Celebrating imperfection

Postmodernism taught many how to celebrate noise. Mainstream TV programmes in the 1980s such as Max Headroom gave us a new artistic language which includes TV static, jump cuts, and imperfect presentation. Out of this has come Glitch art.

 

Antonio Roberts

 

Glitch artworks celebrate the erroneous, the unexpected, in good ways and bad. Produced by new computer programming, the glitched work can be a sensory revelation. Antonio Roberts has embraced the world of Glitch art through his studies and practice, culminating in GLI.TC/H, a global glitch art event which started in Chicago and has spread to Amsterdam and, now, Birmingham.

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Lovelace's legacy

Can you name five women in technology? If it's a struggle to get to five, then you may wish to question why that is. It isn't as if tech is a small sector, or that there aren't many women in the world. It's due to a complex and multitudinous combination of factors and contexts. While your answer to the question may tell you something about your own experience of women in tech, it also signifies a complex range of issues within society, that cannot be overcome swiftly or easily.

 

Suw Charman-Anderson by Jemima Gibbons, CC Licence http://www.flickr.com/photos/jemimagibbons/2843281583/

 

Aiming to challenge the views of women in tech, and to bring women's achievements into focus, is Ada Lovelace Day. The event started as an online celebration of women in technology, but now covers a broader set of scientific disciplines, and features events as well as increased online activity. It is the brainchild of writer and social strategist Suw Charman-Anderson, well-known to the tech scene in the UK.

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Free and open source art

Free and open source art

 

Our friends at Furtherfield have launched a guide to free and open source software for the arts. Handily assembled into one Wiki page, it bundles up a collection of artworks, texts, and resources covering artistic freedom, openness, and opportunity. Specifically, it also explores the concept of peer-to-peer as a method of collaborative practice.

As part of the guide's launch programme, the organisation has also commissioned a new work, Balloon Dog by Rob Myers. It's a free-licence 3D model that you can print as-is, or use in other work.

Commissioned by the Arts Council, the guide is available here, and will be presented at the FLOSSIE conference on 15/11/10.

Goatse in advertising

Goatse in advertising

 

This is an extremely interesting and detailed piece from the Deterritorial Support Group, offering "Analysis and propaganda from an ultra-leftist perspective".

  

It talks about Goatse and the culture of "in-joke" iconography:

 

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Thrilling adventures in technology

The working relationship between Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage is of prime historical importance. Our world would be very different if it wasn't for Lovelace's development of an algorithm intended to be processed on Babbage's Analytical Engine. Computer programming as we know it may never have existed.

 

Ada Lovelace. Pic by courtesy of Sydney Padua

 

What happened next is well-documented. The duo successfully developed the computer in the mid-1830s, giving humanity the necessary technological advantage to resist advances such as the alien invasion of 1898, and to use their combined powers to fight crime and undertake amazing adventures. While that's not strictly true, it is an invented reality that has formed the basis of The thrilling adventures of Lovelace and Babbage, an online comic from Sydney Padua.

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National express

National express

 

David Mitchell wants Facebook to be nationalised:

 

I'm sure Facebook would claim it's not a monopoly – strictly speaking it isn't – but it clearly wants to be and, if there are whole sections of society who feel obliged to sign up in order to be able to communicate with one another, then its dreams are coming true. (...) While it's providing its services for free, there's no pressure on Facebook to rein in its monopolistic urge.

There must be strong economic arguments in favour of nationalising it.

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Gaming: the system

 

   

 

The IAB has launched a new report on the UK games industry, and what brands can learn from it. Gaming Britain: A country united by digital play contains some nice Kantar-produced research, covering 3000 adults and 1000 kids. It does the usual segmentation trick, however, splitting roles into "Networkers; Individualists; Interactors; Gaming Elite (Elite, now THERE was a game); Casual Players; PC Opportunists and New Gen Players." The potential for brands and planners is clearly spelt out: Gaming is "at least twice as engaging as other media".

 

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In conversation with... Toby Barnes and Matt Ward

Toby Barnes at ODEC 11 by Sebastiaan ter Burg, CC licence http://www.flickr.com/photos/ter-burg/5914515223/sizes/l/in/photostream/  and photo c/o Matt Ward

 

The view of what "design" is, and does, within society, is constantly changing. The role of artists and designers as shapers of society, and shapers of thinking, has become linked to particular periods and eras: sometimes positively, sometimes less so. What is the role of design and designers, and how can design help to create an optimistic future, when we are in a pessimistic present?

We caught up with Toby Barnes and Matt Ward, in advance of their talks at the tenth "This Happened" event to take place in London.

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London Weekend

     

 

Two great events take place in London this weekend.

 

This HappenedLondon Metropolitan University, 16 Goulston Street, London E1 7TP23/09/11, 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM

 

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What planning can learn from design thinking

The wonderful John V Willshire (formerly at PHD, now running his own show, Smithery) has published the slides from his recent presentation to the Google Firestarters session. The title is What can planning learn from design thinking?

 

 

The event took place in late June; here's the writeup from its organiser, Neil Perkin.

The unreasonable power of creativity

 

The video from last night's D&AD event is now up:

 

Sharp'ner - Use Your Creativity To Change the World

 

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Preservation and society

Preservation and society

 

Regarding the storage of information, we've never had it so good. Hard disks with a minimum capacity of a Terabyte are now available on the High Street, and we can back up all of our personal information to the cloud. Gone are our concerns in terms of physical volume; we can now take a seemingly infinite number of photos, and store them on our netbook's hard disk, or send them to an unseen RAID array somewhere on the other side of the world, for later retrieval by us or anyone else.

When there is less physicality, there is less of a need to be choosy. Storing photos on a CD-ROM required some consideration as to the number and parameters of photos. When personal storage has increased at a factor exponential to the amount of content that we produced, we're less bothered. 100 holiday photos – no problem. You could get every holiday for a lifetime onto one cheap hard drive.

Storing data in this way makes it easy to forget that there are still mechanical elements involved. In a standard hard disk, accessing and adding data requires a read/write head to move across a platter which could be spinning at 10,000 RPM. Faster devices, such as solid-state storage, are still made up of manufactured parts: SDRAM chips, PCBs and the like.

While all of this brings spontaneity to the user, it is actually creating a problem. A problem that is currently overlooked by many, but is likely to grow year on year, generation to generation. That problem is one of storage and archival.

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Things to make and do

Things to make and do

In a mixed economy, craft and mass production co-exist. We make different considerations when looking at both, although most of us are happy for them to be together: a handmade vase on an Ikea table. There is a relationship between these market concepts that has often been challenged, but perhaps not with such depth and breadth as with PostlerFerguson.

Martin Postler and Ian Ferguson met in 2005 while studying at the ICA. They had both been working in industry prior to their studies, in industrial design and architecture respectively, so had a shared understanding of why they were back in school. They also share a love of food. "Probably the first glimmers of mutual professional respect came when I noticed he had a copy of Larousse Gastronomique on his desk at school and he noticed that I knew what it was without seeing the cover."

After graduation in 2007, they were both invited to exhibit at Designersblock, deciding to combine their work into one show, The future on your plate. It was Chinese homewares producer Puzhen and creative publisher Gestaltlen that helped to get the business in motion; Puzhen hired the duo to design a new range of products, and Gestaltlen invited them to produce a full range of paper gun kits, following on from Postler's graduation work, a paper AK47. The new kit, a full-scale anti-aircraft gun, premiered at the Death Machines exhibition at Notting Hill's Craze Gallery, where fellow designers and artists were invited to customise the copied items. It's the play between two extremes, between industrialisation and craft, that profoundly influences the duo's work: Cafe Sonja, a new piece, is an entire cafe that can fit into aeroplane baggage.

 

Paper Oerlikon, 2008

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Some antics at the museum

Some antics at the museum

 

Great news from the British Museum:

 

The British Museum is committed to making its collection, and data relating to the collection, accessible to a global audience both physically and virtually. Collection Online, the British Museum's web database implemented in 2007, already allows visitors to the Museum's web site to search nearly 2 million object records, a third of which currently include at least one digital image.

The British Museum has now released a Semantic Web version of the database complementing the Collection Online search facility. The Museum is the first UK arts organisation to instigate a Semantic Web version of its collection data. The new service brings the British Museum into the 'linked data' world and will allow software developers to produce their own applications that can directly manipulate and reuse the data. It will also allow researchers and scholars a way to search and find data more precisely and facilitate automatic updates.

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The future, in a book

The future, in a book

 

Omnicom media agency PHD has launched a new book which aims to predict what 2016 is going to be like.

According to Media Week's coverage of the book, "2016: Beyond the horizon", you are guaranteed to see the following, 5 years from now:

 

Internet speeds of up to 100MbpsYouTube battling Sky for the media rights to the Premier League 2016-2019The cloud will store all of our music and videosMost TVs will be connected to the internet, and will be fitted with Ultra-HD technology, with 8,000 vertical line resolution compared to HD's 1,080A hologram of Simon Cowell in every home*

 

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Feeding at the edge

Feeding at the edge

It has been a slow and often painful journey, but large companies are starting to embrace concepts and technologies that many of us take for granted: gaming, virtual environments, and gestural interfaces. The backdrop to many of these concepts is openness: the willingness of people, and other companies themselves, to share ideas, developments, products, and distribution methods that actively encourage open participation, and the means to experiment.

Where experimentation happens is where you'll find Ian Hughes. A self-proclaimed "Metaverse evangelist", Hughes is actually something of a polymath: commentator on social technology, software developer, frenetic researcher, co-host of children's tech show Cool Stuff Collective, and a consultant to companies that want to know what lies at the edge, and what they will need to factor into business planning – and business culture.

As Chairman of the BCS Animation and Games Specialist Group, Hughes plays something of the shuttle diplomat: promoting the games industry and its technologies to the BCS, while providing professional development opportunities to the industry through BCS activity. He sees gaming as a sector which can provide tremendous knowledge to others. Gestural interfaces can clearly be applied to other sectors, as can the infrastructure developed to support games such as World of Warcraft. He acknowledges that bridge-building between an established Society and the gaming community is not going to take place overnight, and perhaps the application of game technologies into other business sectors will be the way to do achieve the understanding that's needed.

Hughes is unquestionably convincing in the way in which he encourages his own clients to apply gaming concepts and technologies within business. Gone are the days when a briefing equates to a slide-heavy Powerpoint; what's required to convince the less-aware is a mix of psychology, persuasion, theatre... and a spoonful of fear: the fear that they will be left behind.

"Software in a corporate environment is really about the next version, and how it's going to automate some sort of process. It's what you think software does. But, when it's about people interacting with one another and it's the fabric of your business - your people - it suddenly gets more complicated. It's not the tech that's the difficult bit, it's the people that's the difficult bit. It's quite complicated to say that people are going to be happier, or share more, or are more likely to invent more. People like definite boxes. As soon as you get something more expressive such as with virtual environments, you can see people making choices about how they represent themselves... then you look at how to understand their peers, and who to go to in an organisation, and how that social network works, then you know that now, it's not just who you know, but who you see that you know."

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Killing twee

Killing twee

 

Sabotage Times, James Brown's new thing, has published a highly readable takedown of the friendlier side of B2C marketing. Written by Lucy Sweet and with the endearing title Fuck you talking smoothies, it rips into Innocent, Boden, Pret a Manger, and Dorset Cereals.

Here's how it concludes:

 

[...] Maybe one day, we'll live in a better, more well-adjusted world. A world where bottles of juice will tell us to fuck off, and breakfast cereal boxes will detail all our shortcomings in a quirky font. Until that day, here's a word of advice. Next time your smoothie asks you to recycle it, tell it it's a wanker. Then drink some Fanta and throw the bottle into the road. That'll learn 'em.

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Onedotzero is back for 2011

Onedotzero is back for 2011

 

The onedotzero Adventures in motion festival is back in November. It's the event's 15-year anniversary of showing new and interesting short films, animation, music videos, interactivity, digital art and everything in between.

This year, there's a focus on modes of presentation: live AV, 3D, interactive, web-based storytelling, projection mapping, and creative code.

 

Here's some more info from onedotzero on this year's programme.

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Elliot Reuben: How to end rioting with targeted advertising

The title of this piece disgusts me. Marketing people are always telling you how products will change lives for the better; usually such positive changes are evident in the swelling coffers of their and their clients' bank accounts. The level of self-regard and rampant egotism in marketers is not something I try and subscribe to - but bear with me, I think I'm onto something here.

 

Elliot Reuben. Photo by Melissa Baynes

 

Firstly, we all know London and parts of the UK "erupted" in riots in August 2011. This caught everyone by surprise except, say, people that actually lived in these areas who feel the boiling, feral emotions of everyday urban life day-in day-out, and were waiting to see how and when the volcano would erupt. In the immediate aftermath, it was a race to apportion blame; facts, evidence and calm heads at this juncture become irrelevant – it's a big ol' game of point-scoring and the first to come up with a cosy-sounding theory that fits with people's pre-existing prejudices is usually the winner.

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Untangling the meaning of engagement

Untangling the meaning of engagement

 

Definitely worth reading is a long, detailed, opinionated piece by the brilliant Martin Weigel, Head of Planning for Wieden + Kennedy Amsterdam.

 

Called Engagement: Fashionable yet Bankrupt, it's split into the following sections:

 

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