Jessamyn's trip to Alaska spawned an interesting little series of photos and commentary.
Despite (or perhaps because of) the fact that I've recently been ranting about 'Mcluhan-esque patches' not being feasible sources of positive social change (at least not on their own), this passage from Phil Agre's latest notes and recommendations made me feel all giddy:
Large numbers of .com companies are trading for well under $1 a share. It wouldn't cost much to buy them all and shut them down. But it's okay: every important new technology goes through this stock-bubble phase, transferring wealth from the dumb to the quick. The point is to get back to the democratic vision of the Internet that was common sense before the failed experiment with the advertiser-supported Web got started. There's nothing wrong with someone making an honest buck on the Internet, of course. What's wrong is identifying the making of bucks as the essence of the medium.
The Case Against Micropayments. Interesting, but I'm not convinced Mr. Shirky is right. He is right that the single toughest thing about micropayments is getting the infrastucture in place, which is gonna be real hard.
Scott McCloud's little visual essay on 'trails' is worth a second look.
The Snowman, a well-fed, dominating, patriarchal male who symbolizes patriarchal control of public space, and is always white. Next up: snow angels are symbolic of female submissiveness, or something.
Maybe, but there are better ways of smashing patriarchy. What's a pop culture critic to do..?
Information Liberation, a book by Brian Martin. Well written and interesting, so far.
I just saw The Insider. I was quite impressed. I also saw Cast Away the other night, at which I was less impressed, but impressed nonetheless. Somehow, I seem to be avoiding the morass of bad movies that I know are out there. It's almost enough to restore my faith in the capacity for corporate entertainment to provide quality material. Almost.
Cast Away should have been an hour longer than it was. It didn't really resolve what it set up. I have a feeling that the director's cut was probably pretty darned long, but is Hollywood going to make a four hour movie for some pie in the sky idea like artistic integrity? I should have given up before I started writing.
What Journalism Students need to learn for work in New Media
Merry Christmas, or Happy Consumerism, whichever you choose to celebrate.
For some reason, I set up a wishlist at Amazon.com. Maybe because it will tell you about some books that I think are cool, but don't have yet
I finally figured out the name of a book I have been looking for for quite a while. Drummer Hoff, a beautifully illustrated childrens book about military types firing off a cannon. Best when read aloud.
General Border gave the order
Major Scott brought the shot
Captain Bammer brought the rammer
Sergeant Chowder brought the powder
Corporal Farrell brought the barrel
Private Parriage brought the carriage
but Drummer Hoff fired it off.
Lorne Elliot's Madly off in all direction on CBC Radio tends to have some great comedy. 'Tis a shame one cannot hear it online.
I spent the day in Seattle yesterday, hanging out at Left Bank books and the Speakeasy Cafe. In the evening, I met up with Dave Grenier, and chatted about anarchism, social justice, eco-fascism, and the internet. Later on, we talked to Jessamyn, who seems to know a whole lot of the people whose weblogs I read. Here also, we chatted about politics and weblogs.
It occured to me that weblogs, insofar as they are a self-referential scenester* thing, are pretty useless, and generally don't fulfill their promise of really filtering what's on the web. However, I reckon they're still a pretty worthwhile phenomenon (from my narrow perspective) because they create a sort of infrastructure of participatory media which could facilitate an alternative to mainstream media. Kind of a McLuhan-esque point, I guess: what people use the medium for is less important than the kind of communication which becomes possible in that medium. It remains to be seen whether it will be used in a 'revolutionary' way. That's probably wishful thinking on my part.
*David had some interesting things to say about "scene" culture. What I got from his comments was that "scenes" are more about belonging to a group with shared values (however shallow the actual practice of those values), and less about doing something because it is interesting in and of itself.
I just finished reading bell hooks' Feminism is for Everybody: Passionate Politics. Excellent book, and short and easy to read, too. hooks has a way of making very powerful ideas come across in very easy to understand terms. Funny thing, though, I noticed a remarkable number of typos. Maybe it was a vindictive printer.
(Quibble: I'd link to Powell's, since they have less evil policies and a unionized staff, but I find that Amazon almost universally has better information about books, mostly because of customer reviews. Seeing as my intention in linking to a book is to point to where more information is available, I link to Amazon. Maybe if there was a script that would generat the following: 'read about it at Amazon, buy it at Powell's'.)
I finally finished my interview with Ann Clark this morning. It's about corporate control of biotechnology research, and scientific issues around genetic modification in general. In concerns you. Go read it.
I also put together the Best of the Churn, a monster list of the best links to be posted to the Daily Churn, Monkeyfist's irc-driven weblog. It's also a kind of retrospective of the last four months, through monkey-coloured glasses.
Salon: Being Martin Heidegger.
Somehow, I never heard of Arts and Letters Daily until today. Their microcontent seems quite well done, for what it is. But really, it's all about having links to a large number of quality articles in one place.
I'm back in Washington (state) until January, visiting parents and friends. Give me a call if you're in the area.
On the flight from Toronto to Seattle, I saw Chicken Run. Overall, I was pleasantly surprised, but boy, did they pack in the references and allusions. Geek that I am, I started writing them down on my Palm Pilot while I was watching. Without reading too much into it, I caught textual references to the World Wars, Marxism, women's rights, unions, various pop culture analyses, war time swing dancers or "flappers", western plot formats, and the notion of rhetoric without wisdom, as well as obvious visual references to Indiana Jones, Star Wars, Star Trek, and James Bond. I suppose it epitomized what is referred to these days as a "pastiche". And that's just the stuff I caught in my sleep-deprived haze of travel.
I saw The Hustler last night. Amazingly good movie; Newman's had a lot of verve, and the character acting and dialog were excellent. I was reminded that there was indeed a time when it was ok to make well crafted, complex movies without happy endings. Nowadays, I'm positive there's some Hollywood exec standing by, ready to pull the purse strings to make sure that happy ending gets tacked on. I guess that's why I pretty much avoid Hollywood movies anymore. I'm a bit slow to catch on to these things sometimes.
Oh yeah, I'm all done with school for this term. Whew.
Sometimes I wonder whether the message about Iraq that I paste into the entry every day is relevant, but I'm quickly amazed that I would think that the US would let off. They won't.
Onion: Scrappy Band Of Lovable Misfits No Match For Rich Kids. Genius. The Onion has been really spot on these days.
Nothing much to see here. Just studying for my last exam, worrying about getting the sculpture portfolio done for tommorrow, and contemplating free time soon to come. And listening to Pink Floyd. Eerie stuff.
The Daily Churn doesn't get nearly enough credit. I don't know many weblogs that let people post links through a chat interface, and let multiple participants add comments without leaving the chat window. I use it every day, but it still strikes me as pretty darned cool.
Kendall Clark on the disenfranchisement of Floridians. So that's why the Supreme Court decision made me feel sick (part of the reason, anyway). I just didn't know it yet.
That a state official, even from the negligibly sane Republic of Florida, would act in so blatantly hostile a manner, imperiling the most fundamental civic right afforded to Americans under law, is proof enough that the franchise remains embattled, tenuous, and in need of the Court's highest protection.
On Monday, I failed to mention that Kendall is the reason dru.ca is up and running (not to mention hosted). Thanks Kendall.
The work of art in the age of mechanical reproduction, by Walter Benjamin.
Stephen King makes an oblique reference to Ted Nelson's writing in his article about e-publishing in Time magazine. That makes him a few notches more cooler in my book.
He made $600,000 on his 'lectronic serial book, "The Plant". But he ends on a monetary note, which is wierd, because if I had as much money as Stephen King, I think the last thing on my mind would be making more money. Then again, I don't.
David Grenier recounts some of his bad ideas.
My new domain, dru.ca is now up and running. It's nice and short. That's where I'll store all my personal web projects and knicknacks until DRU Megacorp Canada, ltd. sues me for using that domain. Then I'll move.
One exam down, three exams, a takehome test, and a sculpture portfolio to go. Four days to finish it all. And the pipes in my house ^H^H^H^H^H slumlord-owned wreck burst again, flooding two rooms. Life is gooooood.
I forgot to mention that Monkeyfist has a new mailing list, for articles and discussion, which is open to the general public. It's called Bonobos. Go join.
What I am saying is that I stopped believing that this Revolution would bring fundamental change–to prevent, for example, a jackass buffoon like George W. from becoming a serious candidate for the Oval Office.
I'm still feeling profoundly unsettled by the Supreme Court's (seemingly partisan) decision yesterday. I haven't been nervous that Bush is going to win, or Gore lose (otherwise I would have voted for him), so most of the Florida voting rhetoric hasn't really affected me, besides being a curiosity, and a good way to keep Democrats from demonizing Nader. But the second I read about the overturning of the decision to recount, I got scared, and I still am.
Because it means that the Supreme Court Justices have been sucked in to this power struggle. For me, this has some profound implications for democracy in this country. As thousands of people shout at every protest: "No Justice, No Peace".
And they're right.
This is what it looks like to me, at any rate. The second someone convinces me otherwise, or I read something that does, I'll post here. I'd really love to be proven wrong.
When a large amount of power is up for grabs, things get really, really ugly. The Supreme court is split because of party lines, rather than questions of justice, and it makes me feel kind of sick.
This story about Republicans in Washington state being pissed off that party funds were not spent on campaigns raises a quite different issue for me. Namely, that money = votes. The Republicans mentionned in the article seem convinced that if they had spent more money on their campaign, they could have won. I'm sure this is all very 'normal', but what does this say about our electoral system?
Apparently, elections aren't won, but bought. I doubt this is news to many people, but I find it hard to believe that the obvious nature of the problem it any less outrageous. [link via rebeccablood]
Users who downloaded songs by Rage Against the Machine were bannen from Napster, but apparently, no one asked the band before proceeding.
The Standard: Estonia, the little country that could.
What gets me about the whole election kerfuffle is that through all this, no one is questioning the meaning of the actual votes. Since it's a winner takes all format, whoever refuses to vote for the two people most likely to win is essentially disenfranchised. Of course, if ballots had a first choice, second choice system, then the intentionality of the voters would be heard loud and clear. But it's not.
I'm sure there are a lot of problems with giving voters two choices (or are there? I don't know), but the current system simply doesn't communicate the intentions or values of the voters. Otherwise, Gore (slightly less evil though he is) would have won. Though I have significant trouble caring, unless I narrow my perspective considerably...
I got a reply to the letter I sent to Starbucks yesterday, and since I'm too busy trying to think about studying to post anything else, here is their response and my reply.
Interesting interview with the guy from cybergeography.org at WriteTheWeb.
[please forward appropriately]
This message is to let you know that I am, as of now, no longer patronizing Starbucks establishments. Furthermore, I will make a small but significant effort to inform others of Starbucks' corporate practices.
The practices to which I refer have to do with the lawsuit your corporation has filed, described here:
While it is possible that Starbucks has some kind of technical legal precedent for filing this lawsuit, the fact is that your actions only serve to limit artistic freedom in the United States. While it may be common practice among corporating to "slap" a lawsuit on anyone who makes fun of them, the act itself is no less outrageous to myself or anyone else who believes in artistic freedom or freedom of speech.
Dru Oja Jay
Today is the one year birthday of misnomer. Well, technically it was yesterday, since I'm posting this at 12:01am.
Editthispage.com was originally only going to be a sixty day demo, but then it got extended.
I originally had lofty goals for writing about web theory type stuff, but I often left ideas pretty unexplained, for various reasons.
A whole year of posting almost-daily. Wow.
Still working on the essay that was due a week ago. Dang.
John Haney took this great photo of myself (middle), Sylvia (left), and "Strong John" Kilpatrick pouring bronze. Bronze pours are always a good way to take some time off from studying and get dirty. They're rare enough to be special, but frequent enough to keep one sane.
The text on the wall behind us reads: "the Etruscans were bad welders at best... don't be an Etruscan."
David Grenier has some thoughts about the anniversary of the WTO protests.
...if we're serious about social change we need to build local grassroots movements that will do the dull and difficult day-to-day nuts and bolts organizing work. These organizations need to be controlled by the people most effected by whatever situation they are fighting be it police brutality, unfair wages, or water pollution.
We keep forgetting that the presidential election is already decisively undemocratic. We've known this since the primaries, when we found out that what really matters is money and backing from powerful people (i.e. money).
A trend that keeps popping up in my readings of Thucydides and Xenophon is justice vs. expedieny. Funny thing is, the two tend to get mixed up. For example, when debating whether to kill or enslave an entire city, the guy arguing for it will appeal to justice, whereas the guy who thinks the people shouldn't die appeals to expediency.
Something quite similar pops up in the present day. When we talk about universal health care as a good thing, it's generally from the point of view of expediency - "it'll be good for poor people", or whatever. What we miss is that health care can ends up costing less per capita in countries where the government provides it, plus they serve more people, regardless of economic status.