March 31, 2003

From the Good Design (aesthetically) Department

Graphics International.

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March 30, 2003

Does Protesting and Extremism Work?

Does protest and extremism work? CalPundit has some solid thoughts. Don't think he factors in culture enough though. The question I'm still trying to answer is how much do extremist movements shift cultural norms?

I think its pretty clear that at times extremist movements pave the way for the eventual acceptance of ideas into the mainstream. Slavery is a great example. But how often does this happen? And what factors make an extremist movement succeed?

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Damn He's Good: Robin Cook on the Current State of War - COOK: BRING OUR LADS HOME is an op-ed by Robin Cook, the former british cabinet member who resigned over the war. Think it sums up the current situation better then anything else I've seen.

For a much more detailed sum up, Daily Kos is the place to go. Kos has been spot on over the past couple weeks, highly recommended once again.

Posted by Abe at 03:46 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

March 29, 2003

The Chairman Smiles

The Chairman Smiles is a web exhibition of propaganda poster from Russian, China and Cuba. Great stuff, loads of images of beautifully designed posters. The Cuban ones are especially good. Wonder what Saddam's propaganda looks like.

[via the maine page]

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The Art of Lying in Politics

The Bush Administration's media manipulation skills never ceases to amaze me. As the war in Iraq skewers away from the chickenhawks dream plans its starting to become clearer just how the Karl Rove media technique works. Its all pretty simple really, it can be broken down into 3 steps:

  1. Keep the message simple
  2. Keep the details secret
  3. Never admit you are wrong

Follow those steps and you look like you are doing a good job in the mass media. Up close or under close scrutiny all the lying and bullshitting the administration engages in is pretty evident. But when broadcast over mass media it looks like the administration is right on track.

Never admitting you are wrong is the most important step. Once you admit you are wrong your words become circumspect when broadcast. Bush always maintains that things are going well, and because he never entertains the possibility of being wrong, he projects and image of being right and believable. Not everyone buys it off course, but in the mass media and winner takes all democracy all you need is a healthy percentage of the population to buy it.

Clinton used this technique as well, but not quite as deftly as Bush. Clinton's problem was the details, he was too willing to dig into them. Once the details are out its harder to maintain the image of always being right. And Clinton missed the secrecy as well, Bush keeps as much info secret as possible so there are less details to complicate the projection of being right.

Perhaps the greatest tactical failing of the Bush administration is the way they've let the success of these media techniques infect their attempts at diplomacy. These techniques work when broadcast in the media, as I said before they fail completely when used up close and in person. They just don't work in diplomacy, hence the outrageous failings of the Bush administration in the UN, Turkey and elsewhere.

Worst part of it all is that now the world hates America, and Bush is still sitting pretty at home. I think (hope) I can handle 2 more years of this crap, but if he gets 4 more beyond that then I don't know...

Posted by Abe at 04:53 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

March 28, 2003

New Stereotype Alert: Violent Peace Protester

There is a new stereotype on the rise, the violent peace protester. Seen it popping up all over the web. Usually comes from an amused and/or angry conservative and generally is phrased in a way that ignores the fact that the vast majority of protesters are completely nonviolent. Not exactly the best PR for the antiwar movement.

Still I'd rather have a Black Bloc and an extra stereotype then no Black Bloc and a bunch of whining liberal protesters. Peace doesn't mean being a wimp and the Black Bloc tactic at least tries to escalate protests to a level of higher impact. No hard evidence whether the tactic works at achieving positive results (of for that matter that any protest tactics work). But an experiment is better then nothing so I'm all for it at the moment.

Posted by Abe at 11:35 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Yes Moore: Micheal Moore's Next Film is on Bush Laden

Michael Moore plans Bush-bin Laden film

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Order vs Chaos in the Urban Advance

Adam Greenfield takes on an interesting real estate development in Tokyo in The arrogance of architects, and other lessons from SimCity. His critique of Roppongi Hills is spot on, as was his original one. How long before architects learn that Le Corbusier's ideas just don't translate to reality?

Architects and urban planners have long been infected with the idea that cities need more greenery. And don't get me wrong there is a need for some degree of open space and wild vegetation in any city. But the truth is that parks are highly overrated in city design. What makes urban centers so great is their density. The tighter you pack people into a city the more potential for serendipity. There are more chance encounters, more demand for unique niche stores, more opportunities for cultural mutation. Why are people willing to spend exorbitant amounts of money to live in tiny Manhattan apartment? Because its worth it, cities like New York offer social opportunities that just can't exist in a less dense space.

The 4 story max school of urban planners like Christopher Alexander and J.H. Crawford miss this point entirely, despite being completely on point and visionary in many other areas. Le Corbusier and, from what I've seen, Roppongi Hills designer Minoru Mori understand the need for density to a degree, but what they misunderstand the need for the proper balance of chaos and order to make the density work properly.

Chaos is essential to serendipity, people need to meet randomly, stumble upon new stores and thoughts and generally be stimulated by the people around them. They also need to get places quickly though. New York achieves this balance by placing its dense population on an orderly grid with an extensive underlying subway system. You can bounce around town pretty damn quickly, but at the same time you'll be interacting with massive amounts of people. Throw up a big park around a dense building Le Corb style and you shatter the density. People wind up in cars isolated from outside stimulation. They don't interact and the density is dispersed onto the highways.

What's interesting about Roppongi Hills is that their marketing rhetoric makes it seem like they understand this need for a chaordic urbanscape.

"Open-mind" is the will to actively absorb information and the power to accept new ways of thinking.

It is an open heart, a state of spirit that continues to change.

In a safe city that welcomes people from around the world, many people exchange conversations.

From the latest art and wonderful food to challenging issues of the day, the people who spend time at Roppongi Hills will touch upon diversity of thought and enjoy a variety of experiences.

Here you are given a chance to imagine and think.

And from there, dreams, hopes and ideas are born.

By creating open conversations with the world, Roppongi Hills will load the nation and the Asian region and from here, visions that will shape our future will emerge.

This is the kind of place we want to become.

Its enticing words, a subtle and different marketing approach that I find quite seductive. Plus they got Jonathan Barnbrook to do the logo and of course its great. But looking at pictures and reading Adam's review I just don't see the actual development living up to the dream. Its a couple big buildings settled into some greenery. I've never found huge buildings very amiable to serendipity. They are too well organized, the only place of good chaos is in the elevator ride, which is often too short for great ideas to bloom. Its on real streets with diverse building types that chaos really leads to chance encounters and new ideas.

Been interesting to see how this development turns out in the long run. It smells a lot like a good idea ruined by the reality of actually realizing the ideal. Clay Shirky has a new essay on what he calls the Permanet and Nearlynet, that might enlighten. He's looking at the telecom industry, but the essence is the same. Big compressive projects offer the promise of a better result then small ad hoc developments. But in the end run the small, cheap, ad hocs are the ones that succeed. In other words cities need to grow not be planned. But pure growth is chaos, so some order is needed two. In networking and telecommunications that order is an open standard. In cities its the grid, transit system and utility infrastructure that require planning. What gets placed on top of all that should be free to evolve in the way large developments rarely can.

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Horrors of War

The Memory Hole > This Is Gulf War 2 and its not pretty. The pictures a pretty horrifying, but America needs to see them to remember how horrifying war can be.

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March 27, 2003

UPS Rebrands in Time for War

Feel a touch bad posting this in times of war, but I'm still a graphic designer sometimes... UPS has just rebranded. They've been using a Paul Rand logo forever now. Always thought Rand was overrated as a designer, although as a thinker he's far better. The UPS logo was one of his better works though. Still if looking for a designer to represent his era I'd take Saul Bass or Erik Nitsche in a flash.

Guess it comes as no surprise then that I sort of like the new logo. A bit sad to see the whole wrapped gift aspect of the logo go, it was a nice touch, but times change. Ex to the next. Wish they had got rid of the shit brown though, was that Rand's choice back in the day?

[via v-2 ]

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Dollars Vs. Euros the Winner Gets the Oil

The Real Reasons for the Upcoming War in Iraq: A Macroeconomic and Geostrategic Analysis of the Unspoken Truth, by W. Clark
is a fascinating document. No idea how much of it is true, but it sounds like its potentially on point. And if it is its scary.

Key underlying idea is that oil is currently bought and sold using dollars exclusively. Iraq recently switched to a Euro standard and OPEC is thinking about it as well. If that switch happens it will result in a huge drop and destabilization of the dollar, fscking up the US economy majorly. Need to investigate more, anyone know how true this might be?

+++ Update +++
Paul Krugman has rebuted this rumor pretty strongly. I'm inclined to believe him.

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Insta-Protest Free Posters

Insta-Protest has a ton of free posters all released to the public domain. Vastly better then Insta-pundit.

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March 25, 2003

And He's Off

Back to Iraq for Christopher Allbritton. Well he leaves in a day or two, but he's got some strong words on corporate media to part with.

bq. Starting this week however, the real purpose of Back to Iraq comes into view, as this becomes a much more heavily reported site instead of one based on analysis and commentary. (That will still be there, but in much smaller portions.)

bq. I’ve been doing a fair number of interviews, too, as various media members want to know my story. Often they ask me why I’m doing this, what do I expect or hope to get out of this, am I crazy, etc. Well, I’m probably crazy, yes, but what I’m hoping to get out of this is some respect for the Web (and blogs) as a serious medium for independents. To all the journalism professors who say blogs aren’t “real” journalism, I say, “I don’t see you getting out of your tenured chair and putting your butt in the middle of Kurdistan to report on what’s happening.” To those who say, “You’ve got no editor,” I reply, “My readers are my editors.” To those who complain, “You’re biased, you offer nothing but op-eds,” I reply, “I am biased, but at least you know where I’m coming from. And just wait until next week when my butt is in Kurdistan.”

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Al Jazeera in English

Al Jazeera has an english language site now, should be an interesting perspective.

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March 24, 2003

As the World Gets Darker Does the Music Follow?

Dark nasty drum and bass (the kind that made me stop liking the style) seems to be creaping back into the corners of my life. Haven't heard any of that stuff in years. Saturday night found me in a warehouse/squat with a seriously tight intstrumental punk band playing. Reflections of the war? Probably

I'm hoping its short term. I'm hoping music can lead the way, and bring back some hope and positivity to our world. Guess we'll find out soon enough.

Posted by Abe at 08:37 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

The Best Intelligence is Russian?

Venik's Aviation is a Russian site that is providing very detailed reports on the military situation in Iraq. Not sure of the accuracy, but so far it seems on point. Has about a 24hr lead time on bad news, versus it being reported in the American Mass Media. Damn how things have changed from the cold war days. Now Russian has the freest flow of information, ironic no?

"I understand when the government wants to brainwash the enemy, but bullshitting its own people is just sad." is the choice quote from the site's Russian (apparently at least) author, Venik.

Posted by Abe at 08:22 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 23, 2003

Car Free Cities

Don't think I emphasized how nice it was to be in a car free downtown enough in my reports on the antiwar protesters. Want to know who the real terrorists are? Take a look in the garage. Having to dodge 2000lb machines traveling at 30mph every time you leave your house is a serious stress, we've just internalized it. Being able to walk and bike down Market St with out worrying about cars was a real joy. Wish they'd shut it down permanently. Check out Carfree Cities for way more info on how to make those cities happen.

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Wartime News Feeds

Daily Kos has quickly emerged as my favorite info feed for this awful war. Essential reading.

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March 22, 2003

More Protest Thoughts

I'm writing this sitting safely at a computer as helicopters and sirens scream through the streets. SF Indymedia indicates 30,000 are marching and some being arrested. Enemy Combatant Radio is giving legal updates. I was out in the streets all day Thursday, but I'm still pretty ambivalent on the effectiveness of the protests. Here's where my thoughts stand at the moment:

Protest Positives
* Emotional Unity: people feel better knowing they are not alone in the opposition to the war.
* Emotional Outlet: breaking Starbucks windows isn't too cool, but its better that energy gets taken out on corporate property then on people someplace.
* International PR: its essential that some internationally newsworthy protests happens so that people around the world don't think all Americans are with Bush and Co.
* Domestic Results - Personal: Shutting down the city means people in America will start associating war with domestic uncomfort. They may not be able to realize that war = major deaths in foreign places, but maybe being personally discomforted by traffic and city shut downs will change people's willingness to support wars.
* Domestic Results - Political: Can't imagine the national economic losses of protests can measure up to the cost of waging war, but perhaps the it can encourage local and state governments to be more vocal in resisting the drive towards military violence. And of course politicians can't be to happy to see all these voters upset in the streets.

Protest Negatives
* Bad Domestic PR: Protests don't look so hot on TV and they sure piss off those stuck in traffic. They don't encourage people to change there views towards those of the protesters. Probably alienate a lot of people actually.
* Success Unproven At Best: Did the protests of the 60's lead to the end of Vietnam or the election of Dick Nixon. Could be both, could be neither, but Nixon certain came into office well before the war ended.
* Perpetuates Fear: The government is using fear to sell war and reduce civil liberties. Protests in the street (or at least the police response to the protests) help spread that fear.
* Economic Damage: Slowing down the economy isn't usually the best thing for the people.

All in all I'm still on the fence. Happy I was protesting hard on Thursday, those actions made the international papers. But now I'm more interested in figuring out actions that produce more long term results. In other words I think my time could be spent better doing something besides protesting. What it is exactly I can't say yet, but I firmly believe that there are ways we can improve this world on a large scale, so its back to the lab for me. Stay tuned for further developments.

Posted by Abe at 07:44 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

More Google Visualization

TouchGraph is another data visualization tool using the Google API, interesting, similar to Kartoo in a way. Got to say I like the Flash styles at Kartoo more then the Java of TouchGraph. Wonder how Flash is stacking up to Java in programming power nowadays?

[via Joi Ito's Web]

Posted by Abe at 06:39 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Support Independent Journalism in Iraq

Christopher Allbritton is an independent reporter who was in Iraqi Kurdistan last summer. He's about to head back in a few days. Posted his website before.

His goal for fund raising was $10,000 which seems like a minuscule amount to be covering a war in a foreign country with. So far he's only raised $7,000 and he's going to Iraq anyways, but his trip will be cut short unless he can raise more funding.

We all know that independent journalism is in trouble as the media companies continue to consolidate. The need for people like Christopher Allbritton is huge. there is a war being waged in our name in Iraq, it be nice to at least get some independent reports of what is going on inside the country. I urge you all to contribute what ever you can to his efforts. This list is all about finding the news that isn't being reported in the mainstream media, here is a chance to really make a small impact in the way the story of this war is being told.

You can donate to Allbritton by going to his website and clicking on the PayPal icon on the right side. Its an easy process, no need to have a PayPal account to make payments. I just donated, be great to see you contribute as well.

Posted by Abe at 05:37 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

March 21, 2003

Post Protest Decompression and Reflection

Decompressed a bit from all day protesting, tired but ready to put some thoughts together.

First off I spent the whole day protesting on a bike. This is the way to do it. The theme of the day was decentralized swarming and it appeared to completely overwhelm the cops. Choice quote from the NY Times: "By late in the day, Assistant Chief Alex Fagan said, the situation in San Francisco deteriorated into 'absolute anarchy.'" And that was with a vast majority of the protesters being on foot.

The mobility and versatility of the bike is incredible. If the goal is to shut down the city then the bike is the tool. While bulk of the protesters were swarming downtown, me and a friend connected with about 100 other bikers and did a long range protest. Whatever street we rolled on was basically shut down. Every couple intersections be circle in for a few minutes cutting off cross town traffic. We did about a 5 mile circle around downtown. With all the cops in the core, we didn't encounter a single po-po. In other words if there were a handful of other crews of 100 bicyclists doing the same thing we were the city would have shut down to a whole other level.

I think 10 or 20 crews of 50-100 bicyclists could completely shut down a city the size of San Francisco, or maybe even NY. Shut down quick and move to the next intersection. If the police try and intervene they just shut things down more. And with enough crews moving randomly traffic will back up chaotically. Cars turning off one blocked street only to encounter traffic from another blockade. And with a bike the risk of getting arrested is way lower as its far easier to make a quick get away. Its a far more decentralized tool for a decentralized protest.

*** warning technical bike tangent ***

Those who know me well know I ride fixed gear and generally look down upon those who ride mountain bikes in urban areas. But I have to say that a mountain bike is probably a better bike for protesting. The fixey treated me right but the mountain bikes curb hopping ability is damn useful when negotiating crowds and trying to escape in an urban area. Being able to coast while riding really slowly all day would be nice too. Come to think of it I should have flipped that flip flop hub. First time ever since switching to fixey that I've seen a benefit to heading back to the other side though.

*** technical bike tangent over ***

All that said, let me note that I'm not 100% sold on the effectiveness of protest as a revolutionary tactic. How exactly does protesting change the world? The answer is unclear and unfocused. I was out there today partly in solidarity with the other protesters and partly just to experience it. I'm still up in the air on whether is an effective use of energy. Its pretty obvious that Bush couldn't give a fuck if SF gets shut down, but that's not the only factor to consider.

After today's experience I'm far more inclined to think protesting is important and helpful, but maybe I'm still high off the days energy. Effective or not, protesting is damn fun. Not always, tear gas, getting arrested and getting abused by the cops are not exactly pleasurable. But hanging in a crowd of like minded energized people is great. As is the feeling you get shutting down an intersection. Or the feeling of riding free in miraculously car free streets.

Not only is protesting fun, but it gives the protesters a great feeling of connection. Not only to the other people protesting around you, but also to all the people protesting around the world. That's a powerful feeling and a prime reason why protest can be good.

To tired to finish this now, going to post and then add more tomorrow, going into some of the reasons I'm on the fence about protesting.

Posted by Abe at 03:55 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

Anti-War Decentralization

Just got in from a long day of anti-war protesting. Decentralization was in full effect and highly effective in shutting down downtown SF. Not sure how effective it is in stopping the war of course, but it sure had an impact on the city. A full report to follow. Check out the San Francisco Bay Area Independent Media Center for more info and coordination.

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March 20, 2003

Scenes From Gulf War Round One

The Unseen Gulf War by Peter Turnley

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March 19, 2003

Rate What?

Time Out New York has a NYC: Overrated feature. Got to admit I'm a sucker for this sort of listing. $20 Bucks someone important in compiling this list lives on the lower fringes of Park Slope though, major bias in that direction.

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Just So We Can See What My Country Wants to Destroy

Bagdad from space.

[via Where is Raed?]

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March 18, 2003

In Times of War We Need More Art

More art links today, guess its to combat those violent vibes from the Washington to Middle East Axis. Reading this interview with Takashi Murakami you'd have no idea he's a PhD art scholar who runs a Warhol style art factory in Brooklyn, Japan and China and whose work sells for more then any other living artist. Not all that was true when the interview was done of course, but its still a very odd look into a very different world then I know of. I guess Murakami calling himself a failed otaku is a bit like George Soros calling himself a failed philosopher. If you succeed the way they do who cares what you failed at?

Tiffany Bozic may have left San Francisco, but she seems to be gaining some well deserved hype from the design community. Don't think I've linked to her before, watch out cause she's one of the most talented young painters out there.

Posted by Abe at 05:48 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

HiFi, Low Art

HiFiArt is a hot SF graffiti site with design by the one and only Jay Hakkinen.

Posted by Abe at 05:33 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Fuck Copyright

Not sure how much has changed over the past couple years but copyright davis is still a great site. Lofi drawings meets javascript tricks, cooler then it sounds.

Posted by Abe at 05:15 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

The First International Mob

The First International Moblogging Conference moves closer to reality. Should be a great time, best of luck to Adam in putting it together. Hoping circumstances line up and allow me to make the trip to Tokyo.

Posted by Abe at 02:15 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

The Blogger as Independent War Reporter?

War looks more and more inevitable now. The last one in Iraq was a disaster in terms of independent journalism, although the Bush administration probably seems it the opposite. Arguably the fact that the Pentagon had almost perfect control over the presses access to info in the Gulf War 1 was a major factor in the fact that it was so easy for Bush and Co to manufacture the Gulf War 2. How different is this one going to be?

There are few online attempts to provide an alternative information source for the Gulf War 2. Hope they do a better job then the mainstream press did a decade ago. is a pretty much unknown journalist, Christopher Allbritton, going at it alone. This is a real attempt to be an independent journalist using an online blog as the outlet. is the blog of CNN reporter Kevin Sites. Given that he gets paid by a big cable network his ability to speak his mind is a bit more truncated. Still this blog appears like he might have a "what I do on my own time is my own business' attitude. Hope that its true and he can provide a really candid view of the war. is the blog of Salam Pax an Iraqi living in Bagdad. No pretenses of being journalism here, but its never the less far more informative about what's actually happening in Iraq then anything I've ever read in the papers. Good stuff, hope it can stay up and Salam can get through this evermore inevitable seeming nightmare untouched.

Posted by Abe at 01:06 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

March 17, 2003

Deep In the Google Zone

Fast Company investigates Google.

Posted by Abe at 10:08 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

March 16, 2003

Flashing the Map

Kartoo is a great flash driven tool that creates visual representations of search quires. Interesting stuff and maybe even really usefully.

Posted by Abe at 07:46 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

Lynching Information

Saw Clifford Lynch speak over at UC Berkeley on Friday, courtesy of Ethan Eismann. Recently reformed OG blogger Peter Merholz also showed up.

Lynch took way to long to get to the interesting bit of his talk, research into collaborative filtering and personalization. Talked ended just as he started getting to the juicy issues. Did get a chance to talk to him about the issues of information segregation though.

The issue was one he new about from discussions of online newspapers, but still remains unanswered. He did note that when people configure online news sources they general will select very focused interests and then balance that out with some sort of filtered general list like the top Reuters feeds. So at least part of the answer lies in picking good filters that know how the mix up the info flow the way a good newspaper does.

Another interesting (but discouraging) part of the talk was his reference to problems in getting access to large enough groups of people to test out collaborative filtering ideas. More anecdotal evidence of the inverse Metcalfe's Law?

Posted by Abe at 05:21 PM | Comments (39) | TrackBack

March 13, 2003

Drinking Green Art (and Politics)

Had drinks with Sam Bower director of the excellent Green Museum last night. Talked about the way that art movements don't take off unless there is a portion of the establishment that finds the philosophy of the art useful. Modernism for instance was a tool for the US government to push American ideals onto the world after World War II. A artistic complement to the Marshall Plan. The book to read apparently is How New York Stole the Idea of Modern Art. Its now on the top of my wish list.

Interesting to see how our new school imperialists in the Bush administration just don't get it. They push with raw power, without understanding that the war can't be won without a cultural victory. Of course winning a cultural war is just as distasteful to me as winning a military one. A cultural marriage on the other hand is quite intriguing. What happens when Islamic and Western culture mix? Could such a cross breed (if allowed to exist) lead us closer to a political movement of unity and peace?

Posted by Abe at 10:56 PM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

Karass in the Network

Steven Johnson keeps on rolling. This time its a column on Kurt Vonnegut's "karass" and "granfalloon" concept.

A karass is a spontaneously forming group, joined by unpredictable links, that actually gets stuff done— as Vonnegut describes it, "a team that do[es] God's Will without ever discovering what they are doing." A granfalloon, on the other hand, is a "false karass," a bureaucratic structure that looks like a team but is "meaningless in terms of the ways God gets things done."

No doubt you've experienced these two types of networks in your own life, many times over. The karass is that group of friends from college who have helped one another's careers in a hundred subtle ways over the years; the granfalloon is the marketing department at your firm, where everyone has a meticulously defined place on the org chart but nothing ever gets done. When you find yourself in a karass, it's an intuitive, unplanned experience. Getting into a granfalloon, on the other hand, usually involves showing two forms of ID.

Good stuff already, but there is more. Orgnet is a company making an intriguing social network software. I want it. Includes some great examples. My favorite tracks Amazon purchasing patterns for political books. People who buy right wing books don't buy left wing books. Only one book connects the buying networks. The right forms a tighter knit buying network, less books more closely joined. The left reads more, but spreads its reading out. A reflection (or cause) of the lack of focus of the American left?

Posted by Abe at 09:24 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Surf Roots

Paul Saffo's Information Surfing essay was written 14 years ago and is still remarkably insiteful. Its also the second know use of surfing in relation to dada, with McLuhan slipping an obscure reference in first.

Choice Quote:
bq. An information surfing future will be one of generalists capable of teasing knowledge and understanding out of large information flows. Information surfers will be pattern finders applying new intellectual skills and working in close concert with radically more powerful information tools.

[via Ross Mayfield + Azeem]

Posted by Abe at 04:46 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

March 12, 2003

Yet Another Specter

A Specter is Haunting Gaming. Hmmm isn't this great, all this time I've been thinking video games are this growing field where innovation and creativity can still lead to a successful new idea that also is profitable. Guess not, at least by this take on the industry. Sounds about halfway between the music and movie industries. Which is exactly where video game budgets sit.

Guess the game industry is just a bit too likely to vote democrat. Only the oil and war companies are allowed to flourish nowadays.

Posted by Abe at 07:58 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Fuck Art Lets Make Money

Only a year or two ago every web designer was claiming to be an art star. Reality has hit in, a branded advertising star is more like it. Some car company has the big names lined up to sell its new youth oriented (aka cheap and crappy) cars.

Truth be told I have nothing against artists and designers making money off ads. Or against big companies using artists in exchange for cold cash. But as a creative you need to retain some integrity. And more importantly make it good. And if they are using your name, then that's 1000x more reason to make it good. Erik Natzke, Bradley "Gmunk" Grosh, and Joshua Davis were all once seriously talented. Still might be, but the crap they made for this campaign is an utter embarrassment. Sad.

Only Lia + Miguel (the brains behind the amazing dextro and turux sites) retain their integrity with a decent piece. And they are smart enough not to attach their art names to the site. Quality control is the name of the game.

Posted by Abe at 03:44 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Psyops Stepping Fast

Target Iraq - Art of War is a collection of what seems to be psyops (psychological operations aka propaganda) fliers dropped on Iraq. No documentation though. If they are real (and they feel real to me) the scariest bit is the tone. They are all written as if the war is a given. Obviously there are psychological reasons to use that tense, but its damn messed up the way the military is taking this unneeded war for granted.

Posted by Abe at 01:58 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

March 11, 2003

No Bul

Lee Bul Korea artist of note at the moment. Text section doesn't see to work for me though, be interested in knowing more.

Posted by Abe at 03:29 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Mapping Reality

Amsterdam Real Time is a project to map the fine city of Amsterdam based on the routes that the inhabitants actually travel on. Perfect for finding those isolated back alleys. [via sophismata]

Posted by Abe at 03:10 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

A Brand New Dance We Call the Google

The Google Dance. Be warned it contains more information then you probably ever want to know about Google's servers. Do not expect humor from this link. Thank You.

Posted by Abe at 02:54 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Key Lessig

Larry Lessig's SxSW Keynote [via Aaron Swartz: The Weblog]

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RIP Stan Brakhage


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March 10, 2003

Flow My Information the Blogger Said

Information Flow is Ethan Eismann's new blog (finally). Time to update those blogrolls y'all. PC users get a special, limited edition, ultra elegant, minimalist version.

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Back Back Y'all

Saw Wild Style director Charlie Ahearn do a talk with DJ Shadow last night. The occasion, promoting his new book Yes Yes Y'all over at the Punch Gallery (which just happens to also be my office when in SF). An interesting dive into the history of Hip-Hop from an unlikely first hand observer. The show of photos is up at Punch for a while well worth checking out.

The most interesting aspect of the talk was the real sense of the flow of history. Charlie got to see and document hip hop go from an obscure ghetto party style to an international phenomena. Almost more interesting was the way the old school was shoved aside and ignored before the culture matured enough to respect its history. A bit of a dark ages for the originators in the late 80's as the young thoughts claimed their territory.

What really opened my eyes up though was a conversation I had with him the day before where he described the scene in 1973 when he moved to New York City. The world he entered was of long haired tail end hippies, shooting dope while carrying on an anti society stance. A diametrical opposite of the world of hip hop. And no one could have possibly predicted the rise hip hop culture. When Wild Style first played in Germany they thought it was science fiction. A strong reminder of just how quickly the world can change. Wonder where the next hip hop is coming from, can't wait.

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The Inverse Network Effect

The always insightful Clay Shirky has just released Social Software and the Politics of Groups. The underlying core: we have no antecedents for how nonlocal groups, and the technology that supports them should function. In other words there is almost no precedent for the way a group of people across the world can interact in a mailing list or chat room. And its equally difficult to design software for those interactions, as there is no precedent for thinking about the problems.

What sprang to mind immediately was Metcalfe's Law which basically states that the usefulness of a network increase exponentially with the number of users. Perhaps there is a reverse law as well. That the larger the network the difficulty in designing new software increase exponentially. How do you test software designed to let 1000 people communicate at once? Its hard enough deal with the tech issues, working with the interface and social use models is a whole other story.

The classic example being that 1 person with a telephone is useless as they have no one to call. 2 people with telephones is useful assuming they want to talk to each other. The more people

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Visual Flare Ups

John Galliano's web site drop kicks a necessary infusion of energy and humor into the fashion web. Enjoy.

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March 09, 2003

Search and Resist

Resist!ca Activist Search Engine is a cool tool to search the web with all the corporate bs stripped out. Good stuff, although its obviously weighted towards a particular political result. Highly needed, even though I often prefer a more balanced set of results showing all sides to an issue.

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March 08, 2003

Bring Back the Ecstasy

Standing in the back of SF's Arrow bar listening to the electroclash/sub 80's retro trash, all I could hope for was the early 90's revival. How much nicer is it to be in a big warehouse with people on E instead of a dark cramped club filled with cokeheads? tobias c. van Veen captures it better with warehouse . space : rave culture, selling-out, and sonic revolution.

And on a related tip, I've always wondered what fashion subgenre will magnified into a 90's revival? Candy raver brightness, grunge grime, Prada minimalism? The funniest I think would have to be guido take on the minimal, what a fitting way to piss on modernism...

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March 07, 2003

Properly Domained

Abstract Dynamics now has a proper domain name! If you go to the old url you should be automatically redirected to this one: .

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World of Ends

World of Ends is something of the Cluetrain Manifesto part II. Same tone, and same mixture of insite, naivety and marketing speak. In other words worth reading, there are diamonds in the bullshit...

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March 06, 2003

Paint Fast, Young Revolution

The Stencil Revolution is gaining ground with Banksy in lead. Respect.

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March 05, 2003

Uncensored Data

DATA DIARIES is a trip through the real cyberspace. Raw data turned into raw visualization. Information has never looked so good.

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March 04, 2003

Sony Candor

Sony's CEO Unplugged drops the good dirt. Among the gems, Nobuyuki Idei mentions that he'd love to buy the Palm software unit. Then he drops this reality bomb:

The music industry has been spoiled. They have controlled the distribution of music by producing CDs, and thereby have also protected their profits. So they have resisted Internet distribution. Six years ago I asked Sony Music to start working with IBM to figure out how to offer secured distribution of their content over the Net. But nobody in Sony Music would listen. Then about six months ago, they started to panic. They have to change their mindset away from selling albums, and think about selling singles over the Internet for as cheap as possible—even 20 cents or 10 cents—and encourage file-sharing so they can also get micro-payments for these files. The music industry has to re-invent itself, we can no longer control distribution they way we used to.

100% on point, shame the music people can't see as straight as he can.

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Moblogging Mo Hype?

Adam Greenfield proposes aMoblog Conference for Tokyo summertime. Well Tokyo sounds damn enticing, has been for quite some time. Moblogging on the other hand just doesn't sit right with me yet. A handful of smart people (Greenfield, Rhiengold, Ito, Eismann) are really excited about the idea, but I just can't catch their enthusiasm.

What really sets me off is that I seem to be closer to really moblogging then most of the boosters. I've been a nomad for 2 years now, I was one of the few Ricochet customers, I've uploaded files next to drug dealers at 1 am in Washington Square Park, I've had top of the line pda/cell phones for the past few years, I've used them to connect to the web a ton. I've actually posted blog entries from my Treo.

Its not that exciting.

So why are smart people getting so into the idea? A dream I think, its a step towards the mythical ubiquitous computing Xanadu. A hope for more dotcom style euphoria. And maybe I'm wrong, but I don't think taking pictures from a cell phone really is going to get you there. Its not that different then taking a digital picture and uploading later in the day. All it really means is there is less friction in the system. Info gets digital quicker, circulates a bit faster. Done. No revolutions, no ecstasy, just a slow excelleration of the velocity of information.

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March 01, 2003

Deep in the Legal Code

Should the 17th Amendment be repealed? Do you even know what the 17th Amendment to the US Constitution says? I sure didn't. It implemented to the direct election of US Senators. Previously they had been appointed by the various state legislators. The article is a bit of a historical/legal exploration of what happened when this change happened. The short version? Decreased power to the states, and more importantly a major increase in the ability of special interest groups to control Senators. A fascinating look into the legal codes that structure our society. [via unmedia]

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