November 29, 2004

Beats Muzak

Musicians on Call helps route your "gently used CDs and new, unused CD discmen" to patients in hospitals in NY, NJ, PA, and MA.

Does the 300-CD collection you just ripped to ogg-vorbis or mp3, then put on your media center count as "gently used"? I bet it does. Not that I'm advocating any sort of Robin-Hood approach to charitable giving; it was just a fleeting thought. (And not one that MoC advocated, legally speaking, or me for that matter. I'm assuming they have a "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. So forget I asked.)

[via The Morning News]

Posted by johndan at 11:45 PM | TrackBack

DIY Gifts for D&D Geeks

Download, print, fold, and cut a rhombic or dodecahedron calendar (the latter is shown below) for anyone on your gift list who things 12-sided die are really cool.

deskcal.jpg

You can also choose among several different languages, the year, starting day of the week, and file format (PS or PDF). No word yet on whether or not there's a translation table to convert months and days to damage points. (April 15! That's gotta hurt!) [via boingbong]
Posted by johndan at 11:12 PM | TrackBack

The Postindustrial Economy of Christmas

Since 1984, PNCBank has provided an annual index of the cost of purchasing all the items listed in "The Twelve Days of Christmas." One more indication of the move from an industrial to a service economy:

In 1984, after all the receipts were added up, the cost of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” would have set you back $12,623– the goods alone accounting for 62 percent of your total bill. Today, the numbers tell a different story. The total cost has climbed to $17,297, a 1.6 percent annualized increase over 20 years, but services now account for 74 percent of the index, indicating a steady rise in the cost of skilled labor while the price of two turtle doves and three French hens may be a little easier on your wallet.

[via Lockergnome Bytes]

Posted by johndan at 11:02 PM | TrackBack

Dilbert on IP

Actually, it's the pointy-haired boss and catbert on patents. It'd be funny if it weren't so true.

[via Dilbert]

Posted by johndan at 01:44 PM | TrackBack

David Byrne's Weblog

I hadn're realized that David Byrne has a weblog. Mundane and funny, in that David-Byrne sort of way.

[via metafilter.com]

Posted by johndan at 01:40 PM | TrackBack

LED Art

Artist James Clar works with LEDs to make interactive light pieces (flash site--not overly bandwidth intensive, but an html version of the site is also available). Includes images, movies, news, and other stuff.

[via Gizmodo]

Posted by johndan at 07:27 AM | TrackBack

November 28, 2004

Deconstructive Architecture as Writing

Since I'm cleaning out unpublished work, I've also thrown this up to my website: a chapter on deconstructive architecture, interface design, and writing [3 MB MS Word .doc] that was originally intended for Datacloud (the book), but which was so heavily revised (and much of it simply replaced with other material) that it's not recognizable in the book version. It was actually one of the earliest chapters I wrote for the book, but it was so early that the overall direction of the book had shifted by the time I wrote the other chapters, and it didn't really fit. And, to my mind, the whole chapter was building up to some earth-shattering pronouncements that it never really delivered, I had to cut most of it. (The reviewers of the manuscript agreed as well; one liked the chapter enough to say it was the most important in the manuscript, and I should revise the rest of the manuscript to deliver on what the chapter was promising; the other reviewer, understandably, didn't understand the point of the chapter since everything else in the manuscript was directed to slightly different intentions. The hardest part of revising is knowing when to cut bait.)
Posted by johndan at 12:19 AM | TrackBack

November 27, 2004

Betting on Johndan

At the Australia Pacing Gold site, which lists Australian racehorses for sale, there's a colt named "Johndan" owned by Mr. Joe Cordina up for auction.
Posted by johndan at 11:35 PM | TrackBack

After Hypertext

I found this old essay, which I presented (virtually) at the Computers & Writing Conference three or four years ago in the Nouspace MOO. I had intended to revise it for traditional publication, but never got back to it (the title and a few of the ideas in here ended up, in very different form, in an essay Amy Kimme Hea and I wrote for Computers & Composition. It's longish, so there's just an excerpt below, with the remainder linked to at the bottom of the post.

1. Intro: After Hypertext

In which the author provides a linear narrative to talk about the death of network structures. He admits to the irony of this.

The final decade of the last century witnessed the dramatic rise of hypertext as a literary, technical, social, and intellectual phenomenon. Today, despite the fact that hypertext provides the conceptual underpinnings for the World Wide Web (among other things), "hypertext" remains a relatively peripheral term. In this talk, I'll track some of the ways that "hypertext" has been articulated during the last five decades, describing how the social construction of hypertext inscribed the technology(ies) in limiting and ultimately self-defeating ways. I'll then attempt to track (and construct) some possible futures for a dramatically redefined hypertext, one constructed as an "ethic of reference" within and among social communities rather than a technical practice.

2. How Hypertext Ate Itself

Today, despite the fact that hypertext provides the conceptual underpinnings for the World Wide Web (among other things), "hypertext" remains a relatively peripheral term.

During the mid to late 1990s, hypertext seemed too good to be true: the simple node/link technology provided a powerful way for understanding and enacting textual structures that had long been hinted at.

For literary theorists, hypertext provided the true weapon for assasinating the author: readers now wrested control of the text away, kicked the author in the head a few times for good measure, and skipped off into the dawn of a new day.

For poets and creative writers, hypertext provided the foundation for erecting a space for free exploration and innovation, unburdened by the repressive limits of the line.

For technical writers, hypertext provided a method for dealing with individual users in varying, concrete situations. Henceforth, rather than force users to tediously thumb through manuals, hypertextual online help would bring the right information (and *only* the right information) directly to the user, when the user needed, not a moment sooner or later.

I can almost hear the children laughing and singing now.

3. Feeling Old

Last semester, I asked students in my information architecture course if they knew what "hypertext" was. Most of them looked at me blankly, a few raised their hands. One said, "It's the Web." (Notably, the Usenet group on hypertext that I used to participate in during the 1990s collapsed with the advent of the Web, as new users began posting innumerable technical questions about HTML.)

I suppose I should be glad for the Web. But it leaves me wondering, as Jay Bolter did: What happened to hypertext?

Here are some very brief suggestions, then a rough map for where we might go next.

  • Although many of the early (and late) claims for hypertext were way overhyped, one thing seems clear: Hypertext offered something that people wanted: Power over the structure of text.
  • "Power" in text is an odd thing, though, illusory. It's a mutual construction, not something that's simply *taken* or *given*.
  • Michael Joyce made an early and often quoted distinction between hypertext that invited exploration and one that invited active reader participation in the construction of new links and nodes. We've built such an enormous amount of the first type (exploratory) that we've almost completely forgotten about the second (constructive). Sure, we can all build new web sites, but the private ownership model (inherent to some extent in the file structure of most operating systems) keeps those sites separate.
  • The point isn't merely that we need new models of ownership (although we do). It's not that we need to start building more constructive, collaborative spaces (although we do). The point is that "hypetext" as a concept and a practice was only an ANALOGY for the things that we were practicing. It's a boundary condition between linear print and something as yet unnamed: it's the illusion of freedom, not necessarily in an evil, repressive way, but in a We HOPED So Hard That It Was TRUE That We Started To BELIEVE It Was TRUE sort of way.
  • Hypertext, as a practice and concept, was simultaneously too powerful and too widely applicable.
  • Here's another way of thinking about all of this:
    • Hypertext was merely a metaphor, a set of suggestions for thinking about communication.
    • Without degenerating into teleological argument about Perfecting True Textual Practices, I want to suggest that hypertext was just a set of training wheels, a choreographer's chart, a libretto. We were supposed to be doing something *with* those suggestions, not merely going through the motions.

4. Intermission

Another Story: In 1998, working with a team of graduate students at Purdue University, we constructed a collaborative hypertext consisting exclusively of fragments of other texts we'd used during the semester: philosophies of communication, edited collections on technology and theory, email messages from our University President, and more. Working in Storyspace, we generated a massively interconnected Web of textual fragments. Excited, we shipped the URL to the site off to the Web based journal PostModern Culture. Reviews were decidedly mixed: The first reviewer thought the site was the greatest thing since CheezeWhiz. The other two reviewers, unfortunately, strongly suggested rejecting the site, because it didn't contain any of our own text.

5. The Metaphor of Hypertext

The problem of hypertext is that it *suggests* reader control, but rarely delivers it. Indeed, we are never completely free in any choice, constructed as we are among various social institutions that encourage us strongly (and sometimes with physical force) to act in certain ways.

Still, what the metaphor of hypertext can remind us is that the boundaries around any single text are suspect, including (and perhaps especially) the boundaries around any hypertext. As people living in the world, we constantly shift, filter, rearrange, and forge new connections among the multitude of communications in my immediate (and virtual) environment. Any isolated (or even global network) of hypertext cannot contain possible meanings. As Derrida put it several decades ago, there is always a surplus of meaning. Although Landow and others often claimed that hypertext captured that surplus and made it tangible for readers, in fact all it did was provide suggestions about those things.

6. Post-Hypertextual Practice

But what a post-hypertextual theory and practice can offer is this: the understanding that living in the world is an ongoing process of forging, examining, breaking, and rearranging connections among a nearly infinite number of objects. This seems like a rather mundane or old point, but let's consider what it means if we apply it to textual practices:

  • All texts are incomplete representations, by definition.
  • Divisions among texts are artificially constructed; all texts must constantly be connected up to each other, fragments at a time.
  • Living in the world is the ongoing process of connecting and disconnecting concepts in numerous social contexts.
  • The ability to deal with information overload (by definition, a condition of the first three points) is a fundamental skill for a post-hypertextual age.
  • The ability to assemble fragments of texts into new forms within particular social contexts is extremely valuable, probably more valuable in the long run that the ability to generate strings of "original" text.
  • With this ability must come an understanding and a commitment to an "ethic of reference": a responsibility to not merely present to readers a unified solution, but to actively help them breaking down your text as soon as it's constructed, in order to make their own meanings within the ongoing social process.

7. Making and Opening Structures: Some Questions

Hypertext can remind us of the need to rearrange and forge new meanings, but in the end it's only one other closed structure. It's up to us to open those structures
This all sounds very simple, but those of us with some experience know that saying text is open and making a text actually open are two different things. So here are some implications (and questions) to discuss.

  • How do we manage the notion that the text we create will be modified by someone else, necessarily, when they read it and use it. How do we keep this from feeling like a violation?
  • At the same time, if we acknowledge that linking to someone's texts requires an ethic of reference, how do we construct that ethic?
  • What is the dividing line (or lines) between freedom of speech and an ethic of reference? How do we construct it (or them)?
  • If the reference to another subject's work is an act of power, is that necessarily negative?
  • How do we teach students (and ourselves) to filter information, rearrange it, etc. Do we provide them models? Just throw them in? What strategies have you used (for yourself or in the classroom) to learn to deal with information overload in produtive ways?
  • What happens to evaluation (of students, of academics, of anyone) if every text bleeds into every other text?
  • If I reference another text, does that somehow make me responsible for its contents?
Posted by johndan at 10:52 PM | TrackBack

Mr. Spam

Listening to news radio this evening, we heard a story on Proposition 200 in Arizona, which (if voted in) would apparently deny non-federally mandated benefits to anyone not able to prove that they're a US citizen. The report included comments from an activist group spokesperson named Hector Viagra. Who said a lot of sensible things that needed to be said about immigration reform, but right after the reporter said Viagra's name, Underdog looked up and said, "How tragic. No one gets his email."
Posted by johndan at 05:28 PM | TrackBack

"Talk to a monkey"

I actually never get writer's block; I'm happy to keep churning out garbage, pedal to the metal, which I figure the editors will clean up later. (They rarely do ... which explains the majority of what I've published. Blame the editors, not me; that's what I pay them for.)

But if you do occasionally find yourself looking at a blank monitor or blank page, blood pressure rising, while you try to put down that first sentence (which you keep erasing), 43 Folders offers a list of ways to hack your way out of writer's block:

Strategies include,

  • Talk to a monkey - Explain what you’re really trying to say to a stuffed animal or cardboard cutout.
  • Do something important that’s very easy - Is there a small part of your project you could finish quickly that would move things forward?
  • Try freewriting - Sit down and write anything for an arbitrary period of time—say, 10 minutes to start. Don’t stop, no matter what. Cover the monitor with a manila folder if you have to. Keep writing, even if you know what you're typing is gibberish, full of misspellings, and grammatically psychopathic. Get your hand moving and your brain will think it’s writing. Which it is. See?
  • Take a walk - Get out of your writing brain for 10 minutes. Think about bunnies. Breathe.
  • Take a shower; change clothes - Give yourself a truly clean start.

... and many more. Check the site. (Beats staring at that flashing cursor on a blank word-processor window.)

[via 43 Folders]

Posted by johndan at 12:17 PM | TrackBack

Commodore 64 TV Game for Sale

Commodore=64-(emulator)-in-a-joysticks for sale at QVC.

I'm so freakin' tempted. The first computer I purchased, back in 1983, was a C=64, for two weeks' of my summer salary after my first year at Michigan Tech (not to mention the 12" monochrome (amber) CGA monitor and tape drive). The full system (which was, when I owned it the size of, like, three pro keyboards stacked on top of each other, without peripherals) has been replicated in the versions that QVC is selling as just a joystick, with direct TV connections, and 30 C=64 games.

Here's a shot of it to give you some scope, cribbed from FZ Wiki's history of computers:

commodore_64.jpg

I think the illustration actually has a disk drive, which Commodore released several years after I blew $100 on the tape drive.

[via Slashdot]

Posted by johndan at 12:36 AM | TrackBack

Fast Company: She Reads Customers' Minds...

Alissa Kozuh, formerly a part of the search team at Microsoft and now the editor of Nordstrom.com, talks about interpreting search engine logs in a Fast Company article. The key question in analyzing search engine logs is trying to figure out what people were looking for, and how to make sure they buy it:

Part of the answer is a robust search engine -- smart technology that makes it easy for customers to find what they're looking for. But an even bigger part of the answer involves human intervention -- smart people who can interpret customer inquiries and deduce what they really want.

That's Alissa Kozuh's job at Nordstrom.com. Kozuh, 28, who formerly worked on search-related projects for Microsoft, is now the editor of Nordstrom.com, where her most important role is to analyze the words that people put into the site's search engine every month. All 45,000 of them.

"People in the fashion industry can call a trend anything they want," Kozuh says.

"But what the customer decides to call it is ultimately what matters most to us." That's why Kozuh keeps a giant spreadsheet of the most-popular search entries on her computer and regularly adjusts the site's proprietary thesaurus so that people looking for "hobo bags" will see purses, not bandanas on a stick. "We're interested in what kinds of results people got," Kozuh says. "Were they relevant? Did they get the merchandise that best applies? That's the difference between bringing a human element into this process and leaving it to technology."

The intentional fallacy may have declined in literary criticism several decades back, but it's resurfaced (with a big budget) in eCommerce.

[via Tomalak's Realm]

Posted by johndan at 12:18 AM | TrackBack

November 26, 2004

Virtual Museums of Canada: Cultural Cornucopia

The Virtual Museum of Canada, 150 virtual installations on Canadian history and culture.

[via metafilter.com]

Posted by johndan at 12:35 AM | TrackBack

November 25, 2004

How to Kill a Mockingbird

One of the best book reports ever: How to Kill a Mockingbird. Long load time, but well worth it. The discussion of the pirate/Boo Radley riding his flaming shark was particularly perceptive.

[via metafilter.com]

Posted by johndan at 06:46 PM

November 24, 2004

Aluminum

The Man Who Invented the Aluminum Christmas Tree [NYT, reg. req'd.]
Posted by johndan at 10:03 PM

Camera Obscura

The Morning News hosts a gallery of Abelardo's eerie camera obscura pix (excerpted from his Camera Obscura book [amazon link]).

pinhole.jpg

I'm fascinated by low-fidelity photography (as evidenced by my recent Holga camera obsession, check these galleries from the annual Pinhole Photograpy Day); there's something unique about the retro nature of the whole construction--a light-proof box, pierced by a tiny hole, a sheet of photographic paper, and long exposures. Fundamentally flawed, which is a cool thing. But Abelardo's work takes it to a new level.
Posted by johndan at 06:39 PM | TrackBack

Zeitgeist

I've been experimenting with different code snippets to display images from my Flickr site in the right column (which may explain the various bizarre broken things that have been displaying to the right off and on throughout the day). The current Flickr Daily Zeitgeist code calls a a javascript from Flickr to dynamically display images. I normally try to avoid flashy, time-based things on web pages, but this seems to be pretty well behaved and small; if the Flash causes anyone serious problems, let me know.
Posted by johndan at 04:32 PM | TrackBack

Implementation

Implementation, a Flickr-based novel by Nick Montfort and Scott Rettberg. Composed with pictures of stickers posted at various locations in New Jersey and Norway.

[via FlickrBlog]

Posted by johndan at 03:30 PM | TrackBack

Textbook Disclaimer Stickers

Collin Purrington provides a PDF file, instructions, and related links for printing your own textbook disclaimer stickers (including a version of the original sticker being used in Texas as well as several satirical variations):

sticker.gif

Posted by johndan at 02:19 PM | TrackBack

Nunavut

Way cool pix of Nunavut, the location in far Northeastern Canada which I told someone I wanted to move to today (after a discussion about the recent U.S. elections and the apparently unstoppable move to build a Super-Wal-Mart in our small, upstate NY town) (and the province where a gradeschool donated a really nice screenshot for my book on designing effective websites).

[via metafilter.com]

Posted by johndan at 12:12 AM

Comic Book Covers (50k)

A searchable database of 50,000 comic book covers. 72 covers for Superman, 138 covers for Superman, and 23 covers of the Fantastic Four. Alas, only three of The Submariner.

[via Boing Boing]

Posted by johndan at 12:01 AM

November 23, 2004

New Mexico

A Heritage Foundation Article on whether or not New Mexico is part of the U.S.:

"I'm sorry, sir," the voice on the other line replied. "I can't sell tickets to someone outside the United States."

Yep -- you heard correctly. The sales office of the U.S. Olympic Committee didn't know that "New Mexico" isn't part of old Mexico. Though he tried, Mr. Miller could convince neither the operator -- nor her supervisor! -- that New Mexico is one of the 50 United States of America. The supervisor, getting on the line when Mr. Miller insisted, told him (you can just hear her tone), "Sir, new Mexico, old Mexico -- it doesn't matter. You still have to go through your country's Olympic Committee."

The author, the President of The Heritage Foundation, proceeds to blame all this on the contemporary education system. But it's much older than that; when I moved from New Mexico to Indiana in the early 1990s, I tried to cash one of my last New Mexico Tech paychecks at my bank, and the collected tellers balked because, "It doesn't say on the check that it's in U.S. funds"--and both tellers were in their late 40's. Or maybe Mr. Heritage thinks thinks things have been going to hell since, well, whenever he emerged from high school. (Bring back mandatory Latin instruction now!)

Nothing like a little nostalgia to ruin a funny story.

Posted by johndan at 11:54 PM | TrackBack

Tone

superslinky.gif

I figure if I can't have talent, at least I can have good tone.
Posted by johndan at 03:53 PM | TrackBack

Nerdfilter

Nerdfilter. Pretty much what you'd expect. Entries at the top of the blog when I just skimmed it included the US Gov't website, the history of computer graphics, and a quick link to a site offering free, high-rez textures.
Posted by johndan at 01:31 PM | TrackBack

Bruce Mau on The Connection

Bruce Mau (of SMXL and, more recently, Massive Change fame) was on NPR's The Connection today. RealAudio stream available at NPR's website. The discussion--and the callers--were interesting. Mau is far-reaching in his cross-disciplinary work (and he brings together a big crowd of innovative thinkers as part of the project), and useful in the very broad scope of the project. He responded to some intelligent notes about cynicism versus optimism, the goals of design, and The Big Picture (without losing site of concrete details). During the interview, Mau said that being a designer,
does not include the luxury of cynicism. We don't have the opportunity to not act. We have to take action. And, therefore, we have to figure out how to do things better.
Massive Change is an impressive and important project. As the back cover to the book of the same name says, "Massive Change is not about the world of design; it's about the design of the World" [amazon link].
Posted by johndan at 01:17 PM | TrackBack

November 22, 2004

Moving Pictures

Rouge, an online film theory journal.

[via metafilter.com]

Posted by johndan at 06:58 PM | TrackBack

The Father of Spam

eSecurityPlanet has an interview with Gary Thurek, the man who, in 1978, developed the marketing technique now known as spam.

Back in 1978, when the thing we now all think of as annoying, unsolicited, inbox-clogging email was just the canned, spongy sandwich meat, one man sent an email to 400 people, marketing his company's new product. With that one fateful move, email spam was born. Gary Thuerk, now in sales at computer giant Hewlett-Packard Co., sent out that original spam back when the Internet was called Arpanet, and researchers and the military were the only ones using it. As a marketing manager at the East Coast-based Digital Equipment Corp. (DEC), Thuerk sent out the bulk email inviting West Coast techies to a demonstration of Dec's new Decsystem-20.
Thurek was criticized for the move--because the proto-Internet was intended for research, not commercial use.

[via Lockergnome Bytes]

Posted by johndan at 06:53 PM | TrackBack

November 21, 2004

Party Mix, Vol. 7

"Transition," Kristen Miller, Later That Day
"What Became Of Old Father Craft," Tom Waits Alice: The Original Demos
Steak 'n' Sabre," Frank Black Frank Black And The Catholics
"I'm Just Dreamin'," Fred Eaglesmith
"Moody's Mood For Love," Van Morrison. Too Long In Exile
"Experimental Music Love, The Magnetic Fields, 69 Love Songs, Vol. 3
"Me And Paul," Willie Nelson, Yesterday's Wine
"Talent Show, "Replacements, It Ain't Over 'Till The Fat Roadies Sing
"The Contents Of Lincoln's Pockets," Rainer Maria, A Better Version Of Me
"2 letter ys irdial," The Conet Project, The Conet Project
"Cumberland County," Fred Eaglesmith, Falling Stars and Broken Hearts
"counting cia irdial," The Conet Project,. The Conet Project
"Get Down Moses," Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros, Streetcore
"Save It For A Rainy Day," The Jayhawks, Rainy Day Music
"Got The Farm Land Blues," Carolina Tar Heels, Anthology of American Folk Music
"m3b irdial," The Conet Project, The Conet Project
Posted by johndan at 01:02 PM | TrackBack

Old School

A cold and rainy Sunday morning, enlivened by ripping the box set of Grandmaster Flash, The Furious Five, and Grandmaster Melle Mel's Adventures on the Wheels of Steel [amazon link] into iTunes. It's dated, but in a good way, nostalgic. The kick horns, for example. But at the same time, the overall structure and technique are still echoed in music being produced today. (But what do I know; I was born in Detroit, but basically I'm just a white boy who grew up in a tiny rural town in Michigan....) Flash must be amused, I think, by the whole idea of a "box set," let alone CD versions, of their vinyl work.
Posted by johndan at 10:42 AM | TrackBack

Missing the Point

Dan Gillmor points to a newspaper piece by a librarian ranting about weblogs and wikis and generally about authority and publication. As Gillmor points out, the author mis-spells the names of both Gillmor and comedic writer Dave Berry, among other errors.

What's the Dewey Decimal or Library of Congress category for "clueless"?

[via Collin vs. Blog]

Posted by johndan at 08:21 AM | TrackBack

24 in 48

24x48: 24 people in NYC document their lives for 48 hours via phonecams. Oddly interesting.
Posted by johndan at 07:44 AM | TrackBack

November 20, 2004

Office Pranks

When Your Co-Worker is Away. The obligatory tinfoil wrapping, but some more ingenious projects, including what appears to be the use of a computer keyboard for growing alfalfa sprouts. [via daypop to 40]
Posted by johndan at 02:15 PM | TrackBack

November 19, 2004

Top 40 (Alternative) Bands in America

Alternative/Indie-leaning Information Leafblower asked a panel of judges to select the Top 40 bands in America. The list includes The Drive-By Truckers, Wilco, Guided By Voices, Brian Wilson (cool!), David Byrne, Jay-Z, The Flaming Lips, The Decemberists, The Pixies, Sonic Youth, and Calexico. Lists like this are always subjective--that's why I like them. I use them by scanning to see if there are bands I like featured prominently, then hunt down other bands on the list that I listened to yet.
Posted by johndan at 07:25 PM | TrackBack

Free Type

Kevin Kelly's (not the Irish one) Cool Tools points to 1001 Free Fonts, an index of free Win and Mac fonts. Quality is uneven, but the price is right.

[via Cool Tools]

Posted by johndan at 09:42 AM

Hall of Tech Documentation Weirdness

The Hall of Tech Documentation Weirdness has been around for a while, but I was reminded to post it here when it showed up in today's Web Zen, "Educational Zen," which also features The Gallery of Stick-Figure Warning Signs, The Periodic Table of Funk ("Element Numero Uno: JB (good gawd)", and How to Make Friends by Telephone (apparently a scanned, circa-1950s etiquette primer). [via webzen]
Posted by johndan at 09:32 AM | TrackBack

November 18, 2004

Travelling in Sound

Finisterrae's Cronotopo, an 30-second for every 5 kilometre audio tour around Italy's coast.

The Cronotopos is defined by Mikhail Bakhtin (writer 1934\1985) "a time-space", that is a kind of interconnection, through that it is possible to describe, at the same time, an historical and imaginary time and space.  PLEO and URKUMA choose to take as reference Murray Schaffer's soundscapes, recording 30 seconds of sound every 5 kilometers along Salento's coast (Italy), from T.Castiglione (Jonic coast) to Casalabate (Adriatic coast).

[via Notes from So]

Posted by johndan at 08:37 PM

Spam Kinged

All of our spam issues seem relatively minor: Bill Gates apprently gets nearly 4 million spam messages a day [Forbes report]. (I would assume that Gates has a private email account for his real mail. Although it's possible he employs several thousand people to screen his email. Or a cutting edge, not ready for public consumption, skunkworks hella-efficient filtering program to catch the spam.)
Posted by johndan at 04:06 PM | TrackBack

The Return of Hobbes

Also via Metafilter, a pointer to Metaphilm's Re-visioning of Fight Club as another version of Calvin and Hobbes. Apparently this is a little dated, but I hadn't seen it yet.

Calvin has always idolized Hobbes. In Weirdos From Another Planet, he dresses up like a tiger and attempts to live in the woods. Like Hobbes, Tyler is cool, collected, and incredibly cerebral. Given this evidence, one can conclude that Tyler is Hobbes, reincarnated after being trapped inside Calvin/Jack’s brain for so many years. Just as Calvin is Jack, Hobbes is Tyler.

[via metafilter.com]

Posted by johndan at 03:13 PM

Calling Shotgun

The Guide to Official Rules for Calling Shotgun.

[via Metafilter]

Posted by johndan at 03:05 PM

Google Scholar

Now in beta: Google Scholar

google-scholar.jpg

Posted by johndan at 09:20 AM | TrackBack

November 17, 2004

The Grey Video

There's now a video remix of a track from Danger Mouse's Grey Album (which I talked about earlier here): The Grey Video: an old Beatles video remixed with a Jay-Z video, plus assorted special effects (John Lennon busts a move; Ringo scratches a high hat that turns into a vinyl lp). [via boing-boing]
Posted by johndan at 10:45 PM | TrackBack

Paris Review Online

The Paris Review's website is launching "The DNA of Literature," what will eventually be a web archive of more than 300 interviews with working writers spanning the last half century--all free for viewing. From Dorothy Parker to Rick Moody, and more. (Only the interviews from the 1950s are currently online; the full archive is scheduled to be completed by next July.) Here's a snip from Parker's interview
Gertrude Stein did us the most harm when she said, “You’re all a lost generation.” That got around to certain people and we all said, “Whee! We’re lost.” Perhaps it suddenly brought to us the sense of change. Or irresponsibility. But don’t forget that, though the people in the twenties seemed like flops, they weren’t. Fitzgerald, the rest of them, reckless as they were, drinkers as they were, they worked damn hard and all the time.
Posted by johndan at 01:57 PM | TrackBack

Design as Communication

Although the idea that design is a potent form of communication will be familiar to those working in rhetoric and technical communication, it's good to see that idea getting wider currency. Don Norman's post, "Design as Communication" includes some useful insights.
Once we start to view design as a form of communication between designer and the user, we see that perceived affordances become an important medium for that communication. Designed affordances play a very special role. Now we see that the designer deliberately places signs and signals on the artifact to communicate with the user. The metal tray made of wires clearly both affords support for solid objects but not for liquids. Hence, the very visibility of both the positive affordance (support) and the negative one (porosity, or perhaps leakiness) tell the user "put something here that fits this space, that requires support, and that you do not wish to be in a puddle of water." Given the limited number of items one usually takes to the bath or shower, given the size constraint of the basket, and given the strong negative affordance of leakiness, what else could be meant except for soap: so the wire support shouts out to the shower-taker, "put your soap here!"
Norman also includes some thoughts on design as narrative, and narratives as stories in context. [via Tomalak's Realm]
Posted by johndan at 01:03 PM | TrackBack

November 16, 2004

Garage-Sale Rocking Chair

Chair

Posted by johndan at 11:54 PM | TrackBack

Room Defender

The website "I Want One of Those" (UK) is selling the motion-sensor equipped Room Defender, an automated foam-projectile cubicle/room defense weapon.

roodef_lg.jpg

In addition to "warning shot mode" (verbal warning plus a single shot), the nerf-missle weapon can be set for "ambush mode" (1/2 magazine) and "assault mode" (empty the breech).

As one satisfied customer says on the feedback page,
Working in IT, there is an area in front of my desk now dubbed "the confessional" - now when people come to confess, they automatically get their penance dispensed :) Fantastic fun, and it also means I get support requests via e-mail instead of being disturbed :)
[via some site that I didn't write down...]
Posted by johndan at 05:51 PM

Vision

Great. In a recent, widely cited study [google news search], researchers found that heavy computer use may be correlated with glaucoma:
Those who spend more than eight hours at a screen per session and who already need to wear glasses or contact lenses are a staggering 82% more likely to develop glaucoma than light PC users with good vision, according to the study by The Toho University School Of Medicine in Tokyo.
Will treatment be covered by my worker's comp?
Posted by johndan at 02:11 PM | TrackBack

Graffiti Animation

Artist Krišs Salmanis used created individual cells of a walking robot on walls around town, then photographed them to create an animated version (clip and soundtrack load automatically on that page).

[via Boing Boing]

Posted by johndan at 09:22 AM

November 15, 2004

ODB Links

For all of you showing up here based on my entry last weekend about Ol' Dirty Bastard's death (the post last weekend didn't really have much info in it, but the referrer logs say a lot of people are reading it), here are some more informative sites besides mine to hit:
(I loaded the Wu-Tang page while I was importing The Anthology of American Folk Music, and I have to say that ODB's "Thirsty" mixes well with Dock Bogg's "Country Blues," as bizarre as that seems. No really.)
Posted by johndan at 07:38 PM | TrackBack

Machine with Wishbone

Check Arthur Ganson's ... I would use the word "delightful" here if I was the sort of person who might use the word "delightful," but I'm not, so let's just say "way past cool"--Machines website. Wonky rube goldberg (if goldberg dropped acid) kinetic machines with QT and Real video clips as well, including things like this "Machine with Wishbone" [480x360 QuickTime file].

wishbone.jpg

[via an unnamed source]
Posted by johndan at 06:55 PM | TrackBack

'Music Is Not a Loaf of Bread'

A Wired interview with Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy on intellectual property, music, and the net.

What if there was a movement to shut down libraries because book publishers and authors were up in arms over the idea that people are reading books for free? It would send a message that books are only for the elite who can afford them.

Stop trying to treat music like it's a tennis shoe, something to be branded. If the music industry wants to save money, they should take a look at some of their six-figure executive expense accounts. All those lawsuits can't be cheap, either.

Posted by johndan at 10:51 AM

November 14, 2004

RIP: Ol' Dirty Bastard

According to a Reuters report, rapper Russell Jones, aka Ol' Dirty Bastard/ODB, died suddenly today:

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Rapper Ol' Dirty Bastard, equally well known for his scrapes with the law and offbeat antics as for his work with rap collective Wu-Tang Clan, died suddenly in New York Saturday of unknown causes, his record label said. The rapper, whose real name was Russell Jones, was found in a recording studio complaining of chest pains, a source told Reuters. Paramedics were unable to save him. "The world has lost a great talent, but we mourn the loss of our friend," said a statement issued by Roc-A-Fella Records.
Posted by johndan at 12:13 AM | TrackBack

November 12, 2004

Benoit Mandelbrot

New Scientist has an interview with Benoit Mandelbrot.

Your latest book you take on the world of finance. What is so attractive about the stock market?

When you've chosen the kind of life I have chosen to live, you must not let opportunities pass by. I recently had the chance to work with Richard Hudson, former managing editor of the European edition of The Wall Street Journal, on a book on economics. The most important thing I have done is to combine something esoteric with a practical issue that affects many people. In this spirit, the stock market is one of the most attractive things imaginable. Stock-market data is abundant so I can check everything. Financial markets are very influential and I want to be part of this field now that it is maturing.

[via Boing Boing]

Posted by johndan at 10:32 PM

November 11, 2004

Broken Dreams

I'm glad I'm not the only person who unfolded Google's wonky entrance test and realized that they weren't wonky enough to work for Google. (And I really want to be wonky.)
Oh well. I didn't really want to work at yet another place that offers free lunch.
[via maps and legends]
Posted by johndan at 10:46 PM | TrackBack

Another Holga

Another Holga shot (I promise my last, in the near future; this is just too fun):

Berries in the swamp

Posted by johndan at 07:48 PM | TrackBack

Holga 2

Someone asked for more info about the Holga camera I mentioned yesterday (the google search I mentioned is somewhat overwhelming). Here's a good overview: Plastic Fantastic.
Posted by johndan at 07:29 PM | TrackBack

"It's like a video game."

From a Telegraph (UK) article based on interviews and observations during the U.S. attack on Fallujah:
Lt Jack Farley, a US Marines officer, sauntered over to compare notes with the Phantoms. "You guys get to do all the fun stuff," he said. "It's like a video game. We've taken small arms fire here all day. It just sounds like popcorn going off."
I'm not going to comment on the politics of this; what I find striking is the frequency with which I hear soldiers connecting up the war in Iraq with videogames. (Last month, I heard a report, on NPR, I think, in which a soldier talked about how the war was a lot like Grand Theft Auto.) War, I guess, frequently works by metaphor, as average citizens suddenly find themselves thrust into situations where they're being demanded to do things they wouldn't normally do. Still, I find this disconcerting. If nothing else, that moment of disconcernment is useful in that it helps keep us aware of the bizarre new constructions of subjectivity required of participants.
Posted by johndan at 06:38 PM | TrackBack

Postcard from Tibet

Onward Tibet, one visitor's recollections of his travels in Tibet during 2004. Includes text, pictures, and audio clips.

[via metafilter, who got it from boing-boing]

Posted by johndan at 06:23 PM | TrackBack

N.A.G.

This is too cool: Network Aurlization for Gnutella (N.A.G.). Filesharing as remixing. (And GNU-licensed to boot.)

N.A.G. (Network Auralization for Gnutella) is interactive software art for Mac OS X and Windows 2000/XP which turns the process of searching for and downloading MP3 files into a chaotic musical collage. Type in one or more search keywords, and N.A.G. looks for matches on the Gnutella peer-to-peer file sharing network. The software then downloads MP3 files which match the search keyword(s) and remixes these audio files in real time based on the structure of the Gnutella network itself.

[via web zen and an anonymous donor]

In addition to downloads of the software, the site includes screenshots, an artist's statement, and audio samples.

Posted by johndan at 04:39 PM | TrackBack

November 10, 2004

Copyright-sharing group delves into science

Creative Commons appears to be heading toward developing CC licenses for scientific research [CNET News link]. This is great news, but CC licenses will face an uphill (but needed) battle from (a) journals, and (b) the moribund tenure process, and (c) increasing corporate sponsorship of research, which often comes with extremely restrictive ties on intellectual property (my own Vice-Provost for Research, until recently, adamantly refused the notion of negotiating any IP rights with sponsoring companies, choosing to simply give all IP back to the corporate sponsor). I hope they do well--their worldview aligns well with what science has historically been about: the advancement of understanding based on the open sharing of research and knowledge.

Posted by johndan at 10:39 PM

Holga

In my usual random oscillation between binary opposites, after using a digital Canon PowerShot for a few months, I decided to head in the opposite direction and purchase a Holga camera from a guy downstate who runs Holgamods.

holga

The Holga itself is basically an extremely poorly designed medium-format camera (everything is plastic, including the lens, with the exception of some cheap metal clamps that secure the camera back and are themselves famous for falling of mid-roll, exposing all your film in the process--note the duct tape I've wrapped around the sides to avoid this). The poor design is further degenerated during a manufacturing process in China that seems to have as its specific goal a complete randomization of quality control (although the top of the bell curve only rises from "broken" to "huh, that's weird" in any lot of cameras). As you might guess, this sort of damaged goods has made the Holga a favorite of the painfully cool, the retro-geeks, and freaks like myself. Randy at Holgamods purchases them in bulk for cheap (I assume--retail, they're only $20), does some minor flocking work to seal off extensive light leaks, installs a bulb exposure, removes a mask to convert the camera to 6x6 format, modifies the camera to give it a second f-stop (it has only one as manufactured), and performs various other minor tweaks, then resells them for a minor additional fee. (These mods actually double the price of the camera, but since the original camera is so cheap, that's not much of an increase.)

Cattails in the swamp

Yeah, it's basicallly a broken camera, at least in modern terms. Yeah, it's unpredictable. Yeah, developing medium-format film is relatively expensive (around $1 a print, once you include film). Yeah, there are lens flares and light leaks all over the place. That's not necessarily a bad thing.

Chair

There are a couple more examples of Holga shots at my Flickr site, or see an old Washington Post article about the camera (or just Google holga camera).
Posted by johndan at 10:01 PM | TrackBack

November 09, 2004

Aurora Borealis

The northern lights were out tonight. Nature's compensation for the fact that it's only eight degrees outside.
Posted by johndan at 11:39 PM | TrackBack

IM Flower Pot

MediaLab Europe is working on an wireless, IM-aware flowerpot that holds a mechanical flower that blooms when a specific user logs into Instant Messenger.

[via Gizmodo]

Posted by johndan at 11:40 AM

November 08, 2004

Play the Game

I'm re-watching Cronenberg's eXistenz [imdb link], and this dialogue, on the postmodernism of contemporary (and purported future) gaming caught me:
Ted Pikul: That was beautiful. I feel just like me. Is that kind of transition normal? That kinda' ... smooth, interlacing from place to place?" Allegra Geller: "Well, it depends on the style of game. You can get jagged, brutal cuts, slow fades, shimmering little morphs." TP: [breathes out heavily] "This is amazing. I had no idea." AG :[laughs, looks around the arcade] "Look at this. Games I've never heard of." TP: "Wait a minute. That reminds me. What, precisely, is the goal of the game that we're playing now?" AG: "You have to play the game ... to find out why you're playing the game. The future, Pikul; you'll see how natural it feels."
Posted by johndan at 10:59 PM | TrackBack

10x10

10x10 compiles words, pictures, and time:

10x10.jpg

10x10™ ('ten by ten') is an interactive exploration of the words and pictures that define the time. The result is an often moving, sometimes shocking, occasionally frivolous, but always fitting snapshot of our world. Every hour, 10x10 collects the 100 words and pictures that matter most on a global scale, and presents them as a single image, taken to encapsulate that moment in time. Over the course of days, months, and years, 10x10 leaves a trail of these hourly statements which, stitched together side by side, form a continuous patchwork tapestry of human life.
Posted by johndan at 09:18 PM | TrackBack

November 07, 2004

The Conet Project

The Conet Project collects recordings from "number stations" on shortwave radio: transmissions from secret agents to their agencies that code espionage reports in one-time pad codes. They're completely without any inherent meaning, given that they're just crackly spoken strings of numbers, letters, and tones. I find them sort of calming to listen to, coded messages sent off into the ether, a Derridean post-card that may or may not have ever arrived for its recipient. And (bonus) Disc 1, Track 4 seems to be the "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot" track sampled heavily in Wilco's album of the same name [pitchfork review]. The downloadable collection of .mp3 versions at archive.org includes an 80-page (pdf) booklet and track notes.
Posted by johndan at 11:03 PM | TrackBack

Wallace on Williamson on Borges

David Foster Wallace ravages Edwin Williamson's biography of Jorge Luis Borges in his NYT review [free reg req'd].
It is in these claims about personal stuff encoded in the writer's art that the book's real defect lies. In fairness, it's just a pronounced case of a syndrome that seems common to literary biographies, so common that it might point to a design flaw in the whole enterprise. The big problem with ''Borges: A Life'' is that Williamson is an atrocious reader of Borges's work; his interpretations amount to a simplistic, dishonest kind of psychological criticism. You can see why this problem might be intrinsic to the genre. A biographer wants his story to be not only interesting but literarily valuable.** In order to ensure this, the bio has to make the writer's personal life and psychic travails seem vital to his work. The idea is that we can't correctly interpret a piece of verbal art unless we know the personal and/or psychological circumstances surrounding its creation. That this is simply assumed as an axiom by many biographers is one problem; another is that the approach works a lot better on some writers than on others. It works well on Kafka -- Borges's only modern equal as an allegorist, with whom he's often compared -- because Kafka's fictions are expressionist, projective, and personal; they make artistic sense only as manifestations of Kafka's psyche. But Borges's stories are very different.
**Actually, these two agendas dovetail, since the only reason anybody's interested in a writer's life is because of his literary importance. (Think about it -- the personal lives of most people who spend 14 hours a day sitting there alone, reading and writing, are not going to be thrill rides to hear about.)
This is the first time I've seen footnotes in NYT, but the use of them is probably a standard rider on David Foster Wallace's contracts.
Posted by johndan at 08:10 PM | TrackBack

Text Rain

Text Rain, an interactive environment by Camille Utterback & Romy Achituv.

Text Rain is an interactive installation in which participants use the familiar instrument of their bodies, to do what seems magical—to lift and play with falling letters that do not really exist. In the Text Rain installation participants stand or move in front of a large projection screen. On the screen they see a mirrored video projection of themselves in black and white, combined with a color animation of falling letters. Like rain or snow, the letters appears to land on participants' heads and arms. The letters respond to the participants' motions and can be caught, lifted, and then let fall again. The falling text will 'land' on anything darker than a certain threshold, and 'fall' whenever that obstacle is removed. If a participant accumulates enough letters along their outstretched arms, or along the silhouette of any dark object, they can sometimes catch an entire word, or even a phrase. The falling letters are not random, but form lines of a poem about bodies and language. 'Reading' the phrases in the Text Rain installation becomes a physical as well as a cerebral endeavor.

The site includes QuickTime demos.

[dan saffer :: what i'm studying]

Posted by johndan at 02:14 PM | TrackBack

November 06, 2004

Party Mix, Vol 6

"What In The World," Los Lobos [Good Morning Aztlan]
"Truckload Of Art," Cracker [Countrysides]
"Black Girls," Violent Femmes [Film Noire (Live in Europe)]
"White Line," Neil Young & Crazy Horse [Ragged Glory]
"Life Is Grand," Camper Van Beethoven [Cigarettes & Carrot Juice - The Santa Cruz Years]
"She's a Jar." Wilco [Live in Germany (7.9.99)]
"kids are ugly," Cracker [kids are ugly]
"Transition," Kristen Miller [Later That Day]
"My Morphine," Gillian Welch & David Rawlings [Strawberry Music Festival 8-30-97]
"I'm A Steady Rollin' Man," Robert Johnson [The Complete Recordings 2]
"Born At The Right Time," Paul Simon [Concert In The Park (Disc 1)]
"Miner's Refrain," Gillian Welch [Hell Among the Yearlings]
"No Love Today," Chris Smither [Drive You Home Again]
"Feedback Jam," Neil Young & Crazy Horse [Live at Bonnaroo (6.13.03)]
"I'm Satisfied," John Hiatt [Avalon Blues - A Tribute to Mississippi John Hurt]
"Bag of Weed (Jimmy Wilson Group 6/30/01)," Ween [Live In Burlington 10.31.03]

Posted by johndan at 11:28 PM | TrackBack

Driving in From Massena

Through the windshield.

Posted by johndan at 10:57 PM | TrackBack

Philosophical Break-Up Lines

From Thoughts, Arguments, and Rants, "Philosophy in Questionable Taste" provides a huge list of break-up lines from various schools of philosophy. Here's a small selection (with contributors named in parentheses)

The Relativist: It’s no one’s fault. (P.K.)
The Atheist: These things just happen. (P.K.)
The Kantian: You lied to me! (P.K.)
The Consequentialist, v 2.0: You should have lied to my mother about her pot roast! (P.K.)
The anti-Fictionalist: I’m sick of faking it. (P.K.)
The Cartesian: I don’t clearly and distinctly perceive a future together. (Kathryn Schubert)
The Hegelian: Do we have to go through this again? (Kathryn Schubert)
The Lockean: Our primary qualities simply aren’t compatible. (Kathryn Schubert)
The Lockean, v. 2.0: Compared to my last partner, I’m not getting nearly enough, nor as good. (P.K.)

TA&R links to a related list of causes of death from different philosophical schools that's funny as well. Or at least as funny as philosophy can get--the question is still being hotly debated) [rimshot].

[via Boing Boing]

Posted by johndan at 10:45 PM

November 05, 2004

Robotherapy

Although several studies have shown that pets can be part of useful therapy program for sick people, Georgetown University researchers have an interesting spin on the idea: they've been giving robot cats to patients.

The robot is programmed to respond in the same way a typical feline would, becoming angry or happy when hit or stroked. It is also sophisticated enough to learn and respond to its own name, and has the same biological rhythms as a cat. Although the pseudo-pussycat is unable to walk, its legs and tail can still move and it can make forty-eight different catlike noises.

They're finding that patients respond in much the same way they do to real pets (and better than with simple stuffed animals). One of the real benefits appears to be for patients with mental conditions that might make it difficult for them to care for a real pet (some patients in the study, for example, suffer from dementia, making the use of real animals problematic). The researchers also think the robot pets could be augmented to do things like remind people to take medications at specified times.

[via Gizmodo]

Posted by johndan at 03:06 PM

Looptracks

Experiment with audio loops at looptracks.com:

loop.gif

(I probably don't need to warn you that the site is (a) Flash, and (b) starts an audio loop as soon as you get to the site.)

[via Web Zen]

Posted by johndan at 09:50 AM | TrackBack

November 02, 2004

Voting on Computers

Here's why the old-fashioned, Big Red Lever voting system (which I mentioned below) makes me feel safer:

[stealing the image off boing-boing's faster servers... my traffic is low, so I hope this isn't an issue.]

Want to know what this image is? It's a picture I took with my cellphone-camera of an electronic voting machine screen. I took it today when I went down to vote for the next President of the Unites States in Santa Clara California. The screen says "Vote Save Error #9. Use the Backup Voting Procedure." A news crew was on hand to film Californians using the voting machines. I pointed to this particular screen and said "There's your story - right there. I just took a picture of the screen and plan to share it with 6.4 billion of my closest friends on the Internet tonight. I suggest you do the same." To my astonishment, the cameraman did shoot some footage of the screen, though I don't know what was shown later on television.

[via Boing Boing]

Posted by johndan at 06:07 PM

RU Sirius on Counterculture

Mark Frauenfelder at Boing-boing has an interview with influential cyberculture figure RU Sirius on his new book, Counterculture Through the Ages: From Abraham to Acid House:

In defense of our approach, I would say only that ours can include the modern primitives, and also include Zen, Sufism, The Troubadours, western anarchism, cyberpunk, punk rock, cubism, Voltaire, ad infinitum. Whereas a modern primitive approach would be just that. And I think it’s been written in different ways by Terence McKenna, by Riane Eisler, and by Feinberg. It’s all good. Let a thousand histories of counterculture bloom!

[via Boing Boing]

Posted by johndan at 05:52 PM

Voting

This is where I voted this morning.

Where I Voted This Morning

Having voted in somewhat larger cities previously, I have to say I really appreciate living in rural towns. If nothing else, I didn't have to worry about whether or not the touch-screen, Diebold systems were going to be hacked: I got to use an older, big-lever-pull voting machine.

Posted by johndan at 01:43 PM | TrackBack

November 01, 2004

Election Day in The Sims

The Dumbold voting machine for The Sims lets you participate in election-day voting hi-jinks. According to Cory Doctorow at Boing-Boing,

If you're a Sims player you can download this "Dumboold" electronic voting machine, which has almost as many flaws as the real thing from our malfeasant friends at Diebold!

Features include hidden options like "Vote or Die":

P. Diddy, lately a.k.a. Citizen Combs, says: "'You all are the X-factor, the wild card," Combs said. "`History is being made here. Our revolution has begun." "Young voters in this country are throwing away their power to have a say about education, healthcare, and any issue that affects them." Combs explains. "These things affect your life, so - Vote or Die!" (If you select Vote, you live. If you select Die, you either get electrocuted, or burst into flames, then you die.)

[via Boing Boing]

Posted by johndan at 08:12 PM

Duct-Tape Messenger Bag

4 rolls of duct tape, and 12 hours later, and Clunky Robot has a duct-tape messenger bag.

tape-bag.jpg

[via Metafilter]

Posted by johndan at 07:59 PM | TrackBack

Audio Shaker

audio04.jpgA guy in the UK has developed what's more or less a "remix jar," which he calls an audio shaker:

The audio shaker explores our perceptual understanding of sound. Anything sung, spoken, clapped, whistled or played near it is trapped inside, where it takes on an imagined yet tangible physicality. Sounds caught in this void are transformed, given weight and permanance, reacting directly to the shaker's movements, subtle or violent. Shaken sounds have to settle down before becoming still and silent, behaving more like fluid than transient energy.

The linear timescale of sound is broken, a conversation is split into words and mixed up in the shaker, and can be poured out separately, tipped out in a simultaneous spalsh or added to and shaken up further.

Put simply, it is a tactile container to capture, shake up and pour out sounds. Creating a rich, intuitive experience that is purposefully open to interpretation and imagination.

For those interested in product design, the site also includes video of the audio shaker in use, animated storyboards, and some interesting notes about product-design decisions ("When you shake the cup does the sound splash out?... and what could trap the sound in?").

[via Gizmodo]

Posted by johndan at 05:27 PM