[insane-o vids must be seen] This will totally melt your brain.
This was a great conference and the most consistent collection of speakers and topics I’ve ever experienced. Very fun and inspiring. Lots of hip 30-somethings trying to dream up tomorrow and make it real. It was a a very balanced, yet cutting-edge talk aimed at an eager (and surprisingly mixed-gender)crowd. I noticed that most folks were using Mac laptops – this part of the edge seems to prefer Apple – and it was fascinating to watch many who were blogging the talks while pulling up references dropped by the speakers, tweeting out to Twitter, and snapping/downloading/posting photos in real-time. As speakers dropped references I was pulling them up on my laptop and dropping links into my blog notes.
In the lobby a team was showing off a data viz video mapping real-time communications connecting NYC to the rest of the world. Andrea noticed that a surprising number were with an Italian city called Perugia. Maybe next year they could map the live feed of all web traffic from ETech. Imagine the bitstreams rising off such a gathering of digiterati.
Maybe it was just the Sudafed coursing through our virus-ridden veins (thank you Portland) but ETech was a total intellectual turn-on, from ambient objects, Asian mobile media, green policy and sustainability, hardware hacking & drone building, Austrian post-Situationists, neuroengineering, and the digital salvation of Democracy itself.
I hope I can go back next year!
Introduced by Tim O’Reilly: “The skill of writing is to create a context in which other people can think… Internet architecture is a system in which we think.”
Lessig: Government engages in something called policy making. Very challenging but it works hard for the hard cases.
Unfortunately it often gets the easy cases wrong. Ex: Copyright. Gowers: never makes sense to extend the term of existing copyrights. But gov always extends it. Ex: junk food. The WHO tried to set standards. Recommended we only consume 10% sugars. Sugar industry went ballistic and lobbied WHO and FDA to give up the recommendation. FDA/FNB decided 25% is better. Gov has set public policy based on business interests. Ex: Global warming. Nobody in sci community disagreed with Al Gore. So the gov surveyed popular media and 53% disagreed. Junk science funded by oil industry resulting in a 10yr delay in policy. Now we’re pretty screwed. Why does Gov get simple policy wrong?
Founding fathers – Independence. Public policy makers should not be dependent on special interests. Governors should not be dependent on private and public money. Constitutions were to protect against dependency. Unfortunately, there was money dependence. Ex: Daniel Webster.
But this story is about good people. Integrity does not produce a world of independence. There is a system of inappropriate dependence on money. There is a core dynamic of an economy of influence. Money is playing a role where it shouldn’t be. Not just congress.
Ex: Pharmaceutical industry. Spends billions of dollars lobbying doctors to use a certain type of drug. “Detailing”. Now about 2.5 detailers for every doctor. “Bribes that aren’t considered bribes.” A job to constantly sway the doctors. A world of spinning drugs to benefit drug companies, not patients. Studies funded by drug companies and overwhelming bias towards the sponsor’s drugs is found, when it is not found in independent studies.
Ex: Lawyers acting as scholars. Net neutrality. Cable companies giving large amounts of money to lawyer/scholars to argue against net neutrality. Improper dependence upon money.
Ex: Congress. Problem isn’t quid pro quo bribery. Congress is better about this kind of corruption. Problem is institutional corruption. Money diverts access of congressman to particular problems. Donors get more access. There is an ingrained behavior of congressfolk to orient their behavior to support the money they get from donors. The system drives for an ever-expanding scope of regulation. Al Gore tried to de-regulate DSL & Cable. Congress disapproved because it limited their ability to get money from telecomms. Getting elected to Congress is a business model, a step towards making more money as a lobbyist.
This leads to a fundamental loss of faith in the system. The constant appearance of corruption and idiotic mistakes in simple cases. Can we afford this anymore? As long as there is a system of raising money to run elections, the failings will continue.
Many alternatives to campaign finance will not work if they are pushed inside the beltway. Congress is an incumbency machine. They influence the system to protect themselves. Ex: earmarks. Members of congress say how money will be spent in their district. Gives an extraordinary advantage to the incumbent. People give earmarks to protect re-election and benefit personal wealth.
System is designed to make the world safe for insiders. To reformers, insiders are the enemy. Reform only happens on the outside.
Technology can affect change. 1) Peer production of activism, ala Wikipedia. Ex: Sunlight Foundation – tracks earmarks; MapLight.org – track campaign donations; 2) Signaling: finding ways of identifying support for reform. Ex: Change Congress – like Creative Commons, provides a simple way for candidates to signal the level of reform they’re willing to commit to in their campaign. They can mark publicly (pledge) what type of reformer they are. Identify reform candidates and identify supporters who will commit money to them. Fond a way to tax people who don’t support reform. Encouraging prominent citizens to run against candidates who won’t take the pledge of reform, not to win but to cost the non-reformers more money to run (spin) their campaign. Attempt to change the inside political dynamic from the outside.
Alcoholism. Watching the alcoholic fall apart. The problems they face are extraordinarily bad. He (she) must solve the alcoholism before the rest of the problems can be solved. We must realize & solve the first and most immediate problem: the presence of money in the democratic process.
Different times require different heroes. Founding – lawyers. WW2 – soldiers. Now? Geeks. Talent to enable the balance of power. We need a commitment from the geeks to help leverage the rest of our society, to believe in a simple idea that government might work.
[Ed Note: What a cool guy! If Obama wins, there is a major opportunity to refrom the US political system both from the top-down (insiders) and bottom-up (outsiders).]
[Note from Q&A: Sunlight is the best disinfectant. 6 people in each district contributing heavily to a Wikipedia-style site tracking activity of their congresscritters.]
Hacking brains & iPhones, building DIY aerial drones, ambient data streaming, data viz and crowd movements, ARGs, Vegas, and the Self awakened to it’s own tech. Oh baby!
With the help of my special lady friend (who got work to sport for the hotel, pass, and air) and the help of my employer (I’m doing some booth shifts on the floor in exchange for a pass – I get to rep Adobe AIR), I’m leaving tomorrow morning for sunny San Diego and a week at the O’Reilly Emerging Technology Conference! I’m psyched. I’ve wanted to go for the last few years but couldn’t afford it. All this time, I should have just told my corporate overlords they needed to send me on the company ticket!
I’ll be sending photos to the urbeingrecorded portal via tumblr, and I’ll likely post some keen bits here. Otherwise I’ll be fast hacking my iPhone to control a robotic crowd-sourcing drone I will use to track the culinary habits of tech luminaries and international political dissidents whose footpaths I’ll be datastreaming to various dynamic art installations and ambient devices.
From their site:
How does technology help you perceive things that you never noticed before? How does it help you be found, or draw attention to issues, objects, ideas, and projects that are important, no matter their size or location?
At the 2008 version of ETech, the O’Reilly Emerging Technology Conference, we’ll take a wide-eyed look at the brand new tech that’s tweaking how we are seen as individuals, how we choose to channel and divert our energy and attention, and what influences our perspective on the world around us:
Body Hacking. Genomics Hacking. Brain Hacking. Sex Hacking. Food Hacking. iPhone Hacking.
DIY Aerial Drones. DIY Talking Things. DIY Spectrum. DIY Apocalypse Survival.
Emerging Tech of India, Cuba, and Africa. International Political Dissidents.
Visualize Data and Crowds. Ambient Data Streaming.
Good Policy. Energy Policy. Defense Policy. Genetic Policy. Corruption.
Alternate Reality Games. Emotions of Games. Sensor Games.
ETech 2008 will cover all of these topics and more. We put on stage the speakers and the ideas that help our attendees prepare for and create the future, whatever it might be. Great speakers are going to pull us forward with them to see what technology can do… and sometimes shouldn’t do. From robotics and gaming to defense and geolocation, we’ll explore promising technologies that are just that–still promises–and renew our sense of wonder at the way technology is influencing and altering our everyday lives.
Continuously evolving the edge of electronic music, dance stalwarts Phil Smart, Jimmy Polar, Dave Basek and Ed Function keep putting out great music that sounds unlike anything you’ve heard. With the help of friends, they’ve put up a new Junkbeats site flush with wonderful tracks for stream or download purchase. Drop by and have a look and listen to what they’ve have been up to.
This is a really great resource that finally brings together a lot of Australian talent.
I’ve been rebuilding the playlists from my early days as a yout’ listening to KROQ in SoCal. Lot’s of great esoteric new wave classics that are now available online. It’s a really neat bit of time travel but it got me thinking: why doesn’t iTunes sell all of the old music videos as well? They have a lot of new ones but surely the canon is ripe for the pillaging. Maybe the Musik Biz could pull in a bit of spare change in the process and let people rebuild the entertainment archives of their formative years…
I’ve recently finished a couple of remixes using some of the generously-offered vocal samples from MC Chris. MC is a nerdcore hero, was a writer for Sealab 2021 (one of my all-time favorite shows), voiced Hesh in Sealab, and voiced MC PeePants for Aqua Teen Hunger Force. He’s also smart enough to see the value of his music and understand that it’s a good thing that his fans want to remix his work.
All available over at N8UR… (I’ve also nudged the mixes on some of the other tracks I have up).
Some very interesting music industry notes today…
Boign Boing’s Cory Doctorow summarizes Madonna’s decision to leave Warner and sign on under concert promoter Live Nation for distribution. Read this carefully:
Notice that Madonna’s now being brought to you by a concert promoter that makes most of its money by getting bums in seats. Every time a Madonna song is copied, it increases the market for her concerts. Talk about a 21st Century business model.
Musicians and labels make the bulk of their money from concerts. Madonna’s angle acknowledges and leverages this fact to free up the diminishing value proposition of trying to protect her content. So the content actually becomes a form of viral advertising which does it’s job whether or not people pay for it.
And over at Wired there’s a cool interview/conversation between David Byrne and Thom Yorke, principally talking about Radiohead’s pay-what-will distribution model for In Rainbows. They discuss the real value of content, the inability of the music industry tolook beyond profits and understand what the listeners want, and the honest admission of Yorke that Radiohead is uniquely positioned to dictate the terms of their distribution.
Thom Yorke: Well, yeah. The only reason we could even get away with this, the only reason anyone even gives a shit, is the fact that we’ve gone through the whole mill of the business in the first place. It’s not supposed to be a model for anything else. It was simply a response to a situation. We’re out of contract. We have our own studio. We have this new server. What the hell else would we do? This was the obvious thing. But it only works for us because of where we are.
DJ Spooky: Ghost World: A Story in Sound
Beach Boys vs. J. Dilla: Pet Sounds in the Key of Dee
I’m also really enjoying the new album by Datarock. It’s a fine retro-80′s new-post-nuwave Talking Heads sort of album that’s witty and relentlessly danceable. They even quote Revenge of the Nerds.
I recently posted my remix of If I Had My Way by Little Axe to the Real World Remixed site and it was chosen as a Hot Pick. w00t!
If you don’t know, Peter Gabriel has set up the Real World Remixed site as a social community based around remixing the works of Real World artists, bringing us admirers of their works into the fold as content creators while also gaining publicity for the artists. I’ve remixed two tracks now by artists I had never heard of before but now respect very much.
But the really great thing is they post all of the sample stems of a featured artist’s song. So, everything that makes up the song – the bass track, the vocals, the various drum & percussive tracks – are all available as individual files that can then be dropped into your favorite audio editor (I use Logic Pro), sliced & diced, and rearranged into your own personal remix. Sweet!
The original draw for me was the realization that Peter Gabriels apian opus, Shock The Monkey, is among the songs availabe for remix. I can’t begin to express the joy I felt when I had Gabriel’s vocals laid out as a beautiful wave file for me to do with what I will. Incredible! wondrous! As a fan, I was overjoyed. You can hear the outcome here.
If you’re a remixer, I highly recommend grabbing some of the sample packs and playing with them. And if you’re just a music fan, be sure to check out the Real World artists and have a listen to some of the great remixes posted to the site.
Finally, Thank you Real World and Peter Gabriel! I truly wish more artists would follow you lead.
Back in 2002 my pal Phil Smart brought a minidisc recorder out to Burning Man to record the playa. He took the raw waves and worked some audiophonic majix with his mate Davey B, chopping & splicing & layering the sounds in Logic Pro. The result is a wonderful and evocative sonic meditation on the playa experience from his ears to yours. Highly recommended with headphones for a truly immersive engagement.
Tickets are bought and reservations are being made. I’ll be leaving for Tokyo on Sept 16. My first time in Japan!
5 nights in Tokyo, then 5 in Kyoto, 2 near Mt. Fuji, then another 5 at some yet-to-be-determined surf destination, then back to Tokyo for 3 more nights. Return to SFO Oct 7.
Hot spots in Tokyo: Shinjuku, Akihabara, Shibuyu, Ebisu, Roppongi, Harajuku, Ginza.
It’s amazing that as huge and monstrously chaotic as the city of Tokyo is, the center is all within about a 5mi radius. For a kick, poke around Tokyo in Google Earth. I’ve never seen a city plan so organic and crazy. Makes me think of Tetsuo.
OMFG! I can’t wait!
…flourishing in a perfect combination of liberal copyright rules, broad access to British and US source material, and a culture of music.
“There’s never really been any stigma associated with sharing or using the works of others,” says British musician, journalist and Trojan producer Laurence Cane-Honeysett. “If anything, to most it’s regarded as a compliment.”
This sharing-friendly approach was carried further by visionary Jamaican producers like King Tubby and Prince Jammy, who, in the early 1970s, started releasing versions of the day’s most popular songs with the vocals removed. Using primitive, sometimes handmade equipment, they would drench the instrumental backing track in reverb and echo, then add sound effects to build a throbbing, psychedelic stew.
It was here the remix was born — the Jamaicans simply call it “dub.”