Excellent essay on “The Power of Voice” by Siobhan McHugh. She shares a devastating tape-recording of Jan Graham, an Australian woman who reported the Vietnam War:
She wept as she told of finding the mutilated body of her lover, a Green Beret on surveillance with the US army. I offered to stop the tape, but she wanted to be purged of all the memories, and the worst was yet to come. Have a listen to the three minutes of tape here. It’s barely been edited, apart from where I shortened some of the pauses, as her grief was just unbearable:”
“Leet” (more often “1337”) is half-joking hacker code for elite, or skilled. A leet programmer or gamer is at the top of her game.
“Shibboleth” comes from the Bible. It’s the Hebrew word for an ear of corn, but requires a true native accent to pronounce properly. Because the word was so difficult for foreigners to say, shibboleth became a code word for early Israelites, a dead giveaway that someone was an interloper. Now, shibboleth is a catchall term for any custom or belief that sets one group of people apart from another.
The House Gates Built is not normally known as a fountain of innovation. But MS’sLiveLabs has really delivered the future in the form of Pivot. It’a web application — “don’t call it a browser”:
“Gary Flake: is Pivot a turning point for web exploration?”
We’re navigating the web for the first time as if it’s actually a web, not page to page, but at a higher level of abstraction… So right now, in this world, we think about data as being this curse. We talk about the curse of information overload. We talk about drowning in data. What if we can actually turn that upside down and turn the web upside down, so that instead of one thing to the next, we get used to the habit of being able to go from many things to many things, and then being able to see the patterns that were otherwise hidden? If we can do that, then, instead of being trapped in data, we might actually extract information. And, instead of dealing just with information, we can tease out knowledge. And if we get the knowledge, then maybe even there’s wisdom to be found.
—Gary Flake, Technical Fellow, Microsoft; founder/director, Live Labs
Seems we’re approaching a “Who’s your favorite beatle?”* moment when both Steve Jobs and Bacark Obama address planet Earth. This Wednesday (Jan 27) there’s a POTUSA State of the Union speech and an Apple “Come see our latest creation” event.
Who’s talk will you pay most attention; which will likely most affect your life? Your answer reveals much about you.
*Bernard Mickey Wrangle had developed a psychological test of his own. It was short, simple, and infallible. To administer the test, merely ask the subject to name his or her favorite Beatle. If you are at all familiar with the distinct separate public images of the four Beatles, then you’ll recognize that the one chosen reveals as much about the subject’s personality as most of us will ever hope to know.
—Tom Robbins, Still Life with Woodpecker (1980).
We’ll leave you with “this historic recording was made by D.H. Van Lenten in 1962 as part of a series of experiments at Bell Laboratories to understand the nature of speech and hearing.” From Vintage Computer Music, “Computer Speech Demonstration w/ “Bicycle Built for Two” (2:19 mp3):
All these services hint at the revolutionary potential of the new computing grid and the information utilities that run on it. In the years ahead, more and more of the information-processing tasks that we rely on, at home and at work, will be handled by big data centers located out on the Internet. The nature and economics of computing will change as dramatically as the nature and economics of mechanical power changed with the rise of electric utilities in the early years of the last century. The consequences for society – for the way we live, work, learn, communicate, entertain ourselves, and even think – promise to be equally profound. If the electric dynamo was the machine that fashioned twentieth century society – that made us who we are – the information dynamo is the machine that will fashion the new society of the twenty-first century.
At work and at home, people found they could use the Web to once again bypass established centers of control, whether corporate bureaucracies, government agencies, retailing empires, or media conglomerates. Seemingly uncontrolled and uncontrollable, the Web was routinely portrayed as a new frontier, a Rousseauian wilderness in which we, as autonomous agents, were free to redefine society on our own terms. “Governments of the Industrial World,” proclaimed John Perry Barlow in his 1996 manifesto “A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace,” “you are not welcome among us. You have no sovereignty where we gather.” But, as with the arrival of the PC, it didn’t take long for governments and corporations to begin reasserting and even extending their dominion.
The error that Barlow and many others have made is to assume that the Net’s decentralized structure is necessarily resistant to social and political control. They’ve turned a technical characteristic into a metaphor for personal freedom. But, as Galloway explains, the connection of previously untethered computers into a network governed by strict protocols has actually created “a new apparatus of control.” Indeed, he writes, “the founding principle of the Net is control, not freedom – control has existed from the beginning.” As the disparate pages of the World Wide Web turn into the unified and programmable database of the World Wide Computer, moreover, a powerful new kind of control becomes possible. Programming, after all, is nothing if not a method of control. Even though the Internet still has no center, technically speaking, control can now be wielded, through software code, from anywhere. What’s different, in comparison to the physical world, is that acts of control become harder to detect and those wielding control more difficult to discern.
—Nicholas Carr, The Big Switch
Draw some lines and feel the ping: BallDroppings is a geometric music maker.
It’s built with the open-source Processing java software, “a programming language, development environment, and online community that since 2001 has promoted software literacy within the visual arts.” Check this other Processing production: Bicycle Built for 2000 with “over 2000 human voices recorded via the Internet, assembled to sing” a song. (Interview w/ programmer.)
REAPER is a small filesize (4M win, 7M mac) multi-track audio DAW, “a complete multitrack audio and MIDI recording, editing, processing, mixing, and mastering environment.” Free trial; if you use it,tell us how it’s working for you.
Blaise Aguera y Arcas of Microsoft Live LabsPhotosynth gives this TED talk about their software. Photosynth “can access gigabytes of photos in seconds” and integrate related images from all over the web into a single expandable, collapsible, explorable whole:
For the preceeding Murrow mp3, I tried out the new Zamzar – Free online file conversion. Submitted an online real-audio file thru Zamzar’s eb form; received an email w/ an mp3 attached. All went well. They can do the same for image, audio and video formats.
The ramifications of an attack such as this are reasonably severe — and yet this is the first I’d seen or read any news on the subject, even considering the number of tech.-related publications I regularly peruse.
Latest High Country News has a profile on a pocatello graphic designer who also makes bikes to give away — when he’s not teaching folks how to fix their own bikes… Seems to be currying a sort of low-key activist stance on fighting urban sprawl.
Is everyone else waking up to spams titled “USA Missle Strike: Iran War just have started” (sic) and such? The eems have malware attached, like “News.exe” and “Movie.exe.” Haven’t a clue what it does (on a Mac, doncha know), but ya gotta admit its email subject is a clever bit of social-engineering to get you to click. Though, even after all these years, “Nude Anna Kournikova pics” still works around here.
BTW, while I’m being divergent, have you heard a Texas Hold ‘Em hand: Ace-King (AK), aka, Big Slick, is now also aka, Anna Kournikova, for its initials but mainly cuz “it looks good, but hardly ever wins.”
This Iran/Missile/War/USA malware spam must be new. Not even on Snopes yet.