My Palm Pilot crashed, along with my notes from the second David Suzuki speech, so the writeup that was promised might not happen after all.
IMC Maritimes got flamed by some guy named Halifax_Ben. Only hard-core activists can start IMC's. Oh, ok.
That, and this week's Argosy is online.
David Suzuki is on campus today, and gave an impressive speech this afternoon on biotechnology. His main point was that we need to be a lot more slow and careful when dealing with the potential benefits of biotech, for a few different reasons. First, we've been wrong a lot in the past (DDT and CFC's were previous miracle chemicals gone wrong), and it is likely that most of what we know about genetics now is wrong. "That's how science works", though he noted that we tend to artificially construct linear stories about scientific development. Second, there is no huge necessity to get transgenic organisms on the market. Feeding starving third world countries is the major reason put forth, but if one looks at the GM foods on the market, they consist almost uniquely of luxury foods for rich countries, and there is no reason to grant patents on genes. Stopping patents would slow down research, but that's not a bad thing; au contraire, we need the process to be cautious, and slowing it down is the first step.
One of the most interesting points he made, tangental to his main argument, was the strong claim that offering BSc degrees at a liberal arts institution is simply wrong. He pointed out that the across the board split between Science and Arts is simply ridiculous, because the result is that all the lawyers, politicians, and business people wind up having no scientific background, while scientists have no ethical, moral, or humanities background. Science engenders fundamental changes in society and government, and vice versa.
I'm off to his second speech now. More later.
Go read Paul Ford's Internet Culture Review again. It's worth it. I'm (slowly) compiling a list of really interesting or engaging articles that I've read online, in order to somehow prioritize the good stuff from the usual flood of links. Ford's essay is on it. So is this interview with Scott McCloud.
More evidence that Economic Globalization (more exactly: the people behind it) (or maybe just economics in general) is sick sick sick.
Send secret messages hidden in spam.
More neat-o stuff: The Open Cola Project.
Interesting interview with Clay Shirky on Slashdot. Except I (predicatbly) disagree with this bit:
That part of the left given to conspiracy theories has been banging on for 30 years about the contraction in the media space while out here in the real world, technology has been tearing the roof off the sucker since the launch of CNN. I lived through the 70s, and no matter how earnestly The Nation approaches the task of drawing all those little charts of media ownership, nothing can make me pretend that things are worse now than they were then.The top may have blown off in terms of format, but the bias in the coverage hasn't changed a bit. Despite the fact that they were broadcasting all day long, news coverage of the WTO 'riots' failed to ask any of the protestors why they were there. Instead, there was an endless stream of talking heads yacking about things they obviously didn't have any idea about. Other illustrations of how corrupt the media is (whether the people working within the media realize this or not is another story) can be found on ProjectCensored.org. The characterization of all (or most of) leftist analysis as 'conspiracy theorist' is annoying, too.
Shirky on the WTO protests.
Barring any significant and unexpected turns of events in the coming months, I'll be Editor of the Argosy next year (just in case anyone was wondering).
Bijan Parsia: Freedom to Spew: Appropriate Responses?
"For a country where freedom of speech has been interpreted so narrowly (and broadly) as to make bribery protected and community-based micro-radio unprotected, I don't see the tradition as all that worthy of following."Damn straight.
AllYourBrand.org: "Right this very second, chances are there is a marketing team somewhere trying to hijack 'All your Base Are Belong to Us' in order to sell you something. Doing this makes their job that much harder." The AYB thing fits in quite nicely with corporate agenda, but I think it makes it a little too transparent to be worth stealing.
I've been working on setting up an Independent Media Center site for the Maritime Provinces here in Canada, and I'm pretty happy with the resulting design. Now all it needs is some content.
Napster seems to be helping me broaden my musical tastes without commiting financial resources. Currently in my MP3 playlist: Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue, Eminem's Drug Ballad, David Bowie's Space Oddity, Janice Joplin's excellent cover or Me and Bobby McGee, Led Zeppelin's Whole Lotta Love, and a bunch of Scott Joplin's piano rags.
Salon on why (commercial) radio sucks. "The days are long gone when a DJ made an impulse decision about what song to spin."
They also mention that this is "a time when the Federal Communications Commission has seemingly given up on regulating radio." Unfortunately, that's just false, unless one is referring only to big corporations. Low-Power FM radio stations that would be legal under regulations that didn't blatantly favour the corporations are forcibly shut down on a regular basis. In fact, it happened again yesterday.
Gore pulls ahead in Florida. I'm still trying to figure out why anyone would vote for either one.
Why online writing is so bad. I've been working on an interesting way to do collaborative editing online, which might clear up some of these problems. Hopefully I'll have the time to put it into some kind of coherent form in the next while.
For some reason, I had never visited Kuro5hin before. They cover interesting topics. Their Diary feature has some interesting possibilities - kind of a big collaborative weblog, where the difference between the individual space and collective space is blurred. E.g. from what I can see, individual member's diaries can be viewed seperately, but new posts show up in a pool on the page linked above. Cool.
Some links about journalism culled from a thread on Kuro5hin:
An interesting interview with Shane MacGowan, the ex-lead singer of the Pogues. I'm trying to figure out if there's more to him than his self-destruction these days.
A plainclothes police officer beating a protestor. What an incredible, powerful photo. The original (850kb!) picture is here, along with the story behind the guy snapped it while getting beat up.
I got the grant. I will now be spending the summer studying digital media in the historical context of older 'new media'. In other words, looking at how the Greeks responded to the emergence of the written word, how radio was initially understood, and comparing that to the reception that digital text is getting today. Coming from the other side, I'm going to look at the qualities inherent in various new media, and how the expectations and prior experience of older media form our understanding of these inherent qualities. The fun part will be coming up with a series of designs that illustrate how work on the web reflects assumptions carried over from print, video, and other old media.
But before I do this, I have five papers to write. And before that, I have to finish the monster proposal that I'm preparing in order to prove myself worthy as the editor of next year's Argosy. As a side note on this, I shan't be too too disappointed (besides the massive blow to my ego) if I don't get the job. It would be nice to spend one more solid year in Sackville doing schoolwork and then leave. I find that I (often unwittingly) get myself into situations where there are two or more mutually exclusive choices, of which I would be satisfied with any of them. It strikes me that this is a useful way to look at things, especially in situations where others are deciding your worthiness for the activity in question, as with applying to a University, asking for grant money, or applying for a job.
I like to put things in perspective now and then. And yet I still can't decide whether I'm slacking off this term or not. Feel free to post comments below.
I guess you could say "Total Request Live" is democratic in the way that this year's election was democratic. The field of candidates is very small. And there are organizations behind them, not unlike the Democratic and Republican parties, who decided which candidates get promoted.Rock industry irony at its best.
How to Deconstruct Almost Anything.
Two whole days with no updates. I've been working on better-edited writing projects and overdue essays, going to class, trying to start an Indymedia center in the Maritime provinces, waiting nervously to hear whether I got a grant for the summer or not, and since everyone knows by now, working on my application for editor-in-chief of the Argosy.
If you live in the Maritimes, join the IMC-Maritimes list, and discuss the creation of an Indymedia center here.
I got published! Well, an essay of mine was published in "Meeting on the Edge: Building the Virtual Meeting Place", an e-book. I got paid for it, and it's more official than a web page, so I guess that counts.
Google is great at generating interesting reading lists on subjects that have commonly used keywords. For instance, Objectivity in Journalism.
Public Journalism and the Problem of Objectivity, by Phillip Meyer.
With his The Making of the President 1960, Theodore White inspired a genre of political writing that treats an election as a sporting event. Every move is evaluated, not for its effect on the community, but for its tactical value to the political player.
If anything makes me proud to be an American, it's gotta be the complete Bushisms.
The Street Performer Protocol is always worth looking at again.
Internet Culture Review is a great essay by Paul Ford about the history of internet utopianism and the recent uber-commercialization of the net. It is evident that Ford has thought a lot about this subject; he keeps things in perpective very well. A really fun and informative read.
Which reminds me, I've been meaning to start keeping track of the really good essays that I read online, and somehow distinguish them from the constant flow of links that comes through misnomer. Soon.
There are some interesting reactions to "Internet Culture Review" in the Metafilter discussion.
Short piece about e-books, also by Paul Ford, says in some detail what I've often said in discussions about screen-based publishing of any kind: If you try to make an eBook that is better at doing what a paperback does than a paperback itself, you're automatically going to fail. The only way that e-books will be compelling is if they offer something that is unique to the medium, and that becomes something that people want to have while reading. E-books in their current form are only interesting for people who want to have more than a couple books/texts available to them, and are willing to pay the price in clunky-ness.
That's one of the reasons I bought a Palm Pilot - so that I could read longer texts that I found online without having to sit in front of my computer to do so. So far, it's been marginally successful. Translating and transferring files is reasonably fast, but takes a few minutes nonetheless, and the process requires too much technical expertise (cleaning up formatting in BBedit) to be ok for everyone.
My friend John Powers has a show up in NYC called "Indicator Spaces" (after indicator species). It's a commentary on the use of art in public spaces. The show consists of alternate proposals for three major contemporary projects: the D.C. WW II Memorial, New York Penn Station, and the new Guggenheim. The crux is that open, public spaces where people can congregate are integral to democratic society and public existance. More importantly, he notes that open public spaces are being routinely broken up/divided with architectural elements like planters, private buildings, and monuments. Also interesting is the notion of giving art the same structural privilege that architecture has: literally letting public art shape public movement.
He's also written an essay by the same name, which deals with minimalist public art and open spaces. I set up the essay to let anyone annotate the essay, paragraph by paragraph, and set it up in a two column format so that one can read footnotes and view link lists without interrupting the flow of the article. It's something of an experimental design; it'll be interesting to see how it turns out. That the design would catch on is truly too much to hope for.
Spending time lamenting the lack of time to work on projects, while not working on projects. One that I'm never going to get around to doing, is "Riffs". I want to make a sound-art piece that mixes all of the catchiest guitar riffs I can find in to one five minute segment. But alas, there are a lot of other things to do that I never spend any time doing. This is my dilemma.
Who the heck is this Kimble guy anyway. Looks like he's going for 'most decadent man on earth' or something.