometimes, yes he's making alot of noise...

But where there is smoke, there is fire. You may not see the fire, heck you may even want to argue what fire is... but there it is...

I don't need much context to scratch my head in wonder when presented with scenes and quotes like:

"Some call you the elite, i call you my base." - GWB

"I call on all nations to fight these murderous terrorists... Thank you... Now watch this drive (golfing...)" -GWB

"Let the eeeeeaaaagle sooooaaaar..." -J.Aschcroft

"If I had GWB in front of me right now, I'd ask for his resignation" - Soldier in Iraq

When informed of terrorist attack on his nation, for 7 minutes he sat happily immobile.
(Here the context paints him as an idiot puppet of his handlers. Give me another valid explanation.)

Etc, etc, etc...

It is VERY easy to distort "facts", but a distorted fact requires an originating fact and here we have legitimate video footage. It may be a collage, but it certainly is NOT fabricated. Smoke requires fire.

You may not agree with Mr. Moore's message or delivery, but go see this movie, and then look at the current administration through the same critical lens you viewed it through.

Furthermore, if everything were "ok", do you think so many people would be up in arms about it?

Corruption, culture and democracy

"I think a general government necessary for us, and there is no form of government but what may be a blessing to the people if it is well administered; and believe farther that this is likely to be well administered for a course of years and can only end in despotism, as other forms have done before it, when the people shall become so corrupt as to need despotic government, being incapable of any other..."

"Benjamin Franklin to the delegates of the Constitutional Convention, prior to the final vote

v. cor·rupt·ed, cor·rupt·ing, cor·rupts
v. tr.
  1. To destroy or subvert the honesty or integrity of.
  2. To ruin morally; pervert.
  3. To taint; contaminate.
  4. To cause to become rotten; spoil.
  5. To change the original form of (a text, for example).

I like to think that what Franklin meant by "when the people shall become so corrupt" is not, by our modern usage of the word "corrupt", that everyone is "on the take", but rather that the very fabric of society, culture, is undermined, weakened.


  1. Possessing, displaying, or based on reliable information: informed sources; an informed opinion.
  2. Knowledgeable; educated: the informed consumer.

    1. The totality of socially transmitted behavior patterns, arts, beliefs, institutions, and all other products of human work and thought.
    2. These patterns, traits, and products considered as the expression of a particular period, class, community, or population: Edwardian culture; Japanese culture; the culture of poverty.
    3. These patterns, traits, and products considered with respect to a particular category, such as a field, subject, or mode of expression: religious culture in the Middle Ages; musical culture; oral culture.
    4. The predominating attitudes and behavior that characterize the functioning of a group or organization.
  1. Intellectual and artistic activity and the works produced by it.
    1. Development of the intellect through training or education.
    2. Enlightenment resulting from such training or education.
  2. A high degree of taste and refinement formed by aesthetic and intellectual training.
  3. Special training and development: voice culture for singers and actors.
  4. The cultivation of soil; tillage.
  5. The breeding of animals or growing of plants, especially to produce improved stock.
  6. Biology.
    1. The growing of microorganisms, tissue cells, or other living matter in a specially prepared nutrient medium.
    2. Such a growth or colony, as of bacteria.

An "informed culture" is a strong culture; aware of it's history, building on it's ancestors' knowledge and experience, with no room or time to entertain the frivolities of superficiality and repetition. A weakened, un- or under-informed culture is prone to disease; corruption. The uninformed, bewildered, follow any trend or seeming novelty the wind blows their way. And what happens when one has such a situation, where there are a few informed and many uninformed? You guessed it: the informed have control of the uninformed.

How does one weaken a culture? As with so many things in history, we cannot point the finger to any one player. Rather, a long chain of developments - technological, economic, political - have brought us here. A good starting point is the arrival of mass-production... and plastics. Without wanting to recount the wonderful explanations of the threads of events that James Burke gave us in his books, articles and BBC Television series, "Connections", suffice it to say that with mass production, we get mass consumerism: in the extreme, the annihilation of the individual.

So begins the corruption of the people. With a view to fiscal growth, and with the power to mass produce any desire at the snap of a finger, one creates a marketing machine which, combined with policy changes which, amongst many other things, slash education funding and restrict rights on knowledge (ahem, intellectual property), the stage is set. The culture is weakened, and progress slowed.

Is this not what we are witnessing today? Mass marketing culture, the frightening stance of the domestic and foreign policies of "America", the aberration that is copyright? These are intricately related, woven together so finely, with a myriad other threads and patterns, as to be almost imperceptible.

In this weakened culture, one cannot help but to find ourselves in a bewildering vortex of confusion, unsure of anything, questioning and counter-questioning any number of trivialities simply because the majority can see only the superficialities fed to them.

Myself included, then, with my limited and superficial knowledge and views, find precious few moments where I can even begin to believe I see something in the haze. My eyes are straining... and what they do see makes me uneasy.

An example

Here is an example of information hunting and establishing connections between bits of data online. This story will remain intentionally vague and short on specific URLs for two reasons: to protect the individual's privacy and to keep my Google rank low for a specific bit of technical wizardry involving a certain mp3 player and a certain make of automobile. Unlike others, I am not interested in becoming the support desk for this little bit of information.

This story begins because of an entry a few days ago where I mention in passing the aforementioned setup. This evening I received an email from someone asking me kindly how I had done it, as his brand new car doesn't allow him to use the (to remain nameless) radio frequency interface solution.

Now the name of the person sounded very familiar, as it is a common name in these parts. To boot, buddy had his own domain, named after himself. Nevermind that I'll sometimes Google people whom I come across, but give me a vanity domain name and for sure I am going to whois you.

I now know where Monsieur lives and even got a map pin-pointing his address specifically. Not that I needed to since I know the neighborhood quite well, it being only a few blocks up from me... small world...

So okay, I hit reply and start writing some of the basics. However my car and my mp3 player are 2-3 years old and surely stuff's been updated. A quick trip to the web forums on the most popular, and useful website dedicated to owners of this particular make of car and I see that indeed, things have evolved. Copy and paste a few URLs and "good luck mon ami!"

This all took about 5-10 minutes. Slow compared to if I had had all this information in my head and/or we were all connected pseudo-telepathically but hey... it used to take weeks to ship cargo across the Atlantic, today it take days, if not hours... and that's atoms, not bits...

It is all about technology. If I were a faster typist... or if my interface to my computer and by extension to the Net wasn't through a clunky keyboard and primitive pointing device...



For the time being, sure, we step "away" from our computers... step away from the attention of our IM buddies... But when this goes mobile?

"You are in my pocket."

"My attention is not on this interface at the moment."


Aprils in Montorio-Ru!

Aprils online (English)

Oh yay!!! This the band I saw with Patrick in Tokyo! July 9th in Montreal! Doesn't say where though ... In fact, it is "unconfirmed".

Hm. I have emailed the organiser. I may be able to "confirm" a stop. :)

A Momus view of the music industry

Click opera - Interview techniques of the insane

Shelve your ADD, sit back and take five minutes, as this is well worth listening to.

The question and Momus' answer.

(No it is not highbrow, it is smart and playful.)

Cory on DRM at MSFT

Cory Doctorow gave a presentation on DRM (Digital Rights Management) at Microsoft and shares the text with us.

Beautifully explained in an accessible way... and of course in Cory's inimitable style. :)

Death in the age of Social Software

Following the dreadful email mentioned in the previous post, I was contacted with the following suggestion:

... should we put something onto the bulletin board at Friendster for the non-bloggers who know her there? It seems like a grim task, but maybe you could also notify the people on her friends list. It seems like the right thing to do.

I have a few reservations about this. Any thoughts?

Come together


An awesome Flash based video for The Beatles classic "Come Together". (~8Meg SWF)

Beautiful tribute. Beautiful example of being inspired by someone else's work and producing something beautiful.

Lest no one get hurt. Or in trouble...

Eric Idle says "thanks!"

This may be old news but I just heard it and well, you should too:
Pythonline - Eric Idle presents... The FCC Song.

On elections

Now, lemme get this straight...

"On Sunday, Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin called general elections for June 28, 2004."

One month.

On Politics

'In our time the destiny of man presents its meanings in
political terms' - Thomas Mann

HOW can I, that girl standing there,
My attention fix
On Roman or on Russian
Or on Spanish politics?
Yet here's a travelled man that knows
What he talks about,
And there's a politician
That has read and thought,
And maybe what they say is true
Of war and war's alarms,
But O that I were young again
And held her in my arms!

-William Butler Yeats

MP3 blogs

A list of mp3 blogs.

I've wanted to do the same for a while now but was hesitant. Guess I'll start too. :)


This kind of thing drives me up the wall:
TIME Magazine Cover: Secrets of the Teen Brain - May. 10, 2004

"Research is revolutionizing our view of the adolescent mind - and explaining its mystifying way"

Listen, here is some insight: try *really* hard to remember back to when YOU were a "teenager". Remember all the wondering and uncertainty and discovery and whatnot.

Now, take that person, you essentially, and stick them in the present. Think about the environment your adolescent inhabits. Highly fractured and accelerated culture, with specialized cults of interest and an overarching tribal system.

Think about constant and unremitting bombardment of information, entertainment and clashing contexts.

Think of sex, sex, sex, sex, violence, death, sex, war, sex. Pop, hip-hop, garage, whatever. Hollywood, Miami, Chelsea, Afghanistan, Iraq.

Now, how confused, mystified are YOU?

YOU created this world for them. If you are mystified by your adolescent, it is because you did not care enough to look.

Yes our brains are changing. They have to.

An economy of caring

Friend Jim Moore is doing all he can to garner attention, raise awareness and just get people to care about a situation of genocide and other nastyness happening in Sudan at the moment.

Much of his efforts are focused on getting the blogosphere to CARE and visit and link to and subscribe to Sudan: The Passion Of The Present Blog.

Jim wrote me a few days ago to say hi, and also to see if I had any thoughts on helping getting the word out. I was immediately reminded of two things: a conversation between Jim and Joi that I was privileged enough to sit in on in which they discussed how hard it seems to be to get people to care about things outside of their own immediate spheres, and the concept of "The Attention Economy".

The information is all there, available to any one of us. The "Attention Economy" is, loosely, about getting enough attention to the information that matters or is of value. Weblogs seem to do this quite well. But there is another threshold: caring. Once one's attention is grabbed, for example the news of genocide somewhere in the world, there is a gap between intellectually "getting it" and viscerally "feeling it".

I think, in the information overflow of today, we've definitely turned on some sort of desensitization mechanism. A major part of that mechanism is a belief, and therefore actualization, of helplessness. "Yeah but what can I possibly do?"

Weblogging's power of growing attention is definitely one, albeit small perhaps, "thing I can do", which creates a sense of caring in the individual. And when many people exchange, share, spread that caring, we create an "Economy of Caring".

Enough caring always results in some kind of action. Call it emotional payoff.

Who, what, when, where and why, and the death of the author

After reading Foucault's short piece "Author Function", I thought the following.

Take any expression, be it a text, a song, a painting, and label it "The What". Label the author (composer, painter, etc) "The Who", and and attach it as a property of The What. The Who property can contain the properties of "The When" and "The Where", giving us the contexts of a point in time and a point in space: environmental geo-political, historical, cultural context for The What.

If we bypass The Who, and ascribe The When & The Where directly to The What, as is the case with much Whats in the history of human expression, the role of The Who is stripped of it's Ego (or Id). Who said What, for Who's sake, is to a large extent quite irrelevant.

However, if I consider that had the aforementioned piece not been adorned with the name of Michel Foucault, I may not have stumbled across it, or even read it for that matter. The Who becomes a broadcast tower, a cultural signal repeater. The taller the tower, the further it's reach. The height of the Tower of Who is a function of relevance, quality, reliability... and social network engineering. I say engineering because it takes a lot of work to build one's Tower of Who. Who am I. Who do you think I am. In marketing, this is called brand building. And the more time one spends on building one's Tower of Who, the less one spends on refining one's What.

Arguably, in a cultural system where every What has clearly mapped When and Where, the Who becomes increasingly irrelevant.

With timestamps and GPS coordinates, the battle against the ego begins in earnest.

As for The Why... are we not still trying to touch the face of godliness? Are we not still merely trying to recreate the world in our own collective and connected minds?

Cinema disobedience

While I loathe linking to BoingBoing, I hafta say I'm with Cory on this one 100%.

Sneaker pimps, showin' stripes

shoeboyThe retro sneaker craze is getting to me. For some reason, I love it.

I'd have to say I'm partial to Adidas myself. The solid teutonic three stripes. Puma never appealed to me, probably because of the brotherly strife (1920 & 1948) that begat it.

But now, oh my, Asics have exploded onto the scene. The Onitsuka Tiger stripes are just... so... damn... cool. I SO should have grabbed that pair I saw in Shinjuku. Sigh.

Seeing this Steve McQueen super-detailed action figure in Akihabara didn't help my condition.

Sigh. McQueen is SO cool.

Interconnectedness and patterns, knowledge and freedom

Mark Federman, over at the McLuhan Program, offers up this great entry.

While the framework of his entry is based on how the limitations on media use that the RIAA (and MPAA) are seeking will effectively limit access to information - in itself a frightening possibility because what government, no matter how so-called democratic, doesn't wish to keep it's people in the dark ? - what I'd like to point out is his use of the language of (what I've come to call for myself) "pattern learning".

The knowledge one gleans from the patterns that emerge from freely aggregated information is, as they say, worth a thousand words, if not more. Juxtaposition of many bits form to create a picture of the whole, and when one uses such universal and "true" pieces of data as pictures and video - for understanding what one sees in them requires little if no foreknowledge of a specific language or code - then the communication and impact is far more far-reaching and powerful.

"Draw me a picture"

Reading the graph

BBC graph of US public opinion re: iraq war
over at Jim Moore's . I read it like this:

The more information leaks out of Iraq, the less enthusiastic the American public is about the whole thing. (There is hope afterall!)

And, look at what was needed for the switch to happen! Unofficial, unsanctioned photos and video being leaked. A few drops of "truth"...

I also read the red line as being the rightist propaganda machine desperately trying to keep a grip on the minds of Americans, fighting hand nail and tooth as the sheer weight of reality pulls down on it.

Shams always collapse. Why despots never learn this lesson is a mystery to me, and a miracle, our ace in the hole...

Doctor's appointment

Taking a computer in for repair, especially a PERSONAL computer, should be like going to your GP, family doctor, dentist or vet.

Why can I not call up my local mac shop, tell em what's wrong, make an appointment, show up and be in the room while the tech fixes the problem, or at least diagnoses it? I mean really?! Usually it is some tiny little thing i could fix myself anyways if I had the special tiny screwdriver of it didn't void the warranty.

Case in point. The screen on this here PowerBook was poorly reassembled after they replaced the LCD for the "whitespots" problem. I could fix this, myself, right here, right now. I do not have Apple's special microscopic hex screwdriver, and besides, a technician screwed it up, a technician should fix it.

Point is, my computer is a part of me. An extension of me I cannot be without for a day, nevermind a few days! I don't mean this in a purely "freaky cyborg/emotional attachment/addiction" way. It is my livelihood, my main means of communication, a major component of my brain... an extension of me!

So I eschewed going to the big apple retailer in town, BMac, because I know how their service department works. Drop it off, we'll look at it, for $50, sometime in the next 48 hours and we'll call you. Yeah right. Dropped by INSO, to inquire. Make an appointment for thursday. Drop it off as early as possible and keep my fingers crossed it gets done by the end of the day. Not optimal, but will do.

I maintain though that as we "rely" on our personal computers more and more, technical service departments will have to change their methodologies to accommodate the more pressing, medical-esque nature of quick hardware/system fixes.

I and U

Jyri posits:

What counts as a person? What might it mean to design not for preexisting, independent individuals with fixed boundaries but for partially known, locally enacted performances, out of which "individuals" may temporarily materialize as relational effects? How might a non-atomistic metaphysics be enacted in the mundane practices of design, amidst the very real pressures of for-profit mass production? How might one sustainably practice design, insisting that the division between people and machines and other nonhumans is not a stable, universal lawlike division, but a locally negotiated temporary cut? What would it mean to even ask such a thing? To risk it?

Much time have I spent pondering the concepts of "person" and "identity". Nodes in a network, faceted identities, etc, ad nauseam. The classic question always returning to me: "who am I?" While I am quite comfortable in my view of my self, I am particularly fascinated with how that interfaces with the outside world. "Who do you think I am?"

A current view of my "self" and my environment is more sub-atomic and multi-connected. A visualization of myself thus may render as a cluster of constantly evolving multi-surface shapes, each interfacing with my environment in different ways; each interface an individual and unique relationship.

What Jyri posits fits nicely into my view. How does one design for an audience of individuals who are nothing like the set definitions ("user/ consumer/voter/member/actor/author/hero/villain/agent/node/ sender/receiver/mover/shaker") that market analysis set them out to be?

On a constant basis I interact, not only with people, but with objects as well: computers, software applications, cellphone, chair, espresso maker, pepper grinder, shoes, jeans, magazines, cars, wine glasses, product packaging, etc. With each of these objects, I share a special relationship. The more attuned each object is to the surface of whichever particle of my identity it is interacting with, the tighter, more enjoyable, and possibly long-lasting, the relationship is.

This is not new; the best designers, artists as well, know this and work towards it. You must speak to that one little part of your audience that is most receptive to what you are putting forth. You must find that little part, and establish the relationship.

"It grows on you." Especially when you foist tons of fertilizer on it! Ahem.
The assembly-line of mass-production is currently tuned to crank out millions of copies of a design, once market desire is focused in balance with economic potentiality. The next step, customization per segment, is already evident, but constrained to a limited amount of choices: the color of your car, the faceplate of your mobile phone. Here again, the brushstrokes are wide. As industry's ability to micro-produce grows, we will see finer lines in it's works.

The market wants a mobile phone. "Done."
This segment wants exchangeable faceplates, that one requires productivity features. "Done, and done."
Boris wants a small device with a camera, handwriting recognition, PDA functionality, Always on Internet access, Personal Area Network access, oh and it has to be blue. "Um, we can't make that just for you, sorry."

Still today, market research consists of ascertaining what a group of people want. "What do you, as a group, want?"
Current customization, of hard goods anyways, is still constrained to "What do you, from these options, defined by what the group you seem to fit, want?"
Will industry reach a level of production capability where it can ask: "Boris, what do you want? We will make it for you."

Of course in the digital realm this is much easier. Pushing bits is easier than pushing atoms. Custom compilation music CDs can already be bought from wall-mounted kiosks.

Until industry can attain such a level of customized production, designers will remain constrained to designing for "you-as-part-of-this-group", as opposed to "this-one-specific-sensibility-that-this-individual-has".

But NO! Wait!
It is entirely true that groups of individuals share sensibilities and desires. And yes, industry has learnt to home in on those. Hello Apple people! The key point however is that these sensibilities are identified, verified and after making sure they are stable enough to warrant the investment of design, production, marketing and distribution, they are exploited. And THEN, it is made sure that these sensibilities are reinforced, woven in tighter into the fabric of the individual's identity... because hell we tooled up a multi-billion dollar mechanism to exploit it! We wanna milk this as much as we can!

And here I come back to how this relates to identity. Lifestyle marketing and design is all about meshing with individual's identities. And then taking them over. The current "consumer-backlash" comes from individuals who have the awareness to see that they, on the level of their own identities, are being manipulated in order to sustain industry.

Until industry does not need to disrespect my interfaces, it will continue to do so.

My answer to Jyri
What does it mean? It means a required level of respect, of relationship nurturing, one to one. I believe for-profit production is evolving, for it must, and could one day attain the level where it is sustainable to do micro customization. The ramifications are staggering, especially if it happens too quickly. Think of the socio-economic impacts... political as well. We are seeing it already.

Perhaps we are seeing the designer slowly morphing back into the artist, who must whisper to the deepest corners of who we are.

And we must whisper back... This is what will be different from here on.

F CC u

[IP] BBC makes fun of FCC Puritism

It seems some of the Brits are rather amused at the goings on recently at the FCC. Channel Four International (C4i) asked a number of US and UK film and TV stars what the favorite swear words were -- and to say them out loud (and they do).

The ad.

Maiko dances


Finally got around to stitching together the handful of 30 second video clips I took that night in the Gion District of Kyoto last July.

These were taken with my tiny Pentax Optio S which only does 30 seconds of video at a time, with about a 5 second gap while it writes the data to the memory card. Also, the sound and video quality leaves much to be desired, but, voila.

I was pretty drunk at this point so I just put the camera down on the edge of the table and kept pushing the "record" button. That explains the bad angle and the sometimes cropped heads. My apologies. :)

Welcome, Mike Durcak

Looking forward to more awesome stuff, amigo.

When thoughts collide

I received today my copy of Christopher Alexander's "The Timeless Way of Building" and floated down through the two first chapters as though carried by a gently nimble stream of clear water. More peaceful pondering on that later.

I ordered it for I had seen it mentioned in Ben's profile on Flickr. I briefly met Ben at ETech. His job title at Ludicorp (the makers of Flickr) is "Itinerant Philosopher". I trust in the serendipity of such encounters, even when it means ordering an expensive hardcover book.

Curious to see what other bloggers may have to say about the tome, I keyword-searched Technorati for its title and found that Peter Kaminski, of SocialText, had mentioned it just recently.

Of online social interaction, in the context of applying Alexander's ideas to the development online social spaces, he says this:

whereas architectural patterns of use have thousands of years of experience to draw on, online interactions have only been occurring for decades. It will take time to learn how people best interact online

In an earlier entry here, I pointed us to Mark's "explanation" of McLuhan's "The medium is the message", wherein this is said:

Right at the beginning of Understanding Media, [McLuhan] tells us that a medium is "any extension of ourselves." Classically, he suggests that a hammer extends our arm and that the wheel extends our legs and feet. Each enables us to do more than our bodies could do on their own. Similarly, the medium of language extends our thoughts from within our mind out to others.

I am of this mind:

For the first time, humanity is developing a medium which is not an extension of a faculty we already posses, but one which Douglas Adams refers to as, paraphrased, "the most cursed of social diseases": telepathy. Perhaps even something a step below omniscience. Not knowing "everything", but having easy access to "a heck of a lot". Having built out the infrastructure for our extended central nervous system and memory, personal logging and explicit social network systems will extend our "knowing". While we are at the very very beginning of these developments, it is paramount that we not only stop and ponder the ramifications and changes this will engender, but also make damn sure we move forward in a spirit of what Alexander refers to as "The quality without a name": alive, whole, comfortable, free, exact, egoless, eternal.

As the well placed stones in a garden.

Let me sum it up this way: what do you call a situation where potentially I can know where you are, what you are doing and what you are thinking, and you I? How do we build it, for it WILL be built, making sure we don't drive ourselves collectively batty?

Whistling in the dark

For years I have been regularly singing a little song to myself, and sometimes a bit louder for others. To me it speaks of the madness of symbols. To those who hear me sing it, it speaks of the madness of me.

It is by "They Might Be Giants" and it goes like this:

A woman came up to me and said
"I'd like to poison your mind
With wrong ideas that appeal to you
Though I am not unkind"
She looked at me, I looked at something
Written across her scalp
And these are the words that it faintly said
As I tried to call for help:

There's only one thing that I know how to do well
And I've often been told that you only can do
What you know how to do well
And that's be you,
Be what you're like,
Be like yourself,
And so I'm having a wonderful time
But I'd rather be whistling in the dark

A man came up to me and said
"I'd like to change your mind
By hitting it with a rock," he said,
"Though I am not unkind."
We laughed at his little joke
And then I happily walked away
And hit my head on the wall of the jail
Where the two of us live today.

There's only one thing that I know how to do well
And I've often been told that you only can do
What you know how to do well
And that's be you,
Be what you're like,
Be like yourself,
And so I'm having a wonderful time
But I'd rather be whistling in the dark

Whistling whistling, Whistling whistling Dark dark, Dark dark!


Mark Federman, Chief Strategist over at the McLuhan Program in Culture and Technology has posted this for us: What is the Meaning of The Medium is the Message?

I need to go lie down now. ;)

Absurdity and that "F" word i keep using...

From the Interesting People mailing list:

Recent comments about how we live in dangerous and
chilling times (after 9/11) should be seen in perspective
to 1968, when:

- 25000 American soldiers had been killed in 3 years of the
Vietnam War.

- The leading proponents for change (Martin Luther
King and Robert F. Kennedy) were assassinated.

- The Soviet Union was considered a nuclear threat
that could wipe out the United States in a day.

- Protesters against the war in Chicago during the
Democratic National Convention were stopped with
police-state tactics.

I have posted rare video tape footage of CBS News
on April 4, the day Martin Luther King was assassinated,
and ABC News coverage of the Democratic National
Convention from Aug 28, 1968, the night of the largest
riots, the fight over the Vietnam War plank (whether to
change Democratic party plank to allow Vietnam the
right to determine its own government and stop bombing
the north) and Vice Presidents Humphrey's nomination.

I like especially the sequence of five videos covering a "debate" between the intellectual heavy weights of the left and the right of the time, Gore Vidal and William F. Buckley Jr. It only goes to prove how the right is of animalistic tendency, even in it's higher brain functions.


One night about a week before leaving for the ETech Conference/Digital Democracy Teach-In, and just after having spent some time hanging out with the very cool Dean For America gang, I caught "Field of Dreams" playing on late-night television.

I always liked that movie. Really. Somewhere deep in my subconscious it always struck a chord. "If you build it, they will come, Ray."

Seeing it again, I was reminded of another fantastic quote, delivered by James Earl Jones at the very end of the movie.

The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It's been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again. But baseball has marked the time.

This field, this game, is a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good, and that could be again. Oh people will come, Ray.

People will most definitely come

- Terrence Mann - "Field of Dreams"

This story is not about baseball, Ray. It is about the soul of America, and democracy.

Build it, Ray.

Equal schmequel

Equal footing of social standing on a level playing field is a pipe dream; one that if you smoke too much from will blind you to the malcreants who will take advantage of your torpor to hoist themselves above you.

This applies equally to the current debacle about the "A-list bloggers" as to the state of "democracy" in the world at large, and everything in between.

The ones "on the top" stand on our shoulders. When they forget that, it is our task to shake them down.

What do you call it when

This morning, out of the blue, old buddy Michel IMs me this:

i had a friend who had a cool idea for something that'd be kinda like friendster, but for books, music and dvds and stuff.

so basically a group of friends library. where you have your people on your list that are allowed to borrow. and you have your list of books, etc... and the system would let you know who has what, and what's available from your friends.

Not an hour later, a new buddy, who shall remain nameless, mentions he is consulting a also nameless company to build a "social network" tool that would show "people who friended XXX also bought YYY"...

And now, I stumble across a post by also new buddy Jyri Engström where he makes this prediction.

(And he uses the term Kula... Hmmmm...)


About a year ago I had a vision of the worldwide hurricane of garbage and doodads created by entities such as EBay, whereby literally hundreds of thousands of items were flying around in FedEx and UPS parcels all around the world everyday, at any given moment. A veritable typhoon of physical object exchange, encircling the globe...

Round One

It seems to me that the prizefight between mass media and "weblogs" has now begun in ernest.

Some have been debating the "weblogs versus journalism" conundrum, and the use of weblogs and "social software" in political campaigning has garnered much coverage from all sides. Also, there have been a few cases where weblogs have "outed" stories the mass outlets dropped, not to mention provided more in-depth coverage of things the big boys can't or won't touch... But it I believe the really interesting bout heard its starting bell this past week.

The admission by ABC news and others that it's footage of the now infamous "Dean Scream" not only misrepresented the reality of the situation, and that it's widespread use was - "perhaps" they say - an effort to show Dean in a negative light, was one of those chance moments when the World Champion heavyweight lets down his guard for just a moment, giving the unproven newcomer a chance at a really juicy right hook to the head.

This isn't about Howard Dean or "Social Software". It isn't about "journalism". It is about manufactured and manipulated reality sold to an unsuspecting populace.

One of the beauties of many-to-may communication, weblogs being the first step towards a widely accessible and aggregatable implementation of such, is it's ability to de-isolate individuals, and more importantly, to bring them together in a non-regulated way. This is key in any democratic discussion. (Insert everything from power-laws, the trickle-up effect, social networks to "grass-roots movements".)

Slowly but surely the new heavyweight is finding his bearings, refining his technique, learning to dance and gaining in strength. Can a swarm float like a butterfly and sting like a bee? I sure think it can.

The bell rung and the first punch thrown:

Over the last couple of weeks a process that was formerly hidden became visible, as the powers of television, radio and print decide which candidate they want to run against George Bush in the fall.
The last half of the 20th Century was an excessive monoculture, centralized thinking system, where we think, as Citizen Kane snapped"What I tell them to think!" The American news executives who deleted the Dean candidacy through misinformation should do as the leadership of the BBC did -- resign and make way for an overdue reformation of journalism, and as a result the American political system. It's time. As Lydon tells us, the corruption isn't new. What's new is that it's visible now that we can inform each other without relying on them.

The "process that was formerly hidden" is propaganda institutionalized as (most) journalism, marketing and entertainment: cultural fascism, exploiting irrational fears and base desires.

Are you ready to rumble?


New York Post Online Edition: entertainment

Morgan Spurlock decided to become a gastronomical guinea pig.

His mission: To eat three meals a day for 30 days at McDonald's and document the impact on his health.

On unfashionalble sources

I picked up a very large but seemingly very interesting book this afternoon at one of these liquidation bookstores. Five hundred plus pages about democracy; it's history and what "the trouble is" with it.

I sat down and started reading and already, only a few pages in, I am finding some really great stuff. Stuff I want to expand on, blog about.

I put the book aside and went online. Googled the author's name and... oh horror. He's a raging ultra right-wing conservative. His website, ripe with "essays" about how homosexuals don't deserve equal social rights, how abortion is murder, etc etc etc, turns me off immediately.

So I am perplexed. I wonder if I should bother reading any further into his book. Despite how he has started by questioning - as I am - the validity of what we now worship as "democracy", I wonder where he will go. A quick glance at the Table of Contents offers no hints, other than all that is offered is a statement of facts. They may be angled from his particular perspective, which is inevitable I suppose... but... How do I get this bad taste out of my mouth?

I guess I shall read on and see.

But just to whet:

Accordingly, much of this book will be devoted to showing how the language of democracy has actually been turned against democratic practice as it was originally understood, and how the people feel helpless. For they have no other language with which to resist.

(This is very much in-line with the idea of cultural fascism I shared with Jim Moore at the Oasis diner in Burlington, which had him jumping up and down... until we called John Perry who's immediate response was "we'll have to find another word for that..." Hehehehe. We laughed about it... and then Hemingway punched me in the mouth.)

Wither, Friendster

So, well, wow... the next big thing in "social networks" sites?

These guys basically rolled up Friendster, LinkedIn, Upcoming and probably a few more, into one. So far so good.

Still totally centralised and closed, but a step ahead no doubt. IMHO.

Dean's Garage Band

Dean Goes Nuts

Amazing. "Media Remix". Thousands of people - the above being a small sample - have taken to sampling Dean's Iowa Caucus Concession Speech and making remixes.

The power of public domain source materials and easy to use music software is starting to flex it's muscle. With advent of Apple's "Garage Band" I suspect we will see much more of this from now on, and not just in the political sphere.

Interestingly, The Deansters already tapped into the image-based parody/remix phenomenon with their Postcard generator.

Ohh, I have an idea...

Federal matching funds vs. electability

For some strange reason, some people, who really should know better, are more concerned with some vague notion of "electabilty" rather than the cold hard economic facts of the trap known as "federal matching funds".

Now I think I have got this straight but correct me if I'm wrong. When a candidate accepts the "federal matching funds" package, they essentially accept a cap on how much money they can raise to fund their campaign. The number is around $40 million, if memory serves. Much of that money is spent campaigning in party primaries (read: fighting amongst themselves).

What this means, is assuming a candidate who has been capped this way actually gets the party "ticket", he/she is then left almost penniless to fight "the big one".

In this case, the opponent in "the big one" has around $200 million to spend on campaigning.

So, Clark and Edwards will essentially be broke, and utterly helpless, while W rains down on them $150 million worth of television advertising this summer and fall. The same thing happened to Gore four years ago.

Kerry didn't go for the presidential public financing system. But Kerry's money is all old style "big contributions". $1000 a seat dinner parties and the like. That's alot of dinner parties and handshaking he'll have to do, with the rich people, to even stay above water. Nationwide television advertising is a nasty, expensive proposition.

Dean also didn't take the package. Dean however has an enormous and very effective fund-raising mechanism, not to mention active "grassroots, face-to-face outreach programs, tapping right into the hearts, minds and smaller budgets of everyday Americans who feel they can finally do more than just go vote on election day... if even that. His people call it "The $100 revolution": 2 million Americans x $100 = George W. Bush out of office.

I am not american so I am not really supporting anyone. Just looking at the facts. And there are way more than I care to type up here now that support the idea that if anyone IS electable, it's Dean.

That said, i would like to note also that yes it is illegal for non-u.s. citizens to contribute to any U.S. political campaign... BUT there is no such law against supporting CULTURAL campaigns by anyone who so pleases and feels so compelled. can do wonders with a few of your dollars, pounds, euros, rupees... They don't care who wins as long as it ain't the Bushies.

Also, a note to the Deansters:
The media and the opponents have distorted Dean's anger at the state of America into just general bad temper. Time to tone down that strategy. Time for the Doctor to start talking about WHAT he would do, HOW he would do it and, fer criminey's sake, what his VALUES are. The dems and the reps are on different playing fields: issues versus values... take the game to them! Issues fall on deaf ears. Values comfort.

Classnotes Wiki

Mike's "Harkness Table" classnotes wiki is taking off!

Way to go! It'll be fun to watch this develop... and spread...

Canadian RIAA gets its way

For no good reason, I visited the canadian apple online store today. I like to go in there sometime, poke around and drool. Go figure...

Anyways, so I click through to the iPod section and - what da heck, eh?! - find this, in bright orange letters:

Price includes CPCC's Blank Media Levy - $25

Google search CPCC.

The Canadian Private Copying Collective is the non-profit agency charged with collecting and distributing private copying royalties. Established in 1999, CPCC is an umbrella organization that represents songwriters, recording artists, music publishers and record companies. These are the groups on whose behalf the royalties are collected. CPCC is not an arm of government. Enforcement of the private copying tariff and advocacy, including representing copyright holders before the Copyright Board, which decides the tariff, are other important functions of CPCC. This site provides in-depth background on each of CPCC's key functions. To locate the information of interest to you, please see the site menu.

I must have been sleeping:

Under the decision, the following tariffs will hold in 2003-2004: 29 cents on audio cassette tapes of 40 minutes or longer; 21 cents on CD-Rs and CD-RWs; and 77 cents on CD-R Audio, CD-RW Audio and MiniDiscs.

The Board also set for the first time charges on non-removable memory permanently embedded in digital audio recorders: $2 for recorders with a memory capacity of more than 1GB; $15 for recorders with memory capacity of more than 1GB and up to 10GB; and $25 for each recorder with memory capacity of more than 10GB.

Sure enough:


FILE: Private Copying 2003-2004

Tariff of Levies to Be Collected by CPCC in 2003 and 2004 on the Sale, in Canada, of Blank Audio Recording Media

In accordance with subsection 83(10) of the Copyright Act, the Copyright Board has certified and hereby publishes the statement of levies to be collected by the Canadian Private Copying Collective (CPCC) effective on January 1, 2003, on the sale, in Canada, of blank audio recording media for the years 2003 and 2004.

Ottawa, December 13, 2003

Miserable bastards.

Why... I don't wear... the bow-tie

Why tech firms are out of tune

While the above article is tucked away in the BBC's technology section, it speaks directly of something very political: democracy in the digital age. Ugh, can't believe I just said that, but it's true.

DRM (digital rights management), a misnomer if there ever was one, is not about the rights that matter, ours. It's about protecting the money of folks who ostensibly need it the least. It reminds me of Bush's "tax reform". Give every middle-class american a $1000 tax break so that they don't notice the fact that corporations and the super rich can hold on to billions more.

There is absolutely nothing democratic or even just about either. Monopoly in politics is called something entirely other and much more nasty: fascism. (My current favorite word it seems... ;)

There are so many issues common to both situations, copyright abuse and the brandying about of something mislabeled as democracy, that I have a hard time wrapping my mind around it all, much less write a blog entry to clarify my full thoughts and feelings on it. I can say this though: the tactics and methods currently being developed and deployed by the folks at the Dean Campaign to effectuate political change in America, can serve us well in fighting the whole copyright, DRM, entertainment industry debacle currently underway as well.

Time to mobilize.

Brand memory


An attempt to evaluate the actual power of brands by making Austrian people draw a total of twelve logos (nine international, three typically European) from memory.

Things to note in this:

  • In most cases, if not all, some respondents drew older logos; the brands' previous logos. (Exposure length)
  • Complex "conceptual" shapes get simplified, distilled into simpler shapes and distorted (Mnemonic icons?
    e.g.: Toyota's concentric ellispese seems simple but is quite a complicated geometric image. As demonstrated, this causes distorion to the point where it is confused with Mitsubishi's diamond cluster and Mazda's... thing-a-ma-jig.
  • Simple "conceptual" and representative shapes/images work very well (easily remembered)
  • Logos with a left-right directional bias (text-based logos not withstanding) sometimes get "flipped" in memory.(a mirroring mechanism in memory?)
    e.g.: Lacoste croc, Apple's bite mark, Peugot's lion and the direction of the swirl of Eskimo's heart


We have relationships with every person we meet/know.
We have relationship networks which connect all these people to us and to each other.
We manage relationships by being nodes and establishing identities (identity facets).

So if we think of ourseleves as a node in a network... Liken the node to an atom. The atom has neutrons and protons... The node has facets...

We can be multinodes in multiple neworks, each node with multiple facets.

Interesting idea came up tonight in conversation with a friend. Do networks have a tendency to draw unto themselves? Sorta like maybe surface tension? Pulling everything to the center? Or how magnetic fields between .. Err... (forgive my lackadasical knowledge of basic physics.. Sheesh!) protons/neutrons.. Or planets... If so, do identity facets have a natural tendency, or "desire", to collapse?

Relinquish the Ego on The Way...

I'm just wondering.. Is there any evidence of this concept in any existing human belief system? The Buddhist "letting go of self and other/multiplicity" for example?

Just thinking out loud... What do you all think?

Revisiting ironies

I just got an impulse to drive out to the suburbs where I grew up and visit the private french school I attended for eleven years. It was the kind of business where we wore uniforms, stood when the beloved leader (principal/owner) entered the classroom and were repeatedly told we were being shaped to be "Les leaders de demain!" ("the leaders of tomorrow"... many ironies here...).

Over the years I've learnt that most if not all my fellow inmates profoundly despised, and continue to despise, this school. I know more than one whose lives have been inextricably affected for the worse by having gone through it's doors. My oldest friend, whom I met in first grade, once declared: "I love my parents, absolutely, but I will NEVER forgive them for having sent me there." Harsh words. I've heard desires for class-action suits around reunion dinner tables.

Oddly, myself, I never minded it. I was so... hmmm... oblivious/unreachable. My eyes and ears were open and i just took it all in, stored it in the databases and made loose connections. Never asked questions and never studied for exams. Nothing affected me. And I was always in the top five, grade wise. Remarkably unremarkable.

Aside from the math, history, grammar and latin, I learnt one thing very well which our fuhrer probably didn't intend. I learnt, intrinsically, how fascism works, and how absurdly perverse it is. How it parades about in a luster of pretense and false justness. How, on an educational level, it seeks to "instill knowledge", rather than "foster understanding". How, through rigid application of discipline, it seeks to destroy individuality in an effort to maintain order.

I think this is why I was not affected as others were by my detention in this school... to me it was a big joke, utterly comical. For someone who went home everyday to the woods and the river and the trees and and the animals, it all seemed so unnatural and otherworldly. "This can't be serious! Nothing can truly grow and prosper this way." I didn't rebel though since I also knew that it was a safe and clean environment to get at least some of the basics of a "good" education. Well, in all honesty, that was lack luster as well, but anyways.

No Comment

As part of my cable television package, I ordered EuroNews. Nevermind that the news reported is from a european perspective (a welcome change from the CNN et al), but there are two other major characteristics of this All-News network I find fantastic:

First of all, there are no "anchor people". No spin doctors with gussied up hair and fake plastic airs giving you a rehashed, opinion-infused narrative. What you get are voiced-over introductions, as well as translations where necessary, of video reportage of events. Oh and no sensationalist crap - this is real news.

Then, they take it one step further.

A segment called "No Comment". And that is exactly what you get. Real, raw video footage, no reporter, no words, no stories, no crap. Just a look at what's going on. Bombings in Iraq, in Gaza... people running, screaming, pleading, dying.

No comment.

At one point, I tried a little mind trick on myself. I said to myself: "ok, you are not watching this on TV; you are watching this "on the web", a streaming video feed in someone's weblog."

The trick worked. I sat back, blown away, and overcome with weltschmerz. No, that word is not strong enough... grief and sadness.

They make these videos available on the web. Go look.

Content & Relationship

During a "Content" conversation, I was brought to realize that things like "bar talk", "chewing the fat", "shootin' da shit", et al... are Relationship conversations. It was further pointed out that these are just as important as "real", or "Content", conversations, as they build bonds (albeit weak ones often, but nonetheless more or less important).

DUH! Of course! Why hadn't I made the conscious connection?! (Probably because I'm a loner by nature and that despite my quite good socializing skills, I DID spent the first 18 years of my life totally oblivious to the concept of "society" and "community"... )

This adds all the more weight to what I was saying about weblogs... ;)

(sans the Google screed)

Michael Moore publishes letters from U.S. soldiers in Iraq

I just received an e-mail from good friend and former employer, Warren Wilansky. Warren and the gang at Plank Design do all of Michael Moore's websites.

He sent me the text of the latest Mike's Message.

A small excerpt:

What they are saying to me, often eloquently and in heart-wrenching words, is that they were lied to -- and this war has nothing to do with the security of the United States of America.

Also just made available are 20 letters that U.S. soldiers have sent to Mr. Moore.

There are two basic messages in this: 1- the war in Iraq was/is a sham and 2- things over there right now are far far worse than we are being told.

Please read some of these letters, as well as Mike's Message.

AND, if you are lucky enough to live in a place where, for example, your television service offers European or other non-U.S. news outlets, subscribe to these channels now and see for yourself. (Here in Montreal, Videotron offers "EuroNews" which pulls together video reporting from many european journailsts in Iraq right now. It is frightening frightening stuff they are telling us...)

Oh and blog about this message too... It is important!

On a related note: if you can get your hands on a copy of "Uncovered: The Whole Truth About the Iraq War", a film in part funded by the Voter Fund, it is well worth it.

Remix culture

Creative Commons put together a Flash animation, Reticulum Rex, giving an update on what's going on with their effort.

Re-democratization of "culture". Remix. Author? Editor.

"The Library, which some call 'The Universe'..."

Read on Emergent Leadership

I few months ago, I wrote about a book I had started reading: Herbert Read's "To hell with culture".

The volume is essentially made up of a number of papers Read published between 1941 and 1961. The aforementioned post was some notes on merely the Introduction of the book, which on it's own was an eye opener.

Due to time constraints and stretching myself across a number of interests, endeavors and obligations, I must admit that I am only now at the third of the papers, and of that, half way through it. I return to this work now, however, because ideas and insights I have thus far gained from it continuously revisit me, on a daily basis, and I am wont to glean more.

The order in which the articles appear in the book impress upon the reader the overall "view" which Read wished to impart. The Introduction, résuméd in, again, the above linked entry, could have been a paper of it's own accord, expounding on the role of (truly knowledgable, intuitive and involved) artist, poet, free-thinker, in society and its governance. Extolling the importance of these "disruptive elements in society", as they stir things up, if you will, and make things happen. "Here's to the crazy ones", right?

Stick this in your Google and smoke it

In a comment on Joi's site, Stewart Butterfield remarked:

I have no idea how to settle an argument about this, but I contend that, for the overwhelming majority of blog readers and writers, blogs have almost nothing to do with 'content', and everything to do with identity and relationships.

Yup. I have to agree entirely. To be precise, not all weblogs would be about content (few are) and not all weblogs would be "identity & relationship building". Many turn out to be a bit of both, in varying proportions (as well as being any number of other things, of course).

For example, predominantly "content-focused" weblogs would be maintained by their authors with the desire and belief that what they are publishing is worthwhile, relevant, interesting, etc... The validity of said belief is beyond the scope of my point, and the desire is at least notable. Among these we can count blogs by Journalists, blogs by pseudo-journailsts (no negative connotation implied!), academics, hobbyists blogging about their hobby, etc. Their goal, if I may say, IS to "publish and share hopefully, somehow, relevant content and perhaps elicit conversation/communication revolving around said content".

Examples of this would be Dan Gillmor and Jon Udell (tech journalism), Anders Bell's Phluzein and danah boyd's Connected Selves (academic/specialized interest), etc...

On the other end of the spectrum we would find the often maligned "what I had for lunch today" style weblog. Here, the idea is to share a bit of one's self and one's life, much as one does at the family dinner table or when "shootin' the shit" in light social settings and daily interactions. "Hey I saw such and such movie last night. I liked it." This essentially identity and relationship management. You get to know a heck of alot about somebody quick by reading their entries of this nature. You get to know them, as much or as little as they want you to, and they get to know you, as much or as little as you want them to.

Again, no absolutes: I am merely setting a possible scale.

So, why mention Google in my title? Well folks, my little RowBoat here leans heavily to the "identity and relationship" side, and as such it seems rather pointless for it to be involved in the ongoing Google-washing that his happening. You wouldn't believe how many referers I get from search engines where people want a picture of a rowboat or to know where to rent a rowboat. If I actually wrote about rowboats, it'd make sense, but as it is, it is merely a silly title I thought up when I was asking myself the perennial newbie blogger questions: "what is this weblog of mine? and what shall i call it?"

So, as of today, using the wonders of the "robots.txt" file, I will disallow search engine crawling of my archives. Also, more serious stuff (content I feel may be of some value/genuine interest) will be remanded to a separate weblog, which I will announce in due time,and which will not be closed to search engine crawlers (spiders, robots, what have you).

The effect of this, I expect, will be that I will be more inclined to fill up RowBoat with stuff about me and my life (fun eh!?)(as you opined, Mike), as well as actually post more of the smarty pants theories I come up with... and they will be much better written and researched of course (as you suggested Anders).

A great Canadian scandal

In a "Life and Times" TV profile of Canada's exiting Prime Minister, Jean Chretien, in regards to a corruption scandal he was accused of a few years back involving some investments in a golf club and a contentious phone call to his buddy, the head of the Bank of Canada, Jean quips:

It was a great Canadian scandal! No sex, no violence, and I lost a ton of money!


Talking to myself

Continuing on the cyborg theme, I thought to myself:

I've been here on the sofa all afternoon, fumbling with my awkward iBook, and yet it is here, with this sub-par setup, that my thoughts flow most freely into the computer, and not at my desktop. It must be the relaxing recline of the sofa, for the larger screen and use of a mouse, instead of the restrictive 12" inch screen, clumsy trackpad and awkward keyboard navigation, are far more conducive to my interaction with the machine.. but not with my thoughts.

So, mobility wise, what do you want?

Well, let's see. For starters, a heads up/goggle-type display with an enormous "Desktop" (no need to go architecting 3D UI OS's), voice navigation and voice dictation. Added to that a pair of gestural data input gloves. With this, an application which presents everything I say (commands excluded or in a meta window) as text which, via the gloves, I can "copy paste" wherever I need it: chat with Joi, comment reply to Aaron, email to ... whoever, blog entry, etc...

To continue on the concept that conceivably the brain can "learn" to use new virtual artificial extensions to my "self", my two hands could merely be triggers or "training wheels" to new, multi-tentacled, again, virtual interfaces (read: fingers). Think of the special robotic multi-fingered hand prosthetics in "Ghost in the Shell". Why lob off one's hands and replace them with robotics when their existence could be fully virtual, yet controlled by the brain? It IS feasible, I have SEEN it.

I posit that with less effort than to learn sign language, our brains could learn to use virtual extensions like these.

It's like riding a bicycle! Right Marshall? ;)

This is also a basic theory of "good design". You know "how" to use a tea kettle just by looking at it. By making it intuitive, as opposed to a language learning process, you make it more useable.

It all comes down to wasted CPU cycles in the brain. The less I must process "how", the more I can process "what"... and where, who, when...

Some small good

I'm not going to get into the politics of Québec's "Office de la Langue Fran√ßaise" (a.k.a. "The Language Police"), but at least there is some small good that comes of it: Le Grand dictionnaire terminologique is one heck of a English-French dictionnary site and resource.

And it now does Latin as well! Hrm.. well it says it does anyways... Oh I see, it looks up latin in specialised terminologies - like law, medicine, etc... - and gives you the french, english, vulgate term... Neat.

No Tattoos Allowed!

Joi's Moblog: No Tattoos Allowed!

They actually have signage for that. Amazing.


Kate over at Montreal City Weblog points to some film footage Thomas Edison took in Montreal in 1901.

Watching it I thought to myself: "Could this genius, in his wildest dreams, for one second, conceive that here I would be, a mere century later, watching this footage, probably filmed a mere mile or two from where I now sit, using a handful of technologies that he himself discovered, sparked or improved?"

Looking around me, pretty much everything I see has been touched by Thomas Edison.

Thank you sir!

Craig's in town

craigslist: montreal online community
Note the RSS feeds for everything...
Thanks Stevey.

Electioneering, stats and the network effect.

What a seriously odd series of moments the last 72 hours have been.

Not five minutes ago I thought to myself "I'd like to see some visual representations of U.S. campaign stats. Like, where's the candidates money coming from, where are they spending it, where are they now, what are their itineraries, their timelines., etc...

Running though my RSS subscriptions, I came across this entry of David Weinberger's, in which he links to this map displaying where the candidate's funds are coming from. That takes care of request one.

Just before that, I checked my email for the first time today only to receive two separate emails, unrelated from each other (The emails that is - both senders I met in Boston and have shared meals and great conversations with and both of whom I now have very interesting friendships with), one inviting me to Burlington to hang out at Dean HQ and the other inspiring me with the clout to do just that, though why exactly I would want to is still somewhat unclear to me.

Last night, I fought back tears watching Josh Lyman on The West Wing be given back his "wings" and admitted back into the "war room". Don't ask. The night before I watched, enthralled, a documentary about the Kennedy brothers and their politics. Go figure. Not to mention the Gore Vidal interview on Charlie Rose which blew me away and off to the bookstore to buy his book. For some weird reason I also grabbed "Political Philosophy - A Short Introduction". Can't hurt.

Back to stats, similar to the MoneyMaps above, yesterday I cam across a project by Ethan Zuckermann, another fascinating person who was gracious enough to invite me along to a dinner he was having with Feedster creator, Scott Johnson. Ethan's project (one of apparently many many, GeekCorps being another) is "Global Attention Profiles":

A Global Attention Profile looks at how a media outlet pays attention to 180 different nations. Instead of comparing how many stories Google has on the Green Bay Packers versus the Dallas Cowboys, we compare Google stories on Sudan versus Libya versus Lebanon. The resulting data gives us a picture of how an individual media source, at a given moment in time, pays attention to different nations.

Brilliant! Can we get one of these maps displaying Attention Profiles for the candidates?!

Why do I care. Dunno. I guess I think things are still pretty sour in the world and anything helps... ;)

Gore Vidal on Charlie Rose, talking about Founding Fathers

Gore Vidal was on Charlie Rose last night. I had heard the name before but never clued in as to who he is. Turns out he is one of the preeminent American historians and social critics of our day. (Which means some probably consider him a quack. Too bad for them.) He was probably one the show to hawk his new book, Inventing A Nation: Washington, Adams, Jefferson, but it was a rivetting interview nonetheless.

Following are some terrible quick notes I took. I say terrible because I cannot type for the life of me, nevermind do live transcription... These quotes are for the most part NOT verbatim. SEE THE EXTENDED ENTRY for an L.A. Weekly interview with Vidal for very much the same explosive comments.

  • Founding fathers feared democracy, created a Republic.

  • Franklin quote: "corruption of the people => ruled by despots"

  • Alien and sedition laws => Patriot Act, erased bill of rights.

  • Napoleon had "unhinged" these guys (Hamilton, John Adams)... they wanted to take over Mexico...

  • Adams countered war with France (Napoleon), Hamilton wanted to be Emperor of America.

  • United States of Amnesia

    American History least favorite subject in American education system.

  • "We are in steep slide into despotism, police state, militarized economy, President's intuition that some terrorist may attack."

  • "Propagandizing ourselves, taking over the world, for oil"

  • "Is Condoleeza Rice representing the interests of Texaco, the company she used to be a chairman of?"

  • What do you think Bush's speech to Saudi Arabia etc , how they should be more interested in Democracy...

    "Why should they if we aren't?"

  • "It is nefarious what we are doing with FBI & CIA to people of america, Patriot act... education, social programs, etc..."


Joi posted something the other day which took two full days to get a mildly negative comment. It's not even all that negative really. The commenter very lightly and respectfully nudged Joi to censor himself.

The post quotes a protestant pastor who ended up in Nazi hands and was probably meant as a gentle reminder to keep our eyes and ears open about "what's going on"... you know... all that nasty stuff surrounding the U.S. and its current policies, both internal and foreign and at tthe border of both.

My comment, in reply, was as follows:

One of the most important aspects of remembering such things as the horrors of Nazi Germany is to pay special attention when one sees similarities to what allowed those horrors to happen.

Dismissing comparisons with Nazi Germany is far far worse than forgetting it outright.

Remebering is one thing. Learning and prevention is another. And cynicism in the face of possible recognition of patterns just doesn't help anything.

That said, 1- cynicism makes me ill, 2- censorship makes me ill and 3- databanks are useless without CPUs and software.

The Destroyer of Worlds


Ryuichi Sakamoto - "Oppenheimer's Aria" from -LIFE-

"We waited until the blast had passed, walked out of the shelter and then it was extremely solemn. We knew the world would not be the same. A few people laughed, a few people cried. Most people were silent.
I remembered the line from the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad-Gita: Vishnu is trying to persuade the Prince that he should do his duty and to impress him he takes on his multi-armed form and says, 'Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.' I suppose we all thought that, one way or another."
- J. Robert Oppenheimer

Pulp fiction intertextuality

Film Review:Tarantino Interview

This interview was conducted in Los Angeles on August 28, 2003 during a press junket for KILL BILL: VOLUME ONE held exclusively for the Japanese media. In this one-on-one chat, Quentin Tarantino goes deep into the many influences for KILL BILL; it's mythology, and even the future for his characters beyond the two-part film. Originally conducted by Tomo Machiyama for Japan's Eiga Hi-Ho (Movie Treasures) magazine, Japattack is proud to present this interview for the first time anywhere in English transcribed from the original recordings. The usual spoiler warnings apply.


In Joi's posting today, he quips:

I remember thinking in the dream, "oh, I should blog this... "

Judging from the comments, some folks find this strange and funny. I don't find it either. I think it's perfectly natural. Whenever you become fluent in any language/medium or exposed to them a lot, it is perfectly normal for the mind to start using the frameworks of said language/medium in its thought process, dreams included.

Cases in point: I find myself very often, many times a day in fact, composing blog entries in my head. Usually in a moment of recline, when relaxing or napping, drifting off into a semi-conscious state. I'll think about something and immediately switch into "blog voice". Sadly 99% of them never get written. (Hence once of the many reasons for my strong desire for a direct brain interface to my Mac, but I digress...)

A few years ago, after a particularly frenzied all day HTML <table>-layout coding session, I found myself having an extremely emotional dream.. all in HTML.

Have you never had characters and scenarios from a movie just watched that evening appear in your dreams that night?

This is somewhat off-point from what Joi said, but it is related. The fact that he can consciously in his dream *think* "I should blog this" is very telling as well. I've heard many times that keeping a journal of ones dreams is a great way to gain control of them, by extension control of one's mind and further of one's life.

Trick number one: in your next dream, make a conscious effort to look at your hands.

The Library of Am'zon

I was going to write something about this new Amazon feature which searches the contents of books now and not just ttitles, authors, etc... But Wired beat me to it. In fact, apparently they beat themselves to it, which is interesting in itself, but anyways.

Not withstanding all the politics and theories discussed in the Wired article and everywhere else, this feature is, or rather, will be, a boon for anyone with a book collection to which one often wishes to refer to.

This is just the beginning. Bezos has already shown an openness to open standards and has commuted that to Amazon itself. Witness TypePad's integration, and the ability for anyone to set up their own version using their API and some "simple" XML transformations.

I'll gladly give Amazon my credit card number if I can maintain a list of all the books I own, and be able to run a content search on them. Cross reference away, it's fine by me. As long as I can find the passage I'm thinking of and on which page it appears on. And if I can build my own interface to it, so much the better. It costs Amazon next to nothing, ups their mindshare and consequently will sell more books. Simple. Brilliant.

The Late Night Triad

Jason Salavon - The Late Night Triad

From February to August of 2003, I obsessively recorded the major US late night talk shows. This amounts to hundreds of hours of the David Letterman, Jay Leno, and Conan O'Brien programs. From this perspective, the collection can be seen not as a set of discrete jokes and bits and interviews, but as a generalized contour of structure and rhythm.

Focusing on the introduction and monologue, I selected 64 nights worth of material for each show. These have been aligned and averaged using basic transformations of my design, with no other manipulation. The result is a triptych of 3 video projections with soundtrack, presenting an amalgamation of late night monologues which reveal the ghosts of repetitious structure and nightly activity.

Amazing. Watch the "demo of the triptych". I can't watch these shows anymore and here is shown why: it's always the same crap. Over and over and over again. O'Brian especially. Fneh.


Sean Connery Suntory Whiskey ad!!!

An archive of japanese TV commercials starring American stars.
Funny, and absurd, on many levels. :)

For example, Brad Pitt riding a surf board down a set of stairs, falls off... says "ooww..." then gives the camera two thumbs up and says "Edwin!" (the brand of jeans beeing advertised). Or Ewan Mcgregor, after drinking a can of coffee, rips off his suit and all, changes into a bright red one, walks into a boardroom and announces "Let's get started!"

I'd take the money too, of course; it's the clueless advertisers.. or is it the clueless audience... that makes me wonder...

Thanks Lisa.

"To hell with culture"

To Hell with Culture
Sir Herbert Read (1893-1968).
Leading poet, publisher, educational theorist and social reformer, who was one of the most influential art critics of the twentieth century.

Having only read the introduction thus far, I wish to share with you some excerpts of it which I find highly relevant today, in the context of the cultural phenomena we are observing with the advent of weblogging et al, and the political ideas which have begun to float because them, "Emergent Democracy" chief among them. I also am personally fascinated by the roles of the artist, personal freedom and social expression.

Truth for lies

Michael : Michael Moore responds to the wacko attackos...

PS. From now on, I will deal with all wacko attackos on this page. If you hear something about me that doesn't sound quite right, check in here.

Read it, then link it up on your blog as well.

Found translation

The New York Times has posted a translation of one of the key scenes in Sofia Coppola's brilliant film "Lost in Translation" which is entirely in japanese, without subtitles.

The scene is brilliant, and seeing this translation in hindsight makes it even more so.


Lost in Translation

Is it possible to be homesick for a place you've only briefly visited?

Anyways, I thought this was a great movie. Great job on every level. Bravo!

Get On The Mic

Paul's Boutique Samples and References List

Thanks Gen!

This is a cultural document. It lists all the samples the Beastie Boys used on their album "Paul's Boutique", as well as references made (quotes, inspirations, etc) and the full lyrics. All this is searchable and indexed by song. Essentally, it is an index of one of hip-hop's seminal works.

The cultural intertextuality of the work is thus revealed and shared, adding to the experience of it. Think of it as road map to the inner workings of the pieces.

I am reminded of an english professor I had in college who, as we began dissecting Umberto Eco's "Name of the Rose", stated "to get what's going on in this text you need to be at least passingly familiar with 400 works of the western canon, begining with the King James Bible, al the way up to the modern detective stories."

"Every poet is a cannibal, every artist is a thief." - Bono

Grafitti war?

12" Stash - NYC Edition

I do not understand this. Ok, I know some grafitti artists are elevated to celebrity status (and yes I can even consider some graf as art, definitly), and, sure, we live in such a culture which has room for 12" action figures of just about anyone.

What I don't understand is this: why does Stash have a rifle? He's a graf artist, and by the looks of his theortically life-like reproductions here, a pasty white dude with rosy cheeks, bad haircut and who's still dressed by his mother.

Yay, 1/6th scale Nike AF1's. Is that what this is about?

Must be... the shoes?

Turn your tongue one hundred times before speaking.

Smart Mobs - Cell Phone Recording May Breach Privacy

Folks are going ape about cellphones with call-recording features. Privacy this and privacy that.

On the above linked entry I commented:

Very simple: never say anything that you will regret. What's the big deal? The issue here is not privacy, it is discretion. The person recording your conversation is the person you are having the conversation with in the first place. When I have conversation with you via email, we both have records of it. Same for IM, or weblog commenting/trackbacks.

I wish I had recordings, and transcripts, of every phone call I ever was involved in. Not for legal issues, or blackmail, but for a record of memories and ideas and people.

and then further added:
if you cannot say things you won't regret, don't regret the things you say.

Freedom of press

I just got back from a jog up Mont-Royal, where I stopped and read Noam Chomsky's "Media Control: The Spectacular Achievements of Propaganda". More on that later, and here are links to good Chomsky stuff: [ author profile, The Noam Chomsky Archive, Noam Chomsky's page at MIT].

So back to timing... this arrived in my mailbox while I was out:
Reporters Without Borders publishes the first worldwide press freedom index..
The article and index itself are old news (I seem to remember seeing it months ago), but the RSF site is a heaping serving of sobering disillusionment.

After a nonetheless pleasant afternoon of reading Chomsky, in the same park where I usually try to cleanse my mind of illusion, and being reminded of the harder to swallow realities which are hidden from us... I don't know how to finish that sentence. Sometimes swallowing too much causes hiccups.

Stats - beautiful, scaleable - stats


history flow

visualizing dynamic, evolving documents and the interactions of multiple collaborating authors

Aside from being quite beautiful, I find these rather fascinating. Context derived from patterns are central to how I think. Perhaps how we think? Hmm. More food for thought.


I also recently read a paper about "Digital Artifacts for Remembering and Storytelling" (Original PDF - Google HTML rendering) which reveals that essentially data patterns jog memories of social interactions and give one a whole fantastically deep wealth of context.

Pattern learning. Pattern thinking. Pattern recognition. Frequencies. Stimuli.

BBC Creative Archive

Taped at the BBC
Can the Beeb put its entire archive on the Web?
By Paul Boutin

For those of us still debating whether to shell out the 40-odd bucks for Fawlty Towers: The Complete Collection on DVD, BBC Director-General Greg Dyke may have settled the matter this weekend. At the end of his speech to an annual TV industry conference in Edinburgh, Scotland, Dyke announced that the Beeb plans to put its enormous TV and radio archives online and to allow anyone to download them --free-- for non-commercial use. "Under a simple licensing system, we will allow users to adapt BBC content for their own use," Dyke said. "We are calling this the BBC Creative Archive."

This is brilliant. Oh joy!
CBC, do the same! PBS, you too!

Japanese Films at MWFF

The Montreal World Film Festival will be held from August 27 to September 7, 2003. The schedule system on their website was done my a monkey on crack. I had to first run a search by country in one browser window, then call up the full event schedule in another, copy and paste the titles of the japanese films (from the first window) into a browser-based text search (on the second window), and then open each individual entry to get schedule and general info about each.

I won't say any more than this: whoever did this, you should not ever be allowed to work on such a project again. Shame on you. Nyah.

Here are the titles of the 8 japanese films showing at this years World Film Festival with URLs to their (english) info screens:

UPDATE: Wow, the URI's below are broken. Retarded. Sorry.









Toy story

GeorgeWBush.jpgElite Force Aviator:
George W. Bush
U.S. President and Naval Aviator
12" Action Figure at

Or is it more like:

Elite Republican Army: U.S. Dictator and Warmongering Chickenhawk - 12" Action Figure
Pre-order:†Available 09/11/03
Usually ships 1-3 business days after sobering up.

BBI proudly introduces the latest issue in its hilarious Revisionist History series of quasi-authentic military 12- inch figures, Dictator George W. Bush masquerades in naval aviator flight uniform. Exacting in detail and fully equipped with authentic gear, this limited-edition action figure is a meticulous 1:6 scale recreation of the Commander-in-Chief's appearance, if he had actually served in the military. On May 1, 2003, President Bush participated in an assisted-landing on the USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) in the Pacific Ocean, and officially declared that the evil bad guys had lost. While at the student controls of an S-3B Viking aircraft from the "Blue Sea Wolves" of Sea Control Squadron Three Five (VS-35), designated "Navy 1," he overshot the carrier by several kilometres before handing it over to the pilot and stumbling to the rear of the plane for another drink. Attired in full naval aviator flight equipment, the President then took the salute (not holding a dog in his arms this time) on the deck of the carrier.

This fully dyslexic figure features a realistic head sculpt, fully detailed cloth flight suit, helmet with nitrous oxide mask, AWOL vest, g-pants, parachute harness and much more. The realism and exacting attention to detail not required by today's right-wing figure enthusiast are completely dispensed with in this action figure. This incredibly detailed figure is a fitting addition to the collection of those interested in U.S. revisionist history, military propaganda and tinhorn dictatorial figures. Actual figure may vary substantially from item shown, and may not actually be in the box.


Just a quick rant and drive-by-insult.

Nota Bene: The following was written in an inexplicable ranting frenzy of annoyance. I went a bit far, I admit, and apologise. I do not, however, retract.

Joi speaks of language and land as a "commons" in a short post and semi-quotes N. Scott Momaday:

He also said that from a Native American perspective, land was a commons and language was a commons. Land was where we come from and return to. Language was where we lived. (He said it much more poetically than I can, but I can't remember exactly what he said.)

Beautiful. Love it.

Then comes along one Michael Wilson and says:

It's cute, it's clever, but it isn't correct. Not in a general semantics sense, not in semiotics, and anyone that's tried to introduce new terms or langauge shifts also recognizes it just ain't so.

I am reminded of one of my favorite movies, "Dead Man", wherein Nobody, the Native American played by Gary Farmer, keeps refering to Johnny Depp's character, William Blake, as "Stupidfuckingwhiteman".


Language exists as an organism exists: it evolves, grows and dies in accordance to it's environment. We as a commons (as a group, as a community, as a mass of disparate elements) create that environment. Your puny little comment of "anyone trying to introduce new terms or language shifts also recognizes it just ain't so" is not only shortsighted, but patently false. You mean you've NEVER had your peer group adopt an expression from you? Loser. You mean you've never seen an entire cultural shift take root from one or two words in a marketing campaign? Open your eyes and ears!

Not to mention a million other examples of how collective usage defines language.

Either you didn't understand at all what was said, have little to no knowledge of semiotics, semantics and the entire field of linguistics, or your puny faux-logic-strangled brain can't see beyond it's own ego.

Either way: Stupidfuckingwhiteman.

Eleanor Blogger

Wirefarm : Eleanor Roosevelt as a blogger?

Just wanted to point out this very intersting fact that Jim uncovered while telling his mother about blogging.

When I started to explain how I just write about whatever happens to me, or whatever I happen to be thinking or feeling, she said, "Oh, just like My Day." I was confused. Had my mother taken up blogging when I wasn't looking?
"Like your day? I don't understand. What did you do today?"
"No... My Day, You must remember, Eleanor Roosevelt's column.

Jim did some digging and shares some interesting insights with us. Go take a look. :)


Nevermind having a song stuck in my head.

Since having my iPod and thus having my music with me everywhere I go and all the time... added to that these Shure E2c headphones which so nicely and comfortably fit into my ear canal, blocking out the outside world, absorbing me deeply into the voluptuousness of a fully musical world, I've developped a sort of "echo" in my head...

Nevermind having a song stuck in one's head, which one sings repeatedly outloud or under one's breath. I am speaking of an echo. I am talking about hearing music I'd been listening to all day, faintly in the background of my mind as I tend to other things, long after unplugging and turning off the music.

Sounds nice? It is sort of, at first. However the problem is that lately I've been listening to a fair amount of lyrics-based stuff... rap, hip-hop, pop, rock and roll, whatever... all kinds of stuff, but lyrics based. The problem this creates is that the MOMENT language is involved it sparks up the language processor in the brain, stealing significantly from my concentration and upping it's position in my consciousness index.

(Think Glenn Gould's " The idea of north")

Try falling asleep with 50 cent whispering "yo shorty, it's you burfday" in your head...

(Try turning off language processing next time you are watching television alone. Very hard. Next, try turning it up when you are in a crowded room where many people are talking, not to you.)


and over-interpretation:
The Matrix Reloaded: The Corporate Mofo Guide

Nice job. I for one have absolutely zero faith in any reality as it is so it's all a good chuckle.

ps -ax

For years I've been playing with the idea that man created the computer in his own image. Memory, I/O, software, hardware, etc. Most of my friends have heard about the "scripts" I've "written" and "run as background processes" in my mind to, for example, make sure I never lose my keys or leave the house without my wallet. We all program our brains, and sometimes have them programmed for us. I could go on, but tonight I'm interested in exploring the subconscious, and to do that I'll look at the CLI, or Shell, or Terminal, or whatever your operating system calls it. For the purposes of this article I'll call it the terminal, because I'm a Mac OS X kind of guy.

Think of the Terminal as the window into the subconscious of your computer. Now, let's turn that around and see if we have a Terminal of our own; a window into our own subconscious. Keep in mind that the Terminal not only allows us to peer in, but also to effectuate commands... and run scripts...

About media conglomeration

From the mouth of one of the horses...

NOW: Transcript - Bill Moyers Interviews Barry Diller | PBS

I actually caught this on TV the other night. It was astounding to watch. Moyers was dumbfounded by the words he heard.

The day the music ...

Well, Apple announced it's online music store, which will spark at least one cultural phenomenon and feed another: iTunes Store Sample surfing, and one-stop-free-shop for mashmixers looking for samples. Yay!!!

On another note, Madonna had the cojones to go and have her record company try to flood the file-sharing networks with a recording of her saying "What the fuck do you think you're doing?. I take issue with this in a way different than some: Profanity. Those of you know me as The Sailor are probably scratching your heads... ;)

Madonna's little voice clip is really quite scary. If I had a woman standing in front of me say that in that tone, I would be frightened. Now if we keep in mind that a huge majority of "music pirates" are kids/adolescents, and that realisitically Madonna fans are predominantly female prebubescents, I ask you: does America need this cunt to go and swear so viciously at it's children?

Hey, Madonna... Dontcha think you have way more than enough money? What don't you shut your fat fucking face already and disappear. Instead of being a greedy, power-hungry Cruella-type bitch, why dontcha do some good. If ya can't, vamoos!

Ahem yes so anyways, just on principle, if there ever were to arise such a situation where I may be incited to pay money for anything Madonna related, I promise I won't. I trust many in Internet-land will do the same.

Teenaged cyborgs, moblogging and Emergence.

Link found on Smart Mobs, and quotes below lifted from the Miami Herald article it linked to.

''[Cellphones] extend the spatial and temporal boundaries of a physical encounter,'' she said, explaining that cellphones are providing a way for young people to stay in touch when they are apart.
It is far more than a mere "way to stay in touch when they are apart". That what we've been using telephones for since the start. The interesting part is how cellphones, with integrated, easy instant messaging "extend the spacial and temporal boundaries". Extend? It erases them, and not merely for "physical encounter": for direct communication. Take this:
Linked by cellphones and possessing the ability to exchange silent messages anytime, anywhere, these young people respond to each other quickly, creating the feeling of always being connected.
"Always being connected" + "always being able to communicate" = social network, and more. Read on.

While we're on the topic... (RSS)

Joi Ito has gone and done it. He bought and read Ben Hammersley's new O'Reilly book "Content Syndication with RSS", Of course this means I have to run out and get it too (shame on me for not having it already!).

As Mr. Hammersley says, Ito-san nails the issue right on the head:

It's flexibility vs. simplicity. RSS 2.0 is cool because it extends the simplicity of the original 0.9x RSS with modules. RSS 1.0 is cool because there are so many things you can do with RDF. The problem with RDF is that it is so ugly to read. Honestly, this morning I wouldn't understand what I have just written. The geek inside me is now awake and I want to learn everything there is to know about RDF, bu it took a bunch of people pummeling me to get me to care, whereas plain old RSS 0.91 got me excited just looking at the code. So, I guess I'm on Dave's side in terms of keep it simple and help get it widely accepted. On the other hand, the RDF stuff really does allow a lot of the semantic web attributes that we are talking about in the emergent democracy debate and the RDF framework, once it really starts to get picked up inside of applications could be really powerful.

Myself, I've been cheering for RDF. Not out of any profound understanding of it, mind you. Just out of a very high-level overview conception I have formed over the course of some reading and conversations about it. It does seem to me to be hugely powerful, but I must say that I too tend to have my eyes gloss over whenever I actually look at the code itself. Then again, the same happens, to a lesser degree when I look at any mark up (except HTML/XHTML... after tens years of the stuff I have found myself dreaming in tables some nights!).

Anyways, yes RDF "allows" incredible flexibility, and yes it is a, forgive my french, a "bitch". The true tragedy here is that it has not been adequately picked up by tool developers, which would allow it to reap the benefits of a moderate critical mass.

Let's look at it a tad deeper though, and compare it to other "standards" out there.

And by all means, if I am way off or outright wrong in what I say, feel free to correct me!!! Karl? Ben? Aaron? Steph? Anyone! :)

Emergence: post-anarchy?

Reading the initial chapters of "Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities, and Software" by Steven Johnson, wherein, amongst many other things, he speaks of a young Engels' sojourn in Manchester, England, I am struck by a correlation of political and sociological ideas.

Johnson quotes Engels' apparent half-realisation and mild appallement in seeing what appears to have been an auto-development of social segregation in the urban "un-planning" which occurred in Manchester with the arrival and explosion of the industrial revolution. (Working class and middle class sectors of the city being almost perfectly segregated is not something a budding socialist-cum-marxist finds particularly "well and good", I suppose. However, the fact that it just sort of "happened" without any planning is not lost on the young Engels - he just doesn't see the natural ramifications: emergence in other words. He's just dismayed by it and moves along.)

Ourselves moving along, in the context of the recent thoughts of "Emergent Democracy" by Joi Ito and James F. Moore's "The Second Superpower Rears its Beautiful Head" (though I'd call it "Emergent Superpower" since "second" denotes class/rank, and "emergent" brings with it all the force of it's associated notions), as well as Ito-san's apparent strong desire for Japanese political reform (interesting how this was intended for publication in the South China Morning Post...) I can't help but to think of that other, much maligned political system, communism, and it's role as the usher for Emergent Democracy.

Some points he's missing

"The Register" writer Andrew Orlowski misses a few points, and makes some fair ones, in his article "Anti-war slogan coined, repurposed and Googlewashed... in 42 days".

To all intents and purposes, the original meaning has been erased. Obliterated, in just seven weeks.

He's referring to the term "Second Superpower", as used by James F. Moore in his recent article "The Second Superpower Rears its Beautiful Head".
Language and ideas naturally "erode" and or "morph" over time and use. Some examples: historical accounts, religious beliefs, urban myths, pop lyrics. In the arena of instantaneous multi-party communication, which is one of the qualities of weblogging (online conversations, who's only connection to time, ironically, is timestamps), this natural process is accelerated - McLuhan would say - at the speed of light.
Mr. Olowski's contention that the meaning has been "erased" and "obliterated" is his opinion, which is debatable. An inevitable result of hyper-acceleration of communication coupled with sound-byte culture is, afterall, the cliché: a phrase who's original notion and context has been lost. However, with Weblogging, it is not really lost: it is all still there, recorded. It's just a question of taking off the "Google-goggles", or any other blinders, be they technological or social. (Trackbacks, by the way, are a great way of doing this: maintaining the links in the chain.)
As with Moore, academic and historical research in this field is vapored away, as if by magic.

I agree and disagree here. While I do not know Moore's or Ito's academic, historical or scientific "worth", I too can recognize the fact that, naturally, they are not all knowing and that what they write is limited by their own experience. However, they are CONTRIBUTING to the CONVERSATION, and in many cases, starting it. This is INVALUABLE. The fact that they achieve high "PageRanks" serves all the better to get more people with other experiences to join in. Keep in mind, weblogging with this kind of intent is very young and the tools still rudimentary. We are all still in awe of how effective and fast this is now. Imagine 6 months, a year, 10 years from now - 42 days will seem like an eternity. Heck it already does!
Pew Research Center's latest research says the number of Internet users who look at blogs is " so small that it is not possible to draw statistically meaningful conclusions about who uses blogs." They peg it at about four per cent. But we're looking at a small sub-genre of blogdom, the tech blogs, and specifically, we're looking at an 'A list' of that sub- sub-genre.

What did I just say? It has only just begun! And allow me to correct: it is not "tech-blogs". We are seeing lawyers, economists, political thinkers, marketers, entrepreneurs, artists, academics etc etc, slowly but surely joining the fray. Granted, they mostly come from tech-related milieus, but this is to be expected. The term "early-adopters" applies still. Imagine if Silicon Investor offered free and easy Weblogs for all it's subscribers... Oh look! Dave Winer is now at Harvard! What's that? He's pushing the use of Weblogs there? FANTASTIC!

Criticism is welcome, preferably constructive criticism. Especially when it comes from someone who is part of the conversation. So let's have it Mr. Andrew Orlowski. When can we expect your voice, and sharp mind, to truly join the debate?

Lawrence Lessig's presentation at SxSW2003

Heath Row's Media Diet

Thanks to Heath (whom I briefly met at Bruce Sterling's "end of SxSW" party - nice guy!), we have what I guess is a verbatim trasncript of Lawrence Lessig's brilliant presentation.

Thanks Heath!

Internet Law event in Rio

Copyfight: Intellectual property politics and issues.

Print. Read later. Looks very interesting.

<<What are your thoughts on Lily Chou-Chou?>>

<< [[ some thoughts about the movie "All About Lily Chou Chou" ]] >>

<<Erm... Not sure... I found it very difficult to follow (who is who, who does what, what are the relationships between the characters... When is what happening...), which is disconcerting in itself since my own life is really quite limbo-esque, meandering between "reality" and the inside of my head. I also found it extremely maddening.. The things these kids do to each other without anybody ever doing anything about it. Made me want to get up and scream a few times.>>

<<What I liked the most was some of the most awesome cinematographic "shots" I've seen in a looong time, and, though it was motion sickness inducing at times, I appreciated the use of the homevideocam for parts of the film. All in all, it's very modern and cool and all. I did enjoy it, but it left me in a quite emotionally perturbed state... >>

<<From: Bopuc>>

Finally the "R" word...

Joi Ito finally said it; the R word: Revolution.

In his case he speaks of Japan and it's political/economic systems, but I've been itching to hear it lobbed about here in North America, and more specifically, in the U.S. Helloooo wildly corrupted borderline fascist state!!!

But this is not why I am writing this tonight.

© —> CC

Lawrence Lessig shook the very foundations of the Manufactured Reality. Hallelujah. A trully powerful and engaging orator, masterful presentation giver, he had the room enthralled, shocked, scared, outraged and entertained. This was THE historic event of the convention I felt.

Read Aaron Swartz's notes on the speech (almost a transcript).
Lisa Rein is graciously sharing video and audio of Mr. Lessig's presentation.

Mr.Lessig said he'd be making materials available online. I will link to them as I find them.

All I could keep thinking was "let's push things forward".

I refrained, and kick myself now for having done so, from raising my hand commenting: "I have not heard the one word I think we all need to hear: revolution."

Knowledge, language and cultural erosion

Steph forwarded me an email from the mailing list.

It raises concerns regarding the degradation of global culture due to the alarming rate of extinction of many of the world's languages...

"This tape collection gets bigger by the minute..."

Interesting summary of the economics of a hypothetical rock band, as broken down by a journalist at the NY Daily News.

Another money breakdown

Now, read what some "with it" people inside the recording industry have to say about the future of their system.

Bye bye fellas. Hollywood, you and journalism are next... and government after that. Considering the speed at which we are moving... I'd say the next ten years are gonna be mighty interesting.

Mediocrity in art, and curators.

Mark Federman, again, commenting on some ideas by Steve Mann about mediocrity in the arts:

Steve says:

Many traditional curators love mediocre artists, because they provide an intellectually blank canvas upon which they can paint their curatorial and philosophical discourses. Especially loved are groups of mediocre artists, who share a sufficiently shallow vision (or no vision at all), such that the curatorial creativity shines through. Often we also see a mixture of mediocre living artists, put together with famous dead artists. The famous dead artists don't challenge our intellect because their art is so well known, that it no longer surprises us or makes us think anymore than when presented with the works of mediocre living artists. Thus a curatorial canvas may be painted from the cliche colors of the dead, overlaid with light and fluffy hues of the living limp. As a result, none of the artists really makes us stop and think. Instead, we are struck by the profoundness of the curator's vision in putting together these mind-numbing artists in a creative new way.

And Mark opines:

In an interesting fashion, the curator is a performance artist, whose media include the art itself, the physical environment of the showing, and (in the case of a particularly "cool" exhibition) the audience.

Ok, here's the deal:

I am going to write... something... a book or an attempt of some such thing, entirely online. I've set up a Wiki system and anybody will be allowed to comment, annotate, spell-check (hehehe) the texts.

I'm aiming mid-january to begin, seeing as I am quite busy right now with another project. Also, I have a stack of books I need to read as research.
The books include:

  • "Small pieces loosely joined" by David Weinberger
  • "The Cluetrain Manifesto"
  • "Internet Dreams" by Mark Stefik
  • "Smart Mobs" by Howard Rheingold
  • "The triumph of the narrative" by Robert Fulford
  • "Cyborg" by Steve Mann
  • "Skin of Culture" by Derrick DeKerckhove (if I manage to get my copy back...)
  • "Art, the arts and the great ideas" by Mortimer J. Adler

    Oh and if anyone can direct me to a good book wherein Glenn Gould's ideas and process for his radio production pieces (like "The Idea of North") are discussed (preferably by himself!), please let me know.

  • Inference

    So Doc, calling it "[Cluetrain] [prehistory]" links us to a fun piece RageBoy blogged up, where he goes on about Zen Buddhism and pop song lyrics. (Didn't Bono also sing "Every artist is a cannibal, every poet; a thief"?)

    How to explain the pattern I discern?
    (Let me be clear that I am not refuting or slagging rageboy's post, just adding it to my pattern)

    Literary theory, semiotics: intertextuality, recognition, interpretation. While wonderful tools they are, applying such notions can be... decieving. (Did the Torah really predict JFK's assassination?.) Umberto Eco's "Foucault's Pendulum" explores this concept rather thoroughly.

    On a side note: one Fabio Rambelli seems to be spending his time researching the semiotics of buddhism. To what end? To achieve a deeper understanding of Zen, presumably. That, to me is akin to studying my shoes to gain a deeper understanding of how blood flows to my toes. Or how I walk... hellooo Sherlock Holmes!

    Hmmm, I seem to be irrevocably off course now. Allow me to finsih with some Borges quotes, just so's I look smart. ;)

    From "The Fearful Sphere of Pascal":
    "It may be that universal history is th ehistory of a handful of metaphors."

    From "The Library of Babel":
    "The universe (which others call the Library) [...]

    Hmmm.. apply Borges' writings against the Internet. Speak to me of order in chaos. Speak to me of patterns. Comfort me with apples.