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:
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.
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.
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.
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".
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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*
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
Rob Myers has reviewed David Berry's book The Philosophy of Software: Code and mediation in the digital age at Furtherfield. Here's the text (under CC BY-SA licence).
"The Philosophy Of Software" is an ambitious book by David Berry, who has turned his attention from the social relations and ideology of software (in "Rip, Mix, Burn", 2008) to the question of what software means in itself. The philosophy that he has in mind isn't the mindless political libertarianism attributed to hackers or the twentieth-century foundational mathematics that is the basis for the structure of many programming languages. It is a serious and literate philosophical reading of software and its production.
Software is an important feature of contemporary society that is rarely considered as a phenomena in its own right by philosophers. Software permeates contemporary society, Berry gives the examples of Google's profits and the "financialisation" of the economy through software as examples of software's importance in this respect. In reading this review on a screen you have used maybe a dozen computers, each containing multiple programs and libraries of software directly involved in serving up this page. Digital art and cyberculture often use and discuss software and philosophy (or at least Theory), but usually to illustrate a point about something other than software. The software itself is rarely the subject.
New Adam Curtis. This one is so long and stuffed with intertwined relationships and a variety of media clips that it warrants a whole TV series in itself. Anyway, enjoy. You'll need some time to get through this one but, as always, it's worth it.
Adam Curtis: the curse of Tina
As you may know by now, the EU has agreed to extend copyright term - the length of time by which something has copyright - by another 20 years, to 70. The EU Term of Protection Directive was voted through by the European Council of Ministers on Monday morning. Here's their press release (PDF).
Inevitably, some organisations, such as PPL, welcome the deal (Copyright is "successfully extended"); others such as the Open Rights Group, hate it (Term extension is a "cultural disaster").
After a campaign from the larger creative bodies spanning several years, the UK Government agreed with a term extension back in 2008. It was the agreed by the European Parliament in 2009, and now it's in law, to be implemented in all EU states by 2014.
Andrew Orlowski in El Reg has written a good overview of the situation.