March 30, 2006

For the Very Young Robert Mitchum Fan


Nippaz' with Attitude has Love/Hate baby mittens, for the very young Robert Mitchum fan (the words were tattooed on across his knuckles in the classic Night of the Hunter). See the Boing-Boing post on this for related links (including gloves for grownups).

These have absolutely nothing to do with normal Datacloud topics, but, damn, they're funny.

[via Boing Boing]

Posted by johndanseven at 11:44 PM

March 28, 2006

The Power of Maps

Map geeks (and info viz geeks in general, I guess) will want to check out the places and spaces website and touring exhibition. The website includes images and brief descriptions; categories include traditional cartographic maps as well as domain maps and concept maps. Here's Keith Nesbitt's map of concepts covered in his PhD thesis (reduced quite a bit here--the version on the website's much larger):


[via information aesthetics]

Posted by johndanseven at 09:12 PM

Shanty Town Architecture: Leftover Spaces

Wes Janz is interviewed at Archinet about One Small Project, a book and website about the architecture (and lives) of shanty towns and other unofficial buildings.

One billion leftover people—typically called squatters or self-builders—claim leftover spaces in cities and live in unauthorized dwellings made of scavenged, leftover materials. When today’s students are my age (52), there will be two billion squatters worldwide, or one in four people. 1 in 4.

In my hometown of Indianapolis, it is estimated that there are 2,100 homeless people on any given night and only 750 beds in homeless shelters. And there are nearly 8,000 abandoned houses. I would have guessed 80, or maybe 800. 2,100 homeless people and 8,000 abandoned houses in Indianapolis?!

[via WorldChanging: Another World Is Here]

Posted by johndanseven at 03:50 PM

Earn a Degree in Oxymorons

The first line from a piece of spam that my filter missed (so I actually read it); all-caps emphasis theirs:

Academic Qualifications available from prestigious NON-ACCREDITED universities.
Posted by johndanseven at 02:59 PM

Remixing (Mediated) Reality: Scrambled Hackz

Scrambled Hackz imports source audio and video (the demos use music videos), breaks them down, analyzes them, and reconstructs new audio. It's hard to explain briefly, but the designer has put together a relatively detailed description and demo in video format (.wmv, .mov, and YouTube versions available). Apparently soon available in a GPL version.

Gramophone records, magnetic tapes, vinyl records, digital samplers and computers have already liberated the samples long ago. But still - to infringe copyrights - one has to decide which sample one actually wants to steal. One has to arduously load audio files into sample editors or sequencers. One has to cut, copy, paste and arrange. All that takes precious creative energy and a lot of time.

Enough of that!

Copyright infringements have never been easier than with sCrAmBlEd?HaCkZ!


Posted by johndanseven at 12:49 PM

Sound Effects

Sounddogs offers mp3 sound effects clips for use in projects, covering an enormous range: "rock, impact - large, heavy rock impact, comedy, cartoon" to "large fire heavy rumble" to "farm tractor - pass by". $3 to $5 each. Not sure where I'd use these, but they seem interesting, in a geeky sort of way.

[via Lifehacker]

Posted by johndanseven at 11:10 AM

March 27, 2006

Stansislaw Lem, Etc.

A real rash of people I respect have died over the last week or so: Ali Farka Toure, Buck Owens, and now Stansilaw Lem, the Polish sci-fi writer. Bummer. One of the relative handful of sci-fi writers whose work transcended the genre (along with Phillip K. Dick). Here's a wikipedia bio link.

I finally rented the DVDs of Solaris last year, both the Tarkovsky and the Soderbergh remake, based on Lem's novel. Both were good, but Tarkovsky's seemed to have more of Lem's attitude to it. But read the book first.

An Aside: Death has some weight for me recently; that strep throat I mentioned earlier ended up, through a series of bizarre medical ineptitude on the part of people I pay good cash money to monitor my health, turning into kidney failure and a short hospital stay. Now I keep thinking, how many blogs would report my death? Hell, I don't even have a wikipedia stub! I better start working.

[via Slashdot]

Posted by johndanseven at 11:07 PM

Remixing Eno and Byrne

Brian Eno and David Byrne announced that two tracks from their new album will be available for remixing and sharing under a Creative Commons license. Full sets of source tracks (not just the final mixdown) will apparently be available shortly.

[via The Mediaburn Radio Weblog]

Posted by johndanseven at 02:26 PM

Videogames as Literature: "Prettier Inanity"

CBS's website has a nice piece by William Vitka on videogames as literature, including interviews with both authors and game designers on the current lack of videogames that would qualify as "great" stories.

Video games, as narratives, are not getting better. This can be partially linked to technology: Who needs a good story when we have "next-gen" HD rubbish being rammed down our throats.

Did we even ask for "next-gen?" What the does next-gen mean? Prettier inanity?

Game companies do not seem to believe that telling better stories is in their best interest. They've generally relied on the graphics and the bells and whistles to sell games. With a few exceptions, they've never tried to sell us on emotion or character. This can be partially blamed on us, the gamers. Soon, however, gaming companies might have to change their ways.

[via Kotaku]

Posted by johndanseven at 02:14 PM

March 24, 2006

Web Zen: Video

Web Zen's list of links this week covers video. Links to (the recently, unfortunately deceased) Nam June Paik's official website, the Rutt-Etra (c. 1970s) video synthesizer (with clips), and Pleix's indescribable short film archive (a link that Anne W. recently sent me, but I think I never posted), among others.

Posted by johndanseven at 11:38 AM

CD Repair: Fixing Coasters

I used to be one of those people who offices contain enormous stacks of papers, books, and--unfortunately--CDs that I haven't bothered to put back into their cases. This means that I also used to be one of those people who had a lot of scratched CDs.

iTunes resolved much of the scratched CD issue for me because when I buy a CD, I rip it to iTunes and then archive the physical CD. I also buy fewer physical CDs than I used to, which helps as well. (iTunes hasn't helped the huge, tottering stacks of papers and books--apparently I need an iTunes for paperwork. Scanning paper documents into DevonThink and Tinderbox is a lot more time-consuming than ripping CDs....)

Instructables has some tips for buffing out CD scratches using Brasso polish, which apparently works better than toothpaste. I'm a little wary of it, since buffing (as the post makes clear) is actually stripping away some of the physical media, but I figure I'm already effectively working with a coaster, so either the process will result in a playable CD or just a shinier coaster.

[via Lifehacker]

Posted by johndanseven at 11:19 AM

March 22, 2006

Haute Cuisine Plagiarism

This runs pretty far afield of my normal posts to Datacloud, but a recent (and heated) thread on the cooking discussion board eGullet focuses on alleged plagiarism of dishes by an Australian avant-garde restaurant. Given the high stakes--and sometimes overblown press--of such restaurants, the discussion covers some interesting terrain, including creativity in cooking, creativity, IP and recipes, ethics, copyright of publicity photos, and more.

Posted by johndanseven at 10:00 PM

Virtual and Real Objects

Dialog05's Universal Connections is an exhibition of art that redesigns traditional functional objects (faucets, telephones, watches) to add virtual elements.


[via information aesthetics]

Posted by johndanseven at 09:15 AM

March 21, 2006

IP Run Amok

Leftist stalwart (that's a compliment) Mother Jones has a list of intellectual property news items, in soundbite form, that serves as a reminder to how bad things have gotten. Here are a couple:

A DAY AFTER Senator Orrin Hatch said “destroying their machines” might be the only way to stop illegal downloaders, unlicensed software was discovered on his website.

NEARLY 20% of the 23,688 known human genes are patented in the United States. Private companies hold 63% of those patents.

AFTER ROSA PARKS sued OutKast for using her name as a song title, the group and their label settled by paying for a Parks tribute CD and TV special.

THE PUBLISHER of Super Hero Happy Hour removed “Super” from the comic book title after Marvel and DC Comics stated they own the phrase “super heroes and variations thereof.”

For more on the super-hero example, see the recent Boing Boing thread starting here.

Posted by johndanseven at 04:32 PM

March 20, 2006

Ballard on Modernist Architecture

The Guardian has a cool piece by J.G. Ballard on some of the problems of modernist architecture, beginning with a discussion of tourists at Utah Beach, near the scene of the D-Day invasion of WW II.

All of us have our dreams to reassure us. Architecture is a stage set where we need to be at ease in order to perform. Fearing ourselves, we need our illusions to protect us, even if the protection takes the form of finials and cartouches, corinthian columns and acanthus leaves. Modernism lacked mystery and emotion, was a little too frank about the limits of human nature and never prepared us for our eventual end.

[via Boing Boing]

Posted by johndanseven at 06:50 PM

March 18, 2006

Border Film Project: Migrants and Minutemen

The Border Film Project handed out several hundred disposable cameras to undocumented immigrants and Minutemen volunteers on the US/Mexico border. Check the Similarities section for striking parallels from both sides of the controversy; the juxtaposed images (of which there are only a handful at this point) seem to simultaneously reinforce and deconstruct each other as they're viewed.

Other sections of the site include video clips, educational materials, a call for donations, and more.


Posted by johndanseven at 03:57 PM

March 17, 2006

Top Tools, Ever

Forbes has an interesting article on the top 20 tools in history, as voted on by a panel of experts from history and technology fields, including Don Norman, Henry Petroski, and others. Although public attention to technology frequently focuses on the next (or most recent) "big thing," the Forbes list is interesting for its historical perspective. (I think the list would make for interesting discussion in classes about innovation and technology.)

The article includes brief discussions of each of the top 20, with notes on history and social impact (and links to current companies selling the technologies--it is Forbes, after all). The knife comes in at number 1; others in the list in include the pencil and the needle. Duct tape gets an honorable mention.

Posted by johndanseven at 03:28 PM

March 16, 2006

Matthew Barney & Bjork: Drawing Restraint 9

Trippy: Apple's QT site has the trailer for Matthew Barney's new film, Drawing Restraint 9 [QT autoload on page]. Stars Barney and Bjork. Here's the synopsis:

The core idea of Drawing Restraint 9 is the relationship between self-imposed resistance and creativity, a theme it symbolically tracks through the construction and transformation of a vast sculpture of liquid Vaseline, called “The Field”, which is molded, poured, bisected and reformed on the deck of the ship over the course of the film.

More links at the Metafilter post.


Posted by johndanseven at 11:40 AM

March 15, 2006

Retro Tech: The Olympia Typewriter

The Morning News has Michael Erard's homage to his Olympia manual typewriter.

Under the cover are two spools that, at one point, successfully reeled a strip of ink-soaked fabric back and forth between them. The automatic back-and-forth mechanism lost a spring, however, when I was poking around in it during college, so every five pages I had to pop the hood and manually re-reel the ribbon from the left spool to the right or the right to the left, which I mention not only because it’s technically quaint (and it is—you actually had to get ink on your hands) but because it was a humbling change from the momentum of typing, as if I were changing the sparkplugs on my hotrod every three miles.
Posted by johndanseven at 03:23 PM


Wisconsin Public Radio's To the Best of Our Knowledge aired a program on metafiction [summary page + RealAudio link], including discussion of Sterne's Tristram Shandy (both book and film), Borges, Coover, John Wesley Harding (the musician) and Saul Williams (hiphop poet). Coover discusses, among other things, his favorite American work of metafiction: Moby Dick.

Posted by johndanseven at 07:57 AM

Fluff, Fold, and Solve

Alt-reality game Poor Richard asks players to help the eponymous band solve the mystery of its murdered manager using clues designed into Edoc Laundry t-shirts. Graffiti-inspired graphics on the company's t-shirts include hidden codes that players enter into edoc's website to uncover more clues. Weird, in an interesting sort of way.

[via Michael Moore]

Posted by johndanseven at 07:49 AM

March 10, 2006

Thousand Mile Colosseum

BLDGBLOG has an extended post on the the reality TV cinema of LA highways (not, admittedly, a new topic, but still worth reading).

[W]hat interests me here is not police pursuit technology in and of itself, but the fact that it has slowly become a regular feature of American urban life. Even more, the car chase, though illegal, irresponsible, and dangerous, is also one of the most logical responses to the American landscape: if you build "nine hundred miles of sinuous highway and twenty-one thousand miles of tangled surface streets" (Tad Friend) in one city alone, you're going to find at least a few people who want to put it to use.

Add that to uncountable thousands of cameras installed there on lightposts, or carried by helicopters throughout the sky – the endless cinema of the everyday, an anthropologist's dream – and anyone driving in LA right now is literally only moments away from celebrity. Go a little further, a little faster – and fifteen minutes after you read this post, I might be watching you on TV. Be sure to wave.


Posted by johndanseven at 08:23 PM

Sterling's ETech Talk Online

Bruce Sterling has posted the text of (and some images from) his recent ETech talk. Spimes, theory objects, Web 2.0, the problems of labeling, RFIDs, and more. Here's a bit that will likely show up in my talk at the WIDE conference at Michigan State in April (theory objects are articulations):

I entirely agree with Alan Liu that Web 2.0 hype is a lash-up of technologies that is made in a big hurry by catch-as-catch-can hacker types. That might even be considered a virtue. The deeper problem is that language is a lash-up, too. We don't get a red-hot tech lab separate from a cool and contemplative ivory tower where we can make permanent historical judgments. We'd be kind of lucky nowadays just to get "Theory Objects," which are electronic lash-ups of data, ideas and weird riffing. A "Theory Object" is a kind of hack for English majors.

[via Beyond the Beyond]

Posted by johndanseven at 12:40 PM

March 09, 2006

(Faux) Future of Music Tech

"Look Around You: Music" [embedded qt video] is a (spoof) 9-minute documentary about music done in the style of old BBC educational tv shows. The series even has its own BBC website.


Posted by johndanseven at 01:05 PM

March 08, 2006

Spore Demo

(Yeah, I'm a little late to the party on this.) Will Wright demos Spore [google video link]. Cool.


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