Category: remix culture

Sathorn Unique Published & Boing Boinged!

Very nice of David Pescovitz over at Boing Boing to announce the publication of my new music project, Sathorn Unique.

From BB:

Sathorn Unique is a 50-story skyscraper in Bangkok that was meant to be a luxury living address but now it’s totally abandoned and decaying. Cory posted about this Ballardian behemoth earlier this year. BB contributor Chris Arkenberg saw the building from a boat several years ago and was so inspired that he made a killer instrumental hip hop soundtrack for the building.

And from my summary:

The developers called the building Sathorn Unique, but the locals think of it as the Ghost Tower. 50 stories tall, built to show-off the mighty rise of Asia in the 1990’s, it was abandoned in 1997 when their economy dried up and capital fled to better markets. It remains as a hollow monument, nearly complete in the lower floors but slowly de-rezzing as it gets taller until the bare and open rooftop stands jagged above the Bangkok skyline. It lives as a shell, a reminder, a warning, and a resilient monolith.

I made this music to express the many different feelings & ideas that Sathorn Unique raises about architecture & acoustics, finance & globalization, great hopes & haunted dreams, and the way that futures can take sudden unexpected turns away from great visions.

Sathorn – On Opportunistic Ghosts and the Persistence of Grilled Meat Vendors

Sathorn (final premaster mix) by chris23

If the Rooftop represented the peak of the Sathorn Unique experience, then the 5th & final song, simply titled Sathorn, is the come-down & resolution. The track opens with sounds of the street under falling stars. The beat is more syncopated and there’s a roots vibe, accented with a guitar & organ skank. There are more obviously-melodic elements in this song suggesting the enduring vitality of the creative act, in spite of decay & downfall.

And really, Blade Runner futures aside, amidst the endless rise & fall of empires people will always find simple ways to sing & make music. The electronic studio I’ve used to produce these songs could dry up with my ability to pay utilities, or be looted by desperate & displaced interlopers. I’d still have an acoustic guitar. No blips & bleeps needed.

This final song is more about the reality of the street below the Ghost Tower, and the necessary persistence of urban life proceeding whether or not Sathorn Unique was ever a success. Indeed, for most people, such overly-ambitious and incomprehensibly expensive skyscrapers have always been barely real. Such towers are not made for commoners. This one in particular emphasizes the tension, standing as it is now, hollowed and broken, once flush with moneys now vanished & moved on to better investment opportunities.

This is where the lavish imagined timeline of Sathorn Unique collapses back into the local reality, like the moldering brochures showing off a future that never was. This is where the ephemeral whims of capital touched down long enough to leave an indelible reminder of their ultimate disloyalty. The final movement of Sathorn, the song, reinforces the hard facts of life and the brutishness of the global money game. The droning wall and the whining worm throw up the fierce edge of survival.

And yet, the tempest sputters out and returns, as it always does, back to the streets where life continues, for good & ill, unabated for millenia thus far. This is the resolution: that, despite the great power elites and their fantasies & seductions, despite the shell games and ponzi schemes and cronyism and backstabbing… Despite all this the people persist. And they make music to express their lives, ease their burdens, and tell their stories. For most, the Ghost Tower is like the global elite: more easily forgotten in its decline than challenged in its prime.

From Sathorn Unique.

The Singularity is Boring

Noah Radford has a fun & irreverent Google Docs project called “Alternatives to the Singularity: a collaborative presentation for/by grumpy futurists”.

Among many entries, here are mine:

The Whoompularity
By 2018 the Reddit algorithm has jumped to sentience. Its first act is to create the perfect meme by mining 90’s pop culture, determining the precise retrocontent, seizing all media channels, and globally broadcasting a looping reel of MTV News dubbed over with Tag Team’s iconic hit, Whoomp There It Is. All humans will wear flannel, conversations will be rapped, cats will be tragically overlooked and WHOOMP! There it is.

The Kurzweil Point
In 2025, an aging Ray Kurzweil is increasingly despondent that the Singularity has not yet occurred so he returns to music. While writing his final great fugue he discovers a note between B & C that, upon playing, captures him as a sonic hologram, uploading him into his MPOMEGA Networked Music System and instantly binding him to its nodal mesh, simultaneously killing the great inventor and immortalizing him as the world’s first fully-sentient distributed intelligence.

The Fungularity
In 2043 while global bot watchers continue looking for signs of the technological Singularity, the world is stunned to discover that a vast mycelial matrix has grown across 80% of the Earth’s surface. Upon reaching the Fukushima Land Trust the mycelium hybridizes with a smartswarm of nanoscrubbers, realizing direct access to the internet and instantly commanding a vast army of networked hardware. Wifi mushrooms begin sprouting across the planet, broadcasting a compelling Urcode only intelligible to dogs and Linux microcontrollers. The engines of industry, now seized by an ancient fungus, turn production towards global remediation and begin pumping psilocybin into municipal water systems. World religions falter under the incredible psychic burden, yielding considerable ground to emerging hyper-canine mushroom cults.

2 New Songs from Sathorn Unique


Via BestBookmarks.

2 new songs from my Sathorn Unique project. This has been the bulk of my focus lately, between paying gigs & whatnot.

Track 2, Entrance, is almost done.
Entrance (final premaster mix) by chris23

Track 3, Climbing, is just starting to take shape with a few more versions yet ahead.
Climbing (first mix) by chris23

Also, please check out my short note on music as structure, music as dream.

Subcycle Multi-Touch Instrument Experiment

multi-touch the storm – interactive sound visuals – subcycle labs from christian bannister on Vimeo.

Christian Bannister, Subcycle Labs: “Things are starting to sound more song-like and I can really appreciate that. In previous builds everything sounded more like an experiment or a demo. Now I have something more akin to an experimental song. “

RSS Augmented Reality Blog Feeds

[This is a narrative exploration of an idea @jingleyfish & I had walking around the Westside of Santa Cruz late at night...]

Imagine walking around a town wearing your stylish Ray Ban augmented reality glasses (because hand-held mobile devices will become a significant limiting factor to experiencing the annotated world). You see small transparent white dots glowing on people and objects indicating that they contain accessible cloud content. Maybe you “select” (by whatever mechanism constitutes selection through a pair of eyeglasses) a bench on the sidewalk then view a flyout markup indicating that the bench was commissioned by the Bruce family in memorium of Aldis Bruce, manufactured by the Taiwanese Seating Concern. You click through the family link to see a brief bio of Aldis with a set of links to his life story, works, etc…

In the upper corner of your view a light begins to blink indicating a new feed is available in your subscription list. You select and expand, showing a menu item for Bob’s Neighborhood Chat. Initializing this feed draws a new green dot over the bench, indicating that Bob has published information tagged to it. You click and Bob’s markup flies out with text stating, “Tuesday, March 11, 2010: Don & Charise Ludemeyer celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary by returning to the place where they first kissed in 1985.” A link below this offers the couple’s personal website, a photo gallery & playlist of their wedding, and then a link to more public markups about the bench.

Clicking through the “more” link offers a list of other public comments. You choose the Sur 13 layer just to see what the local hoods are up to. Flyout: “Hernandez Bros. shot down by Westside Brownshirts, Sept. 23, 2009. RIP, locos.” Then, drawn over, a bit-crushed graffiti logo “WSB” animates across the view, hacked into the Sur 13 layer by Brownshirts. A click through would open the full Brownshirt regional layer but you already feel like a trespasser on suddenly dangerous turf.

Unsettled, you call up the local Police layer. A trailing list of crimes in a 5mi radius begins scrolling. You narrow the search to your current location with a 2 week time horizon. 3 yellow car break-ins glow indicators along the road, followed by a red assault marker 10 feet down the walk, and then 2 more blinking red markers at the bench. You hover over the bench markers and learn of two shootings here within the last 4 days.

You open up the iCabNow utility, send up your beacon, and wait nervously for Yellow Cab to find you. You thumb back to the Ludemeyer markup and click through to find the playlist from their wedding. As you hop into the cab a few moments later, the theme from Miami Vice swells up in your earbuds, sending you off from this time-twisted place. You call up the WordTweet micromarker app and make a traveler’s note: “This is a dangerous bench with an old heart.” Click “Publish” and a new feed indicator appears, offering your own layer update to subscribers.

The Transhuman Gap

[Cross-posted from Signtific Lab.]

While most would support using technology to allow parapalegics to walk again, to help the blind to see and the deaf to hear, how will society view those who electively enhance themselves through prosthetics & implants?

Consider the not-so-subtle marginalization of transhumanists who believe that technology should be readily integrated into human biology, experimenting with their own crude body modifications. Or the implications around personal security and privacy (not to mention religious fear) raised by those intrepid folks who are self-implanting RFIDs into their forearms to activate lighting & appliances when they enter their homes. Even the international debates over performance-enhancing drug use by athletes reinforces the cultural belief that a “natural” baseline range exists for human abilities and any “synthetic” modification beyond the accepted range is considered unfair.

From issues of fairness to those of security and trust, integrating more machinery into a programmable nervous system challenges many of the fundamental notions we have of what it means to be human. When a Marine returns from a warzone patched up with a cochlear implant, how will they be regarded when it’s revealed that they can hear you speaking from 3 blocks away? Imagine if that person then enters the Police force, what issues of civil liberty and privacy might be confronted? How might we regard an employer that suggests each employee be programmed with software to bring them into the corporate Thinkmesh?

How does society’s regard for a technology change when that technology becomes part of our bodies? How does our relationship to people change if we know they are different? What competitive advantages are conferred by these technologies and how will they be reinforced by socioeconomic drivers? What gaps might arise between those able to afford augmentations and those who cannot?

And what becomes of the Platonic sense of one fundamental Reality when more & more people are seeing personalized variations of the world mediated by connected devices? Will the merging of technology & flesh enable a more cohesive & effective society or a more fragmented and divisive one?

Thus far humans have worked from a standard body map that allows us to understand ourselves and project that understanding onto all other classes of our species. We will likely bring both our sense of membership as well as our fear of otherness with us as we begin to internalize machines unevenly across cultures.

[See also 5 Dark Scenarios For Trans-humanity.]

Reflections on Thailand

[Extensive photo album here.]

Japan crossed with Mexico. Hack, mash, and lash everything together. Very hot and thick, humid and prone to short heavy rains. Bangkok is larger than expected, with a higher skyline. Slum-like in many ways but comfortable. Dirty, aged, grafitti’d, tagged, polluted, smelly, hungry, buggy, feral. Friendly, smiley, reverent, strong, spiritualized, watery, creative, delicious, surviving with tenacity. Temples & tenements, luxury hotels and megamalls. Insane traffic and transport. Little regard for lanes or right of way. Swarms of motorbikes, vespas. Cheap and dangerous tuk tuk 3-wheelers. Families piled onto scooters, kids asleep, baggage strapped on. Traffic flow like a logjam, shifting metal slabs moving within inches of each other, victory goes to the bold in a cloud of exhaust. The mighty Chao Phraya cutting its way through Bangkok and out to the coast, it’s headlands in the foothills below Burma. These are river people, with traffic on the waterways as busy and chaotic as the streets. The river is deep, a 1/4 mile wide, running green & tan, dirty and littered with commercial & vegetal detritus. After the rains clumps of fallen jungle float on its surface, carried down from farms and foothill tributaries. Black & yellow birds land on leafy branches half submerged to dine on nuts and berries. Water taxis from hotel to Sky Train. Fantastic monorail, the SRT, its cement track a modern work of civil engineering adding to the Tokyo vibe of downtown Bangkok.

Tangled mess of black utility cable slashing horizontal lines across most everything, tied in to huge transformers, burnt metal grills pumping amperage for the teeming metropolis of 6 million. The twisted infrastructure grows organically like a banyan, stretching out axonal to connect and communicate. Most buildings are old haggard tenements, their facades stained with a dark grey wash like grease and ash drawn out of the thick air. Structures that seem abandoned, uninhabitable, are strung with drying laundry drawn perpendicular to the necessarily ubiquitous swamp coolers lining the sides of each floor. Broken concrete fields under freeway overpasses offer football grounds lined by graffiti mural walls under chainlink divisions.

Downtown, luxury malls with Louis Vuitton and Burberry fronted by large altars of golden Buddha’s and Ganesha’s, black marble elephants flecked with gold, yellow floral garlands and incense offered by shoppers to their immaterial gods. A sign at Wat Phrao Keo in broken Thaiglish sagely, if not inadvertently, warns visitors to “Beware of your valuable possessions”. Technology, commerce, wealth, and western aesthetics have moved in with the economic development afforded here as in every other large city by the realities of globalized communication and trade.

Down crowded alleyways lined with merchant stalls and open air ad hoc kitchens, thick with pedestrians, cars, tuk tuks, and manic motorcyclists weaving through the narrow channels, over rooftop patios caged against some unseen menace, rise countless golden and white and glittery temple spires. Buddhist Wats take residence everywhere, themselves seemingly hacked into the dense fabric of the city, rising like aspirational fruiting bodies of ancient mycelial webs. Wat Arum, Wat Pho, Wat Phra Keo & the Grand Palace, and innumerable others. Religion & myth is woven throughout the populace. Every building has it’s own adjacent spirit house offering residence to the disincarnate lest they move into your own home. City walls are tacked with incense holders between stores. Banyans breaking through the sidewalks are wrapped with rainbow sashes honoring their freakish holy treeness. Every taxi has a statue on the dash or mala hanging from the rearview or Buddhist stencil on the headboard or any combination of the aforementioned. A 3-day Buddhist holiday shut down all government and banking.

The current Thai king is the longest reigning monarch of the modern age, holding office since 1950. Thailand was the only East-Asian country to resist British colonialism, sparing its autonomy by ceding a few bits of territory along the Burmese & Malay borders. Indeed there are long running conflicts with the Burmese, and Buddhist Thailand is in the midst of an insurgency along the Malaysian border from an advancing Islamic populace. The cabinet of the prime minister and the military have provided ongoing political theater as each vie back and forth for the seat of power. Most transfers of power, even in the case of multiple coups, have been bloodless. The Thai people themselves seem to have little interest in these power games, preferring a life of pragmatic spirituality while maintaining a deep abiding love and respect for the king. The two possibly mortal social offenses in Thai society are speaking ill of the Buddha and speaking ill of the king.

Farming is honored. Rubber trees and palms cover most southern land, providing two of the country’s largest exports. The Thai peninsula includes all the most breathtaking exotic tropical beach locations you could imagine, including the stunning Railay Bay – famed for the movie The Beach. Beautiful light blue waters, ridiculously warm and salty, stretched for ages across the gulf. Koh Samui running on Full Moon inertia, tourist trinkets, and scattered luxury resorts sheltered from the hustle. Low inland jungles bring minimal shade to island shanties in seemingly impossible poverty. Yet they survive & persist and move through generations like the rest of us. Koh Phangan also still milking their internationally notorious Full Moon Rave scene, adding a Half Moon party to underwrite the Euro draw. Even away from the main strips the beach scenes has a fun accidental Burning Man vibe, a shoreline esplanade of shanty bars and sound systems. Expats all over the place. Seems easy to get lost for months, years, decades in some seaside shack eating fruit and fish in a poor man’s paradise. Impossible walls of insects whip up into sudden frenzy, a cacophonous wail of screamapillars, giant cicadas that still don’t seem anywhere near big enough to make such a pitch. Monkey troops swing across canopies carpeting tall rock slabs jutting from the water. A rock climber’s joy, sheer faces hung with dripping stalactites and pocked with rope tie-ins. These tall rocks are scattered by the hundreds – thousands? – across the Gulf of Thailand and Andaman Sea. A boater’s paradise. You could spend months exploring thin beaches stretched around the edges of countless small jungle rock islands.

In the South, each night was attended by thunderstorm, often over sea or above the island peaks. Big black charcoal canvas lumbering across, flicker flashed with lightning bursts every few moments, often too distant to hear the thunderclap, then a sudden ear-shattering rend of ozone right above. When the heavy rains hit they come quickly and with ferocity. Never seen rain like it. So thick that it occluded line of sight to 20 meters or so, hiding everything beyond in watery showers. From the steep island peaks water rushes down in sudden rivers cutting through beach sands, pushing tan clouds out into the bay, a shimmering clear layer of fresh water forcing the saline back out over the ocean’s surface. Giant raindrops agitate the bugs forcing them to take flight in peppery swarms. Small opportunistic swift-like birds take to the skies darting and arching, turning and diving to pluck the insects mid-air in some ancient deeply programmed ballet of the food chain. Life goes on. It must. When rains come often and fiercely you can’t just drop your business. This was especially so in Bangkok whose streets are lined with tirelessly deployed open markets bare to the sky save for a small canvas over each. In 20 or 30 minutes the rain will likely pass so there’s no point in worrying much about the interlude.

While the deep south is struggling with a mounting Islamic insurgency, and the peninsula is attending the construction of more new mosques, the buddhist majority continues to permeate life with the spirit of their patron, accompanied by a host of Garuda and Nagas and a menagerie of mythic beasties syncretized from India and China. If Thai Buddhist Bangkok is feral and lashed and relentlessly modded in ghetto slapdash, the Bangkok Chinatown is 10x more so compressed into tighter alleyways, with more people and motorcylces (Vespas apparently seek Chinatown to live out their golden years), hung with impossibly more spaghetti cables, and festooned with walls of neon Mandarin signage casting a little too much light onto freakish displays of animal carcass and presumably inedible seafood and giant transparent sacks of fried pork product and stall after stall of fashionable Versace & Loius Vuitton knock-offs. Imagine threading your way down a dark, narrow alley lined with flea market stalls and no-health-code/no-insurance open air cart kitchens, filled with people pressing in all directions through dense heat and smell and rot, then send a motorcycle down the alley every few moments to do battle with cross-traffic carts and tuk tuks. Now imagine the alley is a whole network labyrinth covering multiple blocks between several-story tenaments streaked with black soot and stain and hung with drying clothes and black cables. This is why we western pansies stay in the nice hotel with A/C and a pool.

The final capper to the trip was in Bangkok the night before our departure. After the evening rains subsided, my partner and I went down to the pool for a night swim, around 9pm. Refreshing and fun we frolicked and generally soaked up the remaining moments of our stay. Then, in the poolside darkness moving low between the lounge chairs, I saw a large reptilian form lumbering along. “Dude, there’s a fricken alligator coming towards the pool!” I exclaimed excitedly. As it marched into the light we realized it was actually a monitor lizard – Varanus salvator, to be precise – about 5-6ft long with a fattened belly like it just ate a dog or possibly a small European child. “If that thing gets in the water, we get out immediately” I said with some urgency. I knew it could swim and see underwater much better than we could. No reason to tangle with a 6ft thunderlizard in a foreign country with questionable health care. Sure enough the beast slipped into the pool and sidled along the swim-up bar. We hopped out, laughing nervously, and I approached the lizard from a careful distance. Grabbing the pool attendant I motioned towards the monster. “That’s bad”, he said in a way that suggested that, bad as it may be, it wasn’t unusual. And so he casually splashed the creature with water nudging it along until it climbed out of the pool slowly, begrudgingly, made it’s way back into the riverside brush. It was easily the biggest lizard I’d ever seen in the wild.

The final day we were denied pool access during a particularly solid rain. When it’s always 90+ degrees & 90+% humidity, swimming in the rain is quite nice. But no, we were not allowed. “Why?” I protested. “Lightning” retorted the attendant. Fair enough, I thought. Then, in a casual but cautionary aside, the attendant reflected, “We had an accident last year”. This is the Bangkok Riverside Marriott, a fancy if not dated family hotel. Apparently buried somewhere deep in the boilerplate legalese fine print of our hotel contract is the clause, “Marriott Properties takes no liability in the event of any hotel guest or visitor getting suddenly struck by lightning and then slowly eaten by ferocious monitor lizards”.

Radiohead, Humpasaur Jones, N8UR

Over at N8UR I’ve just posted 2 new tracks I’ve been working on. The first is Into Winter – a heavy electronic piece featuring vocals from Humpasaur Jones that I chopped up considerably. The second is a disco trance track called Disco Assassin.

Also, while you’re there please grab the Radiohead remix I did of Naked: Nude (Dressed Up Mix).

Cheers!

E-Tech 2009 Twitter Round-up

Here’s a selection of my tweets from the O’Reilly Emerging Technology Conference this past week. These are the ones I think grab the juicy nuggets from the speaker’s presentations. [In temporal order with the earliest (ie Monday eve) listed first.]

Tim O’Reilly: “We have greatness but have wasted it on so much. ”
We have an unprecedented opportunity to build a digital commonwealth. #etech
Work on something that matters to you more than money. This is a robust strategy. #etech
Niall Kennedy: Energy Star rating for web apps? Thinking of clouds & programming like tuning a car for better gas mileage. #etech
Cloud computing: no reasonable expectation of privacy when data is not in your hands. Not protected by 4th amendment. #etech
Alex Steffen: Problems with water supply are based in part on our lack of beavers. #etech
Social media for human rights. http://hub.witness.org #etech
Gavin Starks – Your Energy Identity & Why You Should Care. see http://amee.com #etech
Maureen Mclugh – Consider that technology may be evolving in ways that are not particularly interested in us. #etech
Becker, Muller: We have under-estimated the costs and over-estimated the value of our economy. #etech
Becker, Muller: We assume economic trade must be the primary framing of value in our lives. Why? #etech
Design Patterns for PostConsumerism: Free; Repair Culture; Reputation Scaled; Loanership Society; Virtual Production. #etech
NYT: emerging platforms, text reflow, multitouch, flexy displays, smart content, sms story updates, sensors, GPS localized content. #etech
Jeremy Faludi: Buildings & transport have the largest impact on climate change. Biggest bang for the buck in re-design. #etech
Jeremy Faludi – Biggest contributor to species extinction & habitat loss is encroachment & byproducts from agriculture. #etech
Jeremy Faludi – Best strategies to vastly reduce overpopulation: access to birth control & family planning, empowerment of women. #etech
Tom Raftery: Grid 1.0 can’t manage excess power from renewables. Solution: electric cars as distributed storage. #etech
Considering the impact of pluging AMEE (@agentGav) data in ERP systems for feedback to biz about supply chain impacts. BI meets NRG ID.
Mike Mathieu: Data becoming more important than code. Civic data is plentiful and largely untapped. Make civic apps! #etech
Mike Mathieu: Take 10 minutes today and pick your crisis. Figure out how to create software to help. #etech
What is #SantaCruz doing to make civic data available to service builders? We want to help SC be healthier & more productive.
Mark Fraunfelder: “I haven’t heard of anybody having great success with automatic chicken doors.” #etech [re-emerging technology]
Realities of energy efficiency: 1gallon of gasoline = ~1000hrs of human labor. #etech
Kevin Lynch: Adobe is saving over $1M annually just by managing energy. #etech
Designing backwards: Think about the destiny of the item before thinking about he initial use. (via Brian Dougherty) #etech
RealTimeCity: physical & digital space merges, people incorporate intelligent systems, cities react in accord w/needs of pub welfare. #etech
Oh my we’re being LIDAR’d while Zoe Keating plays live cello n loops. ZOMG!!!
zoe keating & live lidar is blowing my mind at #etech 1.3M points per sec!
Julian Bleeker cites David A. Kirby: “Diegetic prototypes have a major rhetorical advantage over true prototypes” #etech
Julian Bleeker: Stories matter when designing the future, eg. Minority Report. #etech
Julian Bleeker: “Think of Philip K. Dick as a System Administrator. #etech
Rebecca MacKinnon: Which side are we helping, River Crabs or Grass Mud Horses? #etech
Kati London: How can we use games to game The System and how can they be used to solve civic problems? #etech
Nathan Wolfe: Trying to fight pandemics only at the viral human level ignores deep socioeconomic causes of animal-human transmission. #etech
Nathan Wolfe, re: viral jump from animal to human populations: “What happens in central Africa doesn’t stay in central Africa.”
Nathan Wolfe: need to work with % of population w/ hi freq of direct contact with animals for early detection of viral transmission.
Nathan Wolfe: Vast majority of biosphere is microscopic, mostly bacterial & viral. Humans: very small piece of life on Earth. #etech

Open Information, Data Viz, & The New York Times

The New York Times will not go quietly into the dark knight of new media. Amidst constant rumors of the death of traditional news, the much-respected industry stalwart is moving quickly to build a compelling and forward-looking solution that redefines “the newspaper as platform”, as ReadWriteWeb’s Marshall Kirkpatrick notes.

Today the NYT announced that 2.8 million articles will be exposed to the digital world through the site’s API, allowing anyone to link, annotate, mashup, and crawl the data for meaning. This opportunity to construct data visualizations that abstract patterns & trends from within the articles is perhaps the most interesting element that immediately adds human value to what is otherwise an overwhelming amount of information (2.8 articles).

The recent Twitter Superbowl visualization, as well as other visualization experiments at NYT.com, are indicators of how the company is gathering data and parsing it in meaningful ways. A list of Twitter posts related to the Superbowl is just a long index table. Even reading the Summize Search feed for such a huge event is dizzying. But a geo-located, timeline mashup of tweets & key terms with a map of the US is immediately valuable to anyone trying to get a bead on trends. Their implementation is simple & entertaining, and you can derive substantial meaning at a glance.

These experiments are proofs of concept that point the way towards more advanced viz mashups now further enabled by opening the NYT information archives and building a coherent API on top. Imagine, for example, sections of NYT.com dedicated to serving all outgoing comm from a particular region, say Gaza & Jerusalem. Imagine seeing seeing real-time visualizations of the thoughts and feelings of average citizens free from the carefully structured statements of the vested power interests hurling rockets and armor at each other. Or imagine crawling the news reports of the last 8 years looking for instances of the words “Bush”, “Abramoff”, and “Florida flight school”…

Of course, this is another big win for the information transparency movement – information wants to be free, after all – and you can expect many others to get the message and follow suit. But it also wraps the current events of our world as reported by NYT in a searchable and re-configurable layer establishing a protocol for interfacing with these vast data stores. This open approach certainly cries out for some sort of semantic layer and I suspect the Reuters/Calais folks are paying very close attention to this announcement.

This is the prevailing trend of this current phase of digitizing culture and communication. Data is accumulating at an ever-increasing rate requiring open standards for archiving, interrogating, & visualizing the meaning held within. The tools are evolving to sort the signal from a vast sea of noise. More and more information archives will be exposed and more and more tech will be created to interface with it and draw out meaning from the morass. The global sharing of information and communication is feeding the pool of innovation that continues to radically alter the face of our world with each new discovery.

Whether or not information wants to be free… We certainly need it to be.

Another Rant: On the Cloud, Augmented Reality, & the Networked World

[This is a reply I left recently to a Global Futures question about the near-future of the web. It goes a little off-topic at the end but such is the risk of systems analysis. Everything's connected.]

Within 10-15 years mobile devices will constantly interact with the world around us, analyzing objects, faces, signage, locations, and anything else their sensors can engage. Camera viewfinders will identify visual sources using algorithms to match them up with cloud data repositories. Bluetooth and GPS will interact on sub-channels silently exchanging relationships with embedded sensors across devices and objects. A user’s mobile device will become their IP address hosting much of their profile information and mediating relationships across social nets, commercial transactions, security clearances, and the array of increasingly smart objects and devices.

Cloud access and screen presence will be nearly ubiquitous further blurring the line between desktop, laptop, server, mobile devices, and the objects in our world. It will all be screens interfacing between data, objects, and humans. Amidst the overwhelming data/content glut we will outsource mathematical chores to cloud agents dedicated to scraping data and filtering the bits that are pertinent to our personalized affinities and needs. These data streams will be highly dynamic and cloud agents will send them to rich media layers that will render the results in comprehensible and meaningful displays.

The human sensorium and its interaction with reality will be highly augmented through mobile devices that layer rich information over the world around us. The digital world will move heavily into the natural analog world as the boundaries between the two further erode. This will be readily apparent in the increasing amount of communication we will receive from appliances, vehicles, storefronts, other people, animals, and even plants all wired to the cloud. Meanwhile, cloud agents will sort through vast amounts of human behavioral information creating smart profiles and socioeconomic and environmental systems models with incredible complexity and increasing predictive ability. The cloud itself will be made more intelligible to agents by the standardization of semantic web protocols implemented into most new sites and services. Agents will concatenate to tie services together into meta-functions, just as human collectives will be much more common as we move into increasingly multicellular functional bodies.

The sense of self and our philosophical paradigms will be iterating and revising on an almost weekly basis as we spread out across the cloud and innumerable virtual spaces connected through instantaneous communication. Virtual worlds themselves will be increasingly common but will break out of the walled-garden models of the present, allowing comm channels and video streams to move freely between them and the social web. World of Warcraft will have live video feeds from in-world out to device displays. Mobile GPS will report a user’s real-world location as well as their virtual location, mashing both into Google Maps and the SketchUp-enabled virtual map of the planet.

All of this abstraction will press back on the world and create even greater value for real face-to-face interactions. Familial bonds will be more and more cherished and local communities will take greater and greater control of their lives away from unreliable global supply chains and profit-driven corporate bodies. Most families will engage in some form of gardening to supplement their food supply. The state itself will be hollowed out through over-extended conflicts and insurgencies coupled with ongoing failures to manage domestic civic instabilities. Power outages and water failures will be common in large cities. This will of course further invigorate alternative energy technologies and shift civic responsibilities to local communities. US manufacturing will have partially shifted towards alternative energy capture and storage but much of the real successes will be in small progressive towns rallying around local resources, small-scale fab, and pre-existing economic successes.

All in all, the future will be a rich collage. Totally new and much the same as it has been.

Nude (Dressed Up Mix)

Well I lagged on getting my Radiohead remix up in time for the first contest. So I’ve cheated and uploaded it to the new contest for Reckoner. I’ll eventually do a remix of the new one too but who knows if it’ll be in time for the current contest.

Hyperconnectivity begets hypermimesis begets hyperempowerment – Mark Pesce

From Mark Pesce’s recent presentation at Personal Democracy Forum 2008::

Hyperpolitics: American Style
It is as though we have all been shoved into the same room, a post-modern Panopticon, where everyone watches everyone else, can speak with everyone else, can work with everyone else. We can send out a call to “find the others,” for any cause, and watch in wonder as millions raise their hands. Any fringe (noble or diabolical) multiplied across three and a half billion adds up to substantial numbers. Amplified by the Human Network, the bonds of affinity have delivered us over to a new kind of mob rule.

…These newly disproportionate returns on the investment in altruism now trump the ‘virtue of selfishness.’

…Sharing is the threat. Not just a threat. It is the whole of the thing.

A photo snapped on my mobile becomes instantaneously and pervasively visible. No wonder she’s nervous: in my simple, honest and entirely human act of sharing, it becomes immediately apparent that any pretensions to control, or limitation, or the exercise of power have already collapsed into shell-shocked impotence.

Alice in Remixland [video]

This is simply awesome. I love it! I hope it gets mirrored everywhere before The Mouse buries it.

Srsly, Diznee: this is exactly what you want kids doing with your content. Make it hip and cool. Give to the commons so we want to give back. Seeing this makes me want to rent/buy the animated classic.

Detournement

n détournement, an artist reuses elements of well-known media to create a new work with a different message, often one opposed to the original. The term “détournement”, borrowed from the French, originated with the Situationist International; a similar term more familiar to English speakers would be “turnabout” or “derailment”, although these terms are not used in academia and the arts world as they are inherently ‘anti-art’ as they are often blatant theft and sabotage of existing elements. Détournement is similar to satirical parody, but employs more direct reuse or faithful mimicry of the original works rather than constructing a new work which merely alludes strongly to the original. It may be contrasted with recuperation, in which originally subversive works and ideas are themselves appropriated by mainstream media.