Sunday, October 31

Rumsfeld's war: watch the full program at

Very interesting PBS Frontline special. Very interesting watch. Silly streaming Win Media Player format. It's to bad I can't download it or watch it on my media server or TV. Comments soon to come.

Update: I have composed feedback pertaining to the format here

frontline: rumsfeld's war: watch the full program online PBS

Via: Rumsfeld's War Metafilter

Friday, October 29

The Fishing Machine - a genuine design enigma

I must say I'm not the collector type, but when I saw the wacked out design of this 1976 Fishing Machine I had to drop $3 on it. I'm a sucker for wacked out design. The funniest thing is it still works and casts beautifully. It has the oddest feature on top too, a "range finder" that when switched on stops the cast and about 35 feet or so. Perfect for casting into those tricky little nooks and crannies. :)

Urge Minorities To Get Out And Vote On Nov. 3 - Sarcasm will save us all.

The Onion | Republicans Urge Minorities To Get Out And Vote On Nov. 3

Thank you onion, if not for your sarcasm I might not be here right now. I might shooting people in the head in a mutli-player online game like Wolfenstien. Big smile. :)

Microcredit - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Micro-lending or microcredit is world changing. We could just throw millions or billions at big players through World Bank, or we could invest $20 here and $10 there. One works, the other doesn't. Figure it out.

Microcredit - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Wishful thinking the new photo iPod into a video iPod

There's a lot of people who were wishing apple's big announcement would be a video playing iPod, but over at macworld they take it a step farther in this hilarious, ridiculous and geeky romp through how to make your photo iPod into a video iPod, sort of.

MacCentral: The New iPod Video... Almost

Philippe Starck designed Wall Street condo complex

"Downtown is both the name and the location for a new luxury condo designed by uber designer Philippe Starck. The former 40-story headquarters for banker JP Morgan has been transformed into 326 Starck-designed residences. In addition to the usual NYC condo luxo amenities, there's a Starck Park, a 5,000 sq. ft. roof park that looks out over the NY Stock Exchange. They should have called it the Starck Exchange..."

LINK: MoCoLoco: Downtown

The ideal city bicycle - the Alta

MoCoLoco: Alta: "The ideal city bicycle.
Norwegian designers Norway Says, Frost Produkt and Bleed Designstudio have created this innovative design for bike manufacturer Hard Rocx. It's a 'light singlespeed bike for urban areas, only 9.6 kg. It comes with internal cablerouting for the brakes.'. If the goal was to create a practical simple design with flare, they've succeeded"

Holloween media fun - Rustboy

balcony (1280x1024)

stair (1280x1024)

rain (1280x1024)

running (1280x1024)

test reel (must see 10mb QT)

The designers among you will be interested to see this preview of the entire rustboy book in small thumbnail images (warning 1472x1916 pixels 1.1mb jpg)

And if that's not enough for you then check out this entire folder full of highres rendered stills


Additional Information: Apple (UK and Ireland) - Creative - Mac Motivates Maverick Animator

An Interesting Article: AnimWatch - Rustboy

Thursday, October 28

Random great business plan of the day

I don't know wether I'm going to do this or not (anyone who reads this is welcome to it) but the following t-shirt idea popped into my head while having a discussion about companies that suck, primarily those like Claria (formerly Gator), and Altria (formerly Phillip Morris) that are attempting to skirt the moral and ethical backlash against them by playing the name game. The medium is the tshirt, and the message is as such.

I think
[insert company
name here]

so bad I payed
$20 for this t-shirt

Basically this is a cool way to un-cool brands. A way to profit by knocking companies down a peg or two, and a way to thumb your nose at them in enjoyment. This might be very popular among the internet insider and college crowd and is easily executed on on cafe press or some other site. It's completely legal as it's freedom of expression even though it clearly flies in the face of the corporation. I really must say I like it a lot.

Sometimes you just need to express your negative opinion.

Tuesday, October 26

The world's most human robot

This robot does it all. Schmoozes for money AND drinks beer. How could robotics surpass this. It has all been done.

The world's most human robot (19mb QuickTime Video)

News Flash: media blows, sarcasm will save us all.

Officials fear news of the missing explosives could be used in combination with unrelated pictures of burning stuff to sensationalize news articles.
Between the inescapable simpleton political ads, sensationalist Ashlee Simpson news, Sinclair scandal and the constant self perpetuated media scandals I'm deeply disaffected with mainstream media and politics. So today I'm going to take it out on Bill Orielly, courtesy of The Onion which is truly "America's Finest News Source" - after the Daily Show of course. ;)
Last week, a Fox News Channel producer sued Bill O'Reilly for sexual harassment, alleging that the cable host pressured her into phone sex. What do you think?

"This is just another example of the liberal media's bias against self-destructive, narcissistic, screaming sexist assholes."

Andy Vaughn

"He wasn't sexually harassing her. He was just looking out for her, like he's doing for all of us, all the time."

Jonathan Warren

"Whether Andrea Mackris' claims are true or false, one thing is certain—that woman is never working for the vast right-wing conspiracy again."

Curtis Fletcher
Systems Analyst

I like my news sprinkled heavily with sarcasm. Thank you Onion.

Link: The Onion | What Do You Think?

Sunday, October 24

fun media fixings - the news from iraq

This clip may be a little old. But it cracks me up every time with it's Monty Python style british humor. Enjoy.

funny - newsreportfromIraq.wmv

Saturday, October 23

Biking Pennsylvania's Lost Highway

I suddenly have the need to travel to Pennsylvania. I'm reminded of the post apocalyptic visions of 'Mad Max', Stephen King's 'The Stand' and '28 days'. To be riding a bicycle on a four lane divided highway, silence, weeds growing through cracks. It would be a very eery and spiritual thing indeed.

The New York Times > Travel > Escapes > Day Trips: Biking Dark Tunnels and Wide Lanes on a Lost Highway

Friday, October 22

Random picture of the day

This is May. May doesn't like cameras, not even camera phones.

May growls, "Stop stealing my soul."

All hail gross green Shrek twinkies! — senseless Holloween moblogging

All hail gross green Shrek twinkies!

This was the best excuse I could come up with for using my new cameraphone to moblog today.

Thursday, October 21

Bruce Sterling, New Bollywood models, Big Wifi Dinasaur

Bruce, what was that you were saying about a hot beautiful Czech new Bollywood cosmetic model... Nevermind, ahh, that's a very nice Dinasaur. Can I get one like that to live in?

from Bruce Sterling's Wired News Blog

Giant sunfish washes up on New Zealand beach

In news completely unrelated to anything a giant sunfish has washed up on a New Zealand beach. Categorize under wacky, weird, fun, bizarro.

STUFF - STORY - HOME : New Zealand's leading news and information website: "Monster washes up near Farewell Spit"

Free culture - Neal Stephenson's "In the Beginning was the Command Line"

"In the beginning was the command line" has probably been online for free for years, but I just discovered it after reading today's Slashdot interview with Neal Stephenson. Which is by the way a brilliant read. And I do mean that. His Snowcrash is one of my favorite sci-fi books. I remember when I was first introduced to his work when I picked up a copy of "In the beginning was the Command Line" I was immediately insensed and read it straight through without ever putting it down. Keep in mind it's not very long.

So now that I've transitioned from "In the begining..." to the Slashdot interview and back again it's time to sign off. I have printed out the Slashdot article so I can enjoy it with a nice cup of tea before going to bed. I guess this sort of proves I'm a big geek, but heh, it's such a very good day to be a geek. With the anticipation of reading Stephen King's last book of the Dark Tower series (just released within the last couple days) and the revival of William Gibson's blog this week we geeks are very blessed.

Referring page to download: C R Y P T O N O M I C O N . C O M

Direct link to download: In the beginning was the Command Line (zip format)

Link: Today's Slashdot interview with Neal Stephenson

Wednesday, October 20

Stephen King's final book in 'The Dark Tower Series' released

I can't wait to get my hands on this. Stephen King has been working toward the completion of his seven book 'Dark Tower' series since perhaps as early as 1970 when he was 22. Many have called the Dark Tower series his opus and even more wondered if it's completion would ever come, especially since he was very nearly killed in a road side accident in 1999, but the series is now complete and I won't be able to get my hands on a copy of it fast enough.

EXCELLENT Article: The New York Times > Books > Sunday Book Review > 'The Dark Tower': Pulp Metafiction (free registration required)

Read the first chapter! The New York Times > Books > First Chapters > First Chapter: 'The Dark Tower VII' (free registration required)

Great Review: Boing Boing: Stephen King finishes the Gunslinger books

Buy it on Amazon: Books: The Dark Tower (The Dark Tower, Book 7)

Monday, October 18

Nike consolidating the sporting goods market

It use to be Nike was an ever present fixture in the media I paid attention to. So you can imagine my shock when I realized they bought up their competitor Converse back in July.

Apparently their market has been maturing (as markets do) and they've started buying up competitors to consolidate their market share.
And with Converse helping to drive up sales, industry watchers say Nike is likely to duplicate this success by acquiring other brands.

John Horan, who publishes the trade magazine Sporting Goods Intelligence, lists youth sporting goods company Burton and outdoor clothing retailer Patagonia as two possibilities.

To diversify its product offerings, Nike paid about $305 million for the nearly 100-year-old Converse. So far the bet has paid off.

For the quarter ended Aug. 31, sales from the company's non-Nike brands grew 64 percent to $434.5 million, with Converse making up about three-quarters of that amount. Total revenue rose 18 percent to $3.6 billion, with Converse contributing four percentage points of that increase.
Link: Latest Business News and Financial Information |

On a side note converse is doing a bit of participatory marketing. Yes "paticapotory marketing" that's what I said. I could call it "viral marketing" as some do, but that implies everyone involved is some kind of degenerate. One of the many reasons I don't think highly of much of the advertising industry, but that's another issue altogether. Anyway, judge for yourself.
Like Converse, this site belongs to you, it is what you make of it. Enjoy the creativity of others. If you get the itch, create something yourself. With every contribution, this site will evolve and grow. How big? That's entirely up to you.
I like the sentiment, I just wish the website wasn't one big closed flash app so I could link to the right page or some of the videos.


Sunday, October 17

News of the weird and wacky

Just in today: "In one of those only-in-Alaska stories that will shock even the sourest of sourdoughs, a trophy-sized bull moose was accidentally strung up in a power line under construction to the Teck Pogo gold mine southeast of Fairbanks. The moose apparently got its antlers tangled in electrical wire before workers farther down the line pulled the line tight about two weeks ago."

Link: News-Miner - Wired News

By way of (thanks Shannon)

Cheers to great buddy icons — this is the best buddy icon evar

This is a really silly post, but what the heh. It's Sunday.

I don't know where it's originally from, but I love this image. A friend of mine is using it as his buddy image. He got it from the guy who maintains the Debian X Windows system It tops my personal favorites Beaker from the Muppet Show, and Homestar Runner, from

"New Media Monopoly" — ramblings about new media

from: "New Media Monopoly" Excerpt 1

"During the emergence of the civil rights movement in the 1950s, most of the best regional papers, in the North and the South, would tell me when I dropped in for the traditional 'fill-in' for outside journalists, that there was no serious problem in their 'colored districts.' Yet in city after city there came racial explosions that surprised even the local media.

When I was reporting on structural poverty in the early 1960s, once again in the newsrooms of some of the best papers I was told that there was no significant problem. But a few years later it was clear that not only was there a problem, but it had existed for a long time.

Yet if I asked these same papers about welfare cheaters, low-level political chicanery, or failings of almost any public agency, their libraries were full of clippings.

There was, it appeared, a double standard: sensitive to failures in public bodies, but insensitive to equally important failures in the private sector, particularly in what affects the corporate world. This institutional bias does more than merely protect the corporate system. It robs the public of a chance to understand the real world.

Our picture of reality does not burst upon us in one splendid revelation. It accumulates day by day and year by year in mostly unspectacular fragments from the world scene, produced mainly by the mass media. Our view of the real world is dynamic, cumulative, and self-correcting as long as there is a pattern of even-handedness in deciding which fragments are important. But when one important category of the fragments is filtered out, or included only vaguely, our view of the social-political world is deficient. The ultimate human intelligence-discernment of cause and effect-becomes damaged because it depends on knowledge of events in the order and significance in which they occur. When part of the linkage between cause and effect becomes obscure, the sources of our weakness and of our strength become uncertain. Errors are repeated decade after decade because something is missing in the perceptions by which we guide our social actions.

My personal associations, professional experience, and research tell me that journalists, writers, artists, and producers are, as a body, capable of producing a picture of reality that, among other things, will signal 'weakness in the social order.' But to express this varied picture they must work through mainstream institutions and these institutions must be diverse. As the most important institutions in the production of our view of the real social world-newspapers, magazines, radio, television, books, and movies-increasingly become the property of the most persistent beneficiaries of mass media biases, it seems important to me to write about it."

Thoughts: I just stumbled upon this excerpt from "New Media Monopoly" by Ben Bagdikian. This is a brilliant excerpt from a different perspective, a journalists perspective. Though in my opinion the failure of media to signal "weakness in the social order" is not due the willingness or lack of willingness by journalists. The failure of media is in the architecture of editorial news system itself, the problem is inherent in broadcast systems. Because journalists do strive to "work through mainstream institutions" they invariably bend their bias toward that of their peers. This very strife to reach a wide audience through mainstream media subverts any attempt to be well rounded or unbiased because an individual can't remain unbiased when they're seeking the acceptance of the very peers which they are reporting on. Especially when that bias is supported and cultivated through a very granular process over many, many years of a career.

This repeated process of failure to signal signal 'weakness in the social order' really hits home with the weapons of mass destruction scandal, the Worldcom and Enron scandals, and even the latest scandal with Dan Rather and the forged Coast Guard documents. However, I believe it is not a failure of journalists, I believe it is a failure inherent in broadcast media. In order to have a voice you must belong and in order to belong you must seek acceptance from that which you would voice your opinion about.

By contrast new media of the "broadband" paradigm (many-to-many) allows one to develop a voice without acceptance. Acceptance is secondary. The threshold of acceptance and hence the subversion of that voice is infinitely smaller. Sure this model leads to a tremendous amount of pontification (see hear!) there is a much, much better chance of getting it right. And by much I mean an order of magnitude that is currently pretty much incalculable. I might cite the number of blogs currently online and compare it to the number of newspapers, but this is not about blogs vs. newspapers, it's about bulletin boards, chat rooms, photos, videos, emails, and PDFs sitting on FTP servers. The magnitude of change and the magnitude for the possibility of free and open speech has shifted so radically it will likely take us 100's of years to understand the ramifications. I image that in a millennia, when the next great breakthrough happens, we'll be looking at the architecture of the net and "broadband" media and discussing all it's inherent flaws which will be so obvious then. But let's just hope in the meantime that it will bring infinitely more good than bad.

Oh, one last comment. Ben Bagdikian is an author and journalist. It has been said that all people believe that both the solution and the problem exists within the scope of their work. Perhaps if they didn't they'd be inclined to find another branch of work. That said, I will not begrudge him, but in fact I will instead point out my obsession with IA (information architecture), humane interfaces, and media is what I like to think of as "my work". So, perhaps he may be wrong in thinking the failure for media to signal "weakness in social order" is the fault of journalists, but I may also be wrong in thinking that same problem stems from the failure of the broadcast medium itself.

"It's not in the box, it's in the band." - from (Antitrust ;)

Saturday, October 16

Fun new media fixings — political satire School House Rock style

School House Rock - Pirates & Emperors (6.7mb QT)
Pirates and Emporers is a pitch-perfect send-up of the "Schoolhouse Rock" musical civics cartoons of the 1970s -- easily the most-compelling educational materials aired on US TV -- in which the dark history of US international policy (funding terrorists, arming atrocity-mongers) is set to jaunty music and simple animation.
Via Boing Boing: Schoolhouse Rock that tells it like it is
The Toilet Online - Leave It To Bush! (Macromedia Flash Animation)

The great sci-fi writer William Gibson is blogging again

William Gibson: "Why?

Because the United States currently has, as Jack Womack so succintly puts it, a president who makes Richard Nixon look like Abraham Lincoln.

And because, as the Spanish philospher Unamuno said, 'At times, to be silent is to lie.'"

Related links

Guardian Unlimited | Online | Talk time: William Gibson — William Gibson Talks about blogging.

William Gibson - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Friday, October 15

Finally broke down and got a camera phone

Well, I finally broke down and got a camera phone. It was not my intention but since I'm paying for the data already and the camera phone was only $30 more than a regular phone I went a head and did it. With this setup I can apparently send unlimited pictures straight from my Sprint phone to my blog without any problem. The picture on the right is my first test. Yeah, it's rainy here.

Wednesday, October 13

Detroit — The incredible shrinking city

I've been spending some time in Toldeo and Detroit recently, in fact I have a tremendous amount of pictures to post, but that's another post. These two pictures (right & below right) by Lowell Boileau from The Fabulous Ruins of Detroit are of the fabulous Michigan Theatre in Detroit while it was being used as a parking garage. Like much of Detroit the Michigan Theatre is now gone forever.
"The Fabulous Ruins of Detroit all began as sparkling edifices, the fulfillment of the dreams of their architects and developers.

Their end did not come suddenly, as part of some natural disaster or war.  Instead it resulted from an accumulated lack of basic aesthetic sensibility.  A small thing left broken here, an indiscretion of taste there, until a preponderance of damage equals an insoluble situation. What was revered becomes scorned.

Abandonment and vandalism follow and the damage becomes irreparable."
— from Detroit Institutes of the Arts

Cities are shrinking all over the world.

Shrinking cities are a cultural challenge to us. In the Shrinking Cities project, architects, academics and artists investigate recent developments in Detroit, Ivanovo, Manchester / Liverpool and Halle / Leipzig - and make suggestions.

Shrinking cities is a project (2002-2005) of the Federal Cultural Foundation, under the direction of Philipp Oswalt (Berlin) in co-operation with the Leipzig Gallery of Contemporary Art, the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation and the magazine archplus.
— from
Link: The Fabulous Ruins of Detroit

Link: the Rape of Detroit: Scavanger Desecrations of the Ruins of Detroit

the gang war in Rio — an amazing photologue

Rio is a fascinating place of contrast. This is way off the current events radar. It is in fact from back in early April of this year and does not in fact have much to do with my primary interests, but it was such a fascinating glimpse into the modern world of Rio I had to post it.

this from back on Apr. 13, 2004
EastSouthWestNorth: "More than 1,000 police stormed into two Rio shantytowns Monday, trying to halt a violent dispute among drug traffickers that has left at least 10 people dead.

Automatic weapons fire crackled as police swept through the Rocinha favela, or slum, and the nearby Vidigal slum -- both of which overlook the city's wealthiest neighborhoods and trendy beaches.

The drug war that erupted Friday has alarmed tourists and vacationers. The respected O Globo newspaper said guests at the beachfront Intercontinental Hotel were shocked to see red and blue tracer bullets streaking across the night sky."

I sumbled upon his at: Ethan Zuckerman's Weblog - My blog is in Cambridge, but my heart's in Accra. There are a bunch more articles worth reading off this link if you choose to read it.

Tuesday, October 12

The exedous from Google

Evan Williams, one of the original crew, announced last week he was leaving Google. Evan was one of the founders of Pyra software that created which was bought by google in February of 2003. None of the original crew that founded Pyra five years ago now remain at Google.

Meg Hourihan (, another founder of Pyra, had announced on September 14th that she was leaving the tech world to follow her passion for cooking and had become a chef at a Nantuket restraunt called Fifty-Six Union. She had been on sabbatical since May 21st

Cheers to Meg for daring to follow her passion. And good luck to Evan on finding a new project.

From geek to chef -

evhead: Next?

Monday, October 11

Wow, there's this thing called bittorrent and you can download movies with it!

Ha! Sorry for the title, I'm mocking this excellent article by Myrtle Beach Online.

The article not only says "Wow you can download a full length movie in two hours" (paraphrase), a ringing endorsement of bittorrent, but it also naively tells you where to got to find bittorrent files! It's a wonder filesharing spreads so rapidly.

BTW, I've 'heard' that 2 hours is a little exagerated and that 4 hours is more common for a full movie.

The Sun News | 10/10/2004 | File-sharing software branches out to movies

Tomes of Knowlege - fun with Bucky Fuller

I just stumbled upon a great Buckminster Fuller web site full of video clips and couldn't help but share.Bucky Fuller's Dymaxion CarJ.Baldwin author of BuckyWorks: Buckminster Fuller's Ideas for Today on Bucky's omni-directional plummeting device (941k QT)

You've got to love Bucky.

Universal Access to All Human Knowledge

Why? Because this reads like my damn manifesto.

Brewster Kahle: Universal Access to All Human Knowledge
Presented at Web 2.0, 10/6/04, San Francisco
Impressionistic transcript by Cory Doctorow
Universal access to all knowledge is possible, and it's not a
non-profit goal. Index the whole damn thing -- it's a business
for AMZN (let's sell all the books, let's sell everything),
Altavista, (let's index all the web), etc.

26MM books in the Library of Congress -- more than 50% out of
copyright, most out of print, a tiny sliver in print. A digitized
ASCII book is about 1MB, so this is about 26TB, which costs about
$60K and takes up one bookshelf.

Google announced that it will digitize in-print material and
out-of-copyright works (like AMZN's thing).

It costs $10/book to scan -- they're digitizing all the books in
the Library of Alexandria, and they're going this in China, too.

A group in Toronto is doing a robot-scanner that will bring the
cost in the industrial world -- where labor is more expensive --
to scan books for $10. At $10 per, that $260 Million to scan all
the books.

Brewster is scanning all the books that are out of copyright, and
is trying to get at all the stuff that's out of print but still
in copyright -- the orphans. It's 8MM books, most of the 20th

We're suing Ashcroft in the Supreme Court for the right to bring
out-of-print, in-copyright books to the net.

We can print a book for a dollar -- it costs Harvard Library $2
to loan a book.

We've got book mobiles in India, Egypt, Uganda elsewhere printing
books for a dollar each.

Scan a book for $10, put it on the net, download it and bind it
for $1.


How much audio is there?

2-3MM discs (78s, LPs, CDs) produced in the history of the world.

Lots of people aren't well-served by music publishers. Some rock
bands sell records but allow tape-trading of their live
performance. We've got 700 bands' live performances online --
including all of the Grateful Dead.

Online record-labels need help: we offer unlimited
storage/bandwidth forever for free to anyone releasing material
under a CC license. There should be no penalty to giving stuff

Classical music: we need a good classical music collection. If
you know anyone in a symphony we're looking to digitize their
stuff at hi-rez.


Moving images

100-200K theatrically released films in the history of the world,
half are Indian.

600 films in the US are not in copyright -- we've got 300 on the
web to download, watch, cut up, do what you will.

Thousands of non-theatrical films (educational films, etc) in the
Prelinger Archive.

We're recording 20 channels of TV 24h/day at full rez. We've got
a petabyte of TV from Russia, UK, Arab world, etc.


We've got a DMCA exemption that allows us to digitize and rip
software. It's a disgrace that the software industry opposed

We've got a web-archive going back to 1996.

This is growing at one Library of Congress per month.


Preservation and access

We've got copies of this in SF (on the San Andreas fault), with
mirrors in Egypt and Amsterdam.

We're adding cool search stuff, like Recall.


Will we do this?

Dunno -- lots of business oppos here. 4 companies have already
spun out.

This requires coop between govt, nonprofit and for-profit



Earlier version of the speach available in QuickTime (121 mb QT)

Via JimGilliam

Friday, October 8

Fun AP foibles — AP article sumarizes tonights debate before it happens

The Associated Press accidentally pre-published an article sumarizing tonights debate as if it had already happened. The article entitled "Economy, Iraq War Frame Bush-Kerry Debate" was emailed to me by a friend (thanks Shannon) before it was corrected and I've placed a screen snap of the entire AP article online for your reading pleasure. While funny the article does not reveal any scandelous bias.

Prewriting articles is not an uncommon practice for big events. Just prior to the last presidential debate there was a very funny skit on the Daily Show about the subject. Unforetuneatly I can't put, nor find a copy of that online.

In a related incident Action 2 News of Green Bay Wisconsin accidentally published an AP test article yesterday saying Bush had won the election. You can check out a screen snap of the article. Even better is the retraction posted on Action 2's website and the discussion on the blog.
With less than a month before the presidential election, an Associated Press test article declaring President Bush the winner was picked up by's automated system. The article was not recognized by our web host's system as a test message.

The mistake was picked up by a discussion group on Daily Kos, prompting a phone call that alerted us to the problem. Our web host, WorldNow, removed the story in less than five minutes. The article appeared on for 35 minutes.

WBAY apologizes for the error, and we took quick action to correct it.
WBAY-Coverage You Can Count On: Correction: President Bush Did Not Win Election on October 7

UPDATE: More funny blog coverage of the WBAY article.

Funny knee-jerk reaction on Boing Boing

Poynter Online - E-Media Tidbits

Perhaps some bloggers are getting a little over-zelous in their roles as media watch-dogs.

Thursday, October 7

The last mile of IP economics

It occurs to me after rereading the Wired article The Long Tail and my earlier post on it that I overlooked the most obvious and interesting part. The end of the long tail is missing, forgotten, and un-addressed. The new economic frontier is not only in the "long tail" represented by "hybrid retailers" and "pure digital retailers" (pictured above), but in the last forgotten leg where the minimum threshold is nearly zero. In broadband connectivity this is called "the last mile". Usually the last mile is the most costly and the most complex, but that does not mean a marketplace for the last mile of intellectual property is impossible and indeed it may prove to be the most important part of the revolution.

"Anarchist in the Library" review — beyond the Anarchy

I'm currently still reading Anarchist in the Library, but I stumbled upon an interesting critical review by Adena Levin. It has a particularly interesting take that goes well beyond the labeling of P2P services as anarchy. In my opinion the most interesting thing Adena talks about is "the rise of mainstream folk culture" through new "networks of influence that are shaped by taste, by opinion, by identity, by personal connection, [and] by mentorship."
The bigger problem with defining file-sharing as anarchy is that it focuses on what's absent -- central control; rather than what is present -- strong and shifting networks of cultural influence.

After a brief historical period dominated by mass media, we're seeing a revival of folk culture, with new forms of peer cultural sharing and creation -- file sharing, blogging, mashups. The trend has been growing since the advent of cheap photocopiers and cheap videocameras, and accelerating with cheap distribution and improved tools for sharing taste and collaborating.

The portrayal of culture as anarchy is a Romantic notion, shaped by the ideal of the artists as lone rebels or dissident cliques. That concept itself is the result of the mass media dominance. Artists see themselves as an embattled minority, then their work gets co-opted into mass media (Lennon's Revolution selling sneakers).

With the rise of mainstream folk culture, though, the interesting structural observation isn't the lack of central control. It's the emergence of networks of influence that are shaped by taste, by opinion, by identity, by personal connection, by mentorship.

Vaidhyanathan laments the lack of community formed around Napster. But that was just immaturity. We're just inventing tools for groupforming around shared preferences and collaborative creation. Flickr has cool tools for building groups around sharing pictures. If Napster was allowed to live, if music-sharing were legal, we'd see faster growth of social software around music.
In my opinion it is important to note that while new peer-to-peer systems are seemingly anarchical, they are not and we need to move beyond this shallow understanding and study how they embrace the "semingly anarchical interests of masses" and turn them into a viable and even traditional product.

Peer systems are merely systems that try to embrace the "anarchy of the masses" and solidify it toward a common good in exactly the way our forefathers intended the modern corporation to do. Most are infact quite scientific in nature based on principals 100's of years old inmeshed with razzle dazzel technology. The primary difference between traditional free market systems and these new systems is a quantum leap in efficiency do technological advance, which lowers all costs, barriers, and boundries thus allowing for a whole new frontier of non-monetary incentive structures which some incumbent parties cannot seem to come to terms with.

That a very few of the most popular of these marketplaces do not offer an agreeable monetary incentive to producers does not mean the nature or ideology posed by P2P systems is anarchy. They are in fact far from it and if we can unshackle ourselves from the current debate which is dominated by a very few P2P players and a very few peddlers of cultural artifact then there is a huge new frontier of opportunity open to us in which we me may obsolete both these camps. The long term exploration of how these systems derive value from the "anarchy of the masses" not only offers us great opportunity, but will certainly give us a new understanding of what anarchy is and is not.

In closing I'd like to reiterat Adena's following statement in my own words. "If Napster was allowed to live, if music-sharing were legal, we'd see faster growth of social software around music."

If we can establish a peer system for the legitimized, legal and open sharing of intellectual works suitable to the masses we could slowly create the critical mass necissary to draw popular culture back out of the recess of the dark net to the open web where collaboration and debate around music and cultural artifacts can fulfill the promise of a renasaince of innovation and culture expected of this great new medium.

We don't need the permission of incumbent media corporations to build these new systems. The content is already out there it just needs a marketplace.

Read the original postBookBlog: Anarchist in the Library

On a side note and probably more interesting than my comments or the review is the fact that the author Siva Vaidhyanatha chose to join in to defend his work and thank the reviewer.

Finally, there is an one other excellent post by Adena analyzing Siva's previous book and that of Jessica Litman's book "Digital Copyright: Protecting IP on the Internet".

Thank you Siva and Adena for lending the public your words for debate. I hope my small contribution does you justice in progressing this debate.

Wednesday, October 6

Topobo — robot programable through "kinetic memory"

Very cool, very fun.

Topobo is a 3D constructive assembly system embedded with kinetic memory, the ability to record and playback physical motion. Unique among modeling systems is Topobo?s coincident physical input and output behaviors. By snapping together a combination of Passive (static) and Active (motorized) components, people can quickly assemble dynamic biomorphic forms like animals and skeletons with Topobo, animate those forms by pushing, pulling, and twisting them, and observe the system repeatedly play back those motions. For example, a dog can be constructed and then taught to gesture and walk by twisting its body and legs. The dog will then repeat those movements and walk repeatedly.

Great vidoes: Topobo Videos
I recommend the 30 second narated clip.

primary page Topobo

The Long Tail — The new economics of IP and culture

Wired just published an amazing article by Chris Anderson, Wired's editor and chief about the cultural and economical shift to a more diverse array of books, movies, and music. In short a huge surge in cultural diversity.

"Forget squeezing millions from a few megahits at the top of the charts. The future of entertainment is in the millions of niche markets at the shallow end of the bitstream."

What's really amazing about the Long Tail is the sheer size of it. Combine enough nonhits on the Long Tail and you've got a market bigger than the hits. Take books: The average Barnes & Noble carries 130,000 titles. Yet more than half of Amazon's book sales come from outside its top 130,000 titles. Consider the implication: If the Amazon statistics are any guide, the market for books that are not even sold in the average bookstore is larger than the market for those that are (see 'Anatomy of the Long Tail'). In other words, the potential book market may be twice as big as it appears to be, if only we can get over the economics of scarcity. Venture capitalist and former music industry consultant Kevin Laws puts it this way: 'The biggest money is in the smallest sales.'

When you think about it, most successful businesses on the Internet are about aggregating the Long Tail in one way or another. Google, for instance, makes most of its money off small advertisers (the long tail of advertising), and eBay is mostly tail as well - niche and one-off products. By overcoming the limitations of geography and scale, just as Rhapsody and Amazon have, Google and eBay have discovered new markets and expanded existing ones.

This is the power of the Long Tail. The companies at the vanguard of it are showing the way with three big lessons. Call them the new rules for the new entertainment economy.

Rule 1: Make everything available

If you love documentaries, Blockbuster is not for you. Nor is any other video store - there are too many documentaries, and they sell too poorly to justify stocking more than a few dozen of them on physical shelves. Instead, you'll want to join Netflix, which offers more than a thousand documentaries - because it can. Such profligacy is giving a boost to the documentary business; last year, Netflix accounted for half of all US rental revenue for Capturing the Friedmans, a documentary about a family destroyed by allegations of pedophilia.

I feel I I must pause here to point out the huge increase in DVD sales for TV series, especially those no longer on the air. This is offering a huge boom to shows that once wouldn't make it past the pilot.

Rule 2: Cut the price in half. Now lower it.

Rule 3: Help me find it

In 1997, an entrepreneur named Michael Robertson started what looked like a classic Long Tail business. Called, it let anyone upload music files that would be available to all. The idea was the service would bypass the record labels, allowing artists to connect directly to listeners. would make its money in fees paid by bands to have their music promoted on the site. The tyranny of the labels would be broken, and a thousand flowers would bloom.

Putting aside the fact that many people actually used the service to illegally upload and share commercial tracks, leading the labels to sue, the model failed at its intended purpose, too. Struggling bands did not, as a rule, find new audiences, and independent music was not transformed. Indeed, got a reputation for being exactly what it was: an undifferentiated mass of mostly bad music that deserved its obscurity.

The problem with was that it was only Long Tail. It didn't have license agreements with the labels to offer mainstream fare or much popular commercial music at all. Therefore, there was no familiar point of entry for consumers, no known quantity from which further exploring could begin.

Thoughts: Finally, someone quantifies substantially what broadband media and divergent interests mean to economics. "The long tail" is a theory on the slow shift of economics from mainstream or popularist IP to less mainstream and even obscure materials like older materials that never sold well or items well outside the mainstream that sell only small volumes. I recently blogged about one such example. The band Postal Service has released their latest CD with little to know marketing more than 18 months ago however it has steadily increased in popularity and sales have increase to more than 351,000 copies.

economics of scale vs. micro economics

This is a well documented reversal of at least some of the principals of economics of scale. Not surprisingly, if your read the fine print on the graphics you will find it came from MIT.

breadth adds depth?
Peer based (broadband) culture increases cultural capacity exponentially over broadcast culture. Therefore the "long tail" does not mean the death of hitmaker culture in fact hitmaker culture may even increase. The breadth of culture may increase the overall capacity of of world culture, thus creating a richer and more diverse global society.

If this inversion of marketplaces or leveling of the "hit maker culture" is true, then we should consider the widespread cultural ramifications. That popularist broadcast media is where mass culture has been going to get it's IP has been thoroughly ingrained in our culture for nearly 100 years. It may take decades or centuries before this new cultural order of peers based divergence is fully realized, but there is no debating how profound this crossover will be.

broadband = diversity = health

This may finally start to answer some questions regarding the diversity of world culture. There were fears that the internet would finish what the broadcast media started and wipe out diversity in world culture; that english might become the one world language, that all cultures would be swept up in capitalist notions. In short, a world mono culture. However, trends like this indicate that the inverse could definitely be true.

Instead of US political, cultural, economical ideals dominating the world view perhaps the inverse is happening and the US is getting swept up or reabsorbed into other economic, ideological, and cultural systems. Perhaps the age of cultural imperialism is dead.

Of course, just to be my own devils advocate, this could all be a last gasp or ho-rah for rich cultural interests, a momentary curiosity or a little revolution before we settle back into keeping up with the Jone's. Diversity could still collapse. Who knows what lies in peoples hearts. All I can say is that at-least "the long tail" is evidence that people are finding what's in their hearts. That is to say, finding ways to engage the world to the level of their capabilities and passion, and that can't be all to bad now can it?

Read the full article: Wired 12.10: The Long Tail

Tuesday, October 5

Digital Preservation Awards

The Library of Congress today is making awards totaling more than $14.9 million to eight institutions and their partners to identify, collect and preserve digital materials within a nationwide digital preservation infrastructure. These awards from the Library will be matched dollar-for-dollar by the winning institutions in the form of cash, in-kind or other resources. The institutions will share responsibilities for preserving at-risk digital materials of significant cultural and historical value to the nation.
Among these are the awards are a consortium created by UIC and one created by University of Michigan. The information follows.
·  Lead institution: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Library, Graduate School of Library and Information Science and National Center for Supercomputing Applications.
Partners: OCLC Online Computer Library Center, Tufts University Perseus Project, Michigan State University Library, and an alliance of state library agencies from Arizona, Connecticut, Illinois, North Carolina and Wisconsin.
Subject: This project will develop criteria for determining which digital materials to capture and preserve, as not all digital material can or should be preserved. These materials will include sound and video recordings, historical aerial photography, Web-based government publications from the partner states, and primary and secondary historical materials made available by the Perseus Project. Amount of award: $2,753,451.

·  Lead institution: University of Michigan Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research.
Partners: The Roper Center for Public Opinion Research at the University of Connecticut, the Howard W. Odum Institute for Research in Social Science at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, the Henry A. Murray Research Center at the Radcliffe Institute of Harvard, the Electronic and Special Media Records Service Division of the National Archives and Records Administration and the Harvard-MIT Data Center.
Subject: These institutions will create a partnership to identify, acquire and preserve data used in the study of social science to ensure that future generations of Americans have access to this vital digital material that will allow them to understand their nation, its social organization and its policies and politics. Examples of data that will be preserved are opinion polls, voting records, large-scale surveys on family growth and income, and focused studies on effects of events such as factory closings or the need to care for aging parents. Together the partners will build a shared catalog, adopt a common standard for describing survey data and develop strategies for ensuring that the data remains available for analysis. Amount of award: $2,182,332.
Digital Preservation Awards

Collective Intelligence — A Nasa report and definition

There are many information-processing problems that can only be solved by the joint action of large communities of computers each running a sophisticated machine learning algorithm, where those algorithms are not subject to centralized, global control. Examples are routing of air traffic, control of swarms of spacecraft, routing of packets across the internet, and communication between the multiple processors in a modern computer. There are also many instances of natural systems that address such problems. Examples here are ecosystems, economies, the organelles within a living cell.

Such problems can be addressed with the emerging science of ``COllective INtelligence'' (COIN), which is concerned with the design of a multi-agent system where:
  • Agents are ``selfish'' in that they act to try to
    optimize their own utilities, without explicit regard to cooperation
    with other agents.

  • There is a well-specified global objective, and we are confronted with the inverse problem of how to configure the system to achieve that objective.
Thoughts: The capacity for a centralized system to solve widespread complex problems such as the distribution of wealth or the creation and propogation of ideas is very limited indeed. These things require continually new and improved systems that promote "collective intelligence". While ebay and google have proven centralized means are possible for the selling of physical goods or finding of ideas (ideas as expressed in words) perhaps a marketplace to promote the creation of propogation of ideas (intellectual property) as expressed in rich media (video, image, music) can only be created through a collective intelligence system like a wiki or P2P?

Read more: Collective Intelligence

OpenData Manifesto

Brice Epstien of O'Reilly has actually proposed, prototyped and according to his power point presentation has tried to copyright aspects of an openly contributory database model. The thing is he gave this presentation at an O'Reilly P2P Conference in 2001 and as far as I can see there has been no further progress.

The powerpoint presentation (zipped) is very intereresting.

All information can be found on the opendata homepage: OpenData Manifesto

Get Content — The Creative Commons attempt at creating a file-wiki

Creative Commons has been looking into a more efficient contributory system to replace as such they've been embracing the concept of using a wiki style system to catalog file metadata. Very similar to my concepts for a filewiki. This is not new, I've posted on it before, but it doesn't seem to have progressed much though.

What's the idea?

"Why not open a "get content" wiki, where anyone can catalog content? (If you don't "get" that a community-edited wiki can deliver high-quality, high-volume information, spend time at Wikipedia.)"

Why Not A Wiki?
It would certainly be productive to entertain the cons of a wiki-based architecture. Hopefully, any points raised here can be satisfactorily addressed by some other contributor.

You're requiring that anyone who wants to contribute media learn a new interface (editing a wiki). It's easy for us web-heads, but markup languages and long text forms could scare many people who simply play music and want to share it with the world. Ease-of-use is (IMO) the biggest impediment to CC metadata adoption and license-aware music sharing online; it's important to focus on the end-user in such a system. -- Ian Spivey
Perhaps alternate interfaces could be adopted to edit the wiki? For example, data could be imported back and forth between the wiki and an easier to edit website. -- Anthony

Read more: Get Content - CreativeCommons

Geneva Declaration on the Future of the World Intellectual Property Organization

Humanity faces a global crisis in the governance of knowledge, technology and culture. The crisis is manifest in many ways.
  • Without access to essential medicines, millions suffer and die;
  • Morally repugnant inequality of access to education, knowledge and technology undermines development and social cohesion;
  • Anticompetitive practices in the knowledge economy impose enormous costs on consumers and retard innovation;
  • Authors, artists and inventors face mounting barriers to follow-on innovation;
  • Concentrated ownership and control of knowledge, technology, biological resources and culture harm development, diversity and democratic institutions;
  • Technological measures designed to enforce intellectual property rights in digital environments threaten core exceptions in copyright laws for disabled persons, libraries, educators, authors and consumers, and undermine privacy and freedom;
  • Key mechanisms to compensate and support creative individuals and communities are unfair to both creative persons and consumers;
  • Private interests misappropriate social and public goods, and lock up the public domain.
Read on:
Geneva Declaration on the Future of the World Intellectual Property Organization

Background information — The EmacsWiki's definition of a "filewiki"

The EmacsWiki's definition of a "filewiki"

Vote for Andrew Carnegie's "The Gospel of Wealth" on

The manifesto I previously submitted, Andrew Carnegie's "The Gospel of Wealth" circa. 1889 has been accepted for posible publication at Please vote for it as you may.
Your proposal has been posted to the ChangeThis Manifesto Proposals page.
You can view your proposal at:

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If Change This site visitors like it, we may contact you to turn it into a Manifesto!
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Questions? Try our F.A.Q.:

Be well,

The Green Map System — promoting change through visualization

Green Map System is a global eco-cultural movement, energized by local knowledge, action and responsibility.

Green Maps are locally created maps that chart the natural and cultural environment. Using adaptable tools and a shared visual language of Green Map Icons to highlight green living resources, Green Maps cultivate citizen participation and community sustainability.
What do I like about this? It's activist, it's green, and most of all I love it because it creates awareness by "making visible the invisible". That is to say it makes urban green systems and green areas visible in a whole new way.

Merely by "cellebrating" these green areas and hence promoting them in a new light they make people more aware and more appreciative of them thus encouraging participation and changing views. It's so simple, but it truely is world changing. Their approach to recycling and encouraging the creation of new content to put it in a new light is much like that of ChangeThis

The Chicago Green Map Project is sponsored by my Alma Mater, The School of the Art Insititute of Chicago.

The Green Maps website has a tremendous list of quality green maps, but it's sort of hard to dig through. On a side note to those who know about my as of yet unanounced pet project, this green map project would be a tremendous closed test bed where the voluntary contributors could submit and catalogue all their highres maps for easy searching and sharing.

Via WorldChanging: Another World Is Here: Social Design Notes' John Emerson is Worldchanging

Monday, October 4

New York City by Bicycle

"Lydia Polgreen describes her experiences going from a weekend cyclist to a daily commuter through the streets of New York."

Just a nice multimedia piece on bicycling and bicycle commuting in New York. I've posted it for no reason other than I'm a bike fanatic and it makes me smile. Oh, and this really kick butt PDF map of Manhattan bike routes.

The New York Times > New York Region > Interactive Feature > New York City by Bicycle

Related article: The New York Times > New York Region > The City > Spin City

NYCDOT - NYC Bike Routes

Bruce Sterling says Marry the UN and the Net

When bruce sterling speaks I read, if for no other reason than for the pure enjoyment. The man has both beautiful words and a beautiful mind even if this is not an entirely realistic proposal, it is a beautifully spirited one.

'SF writer Bruce Sterling is guest-posting on the global-eco-tech blog Worldchanging today and thinks we ought to marry the Internet and the United Nations. 'The UN has cumbersome rules, no popular participation, and can't get anything useful done about the darkly rising tide of stateless terror and military adventurism. The UN was invented to 'unite nations' rather than people. The Internet unites people, but it's politically illegitimate. Vigilante lawfare outfits like RIAA and MPAA can torment users and ISPs at will. The dominant OS is a hole-riddled monopoly. Its business models collapsed in a welter of stock-kiting corruption. The Net is a lawless mess of cross-border spam and fraud. Logically, there ought to be some inventive way to cross-breed the grass-rootsy cheapness, energy and immediacy of the Net with the magisterial though cumbersome, crotchety, crooked and opaque United Nations.' It's obviously part tongue in cheek, but it does make you think.'

WorldChanging: Another World Is Here: Bruce Sterling Is Worldchanging

Quote from: Slashdot | Bruce Sterling says: Marry the UN and the Net