Where (are the people) 2.0

Liz’s notes on the recent O’Reilly Where 2.0 conference, even though she says they are sketchy, give a lot of food for thought (and they are funny, but it probably helps if you can imagine Liz recounting them, arms-a-waving) – I’m looking forward to her promised post-4th-of-July reflections.

Overall, it sounds like it was a fascinating carpet-mindbombing of the state-of-the-art of geographical technology and it’s effects on business and society. Wish I’d seen Nathan Eagle, and Kevin Slavin in particular.

One line in her notes will be thought about (and probably written about) much more by me:

“as always, they [O’Reilly] think that the difference between the desires of early and late adopters is one of size, not kind”

Crossing the Chasm was first published 14 years ago. Pre-web, pre-mobile. And yet the tech industry is still set in it’s belief that the mainstream will inevitably, steadily, globally – follow the alpha-geek early adopter. Surely it’s about time the Valley’s “Whig” telling of technological progress is tempered with the wiggly nature of human desire.

Clayton Cubitt interviews Tom Carden on “Generative Art”

Tom and Clayton collaborated on a set of beautiful images this year, and now Clayton has published a short interview with Tom on his site.

Tom discusses with Clayton his reaction to the finished work and the process they shared to create it; but also his route to generative art, it’s history and his influences:

“Before mass access to computers, people used other hardware, tools, toys and rule-sets to make algorithmic and process-driven art – pendulums, spirographs, Indian rangolis, Celtic knots, mandalas and so on – and a lot of the methods people use in computer generated art were investigated by mathematicians by hand before computers were available, such as Fibonacci series and the Golden Ratio. Casey Reas has looked into Kinetic Sculpture in some depth, and that’s something I keep intending to read up on. I’m sure that before computers were around the same things that people like about generative art were satisfied by fireworks, fountains, may poles, crop circles, wax lamps and oscilloscopes. Grid-based games such as Go and Othello are very reminiscent of the patterns created by certain types of Cellular Automata, too. The main advantage with using a computer is speed, such that there is now scope for using any of these systems over long periods of time and with minute variations.”

Beautiful stuff – congratulations to both artists.

Arthouse biotech

is a phrase that’s been blowing around in my head since I was in Austin, talking with Otwell and Boyd (which sounds like a great law firm, or a promising wacky misfit information science / buddy-cop pilot)

At /play, where nonsense lives, I wrote this:

Raiding the 21st century

The next step in cut-up culture
Arthouse biotech
Wetwork warhols
Nanobiological burroughs
Performance creationism
Xoological situationism
Some assembly required
Crick, Watson, Double-dee, Steinski.
Intelligent design as artistic statement
Playing god, 5 times a week with 2 matinees
Mashup mammals

Ellis writes tales of the Spidergoat.

Reality is entering the Silver-Age.

If you think it’s been getting wierd around here lately, and I should really be writing reams and reams about bloody tags or something; then tough.

When the going gets wierd – the wierd apply for patents.

Genevieve Bell on mobile phones and spirituality

Intel ethnographer Genevieve Bell was featured on BBC Radio 4’s “Sunday” Programme about the increasing infiltration of personal mobile tech into spiritual practices around the world.

» BBC Radio 4: Sunday: Mobile Phones and Spirituality [5mins 43sec, Real Audio]

Mixel burn

Raffi’s writing again, here about the state of technology in R/C cars – and appropriating it to create what he calls “Mixels” – moving pixels…

“…there is a lot of technology being crammed into $15 dollars (and still leaving room for profit) — there is a DC motor, a few gears, RF receiver, RF transmitter, a few LEDs, gearing, capacitors, charger, etc. i think it says quite a lot about the current state of mass technology production…

…Most real hacking involves research and a budget, but radio shack short circuits that whole curve by providing the user with a hacking kit, effectively.

The most interesting, I believe, is the possibility of using zipzaps as a “platform” for something. what would you do if you had a $10 to $15 “mixel” (for lack of a better name — a moving pixel)? The remote control looks trivial to interface to a PC (and its on my ever-growing list of things to do), but the real question is “If you had a cheap and disposable device that you had pretty fine xy control over on the meter scale (but without positioning feedback), what would you do with it?”

Looking forward to see what Raffi does with it!

» Wasted-Bits: Zipzaps

Last(.fm) to the party

This last week I’ve been using Last.fm an awful lot.

I know I must be in the tail of the adoption curve on this (hey, I’m an old married man now, I’m allowed!) but I’ve really been enjoying it as a source for new music.

I type in three ‘established’ bands I’ve heard of, and generally the profile radio option returns a continuous stream of acts that I’ve never heard of, or don’t own much of – but nevertheless enjoy.

The interface design makes me wince each time I visit though. I might take a crack at an alternative Last.fm interface in the next week or so, after using it a bit more.

The future of worrying about your colleagues

Chris has bought a bluetooth GPS and hacked together a feature on his website which reports his current position via his mobile phone.

Checking this morning it reported this about 30 minutes ago:

Current location is
lat 60.016373,
long 24.916592.
Last seen at 05:55 GMT (probably 8:55 local), 05/10/04.
Moving at 1.8 mph.

I loved the fact that I could picture Chris walking at a brisk 1.8 mph… However, clicking on the “map” link gave me pause for thought. It seemed that Chris was in the drink, several kilometres into the Baltic from Helsinki!


I’m about to leave for work, so hopefully I will find a dry and safe Chris to report a bug to. More seriously, Chris makes a good point about his experiment for those working on ubiquitous computing:

“Unless I try it myself, I will never know what unexpected consequences publishing this information will have. Self-ethnography is not scientifically valid, but I think it’s one of the best ways of empathising with the problems new technology creates. If I won’t use it, I shouldn’t expect you to either.”

» Anti-Mega: can we get excited yet?

Home Info Theatre

IM with Kai Turner, ace infomation architect and bon vivant who I had the pleasure of working with at Sapient:

AIM IM with kaiganism

kaiganism : Do you think there will be a convergence of things like Flickr, Bloglines, Blogger, Friendster (yuck) — ? Or is the beauty of these services that they can stay singular in their focus?

BBJ01: i think it’s not an either/or
you get conFUSION though web services and information exchange formats
then you get some super converged super easy for consumers

kaiganism : mmm.. so give it time, you say

BBJ01: so – people who love the quality will have ‘hifi separates’
all joined by standard interfaces
‘home info theatre’

kaiganism : that’s a nice analogy.. hadn’t thought of it that way.

BBJ01: others will have converged boomboxes
with only a couple of knobs, but pretty lights!

kaiganism : you can be the geek buying all the components, or go straight to dixons… but dixons will wait until the standards have settled down and you have an audio-DVD format, for example.

BBJ01: yeah i guess… although perhaps i am labouring the metaphor!

kaiganism : no — it’s nice. you should blog that
instead of confusing us with ilovebees.com
down here at the consumer-edge of the spectrum.
or maybe i’ll do that… i can turn my blog into blackbeltjones for the masses. Like Scientific American mag.

BBJ01: heh. explaining matt jones since 1999

kaiganism : hahaha

Kai is now producing Design on DVD, a series of DVD monograms on design legends, starting with Saul Bass… Go buy it

Eastern Standard Drive

Andrew jams on itrip pirate-radio with Hill’s iPod projector photoshopware:


Brings to life some of C. Doctorow’s Eastern-Standard Tribe

“I just don’t get it,” Fede said.

Art tried to keep the exasperation out of his voice. “It’s simple,” he said. “It’s like a car radio with a fast-forward button. You drive around on the MassPike, and your car automatically peers with nearby vehicles. It grabs the current song on someone else’s stereo and streamloads it. You listen to it. If you don’t hit the fast-forward button, the car starts grabbing everything it can from the peer, all the music on the stereo, and cues it up for continued play. Once that pool is exhausted, it queries your peer for a list of its peers—the cars that it’s getting its music from—and sees if any of them are in range, and downloads from them. So, it’s like you’re exploring a taste-network, doing an automated, guided search through traffic for the car whose owner has collected the music you most want to listen to.”

Digital cocooning

P17 of the June issue of Wired (with Pixar’s “The Incredibles” on the cover) has an advert for a joint promotion between Wired, W Hotels and Apple:

Plug in and play along to your own digital soundscape from W Hotels and iTunes®, the world’s best digital jukebox.

Your W Wired Package includes:

  • High Speed Internet Access
  • Wi-Fi Access in Living Room*
  • 3 iTunes music downloads
  • 3-month WIRED magazine subscription
  • Unlimited local and toll-free calls
  • Plus, Wonderful accommodations you’ll love

I’ve stayed in a W twice (before the taxman gets excited: one night only each time, as a once-a-year treat!) and they are wonderful little coccoons of unreal, luxurious space. More cosy than a Schrager, with just enough ‘ponce-factor’ to let you pretend you are a rockstar, or a secret agent posing as a rockstar, for one night.

As broadband and wifi become as much as a free, expected part of a satisfying hotel stay as a good shower – the next step has to be stuff like this – creating personal, luxurious, digital media cocoon.