Thursday, June 30, 2005

William Gibson - God's Little Toys

Whenever William Gibson has something to say I'm happy to listen. This little article from Wired Magazine is about the rise of the sampling, remixing, digital culture we find ourselves with and how it came to be.

"I discovered that Burroughs had incorporated snippets of other writers' texts into his work, an action I knew my teachers would have called plagiarism. Some of these borrowings had been lifted from American science fiction of the '40s and '50s, adding a secondary shock of recognition for me.

By then I knew that this "cut-up method," as Burroughs called it, was central to whatever it was he thought he was doing, and that he quite literally believed it to be akin to magic. When he wrote about his process, the hairs on my neck stood up, so palpable was the excitement. Experiments with audiotape inspired him in a similar vein: "God's little toy," his friend Brion Gysin called their reel-to-reel machine.

Sampling. Burroughs was interrogating the universe with scissors and a paste pot, and the least imitative of authors was no plagiarist at all."

Wired 13.07: God's Little Toys

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

After Grokster: why (almost) everything we're told about P2P is wrong | The Register

Andrew Orlowski at British site The Register makes some points about the Grokster / MGM case. Worth a read.

"Yesterday the Supreme Court made a narrow judgement on copyright liability. As Thomas C Greene reported, the Court affirmed the obvious, and bounced the issue back down to the lower courts, where it will be fought all over again. By doing so, the Judges were stating that the two sides are quite capable of sorting this matter out between them, that the established precedents need not be revisited (for example, Sony v Universal) and that the wisdom of their judgement will be called upon another day. Now get snappy. But the professional pundits and their pyjama-clad reflections in the "blogosphere" had been anxiously waiting for the Supremes' verdict for a week, with their explosive editorials primed and ready. And off they went, like lab monkeys on meths sniffing fresh air for the first time.

The result is today's deluge of incorrect, poorly informed and self-serving babble."

After Grokster: why (almost) everything we're told about P2P is wrong | The Register

yellow chair stories

Now this one's kind of nifty.

Anab Jain is an interaction designer and filmmaker who has just completed her Masters in Interaction Design at the Royal College of Art, London. As part of her second year studies she came up with the idea of making her wi-fi network available to passers-by, accessible from a yellow chair outside her house.

"Some questions which have emerged...

How does space create identities?

What are the bottom up methods of creating ‘ubiquitous’ interfaces at the thresholds of private/public space?

How does the meaning of personal space and identity alter when geographical and virtual spaces merge?"

yellow chair stories

Wired News: Rejected TV Pilot Thrives on P2P

Wired News: Rejected TV Pilot Thrives on P2P

The future is on its way children. Buckle up.

"How's this for irony?

A sacked TV pilot about a large number of people who stay in touch through an underground data network has popped up on ... well, an underground data network.

The WB television network passed on the pilot for Global Frequency, a sci-fi adventure series based on the graphic novel by English scribe Warren Ellis.

But that didn't stop someone from leaking the pilot on the internet. The file eventually found its way into the BitTorrent network.

Over the last couple of weeks, enough people have downloaded and viewed the pilot online to give producers hope that TV executives might take a second look at the show."

We're No. 1! We're No. 1!

Congratulations to new Milwaukee Bucks centre, Australia's Andrew Bogut. Here's looking forward to a resurgence in the Buck's fortunes next year. - NBA/DRAFT2005 - Bucks thinking big, tab Bogut at No. 1

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Sunday's Doonesbury

File sharing hit by US court defeat.

Stupid. Just stupid.

File sharing hit by US court defeat. 28/06/2005. ABC News Online

You know that old adage "Guns don't kill people, people kill people"? It seems they were wrong.

The thing that really annoys me is the greedy hoarders that brought us here, both the file sharers and the music companies.

Recording labels and movie studios said the copying has hurt their sales.

Revenues in the recording industry have plunged by about 25 per cent since file-sharing networks emerged in 1999, though the industry posted a slight sales increase last year.

Give us something we want to listen to in a form we want to listen to it in and maybe we'll take an interest.

On a lighter note, I'm always chuffed by the coincidence that music sales dropped the year my wife (to be) stopped me walking into music stores and coming out $500 lighter. I don't like to think that this whole thing is my fault, but the evidence is there...

Monday, June 27, 2005

Congrats to the Spurs

Well, it blew my prediction out of the water, but why would you listen to someone who readily admits never having actually watched an entire NBA game from the last ten years? Man, Aussie FTA sucks sometimes.

Bill Simmons
Scoop Jackson

Monday, June 20, 2005 Big Shot Rob Comes Through Again

So I'm reading through's Marc Stein's article on the NBA finals and he gets to this bit on Robert Horry.

"He really hasn't had a moment worthy of the nickname Big Shot Rob -- or Big Shot Bob, depending on your preference -- through the first four games.

Without any fourth-quarter drama through four games, mind you, there hasn't been a stage for the usual Horry Story.

I'd say he's due for a killer three or something else clutch, just as this series has to give us a nail-biter eventually."

So what happens in tonight's game? Big Shot Rob Comes Through Again

I don't know if that counts as psychic ability given Horry's history of doing exactly this thing (Rasheed Wallace! What were you thinking of leaving Horry at the 3 point line? With 9 seconds left on the clock in OT? In game 5 of the fricking finals? Quite possibly the meltdown moment of the season).

[Edit] O.K., to be fair that award went to Artest almost before the season had got started. Let's just call this the meltdown of the series. [/edit]

Gamers turn cities into a battleground - New Scientist

New Scientist Breaking News - Gamers turn cities into a battleground

The last of today's New Scientist articles.

I just love the idea of spreading the sorts of things we can do with games. Using technology to interact with a scenario using elements from the real world is about as close to real Presence as I can imagine for a while.

Pac Manhattan anyone?

BBC to launch free online video system - New Scientist

New Scientist Breaking News - BBC to launch free online video system

The BBC does it again! Not satisfied with being at the forefront of the way people get their media content, now they've announced they'll be releasing their own codec. The best bit? It will be completely free and open source using a different style of encoding to get the job done.

Currently the Beeb use Real, but as the article says this new delivery system, named "Dirac" after British Physicist Paul Dirac, will help avoid criticism of favouritism. Besides,
" 'The BBC’s business is content,' says Tim Borer, manager of the Dirac project. 'We don’t want to be hung up on proprietary codecs.' "

Word is we're waiting for the end of this year to get our hands on it.

No paradox for time travellers - New Scientist

New Scientist - No paradox for time travellers
You mean the Back to the Future films lied to me?

I need another read through but it's an interesting thought and while I can't imagine we'll see it any time soon it's nice to imagine.

The Narrowing Experience of "Experience"

Should have mentioned this one the other day when I read it.

Brian Colishaw's interesting comments on a quite alarming direction he sees Video Role Playing Games headed.

"all video game genres -- sports, fighting, racing, shooters, platform games, puzzle games -- are adopting the essence of the RPG, which is "leveling up." "Leveling up" refers to what RPGers spend most of their play time doing: seeking out and defeating virtual enemies to gain "experience points" ("XP"). When characters have accumulated enough XP, they gain a level ("level up"), which means they also gain statistical improvements, new abilities, and improved equipment.
for a very large and still-growing segment of our population, the leveling-up mode of thinking is a key part of everyday life, of everyday thought. This is troubling, in part because the concept fits all too neatly into the firmly established American myth that any and all competition is good for us... games require and develop particular kinds of strategic, critical thinking. Because RPGs push players constantly to seek and to impersonally conquer "enemies" in order to level up, they develop and reinforce a specific mode of thinking: "I must destroy everyone I encounter, so that I myself may become stronger."

This powerful lesson sinks in more surely and deeply every day, as the in-game definition of what constitutes "experience" narrows farther and farther. That is, the word "experience" in video RPGs continues to grow more and more strictly synonymous with "killing."

Compare video RPGs with their direct ancestors, classic pencil-and-paper RPGs such as Dungeons and Dragons and Call of Cthulhu, and the ongoing process of narrowing becomes more apparent. The paper-based games support multiple ways to gain experience: killing bad guys, yes, but additionally, solving problems of all kinds posed by the ongoing game narrative, or, as the generic name "role-playing games" suggests, "pure role-playing" -- that is, truly attempting to assume the role of one's character, making choices the character would make regardless of their strategic inconvenience to the player."

The Narrowing Experience of "Experience"
or The PDF Version

Time to dust off the old dice bag and creak open those rules books. At this point, person to person RPG is still da king!

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Half Life 2 Dominos

Via SelectParks

A great video animation filmed inside the game world of 1st person shooter Half Life 2. The last bit's not suitable for youngsters (at least I don't think so) but it's a great experiment with the physical dynamics of the game world. games by artists - HL2 Dominos

For some reason it just tickles my fancy.

Friday, June 10, 2005

NBA Finals kick off today!

And because Australian FTA networks don't think we have any interest, the closest I'll get to seeing it is via the internet. It's bad enough that I missed the entire Shaq/Kobe Dynasty with my favourite team, The Lakers. I didn't even get to see a single game of the Big Fella with his new apprentice this season, or watch Kobe fall in a hole.

Anyway, cheers to both teams, the Detroit Pistons and the San Antonio Spurs, worthy conference champs, and huge jeers to Aussie FTA for not giving us what we want (or maybe pandering to Pay TV which DOES cover the games via ESPN).

Spurs in 5

Spurs vs. Pistons: The Perfect Matchup

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Grokster vs MGM - A Few Thoughts

I've mentioned this case in the past and what some of the potential ramifications may be. JD Lasica at Smartmobs has a few thoughts on where the impending decision might lead down the track.

"Sometimes when a ruling comes down, we don't immediately realize its long-term significance to society. When the Supreme Court handed Sony a 5-4 victory in the 1984 Betamax case, no one suspected that it would eventually be viewed as the Magna Carta of the technology age."

Smart Mobs: Will Grokster affect a generation of innovation?

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

:: Douglas Rushkoff - HD TV ::

And to finish off our little video/TV trilogy for the day, Douglas Rushkoff expresses his thoughts on the other end of digital content, High Definition TV.

"McLuhan considered TV a "cool" medium, in that it required the participation of the audience to resolve those blurry black and white pixels into a real image. While film and radio enjoyed higher fidelitiy, and constituted hot media, TV was cool - and invited the cynicism and objectivity of distance.

HDTV is anything but cool, in that sense. It's crisper and more resolved than the prints of some movies I've seen. The characters are no longer the iconic, comicbook-like figures of regular TV, but - broadcast in such detail - they look like human beings. In many cases, that makes them a lot tougher to embrace.

...TV will lose a certain amount of its power over us - I can promise you that. HD won't do advertisements quite the same way. Ask any Catholic priest, or Jung, or Scott McLoud about the power of icons, and they'll explain it the same way. Too much detail, and they lose their ability to induce our identification."

:: Douglas Rushkoff - HD TV ::

The documentary robot

While we're on the subject of all things video...

We Make Money Not Art has taken a look at the Dokumat 500, an artwork that

"is a fully automatic documentary robot. The Robot consists of a modified tripod and a video camera. The tripod moves autonomously around and pans and tilts the camera. It switches the camera and a spotlight, mounted next to the camera independently on and off. So, the documentary videos are edited directly inside the camera and the robot supplies a complete finished end-product. All you have to do is switch on the device and insert a cassette."

Quicktime Movie - 69 Mb

Sometimes it's nice to be vindicated...

What was previously considered "television content" is now being burned into DVDs, time delayed by Personal Video Recorders (PVRs), broken into fragments, piped on demand over the Internet, downloaded into mobile devices and syndicated around the globe. Such changes are having a profound effect on the structure, dynamics and future of the global broadcast television industry, both private and public.

The most significant imact of this transformation is audience fragmentation. Content is being consumed across an expanding array of media, channels and devices. This, in turn, is steadily eroding the once dominant position of television broadcasters andmajor networks.

I already knew this stuff, but it's nice to have someone else come along and tell you you're doing things right.

Television Networks in the 21st Century

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Our House... In the middle of our street...

Today is the day!

This afternoon after work I drop over to the Real Estate Agents and pick up a set of keys. As of today Ellen and I become house owners for the very first time. It's exciting and very frightening, but we're both very happy.

There will be appropriate gatherings for people after we get settled in. No party as such, neither Ellen nor I want to organise such a thing, but we do expect those near and dear to help us make it a home.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Give the planet to the cockroaches! We don't deserve it anymore!!!

Via Gizmodo

A ringtone makes it to number one on the U.K. charts. Moreover, it's the most pathetic excuse for a piece of music since someone stuck a bit of tissue paper over a comb and called it art.

Just kill us now. If this is what human beings really want we're all doomed.

Ringtone tops British charts, exceeds Coldplay - MobileTracker

"This song is incredibly irritating and puerile and we're still trying to understand why people like it," Gennaro Castaldo, a spokesman for HMV [A British music retailer], said

That's only because you want to clone it and make money!!!

Potential irony: purchasing the CD single of the ringtone remix may not actually give you the rights to use the song as your ringtone.

Crazy Frog Axel F Press Release - includes audio samples

The Darth Side - PDF available for download

I should mention, the entire story from Cheeseburger Brown's excellent parody/fan fiction weblog The Darth Side is now available for download here.

The Darth Side: Memoirs of a Monster.

Enjoy the read.