Thursday, May 31, 2012

'A Place of Play' - Performance Video

A video of the recent mixed reality performance, 'A Place of Play' I gave between the digital humanities research space HUMlab X at the just opened arts campus at Umeå University and in Second Life. Thanks to Beatrice for shooting the video and HUMlab for everything.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Mixed Reality Performance

Thanks to Jenna, Adam and Stefan for the images.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

A Place of Play

On Saturday I will be conducting a mixed reality performance, 'A Place of Play' between the new HUMlab X at the just opened arts campus at Umeå University and in Second Life (image above). It will be at 11.30 - 11.50 and 13.30 - 13.50 and anyone is welcome to attend. To log in to Second Life download the program and teleport to the coordinates from this link My short abstract from the program for the Arts Campus Open Day is:

James Barrett is a researcher and teacher in HUMlab working with digital narrative and the spatial. James’s presentation at the opening of HUMlab X will focus on the dimensions of digital space. As an avatar Jim will perform in the virtual world of Second Life while performing in the space of HUMlab X at the same time. The performance will consist of live music and a screen running Second Life.
I hope to see you in HUMlab X or in Second Life on Saturday.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Camping Summer 2011

Sunday, May 20, 2012

A Thought on Zuckerberg

Undertakers wear suits and are those who deal with death. Zuckerber, Gates, Jobs and the others of the life industry, the digital, do not wear suits. Zuckerberg's fortune is built on an advertising industry desperate to connect to the 'always-on' generations, people who are no longer eyeballs on TV or cinema screens (from the good ol' days when media was housed in configured build environments that occupied solid real estate). He is an insanely rich stooge who can code, who relies on the mythology of hacking and the dude culture of 'brogrammers' to push yet another configuration of 'being connected' upon the most politically and socially isolated generation for a century.

Zuckerberg is the Elvis of the digital, the apolitical pseudo-hacker who was plucked from the ranks with one brilliant idea, which it seems was not his but succeeded thanks to intellectual property rights, whereby you cannot own an idea but only a thing and his code, as Facemash. This concept is mutated over and over again for his captured fans by his content paymasters. He is the symbol for a technical expertise that serves the interests of the powerful, who brought him everything he has, and who want to see the continuation of a consumption driven culture at all costs.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Assassin's Creed III Game Footage

We are looking forward to Assassin's Creed III with much anticipation. Judging by this alpha game visuals the graphics and physics promise an advanced experience. The story is also very strong. It comes out in October 2012.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

On the Legislation of Information and Creativity

On the Legislation of Information and Creativity
(Speech on the Occasion of a demonstration against surveillance and ACTA)

We have every reason to celebrate but to remain vigilant.

Attempts by commercial interests to influence public policy have been around for a long long time. In recent years with the massive development of cyber-infrastructure the role legislation plays in the culture of daily life is no longer restricted to education, publication, music and cinema as it was for such a long period of time. Today connectivity, social media, the information economy and society are intertwined, where every ripple on the digital pool has results for everybody. Today we are gathered here to voice our concerns and hopes for the future of the information society.

After ten years of professional research on digital culture and technology I have observed a worrying trend in recent years regarding how the architecture of the information economy is maintained. The massive acceptance of apps, enclosed programs mostly run in isolation on mobile devices by single users, is a great analogy for how many large corporations would like to see the Internet. You buy the app and then the channel is open for you to purchase content or receive updates from the source of the technology. In effect you live in a walled garden; you and your app. You are enjoying each other’s company but finding it difficult to meet others and share content with them. The “Like” button on Facebook works on a similar principle. You register an opinion but you really share nothing. Exactly what large corporations want; identifiable individuals consuming.

Into this growing environment of lonely consumption come the corporate lobby groups. They have been doing ok recently, thanks to new systems such as subscriptions for streaming content, apps, DRM licensing, and of course government legislation regarding copyright. However, there are still massive leakages in their revenue systems. There are strong desires from the corporate sector to see further gains in Intellectual Property Rights control.  Young people are being targeted by organizations such as the International Trademark Association (INTA), and anti-counterfeiting and the need for harmonization of existing laws (which means making more laws) are the reasoning behind recent campaigns for increased IP legislation.  Free trade agreements have been used in Australia and India to bring in tighter controls on IP, often to the detriment of small time traditional industries and crafts. Negotiations on bills to be put before governments in both Europe and the United States have seen the unparallelled presence of interest bodies from rights and patent holders and managers. The artists are not so extremely vocal in relation to increased control for rights holders, as many of them do not control the publication of their own works.

However, we do have a lot to celebrate today:

Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) - the White House said Mr Obama would veto the act if it reached his desk.

Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) –

The ACTA agreement was signed in October 2011 by Australia, Canada, Japan, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, and the United States. In January 2012, the European Union and 22 countries that are member states of the European Union signed as well. No signatory has ratified (formally approved) the agreement, which would come into force after ratification by 6 countries. After entry into force, the treaty would only apply in those countries that ratified it.

Helena Drnovšek-Zorko, Slovenian ambassador to Japan, issued a statement on 31 January 2012 expressing deep remorse for having signed the agreement. "I signed ACTA out of civic carelessness, because I did not pay enough attention. Quite simply, I did not clearly connect the agreement I had been instructed to sign with the agreement that, according to my own civic conviction, limits and withholds the freedom of engagement on the largest and most significant network in human history, and thus limits particularly the future of our children," she said

The ACTA treaty is unlikely to be ratified by the European Union, according to Neelie Kroes, the powerful European commissioner for telecoms and technology.

"After the tremendous mobilization of citizens around the world against Sopa and Acta, it would be extremely dangerous politically for the commission to propose a new repressive scheme," said Jeremie Zimmermann, from Internet advocacy group La Quadrature du Net.

In this environment of change and challenge, we stand here with the desire to maintain freedom of information and expression, to allow the poor of the world to access medicines, and to allow for innovation and development driven from the sector where the talent and creativity are strongest and not solely dependent upon money. The legislation of information and creativity pushed by corporate concerns is an ominous sign. The greatest periods of human civilization have not been the times when the lawyers ruled, but rather when education and culture was the domain of the many. The establishment of law for the benefit of the many must be coupled with the opportunity to create and share. In this digital age we now possess tools that allow for this on an unprecedented scale. I hope that my grandchildren can look back at this time and see it as the beginning of a golden age, rather than the start of a culture based on surveillance, control and capital power.

Thank you.

James Barrett
12 May 2012.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Action and Mini-Festival Tomorrow

I will be playing tomorrow with DJ Vänlig (Acid Folk) at 16:20 in Döbeln Park in Umeå as part of a demonstration and festival for the continuation of freedom of expression and association via digital media. We will gather at the 'Apberget' (Monkey Mountain) in the town square in Umeå. We will then proceed in an orderly fashion to Döbeln Park for some tunes and talk. I will be giving a short talk at 17:20 on the legislation of information and creativity. Hope to see you there.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Virtual Worlds, Machinima and Cooperation over Borders

This presentation demonstrates that cooperation over borders is possible between individuals and groups dispersed over space using online three-dimensional virtual worlds. This cooperation occurs in the production of art, research, teaching and learning, and performance as well as in building social, professional and personal contexts. The borders that are crossed are geopolitical, linguistic, generational, spatial and embodied. Throughout the various ruptures offered by virtual world technology, a sense and understanding of place is required for cooperation in order to maintain coherence for the interlocutors and to be able to meet, talk, build, write, perform and exchange. In this talk, I will use examples of machinima - videos made using screen-capture software on computers, to film places and avatar actors in virtual worlds - to demonstrate how these environments can offer places for cooperation.
Tomorrow seminar at Stockholms universitetsbibliotek (kl 12.00-17.00), Växthuset for Initiativ för ett Kulturens Europa "En digital kultur i rörelse" Twitter: #DigiCultEU

The full program for "En Digital Kultur i Rörelse" is here.


And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found a helper suitable for him (Genesis 2:19, 20)

Thursday, May 03, 2012

The Internet of Things Mediated by QR Codes

A QR (Quick Response) code is two-dimensional visual structure that can be registered with a digital camera in a portable device. Whereas a linear bar code may accommodate 128 characters; a 2D QR Code, can comprise as many as 7,089 characters. QR code reader apps are available for the iPhone, the Android, and through service providers such as Sprint. QR codes can be scanned from even low-resolution computer screens, online videos (including YouTube), stickers and printed-paper. QR codes have been used to link to stored content not available on the Internet as well as lead the user to a specific website, special offer or otherwise unavailable multimedia content. Louis Vuitton has used QR codes in product design, and Teradadesign and Qosmo's N Building in Dubai allows users to read the building by accessing GIS-positioned Twitter entries from customers, make reservations and download coupons.

Qosmo's N Building in Dubai

The recent production by Cirque du Soleil of ‘Love’, a tribute to the music of The Beatles, features an iTunes app that is accompanied by a QR code for the 5th anniversary of the production. The user could unlock extra content within the app that includes music, video and still images of the show. The QR code also allows the user to enter a competition to win DVDs and music. Overall, the use of QR codes in publication and publicity has assisted in the expansion of multimedia and cross-platform content. The logical extension of the use of QR codes is as an added dimension to print publications, particularly in relation to subjects dealing with digital and multimedia production. In any use of QR codes there are three rules to observe:

1) Mobilize the landing page: the site the QR decodes to should be active and even live, with regular updates and a community aspect to it. If the QR Code you have made resolves to a url make sure the page is optimized for display on a mobile device. An easy way round this issue it to make sure the landing page is equipped with agent switching. If the site is not under your control then you can use Google’s mobilizer by adding the url to this string: If you are mobilizing your own site such as your blog then there is an even better option which will mobilize your site, generate a QR Code for the mobilized url and keep usage statistics, it’s called Delivr. Another possibility to consider is Mippin, which has an option to include advertising but you must have an RSS feed for it to work. Whatever you end up doing make sure the user of your QR Code sees content optimized for mobile devices because 99.9% of the time they will be using a camera phone.
2) The second rule of QR Codes is to make sure the url is as short as possible. Many mobile devices and reader software have difficulty with a QR Code matrix greater than 33×33 and some even falter with those dimensions. This means you should aim for a small matrix rather than a large matrix. In QR Code encoding the number of bytes at a given Error Correction Level (ECL) will determine the matrix size (see chart below) therefore a shorter url can mean a dimensionally smaller matrix. Dependence upon a third-party to decode and direct traffic is dangerous. The content, decoding and url/server provision should be handled by the publisher under contract or within the domain of the publication itself.
3) The third rule of QR Codes is, if the QR Code you have made resolves to a url, the online content must add tangible and significant value to any offline content. In terms of promotion added tangible and significant value includes prizes, limited access materials (special remixes or editions of recordings, limited edition T-shirts and so on) or discounts or coupons.
The method of delivery in relation to QR codes must be carefully considered. Malicious QR codes combined with a permissive reader can put a computer's contents and user's privacy at risk. Dependence upon a third-party to decode and direct traffic is dangerous. The content, decoding and url/server provision should be handled by the publisher under contract or within the domain of the publication itself. They are easily created and may be affixed over legitimate QR codes. On a smartphone, the reader's many permissions may allow use of the camera, full Internet access, read/write contact data, GPS, browser history, read/write local storage, and global system changes. Risks include linking to dangerous websites with browser exploits, enabling the microphone/camera/GPS and then streaming those feeds to a remote server, analysis of sensitive data (passwords, files, contacts, transactions), and sending email/SMS/IM messages or DDOS packets as part of a botnet, corrupting privacy settings, stealing identity, and even containing malicious logic themselves such as JavaScript, or a virus. These actions may occur in the background while the user only sees the reader opening a seemingly harmless webpage. Intricate, artist-created QR codes that are part of larger posters, or online in spcific websites are ways of lessening the risks for hacking with QR codes.