Thursday, May 31, 2007

"Your Second Life: Living and Building in Second Life"

A Short Course Taught in HUMlab
Umeå University 31 May 2007

Some Antecedents:
To begin with a few examples from world history which have features that are reflected in Second Life to varying degrees. A person standing behind or within another identity that is somehow separated from the everyday, but at the same time is defined by it. In earlier times such definitions were often part of experiencing the divine. The association with transformation, duality, self and the divine mirrors the sacred place that language often took in pre-industrial societies. As well this ‘second’ identity is performed usually as part of or to a group. These antecedent examples are primarily visual with a secondary quality of audio. Theater, ritual and multimedia are present in each as well.

Dancing dwarfs in ivory. The figures move through the use of strings and a pulley.Found at Lisht during excavations in 1934 by the Metropolitan Museum of Art,New York, which has a fourth dwarf from the set. Height - 7.8 cm. Egypt - Middle Kingdom - 12th Dynasty (1971-1803 BCE)

The Lord of Flayed Skins. Xipe Totec.
Codex Rios 27 (26v) Fourteenth Trecena: Thipetotec (Xipe Totec)
From the Borgia Group Codices (Mostly pre-Colombian from central-Mexico)

Thipetotec is he whom we have mentioned above as performing penance, like another Quetzalcoatle, on the mountain of thorns. They named him The Mournful Combatant: they celebrated a great festival in his honor, which they called Tlaxipehualiztli (Tlacaxipehualiztli).
He was one of the gods of the Tzapotecas (Zapotecs). They dressed themselves on his festival in human skins taken from those whom they had slain in war; because they say that he was the first who clothed himself in this manner. They fasted on the three first signs of his festival, during which they only ate at noon.

The medieval European pilgrim clothed themselves in religious charms and symbols and performed rituals throughout their journey. The journey took place at specific times of the year and followed prescribed routes and along the way there were hundreds of sites to visit. These sites often contained relics from religious stories. A pilgrim became part of a stream of people who performed their faith in very public settings in a world that was filled with symbols and their meaning. One of the most famous of these pilgrims who has left us his writings is Felix Fabri.

Felix Fabri
Fabri was a German Dominican Friar of the Preaching Order, born in 1441 or 1442, in Zurich. Died in Ulm, Germany in 1502 where he spent most of his life. Friar Felix made two pilgrimages to the Holy Land, in 1480 and again in 1483-4. He wrote two accounts of his travels, one in German (Ulm, 1556); the other in Latin. The former is rather brief; the other is very complete and accurate in its descriptions of the places he visited. This second journal made Fabri one of the most distinguished and learned writers of the fifteenth century. The second of Fabri’s texts is online at:

Vietnamese Water Puppets

Vietnamese water puppetry is thought to have originated in the Red River Delta in Vietnam in the Ly Dynasty (12th century). When the rice field would flood the villagers would entertain each other using this puppet form. With the puppeteers hidden by the backdrop and their rods and strings hidden by the 4 by 4 meter pool of water, the puppets display what appears to be autonomous agency. This amazing multimedia performance, with orchestra and singers to the sides, is an example of the subject/s being distributed over space (and consequentially time). Not unlike a 3D online world.

Some Historical Background on Virtual Worlds
Virtual Worlds Timeline: the Origins and Evolution of Social Virtual Worlds

A project initiated by author, theorist and explorer Bruce Damer (Bruce sits on the HUMlab board of advisors and he will be visiting us in September – the May tour he writes of on the website was postponed). The Virtual Worlds Timeline documents and archives the history of Social Virtual World. Second Life is a social virtual world. On the site are audio and visual downloads of Bruce’s presentations and text explaining what it is all about.

Some other online virtual worlds:

Some Philosophy
It is convenient to describe the attention we pay to three dimensional digital depictions of interactive space as being engaged with the virtual, secondary, there metaverse. As opposed to the real, primary here universe. This is a common way of thinking about what I am compelled to call virtual worlds. However, by even taking a quick look at Second Life, as we are going to do today, you will hopefully be as certain as I am that these systems of representation and interaction are changing the ‘real’ world as they are so influenced by it.

My approach to virtual worlds is as a scholar of English literature and as a reformed performance artist (I still have occasional relapses). This means I look at language and other symbolic meaning systems and the use of spatial attributes (including design, visual culture, and the way space and time are represented) to analyze these artifacts as texts. A text is any system of signs or symbols that mean something to others. In 1874 the French poet Stéphane Mallarmé published a series of articles on fashion. Mallarmé published them in a magazine which he wrote entirely himself but using a number of male and female pseudonyms. He analyzes, criticizes and contextualizes the fashion system which he was surrounded by in the Paris of 1874. One critic describes a present day translation of the work (which I have on the book board of this short course) as:

...exploring his great interest, fashion - its rules, philosophy and rhetoric of persuasion - from the inside, placing the work somewhere between Baudelaire's The Painter of Modern Life and Barthes' semiology The Fashion System.

Both of Baudelaire’s and Barthes’ texts are also well worth looking at to develop an understanding of how we all perform, interpret and construct representations of meaning as we go about being ‘ourselves’. In Second Life the construction of identity has reached a level that may have interested Mallarmé greatly.

What is Second Life?
Look at the Wikpedia entry

Second Life is becoming the most popular online social 3D system so far. Massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPG) such as World of Warcraft and Everquest are more popular according to user statistics (as of January 2007 31 million Chinese Internet users engage in some form of online game play), but Second Life is not a game, it is not a network, according to digital media theorist Howard Rheingold it is not a virtual community; it is a world (with communities in it).

Currently there are around 7 million registered accounts in Second Life, of course many of these may not be active or even be people, many could be bots (artificial intelligence computer programs that can appear to have a personality). At any one time there is usually between 10 000 and 50 000 users in the world, depending on the time and what events are going on. Second Life is a complex network of online 3D spaces (presented as islands of various sizes) comprising in total approx. 155 000 sq miles of land where avatars (digital figures or representations of you and others) interact and perform; building structures, communicating, exchanging and conflicting. The median age for users of Second Life is 35 for males and 32 for females. Entry into the Second Life World is free but interaction in a material sense can often require money. This interaction can be as a land owner, running a business, selling a service, creating art, music, or organizing meetings festivals and other types of gathering.
Money in Second Life is Linden Dollars: $L. At the moment there are about $L250 to $US1 so it is not a strong currency but the turnover of $L is large. See:

Peter Zackariasson is a HUMlab affiliated doctoral researcher who has done work on the economies of online virtual worlds. The wealth generated in virtual worlds is not small or pretend; it is one example of how the virtual can become very real.

Let’s look at the video promotion made by the company behind Second Life, Linden Research, Inc (commonly referred to as Linden Lab):

What do you do with Second Life?
The Swedish state opened an embassy in Second Life this week. Describing the event the national television broadcaster SVT’s culture news said:

“A pretend embassy in a pretend world...What is this actually? There was grave unworldly talk about a terrorist attack against the pretend embassy when at the same time it is nothing other than an interactive information brochure which looks like a computer game from the 1990s.” Kulturnyheternas Fredrik Sahlin 30 May 2007.

I think this statement shows a lack of understanding for what an online 3D world is and can be (Sahlin is actually a film critic). Second Life is not a visual feast, although it can be engaging and even beautiful. The concept of terror may be very different in Second Life than what it is in the real world today. However, there is terrorism of a kind in Second Life. I witnessed a prolonged attack against the headquarters of the Second Life Liberation Army, itself a so-called terrorist organisation. These acts are code based disruptions to verything within an area of Second Life, they can destroy content and disrupt services.

Second Life is more than “an interactive information brochure” just like a blog is more than a diary and a film is more than a story. In Second Life my avatar can meet with other avtars and talk to the people behind them (voice communication is expected to be in Second Life by the end of June 2007), watch a film with them, give them a copy of an essay I wrote and communicate with one of our teachers at university in an informal seminar. None of this is possible in a brochure. With Second Life people run businesses, communicate, show their work, make music, learn things, share pornography, gamble, and do research. Some of my favourite examples of the more genteel of these are:

Not a strong point with me but I have visited a few shops in Second Life, I bought a virtual didgeridoo from a ‘virtual’ music shop which cost real money. As well it is possible to buy real things in Second Life. Telia Sonera is opening a shop in world soon, and many large companies do ordering from their sites in world. The situation in the USA when it comes to the people who use virtual worlds is very real:

A consortium of corporate training folks from Wal-Mart Stores (WMT), American Express (AXP ), Intel (INTC ), and more than 200 other companies, organized by learning and technology think tank The MASIE Center in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., is experimenting inside Second Life with ways for companies to foster more collaborative learning methods. Says Intel Corp. learning consultant Brent T. Schlenker: "We're trying to get in on the front end of this new workforce that will be coming."

Kzero has a blog and they do a lot of work with Second Life as a business world:

Second Life is a communication media. Embedded in all the hype and business are people talking to each other. Communication via text chat, Instant Messaging, video, image, audio stream and 3D constructions is everywhere in world.

Showing your stuff
Second Life is a bit like a playground for adults. Art abounds as does the bizarre. Some examples:

Clone Video

Synthetic Performances by Eva and Franco Mattes (a.k.a. 0100101110101101.ORG)
A series of reenactments of historical performances inside synthetic worlds such as Second Life. All actions are performed by Eva and Franco Mattes through their avatars, which were constructed out of their bodies and faces. People can attend the performances online, while in the making, or see the photo and video documentation afterwards. The series started in January 2007.

The Port

Imagining Place: Then entire body of "Imaging Place" work includes an archive of hundreds of locations and hours of narrative. John (Craig) Freeman currently has four scenes from this archive constructed in various locations around the Second Life grid. When a denizen of Second Life first arrives at an Imaging Place SL Scene he, she or it sees on the ground a large black and white satellite picture of the full disk of the Earth. An avatar can then walk over the Earth to a thin red line which leads to an adjacent higher level platform made of a high resolution aerial photograph of specific location from around the world. Mapped to the aerial images are networks of nodes constructed of primitive spherical geometry with panoramic photographs texture mapped to the interior. The avatar can walk to the center at one of these nodes and use a first person perspective to view the image, giving the user the sensation of being immersed in the location.

Music is everywhere in Second Life. For about $US2 a day you can stream audio into the land that you either own or are a member of (a lot of land in Second Life is group owned). Plus there are the performances. Some of the more famous ones so far are


Suzanne Vega

There are hundreds of cafes and oases where an avatar is playing music that is being streamed from someone’s lounge room or bedroom somewhere in the real world. One such soul is Natalie Moody who played at the opening of the Second House of Sweden

Before we go into Second Life, here are a few examples of educational initiatives happening in world:

The New Media Consortium
A network of over 200 universities colleges, libraries and research institutions that work in and with Second Life

The Berkman Centre for Internet law and Society at Harvard University
The Berkman Center taught CyberOne: Law in the Court of Public Opinion

I could go on but we should get into Second Life and look around. First some links for building:

Finding Good Sites in Second Life
Second life Tree
A directory of slurls (second life universal resource locators): accessing places in Second Life directly from the web.

We need to find ourselves a sandbox. First let’s all meet up at the new Swedish embassy and look around:

Click here:

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Second Sweden Embassy Opening

These are images from the inworld live stream of the opening of the Swedish embassy in Second Life. Realism and planning were the key principles at play during the ceremony. Foreign Minister Carl Bildt's avatar not surprisingly looked like Carl Bildt (they even had the same suit on) and he opened the building with a virtual pair of scissors cutting a virtual ribbon. It was however very well done, a model perhaps of state presence in a virtual environment. We average avatars will not know until tomorrow as the island with the embassy on it was only accessible today for the invited. We had to make do with a wobbly video stream (it cut out three times) of the proceeding. The embassy will be open to the SL public from tomorrow. What we did see demonstrated of the embassy building seems to be a very high quality production. The obvious stuff was present, links to information about Swedish culture and travel. What did strike me was a panorama globe with the location of all the RL Swedish diplomatic missions in the world featured. An avatar can stand in the center of the globe and click on the spots marking the location of a Swedish embassy, this opens the web page to that mission.
I will begin my SL short course in HUMlab tomorrow (9am in the lab..just turn up if you have not booked) at the embassy site. The SL Swedish embassy seems like an interesting hybrid between website, virtual world and the sort of stalls you find at World Expo extravaganzas. Nice work Sweden.
For those with a special interest, a large part of the chat history from the video stream site can be downloaded HERE.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Latency of the Moving Image in New Media

Curated by Eduardo Navas

Jorge Castro (Cordoba, AR)
Arcangel Constantini (Mexico City, MX)
Timo Daum, (Berlin, DE)
Corey Eiseman (Miami, Florida, US)
Yann Le Guennec (Lorient, FR)
Guillermo López, (Madrid, ES)
Antonio Mendoza (Los Angeles, Ca, US)
Brian Mackern (Montevideo, UY)
Julia Masvernat (Buenos Aires, AR)
Raúl Marco Padilla (Madrid, ES)
Gustavo Romano (Buenos Aires, AR)
Katherine Sweetman (Los Angeles, Ca, US)

By Eduardo Navas


Image from a Czech translation of an alchemical text known as the Rosarium Philosophorum (‘The Rosary of the Philosophers’) by Jaroš Griemiller of Třebsko (1578)

I enjoyed a seminar presented today by Van Leavenworth a doctoral collegue in Modern Langauges, English Lit. Part of his work discussed the imagery of alchemy:

Although the alchemists' fundamental goal of elemental transmutation was flawed, on a deeper level the work of alchemy (cloaked in allegorical images) also represented the transformation of the soul. Modern science has accomplished the transmutation of elements using means that the alchemists never dreamed of. And there is still a small group of occult researchers who persist in trying to continue the work. The documents of alchemy make fascinating reading for historians of science and the esoteric.
Internet Sacred Texts Archive

I did some googling when I got home and there is a treasury of alchemical texts and images on the web. This is probably due to the fact that they were published long before there was copyright. Thinking about this, and about Van's interesting research, I thought when will the medieval alchemical texts begin to be uses for computer game storyboards? A rich and vast body of works lies waiting for creative exploitation! Here are a few hundred and here are over 2000 images and over 200 complete. alchemical texts. Here are some more.

New Search Engine Promises to be Better than Google

From the MyLiveSearch website:

My Live Search is the first, true ‘real-time’ search engine to appear on the www. It is the only engine that searches the www live to the second. Results are not retrieved from an indexed database as is with all other search engines, which are days, weeks or months old.
Information is only as valuable as it happens and this is the underlying philosophy of its founders to develop a tool, the first of its kind, to give its users the power, scope and most of all, live information on the www.
This technology has been in development for the past 8 years with the team currently based in Melbourne, Australia. A dedicated team of innovative developers delivering the latest cutting edge technology in 'real-time' search within a new paradigm on how we search the www today.
A totally new and innovative approach to searching the web, which has not been done before, until now!

World Wide Launch Mid to End of June

Butoh of the Real

Like some strange Butoh of the real. Portraits of Canadian football fans. Fantastic!

Monday, May 28, 2007

Your Second Life

If you are a student or staff member of Umeå University and are interested in Second Life but are not sure what it is (like you don't get the newspaper or look at TV or have Internet...oh you are reading this aren't you) or want to learn more about Second Life and Virtual Worlds in general then do I have short course for you.

Exactly twenty four hours after the opening of the Swedish Embassy in Second Life, on Thursday 31 May at 09:00 I will be leading a group into a 3 hour short course in HUMlab called Your Second Life: Living and Building in Second Life. Everybody MUST have an avatar in Second Life for this course, I will send out a mail on Wednesday with instructions on how to get an account in Second Life. If you don't have one when the course starts we will get one for you together. The course will be divided into three bite size portions:

1. A brief talk about Virtual Worlds; what are they, where are they, why are they. I have a list of 14 of them. Maybe you know some more. We can look at some of the philosophical, critical, social, theoretical, identity, political, economic and language issues arrising out of Second Life. Check out this Australian online documentary as background; You Only Life Twice.

2. For the second hour we will be moving into Second Life. I am putting together a list of choice locations that I have encountered in my wanderings inworld. We will be teleporting about the place, encountering who knows what. I have been in Second Life since October last year, a relative newby, but I have been working with Virtual Worlds online since 2003- just not the real popular ones. I will be outlining the rules and etiquettes of Second Life as I understand them. Some of the laws of Second Life are a bit complex, such as those surrounding currency exchange and land purchases. This is something I am living at the moment and will share my experiences with all who are willing to listen.

3. Finally we will teleport to a few sandboxes (practice spaces) and build some things. Sandboxes can be rough places (remember dagis?) so we will look after each other. Community is what it is all about.

You can book a place for this virtual learing tour now HERE. I hope to see you in HUMlab.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

The Referendum for Constitutional Change 40 years

The 27th May 2007 marks 40 years since the people of Australia voted yes to changing the constitution regarding Aboriginal people. The referendum concerned the removal of sections from two clauses of the constitution that disqualified Aboriginal people from the right to vote and be included as citizens:

51. The Parliament shall, subject to this Constitution, have power to make laws for the peace, order, and good government of the Commonwealth with respect to:-

(xxvi) The people of any race, other than the aboriginal people in any State, for whom it is necessary to make special laws.

127. In reckoning the numbers of the people of the Commonwealth, or of a State or other part of the Commonwealth, aboriginal natives should not be counted.

The removal of the words ‘… other than the aboriginal people in any State…' in section 51(xxvi) and the whole of section 127 were considered by many to be representative of the prevailing movement for political change within Indigenous affairs. As a result of the political climate, this referendum saw the highest YES vote ever recorded in a Federal referendum, with 90.77 per cent voting for change.

Although I was born two years after the referendum I feel that this was a high point in what has been general a very sorry story. I was among the first generation of Australians to grow up with Aboriginal people who were not classified as part of the flora and fauna of Australia. Rather, the indigenous people from 1967 were legally (if not practically as racism is rife in Australia) considered members of the community at large. That it only happened 40 years ago is an irony of bitter consequence.

Today things are not good but perhaps they are better than they were on 26th May 1967. Aboriginal disadvantage is common knowledge in Australia. New South Wales Minister for Fair Trading, Linda Burney (a member of the Wiradjuri nation) spoke at Wagga Wagga recently on what is happening at the moment regarding Aboriginal Australia:

"The truth is this we are not all equal. And we are not all mates … It is almost impossible to put into words the distress being felt at the roll-back in Aboriginal affairs. Not least because you think of all those people who gave so much."

The Prime Minister spoke today at Parliament house and was heckled; "We have been genocided by your government and your court," the unidentified woman yelled to loud applause from the gathered crowd.

Prime Minister Howard's ideas for overcoming Aboriginal disadvantage seem to be steeped in a paternalistic vision of assimilation:

"The right of an Aboriginal Australian to live on remote communal land and to speak an Indigenous language is no right at all if it is accompanied by grinding poverty, overcrowding, poor health, community violence and isolation from mainstream Australian society."

These remote, communally owned traditional lands are the only ones still controlled by Aboriginal groups. That they are isolated and not supported with infrastructure is a shame for the Government not the people that live there. Consider that a uranium mine built on land taken from "remote communal land" can be equipped with all the facilities found in a major city (sewage, electricity, access to education and so on) and it is not done for Aboriginal groups. One wonders about the rational behind such facts.

I found the text to former Prime Minister Paul Keating's speech given in Redfern Park in 1993;

More I think than most Australians recognise, the plight of Aboriginal Australians affects us all. In Redfern it might be tempting to think that the reality Aboriginal Australians face is somehow contained here, and that the rest of us are insulated from it. But of course, while all the dilemmas may exist here, they are far from contained. We know the same dilemmas and more are faced all over Australia.

This is why the status of Aboriginal Australians is important. Not until the crimes of the past and the present are dealt with mutually (and not by just avoiding the issue) through dialogue then the whole concept of Australian identity, for all Australians, is compromised.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Because it was Friday Downloads

As yesterday was too frantic for blogging I now place here a few downloads to pass the weekend with (for those who pass these two days in idleness).
First a selection from the Shamefile, a site dedicated to experimental and avant garde sound arts in Australia.

A selection of Shame File Music releases are available for free downloading
Undecisive God - The Difference Between Light and Shadow cassette
Undecisive God - The Celestial Emporium of Benevolent Knowledge cassette
Various Artists - A Land of Sweeping Sound cassette
Undecisive God - Prodigal cassette
NeTE - Greatest Non-Hits 1 cassette
Various Artists - Behind Closed Doors: Australian home-recorded experiments CD
Kettle / Undecisive God - Digilogue EP
Undecisive God self-titled CD
Various Artists - Sound in the Absence of Light CD
Undecisive God / W.I.T. - Modern Discourse business card CDR
Undecisive God - Offering CD
Diaspora - Ohmwrld CD
Undecisive God - Border Protection Policy CD
Various Artists - The Undertow: undercurrents of Australian experimental music CD
Scott Sinclair and Clinton Green - Tamas EP
Scott Sinclair and Clinton Green - With Doors Open CD
Terra Australis Incognita mp3 EP series, with releases by W.I.T., The Feeder, Undecisive God, r.domain, Bokor and Hi God People.
The NMA Series, 10 cassettes documenting Australian experimental music from 1982-92, now available as free downloads.
The Unnameable - But of That, I Will Not Speak...CD

Stories from the Arabian nights (1907)
Author: Housman, Laurence, 1865-1959

This gorgeous book includes the following stories as retold by Laurence Housman: Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves; The Story of the Wicked Half-Brothers; The Story of the Princess of Deryabar; The Story of the Magic Horse; The Fisherman and the Genie; The Story of the King of the Ebony Isles; The History of Badoura, Princess of China, and of Camaralzaman, the Island Prince; Sinbad the Sailor; The first voyage of Sinbad the Sailor; The second voyage of Sinbad the Sailor; The third voyage of Sinbad the Sailor; The fourth voyage of Sinbad the Sailor; The fifth voyage of Sinbad the Sailor; The sixth voyage of Sinbad the Sailor; The seventh voyage of Sinbad the Sailor; and Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp.

Not downloads but two online essays (free knowledge)
Electronic Literature: What is it?
v1.0 January 2, 2007 By N. Katherine Hayles

Toward a Semantic Literary Web: Setting a Direction for the Electronic Literature Organization's Directory
v1.0 January 29, 2007 By Joseph Tabbi

Finally something from the might Mutant Sounds, a blog to which I have returned to time and time again in the last few weeks.

Denis-st LP, France 1978
Denis composed the music in hippie commune between 68 and 78. Music is stoned psychedelic folk with percussion, guitar, dulcimer and it's sung in English. Made on tiny label of 100 copies.

The Sound Of McLuhan

The Medium is the Massage: An Inventory of Effects (1967)
In this book, initiated by Quentin Fiore, McLuhan adopted the term "massage" to denote the effect each medium has on the human sensorium, inventorying the "effects" of numerous media in terms of how they "massage" the sensorium.
Fiore, at the time a prominent graphic designer and communications consultant, set about composing the visual illustration of these theories. Near the beginning of the book, Fiore adopted a pattern in which an image demonstrating a media effect was presented with a textual synopsis on the facing page. The reader experiences a repeated shifting of analytic registers -- from "reading" typographic print to "scanning" photographic facsimiles -- reinforcing McLuhan's overarching argument in this book: namely, that each medium produces a different "massage" or "effect" on the human sensorium.
In The Medium is the Massage, McLuhan also rehashed the argument -- which first appeared in the Prologue to 1962's The Gutenberg Galaxy -- that media are "extensions" of our human senses, bodies and minds.
Finally, McLuhan described key points of change in how man has viewed the world and how these views were changed by the adoption of new media. "The technique of invention was the discovery of the nineteenth [century]", brought on by the adoption of fixed points of view and perspective by typography, while "[t]he technique of the suspended judgment is the discovery of the twentieth century", brought on by the bard abilities of radio, movies and television.

An audio recording version of McLuhan's famous work was made by Columbia Records. The recording consists of a pastiche of statements made by McLuhan interrupted by other speakers, including people speaking in various phonations and falsettos, discordant sounds and 1960s incidental music in what could be considered a deliberate attempt to translate the disconnected images seen on TV into an audio format, resulting in the prevention of a connected stream of conscious thought. Various audio recording techniques and statements are used to illustrate the relationship between spoken, literary speech and the characteristics of electronic audio media. McLuhan biographer Philip Marchand called the recording "the 1967 equivalent of a McLuhan video."

"Where would you look for the message in an electric light?" Spend nearly an hour with University of Toronto professor of English, Marshall McLuhan, as he discusses electronic technology, transportation, and communications. Also probing the issues of acoustic and personal space, McLuhan expresses his thoughts about print media and where it's headed. Author of several books including The Medium is the Message, Canadian-born McLuhan was also director of the Center for Culture and Technology at the University of Toronto. Originally aired on PBS-TV, 4 January, 1971 at 8:00 p.m. (Philadelphia, PA area), McLuhan appeared on "Speaking Freely," hosted by NBC's Edwin Newman

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Second Life Sky

This is how the sky will look in Second Life soon.

Two weeks of Intensity Approaching

Two weeks until Australia. A chapter rewrite to finish (things are serious with writing at the moment...not just 'letting it flow' anymore, rather each word is measured in slow motion consideration). A short course in HUMlab next Thursday Your other Life: Building and Living in Second Life (come on in). Bags to pack and things to finish up. Thee next two weeks are going to be a bit crazy and blogging will be patchy. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world

There is a connection here somewhere (many??). But I found both these in my RSS this evening:

"Civilization, as Freud pointed out so long ago, is about rules and boundaries but it also inspires a kind of continuous renewal. At heart, civilizations are control mechanisms - they're psychological more than they're physical. They are meta-tools. For me, at the moment, it seems like the West is in a serious crisis of meaning. The Enlightenment went dark in the mass mechanized warfare of the two world wars, and the shattered remains were burned in the fire of Vietnam. Pretty much nothing remains. My music asks: how do we create new forms of meaning from these hollow ideals? We've moved far past Plato's Republic into a realm where the "civic" aspects of culture as software are the new frames of reference. Software (credit card debt, individual assigned names on line, domain names, DNS routers, encription, computer aided design that builds airplanes, routes electricity,
guides DNA analysis etc etc there's alot more but you get the point) regulates individual behavior - both on and off line - in the post industrialized world."
Paul D. Miller (aka DJ Spooky), "MILLESUONI. OMAGGIO A DELEUZE E GUATTARI" (Cronopio Edizioni)

The Second Coming by William Butler Yeats

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?


Flickrvision. Is this what the world is watching? Its interesting that the screen rarely dips down into the southern hemisphere. Ohh I just got a post from Australia, but I think you get the picture. Nonetheless, an interesting visualization tool; space and image in time.

Jack Rose in Umeå

Last night I saw Jack Rose play an hour long set here in Umeå. I have been a fan of Pelt since I heard the double CD from 2001 Ayahuasca (a beautiful piece of work).
I was not sure if I would be able to make it the concert but while playing chess with my son I watched a documentary about the freak folk music scene in San Francisco. The show featured interviews and tunes from Six Organ of Admittance, Bright Black Morning Light, Tom Carter, Howlin Rain, Comets on Fire and more. It inspired me to get out and go see Jack.
When I met Jack Rose and shook his hand I noticed how big and chunky they were. Great paws attached to a bearish man with curly locks and a shaggy beard. Then when he started playing his hands became nimble creatures that plucked and strutted over the frets. In the music of Jack Rose Varanasi meets the Appalachians in the back seat of John Fahey's beat up automobile. I must admit in some places the music seemed to stagger and stall (giving the feeling of being imprisoned in a giant wind up clock that was running too fast), becoming repetitive, but overall it was a great performance. One perhaps 10 or 15 minute piece (time disappeared for most of the gig) in particular was an amazing raga-esque journey with Rose tapping on the sound board, playing a bass line and a high end all at the same time. Rose is continuing his European tour so if he is near you, give him your ears!

Concert cancelled after didgeridoo protest

Concert cancelled after didgeridoo protest
The organisers of a concert in Broome, North Western Australia, featuring one of the country's leading didgeridoo players say they regret having to cancel at the eleventh hour.

William Barton has played around Australia and the world, blending the didgeridoo with symphony orchestras but there were objections when the Queensland musician tried to perform in Broome last night.

Some of the town's Yawuru people claimed the concert, which also featured three other classical musicians, was disrespectful to their culture because the didgeridoo wasn't being played in a traditional context.

Artistic Director, Tos Mahoney, says the musicians were devastated at having to cancel.

"The tour was as much about the music as about a great example of reconciliation."

The controversy has left uncertainty in the town's vibrant music industry over when the ancient instrument can now be played

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

hawks and sparrows cd project

hawks and sparrows cd project
edition of 100 hi quality cd-rs packaged individually with the first flowers of spring. audio reconstructions and rearrangements of field recordings from 4 anti-war protests (seattle, new york, philadelphia, and washington dc) in the late winter of 2003 by lucky dragons, wrists + pistols, and big A little a. distributed by reverse shoplifting, filed under "h" in a store near you. do not pay for this cd.

Monday, May 21, 2007

How Far is Microsoft™ Prepared to Go?

This morning I am stunned by the gap between these two statements:

"i’m is a new initiative from Windows Live Messenger™. Every time you start a conversation using i’m, Microsoft shares a portion of the program's advertising revenue with some of the world's most effective organizations dedicated to social causes. We've set no cap on the amount we'll donate to each organization. The sky's the limit." Windows Live Messenger™

"Microsoft claims that the open-source movement, powered mostly by Linux, infringes on some 235 of its patents, and the company is taking action." How Far is Microsoft™ Prepared to Go?

Is not open source software a social cause???? I met recently with two artists from South Africa who said that access to resources was one of two of the greatest challenge to diversifying their artistic praxis, the other being conservative opinions. In the pending actions of Microsoft™ we see both restriction of access and enforcement of a particular set for solving the problems. Traditional charity organizations (including the World Health Organization, the Rockefeller Foundation, Unicef, pharmaceutical companies and the World Bank) are the benificiaries of the Microsoft™ billions. Sure there is good to be made from the work of such bodies but why cannot open source intiatives be part of such a solution?

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Mark Tomas: My Life in Serious Organised Crime

Laugh at the creeping control:
“The police, on the day during the defence of surrealism, can impose conditions if you do anything silly.” Mark Tomas, My Life in Serious Organised Crime.

Welcome to the world of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act.

This is the law that requires you to get permission from the police to demonstrate in Parliament Square. However, what counts as a demonstration according to the police is one person with a banner or one person with a badge standing in Parliament Square for just one minute.

Being arrested for wearing a badge or a T shirt seems a tad Kim Jong Il to me.

These are strange times and we have a strange law- its a mix of Kafkaesque absurdism and British bureaucratic prowess which has lead us to the state where a woman was threatened with arrest for having a picnic in Parliament Square. Her cake had the word PEACE iced upon it and the police insisted this counted as an unauthorised political protest.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Her Noise - The Making Of

Her Noise - The Making Of
Authors: Electra with Emma Hedditch
Duration: 60 minutes, 2007

Her Noise was an exhibition which took place at South London Gallery in 2005 with satellite events at Tate Modern and Goethe-Institut, London. Her Noise gathered international artists who use sound to investigate social relations, inspire action or uncover hidden soundscapes. The exhibition included newly commissioned works by Kim Gordon & Jutta Koether, Hayley Newman, Kaffe Matthews, Christina Kubisch, Emma Hedditch and Marina Rosenfeld. A parallel ambition of the project was to investigate music and sound histories in relation to gender, and the curators set out to create a lasting resource in this area.

Throughout the development of the project, the curators conducted dozens of interviews, whilst also compiling sound recordings and printed materials which would eventually form the Her Noise Archive. The Her Noise Archive is a collection of over 60 videos, 300 audio recordings, 40 books and catalogues and 250 fanzines (approximately 150 different titles) compiled during the development of this project. The archive remains publicly accessible at the Electra office in central London.

Much of the material available in the archive was shot specifically for this project, and is uniquely available as part of this archive. The documentary 'Her Noise - The Making Of' was commissioned by Peacock Visual Arts, Aberdeen on the occasion of the 'Sound' festival and 'SoundAsArt' conference at University of Aberdeen.

The video documents the development of Her Noise between 2001 and 2005 and features interviews with artists including Diamanda Galas, Lydia Lunch, Kim Gordon, Jutta Koether, Peaches, Marina Rosenfeld, Kembra Pfhaler, Chicks On Speed, Else Marie Pade, Kaffe Matthews, Emma Hedditch, Christina Kubisch and the show's curators, Lina Dzuverovic and Anne Hilde Neset. The documentary also features excerpts from live performances held during Her Noise by Kim Gordon, Jutta Koether and Jenny Hoyston (Erase Errata), Christina Carter, Heather Leigh Murray, Ana Da Silva (The Raincoats), Spider And The Webs, Partyline, Marina Rosenfeld's 'Emotional Orchestra' at Tate Modern, and footage compiled for the 'Men in Experimental Music' video made during the development of the Her Noise project by the curators and Kim Gordon, featuring Thurston Moore and Jim O'Rourke.

To find out more about the Her Noise Archive, or to make an appointment to visit the archive please go to

Because its Friday Downloads

Two days ago I discovered the website of world dub reggae band Action Taken. They have two CDs for free download on their site, Reparation Time and the 4 track demo IRIE UNIVERSITY (About Paulo Freire, Michael Foucault & real education). Action Taken are heavy dub and beautiful reggae beats with political lyrics that deliver a powerful message about the world today (includes samples from Noam Chomsky and Vandana Shiva).

My dear friends in the Brothers of the Occult Sisterhood have released yet another CD of new noise shamanic transformance. One track from "Suppress (Detached) Orchestra" is available for download HERE.

The Crimea is a band I have not heard. Are they any good? You can find out by downloading their latest album for free as it was put online following a falling out with their record company. Secrets of the Witching Hour.

Finally some books from altX Press:

edited by Eugene Thacker
HARD_CODE is an anthology of experimental electronic prose which asks the question: What kinds of stories are told by data? The texts in this anthology respond to this question from a wide range of viewpoints, often suggesting that the dynamics between bodies and data is not always a smooth one. Filled with identity avatars, DNA bodies, generative code, and virtual realities, HARD_CODE combines leading-edge work from new media art/, cultural theory, and experimental fiction, forming new hybrids between flesh and data.

How To Be An Internet Artist
Mark Amerika
How To Be An Internet Artist is the latest collection of new media writings from Mark Amerika, one of the most-celebrated digital artists of our time. This eclectic mix of pseudo-autobiographical fictions explores many of the themes generated in Amerika's internationally-exhibited net art, including hypertextual consciousness, cyborg-narrators, reality hacking, and creating on-the-fly stories via an ongoing practice of surf-sample-manipulate.

Rhizomatically spreading his meme-virus into the ever expanding discourse network, Amerika's fictional rants trace the early history of Internet art as only he can know it. With most in-the-know art critics, curators and web mavens generally agreeing that the genesis of Internet art is inextricably linked to the conceptual work flow of Amerika's cultural production, this ebook slyly relocates Benjamin's "lost aura" and puts the dot back into

by Ronald Sukenick
COWS, whose style includes the detective story, the western, sci-fi, porn, and other elements of genre fiction, investigates the dark and dirty side of American culture taking off from the JonBenet murder case in Boulder, Colorado.

One of the leading postmodern innovators, Ronald Sukenick has been on the cutting edge of American writing for thirty years and his influence has been pervasive. His breakthrough books, Up, a novel, and The Death of the Novel and Other Stories, were landmarks in the explosion of a new kind of American fiction in the sixties and early seventies. His novel 98.6 has been in print for twenty five years. His recent books, Mosaic Man and Narralogues, turn his innovative style to the roots of Western tradition in the context of Pop Culture. Throughout his career Sukenick has used mass market modes to subvert the mass market, most lately in a movement called Avant-Pop.

Making Scenes
by Adrienne Eisen
Making Scenes is the debut novel of hypertext star Adrienne Eisen. An exploration into the psychogeographical states of mind lived by its main character, this is a story that traces the emotional fault line of America to its core, exposing all of the subliminal cracks and multi-tracks, while bringing back to life the rival tradition of American writing from Henry Miller to Kathy Acker.

by Alan Sondheim
Alan Sondheim's new ebook, .echo, takes you on a fascinating journey with Nikuko Meat-Girl into the language of avatars, transliterate lovemaking and virtual subjectivity. While interacting with Sondheim's ebook of mystical eroticism, the reader will lose themselves in a net.fiction charged with sex, obsession, codework and real bodies pushed to the limit. A provocative theory-world presented in the guise of experimental narrative, .echo takes the reader on a high-speed, yet zen-like trip through a hallucinatory landscape that one can imagine used to be the world. There's never been anything like this book as it confounds the relationship between America and Japan, prosthetics and aesthetics, visible words and invisible intelligences. Enter at your own risk!

The Anarchivists of Eco-Dub
by Nile Southern
ECO-DUB is a real and evolving cultural repository of image, sound and text--driven by a fictional cast of characters looking for answers in a society that commercial media left behind. Set in the near future, the world's only hope of holding onto a humanist (and progressive) identity rests with a rag-tag band of drug and sex-addled info-junkies.

The Twilight of the Bums
by Raymond Federman and George Chambers
George Chambers & Raymond Federman are the Abbot and Costello of postmodernism. You never know who's on first or who's at bat but the result is always a home run. GC's most famous book is The Bonnyclabber or maybe The Last Man Standing and RF's is Double or Nothing or maybe Take It Or Leave It.

Neuromantic Fiction: The Black Ice Anthology
Edited by Mark Amerika, Matt Samet and Clint Ruhlman
With an introduction by Ronald Sukenick
This special collection of Black Ice fiction features the work of Richard Grossman, Wiley Wiggins, Matthew Fuller, Diana George, Lidia Yuknavitch, Erik Belgum, Don Webb, Jacques Servin, Doug Rice, Gashgirl, D.N. Stuefloten, Ann Bogle, Jeffrey DeShell, Matt Samet, Michelle Albert and many others.

Margaret Atwood on Religion Part1/3

Video: Margaret Atwood on Religion and The Handmaids Tale. Part1/3

Free Animation Software from MIT

A free download from the MIT Media Lab; Scratch is an easy to use program that allows kids to make their own animations and post them on the web at the community site where you can download the program from.
The MIT Media Release says:

A new programming language developed at the MIT Media Lab turns kids from media consumers into media producers, enabling them to create their own interactive stories, games, music, and animation for the Web.

With this new software, called Scratch, kids can program interactive creations by simply snapping together graphical blocks, much like LEGO® bricks, without any of the obscure punctuation and syntax of traditional programming languages. Children can then share their interactive stories and games on the Web, the same way they share videos on YouTube, engaging with other kids in an online community that provides inspiration and feedback.

"Until now, only expert programmers could make interactive creations for the Web. Scratch opens the gates for everyone," said Mitchel Resnick, Professor of Learning Research at the MIT Media Lab and head of the Scratch development team.

'I Videogame' Tonight

Tonight on Discovery Channel Sweden at 22:00 the BBC documentary I Videogame will be shown. It features interviews with Will Wright and Henry Jenkins among many. This is Part 1 and Part 2 will be shown on Friday 25 May at the same time. Get your recorders ready!!!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

The Salon

by Nick Bertozzi. 192 pages, full color, Spring '07 from Griffin.
When someone starts tearing the heads off modernist painters around Paris, Gertrude Stein and her brother Leo realize that they may be next on the killer's list. Enlisting the help of their closest friends and colleagues: Georges Braque, Pablo Picasso, Alice B. Toklas, Erik Satie, and Guillaume Apollinaire, they set out to put a stop to the ghastly murders--only to discover that an addictive absinthe that painters around Paris have been using to enter famous paintings may in fact be responsible for all their troubles. Filled with danger, art history, and daring escapes, this is a wildly ingenious murder-mystery ride through the origins of modern art.

Watch the promo video!

Read the press!

Feed Issues

If you have been receiving the RSS feed for this blog or you are interested in starting a feed for it, please (re)subscribe using the Bloglines or Feedburner icons to the right. I know that the Bloglines feed had not been working very well but it is all better now. I have not tested Feedburner and if anyone has problems with it please let me know.

Concert in RL and SL

This Friday at 18:25 (CET) I will be playing didgeridoo and other instruments and sounds in the sagorum (story room) at Umeå City Library. The concert will be live streamed in Second Life at the Mare Mare Cafe (Hikuelo 65.111.22). This is part of the Humanities IT production for Umeå Culture Night. Please come to either location.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

John Cage is Everywhere

I have been bumping into John Cage everywhere lately. Here are some points:

The Cambridge Companion to John Cage (greets me every morning as the last book on the shelf near the door to my office).

John Cage and David Tudor in Concert in San Francisco, Jan. 16, 1965

Video of 4,33 performed in London recently in a concert dedicated to John Cage

John Cage performing Water Walk in January, 1960 on the popular TV show I've Got A Secret

New Radio OM

On Monday, May 14, 2007, Other Minds marks the 90th birthday of late composer Lou Harrison with the launch of the new website, offering free worldwide access to streaming audio and video programs that span the history of new music.

The new website makes easily accessible the expanding Other Minds Archive of 4,500 hours of recorded materials, which includes 3,500 hours of audiotape recordings from the KPFA Radio Music Department collection, highlights from past Other Minds Music Festivals, materials from the private archive of composer George Antheil, selected programs from the Cabrillo Music Festival, and other rare and unusual recordings. The archive will continue to grow as the KPFA library is digitized, and recordings from Other Minds concerts and events are added.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Other Worlds and the Sound of One Branch Breathing

Things are happening in Second Life (will make an announcement soon). As well Ive sent in an abstract for the 3M conference in September and am talking about a writing collaboration that could be published in translation in Brazil. On Friday I will be doing something with sound and maybe Second Life at the town library. Has there been a drone didgeridoo Buddhist monks chanting concert in SL before????
Stay tuned.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Digital Installation with Second Life and a Didgeridoo

Strange day today and then I noticed this:

Humaniora & IT – Stadsbiblioteket kl 18-20, Kulturnatta den 18 maj

• Res tillbaka till bronsåldern med hjälp av ny teknik
• Postertorg - doktorander inom Humaniora och IT berättar om sina projekt
• Världskända Linda Bergkvists digitala konstverk (testa ritbordet själv)
• Digital installation med inslag av t ex Second Life och Didgeridoo
• Dokumentärfilmen Avatara
• Kortföreläsningar i ljusgården (15 minuter vardera med paus mellan)

I knew I was in the Culture Night festival this Friday (18th) with my HUMlab colleagues. What I had envisioned doing was an Internet remix performance; pulling in stuff off the net (sound vision and text) and arranging it in real time. The idea of being in Second Life and playing didge is appealing however. I need to talk to Magnus!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Aboriginal Australia

This is an example of housing for Aboriginal people in north Queensland, my home state in Australia. For more images of Aboriginal poverty see Australia 2007 Why? A short slide show online.
Indigenous Australians face widespread discrimination in the form of systematic barriers to the attainment of rights enjoyed by other Australians:

Indigenous life expectancy is 20 years less than other Australians and other health indicators are significantly worse.
Indigenous unemployment is almost five times the national average.
Indigenous people are 14 times more likely to be imprisoned than non-indigenous Australians
Access to adequate housing, power, clean water and sewerage systems, roads and other infrastructure is significantly less than that of other Australians.

The Internet of Things: What is a Spime and why is it useful?

Google Tech Talks April 30, 2007


World-renowned Science Fiction writer and futurist Bruce Sterling will outline his ideas ... all » for SPIMES, a form of ubiquitous computing that gives smarts and 'searchabiliity' to even the most mundane of physical products. Imagine losing your car keys and being able to search for them with Google Earth.

This same paradigm will find you "wrangling" with product-lifecycle- management systems that do for physical objects what the iPod has done for music. These and other radical ideas are delivered in Sterling's latest book`Shaping Things'. This concise book was written to inspire designers to visualize radical scenarios connecting information technology and sustainability in a new ecology of artifacts. Sterling suggests new connections between the virtual world and the physical world that will have you rethinking many of your assumptions about how we relate to products.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Five Hypertexts in Spanish

Hypertexts in Spanish:

Condiciones extremas y El último vuelo de los hermanos Wright, by Juan B Gutiérrez (Colombia)

Tierra de Extracción by Doménico Chiappe (Venezuela)

Don Juan en la frontera del espíritu by Juan José Díez (España)

Wordtoys y Niño burbuja by Belén Gache (Argentina)

Libro flotante Project by Leonardo Valencia (Ecuador)

Taken from an interview with the Colombian electronic literature artist Jaime Alejandro Rodríguez Ruiz on WRT.

Friday, May 11, 2007

The Because its Friday Downloads

Because its Friday we link to downloads:

The Tape-beatles

The Tape-beatles are a collaboration of varying membership that make music and audio art recordings,"expanded cinema" performances, videos, printed publications, and works in other media. They work under the aegis of Public Works Productions.

The Tape-beatles began creating works for audio tape in 1987. Their goal at first was to create a form of pop music that made no use of musical instruments, instead relying on tape recording and analog studio techniques as their sole source of sounds. In addition, the Tape-beatles aspired to an egalitarian attitude of artmaking, avoiding the use of "professional" equipment and milieux, opting instead to make work almost entirely using home stereo equipment.

Further, The Tape-beatles espoused the use of plagiarism as a positive artistic technique. Their work drew more or less exclusively from the previously "finished" works of others, assembling fragments of these works into entirely new constructions that did not exist before the Tape-beatles made them. It was the Tape-beatles' belief that such works constituted valid works of authorship in themselves, and they never asked for legal permission to use other people's work in their compositions (occasionally, permission was asked simply as a courtesy, completely outside a legal context).

Finally, words can not do justice to this site:

MFMU's beware of the Blog (a universe of downloads).

Edition IV of SoundLAB @ FILE Hipersonica

Edition IV of SoundLAB

has been selected for participating in
FILE Hipersonica Festival -
a satellite of
FILE Electronic Language Festival Sao Paulo/Brazil
13 August - 9 September 2007
(Something I am in is in Brazil!!)

Joe Strummer - The Future Is Unwritten

Joe Strummer - The Future Is Unwritten Official Trailer. In UK Cinemas May 18 2007. Looking forward to it immensely.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

HUMlab Seminar: Actually Bridge the “Two Cultures” in Techno-Science

I have just returned from Professor David Hakken's seminar in HUMLab, Transdisciplinarity in Cyberspace Ethnography, or Can We Leave Off Mere Toleration and Actually Bridge the “Two Cultures” in Techno-Science? (nice short title). I really enjoyed Prof. Hakken's summary of a line of technological thought and action beginning with the writings of Norbert Weiner (who I have read about but never actually read, but I think I will). Being a literary/language person (if we are going to talk disciplines here) and from my recent stumbling in the field something clicked from the seminar.

In the last few days I have been enjoying From Modernism to Postmodernism American Poetry and Theory in the Twentieth Century by Jennifer Ashton. The life and work of Gertrude Stein is a major topic in Ashton's text (a fascinating one I think). Within this Ashton devotes pages to the connections between the work of William James and Stein's system of images and tropes. Taken up in Ashton's critique of Stein's The Making of Americans (1925) are mind, self, repetition, remembering, and plasticity ("plasticity means the possession of a structure weak enough to yield to influence, but strong enough not to yield all at once. Each relatively stable phase of equilibrium in such a structure is marked by what we may call a new set of habits" William James Pychology a brief Course 1892:126). This conneted for me in Hakken's discussion on the transdisciplinary possibilities in relation to IT (writing, language, novels are all forms of IT, as are computers and so on). According to Ashton, Stein was attempting to describe "everything" to come to a point of knowledge (that which is knowledge) where one does not need to describe the thing any more. Having no need of description (representation) is to have knowledge.

The streamed video of David Hakken's seminar should be online soon. I am going to Helen Petterson's thesis defence tomorrow where he is to be the opponent (congratulations Helena!!! UCLA awaits). It should be interesting.

Foraging in

This is the best from a morning spent foraging in my network links on

ComScore Finds that “Second Life” Has a Rapidly Growing and Global Base of Active Residents
London, UK, 4 May 2007 – comScore, a leader in measuring the digital world, today released a comprehensive worldwide analysis of the active users of Second Life, the 3-D virtual world that is entirely built and owned by its “residents.” The study r

The Infography
This reference tool enables a student, librarian, or teacher to identify superlative sources of information about a subject of inquiry, viewed through the lens of expert opinion. The subject specialists who select the citations published in The Infography

Project CONE - Collaborative Observatories for Natural Environments
This project is a collaborative effort by computer scientists and engineers from Texas A&M and UC Berkeley consulting with natural scientists and documentary filmmakers.

In the Middle Ages, we were told what we knew by the Church; after the printing press and the Reformation, by state censors and the licensers of publishers; with the rise of liberalism in the 19th and 20th centuries, by publishers themselves, and later by

The Empire Strikes Back: Police tactics against antiglobalisation activists (PDF 2000)
The new wave of high profile protests that began in Seattle has been met by a rapidly-evolving police response that combines repression of basic democratic rights with manipulative, propagandistic media relations.

Virtual Human Interaction Lab - Stanford University
The mission of the Virtual Human Interaction Lab is to understand the dynamics and implications of interactions among people in immersive virtual reality simulations (VR), and other forms of human digital representations in media, communication systems.

Second Life magazine
This site is for discussion and entertainment purposes only. No one who writes for this site legitimately claims the status of “reporter” though we may occasionally use the word to describe ourselves. We are writers. We do this because we like to write.

Second Life censorship
Censorship passed away at home yesterday, killed by The Blog. Censorship will be remembered as a trusted friend of despots, tyrannical leaders, and large profit hungry corporations hiding unethical practices and inferior products. Satire?

David Puttnam: Children's experiences of technology outside the classroom way ahead | E-learning | Guardian
At a recent digital education conference in San Francisco, one of the more memorable remarks quoted came from a child: "Whenever I go into class, I have to power down." That roughly translates as: "What I do with digital technology outside school - at hom

Blog offering Mp3 downloads of obscure and unusual music

Headshift :: Peripheral vision and ambient knowledge
Pattern entrainment is a danger when we start to apply the same patterns to every situation, but individuals are able to use identity (paradigm) shifts to apply different patterns to a given situation. For organisations, this can be more difficult.

Liveplasma music, movies, search engine and discovery engine
Liveplasma maps and displays music and movie search results with linkages and groupings, making a good use of's API. After the search term is submitted, it's immediately surrounded by other artists; the closer they are, the more similar they are.
SIRR was founded in Lisbon, Portugal, in 2001, by Paulo Raposo to promote innovative and challenging sound art. The label releases works by artists who question and problematize sound in a unique way outside the idiomatic boundaries of the genre.

Brave new world or virtual pedophile paradise? - Technology -
WHEN is child pornography not child pornography? Can an "avatar" commit a crime? What is real, and what is not?

Wednesday, May 09, 2007


Joost™ the best of tv and the internet

I have been playing with the now famous Joost a bit. More out of curiosity than a desire to have more television in my life. It is interesting. If you want to become a beta tester send me a message. Here are my early impression of Joost.

1. It reminds me of the sort of TV you watch on long haul airline flights. A closed in sort of feeling but very slick. Limited content and knowing that there are only so many thousand others sharing in it. This limited but difficult to define audience results in a generalised sort of content that is very fragmented. I suppose this is a difficult thing. How is truly global TV going to look, not like cable or satellite which has defined points in the sender network. Joost,as I understand it, works along BitTorrent lines where content is sent via what computers are in the network at the time.

2. Really limited content at the moment. Several shows I saw on the program where United States only. The copyright and broadcasting rights for material will be a complicated affair I imagine. Plus which segment of the world's online population is Joost going to cater for? Will it manage in the arena of content when Youtube and hundreds of its clones are dominating at the moment? Getting Youtube content with Joost interface and scheduling would be nice but the structures of ownership and broadcasting (legal, geographic, advertising) would not allow it.

3. Joost should identify 5 or 10 areas that can be applied to programming on a global scale; arts, education, diaspora, travel, food, music, and family could be some. Each of these themes should be presented in as diverse a way as possible. At the moment content seems to be very western hemisphere and very commercial. Not that different from television as it is at the moment.

I don't think I will become a huge fan of Joost at the moment. There is clearly potential. Something like the Australian broadcaster SBS would be a good inspiration. As well community television would be another possible source of ideas. Because it would be different. Just being on the net is not enough. Joost has to bring us radical content and film clips of Linkin Park are not radical. Nor is a documentary about dogs, one about cats and another about horses.

Let's see where is goes as it is only early days. But I have a feeling the economics of Joost will mean they have to start getting a decent public quick and this will mean the lowest common denominator for programming. If they can afford to put in 3 to 5 years in development things may look different.

Google Blogging and Me

A post on the HUMlab blog about the mysteries of this blog.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Modalities of Space in Video and Computer Games

With a nice chapter on narrative space.

Axel Stockburger
This thesis focuses on the novel spatial paradigms emerging from computer and video games. It aims to develop an original theoretical framework that takes the hybrid nature of the medium into account. The goal of this work is to extend the present range of methodologies directed towards the analysis of digital games. In order to reveal the roots of the spatial apparatus at work an overview of the most significant conceptions of space in western thought is given. Henri Lefebvre’s reading of space as a triad of perceived, conceived and lived space is adopted. This serves to account for the multifaceted nature of the subject, enables the integration of divergent spatial conceptions as part of a coherent framework, and highlights the importance of experiential notions of spatiality. Starting from Michel Foucault’s notion of the heterotopia, game-space is posited as the dynamic interplay between different spatial modalities. As constitutive elements of the dynamic spatial system mobilized by digital games the following modalities are advanced: the physical space of the player, the space emerging from the narrative, the rules, the audiovisual representation and the kinaesthetic link between player and game. These different modalities are examined in detail in the light of a selected range of exemplary games. Based on a discussion of film theory in this context an original model that serves to distinguish between different visual representational strategies is presented. A chapter is dedicated to the analysis of the crucial and often overlooked role of sound for the generation of spatial illusions. It is argued that sound has to be regarded as the privileged element that enables the active use of representational space in three dimensions. Finally the proposed model is mobilised to explore how the work of contemporary artists relates to the spatial paradigms set forth by digital games. The critical dimension of artistic work in this context is outlined. The thesis concludes with a discussion of the impact of the prevalent modes of spatial practice in computer and video games on wider areas of everyday life.

A Handbook for Coding Cultures

A Handbook for Coding Cultures
Commissioned by Francesca da Rimini and d/Lux/MediaArts, Online and Free.

A Handbook for Coding Cultures provides a lasting companion to the inspiring projects and topical currents of thought explored in the Coding Cultures Symposium and Concept Lab. Six invited writers and groups from Australia, Belgium, Brazil, England, Italy and Hong Kong share their experiences of building imaginative digital tools, social networks, open labs and internet-based knowledge platforms for communication and creativity. Complementing these commissioned texts are contributions from our guest artists from Canada, England and Jamaica. Artist statements from Symposium speakers completes this snapshot of contemporary cultural practice.

List of Contents :

Lisa Havilah (AUS) - Foreword
David Cranswick (AUS) - Preface

Francesca da Rimini (AUS): Introduction: Archipelagos of open code and free culture

Ruth Catlow and Marc Garrett, Furtherfield (England): Do It With Others (DIWO): contributory media in the Furtherfield Neighbourhood

Maja Kuzmanovic and Nik Gaffney, (Belgium): Open ended processes, open space technologies and open laboratories

Andrew Lowenthal, (AUS): Free Beer vs Free Media

Leandro Fossá, (Brazil) in collaboraton with Claudio Prado (Brazil): Digital Culture: The jump from the 19th to the 21st Century

Lam Oi Wan, (Hong Kong): What is that Star? Media cultural action in the claiming of space

Agnese Trocchi (Italy): Shivers of sharing

Alice Angus and Giles Lane, Proboscis (UK): Cultures of Listening

mervin Jarman (Jamaica) in collaboration with Sonia Mills: mongrelstreet: the culture of codes

Camille Turner (Canada): Representing in Digital Space

David S. Vadiveloo (AUS): A time for empowerment or a new digital divide?

Tallstoreez Productionz (AUS): Returning the Gaze: the hero-project, how to join politics, youth empowerment and entertainment

Christopher Saunders (AUS): Big hART - a model for social and cultural change

Lena Nahlous, Ben Hoh and Trey Thomas (aka MC Trey) (AUS): A presentation about why ICE exists and how it works

N. Katherine Hayles on Intermediation

N. Katherine Hayles is the Hillis Professor of Literature and Distinguished Professor in the departments of English and Design/Media Arts at the University of California, Los Angeles. In this video she delivers the keynote address, Intermediation, to the National Humanities Center's 2006 Autonomy, Singularity, Creativity conference.

Internet Cracker Extradited

The extradition of Hew Griffiths is a new chapter in global copyright enforcement. The 43 year old Australian (who has never been to the US...before now) has just been forcible removed from Australia and is now in a gaol in Virginia USA awaiting sentencing on June 22, 2007 for one count of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement and one count of criminal copyright infringement. He is facing 10 years prison and a US$500,000 fine.
Hew was supposedly one of the leaders of the cracker network DrinkOrDie, whose most famous action was the Internet release of Windows 95 two weeks before Microsoft released the official version.
Of the many international members of DrinkOrDie arrested and charged as part of Operation Buccaneer in 2001 only Hew has been extradited to the States. It seems to be a result of the Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement (FTA) signed in 2004. As part of the FTA agreement Intellectual Property Rights were 'harmonised' between the two counties.

Rich Media and the Commons

I have been an active contributor to the Internet Archive since early 2004 (memory is uncertain). It is a fantastic resource. Yesterday I updated the Archive files of the CD I recorded in 2005 Ambient Time Arm, so that the recently added media player widget on the site now plays the tracks at the right speed.
All the films, audio and text that I have put out on the Internet Archive are accessible via the Downloads button in the left side column of this blog.
Speaking of circulating media, yesterday I was sent a link to the video on YouTube by The Green Children for Hear Me Now, their tribute to the brilliant work of Professor Muhammad Yunus of the Grameen Bank.
As well the soon to be released documentary Copyright Criminals: This is a Sampling Sport has pre-release segments on the Internet Archive.
All of the material on the Internet Archive is Creative Commons registered. With the growth of both the Commons and the Archive and recent statements made by US Presidential hopefuls, the future for the Commons looks bright.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Joseph Cornell Film

Everyone knows Joseph Cornell by his boxes but he made films. Well better to say he arranged them.

Rose Hobart (1936 17 mins):
Rose Hobart consists almost entirely of footage taken from East of Borneo, a 1931 jungle B-film starring the nearly forgotten actress Rose Hobart. Cornell condensed the 77-minute feature into a 20-minute short, removing virtually every shot that didn't feature Hobart, as well as all of the action sequences. In so doing, he utterly transforms the images, stripping away the awkward construction and stilted drama of the original to reveal the wonderful sense of mystery that saturates the greatest early genre films.

Watching this film it is like a window to some demented dream. A blue haze fills the night footage as figures float in and out of the jungle and Cecil B. DeMille scale temples that fill the camera. The sound track to the film is Nestor Amaral's Holiday in Brazil, a kitschy record Cornell found in a Manhattan junk store.

Some idea of the place occupied by Rose Hobart is gained from the story told of Dali at the opening:

During the screening of Rose Hobart, Dali became extremely agitated. Halfway through the film he began shouting "Salaud!" — bastard — and overturned the projector. Reportedly, Dali ruefully explained his actions to Levy, "My idea for a film is exactly that, and I was going to propose it to someone who would pay to have it made…. I never wrote it or told anyone, but it is as if he had stolen it (Solomon 89).” Some prefer an apocryphal — but far more poetic — explanation also attributed to Dali: “He stole it from my subconscious.”

Transform Your Life With Hasbro

This northern summer product placement, viral marketing and film special effects are going to be taken to a new level. I am talking Transformers and the film by Micheal Bay due for release in July (Steven Speilberg is executive producer). I have the feeling this is going to be huge. My 7 year old son worships at the alter of Optimus Prime and many of the adult males I work with recognise the words "More than meets the eye" at their mention (I did not until my son got a action figure last Christmas...who needs Christ when you have Optimus). Now the decks are being cleared for what will be a very distributed release program:

Transformers - with Spielberg reckoned by Hollywood observers to be very much the power behind the film - seems equipped for battle both at the box office and the aisles of Toys R Us. Last month, Hasbro revealed an entirely new line of movie-linked Transformers. And in an effort to make the consumer's world "more than meets the eye" (a longtime teaser for the toy line), it will have further spin-offs in stores at the start of June, such as the Optimus Prime Voice Changer Helmet, Optimus Prime Big Rig Blaster, and Starscream Barrel Roll Blaster. (The Guardian)

When you think about it, what could be more perfect for product promotion than a group of dynamic polymorphic mechanical robots who can take the form of potentially any mechanical device. So far the companies announced as on board for the Transformers juggernaut are Pepsi, Hasbro and General Motors. I am sure there will be more. It is rumoured that new devices featured in the Tranformers movie will be The Xbox 360 game console, iPod music player, and plasma televisions.

We are discussing whether our 7 year old will see the film on release. I must admit I have a soft spot for the original Transformers (I don't for Beast Wars). However seeing the film and navigating the aftermath of consumption are two different things. Its going to be a hectic summer.