Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Streamed Video Online

The next two weeks are completely busy for me...but I find with the sun beginning to shine again in our part of the world I have more energy than during the darkness of winter. I have also managed to create and upload for streaming a video FIRE...check it out. I have been spending a lot of time recently looking at video on the web, not only from my own interests but in preparation for a short course I am teaching next month: Web 2.0: The Changing Internet. I will post some choice free video streams here soon....back to work!!!

Thursday, February 23, 2006

How does Genre Hit You?

Last night I read an essay by Jack Derrida called The Law of Genre. It is in this book called Acts of Literature and on the cover Jack (presumably that's him) kinda looks pensive out at us in a half smoldering sort of way over his shoulder from a canvas chair, the sort that movie directors are supposed to use...Was he a movie director??). He seems to be thinking something but it is difficult to know exactly what. Then when you read the essay you realize that he is trying to think about everything but he only has words to tell us about it with but that is exactly what he wants not to talk about so he sort of talks around them. He keeps using French words also, which is not good as I do not speak it..Or read it either.
But I maybe believe that I got some idea about genre from Jack...Well from the words that he is supposed to have written....Well he spoke them first as it was from a conference somewhere in Germany in the 1970's and he spoke in French and then someone...an American woman I believe...Translated them into English but she had to keep some of it in French as she may not have been able to understand it either. Here is some of what he may have said before it was written down and translated..Well it has been as it is in English and is here (I just wrote it)

"The law is mad. The law is mad, is madness; but madness is not the predicate of law. There is no madness without the law; madness cannot be conceived before its relation to law. Madness is law, the law is madness. There is a general trait here: the madness of law mad for me, the silhouette of my daughter mad about me, her mother, etc. But La Folie du jour, An (accountless) Account?, carrying and miscarrying its titles, is not at all exemplary of this general trait. Not at all, not wholly. This is not an example of a general or generic whole. The whole, which begins by finishing and never finishes beginning apart from itself, the whole that stays at the edgeless boundary of itself, the whole greater and less than a whole and nothing, An Account? Will not have been exemplary. Rather, with regard to the whole, it will have been wholly counter-exemplary."

What he meant by this was:
"a text cannot belong to no genre, it cannot be without... a genre. Every text participates in one or several genres, there is no genreless text" (Derrida 1981, 61).


Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Downloads from me

I have been uploading some of the things I have made in the last few months to the Internet Archive for free download. Two CDs, five films, a short live recording and a 49 page text of writings are all HERE for all to use.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

The Dumpster

This is The Dumpster:

"The Dumpster" is an interactive online visualization that attempts to
depict a slice through the romantic lives of American teenagers. Using
real postings extracted from millions of online blogs, visitors to the
project can surf through tens of thousands of specific romantic
relationships in which one person has "dumped" another. The project's
graphical tools reveal the astonishing similarities, unique differences,
and underlying patterns of these failed relationships, providing both
peculiarly analytic and sympathetically intimate perspectives onto the
diversity of global romantic pain."

It is a nice interface as well. Fluid, tactile and with emotive colors, just like breaking up :-(

Friday, February 17, 2006

R U my friend?

R U MY friend? Hilarious stuff:
Mysapce on The Daily Show


From March 15 - 25, 2006 Workspace Unlimited presents Breaking the Game Symposium, a first-iteration online event that brings together competing theorists and practitioners to debate and reflect on virtual worlds, computer gaming, immersive technologies, and new possibilities for artistic practice and experience. The symposium will open up the art of game modification to the contingencies of everyday life, where interactive technologies increasingly mediate physical spaces and human movements in very complex and dynamic ways. The symposium themes are:
The City and The Virtual as Interface to Self and Society.


Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Photo Show

A collection of photos taken between 1995 and 2004 in many locations: Australia (Sydney to Cairns), India, Paris and Sweden. The themes are family, homes and travel.

Travel Home

Monday, February 13, 2006

The Reach (Retch) of Copyright

An Australian citizen is facing extradition to the United States as a suspect in a file sharing network:

The alleged Australian ringleader of an international software and movie piracy group may be extradited to the US if he fails to appear in an American court later this month.
Sean Patrick O'Toole, a 26-year-old from Perth, did not appear in the US District Court in Chicago as scheduled yesterday.
Judge Amy St Eve ordered O'Toole to attend the court on February 21.
"We have to wait and see if he turns up," assistant US district attorney Pravin Rao, who is prosecuting the case for the US government, told AAP.
"We are hopeful he will turn up. That's what he has been directed to do by the judge."
O'Toole, who faces up to eight years in an American jail if convicted, was charged last week with 18 other defendants after a two-year international law enforcement sting codenamed Operation Site Down. (SMH)

I wonder how far the authorities are prepared to go to arrest O'Toole? If recent activities in Europe are anything to go by it may be getting very unpleasant for Mr O'Toole in the near future. But all is not doom and gloom on the access to information front with Lawrence Lessig celebrating a recent victory for Google Print:

"A district court in Nevada has rejected the claim that Google's cache violates copyright law. The opinion is grounded both on "fair use" and implied license. The 'fair use' part of the opinion is fantastic. But interestingly, the 'implied license' part of the opinion weakens any such claim in the context of Google Book Search." (Lessig).

The Google Book project is a telling study of how Intellectual Property and Fair Use have become a global arena of commodity and access. A online presentation by Professor Lessig Google Book Search: The Argument. Some notes I took from it:

Google Print search as protected under fair use.
Lawrence Lessig
Thumbnail as transformation linking to original work
1. Google as producing a transformation of the original of the original copyrighted work, making it possible to link back to original copyright work, a book that you can buy or borrow from a library. This adds value back to the original copyright work.
2. 17 USC 107 Right of Fair Use:
Markets (actual and potential)
Publishers admit they are not loosing money but they are not part of the innovation. Thus hurting a potential market.
This effect copyrighted works still in print (9-15% of the Google Book Search books)
Google negotiating with publishers to grant access to broadest extent possible.
Copyright is the most inefficient property system devised by humanity
Copyright in the USA reaches back to 1923
No list of copyright owners ("No simply way to know and therefore no way to ask permission")
The Google project therefore impossible.
What Google does with books it does with the WWW.
Possible for authors to have their work removed from the Google book index.
Search engines all profit from the work of others.
A land grab going on as industries recognizing the perverse way copyright law works.
Effect: will stifle the develop new and innovative ways to develop culture
If Google pays in a settlement with AAP as creating a precedent then only a few will be able to afford to undertake such projects in the future.

Interesting times ahead.....

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Pilgrimage as Alternate Reality

The similarities between Alternate Reality Gaming (ARG) and Pilgrimage are many I reckon. I quote:
"Alternate Reality Gaming deliberately blurs the line between the in-game and out-of-game experiences, often being used as a marketing tool for a product or service. While games may primarily be centered around online resources, often events that happen inside the game reality will "reach out" into the players' lives in order to bring them together." (Wikipedia)

The Ashmolean Museum at the University of Oxford is currently hosting Pilgrimage: The Sacred Journey, a multi-faith look at the ancient practice of pilgrimage. Much of the exhibition seems to center upon visual mediums, much as digital games largely do. The pilgrimage process is broken into five parts:

Departure looks at pilgrimage as a separation from daily life and the search for physical and spiritual well-being.

Journey is illustrated by a medieval map of the Holy Land, along with pilgrims' accoutrements such as Buddhist prayer wheels, astrolabes and a qibla indicator, a travel aid that determines the direction of Mecca.

Sacred Space reflects the devotional requirements of religious buildings and shows objects used at shrines and sites.

Central Shrine is the destination point of all pilgrimages.

Return is indicated by the collection of pilgrims' memorabilia and souvenirs. Reliquaries play and serve as objects of veneration, and numerous tokens, models of the shrine, and badges prove the completion of the pilgrimage, while amulets and talismanic objects are bought back as reminders of the location's charisma and spiritual power.

In turn, alternate reality games "always have a specific goal of not only involving the player with the story and/or fictional characters but of connecting them to each other. Many game puzzles can be solved only by the collective and collaborative efforts of multiple players." (Wikipedia)

Whether pilgrimage is/was based on a fiction or not is beside the point. To develop a complex system of behaviors around a text (or texts) combined with often distant points of geographical location and objects of veneration which people performed sometimes for years at a time is a powerful source of experience. This is the goal of many quest or journey genre computer games and it suits the ARG genre as well. I wonder if the time will come when extremely immersive AGRs will span the planet and drag dusty believers from one point of heightened augmented experience to another as they gather special trinkets to prove to their friends that they had been there when..........

It is interesting as well that the objects of veneration contain the power to "re-open" pilgrimage lines with the Ashmolean becoming a site of pilgrimage during the duration of the exhibition:

"The Shikshapatri Manuscript, written by the founder of Swaminarayan Hinduism, Sahajand Swami, was last week visited by a group of Hindu pilgrims. The Hindus came to worship the manuscript making the exhibition itself a destination of pilgrimage." (24-Hour Museum)

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Hoder at HUMlab

Hoderwithtext copy.jpg

Well known Iranian blogger (based in Toronto) Hossein Derakhshan (aka Hoder) will be giving a seminar in HUMlab tomorrow at 15:15 (CET). The seminar will be on political blogging in Iran today and its implications. The seminar will be live steamed HERE (stream opens at 15:00). All are welcome for what promises to be an insight into a topical and timely subject.

New Eden Falls as "Humans" Move in

This is interesting but following world publication of the event shouldn't it be all written in past tense. As well according to the news article the researchers were led into the "Lost World" by the "the local Kwerba and Papasena people" who are also presumably humans:

"The lost world largely untouched by humans that was recently unearthed on West Papua may be the last such find on Earth, an expedition scientist says.

His comments follow the discovery of a world teeming with new species, giant flowers and rare wildlife showing no fear of humans.

Australian, US and Indonesian scientists, led by Conservation International (CI), say they found the 300,000-hectare paradise in the Foja Mountains of the Indonesian-controlled province during an expedition late last year."

ABC Science Online

What they probably mean by "Humans" is the violent greedy, curious, types who enjoy "discovering" and "developing" for their own selfish ends. The CI story is HERE:

"Such abundance of food and other resources means the mountain range’s interior – more than 300,000 hectares of old growth tropical forest – remains untouched by humans, and the entire Foja forest tract of more than 1 million hectares constitutes the largest essentially pristine tropical forest in Asia and an important region for biodiversity conservation."

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

I am not alone......

The Umeå Center for Interaction Technology (UCIT) has begun a site devoted to computer games and digital literature, and I am on it!! I never realizedd there were so many people researching this field in my own neighborhood. Although I have actually met quite a few of the others on the site. According to the mail I got about the site (which is mostly in Swedish):
"We will also fill the site with examples of projects which fit within the title Digital Culture."
A fine thing indeed!

Monday, February 06, 2006

Dada to EPIC

Happy 90th birthday, Dada! The first Cabaret Voltaire was held on February 5th, 1916, at Spiegelgasse 1, Zurich, Switzerland. 391 has a podcast to celebrate the anniversary.
As well the "Google is Evil" campaign continues with "Epic: What is it?" a short video looking at the implications of user driven news content. By a Matrix-like Morpheus voice we are quickly taken through a 30 year history of user driven content in digital media and the possible outcomes of the decline of the fourth estate. I myself, being a refugee from the fourth estate, believe that it not only technology that is driving this thing but broader issues as well such as ownership, literacy, economic gain, identity (particularly global) and the changing nature of the text. It could be said that some of it started at Spiegelgasse 1, Zurich in 1919 with the beginning of the flight from time. Nowadays there is money to be made in showing people how to "be themselves" (whatever that means).

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Holland Struggling with the Future

I lived in Holland for a year once. It was a great experience and I was always impressed by how incredibly open and tolerant the society was. That was in 1998. Today things seem to be moving in a very different direction.
All schools in the Rotterdam area have banned all languages except Dutch being spoken by the students, even in the playground. The burka has been banned as well as all flags being displayed (including the Dutch flag). Now Dutch Immigration Minister "Iron" Rita Verdonk has put forward a proposal that only Dutch be allowed to be spoken in all public places:

"Speaking Dutch in the street is very important. I receive more and more e-mails from people saying they feel 'unheimisch' (ill at ease) in the street," Verdonk said at a weekend congress of her liberal VVD party about integration.

The minister's comment seemed to contradict her own Dutch-only call, since she resorted to using the German word 'unheimisch,' which translates loosely into 'ill at ease' but has no direct translation in Dutch."

D-W World

I see broad language variation as a resource that a nation could harness and even benefit economically from. The attempt at control of social fabric in order to form the sort of society certain powerful elites would like to have, rather than the one that they actually do have, is a form of denial that does not benefit anyone. The plan by Verdonk to deport 26 000 non-nationals is part of this. The Netherlands has more than two million immigrants, mainly from Morocco and the former Dutch colonies, Surinam and Curacao.

Anyone who wants to come and live in the Netherlands now has to perform a language test with a computer over the telephone:

"From 1 March this year, people from outside the European Union hoping to come and live in the Netherlands will have to take a Dutch language test over the telephone. The exam will be carried out using an automatic speech recognition system and has just been approved by the Dutch Parliament, but the idea also has plenty of critics."
Radio Netherlands

Recently Dutch public television broadcast a program in which various groups residing in the Netherlands sat the tests, among them native-born Dutch nationals, Chinese restaurant owners and so on.

They all failed

Friday, February 03, 2006

Man Machine in Stockholm

An artist whose work I very much admire, Sachiko Hayashi will be showing a new work as part of the Man machine exhibition in Stockholm next week. This looks like it will be a great show and I am not happy I will be missing it, due to my stationary status (re: family) at the moment:

Man Machine:
In the autumn of 2005 Interactive Institute organised a workshop where
five artists collaborated with engineers from the institute. The project
was an experiment with short processes where artists and engineers
collaborated on the boundary between art and technology.

The project theme was man and machine and the result of eight very
intensive days will now be presented in an exhibition at the National
Museum of Science and Technology. We will here show five installations
by five artists: Sachiko Hayashi, Tina Finnäs, Johan Thurfjell,
Christine Ödlund och Drott Johan Löfgren.

Sachiko Hayashi has chosen to work with snow. In her piece Flurry the
audience can interact with animated snow. Tina Finnäs allows the
audience to step into the spotlight to the tones of Frank Sinatra. Johan
Thurfjell has worked with dreams but never let us get a grip of them. In
Christine Ödlunds installation we walk inside a projected microscopic
landscape and Drott Johan Löfgren lets a rumble fish draw a automatic

The exhibition is curated by Björn Norberg. Participating engineers:
Olof Bendt, Fredrik Petersson, Alex Bustamante och Loove Broms. From
Interactive Institute has also Ingvar Sjöberg, Magnus Jonsson, Cecilia
Narström och My Lindh participated.

The exhibition is shown between 10/2-19/2 2006.