Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The Spirit of Giving

To keep the gift economy going beyond the hype of christmas I list some great free things online at the moment:

Instal Live
Download muic and stream vidoes from October's Instal festival in Glasgow. Musicians may be new to many people but if you are intersted in hearing interesting music click to.

NPR (National Public Radio) Live Concert Archive
A little bit more mainstream than the Instal stuff. A broad selection of full length concerts including music from the dearly departed James Brown.....

Whilst not the same as the music downloads, in that it breeches serious and often painful topics, the free videos from engage media may expand your world view a little:
"EngageMedia is a website for video about social justice and environmental issues in
Australia, Southeast Asia and the Pacific."

The mighty UBUWEB continues to define excellence in online archives. A few weeks ago, in the depths of a short cold spell (winter this year is very "mild" as the TV news keeps saying) I watched a video of Terry Riley milking a goat on his farm in 1975 as he spoke about his music and teachers. The sunny meadow and Terry's calm way about things was like a journey for me. Two nights ago I stayed up late watching Peter Whitehead's film Wholly Communion: A Few Poets Trying to Be Natural from 1965. I witnessed something of the beautiful chaos of the Albert Hall poetry reading featuring Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Harry Fainlight, Adrian Mitchell, Michael Horovitz, Ernst Jaridl, Christopher Logue, John Esam, Pete Brown, Anselm Hollo, George Macbeth, Simon Vinkenoog, Paulo Leonni, Daniel Richter, Spike Hawkins, and Tom McGrath, as well as the playing of tapes of, and by, William Burroughs. I wonder where the women poets were that night??

onliness 1.0 onliness v1.0.1 is an beat-based exposition of 4 years in
The Life of demon doc in NYC. The entire album is
available for free download, no questions asked.

Famous for 15mb
A lot of Mp3s for download by people you may have never heard of but are often very pleasing to the ears. Tracks are uploaded and removed all the time so check back often.

Internet Archive
Even if you lived to be 300 years old you would not have time for all the interesting stuff on the Internet Archive. Overwhelming!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Removal of Ancient Rock Art in Western Australia

This is one of the pieces of rock art that will be removed to build a liquid natural gas factory

Today Woodside Petroleum says it will begin removing rock art from sites in the Dampier Archipelago of Western Australia as soon as possible.

The refusal by the federal Minister for the Environment, Ian Campbell to protect what the National Trust describes as "one of the world's largest collections of rock carvings, which date back tens of thousands of years." is an embarrassment for every Australian.

Not only are the petroglyphs of the Dampier region the intellectual property of the Yaburara, Ngarluma, Mardudunera and Yindjibarndi Aboriginal peoples, they are part of the cultural heritage of the human race.

There has not been any sort of comprehensive study or catalogue made of the vast storehouse of art in the region (estimated at over a million carvings). To quote from "Archaeology and rock art in the Dampier Archipelago: A report prepared for the National Trust of Australia (WA)" by Caroline Bird & Sylvia J. Hallam:

There has been no comprehensive study of the Dampier rock art. It is clear, however, from descriptive accounts, that the sheer quantity and variety of the art makes generalising about the whole area problematic. The few detailed studies of smaller areas all show the complexity of the art and its intimate relationship with other cultural remains.http://www.burrup.org.au/report

The failure by the both state and federal governments in Australia to protect the rock art of the Dampier is a breech of the UNESCO Declaration concerning the Intentional Destruction of Cultural Heritage:

"A State that intentionally destroys or intentionally fails to take appropriate measures to prohibit, prevent, stop, and punish any intentional destruction of cultural heritage of great importance for humanity, whether or not it is inscribed on a list maintained by UNESCO or another international organization, bears the responsibility for such destruction, to the extent provided for by international law."

The final bitter twist in this nightmare is that what Woodside wants to do is build a plant for a liquefied natural gas project. This fossil fuel producing plant has been described by THE FEDERAL MINISTER FOR THE ENVIRONMENT Senator Campbell as "the biggest natural gas project in Australian history". Should he not be describing it as a source of millions of tons of carbon being pumped into the atmosphere?

A petition against the removal of art from the Dampier Peninsular can be found here: http://www.petitiononline.com/dampier/petition.html
More information:
http://mc2.vicnet.net.au/home/dampier/web/index.html http://www.burrup.org.au/

Friday, December 22, 2006

Get ready to transcend......

Performance artist Ken Hamazaki's annual tea ceremony on the Burning Man playa, 2003

Get ready to transcend......
1. Guided Visualization by Jackie Gordon, musical accompaniment by the 17th street new age jammers
2. Henry Flynt, Central Park Transverse Vocal #1
3. Axlotl, Track 5
4. Caroline Myss - Anatomy of Spririt
5. La Monte Young, Four Brass
6. Miscellaneous Hypnosis
7. Popol Vuh, Aguirre III
8. Kraus, Track 6
9. Ruth White, Hanged Man
10. Richard Pinhas, Indicatif Radio
11. Harry Flynt, Raga Electric

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Happy Christmas

Happy Christmas!

Monday, December 18, 2006

The Baby Scale of Media Interactivity

Subject infant pictured with his brother's games computer (who also finds it an extremely seductive medium)

I've worked out a new measure for the interactivity of media. It is called the Baby Scale: How one adult can interact with a particular media form whilst being responsible for an infant. I have noticed that it is quite easy to watch television while caring for a baby; the infant does not pay attention to the media, but at the same time does not interfere with the media. Television is therefore a passive medium. Related to television but of a different scale is the DVD/VHS player, this is of moderate interest for the infant who enjoys the fact that it has a remote control that has an LED on it (television remote does not) and small objects can be inserted into the device when dad is distracted watching the film being played. The DVD/VHS is therefore a moderately interactive medium. In the case of the computer it is not possible to operate for an adult if there is a mobile infant with an opposing thumb in the room. I suspect that the modem we lost last week was a victim of the infant's curiosity. We have lost several emails as infant is able to turn the computer off if he is fast enough (and boy is he quick). The computer is therefore a highly interactive medium.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Dialogic Reality (Indeterminacy)

Remix: Movements relative to discourse. These not so solid arrangements hold brief in the stream. We remix along the crystalline fissures which run with representation and simulation; signs, icons, symbols, images, references and the Real. The Author constructs the space and the Reader enters in to it. We take it on. Such compositions (compos (Lt.), having mastery of) are all around us; overlapping, flowing into each other, banking up into the welts of culture, running away into the evaporating sands of time. By the powers of discourse the genres are gathered. Accompanying this we now have the tools to manage intricate taxonomies, systems of global scale, often in the form of dialogic networks. This has been one hue of the broad and more profound recognitions of complexity since, let’s say, 1927. These treasures we break open and adorn ourselves with.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Weaning Ben

This weekend we are weaning Benyamin. An intense experience it is. Last night we stayed up most of the night (I after returning from a very pleasant house warming and glogg fest - glogg is the mulled Christmas drink of Sweden - thanks to Patrik and Stephanie).
Weaning is a very significant stage in one's life. I thought a lot about it as Ben (pictured above in happier times) began to get a bit displeased with the change in routine. Weaning is the next step after birth on our way to being a individual, an identity, a self. There seems to be ceremonies in many cultures to mark the end of the weaning of a child and their welcoming into the community. I think we will have a feast when this is over.
For Silas, Ben's older brother, it took about three days of little sleep and constant attention before he started to move on. I hope Ben will be similar. of course Erika (mum) needs to come back as well, to reclaim her body in a way that has been a 24 hour milk bar for the last 14 months. In short; weaning is no fun.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Rothko Weekend

The last few days have been a bit different. On Friday night our ISDL modem went up in smoke...literally...so this weekend was offline (modem now updated thanks to the excellent people at T3). This is the first time in a while I (we) have been so for a long time. It was kind of cool, with the chance to clean up the hard drive and spend more time reading (XXXXX is so good, will review it soon here). The next thing is that this blog has moved over to the Google server. We now have easy tagging and it seems to be very smooth, although the spellchecker is not working at the moment.
The other great thing recently came last week with a documentary on Mark Rothko, a painter whom I have admired for a long time but never realized how relevant he is to contempory discourse. This is really obvious for me in the chapel:

Rothko worked with assistants for three years on the chapel near the University of St. Thomas in Houston, Texas. He planned the installation for a total of six years. The documentary took the viewer into the chapel, opened a year after Rothko's suicide in 1970, and into an immersive environment of shades and tones. According to the documentary Rothko stated that he wanted the viewer to bring the light with them. Although he stated in 1943 that "It is our function as artists to make the spectator see the world our way not his way." it seems by the late 1960's Rothko had embraced a gestalt theory of forms and colours that drove the viewer into themselves, to their basic sensations and emotions beyond thought. This is a post symbolic form of artistic communication, and one that reminded me a lot of John Cage. Cage's 1952 performance of 4,33 reversed the performer-spectator relationship in a manner commonly found in digital media where the space it created (in this case at Woodstock New York) allows the spectator to fill it with their own noise. The Chapel and 4,33 both pass the pallet/microphone/page/screen to the viewer/listener/reader and ask what it is that brings them here? Who are they? What is it you feel?

Mark Rothko, Red, Orange, Tan and Purple. 1954 Oil on canvas

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Mods Machinima and Interactive Fiction

Tomorrow we will be running a short course in HUMlab for which I will be emerging from father leave to help lead. Its title is Mods Machinima and Interactive Fiction and I have been putting together some notes for the sessions tomorrow. Here they are, and if anyone is interested in coming along to HUMlab at 13:15, just turn up (its under the UB library...Umea university):

Moddar och Machinima och Interactive Fiction

Text and the Tools for Story: Digital Culture and its Implications.

Show video:
The Shining (remixed)

What is the difference here?
With digital texts and tools huge numbers of people are now able to peel back the skin of their favorite story or game and 'tinker under the hood' so to speak. We are able to use a game like Sims2 to make a movie calling on practices from animation, gaming, film and theatre. This combines both modding:

"Mod or modification is a term generally applied to computer games, especially first-person shooters and real-time strategy games. Mods are made by the general public, and can be entirely new games in themselves. They can include new items, weapons, characters, enemies, models, modes, textures, levels, story lines and game modes. They also usually take place in unique locations. They can be single-player or multiplayer. Mods that add new content to the underlying game are often called partial conversions, while mods that create an entirely new game are called total conversions." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mod_%28computer_gaming%29)

With remix or mashups:

"Mashup is originally a Jamaican term used to describe breaking something. Later it became used to describe an event (usually dancehall reggae) that has been done so well that it has been taken to another level. The term has been used in hip-hop especially in cities such as New York that has a high Jamaican population.
Mashup can mean:
Mashup (music), a musical genre of songs that consist entirely of parts of other songs
Mashup (web application hybrid), a website or web application that combines content from more than one source
Mashup (video), a video that is edited from more than one source to appear as one."


This is not always legal and like podcasting, P2P file sharing, and various remix cultures there has been some copyright issues around Machinima. But most games companies are happy to allow Machinima to be made using their products as it promotes them. However the music industry is not so happy about their music being used without license in machinima films.


The concept of Interactive Fiction is most often associated with Infocom style text adventures and later user driven forms of digital story telling. I understand the interactive part of these stories but their design lends more to the fixed elements of "narrative architecture" to use Henry Jenkins phrase, than the more open interactivity of modding and machinima story making. With modding and machinima we are altering, manipulating, but I suppose equally acknowledging, the narrative architecture of the raw materials of story; the game engines, the audio tacks, the human voice etc. How much more interactive can a story get than making it yourself. Combined with the interactive mechanics of machinima is its place in fan cultures. Through machinima fans can act out the stories from their favorite games and modify them as they do it. In this way the story becomes a part of life:

Sunday, December 03, 2006

The Prime Directive

I celebrate the arrival of a new digital piece by Swedish sound and word artist Johannes Helden. The digital Lit. scene is building in the Scandinavian countries, with the recent launch (last week) of a new and very swish ELINOR site and now Helden's sumptuous The Prime Directive which is published online in both English and Swedish (on a Danish website). The boarders know no boundaries.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Mods och Machinima and Interactive Fiction

Male Restroom Etiquette by Overman at Zarathustra Studios won the 2006 Machinima Award for best writing presented by the Museum of the Moving Image in New York on November 5 and 6. It is a clever parody in the style of 1950's sex education films, which discusses how men should behave in public toilets if "the fabric of civilization is to be maintained". It was made using a Sims2 game engine and - oh I'm sorry, maybe you don't know what Machinima is, well in that case you should come along to a short course next Thursday from 13:15-16:00 in HUMlab where Machinima will be discussed, viewed, theorised and even created (a very short segment anyway). The course is titled Mods och Machinima and Interactive Fiction and we will be looking at how tweaking and changing of such digital objects as computer games can result in stories emerging. While interactive fiction is a huge area, in this course we will be pinning it down with the concept of modding; "the act of modifying a piece of hardware or software to perform a function not intended by someone with legal rights concerning that modification" (Wikipedia). Perhaps there is no more "interactive" a fiction than that which is a product of modding, as the fiction is created through a regime of complete interaction with the materials used; code, images, sounds, visuals and even lighting and Point of View. Yours truly, Jim Barrett and Stefan Blomberg will be leading the course in a delightful mixture of Swedish and English.
If you would like to sign up for this course write to: anmal@humlab.umu.se
More information on HUMlab short course can be found HERE (In Swedish).

Thursday, November 30, 2006

A Dream of Neverland

As I stumbled yesterday around one of my two local grocery providers I noticed that they now play the radio quite loud in the shopping space. As I tuned into what was being played the words of the song stuck me:

Oh I wish I was a punk rocker with flowers in my hair
In 77 and 69 revolution was in the air
I was born too late into a world that doesn't care
Oh I wish I was a punk rocker with flowers in my hair

I listened while watching the many young shoppers milling around me buying their dinner. I should note here that I live in the student area of our town, the suburb right next to the university and as a result I share my space with lots of students. Where we all buy our food is a central shopping plaza, the reading of which deserves a few words before I return to the dreams of 77 and 69.

There are two grocery shops in the plaza, one a cooperative (well the remains of one, when I speak to Swedes they all say..ahhh Konsum it was great in the 1970's), the other is a multinational company (ICA) that has surpassed sales of the co op long ago. The atmosphere in each of the these shops is very different. In Konsum there are many ecological products, prices are a little higher in many areas, the idles are not so stacked (things are often not available), there is no music being played, when they have a demonstrator on site it is usually for something like bread or a type of new soy product. In recent years Konsum has been fighting a loosing battle with the providers of cheaper imported products. We get bonus points, vouchers and bonus cheques home in the mail from our membership in the co op.
ICA is flash; it is crowded with young students buying cheaper food that is usually in a packet, they have a good selection of vegetarian foods but none of it is fresh, they have a good deli, prices are often 25% cheaper than Konsum. I shop at ICA when I am broke or when we are looking for dessert or a packet of dairy free muffins. The isles are stacked high and thick in ICA and they are not so wide between the shelves.

Back to 77 and 69.....The song I Wish I Was A Punk Rocker (With Flowers In My Hair) really irritates me but it is nonetheless interesting. Why it is interesting, the lyrics seem to be a sort of cutup from the late 40 years of cultures of dissent (that quickly became fashions), focusing mainly around the "Hippies" and the "Punks". This fits well with what Stuart Moulthrop described as "molecular culture" (After Levy 1997): "a shift from narrative to ludic engagement with texts and from interpretation to configuration as a dominant approach to information systems" (S. Mouthrop "From Work to Play: Molecular Culture in the Time of Deadly Games" 2004). I would add to the ludic classification; remix, cutup, mashup, and detourement. Whilst 'ludic' is a useful way to describe a textual practice, it does not in itself aid in the analysis of the results of the practice. When one actually looks at the lyrics of I Wish I Was A Punk Rocker (With Flowers In My Hair) they make little sense but Sandi Thom the singer of the song has such a powerful voice that she could be singing about the prices for spam ham and lunch sausage and it would sound alright.

The next reason why "Punk Rocker Flowers" is interesting is its reference to the P2P file sharing dilemma and general digital media from the perspective of the majors:

When record shops were still on top
And vinyl was all that they stocked
And the super info highway was still drifting out in space

Now this is interesting because back in April Sandi had burst forth from her basement where she had been sending a webcast of herself to sign a deal with RCA. So the "info highway" has been, up till now has been going very much in Sandi's direction.

So to conclude, if you really want to be a 'punk rocker with flowers in your hair' and join the people who do care it is going on all around you. First think about what it is you eat, where you shop and what media you take in. Then get active. Here is an example of activity, Squatting, the occupation of unused space for creative purposes: HOW TO SQUAT. Here is more:


"I was born too late to a world that doesn't care
Oh I wish I was a punk rocker with flowers in my hair"
Sandi Thom "I Wish I Was A Punk Rocker (With Flowers In My Hair)"

"The essence of your ignorance is the aesthetic of my anarchy"
Amsterdam Grafitti 1998

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Alone with the Text

While I have been spending a lot of time being a pappa to an energetic 14 month old boy over the last 3 months it is amazing how much reading I have managed to get done. Further to this is that the reading I have done has been my only communicative activity that moves outside my immediate surroundings. It happens that quite often i do not speak to another person other than my partner and children for two or three days at a time. The result of this equation; lots of reading and social isolation, has been a feeling that I am playing at being a humanist scholar in the old sense of the title. I am immersed in texts at the moment. To give you some idea here is my reading of current and recently completed books.

Yochai Benkler, "The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom"
Jon Dovey and Helen W. Kennedy, "Game Cultures: Computer Games as New Media"
Adalaide Morris and Thomas Swiss (Eds), “New Media Poetics Contexts, Technotexts, and Theories”
Lars Qvortrup (Ed), “Virtual Interaction in Virtual Inhabited Worlds”
Marie-Laure Ryan, "Narrative as Virtual Reality: Immersion and Interactivity in Literature and Electronic Media"
Marie-Laure Ryan "The Avatars of Story"

Of course if I was sitting in my cell alone with my piles of manuscripts I might even get more reading done...

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Sleep oh where art thou.........

Very tired due to a baby who has no concept of time or that both he and I and most of the people we know are DIURNAL FOR GOD'S SAKE!!! Sleep deprivation as a method of torture should be outlawed as cruel and inhuman by a special sitting of the United Nations, The World Bank, the Red Cross Crescent Sickle Star and McDonald's restaurants...I think I need to sleep.....Who said that?
Something I learnt at 4am while baby played happily away: 51st State is really a very very bad film. Goodnight.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Clones Make Life Weirder in Second Life

This is a demo of cloning using the copybot that has been news in Second Life. SL was also shut down yesterday by a program that created copies of gold rings everywhere. This may be the beginning of the end (as the old fool says in the western film). How can an economy develop (need of scarcity) when everything can be endlessly copied for free (no scarcity). If Linden Labs are going to keep their promise to open source the code for SL wouldn't this be a good time to do it?

Friday, November 17, 2006

Picture of What I Did Last Night

If you look closely you can see my hunched form under the scaffolding to the right of the bass drum.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

In the Spotlight Tonight

Tonight at 19:20 I will be playing with the north African musicians that are the band Marakech as part of the opening of Umea's annual Autumn Light Festival. The whole night looks like being a visual feast with light artists from all over Sweden setting up their work around the city. Many of the installations are being sponsored by major corporations, so an expensive spectacle is what it will be. I will be playing at youth culture center HamnMagasinet as part of the "i rampljuset" (In the Spotlight) portion of the festival.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Bruegel Winter and UBU

Pieter Bruegel (about 1525-69)Winter Landscape with a Bird Trap 1565 - Oil, 38 x 56 cm; Wiltshire, Wilton House

With the weather here lately being white and the trees bare I keep getting the sensation that I am inside a Bruegel landscape. I have been living full time in Europe since 2000 (this is my sixth winter) but I have never felt so "in" the picture before. Is this a sign that I am adjusting to the climate or that I am losing my mind? Maybe both.

During this time of half melted snow (each winter I have been in this landscape it seems to be getting warmer...but we know all about that don't we) and grey atmosphere there is no better way to enjoy you time than the incredible offerings on UBUWEB. Really it is one of the best things on the net; thousands of film, audio, text and image files in a comprehensive coverage of the last hundred years of the most interesting things in art and expression. And they even have streamed content now....Who needs to go outside?

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Look mom..I'm on (Gameplayer) TV

Stefan Blomberg and I were among several video game researchers working at Umea University who were interviewed by gameplayer.se a while back. The first installment of the interview is now online at Gameplayer TV (around the middle of the program). We give brief explanations of why we are interested in researching computer games and why we think it is important. Most of the segment is in Swedish but I speak in what could be called English.....

Thursday, November 09, 2006

The Planet

The Planet:
Swedish documentary series from 2006. Part 1 of 4. Global Change. Never before has a single species effected the planet that the way we do today. 96 percent of the earth glaciers are shrinking in size, over one billion people suffer from lack of clean water and total natural disasters have doubled in the last 40 years. 52 mins. Mostly in English but some Swedish. Streamed from here:

George Martin Remix His last Work?

Isn't interesting that at the age of 80 George Martin, the producer of most of the Beatles albums, has decided to remix some of their most famous songs and rerelease them. As he will turn 81 in a couple of months (January 3rd) and he is going deaf this will probably be his last work. I wonder if the remix album, titled "Love" and to be available on November 20, can be read as a sort of final comment on the nature of modern popular music. The Beatles took classic rock and roll and experimented with it, adding bohemian and suburban flavour to it. Now Martin has remixed 26 songs in collaboration with his son Giles. The tunes have taken on a stringed symphonic sound and the vocals have been foregrounded (judging by the four clips available online). The songs will no doubt go on evolving after Martin is gone. This is how it is with music, it goes on and on.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Nerves, Copyright and the Web 2.0 Thing

It seems that some people are getting nervous about the "Web 2.0" thing:

"The dust is still settling after Google, a company that didn't exist nine years ago, spent $1.6-billion (U.S.) to buy YouTube, a company that didn't exist three years ago. I'm not a numbers guy, and yet even the casual observer can't help but notice that 1.6 billion is, in fact, a very large number, especially for a company that's been around for a very small number of years......Indeed, the YouTube deal has people chattering about whether we're entering a second great Internet bubble. Hopes are high that anyone with a half-baked idea can score some venture capital, entice a couple of million bored surfers to log in, become the flavour of the month, and hope that some media conglomerate suffering a bout of new-media insecurity will come knocking before the whole thing collapses." (Globe and Mail)

The author, Ivor Tossell, goes on to critique the Web 2.0 thing (I have begin to really dislike the title) as having "spawned an entirely entertaining cult of conformity". Strange, but I suppose if you are only paying attention to what makes the newspapers then yea it could look that way. Even Time magazine has done an article on "Web 2.0" and it was very grim. Time's advice was "AMASS AN AUDIENCE" if you want to make money on the Web 2.0 bandwagon. But if you do AMASS AN AUDIENCE....what makes it any different from the millions of websites (including Time) being watched already. Guys (and there seems to be so many men in this discussion) it is no longer about eyeballs....it is about C-R-E-A-T-I-V-I-T-Y. "We are not seats or eyeballs or end users or consumers. We are human beings and our reach exceeds your grasp. Deal with it." (Cluetrain Manifesto 1999)

Back to the bucks. I was also stunned by the price Google paid for YouTube, but what if they paid that price in order to enter into a more forceful dialogue around copyright law with the various bodies trying to prevent sharing of content on the internet (Patents Office, MPAA, IFPI and so on). Sharing of content is the lifeblood of Google; both as a search engine, and with their various archival services (Google Books, Google Scholar and so on). The only chance Google has at surviving the tsunami of IP litigation that could descend on them is to get very big very fast. Adding an extra million users to their database makes sense if you think about it as an attempt to increase the "critical mass" of the organization as a controller of market demongraphics. When he was asked why Google brought YouTube Eric Schmidt, the Google CEO, replied "Because we liked them." SURE. They need them.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Video the Vote 2006

In 2004 I had the pleasure of spending time with Howard Rheingold, as a participant in a workshop in HUMlab, at a seminar he gave and privately at a dinner and general fun evening (a very hot sauna too). He inspired me with his take on mobile technologies and democratic process giving examples from all over the world and the internet. Today I suspect Howard is watching the midterm elections in the USA with interest. Something that could be a massive grassroots movement is Video the Vote 2006:

"In 2000 and 2004, problems plagued the polls in different parts of the country: long lines, eligible voters turned away, voter intimidation, misallocation and malfunctioning of voting equipment. They were underreported on Election Day. Days and weeks later, a more complete picture of voter disenfranchisement emergedÂ?but it was too late. The elections were over and the media had moved on. Starting this election, citizen journalists, people like you and me will document problems as they occur. We'll play them online, spread word through blogs and partner websites, doing our part to make sure the full story of our elections is told."

The results of this massive media experiment in democratic process will be online in a couple of days. This should be interesting. A video promo is HERE.

Sunday, November 05, 2006


Worldchanging: A User's Guide for the 21st Century contains 600 pages of tools, models and ideas for building a better future. There are short features on a thousand cool ideas: slow food, urban farming, hydrogen cars, messenger bags made from recycled truck tarps, pop-apart cell phones, and plywood made from bamboo. There are also how-to guides teaching us how to etch our own circuit board, or organize a smart mob.

From the website:
From consumer consciousness to a new vision for industry; non-toxic homes to refugee shelters; microfinance to effective philanthropy; socially responsible investing to starting a green business; citizen media to human rights; ecological economics to climate change, this is the most comprehensive, cutting-edge overview to date of what's possible in the near future -- if we decide to make it so.

Found through The Doors of Perception (subscribe; its free)

Review of Cauldron at Moonshake

A review of last Monday's playing with Jens, LO and Arne has appeared:

The next band on the stage was Cauldron, with members from Umea and Skelleftea, several familiar on the psychedelic music scene. Jens and LO play also in The Spacious Mind, Arne plays with the Holy River Family Band and Jim has released solo records and also participated on the records of others. They began with a long beautiful drone tune where Jim's didgeridoo together with Jens keyboard create a base structure, over this improvised Arne on saz and LO complemented on 12 string guitar. The beginning is extremely atmospheric and beautiful, but when after approx 12-15 minutes they slide over to the next tune and Arne changes to electric guitar and Jim to hand drum, I am beginning to feel it is becoming a little tedious. Above all I am not especially elated by guitar solo and here, while indeed virtuoso guitar playing, after getting close to 30 minutes of 1970's flavored impromptu guitar solo I begin to feel myself gorged.

Mmmmm..ouch...but not too bad. The original in Swedish, with reviews of Cellsam X (Brilliant) and Larkin Grimm (Astounding) can be found at The Culture Newspaper by Krister Mörtsell. I hope to post the mp3 of the Cauldron jam soon.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Postdoctoral Positions at HUMlab

Four postdoctoral positions in digital humanities are available at HUMlab, Umeå University, Sweden from January 1, 2007 (the actual start date may be later). The postdoctoral fellowships are for one year with a possible extension of one year. Applicants will be expected to have a Ph.D. in a humanities discipline and a specialty in any of these four research areas: participatory media, digital cultural heritage, digital art, and electronic literature. In exceptional cases, other areas and backgrounds can be of interest as well.
Deatils Here: http://blog.humlab.umu.se/?page_id=374

Wednesday, November 01, 2006



November on -empyre- looks great

November 2006 on -empyre- soft-skinned space:


Please join Hamed Taheri (DE), Johannes Birringer (UK), Michelle
(UK), Maria Moreira (BR), and Miguel Leal (PT).

subscribe at http://www.subtle.net/empyre

Seventy years ago, Walter Benjamin wrote his insightful essay on the impact of technical reproducibility of art on the way we perceive, receive and understand the concept of art in itself. Few articles have had such a lasting impact on debates about the relations among technology, art works, perception and culture as Benjamin's

Trying to take advantage of some of Benjamin's insights, but assuming we are now under a radically distinct social and cultural landscape, -empyre- welcomes some guests' insights on "the work of art in the age of a noiseless world", and the alternatives we may have for the work of art as a practice of perceptual guerrila.

If we assume that technologies are - even if for war purposes, as most of the digital apparatuses have been -, developed taking certain notions of a "better life" as its goals, they carry with them a certain utopia, related to the knowledge matrix and values from which they emerge: they intend to help to build such a world. We ask if there is - and if so, what it is - the utopia embedded on digital informational technology. The cybernetic paradigm aims a world of perfect informational flux - that is, a world without noise. We are faced with the puzzling paradox that, in such a context, even a significant field of art-works and art-activism developed as "social noise" are forced, in order to circulate through digital networks, to formalize themselves in noiseless terms - those demanded by digital apparatus.

Please join our guests for conversation on "the work of art in the age of a noiseles world" at http://www.subtle.net/empyre

Monday, October 30, 2006

YouTube Future?

Will this be the future for Youtube?

"A 12 year old girl uploads a video of herself lip syncing the latest Shakira pop song onto YouTube and is served with a copyright infringement notice. Has she breached copyright law? Has she infringed moral rights or performers’ rights? Is she entitled to rely upon the defence of fair dealing? Can YouTube be held liable for authorising copyright infringement? And on what terms may her video be reused? The popularity of online video sharing websites has grown enormously over the past year, with the most famous of these YouTube now ranked as the 10th most popular website on the internet with over a 100 million videos viewed every day. However, the copyright and other related issues surrounding these video sharing websites – in particular the content which is uploaded to them – remain less clear. This article will provide an overview of key copyright law issues facing online video sharing websites, such as YouTube from an Australian perspective."
O'Brien, Damien and Fitzgerald, Brian (2006) Digital copyright law in a YouTube world .

Friday, October 27, 2006

The Electronic Literature Collection (Christmas comes early)

College Park, Maryland, October 26, 2006 — The Electronic Literature Organization today released the Electronic Literature Collection, Volume One. The Collection, edited by N. Katherine Hayles, Nick Montfort, Scott Rettberg, and Stephanie Strickland, is an anthology of 60 eclectic works of electronic literature, published simultaneously on CD-ROM and on the web at collection.eliterature.org. Another compelling aspect of the project is that it is being published by the Electronic Literature Organization under a Creative Commons License (Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5), so readers are free to copy and share any of the works included, or for instance to install the collection on every computer in a school’s computer lab, without paying any licensing fees. The Collection will be free for individuals.

The 60 works included in the Electronic Literature Collection present a broad overview of the field of electronic literature, including selected works in new media forms such as hypertext fiction, kinetic poetry, generative and combinatory forms, network writing, codework, 3D, and narrative animations. Contributors include authors and artists from the USA, Canada, UK, France, Germany, and Australia. Each work is framed with brief editorial and author descriptions, and tagged with descriptive keywords. The CD-ROM of the Collection runs on both Macintosh and Windows platforms and is published in a case appropriate for library processing, marking, and distribution. Free copies of the CD-ROM can be requested from The Electronic Literature Organization.

The Collection will also be included with N. Katherine Hayles’ forthcoming book, Electronic Literature: Teaching, Interpreting, Playing (Notre Dame University Press, 2007).

Thursday, October 26, 2006

The Pedagogy of Civic Participation

The NMC campus in SecondLife has just finished hosting a 12 day Impact of Digital Media, a series of seminars and lectures on "the impact of digital media on all aspects of our daily lives". For those of us who missed it there is a small consulation in the form of a podcast download of the presentation given by Howard Rhiengold on the final night; "The Pedagogy of Civic Participation". NCM is my next destination in SL.

Music with Expansion

Next Monday I will be joining Cauldron for some public improvised soundscapes. This is enough to draw anyone out into the chilly October night of Umea BUT WAIT THERE'S MORE! Larkin Grimm will be singing her songs all the way from the USA and Cellsam X are joining us from Stockholm....Come on down!

LARKIN GRIMM (Providence, US)
CAULDRON (Umeå/Skellefteå)
CELLSAM X (Stockholm)

Måndag 30 Oktober
Café Escape, Storgatan 62B Umea
60 kr. Drug Free
Preshop: Burmans Music.
Info: http://moonshake.popmanifest.net
moonshake@popmanifest.net, 073-7388819
Arr: KF Moonshake i samarbete med KF Kretsen

Monday, October 23, 2006

Chat Live with Jason Nelson

Jason Nelson, author of Dreamaphage (one of my thesis corpus texts) and many other high points of digital literature will be live online tomorrow night (CET). Jason stated in a email list in August this year:

"my site secrettechnology.com and particularly three of my artworks, have had over 2.2 million hits in the past few months."

Anyone interested in what is going on in digital Lit/art/reality should check this out. Here are the details:

Leonardo Electronic Almanac Discussion (LEAD): Vol 14 No 5_

:: Live chat with digital artist and cyberpoet Jason Nelson, discussing
fictobiography, responsive poetry, and other topics.
:: Chat date: Tuesday, October 24.
:: 10 am West Coast US / 1 pm East Coast USA / 7 pm Paris FR / 3 am
Melbourne AU
:: LEAD is an open forum around the New Media Poetics special issue of
Leonardo Electronic Almanac.

Chat instructions are here:
PLEASE NOTE: The instructions are intended to apply to all jabber chat clients, but there may be some variation for individual clients. For example, some clients may require the chat room server "conference.jabber.org" and others clients only "jabber.org." Also, please refer to the link for a complete schedule of upcoming chats and for instructions on joining chats.


Artist Biography

With work recently appearing in Singapore at the Asian Civilizations
Museum, St. Petersburg Florida, UCLA, Hermeneia from Barcelona, Spain,
Vancouver Washington, around Australia, and other worldly parts, Jason
Nelson is always charmed by how rarely he travels beyond the distance
provided by a tank of gas. Being a Digital Writing Lecturer at Griffith
University in the Gold Coast of Australia, he deeply misses the snows of
the Oklahoma plains, so miss the snows. Come explore his creatures at:
http://secrettechnology.com or http://heliozoa.com

Foundations of American Cyber-Cultures

The podcasts for the Berkeley course Foundations of American Cyber-Cultures currently being taught by Professor Greg Niemeyer are available online for all. I have had them on my drive for a while but today I am having a blogging marathon (notice the plethora of entries), reading tons of backlogged email and listening to podcasts that I have not had time to get to. So the podcasts seem alright, although I am not sure about Niemeyer's reliance on the distinction between Virtual and Real. Those fined for downloading are feeling the intersecting pinch between the two points of view. A central theme in Niemeyer's talk is embodiment and therefore touches on many areas of cyber identity. His discussion on race and identity is a shocking situation ("I am white and to be the only white in a room I couldn't act as I wanted to....and suddenly they noticed") for the non-Americans in the (virtual) audience. More downloads for the course (notes and texts) are available HERE. Niemeyer touches on points made by T.L. Taylor in the seminar Reconsidering Emergence (Mp3 also) in HUMlab recently.

The Artist and the Book in Japan

Kitagawa Utamaro (1753-1806.) Shiohi no tsuto (Gifts from the Ebb Tide). Woodblock print, mica and brass dust, 1789.

Currently on at the New York Public Library:

The Japanese literary tradition, dating from as early as the 8th century, is among the richest and most enduring of any country in the world, and ehon, or "picture books," although little known in the West are one of the glories of world art.

Ehon: The Artist and the Book in Japan will demonstrate the variety of visual languages used by artists over many historical periods from 764 to 2005. It will include approximately 200 books with printed illustrations, as well as related manuscripts, drawings, woodblock prints, and photographs. Drawn from the Library's collections, a wide range of works will be featured, including two examples of Empress Shôtoku's Million Prayer Towers (764-770), Utamaro's celebrated Shiohi no tsuto (Gifts of the Ebb Tide, also known as The Shell Book, 1789), and Hokusai's Fugaku Hyakkei (One Hundred Views of Mt. Fuji, 1834). The exhibition will also showcase more recent examples of Japanese book art, with books by some of the leading photographers of the 20th century, modernist books by artists like Koshiro Onchi, avant-garde works associated with early 20th-century movements such as MAVO, precursors of present-day anime, and works by internationally known contemporary artists like Hiroshi.
The website has two online electronic editions of texts:

Kitagawa Utamaro, Gifts of the Ebb Tide (The Shell Book) (Shiohi no tsuto) [Flash plug-in required]

Kamisaka Sekka, Flowers of a Hundred Worlds (Momoyogusa), volume 1 [Flash plug-in required]

The Moral Sociology of Filesharing

Continuing with the file sharing theme, tomorrow in HUMlab Simon Lingren will be giving a seminar on The Moral Sociology of Filesharing. This should be very interesting. For some background Simon's blog can be found HERE. The seminar is at 13:15 CRT and will be live video streamed from a link (opens only at around 13:15) HERE. There seems to be a chat server operating during the seminar for those of us who are telepresent.

Delaut.se Insurance for Pirates

A fund has been started for Pirate Insurance by a Swedish organization Delaut.se. The fund can pay fines incurred from legal cases against P2P file sharers. They give legal advice as well to anyone who is subjected to prosecution for file sharing for non-commercial purposes. Delaut ("Pass Around") has enough capital to pay the maximum insured amount of 250 000 crowns ($US 34 000) three times with funds collected from around 2500 members. According to the website:

"Delautrix HB is a Swedish fund which strives to give Swedish citizens the possibility to spread culture unhindered."

The Anti-pirate Bureau's John Henrik Gustav Pontén has passed the matter on to the Swedish Financial Supervisory Authority to see if anyone is breaking the law.


"There are no collaborators in my troop!"

This has been flying around the blog circuit for the last couple of days but having once been a scout myself (for a whole two weeks!!) I could not let it go. It is true that the MPAA has done a deal with the Los Angeles area Boy Scouts to construct a Copyright merit badge:

Los Angeles - The Motion Picture Association of America, Inc. (MPAA) today announced a new education program, in conjunction with the Los Angeles Area Boy Scouts of America, to help raise awareness about the value of copyrights among the over 52,000 young people involved in Boy Scout programs in the greater Los Angeles area. The curriculum is part of an ongoing effort to educate kids about copyright protection and change attitudes towards intellectual property theft.

In order to get on of the Respect Copyright patches one must (a) be a boy (or a convincing representation of one) and (b)take part in:

"creating a public service announcement that demonstrates the importance of copyright protection or visiting a movie studio to learn about the people, time and costs required to make a movie" and other activities

Thinking about the origin of the Scouting movement and the "cunning military deceptions instituted at Baden-Powell's behest as commander of the garrison at Mefeking.", going to a movie studio to learn about the economics of Hollywood seems to be a long way from the dusty trail and the bushcraft I remember as having something to do with the Scouts....Dob Dob Dob Dib Dib Dib.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

SoundLab Edition IV "memoryscapes" Launched

Finally, SoundLAB - Edition IV - "memoryscapes" is launched on Tuesday, 17 October 2006.

135 soundartists and more than 200 soundart pieces and a special curatorial contribution of soundart from Chile, curated by Rainer Krause (Chile form "memoryscapes", landscapes of collective memory manifested via sound and music.
The quantity of submitted works (double as much as selected) represented a specifc challenge in concern of creating online content. Another issue represents the non-visual status of sound and music and its representation for an audience via an interactive interface.

SoundLAB - Edition IV has further the priviledge to be included as the corporate extension of the media art project ://selfportrait -a show for Bethlehem - a show for Peace http://self.engad.org on occasion of the exhibition at OFFICYNA art space Szczecin/Poland duration: 20 October - 12 November - and therefore it was necessary to create "memoryscapes" differently than previous SoundLAB editions.

SoundLAB ist still in a re-structuration phase, but is now consisting of a text based low-tech blog and the high-tech streaming Flash based content. "memoryscapes" is a sonic environment consisting of 13 "m'scapes", each "m'scape" has a textual part which gives all information about the artists and the selected soundart works
and a streaming part, containing the soundart pieces.

Edition IV represents also another premiere as SoundLAB published SIP - SoundLAB Interview Project http://soundlab.newmediafest.org/blog/?page_id=41 on occasion of the launch, featuring the first 62 interviews of soundartists participating in SoundLAB Edition I-IV, they are--->
Sara Ayers (USA), Tautvydas Bajarkevicius (Lithuania)
Jim Barrett (Sweden), Becoming animal, Oren Ben Yosef, (Israel)
Chris Bors (USA), Donald Bousted, (UK)
braillebones (France), Mira Burt-Wintonick (Canada)
Martin John Callanan, (UK), Chelsea Cargill, (UK)
Bronwen Casson, (Ireland), Alison Chung-Yan, (Canada)
Catherine Clover, (UK), Luis Coronado, (Guatemala)
Jessica Curry, (UK), elicheinfunzione (Italy)
Ensamble Majamama (Chile), Claudio Fernandez, (Chile)
FLOW (UK), William Fowler Collins, (USA)
Jason Freeman (USA), Anna Friz (Canada)
Satoshi Fukushima, (Japan), Gintas K (Lithuania)
Matthew Giraudeau, (UK), Josh Goldman,(USA)
Scott Hall, (USA), Alex Hetherington, (UK)
Jeremy Hight, (USA), G.H. Hovagimyan,(USA)
David Kasdorf, (USA), Neil Kaczor (UK)
Mikhail Karikis (UK), 80juan80, - Kasari, Juan (Finland) -
Al Larsen (USA), Gregory Lasserre, (France)
Dario Lazzaretto, (Italy), Le Lavatrici Rosse (Italy)
Emily Lutzker, (USA), Wolfgang Peter Menzel, (Sweden)
Ailis Ni Riain (Ireland), Matthew Ostrowski (USA)
Mike McFerron (USA), Stefano Pasquini, (Italy)
Andrea Polli, (USA), PeterPrautzsch, (Germany)
Marco Puccini, (Italy), RijN (walter van rijn) (NL)
Neil Rose (UK), Grit Ruhland,(Germany)
Khaled Sabsabi, (Australia), Luz Maria Sanchez, (Mexico)
Debashis Sinha, (Canada), Pete Stollery, (UK)
Jouni Tauriainen, (Finland), Eldad Tsabari, (USA)
Jeff Thompson, (USA), u n c l e j i mn (UK)
tobias c. van Veen (Canada), Simon Whetham (UK)
Jake Whittaker, (UK)

SoundLAB - sonic art project environments

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Find Stone Circles

A website has begun that catalogues stone circles and other megalith sites in Sweden. There are a lot of them and so far there are 1.5 million objects at 560 000 sites on the archive. Contributions to the data base can be made by anyone until the end of the year. When you find the record for an object or a site it includes map location in eniro.se (listing for people, businesses and products) and in hitta.se (more general search) as well as Google earth, providing latitude and longitude co coordinates. The search motor on the site is not easy to negotiate (you have to know the RAA - National Heritage Board for Sweden - number for the site). Searching for a name does not seem to be enough.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Introducing Didge Burroughs

This is Didge Burroughs, my avatar self in Second Life. I am happy to be back in a virtual world after a long absence (20 Months). Perhaps it was the trauma of the Death of Atmosphere that precipitated a long hiatus. I begin my Second Life with research on ritual and narrative in the game world. This is for the paper i mentioned in an earlier post, Narratives of Participation and Space: Pilgrimage, Aboriginal, Digital Media (shortened slightly).

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Laugh until I Cried

It is not often that I laugh until tears roll down my face. This man does that to me.

World Didgeridoo Vibes Vol.1

The compilation World Didgeridoo Vibes Volume 1 can now be download free of charge from the Internet Archive at this address http://www.archive.org/details/World_Didgeridoo_Vibes_Vol1
I have one track on the compilation under the name Nada Baba.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Networks Outlaws Articles Didgeridoos

Just for the record; what's going on?
Quite a lot. I am REALLY enjoying The Wealth of Networks:How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom by Yochai Benkler. This book is a very detailed examination of how voluntary networks function in the production of value. Pre-digital examples are given but it is under the regimes of the digital (Internet, Wireless, P2P, Commons, Free Software, EFF, Wikipedia, Project Gutenberg, Google....I am only up to page 160 of 473).If you want a better idea of what is happening today with the so called information society economy read Benkler!
A podcast featuring Yochai Benkler (Professor of Law and Political Science at Yale University) can be downloaded HERE. Buy or borrow the book (libraries are cool)....you will be glad you did.
Other things; I am 1/3 the way through a long essay entitled Narratives of Participation and Space: Pilgrimage, Aboriginal Narrative Worlds, Digital Media for a Polish new media arts magazine. I have been listening to The Proposition soundtrack. A great (almost) new Australian/British film with the script written by Nick Cave. A great film as well, but not one for the faint of heart.
I as well planning a return to the world longest Review of Literature. Up until a week ago I was wading though the last 16 years of academic writing on digital textuality....my god there is a lot of it! I am up to 2001 and will resume when this magazine article is done (deadline 20th October).
I recently watched a lecture by danah boyd that is available online as a video download. This talk really put social networks and youth in perspective for me. A very lucid and detailed account of the field of knowledge. If anyone still doubts the intellectual depth of the subject area they should check this free bit of education out.
Finally, I was sent a digital copy of the didgeridoo compilation (via gmail) that I have got a spot on, World Didgeridoo Vibes Volume 1. It is a network project itself and I am waiting to hear if I can put it on the Internet Archive for general download. I should know what's what soon and will post it somewhere. I have not yet had a chance to listen to it but it is a very handsome cover:

If anyone wants a copy just mail me and I can send you a zipped file of the whole CD.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Afternoon and Evening Online Viewing

As I am somewhat outside the community of scholars while I am on parent leave I rely on the Net as a way of continuing contact with interesting things. Today I will be watching two online streams of seminars that I would really like to have attended. Well one is in Ghent so I probably would not have been there anyway.
First is Mathias Klang in HUMlab (I am not happy about missing this):

[28 September, kl. 15:00]
Disruptive technology: Effects of Technology Regulation on Democracy
Mathias Klang, Gothenborg University.
Social interaction is partly shaped by technology being used. Therefore technological innovation affects modes of social interaction. While gradual technological innovation is often assimilated, some changes can be more disruptive. This research examines the democratic impact of attempts to control disruptive technology through regulation. This is done by studying attempts to regulate the phenomena of online civil disobedience, viruses, spyware, online games, software standards and Internet censorship - in particular the affect of these regulatory attempts on the core democratic values of Participation, Communication, Integrity, Property, Access and Autonomy. By studying the attempts to regulate the disruptive effects of Internet technology and the consequences of these regulatory attempts on the IT-based participatory democracy this work shows that the regulation of technology is the regulation of democracy.

Live Stream:
(link only becomes active tomorrow at 15).

Then tonight at 9pm (CET) we have:

Lecture by Thomas Soetens and Kora Van den Bulcke at Homo Futuris. Sept. 27
Live stream available from 21:00 local time at:

Vooruit Kunstencentrum, Sint-Pietersnieuwstraat 23, 9000 Gent, Belgium

Sept. 27 at 21:00 - 22:00 Domzaal
Homo Futuris: the influence of science & technology on tomorrows life. Homo futuris
is a collaboration between Unesco and Vooruit Kunstencentrum. For more information
about Homo Futuris visit: www.vooruit.be
During this lecture we will present a walk through of IMPLANT and the Common
Grounds Network and discuss how these projects connect to "The Virtual as interface
to Self and Society".


Be thankful for the Net (and its still persisting freedoms)!!!!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Time and the Toddler

I relapse here as Digital Dad, on parent leave with Ben.
There seems to be different kinds of stress. The stress of being at home with a 1 year old baby who has a cold (second one this month) is physical but not really mental. I am starting to get a system going with being at home with Ben and it is becoming smoother and enjoyable. However, sleep is a thing of the past (for me anyway). It I want to have any sort of focus or activity outside being with Ben I have to do it at night or when he sleeps during the day. This is OK and gives me a window of around 5 or 6 hours a day to read or write (on a good day). Compared to full time PhD study the stress of being a full time parent is very different. When I am with Ben it is all happening NOW and I don't have to think so much beyond the hour or day which I am experiencing/dealing with. When studying my mind is not only in the moment, fully consumed (on a good day) with what I am reading, writing or discussing but I have to plan ahead with deadlines and time tables. Added to this is the need to be aware of other relevant research and texts on the subject which has been created over time. In the case of English Literature this can stretch back hundreds of years. With digital subjects it becomes the practice of keeping track of huge amounts of information flowing through email lists, new publications, online sources and seminars. The stress of being a PhD candidate really seems to go to the core of being who you are. It is not so much a job as a way of life. This is perhaps one commonality with being a parent at home, it is (hard) work but it is not really what I would call a job. Being a parent takes over your life (In most cases....I suppose there are parents who hold it at a distance for many reasons) and there is no real "quitting time" in the sense of coming back tomorrow and finishing up then ("No..I'll feed you tomorrow when I can schedule it with your bath"). However, the mind does not have to engage in the same way as with university work. I don't have to back up what I do with Ben with a reading list or provide examples from parallel sources. It is rather just done and then we move on to the next thing. Very little stays still in the world of a 1 year old. At university it sometimes feels like nothing moves (including me).
This has been some reflections on university and baby; "one of these things is not like the other one".......

Monday, September 25, 2006

Orstralia Orstralia

Being Australian outside Australia is very different from living in the land of my birth. In the days following the death of Steve Irwin I had several people offer their condolences to me regarding the demise of the TV star. Some of these people I did not even know, they offered their sympathy once they learned where I came from. One thing that the death of Irwin has provoked is an interest in what has been going on in Australia since the last news story that brought questions and comments from those around me here in the way way north. That story was the Tampa fiasco in 2001 and I was no wiser than anyone else regarding what the hell was going on.
Now the word "Australia" is in the air again and articles seem to cropping up regarding the great brown land. Last Saturday the largest circulating daily newspaper in Sweden, Dagens Nyheter (Daily News) published a long account of what it described as historical revisionist in the historical account of Australia. The title of the article is "The struggle for No One's Land", a reference to the terra nullius classification applied by the colonial powers to the Australian continents as it was gradually annexed by Britain. I am quite familiar with this story, although some of the texts are new to me. I first heard Henry Reynolds speak in 1997 and have been following the utterances of Keith Windschuttle since they emerged in the popular sphere in the early 1990's. What constitutes genocide and what is historical evidence seems to be two of the prongs this distant front of "the culture wars".
Australian conservative Prime Minister John Howard (described by Windschuttle as a "cultural warrior") and his peers sit firmly against the "black armband" view of history which uses ugly words like invasion, genocide and struggle. The recently deceased Steve Irwin, although no political philosopher and probably very much the "nice bloke" of his TV personae, described John Howard as "the greatest leader in the entire world".
Howard spoke at Irwin's memorial service and millions mourn the loss of this unique man (Personally, I have sympathy for his kids; fathers should be more careful). But what does the spectacle of nature as created by the powerful presence of Irwin and the wafer thin paper trail deemed by Windschuttle to be what makes history have in connection. I would say the depth of the dialogue.

Thursday, September 21, 2006


Click on it and enter a very strange world. The twilight zone of the mind.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

archeology news story, poetic critical text and the hypertext work

The oldest writing in the western hemisphere?

“For the Nahuatl-speaking Mexica (whom we have come to know as Aztec) the boundary of text and image was artificial. They wrote in highly pictographic ways, providing specifics of when, where, who in text, and specifics of action through images. Similarly in hypermedia as I have said elsewhere the image again takes its place within the system of text, the word again takes its place within the universe of the visible and the sensual.”
Michael Joyce, Othermindedness: The Emergence of Network Culture (Ann Arbour: University of Michigan Press, 2000) 124.

Convergence encountered today of archeology news story, poetic critical text and the hypertext work Sister Stories.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Earthdance 2006

This Saturday/Sunday I will be taking part in the first Earthdance gathering in Sweden. It is the 10th year the international gathering has been held. It is a creative convergence of music, dance and poetry that will be sent out as a webcast from HERE.

The Swedish earthdance features:

Ove Svensson, Flute Player and Healer, Council of the Elders
Jim Barrett, Didgeridoo player, Australian Living in Umea
Patrik From, Artist from Ersboda
Annika Bjurholm, Journalist, writer and drummer from Anumark
Peter Karlsson, Music therapist and taxi driver, drummer from Umea
Oscar Loncochino, Song, Flute, Earthdance arranger, from Ersboda

We will be gathering at 23:30 in the field with the open dance floor between west and east Ersboda. We will be lighting a large fire at 24:00 and then it will be music and song until 01:00. Please come and join us.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Sweden is Best in Sweden

Tonight in Umea Lars Cuzner will be setting up the artistic zone "Sweden is Best in Sweden". Lars asks important questions and challenges realities with his multimedia role playing installation works.
The opening is tonight at Galleri Verkligheten Pilgatan 16 Umea.
Lars has exhibited a viral space (common cold in a oxygen tent) so expect interesting stuff tonight. Doors open 19:00. Perception cleansed by 22:00.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Reading and the Poetics of the Link

Tomorrow I will be guest teaching in HUMlab for a seminar on Electronic Literature. The reason I am a guest is because I am officially on parent leave, but with the Literature Department holding a 3 hour seminar on Electronic Lit., centred upon Michael Joyce's Afternoon; A Story, I really wanted to come in and participate.
What I am planning on doing is discussing two points that are apparent in Afternoon and that are still relevant all these years later to hypertext and other forms of digital literature; The Reader and The Link. So here is my lesson plan/notes for my hour or so on the spot tomorrow (I am sharing it with Patrik and will be using this entry in the talk):

Reading and the Poetics of the Link

"A link in hypertext is, from the reader's perspective, a whole new literary joy, and, from the writer's perspective, an aspect of form and craft to be used along with other stylistic and formal tools."
The Poetics of the Link by Jeff Parker (http://www.altx.com/ebr/ebr12/park/park.htm)

As Parker points out in his essay The Poetics of the Link, the hypertext link is not just "merely a connector, a glorified page to turn". So what is it??

I look to George Landow's recent Hypertext 3.0 for some classifications of hypertext links:

1. Lexia to Lexia Unidirectional
Direct link from one screen image to another without a return link. The return button on most web browsers makes this a difficult classification.
Lexia refers to a single node of text in a digital artefact, the boundaries of which may be at times difficult to determine but generally rest upon a single observable visual field. The term has been widely adopted in the digital theory context from Roland Barthes' Image Music Text (1977): "lexical unit or lexia (of the same image)" Roland Barthes. "Rhetoric of the Image" Image Music Text Trans. Stephen Heath (New York, Hill and Wang, 1977) 46.

2. Lexia to Lexia Bidirectional
Because of the return function on web browsers this is usually the case with World Wide Web (W3) links. Afternoon has: One L) mouse click foward two clicks back, the History button that opens a list of lexia visited and permits the return to each, the Return button (as is the case with web browsers) and the Bookmarks funtion that allows a point to be marked for latter reference.

3. String (word or phrase) to Lexia
This is the situation with Afternoon. Each linked word or phrase opens a new lexia to the one that contains the link. According to Landow (2006):
"Advantages: (1) Allows simple means of orientating readers; (2) permits longer lexias (3) encourages different kinds of annotation and linking." George Landow Hypertext 3.0: Critical Theory and New Media in an Era of Globalization(Baltimore: John Hopkins UP, 2006)12-14.

Landow discusses other types of linking strategies but these three are a good enough start. So the link moves the reader through the text. In doing this it creates:
1. An illusion of movement (and as a consequence a sense of space and place) as the text unfolds with an authored/designed intention. This "movement" is guided by the postioning and content of links.
2. It provides a rhythm for navigating the text. Uniform links in easy to find spots allows for a uniform reading pace. Hidden and trick links makes things more "playful".
3. A link can create a phrase which begins with the clickable point (the first sign in the phrase) and then continues over into the opened link. One example is "Do you want to hear about it?" of the opening lexia of Afternoon. Each of the words of the "Do you want to" of the phrase "Do you want to hear about it?" are linked to the following lexia; "I want to say I may have seen my son die this morning." The word "hear" is linked to a lexia of the story of Lolly and Nausicaa. The final "about it?" returns us to "I want to say I may have seen my son die this morning." This is a narrative arrangement constucted in the authoring of the text. Katherine Hayles writes that

"In Michael Joyce's hypertext novel Afternoon, all the textual nodes have equal claim to being "primary". In a narrative such as this, there is no predetermined plot. Rather, there are potential pathways that are actualized when a user traverses them. The actual narrative comes into existence (emerges globally) in conjunction with a specific reading." N. Katherine Hayles, "Artificial Life and Literary Culture" in Cyberspace Textuality: Computer Technology and Literary Theory, Marie-Laure Ryan (Ed) (Bloomingdale: Indiana UP. 1999) 213.

In applying Hayles' horizontal model of the text the link becomes the structuring principle of the narrative. It allows the narrative to be built by providing the illusion of movement through the text. There is only a beginning when the reader engages with the text and the end when the reader leaves the physical text. In between are the paths of the links, the narrative spaces opened with each click.

Now I would like to discuss something else unique to such electronic literature as Afternoon, the End User Licence Agreement (EULA). This is the EULA for Afternoon, by today's standards it is very simple but the manner of address and rules are basically the same:


Eastgate Systems, Inc., grants you a non-exclusive license to use this copy of the program on the following terms:

I) Use the program on any ONE computer.


I) Allow the program or any other document created by the installer into the possession or use of any other individual or organization, without prior express written consent of Eastgate Systems, Inc.;
II) Modify, translate, reverse engineer, decompile, disassemble, create derivative works based upon, or copy the program or the accompanying documentation;
III) remove any proprietary notices, labels, or marks on the program and accompanying documentation;
IV) use this program, or permit this program to be used, on more than one computer at any one time.

Non-compliance with any of the above restrictions will terminate this license.
This license is not a sale. Title and copyrights to the program and accompanying documentation and any copy remain with Eastgate Systems, Inc.
This agreement is the entire agreement. If any provision of this agreement is held invalid, the remainder of this agreement shall continue in full force and effect.

afternoon, a story_ copyright © 1987 by Michael Joyce. All Rights Reserved. Software copyright © 1992-2001 by Eastgate Systems, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


To install _afternoon, a story_ for Windows, follow the instructions given by this installer.

Installation creates a new program group named "afternoon", containing three items:

- _afternoon, a story_

- "Reading _afternoon, a story_" -- a brief manual on reading the hypertext. To best enjoy _afternoon_, please have a look at this manual.

- A free coupon for your next purchase of an Eastgate publication.

If you do not specify otherwise during instalLation, the "afternoon" program group is added to the HYPERTEXTS program group.

Installation places all the files it creates in a new directory named "AFTRNOON".

The manual and the coupon are in PDF format, for Adobe Acrobat Reader.

Microsoft®, Windows®, Windows 95®, Windows 98®, Windows 2000®, Windows me®, and Windows NT® are registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation. Apple is a registered service mark and Macintosh(tm) and Mac OS(tm) are trademarks of Apple Computer, Inc. Adobe(tm) and Acrobat(tm) are trademarks of Adobe Systems Incorporated.

Other product names mentioned in this document may be trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners. Product names are used for identification only, with no intent to infringe. Mention of third-party products is for informational purposes only and constitutes neither an endorsement nor a recommendation Eastgate Systems, Inc., assumes no responsibility with respect to the performance or use of these products.

In the early years of hypertext theory the catch cry was:

"Hypertext demands an active reader; it blurs the distinction between author and reader."
(Landow, Hypertext, 178-79, 184; Lanham, The Electronic Word, 6, 76; Bolter, Writing Space, 29, 117, 153-59.)

I am not so sure about this statement. What I think instead is that hypertext, and what has developed from it, has blurred what is a reader and an author, both in old and new media. The EULA is a document lending weight to the idea that authorial power is still asserted in the text, that the reader is guided in how she is expected to read, and what he is allowed to do with the text. Of course, acting against these expectations are the many deviant forces of digital media; the remixer, the hacker, the copyist, the parody and plagiarist. It is this sense that the distinction between author and reader may be considered blurred, but not to the point, thus far, where one threatens the other. The Law sees to that.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Banksy on Paris

British information artist Banksy has "replaced 500 copies of Paris Hilton's debut album in 48 different [42 according to Banksy] UK record stores with his own parodical remixes and cover art. Music tracks were given titles such as "Why am I Famous?", "What Have I Done?" and "What Am I For?" The cover art depicted Paris Hilton digitally altered to appear topless. Other pictures feature her with a dog's head replacing her own, and one of her stepping out of a luxury car, edited to include a group of homeless people, which included the caption 90% of success is just showing up." (from the Wikipedia)

According to the BBC:

No customers had complained or returned a doctored version, said a spokesman for HMV .

"It's not the type of behaviour you'd want to see happening very often," he said.

"I guess you can give an individual such as Banksy a little bit of leeway for his own particular brand of artistic engagement.

"Often people might have a view on something but feel they can't always express it, but it's down to the likes of Banksy to say often what people think about things.

"And it might be that there will be some people who agree with his views on the Paris Hilton album."

A spokesman for Virgin Megastores said staff were searching for affected CDs but it was proving hard to find them all.

"I have to take my hat off - it's a very good stunt," he added.

The images from the CD are on Sharl's Flickr page (Thanks Robert). Does any one have a copy of the CD they would like to share (they are selling on eBay for £800 each now)?????

The video of the action:

Don't Mess with Site Tracker

A word of warning to anyone who has made the huge lump of a site tracker button (see bottom of page) a little smaller:

You are violating our Terms and Conditions you agreed with when signing up.

NOTE: The report pages of the Free Tracker are indeed open to your site audience, only editing is password protected. Hiding the button, sizing down the button or removing the link is NOT allowed.

If you do not want a button on your site or if you do not want to have your report pages freely available to your site audience then please get the Non Public Tracker.

In order to restore access to your Free Tracker reports please correct the violation immediately at your My Account.

Until I can remember my password for the damn thing I cannot repair my transgression. I do not want to loose my site records....ouch!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Digital Bookends for Swedish Election Campaign

On the 17th September Sweden is going to the polls for local, province and national governments. It has been an interesting election campaign. One that did not really build up momentum (from my - foreigner - perspective) until the nation came back from summer holidays in August. But since then it has been at times frantic, that is in a relative sense.
Something that I have found very interesting are the 'digital bookends' that frame the election campaign:
On 31st May 2006 50 members of the Swedish National Criminal Police raided and confiscated the property of the Pirate Bay and the Pirate Bureau in Göteborg/Gothenberg. This made headlines in the Swedish press and seem to boost the popularity of the Pirate Party which is standing many candidates in the coming election. Last week, just over one week before the election, it emerged that members of the Swedish Folk Party Liberal had somehow gained access to the internal computer network of the ruling Social Democrat party. Over a period of months they had access to the information therein.
The place of these two events in history is yet to be established. They both concern rights of access to information. They both focus on intellectual property being equated with physical property. Issues of privacy are as well being contested. When the government attempted to close down the Pirate Bay they claimed right of access to the materials archived there. When the same governing party discovered that it's database was being accessed without their permission they reported the matter to the police (and the media). Property rights are being asserted in both cases.

Elections in Australia can verge on the hysterical at times. I remember attending the last rally staged by John Hewson in Brisbane for the 1993 Federal election and as he spoke in King George Square punches were being thrown and fights breaking out in the crowd between government and opposition supporters . Things are more peaceful in Sweden and much more technological.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006


I have had a track accepted for a compilation of didgeridoo music; WORLD DIDGERIDOO VIBES volume one

Harvard teaching law in Virtual World

"My project is the Berkman Center. It's my best shot at addressing the problems of the world. I think of it as a project for the world, for my country, for Harvard, for my community, my family and myself.

I am eon, d of c. I founded the Berkman Center to promote a cyber society built on principles of openness and sharing. I hold the Center to this vision. I feel its force. May the Force be with you."

So says Charles Nesson, Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. He and his computer scientist daughter Rebecca will be teaching a course entitled CyberOne: Law in the Court of Public Opinion beginning next week. The video above is a summary of the course which will be taught in Second Life, in a "virtual courtroom is situated in a community called Berkman Island, a nod to Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet & Society".

The course will as well use wikis, blogs, streamed inworld video, chat rooms, podcasts and forums. For those of us not doing a term at Harvard this Fall:

"All of our videos and lecture materials will be freely available to anyone with an Internet connection. We’ll also be broadcasting select video on Cambridge Community Television, for residents of Cambridge, Massachusetts."

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

The Days as they Go

So it is number 2 of daddy days (117 to go) and I thought I would write something. Two kids at home both with colds. It is not as bad as it sounds. Elder son is turning into a screen junky with TV and computer his preferred environment. His is currently obsessed by The Return to the Milkyway (Tillbaka till Vintergatan), a clever Swedish TV series about space adventure, love, danger and excitement (so he tells me). There is also a game of the show which came out in 2000. We have set up an old computer for him with Windows 98 and no internet where he plays old games and does not mind it taking 30 seconds to load a screen (I could not cope with it). The game at the moment is Tillbaka till Vintergatan.
Younger son sleeps a lot.
I have been reading Sonia Katyal's essay from the Washington U. Law Quarterly (Autumn 2006), "Semiotic Disobedience" which provokes much thought. Although I am not sure I agree with "the phenomenon of semiotic disobedience aims to create dialogue where there isn't one" (Katyal 2006: 12). Perhaps a better word would be "acknowledge" or "outline" as dialogue seems to be difficult to create after the fact. It must have always be present in order to be found. But maybe I have the wrong idea as I have only managed the first 15 pages of the text. It was online up until yesterday as a 75 page document but it has been taken down (Why??). There is a draft version HERE.
Finally some cool links of late:

ThoughtAudio.com is proud to present an audio classic line-up of MP3 downloads for your entertainment. Each title selection is part of a well-rounded, intelligent view of classic literature, history and philosophy. Segments of each title are easily downloadable and all of our audio books are free.

Global Text Project (Engaging many for the benefit of many more)
The goal is to create a free library of 1,000 electronic textbooks for students in the developing world. The library will cover the range of topics typically encountered in the first two years of a university's undergraduate programs. The global academic community and global corporations will be engaged in creating and sponsoring this library

Resonance 104.4 fm
Arts radio project broadcasting to the South Bank and Bankside in London. Run by the London Musicians Collective. The best radio station on the web. Includes listings, project and station information.

Totems without Taboos: The Exquisite Corpse
By Paul D. Miller aka Dj Spooky that Subliminal Kid
Database aesthetics, collaborative filtering, musical riddles, and beat sequence philosophy aren't exactly things that come to mind when you think of the concept of the "exquiste corpse." But if there's one thing at I want to you to think about when you read this anthology, its that collage based art - whether its sound, film, multimedia, or computer code, has become the basic frame of reference for most of the info generation. We live in a world of relentlessly expanding networks - cellular, wireless, fiber optic routed, you name it - but the basic fact is that the world is becoming more interconnected than ever before, and it's going to get deeper, weirder, and a lot more interesting than it currently is as I write this essay in NYC at the beginning of the 21st century.