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Saturday, February 9, 2013

"What if we could receive real-time feedback on our social interactions? Would unbiased third party..."

"What if we could receive real-time feedback on our social interactions? Would unbiased third party...": “What if we could receive real-time feedback on our social interactions? Would unbiased third party monitors be better suited to interpret situations and make decisions for the parties involved? How might augmenting our experience help us become more aware in our relationships, shift us out of normal patterns, and open us to unexpected possibilities? I am developing a system like this for myself using Amazon Mechanical Turk. During a series of dates with new people I meet on the internet, I will stream the interaction to the web using an iPhone app. Turk workers will be paid to watch the stream, interpret what is happening, and offer feedback as to what I should do or say next. This feedback will be communicated to me via text message.”

- social turkers, project by Lauren McCarthy.

In the past year, the Northern portion of Mali slipped into...

In the past year, the Northern portion of Mali slipped into...:

In the past year, the Northern portion of Mali slipped into chaos, leaving it without military or law. Islamist militants with a bad habit of kidnapping Westerners took control of the cities, and even the most dogged reporters beat a hasty retreat to the capital. Western media empires constructed around the need to report, instead turned to the internet sources, cellphone photos, and cryptic utterances on Facebook walls. Timbuktu was again the fabled city of CailliƩ, a closed mystery that not even the combined forces of CNN, BBC, RFI, and the mighty Al-Jazeera could penetrate.
It’s not surprising then that the most ambitious sources of Northern Mali “news” has invoked the authority of newsroom reporting. During the past months, “Tamositte n’Azawad” (“the Kitten of Azawad” –facebook) has been issuing broadcasts on the situation in the North, with a penchant for satire and comedy. The creation of a collective of young Tuareg women living abroad in Sweden, Tamositte has been one of the most consistent media voices. Utilizing an iPhone/Android App known as “Talking Tom Cat”, the tool has been transformed into a new media mouthpiece, addressing very specific particulars of the conflict that are glossed over by international media: alliances between MNLA and Ansar Dine, critiques of hypocrisy of the MUJAO factions, and ousting of corrupt politicians.
I spoke to one of the creators of Tamositte. Her goal, she said, was to raise awareness amongst the Tuareg in the North. By connecting with youth in these cloistered towns such as Kidal, she could comment on these topics of discussion concerning the Tuareg community. Tamositte videos have undoubtedly found their way from Facebook and onto cellphones, the messages relayed throughout the scattered populations of the besieged Northern towns with a comic authority that resonates. As the international community advances to chase out foreign extremists in the North, it will be greeted by the Tuareg, but the international media may not be so welcome. A new adversary has taken its place.
The Talking Cat of Azawad - Sahel Sounds

Friday, February 8, 2013

Hydrophobic, dirt-shedding spray is indistinguishable from magic

Hydrophobic, dirt-shedding spray is indistinguishable from magic:

"Ultra Ever Dry" is a nanomaterial spray-coating that is (apparently) insanely hydrophobic, shedding dirt, water and oil. The jaw-dropping product video suggests many possibilities, from extreme hydroplaning sports to odd molecular gastronomy possibilities (though it's not rated food-safe, so caveat sprayer). If you're impatient, just zip the video to 2:00 or so and marvel.

What is it? The company says it's a "coating" that will repel almost any liquid by creating a barrier of air on the surface. They don't say what's in the coating. Whatever it is, the How to Apply This Product video suggests you don goggles, gloves and protective gear when you spray. They claim it will protect in temperatures ranging from -30 degrees Fahrenheit to 300 degrees Fahrenheit, but durability is a question. In the video, they say abrasion might affect performance (which makes me wonder how long a pair of sprayed boots would stay dry if you were on a wet, slippery, rocky hiking trail). It's expensive. The base coat is $57.95 and the top coat is $100.95 a quart. On the other hand, if you dare to spray it on your car windows, you wouldn't need window wipers. Or would the windows get too cloudy? If you sprayed it on a car surface, would it affect the gloss? Probably.

Next Time Your Mom Says Don't Go Out in The Rain, Spray Yourself With This [Robert Krulwich/NPR]

(Thanks, Fipi Lele!)

Adam Greenfield: The City Is Here For You To Use, one hundred easy pieces

[Some interesting thought here about the future of the city, and Bruce Sterling's responses in (((triple parens))). -egg]
Adam Greenfield: The City Is Here For You To Use, one hundred easy pieces:
The City Is Here For You To Use: 100 easy pieces

Adam Greenfield’s Speedbird 12/3/12 7:50 PM
AG Book project

Space and place


The meta stuff

Urban computing

On the first of January, 2008, I promised you a book about the things I saw happening at the intersection of emerging networked information technologies with urban place.
Well. It has been a long, long time coming, the book has inevitably evolved from my initial conception of it, and there’s still a great deal of work to be done. But I’m now in a position to at least let you know, in a fair amount of detail, just what The City Is Here For You To Use argues. (((Hey, after five years, most parts of most of the cities are still standing there.)))
Please bear in mind that the following is not an outline, just an accounting of some of the book’s major propositions, in the rough order in which you’ll encounter them. As it happens, some of my favorite passages are acutely underrepresented in this accounting (particularly historical material and that concerning network technology’s implications for subjectivity and the constitution of a metropolitan, cosmopolitan self). What’s worse, a good deal of fairly carefully worked-out argumentation is here compressed into what are more or less bullet points. Unless you and I are already muy, muy simpatico, there’s no reason you should necessarily find all of the arguments as presented here convincing, nor do I expect you to. But I do want you to have a map of the line I’m going to be taking.
(((I happen to be extremely muy-muy-simpatico to urban ubiquity riffing, but no, that doesn’t mean I’m convinced. In fact, I’m going to rate every one of these 100 propositions (or pointed bullets, or whatever they are), on a Bruce Sterling Is Convinced Rating of 0 to 10.)))
(((At zero I’m about as convinced as I would be by perpetual motion, and at ten I’m just fanatically convinced, I am guzzling the Kool-Aid headlong, I have started my own zero-point-energy startup in my basement, and I will never blog another word on any subject of lesser importance ever.)))
Without any further ado, then:
1. We find ourselves at a moment in history in which the nature of cities, as form and experience both, is under pressure from a particular class of emerging technology. The advent of lightweight, scalable, networked information-processing technologies means that urban environments around the world are now provisioned with the ability to gather, process, transmit, display and take physical action on data. (((Okay, that one is ranking at 8.0)))
2. As a result, that which primarily conditions choice and action in urban places is no longer physical, but resides in an invisible and intangible overlay of digital information that enfolds the physical city. That is, our experiences in such places are no longer shaped exclusively, or even predominantly, by our physical surroundings, but by the interaction of code and data. (((5.6, because it might be snowing outside)))
3. While it is impossible to know for certain just how much of the activity going on around us on any given street is there as the explicit result of a network sounding, it is clearly both a nontrivial and a growing percentage. (((4.0 for measuring the immeasurable)))
4. Our ability to use the city around us, our flexibility in doing so, just who is able to do so, will be shaped by decisions made about the technical design of objects and their human interfaces, and the precise ways in which such objects are connected to one another and made visible to the network. (((8.5)))
5. There are many modes in which information raised to the network can re-enter the world. The most obvious is for that data to be mediated by a personal networked device, and acted upon at the level of individual choice and behavior. (((3.0 for never meeting a traffic cop)))
6. A second clear category of interest is when this data populates urban media interfaces, which is to say the wide variety of shared, situated display and interaction surfaces of all sizes which increasingly layer urban space. (((5.5 because people ignore the ads)))
7. A third order of output is when data is expressed as a dynamic alteration to the physical form or other performative qualities of buildings, circulation networks and other infrastructural systems. We find ourselves in the liminal realm of physical form as the dynamic expression of some discrete measured condition. (((6.0, but only because I’ve also read lots of Rem Koolhaas)))
8. Independent of the platform on which they’re displayed, the velocity and complexity of the data we are presented with suggests that it will increasingly be conveyed to us in the form of data visualizations that in and of themselves may be both dynamic and interactive. (((7.0 and a tough break for the street-stencil contingent)))
9. An expansive range of everyday urban tasks currently mediated by analogue (or only passively networked) means, from physical access control to the ability to participate in economic transactions, are increasingly mediated by a single converged interface object, the smartphone… (((8.5, but for how long?)))
10. …or disappearing into behavior altogether. (((9.1)))
11. Just as Bourdieu argued that we learn the social roles and performances expected of us, in part, from our engagement with material and manufactured objects, we now learn those roles from our interactions with digital interfaces. (((6.9 for needing to cite Bourdieu)))
12. Digital placemaking tools etch away at the professions of architecture and urban planning, eroding their claim to sovereignty over the authorship of plan, movement and the capacity for transaction. (((7.5, ‘whatever happens to musicians eventually happens to everybody’)))
13. We increasingly share the space and time of cities with semi-autonomous agents of a nonhuman, indeed nonbiological, nature, from drones to algorithms. (((3.9 because I strongly disagree with any New Aesthetic romanticization of nonexistent Artificially Intelligent Artsy Entities)))
14. These inevitably have their own embedded rhetorics and immanent logics. (((2.1 because they also have embedded logics and immanent rhetorics, and so what)))
15. Equally, there is a determinism implicit in the software used to design spatial relations, from 3D design packages to agent-based modeling tools. (((8.0)))
16. The grandeur in determining the conditions of urban existence increasingly resides with those who produce networked objects and services and the interfaces to them. (((6.5, because I can’t help but like this utterly off-the-wall DeGaulle Glory-of-France riffing where software dudes are somehow all about the grandeur)))
17. The technologies we are concerned with here achieve their effect not as discrete objects, but as functional ensembles. (((6.5, because it’s true, but gooey environmental holism never helps much)))
18. In many ways, the capabilities and affordances associated with any given ensemble remain distressingly hard to understand, even to people exposed to them on a daily basis. (((9.5 <— AND RISING)))
19. A strong motivator for the deployment of these technologies is the idea that they will render previously obscure, occult and opaque urban processes transparent to inquiry, and therefore actionable. (((8.5)))
20. For a variety of reasons, technologists have tended to treat the environments in which the things they design are deployed as what Deleuze called “any-space-whatever”: abstract, generic, unconditioned spaces, containing infinite potentials for connection. But as insightful observers of technology like Paul Dourish and Malcolm McCullough have pointed out, this isn’t so, and can never be: space is always some particular space, systems are always given meaning by being situated in a specific locale and human community, with all the limitations and constraints which go along with those things. (((8.1, street finds own uses for Deleuze, Dourish and McCullough)))
21. Conversely, of course, the urbanists that might have supplied technologists with vital corrective insight have tended to be correspondingly far from the cutting edge of technical development. (((4.5)))
22. These technologies are at present offered to us in two guises: the smartphone app and the smart city. Neither is satisfactory. (((7.0)))
23. The smart city, as currently proposed, exists almost solely for the benefit of managerial elites. (((7.5)))
24. The smart city is situated in “the proximate future.” (((5.0)))
25. The smart city pretends to a perfect knowledge that is nowhere achievable, even in principle. (((9.2)))
26. The smart city replicates in substance most if not all of the blunders we associate with the discredited high-modernist urban planning techniques of the twentieth century. (((6.8)))
27. The smart city and similar schemes tend to rely on a model that hardwires or literally embeds technical devices and systems too deeply in the urban fabric to accommodate the rate of change we observe in such systems. (The componentry that affords us an informatic service layer will tend to evolve far more quickly than the structural support in which it is housed. Cities ought therefore be designed to accommodate ready maintenance and the constant swapping-out of hardware.) (((8.5)))
28. The smart city is predicated on a neoliberal political economy, and in particular presents a set of potentials disturbingly consonant with the exercise of authoritarianism. (((2.6 because neoliberal political economy isn’t authoritarian)))
29. Most damningly, the smart city has little enough to do with cities. (((2.3 because this assertion defeats the bullet-points of 1-10, which are all about who cares and there is no alternative)))
30. Latent in the ideology underwriting the smart city is the notion that there is one universal and transcendently correct solution to each identified individual or collective human need, and that this solution can be arrived at algorithmically. (((7.0 because it correctly blames algorithms instead of awesome drones or autonomous software agents)))
31. We should demand to know precisely which models of everyday life, subjectivity and experience are implicit in the smart city. (((2.0 because of point 18; no use demanding what you can’t possibly receive even in principle, except for the “realistic” case of demanding the impossible Situationist-style)))
32. There is an inherent tension between technologies that achieve their beneficial effect only at network scale, and therefore benefit from or even require top-down imposition, and the imperatives and prerogatives of local autonomy. (((8.2)))
33. The same set of underlying technical potentials that results in the (rhetorical or actual) performance of the smart city can be turned to far more interesting, vital and responsive ends. These meaningful alternatives can best be realized when organized according to the “small pieces, loosely joined” logic so decisive in securing the uptake of the World Wide Web. (((5.5 because for how long?)))
34. A set of technical preconditions exists, which Anthony Townsend has identified as (free or low-cost) robust broadband connectivity; (free or low-cost) personal network-interface devices, of wide availability; fully public interfaces; a robust cloud-computing infrastructure, such that storage and information processing are pulled off of local devices; and, at the policy level, an equally robust commitment to open municipal data. (((7.5 because I’m personally prejudiced in favor of geek bread-and-circuses from the indulgent authorities)))
35. Of course, the data is never “just” the data, not at any point a neutral, objective quantity. (((8.1)))

36. Firstly, we measure what can be measured. (((9.0)))
37. As Laura Kurgan has pointed out, we measure the quantities that it is politically expedient to measure, or which signify against the metrics and success criteria that between them constitute our incentive landscape. (((6.0 because I use Tumblr and can measure the flow of LOLcats)))
38. We deploy the sensors that are cheap to deploy. (((4.0 because of the International Space Station, the National Reconnaissance Office, and the National Security Agency)))
39. Above all, we measure what we think to measure, looking for explanations in some places and not others. (((6.5)))
40. There is always contingency, always a selection process, always a choice of what to gather…and always decisions made by some historical agent about how to label, characterize and represent the information that does get collected. (((8.8 because I actually know some archivists personally)))
41. We move toward a time in which every change of state, every transaction, every mediated conversation transpiring in the cities of the developed world is, at least in principle, capable of being captured and retained by the network, assigned some meaning, and grabbed, manipulated and acted upon by some remote system. (((8.5 because it’s the very definition of ubiquitous computing)))
42. Where previously human and other processes in the urban fold were lost to insight and to history, the contemporary city’s rhythms speak themselves. (((4.0, because even the most New Aesthetic-y borough of London can’t actually “speak” and has no “itself” to speak about)))
43. Even seemingly innocuous facts or patterns of fact, when subjected to relational, inferential and predictive analytics, may be brought to bear against us in distressing and unforeseeable ways, such nonobvious linkages particularly leading to transitive closure and the revelation of identity. (((7.1 “Anything that happens to promiscuous musical celebrities will eventually happen to everybody”)))
44. These technologies redefine surveillance. It is no longer something which takes place exclusively, or even primarily, in the audio and visual registers, or, for that matter, in real time. (((6.8 because “surveillance” should have been redefined 20 years ago)))
45. We must henceforth understand surveillance as something that can be assembled retroactively, on demand and in response to an emergent perception of need. (((7.5 because every cop in the world has always understood this since cops were first deputized, probably in Sumer when they were interrogating the first prostitutes)))
46. When discussing surveillance, and the use of power/knowledge to police and constrain behavior, historically most concerns have centered on the state and its capabilities. We must now extend the ambit of our concern to include both market entities and the collectivity of our peers. (((8.1, and let’s not forget organized crime)))
47. As ever, the salient thing is not whether some technical capability exists, but whether some party believes that it does, sufficiently to act upon that belief. (((7.8 because I probably shouldn’t believe this assertion, yet I do)))
48. The discrete objects that gather information and furnish it to the network are acutely sensitive to the alteration of parameters relating either to their design or their deployment. (((3.0 because I don’t believe it means anything concrete)))
49. As Anna Minton has observed, the presence of certain kinds of surveillant artifact in the streetscape empirically diminishes personal safety, by eroding the sense of mutual responsibility that is otherwise the hallmark of an organically functioning neighborhood. (((3.0 because it’s corny to scorn spycams for not being somehow “organic,” especially when even Anna Minton probably has an iPhone built-in to her purse now)))
50. New visualization tools endow us with what amounts to an extended sensorium, but only at the risk of privileging the perspectives they encode over others which may well be more salient to the situation at hand. There is a danger that our tools will seduce us into believing we understand the flow of things better than we do, or can. (((7.5)))
51. Because predictive analytics are all too often based on straight-line extrapolations from present behavior, they can fail to account for perturbations that knock a metastable system out of its present state and into another basin of stability. (((8.2)))
52. Networked technologies erode our long-standing conceptions of public and private space. Instead of “public,” perhaps we are better off constructing these as places one can reasonably expect one’s behavior to be observed. (((7.5)))
53. Instead of “private,” by the same token, perhaps we can consider such to be places where behavior, once observed, has a very high probability of being correlated with one’s identity. (((7.6)))
54. We are now in a position to see that any meaningful distinction between such spaces is collapsing. (((8.2)))
55. The risks to individual privacy posed by the contemporary networked streetscape and the objects in it is compounded by the personal devices we carry voluntarily. (((8.3)))
56. Mediated digitally as they now are, many of the activities that constitute the public sphere have evaporated from the public realm, leaving the destiny of our public spaces uncertain. (((7.9, he’s on a roll here)))
57. Networked objects capable of collecting information from public space can usefully be placed on a spectrum of concern, evaluated by whether they do not store captured data, store it locally in a persistent manner, or upload it to the network… (((6.1 Why?)))
58. …allow analytics to be applied to collected data or not… (((5.9 who would officially care?)))
59. …what their effective range and domain of action is… (((5.7 What “range and domain bureau” overlooks this?)))
60. …whether or not meaningful provisions for consent to and opt-out of attempts at collection are present… (((5.7 it’s more like meaningful punishment for breaking the provisions)))
61. …and whether or not there is a clear and immediate public good served by the collection. (((5.5 maybe in some globalized Denmark)))
62. As presently constructed, certain such deployments represent a unidirectional and involuntary transfer of value from individuals moving through public space to private concerns unknown to them. (((8.5)))
63. Coming to terms with the fact that a very wide range of everyday objects and surfaces in our cities will have the capacities discussed here will require a new conception of them as open informational utilities: public objects. (((5.5 “Public Objects Bureau”)))
64. What is a “public object”? Any artifact located in or bounding upon public rights-of-way… (((5.3 public-domain power-grab)))
65. …Any discrete object in the common spatial domain, intended for the use and enjoyment of the general public… (((4.2 “small pieces loosely joined” don’t compose any “general public”)))
66. …Any discrete object which is de facto shared by and accessible to the public, regardless of its ownership or original intention. (((3.1)))
67. The data streams collected by such objects should, within reason, be open, free, accessible and extensible. You should certainly be able to draw data out of them, and — so long as those functions represent no public harm — to run other functions on top of them. (((3.1 who is “you”)))
68. We might more rigorously define the aim here as ensuring that the goods produced by public object data collection are nonrivalrous and nonexclusive. (((5.0)))
69. Given the rapidity with which software evolves, it may be exceedingly difficult to subject systems where power/knowledge is brought to bear by provisions resident in code (rather than in discrete hardware) to processes of democratic accountability. (((7.5)))
70. Provided with such functionality, urban space itself becomes capable of performing sorting and ordering operations, including differential exclusions with little or no effective recourse in real time. (((8.7, these are generally known as “traffic signals” nowadays)))
71. Increasingly, the systems we are exposed to treat us as temporary and contingent aggregates of “dividuals,” distinguished from one another and laminated together only in the act and moment of inquiry. In the absence of traditional markers of mutual in-group recognition and solidarity, it may be difficult for such dividuals to recognize that they do in fact constitute a class. (((2.0 You’re not a “class” if you can’t possibly know you’re in a “class”)))
72. Cities, with their density and diversity, generate two profound goods for free: enhanced information exchange and transactive capacity… (((7.0 because they’re not entirely “free”)))
73. …and the forging, through friction, dissensus and the constant exposure to difference, of a metropolitan self. (((6.0 because even some very big towns are full of hicks)))
74. The ability to trivially search the space of a city is leaching away at the constitution of a quality we have always recognized as urban savvy or savoir faire. (((5.5)))
75. The persistent retrievability of personal information is undermining the city’s capacity to act as a chrysalis for personal reinvention. (((5.3, try emigration)))
76. Technologies like high-resolution positioning and algorithmic facial recognition are destroying any promise of anonymity we thought the metropolis afforded. (((6.2)))
77. Cities depend vitally on informal, illicit, even deviant economies, which are threatened by a regime of eternal, total and trivial visibility. (((2.5, never found an honest city yet)))
78. The wish to protect, preserve or even enhance these qualities, when the technologies we now have at hand would seem to cut against them in ordinary use, furnishes us with several clear design desiderata for networked urban systems. (((7.5, clear, not necessarily good)))
79. Transfer of the tools of placemaking — particularly the ability to make and publish maps — from empowered elites to the general public represents a profound recasting of spatial knowing. The ability to be represented (or, to some degree, to resist representation) is now in popular hands. (((5.4 locativity geeks not yet “popular”)))
80. Equally, the advent of maps that tell you where you are on them represents a profound epistemic break from the entire history of cartography to date. (((6.7)))
81. Our conceptions of lived, bodily space and the simultaneity and capacity of time are almost casually transformed by our everyday use of networked artifacts. (((9.1)))
82. Many of the things our new tools tell us about the places we live will be circumstances we’re not quite ready to face up to. (((8.9)))
83. Equally, these technologies present us with the specter of new and unforeseen failure modes. Such defaults may affect us in multiple registers simultaneously. (((9.2)))
84. The ability for any person to physically travel to and occupy any public space of the city at any time of their choosing and without confronting challenge is an absolute precondition for any meaningfully articulated “right to the city.” (((2.6, plenty of cities have thrived for centuries without this condition)))
85. The present panoply of heterogeneous transportation networks we encounter in most cities cannot accommodate this requirement. They must therefore be bound together in a mesh of finely-grained and fully interoperable networked services — a transmobility field. Information is the substance of this new urban mobility. (((4.8)))
86. The ability to claim unoccupied or unutilized space, at least temporarily, by the act of creative use is vital to any meaningful contemporary conception of a “right to the city,” most especially in so-called “shrinking cities.” (((3.2 because squatting is illegal)))
87. Present land-use policies and practices cannot accommodate this requirement. Parcels available on short-term, temporary, contingent or negotiated bases ought therefore be made discoverable via a networked service, such that both market and nonmarket service models are accommodated: space as a service. (((5.6)))
88. The ability of citizens to enjoy the same real-time synoptic visibility over the unfolding processes of the city available to any manager is vital to any meaningful contemporary conception of a “right to the city.” (((3.5 this is conflating “rights” with cognitive loading and opportunity cost)))
89. Present deployments of information technology, especially as made manifest in so-called intelligent operations centers, do not accommodate this requirement. Such consolidated awareness ought therefore be made available via open, shared platforms: frameworks for citizen engagement. (((3.4 because these leftie talking-shops are incapable)))
90. The ability to deploy vetted and reliable real-time information in support of collective self-determination is vital to any meaningful contemporary conception of a “right to the city.” (((5.5 because I can scarcely imagine such a situation)))
91. Present decision-making procedures, even in places under democratic governance, cannot accommodate this requirement. We ought therefore devise and install, at the lowest reasonable level, a populist deliberative process capable of harnessing networked information, bringing it to bear on challenges before the community and focusing dissensus where it is most productive: evidence-based citizenship. (((7.0 because it would be so awesome to see that scheme successfully running even so much as a local dog pound or post office)))
92. The frictions and constraints that act to keep novel technosocial potentials from bedding in are almost never of a technical nature, but are rather institutional, regulatory and legal. (((6.9)))
93. Though some of these constraints may certainly exist for good historical reasons, there is at present an odd and potentially temporary confluence of interests between those invested in a neoliberal retreat of the state from the provision of services and those holding an affirmative vision of collective self-determination. (((3.0 because it ignores the wealthy and the fundamentalists)))
94. Given the drag generally imposed on government informatics by the unwieldy combination of lowest-bidder procurement policies, the requirement for compatibility with legacy systems and elephantine IT bureaucracies, we stand on the threshold of a world in which the ordinary citizen has recourse to data-gathering, -processing and -visualization tools at least as good as, and often considerably superior to, those which local governmental institutions can bring to bear on a problem. (((4.5 because so what if you’re smarter than the beat cop)))
95. This is especially true when citizen information-processing resources are used in the aggregate. (((4.6)))
96. As yet, the majority of urban places and things appear to the network only via passive representations. The networked city cannot come into its own until these are reconceived as a framework of active resources, each endowed with some manner of structured, machine-readable presence, and the possibilities for interaction such provisions give rise to. (((5.0 because may be too vague to be wrong)))
97. It is only by consciously and carefully transforming the urban landscape into a meshwork of open and available resources that we can find some upside in the colonization of everyday life by information technology. Such resources ought to be maintained as elements of a core common infrastructure. (((2.3 because people are rarely hard-up for some “upside” even in refugee camps)))
98. If place derives its meaning from phenomenology, capacity and history, the technologies under consideration here operate in all three registers. (((1.9 because where are the phenomenology, capacity and history apps)))
99. The city is not a finite state machine, something with limited configurations. Networked cities, therefore, must be understood as constituting a generative grammar that admits to a very large number of valid permutations. Understood correctly, any such place will be ripe with potential for interconnection, recombination and improvisatory structuration — something capable of being extended, enhanced and repurposed by its users as new potentials become available and new desires arise. (((6.2 because sounds like an artsy Processing lecture)))
100. Considerations, then, for a city and a world newly clothed in code. If we admittedly find ourselves amidst this set of circumstances without much having planned on it, how we respond — what we do now, what cities we make of the potentials before us — is still largely up to us. Now as never before, the city is here for you to use. (((6.5 because I’ve seen what happened to Venice)))

Thursday, February 7, 2013

"Everyone is out having a great time — no, not just great, an amazing time — and you’re on the couch,..."

[This is absolutely and completely the future. -egg]

"Everyone is out having a great time — no, not just great, an amazing time — and you’re on the couch,...": “
Everyone is out having a great time — no, not just great, an amazing time — and you’re on the couch, hovering on the border between pajamas and underwear. Suddenly, the quick, the beautiful and the fully dressed invade: chirps from phones and pop-ups on screens are announcing their social media check-ins, mapping out the lands of awesome times. None of those places, needless to say, are your living room. […]

Now Mr. Fountain, Mr. Isaf and two other friends have come up with an app to ease this malady. Called CouchCachet, the app finds all the coolest places in your neighborhood, then automatically uses Foursquare to check you into them — with none of the irritation of actually leaving the couch. […]

More than simply creating a geo-mirage, CouchCachet will also tweet lyrics by indie bands that people haven’t heard of. “It will wax poetic about local microbrews that you just discovered at some cool speakeasy,” said Mr. Fountain, 36, of Cobble Hill, Brooklyn. “It will also upload low-fi pictures of 20-somethings in skinny jeans to your Instagram.”

In short, he said: “It will live the lifestyle that you need to project to others. You can finally be who you want people to think you are. They don’t know you’re sitting at home, getting caught up on ‘Downton Abbey.’ ” […]

Suppose, someone asked, a friend using CouchCachet was checked into the same places that CouchCachet has also checked you into? “This is fine!” Mr. Fountain said. “This is robots talking to robots. This is the future.”

- CouchCachet App Gives New Meaning to Lying on the Couch -, submitted by Ben S.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Blooper reel from LA Noire reveals its excellent motion capture technology

[That's right, folks. We're living in a future with animated blooper reels. -egg]

Blooper reel from LA Noire reveals its excellent motion capture technology:

(Audio NSFW)

Matt Richardson says: "These are actual outtakes from the voice actors of LA Noire, rendered out.

These hilarious screw-ups were generated as a natural side effect of the MotionScan animation process used to create the game.

Unlike other motion-capture systems that use shiny, reflective dots to track key points as an actor moves, MotionScan generates 3D models, texture maps, and meshes directly from a stereo camera recording of an unadorned actor's performance. The result is an instant virtual copy of that performance that captures mis-timed laughs, a tongue sticking out, and errant sneezes, with only minimal touch-up needed from an animator.

Ars Technica: L.A. Noire blooper reel chips away at the uncanny valley (Via Boing Boing G+ Community)

The Source Family, documentary about 1970s Los Angeles freak cult/commune

The Source Family, documentary about 1970s Los Angeles freak cult/commune:

The Source Family, a magnificent documentary by my friend Jodi Wille and Maria Demopoulos, will see nationwide distribution this spring, starting with a May 1 premier at the IFC Center in New York City. The film tells the story of Father Yod and his Source Family, a radical, utopian social experiment that emerged from the Los Angeles freak scene in the 1970s. Boing Boing is delighted to premier the trailer above. Far fucking out.

YoddddThe Source Family’s outlandish lifestyle, popular celebrity hangout restaurant, rock band, and beautiful women made them the darlings of Hollywood’s Sunset Strip; but their outsider ideals, controversial spiritual leader Father Yod, along with his 13 wives, instigated local authorities. They fled to Hawaii, leading to their dramatic demise. Years later, family members surface and the rock band reforms, revealing how their time with Father Yod shaped their lives in the most unexpected ways. These personal accounts, along with interviews with outsiders, make up the interviews in the film. However, the story is largely cinematic, expressed through the use of the group’s extensive film and audio archive maintained by Isis Aquarian, one of Father's wives, Family documentarian, and a central character in the documentary (as well as being associate producer). The film’s soundtrack is composed entirely of original Source Family music produced from 1971-1975.
The film was inspired by The Source: The Story of Father Yod, Ya Ho Wa 13 and the Source Family, a fantastic 2007 book written by family members Isis Aquarian and Electricity Aquarian, edited by Jodi Wille, and published by our pals Process Media.

The Source Family: A Documentary

Some interesting small weight-loss hacks

These 2 simple changes helped hundreds of people lose weight:
Putting down your utensils between bites and allowing yourself an afternoon snack only if you’ve first eaten a piece of fruit are two small but significant changes that helped hundreds of people lose weight. That’s what a new report has to say about the National Mindless Eating Challenge, a Web-based healthy eating and weight loss program that was made available to the public from 2006-2009.
The program was set up to see if “small behavioral and environmental changes based on simple heuristics may have the best chance to lead to sustainable habit changes over time.” The people who reported adhering to the program at least 25 days a month lost an average of 2lbs a month. Although that might not seem like, much, over the course of the year that would add up to 24lbs without much effort.
Another suggestion that helped people lose weight was “Any time you think you might eat when you’re not hungry, go ahead and do so, but only if you first say (out loud): “I’m not hungry, but I’m going to eat this anyway”.” I imagine most people didn’t do that one in public restaurants though.
Check out the link above to the full report for more tips.
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Disabled goldfish swims around in cute goldfish sling

Disabled goldfish swims around in cute goldfish sling:

The goldfish owner who uploaded this video in 2010 says, "My disabled goldfish scooting around in her newly redesigned sling. She has trouble maintaining buoyancy on her own. She looks a little silly, but it is better than lying at the bottom of the tank all day!" (via Boing Boing Google+ community)


Bridge: And it says a lot about you that when your friends jump off a bridge en masse, your first thought is apparently 'my friends are all foolish and I won't be like them' and not 'are my friends ok?'.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Study: Light activity throughout the day provides same benefits as gym

Study: Light activity throughout the day provides same benefits as gym:
Good news Weighthackers! You already know that fidgeting more can help you lose weight, but now new research out of Oregon State University says that simple things like doing chores and taking the stairs instead of the escalator can be just as beneficial to you as going to the gym. The study looked at 6,000 people nationwide and found that even activities that take only a minute or two count toward your health as long as you end up being active for at least 30 minutes in total by the end of the day.
“Our results suggest that engaging in an active lifestyle approach, compared to a structured exercise approach, may be just as beneficial in improving various health outcomes,” said Paul Loprinzi, lead author of the study. “We encourage people to seek out opportunities to be active when the choice is available. For example, rather than sitting while talking on the phone, use this opportunity to get in some activity by pacing around while talking.”
People who did so-called “short bout” movements improved their blood pressure, cholesterol and waist circumference, and were less at risk for developing metabolic syndrome (which is basically a slew of health-related problems that overweight people experience). The study also suggests that incorporating short bout movement might be more beneficial than going to the gym in the long run since it’s easier to fit into your existing lifestyle and doesn’t cost anything, so you’re more likely to keep at it.
If this sounds like something you want to do, I suggest getting a movement tracker like one of the ones in this list to help you out. Knowing how much you move each day can help you see if you need to add something new to your routine (like parking further away from the entrance to your job so you walk more) to get more activity in, and it can also inspire you to reach specific goals. For instance, thanks to my Fitbit I know today is my 151st day in a row of walking 10,000 steps or more, which makes me more likely to take 10,000 steps again tomorrow.
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Zambia's fictional 1960s space programme

Zambia's fictional 1960s space programme:

Rick sez, "Spanish photographer Cristina De Middel's fictional documentation of a failed 1960s space programme in Zambia - The Afronauts - has just been nominated for the 2013 Deutsche Borse photography prize."

Zambia's first (unofficial) space programme