The journey begins…

^ image from

A long silence here, as I had been concentrating on getting married to Foe. It was a fantastic day, and now I am the happy husband of a wonderful woman, who when asked early on in our relationship whether she had seen the Star Wars movies, replied that – yes – she had seen one of them, called “Ewok Caravan of Courage”.

The DVDs of the original trilogy arrive this week.

The art of the twenty-year dropkick

From Ecyrd:

“Look at us: every year, we churn out more computer games than your entire industry is worth. You know how we do it? We like our customers. We don’t treat them like potential criminals, and try to make our products do less. We invent new things like online role-playing -games, where the money does not come from duplication of bits (which cannot be stopped, regardless of your DRM scheme) but from providing experiences that the people want.

We saw that you were old and weak. So we took advantage of it: told you things that you wanted to hear so we could kick you in the head in twenty years. Some of us told you that the future is going to be interactive – what did you do? You started to think how to make interactive movies (CD-I, anyone?), not what it really means, while we wrote games and tried to understand the new mediums, not how to bolt it on onto old things.

We lied to you. And we apologize for that, but it was for the greater good. So we’re not the least bit sorry.

Signed: The Computer Industry”

» The Butt Ugly Weblog: We lied to you

UPDATE: So poor old Ecyrd is getting smacked by everyone, especially Les Auteurs. As Yoz points out, Ecyrd glosses over some very salient points when it comes to some of his supporting arguement, but I know some of the back story to what he was trying to say, so I think characterising him as some uberzealous /.’er who wants everything to be free is not quite right. I can’t speak for him, but when he’s done this riff before IRL, it’s been about the inability of the computer industry to deliver on it’s promises/appeasement to/of the content industry, while simultaneuously shafting the users and the artists – NOT that all art and creativity should be free. Maybe the humour and the message got lost in translation. I’ve personally seen Ecyrd pay an awful lot of money, over and over again for art and creative works, especially those of Hayao Miyazaki! What this does however illustrate is that both artists and users are pissed off at how broke this stuff is, and the current options presented by the Redmond/Anaheim axis. Joshua and Warren are two artists doing something about it at least. Let’s move on from the smackdowns to a militant, united front between smart artists like those guys, and smart users/technologists like Ecyrd that can and will present compelling alternatives to the technology companies. Like mine I hope.

Surfing on a soliton

There’s an excellent little programme running each day this week at 3:45pm GMT on BBC Radio 4 called “How to find the sweetspot”. It’s an investigation of the circumstances of ‘sweetspots’ in nature.

I listened yesterday, to an episode about ‘rogue-waves’, with Australian physicist Len Fisher strewth-ing his way down the ‘soliton’ of the Severn Bore on a surfboard while another physicist colleague of his commented on the “singularity” that Len was being propelled along on. Excellent stuff.

Unfortunately, it’s one of an ‘underclass’ of programmes on the BBC that don’t have a permanent URL (yet) for either the programme or the stream – so I’ve (ahem) rescued yesterday’s programme and you can get it for one week only (or until Dan Hill beats me up) here.


Alex Wright on the wikipedia / autonomy!=authority thing:

“What irks me about some of the dialogue to date is an assumption (usually implied) that networked systems are somehow inherently more “fair” than top-down systems. Democracy, like unregulated free markets, are no guarantee of fairness. And while networked systems surely give users more opportunity for input, they also abide by power laws which, though perhaps ineluctable, are neither equal nor fair (especially insofar as they favor early adopters). Top-down systems, while seemingly authoritarian, may paradoxically do a better job of defending the interests of the individual. Just as mob rule is no way to run a country, so purely democratic classifications could lead lead to groupthink, favoring conformity and marginalizing dissent.

But again, I don’t believe that top-down and bottom-up systems necessarily have to stand in opposition; the two models may ultimately prove consilient.”


“Fast [to iterate] at the bottom, slow [to consolidate] at the top” to paraphrase Alex quoting Kevin Kelly.

This, however, does seems to be the überpattern of wikipedia afforded by its structure, as demonstrated by Historyflow, with some catastrophy and punctuated equillbrium thrown in.

“(Medium-)Fast at the bottom, slow at the top” was the principle behind iCan‘s information architecture, enabling campaigners to say exactly what it was they were campaigning for, and letting casual browsers have a way in which had some stability, and common currency of meaning at the top levels.

Neologism alert – after all this talk of ‘folksonomies’ can I say information arcology yet?


Unravelling of the press

Apologies: a couple of things on weblogging and the liberalisation of publishing.

Rushkoff thinks that the “real threat of blogs” (sounds like an advert for pesticide: ‘protect your crops from the real threat of blogs’) is that they represent unpaid cultural production:

“I believe the greatest power of the blog is not just its ability to distribute alternative information – a great power, indeed – but its power to demonstrate a mode of engagement that is not based on the profit principle.”

Food for thought from 3QuarksDaily:

“Can we just reinforce what we believe by reading only those blogs and web press that agree with us, up to the point where our beliefs cascade away from any doubts and are reinforced. Long ago, Jack Snyder and Karen Ballentine argued that pathological politics (in their paper, an agreessive nationalism) was enabled by a segmented media market and poor or absent norms in the press.

Historically and today, from the French Revolution to Rwanda, sudden liberalizations of press freedom have been associated with bloody outbursts of popular nationalism. The most dangerous situation is precisely when the government’s press monopoly begins to break down.(4) During incipient democratization, when civil society is burgeoning but democratic institutions are not fully entrenched, the state and other elites are forced to engage in public debate in order to compete for mass allies in the struggle for power.(5) Under those circumstances, governments and their opponents often have the motive and the opportunity to play the nationalist card.”

Compression / Decompression

Kieron Gillen writing beautifully about Morrison & Quitely’s “We3”:

“Reading naturally, the page after page of tiny, beautifully rendered frames start to flow past all the quicker as the reader, unhindered by extraneous exposition cuts from second to second in direct parallel at the increased pace of the escape, as security system and tiny lives fall apart. There’s too much to process, so the eyes streams from one to the next in search of meaning. But the faster it goes, the less chance there is of getting a purely logical one. However, as the images pile up, and a sense emerges. Not a strict linear sense – though it is graspable with study – but an understanding of the hurried confusion of the moments, piling up on top of each other until the become unbearable. We’re pushed into the security office, desperate eyes moving between a dozen monitors trying to deal with something that’s happening too fast to possibly contextualise.

Frame after frame hammers against us, and we sprint in turn, trying to reach a point where everything coalesces into something truly coherent.

And then the grids end, and we hit a single double page spread of the animals mid-leap, out the base, out of everything, free of the imposing structure that kept them hemmed tightly in.

And they’re flying.

And so are we.”

I can’t seem to find a comic shop that sells current english-language comicbooks in Helsinki (do tell me if I’m wrong), so We3 will have to wait till my next trip back to London.