Monday, December 23, 2013

Designing Media with Blixa Bargeld with Erin Zhu

Blixa Bargeld, former guitarist with Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, leads an innovative industrial Goth-rock band called Einsturzende Neubauten, based in Berlin. Band members work with whatever readymade scrapheap objects they can find to act as musical instruments, hence the label industrial rock. Blixa's wife, Erin Zhu, an American originally from China, has extensive experience working in Internet start-ups. Soon after their marriage, Erin was able to help the band develop an elaborate Web-based fan subscription experiment that bypasses the traditional music business, allowing them to release the album Alles Wieder Offen in 2007. They have continued to develop this model because without the sponsorship of a record company they rely on fans to donate subscriptions for exclusive editions of the CDs and DVDs plus privileged access to the musicians and the entire creative process.

Blixa Bargeld has been leading an innovative industrial rock band based in Berlin for decades and has accumulated a loyal and enthusiastic community of fans. Working in the traditional relationship to music publishers, he was never able to do more than cover the costs of production and even that level of support was steadily eroding. In the next interview, with Blixa and his wife, Erin Zhu, we learn how a band like his can bypass the traditional music business, developing a self-supporting economic model based on subscriptions from fans, enabled by the Internet. -

Friday, December 20, 2013

Dialogism: Texts and Directions

Dialogism is “the characteristic epistemological mode of a world dominated by heteroglossia. Everything means, is understood, as a part of a greater whole - there is a constant interaction between meanings, all of which have the potential of conditioning others” (Bakhtin 2004 426). Applied more broadly, dialogism is a development out of dialectics, the process by which meaning and knowledge are created through change and the alignment of binary, oppositional forces that results in defined points in history and cycles. Dialogism is networked, multiple, fractal, complex and 'chaos' driven. It builds depths and surfaces, not cycles.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Robots - Ethics and Realities

Robotics is the art and commerce of robots, their design, manufacture, application, and practical use. Robots will soon be everywhere, in our home and at work. They will change the way we live. This will raise many philosophical, social, and political questions that will have to be answered. In science fiction, robots become so intelligent that they decide to take over the world because humans are deemed inferior. In real life, however, they might not choose to do that. Robots might follow rules such as Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics, that will prevent them from doing so. When the Singularity happens, robots will be indistinguishable from human beings and some people may become Cyborgs: half man and half machine.

Prominent robot ethics questions focus on liability and privacy concerns in the face of increasingly autonomous technology. A lesser-discussed issue is the emergence and effect of robots that are designed to interact with humans on a social level. Studies have begun to establish a tendency to perceive social robots differently than we do other objects. As more and more robotic companions enter into our lives and homes, our inclination to project life-like qualities onto robots could have some societal implications.

Kate Darling -- IP Research Specialist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Media Lab and a Ph.D. candidate in Intellectual Property and Law & Economics at the ETH Zurich -- discusses some of the more interesting developments in the world of robot/human interaction, and where we might find ourselves in the coming decades.