Monday, December 31, 2007

Welcome to 2008

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Some Thoughts on a Law for IP Disclosure in Sweden

The present government of Sweden wants to introduce laws that will allow police to have the ability to identify and collect and store the IP numbers of Internet users. In an article in the political newspaper Riksdag & Departement the government:

vill underlätta för polisen att få del av de koder som kan identifiera internetanvändare. Även i spaningssyfte kan polisen komma att få del av uppgifterna.

(will make it easier for the police to obtain parts of the code that can identify Internet users. Within the proposal the police can obtain parts of that information.)

The purpose of the extra police power is reported a result of:

I takt med att brottslingar ökat sitt användande av internet och IP-telefoni har polisen ökat trycket på regeringen för att lättare kunna koppla en IPadress till en enskild användare.

(To keep pace with the rise in criminality that uses Internet and IP-telephone the police have increased pressure on the government to be able to more easily connect IP-addresses to an particular user.)

I have been thinking about this idea for a few days and I had a thought regarding the relativity of the proposal. What if it was public library loans that was the system that was needing increased security? Of course, it is the communication possibilities of the Internet that make it a source of concern for police, but to have the information consumption of an individual monitored is the result in both scenarios. Of course even in the United States, a nation at war on several fronts, even the idea of security/police forces monitoring library loans causes uproar (see the Mao Little Red Book Hoax). However, surveillance is a growth industry throughout the world:

The global production value of IP surveillance is expected to rocket from US$ 1.4 billion in 2006 to US$ 5.5 billion in 2010, exceeding that of analog CCTV surveillance. Moreover, the market demand for such IP surveillance products as network cameras, video surveillance software, video servers and NVRs (Network Video Recorders) will show good growth in the very near future. CompuTrade

The implications for the collection of IP traffic sourced to users are broad and numerous. How will diplomatic missions react to the idea that their embassies are being surveilled? And what of the future? The political boundaries between individual states and the European Union are becoming more and more transparent as each new resolution is passed. Who will be able to access police IP databases in the future? The worst case scenario is of course, totalitarianism. In the USA the security apparatus has long ago been identified as a potential tool for a dictator:

"That capability at any time could be turned around on the American people," he said in 1975, "and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything: telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn't matter. There would be no place to hide." New York Times

The proposal for a Swedish IP register with police access has been referred for consideration.

Holiday Media Continues

Continuing the holiday programming. Two more artifact sites that should be acknowledged widely:

Steal This Film II
(Its out and online at last)
Because waves of repression continue to come: lawsuits are still levied against innocent people; arrests are still made on flimsy pretexts, in order to terrify and confuse; harsh laws are still enacted against filesharing, taking their place in the gradual erosion of our privacy and the bolstering of the surveillance state. All of this is intended to destroy or delay inexorable changes in what it means to create and exchange our creations. If STEAL THIS FILM II proves at all useful in bringing new people into the leagues of those now prepared to think 'after intellectual property', think creatively about the future of distribution, production and creativity, we have achieved our main goal.

Publishing The Unpublishable
Edited by Kenneth Goldsmith

What constitutes an unpublishable work? It could be many things: too long, too experimental, too dull; too exciting; it could be a work of juvenilia or a style you've long since discarded; it could be a work that falls far outside the range of what you're best known for; it could be a guilty pleasure or it could simply be that the world judges it to be awful, but you think it's quite good. We've all got a folder full of things that would otherwise never see the light of day.

Invited authors were invited to ponder to that question. The works found here are their responses, ranging from an 1018-page manuscript (unpublishable due to its length) to a volume of romantic high school poems written by a now-respected innovative poet. You get the idea.

The web is a perfect place to test the limits of unpublishability. With no printing, design or distribution costs, we are free to explore that which would never have been feasible, economically and aesthetically. While this exercise began as an exploration and provocation, the resultant texts are unusually rich; what we once considered to be our trash may, after all, turn out to be our greatest treasure.

The series will conclude when the 100th manuscript is published

Friday, December 28, 2007

Friday Downstreams (Final for 2007)

United States Military bases 2001-2003

The last Friday of 2007 makes it necessary to post some online media picks for the week. I hope the last twelve months has been good for you dear reader. For me, well..its been a great year; I have watched my children grow, have learnt so much, have travelled (spent time in Stockholm, Hong Kong and Australia), this blog has tripled its readership, I have made progress on my PhD thesis, have met many interesting and kind people, have written quite a bit, recorded some music, and am generally happy.
I hope 2008 is the year that national governments start understanding that violence is no way to behave (although looking at the past 2008 years I am not holding my breath). And speaking of breath, "Its the climate stupid!". We are still waiting for decent winter snow here in northern Sweden and the local news reported last night that this December has been the warmest on record, with a daily average increase of between 5 and 6 degrees. Sounds ominous. Peace and Goodwill to all. On to the media:

Like television Only better
This is a site that seems to specialize in older films, music, cartoons and documentaries. If become a member you can download the media for free. I have found some gems; witness Beat Girl (1960) posted below. From the site:
LikeTelevision™ - The Broadband Media Network, is a recognized leader in delivering video applications over public (Internet) and private networks. In 1999, the company developed the IGS process, which creates high quality video files at very low data rates. To demonstrate our technologies, we created this web site, which contains thousands of video clips encoded using the IGS process. This site is an functional example of convergence, a melding of the Internet and Television mediums.
Recently, LikeTelevision™ has created several powerful software applications that integrate database technologies with digital video assets. LikeTelevision™'s Intelligent Video Access Library (IVAL), allows users to search and find specific video assets quickly and intuitively. The software can be used to catalog large video libraries for a wide range of applications including interactive education, training, medical research, customer support, and entertainment! Other LikeTelevision™ software applications include the award winning Video Birthday Calendar, Video Postcards, Targeted Demographic Ad Insertion and Dynamic Ad Casting.

VBS is an online broadcast network. We stream original content, free of charge and 24hours a day. We carry a mix of domestic and international news, pop and underground culture coverage, and the best music in the world. People have used words like eclectic, smart, funny, shocking, and revolutionary to describe VBS, but we kind of just snapped our fingers in their faces and went, “Whatever. Tell us something we don’t know.”
With Academy Award-nominated director Spike Jonze (Adaptation, Being John Malkovich) as our creative director, original content from a veritable United Nations of contributors, and bureaus in 20 countries, VBS has hit the planet in a manner not unlike a massive global plague. Streaming on VBS’s signature “in-room” widescreen and remote, content will be available all the time, on-demand.

My tip for VBS.TV is the Sublime Frequencies channel, dedicated to the creative output of The Sun City Girls. Who are they, you ask. Im glad you did:

Alan Bishop is the co-proprietor of Sublime Frequencies. He is also the man who, with his brother Rick, founded the band Sun City Girls back in 1982. Since then, they have put out the most consistently far-out, weird, ecstatic, and elusive music that our country has ever produced. With Sublime Frequencies, Bishop is steadily building a library of archival recordings that can stand next to venerable projects like the Smithsonian’s Folkways series and genuinely hold its own.

TV NETWORKS as collected & restored by IRA H. GALLEN
30 Years Saving TV & Film History. 20 Thousand 16mm & 35mm Film PRINTS & Video Formats. 2 114 vidoes online.

Free Albums Galore
Welcome to Free Albums Galore, a full-album “mp3 blog” for listeners of eclectic music. What distinguishes Free Albums Galore from other mp3 blogs?

1. I post only complete albums, not individual or scattered tracks.
2. I post only albums with permanent off-site hosting, unlike other album blogs like Hepcatwilly.
3. I post only legally free albums, instead of blindly hoping copyright owners won’t mind me distributing their music.
4. I post at least one complete album per day.

The Avant Garde Project
(Via Free Albums Galore) The Avant Garde Project is a series of recordings of 20th-century classical-experimental-electroacoustic music digitized from LPs whose music has in most cases never been released on CD, and so is effectively inaccessible to the vast majority of music listeners today.

Art Torrents
Books, Movies, Texts etc. It's important to emphasize that I haven't written any of the text on this blog, almost every post is copy/paste from KaraGarga and therefore created by other people.

Six Films by Pierre Huyghe (b. 1962)
Pierre Huyghe explores the territory of reality and fiction, creating a site of convergence for interpretation, representation, and transformation. His work incorporates film, objects, and staged events such as celebrations, puppet shows, and musicals to address how we construct and translate experience. Although the final artwork often takes the form of a projected image, Huyghe's primary interest lies in the production of situations.

Enjoy the weekend and Happy New Year!

Nothing Can Like CAN Can

Can 1972

To see us through the strange ambience of the in-between days we have been granted nine bootlegs from legendary dream merchants CAN:

Prehistoric Future 1968
Unopened 1968
Mother Sky Berlin 1971
Radio Waves 1972
Horrortrip in the Paperhouse 1972
Live in Arles ,France 1975

and HERE
Great Britain 1977 Vol. 2
Free Concert part (one and two)
Future Days And past Nights (parts one and two)

The days between Christmas and New Year are a relaxing but slow time for me. I am pottering around with a few things; learning about DivX video and applying subtitles to films, working a bit in Second Life, reading and spending time with the family. Should do something but would rather just chill......Maybe more recomended media later today (it's friday..right?) or maybe not.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Dialogic and Ferlinghetti and Christmas

I had the fortune to discover an excellent blog last night: Dialogic by Thivai Abhor:

In Kathy Acker's disturbing novel "Empire of the Senseless" Thivai/Abhor are the two main characters. These two characters are products of a horribly diseased society and I combine the names in order to give expression to the absurdity of strict dualistic systems and monologic thinking. Instead we celebrate the wondrous chaotic creativity of relational thinking and polylogical discourse. Thivai Abhor is the revolution of the senses, freedom of expression, the virus that will eat the system from the inside out. Thivai Abhor is a catalyzing enteran that seeks to alter the corrupt system through pirated words and frenzied responses. Thivai Abhor operates in the margins of mutated meanings, seeking a new way of being, becoming, understanding and knowing. Thivai Abhor is the monstrous result of a system that eats its young. We are the Multitude!!!

From Dialogic this morning comes this wonder, an hour of Beat Generation recollections and present day situationism from 88 year old Lawrence Ferlinghetti. The text, video and audio streams are online at Democracy Now!, but consider this quote from Ferlinghetti's latest book, Poetry as Insurgent Art:

What are poets for in such an age? What is the use of poetry? If you would be a poet, create works capable of answering the challenge of Apocalyptic times, even if this means sounding apocalyptic. You have to decide if bird cries are cries of ecstasy or cries of despair, by which you will know if you are a tragic or a lyric poet. Conceive of love beyond sex. Be subversive, constantly questioning reality and the status quo. Strive to change the world in such a way that there’s no further need to be a dissident. Read between the lives, and write between the lines. Be committed to something outside yourself. Be passionate about it. But don’t destroy the world, unless you have something better to replace it.

So with the words of Lawrence Ferlinghetti in my mind, I stumbled out this Christams morning to try and find some batteries to buy for one of my son's presents he was given yesterday (in Sweden Christmas is celebrated on the 24th). The shop was closed until midday and the streets where deserted. The build-up that has been part of our lives since late November (the 'gift of the year'...only twelve days to buy buy) had suddenly broken and the suburb where I live was silent and empty. Where was the festival?

Yule 2007

Like a ghost town is my quarter
Christ returns to closed windows
Population sleeping off pudding
Punch and the last minute shopping

Home is quite but for the presence
Played by electric bling sounds
Moving pictures and a plastic weld
Holding the fragile scene together.

Far away from our screens and streets
Others are not aware of the celebration
Broken feathers gather in dusty townships
While sour winds blow down from the north.

Christmas is when the West breathes out
Belches and stumbles on its way from work
As 'A Whole Lot of Love' plays on an iPod
And a million trees wilt quietly in the corner.

Where exactly was the festival?

/Jim B.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Beat Girl (1960)

Director:Edmond T. Greville
Distributor:Crash Cinema
Starring:David Farrar, Noëlle Adam, Christopher Lee

A rebellious teenager runs away from home and joins the SoHo beatniks when her widowed father remarries a much younger woman. But beatnik life isn't all it seems and she ends up hanging out as a stripper in a sleazy club, hoping to learn about her mom. There the creepy club owner attempts to seduce her, and his lover gets jealous and stabs him. Now the two must do something fast. The film is also known as Wild for Kicks, and features music from rocker Adam Faith, the John Barry Seven, and other beatnik acts.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Reflexive Architecture, Second Life Machinima

Reflexive Architecture, by Keystone Bouchard, Jon Brouchoud

Installation on Architecture Island and exhibition on Info Island for artslib, September 2007. Scripted by Fumon Kubo. Music by gurdonark, Restless Sleep.

Support Rhizome!!

Please give some money to one of the best resources for digital art on the web. From Rhizome,org, of which I have been a member since 2004:

Rhizome is dedicated to the creation, presentation, preservation, and critique of emerging artistic practices that engage technology. Our programs, many of which happen online, serve and spotlight an incredibly dynamic community of artists and innovators year-round. At the end of each year, we turn back to you, our readers, participating artists, critics and entrepreneurs, and ask that you support us by becoming a member during our annual Community Campaign, which ends midnight December 31st, 2007. This year, our goal is $30,000--an amount required to produce our online programs in 2008 and develop them in the directions that our community has asked for. Greater online participation, expanded editorial coverage, larger commission grants--we can only fulfill these important requests with your support. Please become a member today for $25--or make a higher-level donation and receive an exciting limited edition artwork as a thank-you gift. Besides these perks, becoming a member will provide vital support to our efforts and our mission in 2008. Help us ring in the new year on solid ground! Give today. We need you. -- Rhizome

Friday, December 21, 2007

Friday Downstreams (The Solstice Wheel Turning)

William Burroughs doing his shopping, Lawrence Kansas (1995)

Little Walter opens this weeks downstreams. There is a large amount of Walter on the web and I recomend his cosmic harp assults, his use of the harmonica is original and trance-like. I wish the readers of this ongoing archived-confesional-biographical-experiment a happy year's end and best of luck in the next one.

Little Walter at Last FM
Little Walter (born Marion Walter Jacobs) (May 1, 1930 - February 15, 1968) was a blues singer, harmonica player, and guitarist. Jacobs is generally included among blues music greats: his revolutionary harmonica technique has earned comparisons to Charlie Parker and Jimi Hendrix in its impact: There were great musicians before and after, but Jacobs' virtuosity and musical innovations reached heights of expression never previously imagined, and fundamentally altered many listeners' expectations of what was possible on blues harmonica. Jacobs suffered from alcoholism, and had a notoriously short temper, which led to a decline in his fame and fortunes in the 1960s. He died of injuries sustained in a fight a few months after returning from his second European tour.

Oh Yeah I Love You Baby - Marisa Olson
"Oh Yeah I Love You Baby"(2007) is an album by Marisa Olson based on the most significant lyrics in pop music history.

Only the Sweetest Voice Could Save Me
Motel De Moka brings us a selection of some of the most intersting and best women singing folk psychedlia at the moment. Artists such as Larkin Grimm, Josephine Foster, Mariee Sioux and Sibylle Baier.

Share Miner
Share Miner is a new search engine for finding downloads and torrents on the web. Shareminer takes your keywords and adds special optimized keywords to your search phrase. The result is sent to google and the google result page is shown to you as it is. The web search is the one that returns more pages but it can lead you to very old pages with a lot of broken links. The blog search and the groups search don't target such a big universe as the web search but the pages are shown by chronological order, being the newest ones on the top of the result list. If you are looking for music try the music search as it is simple and efficient.

Vargavinter-Röster Från Alla Land,LP,1980,Sweden
Wonderful folk rock band from Sweden ,well,actually a collectiv featuring Annita Livs and members of Iskra, Spjärnsvallet, Archimedes Badkar,Kofia, amongst others.Combining traditional European folk with eastern influences(seems that eastern music was much "in fashion" in Sweden in the mid/late 70s) and jazzy elements, they create a totally "out there" atmosphere,sometimes experimenting heavily some othermore etheral.

Thanks For The Add! Vol.1
Friendly myspace music headphonica compilation.

Will Self, Psychogeography
The entire archive of Will Self's column in The Independant, Psychogeography. It is related to Self's recent book which was reviewed at Your Guide to Contemporary Literature this week:

Psychogeography: Disentangling the Modern Conundrum of Psyche and Place, a collection of 55 essays culled from British author Will Self's eponymous Independent column, is similarly themed around an intimate acquaintance between Self and his environs. Will Self is a walker and has been since kicking a drug habit more than eight years ago. It is with an addict's commitment that he takes to the activity: Hundred mile treks are commonplace for Self, and he thinks nothing of walking to a meeting that will take him 10 hours to reach on foot.

An Invitation To The Electric Seance
At precisely 20:02 on the 20th February, 2002 (20/02, 2002 in the UK date system), nine people gathered at the banks of the River Thames where it passes the Greenwich Observatory at 00 longitude, the world's Prime Meridian. They were there to perform "a mass for palindromic time," "to celebrate and to devastate, to perform an act of chronological terrorism, strike a blow to the heart of the Great Wyrm time" as one of the participants, Mark Pilkington, described it. If use of the word "terrorism" seems ill-advised it should perhaps be remembered that the Greenwich Observatory was the site of a genuine bomb attack by a French anarchist in 1894, an event which inspired Joseph Conrad's 1907 novel, The Secret Agent.

This article, to which I was alerted to by the brilliant Infocult, contains links to numerous fine sources of sound; Mount Vernon Arts Lab (also Mount Vernon Astral Temple and Black Noise), the Ghost Box family of groups, "Current 93, the late and much-lamented Coil and Cyclobe", Pram (featured in this month's Wire magazine - follow link for Six Organs Of Admittance: video exclusive- which I just purchased this morning), the amazing Raagnagrok which I have featured before on the downstreams and Paul Giovanni.

So Cosmic by Cut Copy
Australians Cut Copy have a new record called In Ghost Colours coming out in April '08, but thanks to Anthem Magazine and Modular Records, we can hear a good portion of it now in the form of this free hour-long mix.
I have not actually listened to this but its from Australia so it must be good :-)

Curator for One Day
Become Curator for One Day in the Video Vortex exhibition.

1. Make a selection of 6 works. Navigate using the search or the lists on the left.
2. Beneath every video preview you will find a pink 'Video Vortex' line.
3. Go to your My Show page and enter email, name and statement.
4. Choose a date in the calendar shown on your My Show page.

Open Bethlehem
Open Bethlehem has gained a well-deserved reputation for the quality of its presentations. View our photo-essays as a slideshow or download to share with people you know. Our friends and supporters have taken our presentations to church and Bible class, viewed them within book groups, and used them to provoke discussions at universities. In the UK, our presentations are used as part of education packs for school students aged 8-12.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Joy and Peace

Merry Christmas (the Mp3)

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

ELO Library of Congress/Archive-It Project

The ELO Library of Congress/Archive-It Project has attracted a huge number of digital literary works. I happened to look at it today and there are 500 works in the archive by individual creators and 46 links to collections. While, according to the wiki, the "Library of Congress has asked the Electronic Literature Organization to collect a sample of 300 web sites related to the field" it seems that is in relation to collective sites as they passed that number of individual works quite a while ago.
We are going to be building an archive of digital literature in HUMlab in the new year and the ELO Library of Congress/Archive-It Project will be included.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Exploring the online music market: consumer characteristics and value perceptions

From our friends at Copyriot comes the news of a new thesis on dissident forms of digital textuality, be it from the side of the Orthodox:

Exploring the online music market: consumer characteristics and value perceptions
By Styvén, Maria
The advent of the Internet and the digitization of music has resulted in a multitude of new challenges and opportunities for the recording industry. So far, sales of digital downloadable music have not compensated for the decrease in CD sales throughout the twentyfirst century. To attract new customers and successfully compete with file-sharing networks, commercial online music services need to meet customer expectations by delivering what they value. Therefore, to increase the understanding of prospective customers, the purpose of this thesis was to explore and describe customer value and target groups within the online music market. Data were collected through a survey of Swedish consumers between 16 and 60 years old.

Customer-perceived value of downloadable music, in terms of expected value for money, was found to be quite low. Value could, however, be increased by improving the most important benefits. In addition to fundamental functions, such as ease of use and search, a large music catalogue, and good sound quality, flexibility in use is essential. This involves ensuring transferability, compatibility, possibility to duplicate files, and opportunity to sample. The high level of desired flexibility suggests that digital rights management (DRM) restrictions decrease value by making it difficult for consumers to use the product freely. Furthermore, perceived value could be enhanced by decreasing privacy risk, such as concerns about paying with credit card online, and, most importantly, lowering prices. Consumers, on average, thought that a downloadable song should cost 5–6 SEK, i.e. about half of the current price. However, providing better value in terms of the proposed benefits, combined with lower risk, would improve consumers' willingness to pay.

The study also found that current potential target customers of online music services are between the ages of 25 and 45, have a higher-than- average interest in music, low concerns about risk, and are experienced users of the Internet and digital music overall. Clearly, use of file- sharing networks and commercial online music services is not mutually exclusive. In fact, P2P users in the study were generally more likely than P2P non-users to be customers of commercial services. Moreover, increased customer value of pay-per-download services is more likely to result in higher usage intentions among consumers with current Internet music download experience. An important challenge for commercial online music services, therefore, is not only to attract more file sharers, but also to retain occasional customers by increasing the perceived value.

While Rasmus at copyriot feels embarrassed to be part of the academy that produces such work (and I can understand why as well, with the stench of business so close at hand). I, however, think there is some value in any discussion on how information, such as music, is consumed today. We live in a society that is totally formed by consumption and nobody can ignore that. The idea that

P2P users in the study were generally more likely than P2P non-users to be customers of commercial services. Moreover, increased customer value of pay-per-download services is more likely to result in higher usage intentions among consumers with current Internet music download experience.

may render the 'pirate' image of the socially defined P2P file sharer somewhat harder to maintain in its gross totality. Many who download also buy. The argument about P2P file sharing is not about the technologies, but is rather about the profits of copyright holders. Many P2P file sharers also support the industry they rally against in their choice of hardware, buying blank CDs, paying ISP charges, and so on (even in clothing and going to concerts). Of course the profits of the top five media mutlinationals could be even greater if all P2P networks were closed tomorrow, but in reality they are doing fine and many pirates are paying their way. It almost impossible not to.

Google + Alleph

Here's a tricky textual situation.
I have gone back to close reading the texts that make up my thesis corpus. I have played/read the texts many times, but this time I am being merciless. Every pixel is being accounted for and it will probably be how I am going to spend my Christmas break. I have been having a major problem with Alleph by Sakab Bashir. Using Google to find the text I have been unable to get passed this Macromedia Flash Update page:

No matter what I did I was getting a continual demand to upgrade my Flash plug-in. I called our Tech dude and he also struggled with it. While he was doing this we were having a chat about the vagaries of the Google browser. After trying several alternatives it emerged what the problem was. Tech Dude noted the URL and it was the Google browser prioritizing the Flash Update page over the actual Splash Page:

So, this all leaves me with the thought that the Google search engine has entered into dialogue with the text, Alleph. The texture of response that is projected by Alleph is infected, so to speak, with the texture of the Google search engine. It has slowed me down a bit today, but I image it would be preventing many from responding to Alleph at all. An interesting example of network texture as related to implied response within a digital work. It is also an example of sloppy authorship, or lack of consideration for evolving connections in the networks of the text.

Black Technology

"Perry is also a kind of Caribbean techgnostic, deploying his almost supernatural imagination within the technological context of the modern recording studio. With its soundboards, mics, effects processors, and multiple-track tape manipulations, the studio is clearly a kind of musical machine. However passionate and spontaneous pop songs may sound on the radio, the music itself is as much a product of engineering as of performance. Despite their crude equipment, reggae producers like Perry, King Tubby, and Bunny Lee became artists in their own right—especially when it came to dub, the instrumental offshoot of reggae concocted entirely in the studio."

Nice long text on the genius of Scratch on Remix Theory.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Paper Planes/Straight to Hell

Paper Planes by M.I.A

Using a sample from The Clash's Straight to Hell, M.I.A's Paper Planes was censored when it was performed by the artist in September on the Dave Letterman Show. The gunshots were removed by CBS management. This is the original video that MTV won't show.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

(New) YouTube Full Screen

The YouTube Video full screen flash map seems to be a new thing. I have not seen it before today and I can't find much about it on the web. It opens after you have watched the video in fullscreen mode.
I have found interesting connections with other videos/artists that I did not know about it from my own few vids I have on YouTube. Such as this sitar session series, which for some reasons links to one of my videos on the new YouTube interface.

"a dynamic data visualization tool embedded in (almost all) YouTube movies that supports the discovery of related videos. how to see it? go watch a YouTube video such as this one. then select the full-screen option. then click on the 2nd button on the left, at the bottom of the screen, featuring the network icon." Information Aesthetics

Poets: Joe Strummer

This morning I put on a compilation CD of The Clash for the morning soundtrack. While it played I listened to the lyrics of "(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais" and it suddenly occured to me that it was poetry. The poet who wrote most of the lyrics for The Clash was John Graham Mellor (August 21, 1952 – December 22, 2002) better known as Joe Strummer. Just take a look at this:

"(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais"

Midnight to six man
For the first time from Jamaica
Dillinger and leroy smart
Delroy wilson, your cool operator

Ken boothe for UK pop reggae
With backing bands sound systems
And if they’ve got anything to say
There's many black ears here to listen

But it was four tops all night with encores from stage right
Charging from the bass knives to the treble
But onstage they ain’t got no roots rock rebel
Onstage they ain’t got no...roots rock rebel

Dress back jump back this is a bluebeat attack
cos it wont get you anywhere
Fooling with your guns
The British army is waiting out there
An it weighs fifteen hundred tons

White youth, black youth
Better find another solution
Why not phone up Robin Hood
And ask him for some wealth distribution

Punk rockers in the UK
They wont notice anyway
They’re all too busy fighting
For a good place under the lighting

The new groups are not concerned
With what there is to be learned
They got burton suits, ha you think its funny
Turning rebellion into money

All over people changing their votes
Along with their overcoats
If adolf hitler flew in today
Theyd send a limousine anyway

Im the all night drug-prowling wolf
Who looks so sick in the sun
Im the white man in the palais
Just lookin for fun

Im only
Looking for fun

Strummer wrote these words in 1976 after attending a "reggae all-nighter at the Palais" but was disappointed that the roots rock rebel music he had hoped for was actually pop music. 'So what is the path of the urban white rebel?' is taken up by the verse. Resistance could be as violence but "The British army is waiting out there / And it weighs fifteen hundred tons", so that does not look so promising. Further there is myth; "Why not phone up robin hood / And ask him for some wealth distribution." Each alternative seems as hopeless as the other.
Fashion had taken hold of punk shortly after it began to become popular in London and New York (see Lipstick Traces: A Secret History of the Twentieth Century) and Strummer was well aware of this, he quips about the general situation:

Punk rockers in the UK
They wont notice anyway
They’re all too busy fighting
For a good place under the lighting

For a man whose bread and butter was supplied by his fans, the so-called punk rockers, to critique them as superficial spectators was to risk his own public image. But that was a part of Joe Strummer I believe, he was not only in it for the money (although he did make a decent living from it), he wanted change. Witness the young Strummer of the Maida Vale 1970's squat movement:

Strummer's lyric is a consistently political and therefore ideological one. The ideology is nowhere clearer than in

Lost in the Supermarket

I’m all lost in the supermarket
I can no longer shop happily
I came in here for that special offer
A guaranteed personality

I wasn’t born so much as I fell out
Nobody seemed to notice me
We had a hedge back home in the suburbs
Over which I never could see

I heard the people who lived on the ceiling
Scream and fight most scarily
Hearing that noise was my first ever feeling
That’s how its been all around me

I’m all tuned in, I see all the programs
I save coupons from packets of tea
I’ve got my giant hit discothèque album
I empty a bottle and I feel a bit free

The kids in the halls and the pipes in the walls
Make me noises for company
Long distance callers make long distance calls
And the silence makes me lonely

And it’s not near
It disappears
I’m all lost

"Lost in the Supermarket" addresses the same isolation and alienation that the punks are performing against/as part of in "(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais". But in "Lost in the Supermarket" it does not end in a hopeful reference to 'fun'. Rather the hopelessness is complete and is just being buried deeper daily under more products and empty bottles.

Strummer was involved in numerous causes during his life (and after). Carbon sinks, fighting poverty and fascism, and anti-racist actions:

The Clash - White Riot Live (1978 Victoria Park London)
Taken from the film Rude Boy.

Seeing the lyrics set to music and performed it is easy to assign the title of Bard to Strummer. The bard is the musical voice of folk culture discussing the issues of the day, setting the news to music and spreading it throughout the realm. "This is a public service announcement...with guitars!" (Know Your Rights)

Finally, The Clash performed one song with Beat poet Allen Ginsberg, the spoken word tribute to Arthur Rimbaud and anti-heroin piece, "Ghetto Defendant". The lyric was written by Ginsberg but it perfectly reflects the general aesthetic of Strummers verse;

Ghetto defendant
It is heroin pity
Not tear gas nor baton charge
That stops you taking the city

Here is "Ghetto Defendant" in a video produced by the Maoist International Movement:

Deep Dread Dub from Joe Strummer and words from Allen Ginsberg sung by Strummer:

Soap floods oil in water
All churn in the wake
On the great ship of progress
The crew can't find the brake
Klaxons are blaring
The admiral snores command
Submarines boil in oceans
While the armies fight with suns

Throughout Strummer's vast body of work we see a continual return to the themes of isolation, alienation, revolution, human rights, de-commodification and freedom. To quote a line from Radio Clash (1977):

Hands of law have sorted through
My identity
But now this sound is brave
And wants to be free - anyway to be free

Friday, December 14, 2007

Friday Downstreams (about time for sleep)

Cambodian Rocks (Mp3s)
In 1996, the Parallel World label released the LP "Cambodian Rocks", a collection of Cambodian psych and garage music from the 60s and early 70s (probably), compiled by an American tourist named Paul Wheeler from some cassettes he bought in Phnom Penh. No information on the songs was provided at all, no artist names, no song titles, and no recording dates. Four years later, Parallel World reissued this compilation on CD with a few extra tracks, but still without any identifying information. Unfortunately, it is more than likely that many of the featured musicians, showing a definite Western influence in their music, were murdered by the Khmer Rouge regime which took over power in 1975. Certainly none of them ever received any money from the sales of this compilation. However, the music is wonderful, and here it is for your enjoyment.

Stockhausen on 'sounds', 1972
Karlheinz Stockhausen died last week aged 79. I did not listen to his music much (I much prefer the French crew of Luc Ferrari and Pierre Schaeffer) but I realise his contribution to sound art. This video is a 10 min. excerpt from Karlheinz Stockausen's May 1972 lecture to the Oxford Union on 'Four Criteria of Electronic Music'.

Avatar Orchestra Metaverse (Videos)
The AOM is an international orchestra with members from Switzerland, Italia, Germany, Sweden, USA, Canada and has only existed since beginning of year 2007. AOM was started on the initiative of Maximillian Nakamura. Now in late april 2007 AOM has so far performed twice with the first piece played in middle March called Vicky's Mosquitos #13 and some weeks later the piece FADHEIT by Maximillian. The AOM exist in the 3D virtual world platform of Second Life but they can be heard anywhere.

Sex Love & War - Part 1 Sex with Strangers - WWII
I remember my grandmother, who was a very Christian lady, telling me that "terrible things" went on in the Western Desert and Cairo in 1942. She was not refering to the wholesale slaughter, the results of which she witnessed as an army nurse. Rather, she spoke of the open sex that was never far away in the grip of war. In Sex with Strangers we meet the young single men and women for whom the war brought unexpected opportunities for brief encounters, flings and sexual adventure. Many began the war as innocent virgins. But the danger of death inspired a 'live for today' attitude and sexual liberation. Young women experimented with different sexual partners and discovered the joy of the orgasm for the first time.

DC Smackdown
DC Smackdown is the latest vaguely political PC game out on the market. It's a satirical fighting game, in which players pit Presidential candidates and political pundits against one another in Street Fighter-style battles. Each character has a special move, of course, from Hillary Clinton's "Intern Trample" to Bill O'Reilly's "No Spin Zone".

André Jansson - Mediekultur och samhälle (Studentlitteratur)
A whole textbook introduction in Swedish for Media Culture and Society. Its just what you wanted for Christmas, right? Here's the blurb, also you may notice in Swedish:
Inom medie- och kommunikationsvetenskap studeras mediernas betydelse i kulturen och i samhället. ─mnets relevans har onekligen stigit i takt med att nya medieteknologier introducerats och medieutbudet mångfaldigats. Men ämnet innehåller också motsättningar i fråga om vad som är viktigt att studera och hur studierna bör bedrivas. Under de senaste 20 åren har framför allt kulturteoretiska perspektiv vunnit mark ? och det är dessa perspektiv som boken handlar om.

Also in Swedish, a journal of digital dada with visuals, audio and text.

Finally I'd just like to say that OurMedia has revamped the site and it is looking good. There is an excellent selection of fine anarchist video, amatuer media, shonky podcasts, home spun poetry and film of that protest that you heard about but never got to....

Spell Check not working...push publish and I am off to bed....happy weekend all!

Humans are the Dancing Apes

From Lucky People Center International. Dance and communication.

A List of Inuit Games

Fascinating list of Inuit games (PDF)
Games have many forms and names in different areas of the Arctic. This list has been compiled from the following textual sources and is incomplete. Readers are invited to submit the names and descriptions of games that have been omitted. This list will be updated on a regular basis. This listing was compiled with the assistance of Frederica Knight, and valuable assistance was provided by John MacDonald, Igloolik, Nunavut. An attempt was made to use modern orthography whenever possible.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Liminalities On Sound

The current issue of Liminalities; A Journal of Performance volume 3, number 3 (November 2007), is an expanded special issue edited by Michael LeVan on the theme of Sound. This issue includes an audio epigraph, a monograph on Arthur Russell, a project about temporary radio memorials, an essay about Manu Chao, a recording-essay about Freud and secrets and sound, a video on an ethnographic performance about voice, a sound essay about a performance by an ex-radio reporter, an audio project about auto- (and oto-)phonography, an essay revisiting Rudolph Arnheim's text on radio, a pedagogy essay (and audio recording) about performing aural appeals, and reviews of two books on sound. Liminalities is produced on Mac systems. It looks best in open source browsers like Firefox.

High Tone

This morning I am making a compilation of some favorite tunes for a new friend and included the great High Tone, intricate Dub visions from Lyon, France. A brilliant way to start the day if you ask me. There is a lot of High Tone on Last FM if you want to acquaint yourself with a new world dub sound that stretches from Calcutta to the Plains of Dakota- Ya Maan!

(As the tone of this entry may indicate...the holiday feeling is hitting me hard and I am finding a bit difficult to do university work...but I shall muster my will and push on regardless..)

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Youth and Network Cultures: Between Moral Panic and Techno Romantic

The Swedish organisation Ungdomsstyrelsen (The Youth Foundation) has just released a report (totally in Swedish) into young people and computer games. Entitled Unga och nätverkskulturer – mellan moralpanik och teknikromantik (Youth and Network Cultures: Between Moral Panic and Techno Romantic), it looks like it contains many interesting suppositions. A total of 2 900 Swedes between the ages of 16 och 25 answered a series of questions about their computer game play, social habits, health and education. The result from the survey that has been making the news in Sweden since its release is that slightly fewer gamers drink alcohol (19%) than non-gamers (24%) in the age group. There is also found to be less stress and depression among gamers than non-games, although this seems a tentative connection it would be one I, from personal experience would expect. There was also found to be no higher incidence of obesity among gamers as compared to non-gamers. The report can be downloaded from the link. One section of particular interest is "Sharing is Caring" by Jessica Linde och Simon Lindgren which discusses file sharing culture, sub-politics and the new social movements associated with P2P file sharing.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Tomorrow: Seminars and Exams

Tomorrow I will be presenting a chapter of my thesis in a seminar in the conference room in the Humanities Building at 15:15-17:00. Before this, from 13:15-15:00 in HUMlab I will be attending this (under the UB Library, all are welcome):

New Media and Architecture: The American Megachurch as a Case Study
Erica Robles, Stanford University

With the widespread propagation of networked communication technologies, the settings for social life, more often than not, involve complex compositions of media and space. Affecting every category of human experience, from work via telecommuting to leisure in cyber cafés to public discourse in virtual communities, new media re-shape the architectures of everyday life. As scholars, designers, researchers, and practitioners our primary focus has been the role of communication technologies in affecting these transformations. For example, Media Lab founder, Nicholas Negroponte, writes, “digital technologies should allow people to be anywhere, regardless of where they are” (from Being Digital, 1995). From this perspective, the qualities of physical space, geography, cultural context, and institutional setting become obstacles to transgress, overcome, or forego.

Arguing, instead, that contemporary social settings involve both cultural and technological changes, both media networks and material structures, this talk demonstrates their inter-relationships by focusing on how a traditional social practice, religious worship, employs new media and contemporary architectural design. Illustrated vividly by American megachurches, which combine commercial-style architectures in sprawling metropolitan areas with a reliance on technologies, media enterprises, and consumer logics, these sites evidence a strong interest in using new media to preserve rather than overcome traditional social structures.

Through case study of a pioneering and influential megachurch, The Crystal Cathedral, this presentation grounds a series of questions about the role of new media, culture, and the built environment. Recounting the fifty-year history of this institution first as a Southern California ‘drive-in church’, then a ‘walk-in/drive-in/television church’, and finally as a monumental glass architecture and global media enterprise, its architectural expressions magnify the processes of cultural response to technological and spatial change. The church evolves as it brokers new media – first television, then the Internet – to its community of believers. At every step the built environment, designed in collaboration with a series of notable architects – Richard Shelley, Richard Neutra, Philip Johnson, and Richard Meier – reproduces a vision of faith that relies upon technology to enact a new form of monumentality suited to a digital, networked world.

I met Erica Robles today in HUMlab and judging from the short chat we had, tomorrow should be very interesting. Tomorrow, before lunch from 09:00-12:00, I will be one of four teacher supervisors facilitating in a mock seminar for third term cultural studies students. We will be discussing paper presentations that range between The Shining, Vampires, Football Hooligans, Heart Of Darkness/Apocalypse Now and Harry Potter.

Quite a day ahead and still more reading to do before then........

Sunday, December 09, 2007

UBUWEB Poetry Podcasts have Arrived

UBUWEB has stared a Podcast and the first is the brilliant Ken Goldsmith (founder of UBUWEB and a sound word artist in his own right) presenting the famous The John Giorno Poetry Systems (featuring just about everyone who was doing interesting things with words in New York in the 1970s):

"In 1961 I was a young poet who hung out with young artists like Andy Warhol, Bob Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns, as well as with members of the Judson Dance Theatre. The use of modern mass media and technologies by these artists made me realize that poetry was 75 years behind painting and sculpture, dance and music. And I thought, if they can do it, why can't I do it for poetry. Why not try to connect with an audience using all the entertainments of ordinary life: television, the telephone, record albums, etc? It was the poet's job to invent new venues and make fresh contact with the audience.

"This inspiration gave rise to Giorno Poetry Systems, a non-profit foundation under which many projects were born. The record label called Giorno Poetry Systems eventually built up a catalog of 40 titles, ushering poetry onto the radio alongside rock, jazz, etc. for the first time. The Dial-A-Poem service, begun, in 1968, was a huge success. Not only did we ourselves get millions of calls, we inspired the creation of dial-for-stock market info and dial for sports-info services, etc. We also foreshadowed by a generation the explosion of 1-900 telephone promotions, not to mention the delivery of the Internet over phone lines. we produced poetry videos, videopaks and films. We formed bands and toured like the rock'n' rollers. We displayed poetry on the surface of ordinary objects, producing silk-screen and lithograph Poem Prints. We established the AIDS Treatment Project in 1984.

"But in 1965, even before founding Giorno Poetry Systems, I began recording my friend William Burroughs, starting with tape experiments at his Centre Street loft and with Brion Gysin at the Hotel Chelsea. Before the year was out, with my earlier inspirations turning into tangible performances, electronic events and sound pieces at a show at the Museum of Modern Art in Paris, I began Giorno Poetry Systems.

"We taped the riotous Democratic National Convention in the summer of 1968, and presented the results that September at New York's Central Park Bandshell. Three months later I featured William in the inaugural installation of Dial-A-Poem at the Architectural League of New York.

"In 1975 William moved into The Bunker at 222 Bowery, where I'd lived on the third floor since 1966.

"In 1976 Giorno Poetry Systems released a double-record set, one LP featuring William's live recordings, the other my sound poems.

"In 1978 in New York there was the Nova Convention, a three-day tribute to William that crowned him patriarch of heroin and wisdom, and featured performances by Patti Smith, Frank Zappa and many others, including Laurie Anderson, who was making her debut public performance." John Giorno

You can subscribe to the UBUWEB podcasts feed HERE (its educational!!).

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Friday Downstreams (Climate Chaos)

The weather is weird. With 15 days until Christmas we barely have snow on the ground and today was 6 degrees plus Celsius. Usually at this time of year we are touching on minus 10 and the snow is 30 centimeters deep. The weather (it makes me tired) along with lack of content and being busy (a pedagogy course this week plus numerous seminars, meetings, some teaching) has delayed and made this weeks downstream media a small offering. But there have been a few interesting pieces cross my path this weird week.

Sex Pistols / Madonna "Ray Of Gob" Mash Up
One of the best mash-ups I have every seen. Even Madonna likes it apparently.

Tune Square
Welcome to TuneSquare Beta 1.1 - The wide-open place for you to discover new and exciting music from great unsigned and independent acts.

Games and Civic Engagement: Podcast Now Available
The MIT Communications Forum and the Center for Future Civic Media recently hosted an event exploring video games and civic engagement, featuring NPR technology correspondent Mario Armstrong and Ian Bogost, assistant professor at Georgia Tech and author of Persuasive Games: The Expressive Power of Video games.

Sjökexets mixar (Seabiscuit's Mixes)
Tobbe ”Sjökexet” Carlsson is a DJ and mash-up artist who works at Swedish national radio. They host his impressive collection of mash-ups and presumably pay the licensing for them. Must cost a bit....

Antipodean Underground
I have featured sites from AU before but this week I Googled the name and realised there was a forum as well as a blog. If you are at all interested in less commercial music from the furthest reaches of earth then this site it worth a look. Lots of downloads from the grimy backwoods of Oz and kiwi land.

The Great Plague
Documentary examining the Great Plague of 1665, one of the darkest moments in Britain's history, when over one-fifth of London's population of 500,000 perished in a matter of months. Much is known of the disaster from the perspective of the largely well-to-do contemporary chroniclers, but this film tells the story from the perspective of the poor through the account of a local councillor who lived a stone's throw from Fleet Street. Shown as part of the Plague, Fire, War and Treason: A Century of Troubles season.

In the programme, Dr Champion charts what happened in the months of the Great Plague of 1665, linking film sequences that dramatise life in one London street, Cock & Key Alley, within the City walls. During that time, the authorities virtually abandoned London. The Privy Council fled to the provinces and issued orders from a safe distance. Around 100,000 people died of the 'plague' across the City and suburbs. The parishes, which were responsible for the day-to-day running of London, were left to keep order and provide what care and protection they could. Neighbours in the alley took on new roles as the parish paid them to enforce plague orders. The widow Rebecca Andrews fell sick and was shut into her house along with the orphan she cared for. The blacksmith fitted the locks and another neighbour stood on guard outside. When the gravedigger was infected, his family were shut in with him, but later his son was released to carry on the family trade of burying the dead.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Can we think it?

Imaging a World Without Copyright by Marieke van Schijndel & Joost Smiers

Some serious cracks are surfacing in the system of copyright, as we have known it in the Western world for a couple of centuries. The system is substantially more beneficial for cultural conglomerates than for the average artist; a situation that cannot last. Furthermore, it seems inescapable that digitisation is undermining the foundations of the copyright system. It must be acknowledged that several authors have recently presented analyses of the untenability of the contemporary system of copyright. Yet, most of their observations only allude to – but do not address – what we deem the most fundamental question of all: if copyright is inherently unjust, what could come in their place to guarantee artists – creative and performing – a fair compensation for their labours, and how can we prevent knowledge and creativity from being privatised (Bettig 1996; Bollier 2003: 119-134; Boyle 1996; Coombe 1998; Drahos 2002, 2002a; Frith 2004; Lessig 2002, 2004; Litman 2001; Perelman 2002; Vaidhyanathan 2003). It is time to move beyond merely criticizing copyright. The pressing question is: which alternative can we offer artists and other cultural entrepreneurs in rich as well as poor countries that benefits them, and that brings the increasing privatisation of creativity and expertise to a halt? Our goal in this essay is to develop such an alternative, and to move beyond any
notion centred on private intellectual property rights.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Radiohead Packing up the Rainbow

While I am not a Radiohead fan myself I appreciate their efforts with the In Rainbows release. It seems that Radiohead are pulling the plug on the download in four days:

The End of The Beginning
Hello Everyone,

The download area that is “In Rainbows” will be shutting its doors on the 10th December 2007.

A big thank you to everyone who came and downloaded the music. It’s been the most positive thing we’ve done and we hope you shared the experience with others.

The discbox will still be available from the w.a.s.t.e store here until they have all gone. We then have no plans to make further stock.

For those of you who wish to buy In Rainbows in the usual way, it will be available on CD/Vinyl and download from traditional outlets from the 31st December 2007.

The record will be released by TBD Records in North America and XL Recordings for the rest of the world.

Thanks for everything.

Get it while you can still name the price.

Nick Cave: Dostoevskian Hero?

"Dostooevky's hero is a déclassé member of the intelligentsia, cut of from cultural tradition, from the soil and the earth, a representative of an 'accidental tribe'. Such a person enters into special relations with the idea: he is defenseless before it and its power, for he is rooted in objective reality and is deprived of any cultural tradition. He becomes a 'person of the idea,' a person possessed by an idea. An idea for him becomes an idea-force, omnipotently defining and distorting his consciousness and his life. The idea leads an independent life in the hero's consciousness: in fact it is not he but the idea that lives, and the novelist describes not the life of the hero but the life of the idea in him; the historian of the 'accidental tribe' becomes 'the historiographer of the idea.' M. M. Bakhtin. Problems of Dostoevsvky's Poetics, p22.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

A text for a Short Course on Teaching and IT that finishes this week.

James ”jim” Barrett
UPC Lärande & IT ht2007

Why a Wiki?

A wiki is a versatile and adaptable web based authoring tool that has been used in education at all levels since the late 1990s. The word wiki is a shortened form of the Hawaiian word for fast (Wiki Wiki) and the first wiki went online on March 25, 1995 when Ward Cunningham (b. 1949) created

The software WikiWikiWeb in 1994 and installed it on the website of his software consultancy, Cunningham & Cunningham (commonly known by its domain name,, as an add-on to the Portland Pattern Repository. Wikipedia

Wikis today are used to build a sense of community in a class, to store and distribute information, to make students into authors and to create text materials for teaching. The famous American copyright activist and lawyer Lawrence Lessig wrote his latest book, Codev2 using a wiki and the entire text is available as a wiki online as well as a print book in shops (see: While every platform has its strengths and weaknesses, I believe a wiki can be a powerful and sufficiently flexible tool for teaching a course at first year university level. My model for a teaching wiki has been the Metamedia Wiki at Stanford University in the United States, which is used for teaching, archiving, advertising, forums, research, presentations and networking. The Metamedia Wiki looks good as well.
My wiki for the course Cultures of Commonwealth English (VT08) has been set up on what will soon be the Department of Language Studies server. By locating the wiki on the department server I am in effect giving the wiki to the department, to be used by subsequent teachers as a resource base for the subject. My intention is to use the wiki as the primary text for the course, which is part of a larger program course and is made up of seven two hour seminars and an exam. I will start by writing the course on the wiki; the time table, seminar topics, background material, set reading lists, film titles and audio files will all be added to the wiki or linked to under headings which correspond to the seminar topics. I can only examine the students on the material dealt with in the seminars, but the wiki will function as a sort of reference television station during the course where material will be constantly programmed for the students to immerse themselves in the topics covered. I will be using an email enabled RSS feed so I do not have to rely on them visiting the wiki to get information and primary source materials for the seminars.
For the students to use the wiki they must log in with accounts given out in the welcome email sent out the week before the course starts. Once the course is up and running certain portions of the wiki will be able to be edited by the students. They will be able to comment on material presented in seminars and even change content and add to it. It is possible to attach tracking capabilities to the wiki so anyone who does alter material will also be identified. Material that is added to the wiki by students will remain on the wiki and will be in turn added to by following students unless the students themselves request otherwise. I am not setting a main text book for the course and hope that the wiki will serve this purpose as a form of electronic compendium. While the course is still several months away I have already started collecting material on it and constructing a topic sequence for the seminars. The RSS is also functioning and I am thinking of making even the construction of the wiki public and this stage through my blog so as to invite comments and recommendations.
The first impressions I have of working with the wiki in constructing the course Cultures of Commonwealth English (VT08) is how easy it is. As well it is fun as it feels like I am authoring the course myself and this has an associated feeling of being in control of the project. The technology behind the wiki is very simple and no (or at the most very little) coding experience is needed. The wiki is completely automatic, with any changes just a matter of pressing two buttons (Edit and Save) with the tagged change in the middle. Adding links, uploading material (images, Video, audio, written texts) is very simple. As well I expect the students will come to share in the sense of control over the course with sections of the wiki being able to be edited by them. While this is very much an experiment, I expect it will be an interesting and worthwhile one.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Software and Community in the Early 21st Century

Eben Moglen’s keynote address, titled “Software and Community in the Early 21st Century” presented at Plone Conference 2006 on October 25, 2006 in Seattle, WA.

In this inspiring lecture, Professor Moglen weaves together the industrial revolution, the knowledge economy, the free software movement, the One Laptop Per Child project and the long struggle for human dignity and equality.

Eben Moglen is Chairman of the Software Freedom Law Center, Professor of Law and Legal History at Columbia University Law School, and General Counsel of the Free Software Foundation.
MP3 and Ogg (audio only) versions of this talk are also available. Click on the FTP or HTTP “all files” links at left.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Friday Downstreams (the warm waters of revolution)

The first week of the new government in Australia draws to a close and I wish I was there to enjoy it. In today's national Swedish daily Dagen Nyheter a half page story was run on the fact that the lead singer from Midnight Oil is now Australia's Minister for Environment, Heritage and Arts; Peter Garrett. Will it make a difference? We will have to wait and see. I saw Peter Garrett speak in 1990 on the lawn at my university and I remember being very impressed by his intelligence and commitment. To begin this weeks downloads we have an Australian selection:

Australian Screen
australianscreen is a look at the Australian film and television industry, from its earliest days to the present. You can view clips from Australian feature films, documentaries, TV programs, shorts, home movies, newsreels, advertisements, other historical footage, and sponsored films produced over the last 100 years, with curators’ notes and other information about each title. The site currently contains 2,003 clips from 799 film and television titles, and is constantly being added to. You can also visit our education page for educational content provided by The Le@rning Federation. All clips with teachers’ notes are marked by the symbol.

Film Australia Digital Learning
A free, quick and easy-to-use search engine for teachers and educators. The Resource Finder features free for education video clips from Film Australia's remarkable archive - one of the nation's largest and most historically significant collections.
You can view or download these resources by simply choosing to search via curriculum, topic or keyword. No log in required.

The Shock Doctrine: Naomi Klein on the Rise of Disaster Capitalism
Pinochet’s coup in Chile. The massacre in Tiananmen Square. The collapse of the Soviet Union. September 11th, 2001. The war on Iraq. The Asian tsunami and Hurricane Katrina. Award-winning investigative journalist Naomi Klein brings together all of these world-changing events in her new book, “The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism.” In her first national broadcast interview since the publication of “The Shock Doctrine,” Klein joins us in our firehouse studio for the hour. Klein writes, “The history of the contemporary free market was written in shocks.” She argues that “Some of the most infamous human rights violations of the past thirty-five years, which have tended to be viewed as sadistic acts carried out by anti-democratic regimes, were in fact either committed with the deliberate intent of terrorizing the public or actively harnessed to prepare the ground for the introduction of radical free-market reforms.” [includes rush transcript]

Lee (mp3)
"This recording is from a cassette recorded by a fellah named Lee. He was, or still is, a mental patient in the state of Nevada. He had a lot of money from an unknown source, and would buy expensive bass guitars from the guitar shop where I was working. I would talk to him and try to get info as to his life and such but he was too shy. Nice guy, mid 40s, 6'2, 170 or so pounds, Hungarian/Slavic features, fairly gray line short hair. Lee spoke very slow with a midwestern accent. I'm guessing Kansas or Nebraska. He always rode a bike everywhere and carried an expensive bass guitar on his back. He said that he wanted to start recording songs that he had written. We all looked at each other like there was no way.
One day in 2001 when I was at work, a co-worker had run over from the large recording studio next door. Breathlessly he said that Lee was next door recording and that I had to go check it out."

This sells for up to $300 for the vinyl original. Here you have an Mp3 downlaod of "One of the original albums on the Silence label, Handgjort play an almost all instrumental acoustic Eastern world music, similar to the Third Ear Band or Aktuala. More underground and primitive though, reminding me of Furekaaben. Years later, Embryo would produce a more professional variation of this sound on “Reise” (the non rock pieces that is).In the Träd Gräs tribal filkish freaky vein."

Jonathan Kane (ex-Swans)
Jonathan Kane's February, "Pops" (mp3, 15 holy megs) - live at Southpaw in Park Slope Brooklyn, April 28 2007 as part of WFMU's Free Music Concert Series. "Pops" being Pops Staples, of course. I also recomend Kane's Myspace site, just to listen to I Looked at the Sun.

Hakim Bey and Ontological Anarchy
The complete writings of Hakim Bay aka Peter Lamborn Wilson aka Mustafa Ali Bey of the Moorish Orthodox Church of America (MOCA). I brought The Temporary Autonomous Zone T.A.Z in 1991 and it changed my life....nuff said.

De Kift
The soundtrack to my year in Amsterdam in 1998 was De Kift's Krankenhaus (1993) where they took the First World War poetry of Erich Maria Remarque and added the dark brass blues of the lunatic assylum. It is a rich and rewarding disturbance of a record.

Rainbows End by Vernor Vinge (a novel)
The first bit of dumb luck came disguised as a public embarrassment for the European Center for Defense against Disease. On July 23, schoolchildren in Algiers claimed that a respiratory epidemic was spreading across the Mediterranean. The claim was based on clever analysis of antibody data from the mass transit systems of Algiers and Naples.
CDD had no immediate comment, but in less than three hours, public-health hobbyists reported similar results in other cities, complete with contagion maps. The epidemic was at least one week old, probably originating in Central Africa, beyond the scope of hobbyist surveillance.

The Kitchen Presents Two Moon July (1986)

Warm Up (July 1985)

Philip Glass "Mad Rush"

Laurie Anderson "Difficult Listening Hour"

David Byrne "Report From L.A."

Dara Birnbaum "Damnation of Faust" (1983)

Kit Fitzgerald & David Sanborn "Olympic Fragments" (1980)

Director: Tom Bowes. Producer: Carlota Schoolman. Camera: Ed Bowes. Lighting Director: Stan Pressner. Sound: Bob Bielecki, Connie Kieltyka. Editing: Tom Bowes, Steve Giuliano. Associate Producers: Robin O?Hara, Mary Perillo. Assistant Director: Matthew Geller. Post Production Facilities: Broadway Video through the Media Alliance. Produced for The Kitchen by Carlota Schoolman. On-Line Program and Sync Sound, Inc.

Lost of strange and interesting things from Russia- music, films and the like.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Arrested for Stealing Virtual Furniture

"It is a theft because the furniture is paid for with real money" Sulake spokesman

A Dutch teenager has been arrested for allegedly stealing virtual furniture from "rooms" in Habbo Hotel, a 3D social networking website. The 17-year-old is accused of stealing 4,000 euros (£2,840) worth of virtual furniture, bought with real money.

SVEN: Surveillance Video Entertainment Network

SVEN CV - the computer vision software used for SVEN (Surveillance Video
Entertainment Network
) - is now available to the public. The features and interface were designed specifically for the SVEN project, so the interface isn't what you might expect from user-friendly, general purpose software. However, we hope it can be useful for other public space projects, as it is specifically designed to track people in uncontrolled settings, as opposed to a gallery or stage where lighting, background, clothing, etc., can be controlled.

SVEN is a piece of tactical software art. Tactical software art comes out of traditions of tactical media and software art. It’s a logical mix: tactical media is a response to the way mainstream media influences culture; software art is a response to the ways mainstream software influences culture.

Tactical media often involves a combination of digital actions and “meatspace” – or street - actions. In SVEN, these are one and the same - digital actions that take place on the street (just off the curb in this case).

Surveillance is already scary.

Sure, surveillance is scary - but you’ve probably heard that before. We’re being watched all the time, and we don’t know by whom, or what they’re doing with the images and other data they’re gathering. Scared? You bet - there’s a bogeyman under the bed, so we’d better not look. But remember, we’re supposed to be scared – people are trying to scare us. Foucault pointed out that not knowing when the bogeyman is watching you can scare you into changing your behavior. But not knowing how the bogeyman is watching you can scare you too. SVEN’s purpose is not to point out that surveillance is scary. People are scared enough as it is.

Software shouldn’t be scary.

From the SVEN CV website.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Free TV and the Monkees

At the moment the Swedish public television station SVT is running an advertising campaign about how it is politically and economically independent and therefore 'Free'. I am not sure it is as simple as that (i.e. the people pay therefore we can say anything), but I agree there is an integrity to the public broadcaster in Sweden that is important. However, I have encountered similar levels of 'Independence' in other state run media services in other countries that while they do not favor individual concerns such as business' they do follow national agendas and conform to concepts of 'common sense'- which leads me to my next topic.

The soundtrack to one of the ads being run by SVT is Circle Sky by the Monkees from 1968. Not only is it a great tune, it comes from one of the most surreal psychedelic films produced in the 1960's. An underground classic that rates with other psychadelic films produced which involved Jack Nicholson, Peter Fonda and Roger Corman; Wild Angels, The Trip, Psych-Out,

Head (1968) begins (without any opening credits) at the dedication of a bridge. After a politician struggles with constant feedback with his microphone as he tries to give a speech, the Monkees suddenly interrupt the ceremony by running through the assembled officials, to the sound of various horns and sirens. The rest of the film is essentially plotless, a seemingly stream of consciousness stringing-together of musical numbers, satire of various film genres, elements of psychedelia, and references to topical issues such as the Vietnam War. Trailers for the film summarized it as a "most extraordinary adventure, western, comedy, love story, mystery, drama, musical, documentary satire." Some film critics[citation needed] now consider the film to be an allegorical deconstruction of the Monkees' experiences as pawns of the Hollywood starmaking machine that, like their real-life story itself, contains some sinister truths lurking underneath what appears to be a colorful, entrancing facade. Wikipedia

I watched Head many times as a young student in Australia in the late 1980s (along with Easy Rider and a lot of Al Pacino films), as we had a cheap VHS copy of it someone had bought in some closing down video rental. Thinking about it now it was a cut-up or remix and looking at the imdb it seems to have been constructed as such:

The movie's origin was in Ojai, California, where the foursome [the monkees], Bob Rafelson, and Jack Nicholson spent a weekend in a resort motel verbally tossing story ideas into a tape recorder. This became the script for this film.

The SVT campaign today is getting a lot of attention based on its criticism of other media outlets and their ownership structures. However, Head is a strange source for a state broadcaster to appropriate material from, as it depicts a lifestyle that, shall we say, is not really legal in Sweden today. I wonder if the perceived freedom of the 1960's (and the now wealthy demographic that can remember that time) is the target for Circle Sky, "We were free and we can be free again....with SVT." To get some idea of 'where Im coming' here is the theatrical trailer for Head from 1968:

EA's Medal of Honor Airborne by Yahtzee

How to crtique a computer game by Yahtzee.

Meanwhile in Second Life

"Fire and the Story"

The documentary "Fire and the Story" developed by Cape York Elders and Clan Groups regarding traditional fire knowledge and the problems with it's absence in the environment and urban areas in Australia today. The film is a product of the grass roots Traditional Knowledge Revival Pathways (TKRP) project and is a bid to educate the broader public, nationally and internationally, in the benefits of reapplying Indigenous burning techniques. The range of chapters and stories that make up the film are based on real experience with Elders on country assessing the issue first hand.
Preview (Film)
Read More (PDF)

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Just getting 11 years 8 months and 22 days of John Howard off my chest......

"I left the keys under the mat." John W. Howard has left The Lodge

The opposition Australian Labor Party has won the Federal Election by a massive majority. Prime Minister John Howard is expected to loose his own seat of Bennelong, the first serving Prime Minister to do so since 1929 and only the second Australian Prime Minister to do so ever.

I am very glad for this result. I grew up in a labor voting family and while I lean more towards Green Party policies, the abandonment of the Howard vision for Australia is long overdue. While obsessive economic growth and soft nationalism may seem to be a formula for successful governance on the surface it just does not provide for all levels of society. As well, many of the key ingredients for sustainable development are ignored when popular opinion and fiscal performance become the sole measure of success. I would like to list a few of the issues that have troubled me over the last 11 1/2 years of Howard.

Australia since 1996 has committed its citizens to armed conflicts in Timor-Leste, Solomon Islands, Afghanistan, and Iraq (with fatalities in each). Austraian peace keeping military have been deployed Bougainville (1994)(1997-2003), Guatemala (1997), Yugoslavia (1997-),Kosovo (1999-), East Timor (1999-), Solomon Islands(2000-),Ethiopia/Eritrea(2000-), Sierra Leone (2000-2003), and Sudan (2005-). As well military excercises have expanded considerably; Rim-of-the-Pacific 1996 (RIMPAC 96), Crocodile99, WESTPAC Exercises, Tandem Thrust 2001, Talisman Sabre (biannual), Exercise Albatros Ausindo and PN-RAN Exercise Lumbas 2007 being some of the more major war games conducted under the Howard administration. All this gun play costs money and military spending has increased considerably since 1996:

Since coming to power in 1996, the Howard Government has increased spending on the military by 46 per cent in real terms. Spending for the current financial year will reach $19.9 billion. Thanks to Costello’s 12th Budget, next year it will be $22 billion or around 2 per cent of gross domestic product. By 2016-17 it is expected to rise to $29.9 billion. The Guardian

International aid on the other hand is stagnant or has fallen slightly in real terms under the Howard government, 0.3 percent of gross domestic product in 2007 from 0.36 in 1996/97 (ABS Australian National Accounts Series 5206.0). This is despite a booming economy that is being driven hard by mining and exports (coal, oil, gold, aluminium, wheat, beef, wool, passenger motor vehicles, natural gas and other base metal ores being the top 10). I believe that as the energy demands of global society change over the coming decades (due to peak oil, altering cost structures and changing attitudes to non-renewables like coal) then what is driving the Australian economy today will cease. That the country has not contributed to international aid as reflected its prosperity will also not assist it in the future when countries such as Indonesia and the micro-Pacific states are needing more help as a result of climate change. It is then that histroy will judge the Howard government. History will also take stock of the social policies of the Howard government.

One of the most interesting books I have read in the last few years about politics in Australia is God under Howard: The rise of the religious right in Australia By Marion Maddox (Allen & Unwin, 2005):

God Under Howard makes it clear that this growing electoral base needs to be satisfied, policy-wise, and the Coalition is delivering. Maddox presents a persuasive argument that shies away from demonising individuals of faith. They are not her target. Instead, she highlights the ideological similarities between conservative churches such as Hillsong and Howard's Government. A denomination that celebrates wealth as God's blessing and supports personal satisfaction fits Coalition dogma perfectly. "Such theology is a neat fit," writes Maddox, "for a government that stresses market capitalism and privatised economics over social welfare and collective responsibility for one another."
The recently revitalised abortion debate provides ample support for Maddox's disturbing thesis. It is evident, despite the obsequiousness of those suggesting otherwise, that a number of conservative, Christian men in the Government are determined to make women's bodies their domain. Maddox warns us that unless we want to enter the realm of America's decaying democracy, where the line between church and state is hopelessly blurred, we must fight to reinstate our democratic traditions.SMH

Maddox builds a convincing argument that while Howard himself has always shied away from evangelical admissions in political contexts, he has fostered a climate of right wing evangelical christianity in his policies and those he appoints to positions around him. The power asserted by the secretive Lyons Forum in the Federal Coalition Government is discussed at length in God Under Howard. The Lyons Forum is:

"A secretive Christian faction of the Federal Coalition which attempts to influence policy in areas such as censorship and other so-called "family" issues. It is widely regarded as the equivalent of the American religious right. The forum has about 50 members, including about 15 members of the front bench, and meets once a fortnight. Membership is restricted to coalition MPs" Electronic Frontiers Australia

One example of the catering to right wing agendas by Howard has been the rediculous levels of censorship that have been excercised in Australia under his government. Not only has sedition been made a crime again (Federal Anti-Terrorism Bill 2005) but dozens of books, films, audio, websites and computer games have been banned (A short list I complied recently). Australia, under Howard, has slipped regarding freedom of the press to a level that one usually associated with non-democratic countries;

“Two international studies ranked Australia 35th and 39th on a world press freedom index,” News Ltd chairman and chief executive John Hartigan said. “We should be up there with other democracies that are way in front of us." The Australian

Race is discussed by Maddox in God Under Howard and it is difficult to forget the feelings I had when I read about the Cronulla Riots:

On Sunday 11 December 2005, an estimated crowd of some 5000 people had gathered at Cronulla beach. In the week leading up to the incident of the 11th, this confrontation and the subsequent circulation of anonymous calls to gather at the beach — spread via SMS text messaging ("Come to Cronulla this weekend to take revenge. This Sunday every Aussie in the Shire get down to North Cronulla to support Leb and wog bashing day.") and other means — were the subject of much publicity and media commentary.

The mob appeared to be of non-Lebanese ethnicity. The assembly occurred after elements in the local community had called for a public showing in response to the previous weekend's confrontation between a group of Middle Eastern background and some local Cronulla beach surf lifesavers. Police had earlier stated that they believed this previous assault had been racially motivated.

A number of the rioters wore clothing bearing racially-divisive slogans such as "We Grew Here, You Flew Here", "Wog Free Zone", "Aussie Pride", "Save 'Nulla" and "Ethnic Cleansing Unit". Chants of "Lebs out", "Fuck off Lebs", "Lebs go home" and other discriminatory expressions were continuously shouted out by the mob. Wikipedia

Howard responded to the riots by saying "I do not accept that there is underlying racism in this country. I have always taken a more optimistic view of the character of the Australian people. I do not believe Australians are racist." The increasingly racialised atmosphere in Australia was made apparent by the riots and while I don't think Howard had much to do with the violence in Cronulla directly, the society that has developed during his 11 years of government is one where race is now a part of identity to an extent it has not been in Australia for several decades. Eleven days before the election which saw the end of the Howard government the special police powers granted after the Cronulla riots(including the ability of the police to close bars and hotels, to stop and search vehicles and people, to seize cars and phones and to disperse mobs) were made permanent in New South Wales.

I was in Australia in July this year when the so-called Northern Territory 'intervention' was announced by now former Indigenous Affairs Minister Mal Brough. To combat an 'epidemic' of gross sexual abuse of children the military were to be sent in to take over Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory. Because of the federated structure of the Australian state and national system, the Northern Territory is the only state level administrative area that the federal government has the legal ability to do such a thing (although the Australian Capital Territory around Canberra and national parks can also be 'intervened' with if they had to I suppose). Having lived in Redfern and having friends on several communities, I know that there are very unpleasant realities behind the apparent concerns of Brough and Howard. However, they situation for even the government run legal and social systems in Aboriginal communities has been dire for years, let alone any projects or programs run by locals. Prior to the intervention there was only one child welfare officer working in Katherine in the Northern Territory. Katherine is at the crossroads for serveral Aboriginal communities and support for the young there has not been sufficient for a long time.

Watching the slow death of the Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander Council (ATSIC) in 2004 and 2005 as it drowned in its own isolation and mismanagement is typical of the attitude of the Howard government to the indigenous peoples of Australia. ATSIC was

an elected body whose constituency was indigenous Australians. This included: people from the many Aboriginal communities on the Australian mainland, Tasmania and other off-shore islands, and the ethnically distinct people from the many Melanesian communities inhabiting the islands of the Torres Strait, collectively known as Torres Strait Islanders. Later the Torres Strait Regional Authority took over responsibility for programs in the Torres Strait Islands. This body continues to operate.

While it (again) seems clear there were problems with ATSIC, the fact that it was the only elected representative body for and by indigenous Australians made it an important part of the structure of a demoracatic and just Australia. Because its chairman was charged with criminal offences seems like a strange reason for disbanding the entire organisation. Instead, all the roles and duties of ATSIC passed back to the federal government's representatives:

The policy and coordination role is now the responsibility of the Office of Indigenous Policy Coordination in the Department of Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs from 27 January 2006 (previously with the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs). wikipedia

With the loss of his seat in the Federal Senate in 2005 by Aden Ridgeway the last elected Aboriginal officer during the Howard Government was gone.

With the Australian military active overseas, and in the marginal parts of Australia, one would only expect that immigration would reflect a reaching out to the world in need. The image of people living behind electric fences and razor wire in the desert is not something I would have associated with the Australia I grew up in (although at school between 1974-86 we were told nothing about the stolen generation, genocide, or anything really). While immigration detention was begun by the Keating labor government it was it 1999 that the Woomera Immigration Reception and Processing Centre (IRPC) opened:

The Centre was opened in November 1999, with a capacity of 400. This capacity was very quickly exceeded, as the boat arrivals continued. Nursing and administrative staff working there at the time have since complained that facilities were totally inadequate, and that it was impossible to provide proper medical care.

Most detainees applied for refugee status, and had no possibility for release until their claim had been finalised. Men, women, and children were detained at The Centre. The highest number of children detained at any one time was 456, out of a total population of 1442, on September 1, 2001. As at 26 December 2003, the average length of detention for children was one year, 8 months, and 11 days. An unaccompanied child refugee had this to say:

"I believe you [Australians] are nice people, peace seekers, you support unity. If you come to see us behind the fence, think about how you would feel. Are you aware of what happens here? Come and see our life. I wonder whether if the Government of Iran created camp like Woomera and Australians had seen pictures of it, if they would have given people a visa to come to Australia then."

The detention centre was a source of much controversy during its time of operation. There were a number of riots and escapes, as well as accusations of human rights abuses from groups as diverse as refugee advocates, Amnesty International, the Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, ChilOut, Human Rights Watch, and the United Nations.

In March 2002, the Secretary General of Amnesty International, Irene Khan, said:

"It is obvious that the prolonged periods of detention, characterised by frustration and insecurity, are doing further damage to individuals who have fled grave human rights abuses. The detention policy has failed as a deterrent and succeeded only as punishment. How much longer will children and their families be punished for seeking safety from persecution?" Wikipedia

Then Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone turning on the electric fence at the Villawood Immigration Detention Center

The razor wire has come down - but the electric fence is going up. After months of battering over a string of departmental bungles and growing public concern about the effects of mandatory detention, the Immigration Minister, Amanda Vanstone, took personal carriage of a rare pleasant duty in her portfolio last week: removing the razor wire around the Villawood detention centre.

All the children had been let out, along with some of the longest-held detainees. Senator Vanstone thought of the idea herself, viewing it as symbolic of the shift she hopes to see in the departmental culture.

"OK, let's go and have a snip," she said to media crews, doing away with three coils of the wire.

The decision to remove the perimeter wire and leave razor wire in only one area for criminal detainees went further than reforms introduced after the inquiry into the detention of the mentally ill Australian resident Cornelia Rau, she said.

But what the Government cuts with one hand it apparently builds with the other.

Immigration officials admitted yesterday the razor wire was being replaced in some parts by an electric fence.

Over the next three months an "electronic detention system" will be built on top of one-quarter of the fences in higher security areas at Villawood.

They said it would deliver "a short, harmless shock" to anyone coming into contact with the fence but stressed it would be more than three metres above the ground and that warning signs would be put on the fence itself. SMH Date: September 15 2005

I could go on.....Children overboard and the Tampa, the Tas RFA Logging Deal, Cubby Station, the Pacific Solution, Mohammed Haneef and detainment without trial..but I won't. It will take a generation for Australia to move on from the Howard Government. The time to get over all this has begun. Goodbye John....goodbye!

Bye Bye!