Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

Recently in the Art Category

Designing our Complex Future with Machines

While I had long been planning to write a manifesto against the technological singularity and launch it into the conversational sphere for public reaction and comment, an invitation earlier this year from John Brockman to read and discuss The Human Use of Human Beings by Norbert Wiener with him and his illustrious group of thinkers as part of an ongoing collaborative book project contributed to the thoughts contained herein.

The essay below is now phase 1 of an experimental, open publishing project in partnership with the MIT Press. In phase 2, a new version of the essay enriched and informed by input from open commentary will be published online, along with essay length contributions by others inspired by the seed essay, as a new issue of the Journal of Design and Science. In phase 3, a revised and edited selection of these contributions will be published as a print book by the MIT Press.

Version 1.0

Cross-posted from the Journal of Design and Science where a number of essays have been written in response and where competition winning peer-reviewed essays will be compiled into a book to be published by MIT Press.


Nature's ecosystem provides us with an elegant example of a complex adaptive system where myriad "currencies" interact and respond to feedback systems that enable both flourishing and regulation. This collaborative model-rather than a model of exponential financial growth or the Singularity, which promises the transcendence of our current human condition through advances in technology--should provide the paradigm for our approach to artificial intelligence. More than 60 years ago, MIT mathematician and philosopher Norbert Wiener warned us that "when human atoms are knit into an organization in which they are used, not in their full right as responsible human beings, but as cogs and levers and rods, it matters little that their raw material is flesh and blood." We should heed Wiener's warning.

INTRODUCTION: THE CANCER OF CURRENCY

As the sun beats down on Earth, photosynthesis converts water, carbon dioxide and the sun's energy into oxygen and glucose. Photosynthesis is one of the many chemical and biological processes that transforms one form of matter and energy into another. These molecules then get metabolized by other biological and chemical processes into yet other molecules. Scientists often call these molecules "currencies" because they represent a form of power that is transferred between cells or processes to mutual benefit--"traded," in effect. The biggest difference between these and financial currencies is that there is no "master currency" or "currency exchange." Rather, each currency can only be used by certain processes, and the "market" of these currencies drives the dynamics that are "life."

As certain currencies became abundant as an output of a successful process or organism, other organisms evolved to take that output and convert it into something else. Over billions of years, this is how the Earth's ecosystem has evolved, creating vast systems of metabolic pathways and forming highly complex self-regulating systems that, for example, stabilize our body temperatures or the temperature of the Earth, despite continuous fluctuations and changes among the individual elements at every scale--from micro to macro. The output of one process becomes the input of another. Ultimately, everything interconnects.

We live in a civilization in which the primary currencies are money and power--where more often than not, the goal is to accumulate both at the expense of society at large. This is a very simple and fragile system compared to the Earth's ecosystems, where myriads of "currencies" are exchanged among processes to create hugely complex systems of inputs and outputs with feedback systems that adapt and regulate stocks, flows, and connections.

Unfortunately, our current human civilization does not have the built-in resilience of our environment, and the paradigms that set our goals and drive the evolution of society today have set us on a dangerous course which the mathematician Norbert Wiener warned us about decades ago. The paradigm of a single master currency has driven many corporations and institutions to lose sight of their original missions. Values and complexity are focused more and more on prioritizing exponential financial growth, led by for-profit corporate entities that have gained autonomy, rights, power, and nearly unregulated societal influence. The behavior of these entities are akin to cancers. Healthy cells regulate their growth and respond to their surroundings, even eliminating themselves if they wander into an organ where they don't belong. Cancerous cells, on the other hand, optimize for unconstrained growth and spread with disregard to their function or context.

THE WHIP THAT LASHES US

The idea that we exist for the sake of progress, and that progress requires unconstrained and exponential growth, is the whip that lashes us. Modern companies are the natural product of this paradigm in a free-market capitalist system. Norbert Wiener called corporations "machines of flesh and blood" and automation "machines of metal." The new species of Silicon Valley mega companies--the machines of bits--are developed and run in great part by people who believe in a new religion, Singularity. This new religion is not a fundamental change in the paradigm, but rather the natural evolution of the worship of exponential growth applied to modern computation and science. The asymptote of the exponential growth of computational power is artificial intelligence.

The notion of Singularity--that AI will supercede humans with its exponential growth, and that everything we have done until now and are currently doing is insignificant--is a religion created by people who have the experience of using computation to solve problems heretofore considered impossibly complex for machines. They have found a perfect partner in digital computation--a knowable, controllable, system of thinking and creating that is rapidly increasing in its ability to harness and process complexity, bestowing wealth and power on those who have mastered it. In Silicon Valley, the combination of groupthink and the financial success of this cult of technology has created a positive feedback system that has very little capacity for regulating through negative feedback. While they would resist having their beliefs compared to a religion and would argue that their ideas are science- and evidence-based, those who embrace Singularity engage in quite a bit of arm waving and make leaps of faith based more on trajectories than ground-truths to achieve their ultimate vision.

Singularitarians believe that the world is "knowable" and computationally simulatable, and that computers will be able to process the messiness of the real world just like they have every other problem that everyone said couldn't be solved by computers. To them, this wonderful tool, the computer, has worked so well for everything so far that it must continue to work for every challenge we throw at it, until we have transcended known limitations and ultimately achieve some sort of reality escape velocity. Artificial intelligence is already displacing humans in driving cars, diagnosing cancers, and researching court documents. The idea is that AI will continue this progress and eventually merge with human brains and become an all-seeing, all-powerful, super-intelligence. For true believers, computers will augment and extend our thoughts into a kind of "amortality." (Part of Singularity is a fight for "amortality," the idea that while one may still die and not be immortal, the death is not the result of the grim reaper of aging.)

But if corporations are a precursor to our transcendance, the Singularitarian view that with more computing and bio-hacking we will somehow solve all of the world's problems or that the Singularity will solve us seems hopelessly naive. As we dream of the day when we have enhanced brains and amortality and can think big, long thoughts, corporations already have a kind of "amortality." They persist as long as they are solvent and they are more than a sum of their parts--arguably an amortal super-intelligence.

More computation does not makes us more "intelligent," only more computationally powerful.

For Singularity to have a positive outcome requires a belief that, given enough power, the system will somehow figure out how to regulate itself. The final outcome would be so complex that while we humans couldn't understand it now, "it" would understand and "solve" itself. Some believe in something that looks a bit like the former Soviet Union's master planning but with full information and unlimited power. Others have a more sophisticated view of a distributed system, but at some level, all Singularitarians believe that with enough power and control, the world is "tamable." Not all who believe in Singularity worship it as a positive transcendence bringing immortality and abundance, but they do believe that a judgment day is coming when all curves go vertical.

Whether you are on an S-curve or a bell curve, the beginning of the slope looks a lot like an exponential curve. An exponential curve to systems dynamics people shows self-reinforcement, i.e., a positive feedback curve without limits. Maybe this is what excites Singularitarians and scares systems people. Most people outside the singularity bubble believe in S-curves, namely that nature adapts and self-regulates and that even pandemics will run their course. Pandemics may cause an extinction event, but growth will slow and things will adapt. They may not be in the same state, and a phase change could occur, but the notion of Singularity--especially as some sort of savior or judgment day that will allow us to transcend the messy, mortal suffering of our human existence--is fundamentally a flawed one.

This sort of reductionist thinking isn't new. When BF Skinner discovered the principle of reinforcement and was able to describe it, we designed education around his theories. Learning scientists know now that behaviorist approaches only work for a narrow range of learning, but many schools continue to rely on drill and practice. Take, as another example, the eugenics movement, which greatly and incorrectly over-simplified the role of genetics in society. This movement helped fuel the Nazi genocide by providing a reductionist scientific view that we could "fix humanity" by manually pushing natural selection. The echoes of the horrors of eugenics exist today, making almost any research trying to link genetics with things like intelligence taboo.

We should learn from our history of applying over-reductionist science to society and try to, as Wiener says, "cease to kiss the whip that lashes us." While it is one of the key drivers of science--to elegantly explain the complex and reduce confusion to understanding--we must also remember what Albert Einstein said, "Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler."1 We need to embrace the unknowability--the irreducibility--of the real world that artists, biologists and those who work in the messy world of liberal arts and humanities are familiar with.

WE ARE ALL PARTICIPANTS

The Cold War era, when Wiener was writing The Human Use of Human Beings, was a time defined by the rapid expansion of capitalism and consumerism, the beginning of the space race, and the coming of age of computation. It was a time when it was easier to believe that systems could be controlled from the outside, and that many of the world's problems would be solved through science and engineering.

The cybernetics that Wiener primarily described during that period were concerned with feedback systems that can be controlled or regulated from an objective perspective. This so-called first-order cybernetics assumed that the scientist as the observer can understand what is going on, therefore enabling the engineer to design systems based on observation or insight from the scientist.

Today, it is much more obvious that most of our problems--climate change, poverty, obesity and chronic disease, or modern terrorism--cannot be solved simply with more resources and greater control. That is because they are the result of complex adaptive systems that are often the result of the tools used to solve problems in the past, such as endlessly increasing productivity and attempts to control things. This is where second-order cybernetics comes into play--the cybernetics of self-adaptive complex systems, where the observer is also part of the system itself. As Kevin Slavin says in Design as Participation, "You're Not Stuck In Traffic--You Are Traffic."3

In order to effectively respond to the significant scientific challenges of our times, I believe we must view the world as many interconnected, complex, self-adaptive systems across scales and dimensions that are unknowable and largely inseparable from the observer and the designer. In other words, we are participants in multiple evolutionary systems with different fitness landscapes4 at different scales, from our microbes to our individual identities to society and our species. Individuals themselves are systems composed of systems of systems, such as the cells in our bodies that behave more like system-level designers than we do.

While Wiener does discuss biological evolution and the evolution of language, he doesn't explore the idea of harnessing evolutionary dynamics for science. Biological evolution of individual species (genetic evolution) has been driven by reproduction and survival, instilling in us goals and yearnings to procreate and grow. That system continually evolves to regulate growth, increase diversity and complexity, and enhance its own resilience, adaptability, and sustainability.5 As designers with growing awareness of these broader systems, we have goals and methodologies defined by the evolutionary and environmental inputs from our biological and societal contexts. But machines with emergent intelligence have discernibly different goals and methodologies. As we introduce machines into the system, they will not only augment individual humans, but they will also--and more importantly--augment complex systems as a whole.

Here is where the problematic formulation of "artificial intelligence" becomes evident, as it suggests forms, goals and methods that stand outside of interaction with other complex adaptive systems. Instead of thinking about machine intelligence in terms of humans vs. machines, we should consider the system that integrates humans and machines--not artificial intelligence, but extended intelligence. Instead of trying to control or design or even understand systems, it is more important to design systems that participate as responsible, aware and robust elements of even more complex systems. And we must question and adapt our own purpose and sensibilities as designers and components of the system for a much more humble approach: Humility over Control.

We could call it "participant design"--design of systems as and by participants--that is more akin to the increase of a flourishing function, where flourishing is a measure of vigor and health rather than scale or power. We can measure the ability for systems to adapt creatively, as well as their resilience and their ability to use resources in an interesting way.

Better interventions are less about solving or optimizing and more about developing a sensibility appropriate to the environment and the time. In this way they are more like music than an algorithm. Music is about a sensibility or "taste" with many elements coming together into a kind of emergent order. Instrumentation can nudge or cause the system to adapt or move in an unpredictable and unprogrammed manner, while still making sense and holding together. Using music itself as an intervention is not a new idea; in 1707, Andrew Fletcher, a Scottish writer and politician, said, "Let me make the songs of a nation, I care not who makes its laws."

If writing songs instead of laws feels frivolous, remember that songs typically last longer than laws, have played key roles in various hard and soft revolutions and end up being transmitted person-to-person along with the values they carry. It's not about music or code. It's about trying to affect change by operating at the level songs do. This is articulated by Donella Meadows, among others, in her book Thinking in Systems.

41508102609275.png
Meadows, in her essay Leverage Points: Places to Intervene in a System, describes how we can intervene in a complex, self-adaptive system. For her, interventions that involve changing parameters or even changing the rules are not nearly as powerful or as fundamental as changes in a system's goals and paradigms.

When Wiener discussed our worship of progress, he said:

Those who uphold the idea of progress as an ethical principle regard this unlimited and quasi-spontaneous process of change as a Good Thing, and as the basis on which they guarantee to future generations a Heaven on Earth. It is possible to believe in progress as a fact without believing in progress as an ethical principle; but in the catechism of many Americans, the one goes with the other.6

Instead of discussing "sustainability" as something to be "solved" in the context of a world where bigger is still better and more than enough is NOT too much, perhaps we should examine the values and the currencies of the fitness functions7 and consider whether they are suitable and appropriate for the systems in which we participate.

CONCLUSION: A CULTURE OF FLOURISHING

Developing a sensibility and a culture of flourishing, and embracing a diverse array of measures of "success" depend less on the accumulation of power and resources and more on diversity and the richness of experience. This is the paradigm shift that we need. This will provide us with a wealth of technological and cultural patterns to draw from to create a highly adaptable society. This diversity also allows the elements of the system to feed each other without the exploitation and extraction ethos created by a monoculture with a single currency. It is likely that this new culture will spread as music, fashion, spirituality or other forms of art.

As a native Japanese, I am heartened by a group of junior high school students I spoke to there recently who, when I challenged them about what they thought we should do about the environment, asked questions about the meaning of happiness and the role of humans in nature. I am likewise heartened to see many of my students at the MIT Media Lab and in the Principles of Awareness class that I co-teach with the Venerable Tenzin Priyadarshi using a variety of metrics (currencies) to measure their success and meaning and grappling directly with the complexity of finding one's place in our complex world.

This is brilliant, sophisticated, timely. Question, what do you want to do with this manifesto? Socio-economic political cultural movement? To begin with, who do you want to read this? In what spaces?I know people who are working on this on the political side. I am interested in the arts and sciences ie buildable memory cultural side.

Don't know if people would agree with my conclusions here, but I've been working on developing my music in relation to housing issues around the Bay Area recently.I believe that it's important for us to develop a sensibility for diversity not just as an abstract exercise, but in ways that reflect our day to day lives. We're in need of new visions of how we plan to co-exist with one another, and I do think that artists have the ability to pave the way here in very real ways.

I'm also heartened by organizations such as the IEEE, which is initiating design guidelines for the development of artificial intelligence around human wellbeing instead of around economic impact. The work by Peter Seligman, Christopher Filardi, and Margarita Mora from Conservation International is creative and exciting because it approaches conservation by supporting the flourishing of indigenous people--not undermining it. Another heartening example is that of the Shinto priests at Ise Shrine, who have been planting and rebuilding the shrine every twenty years for the last 1300 years in celebration of the renewal and the cyclical quality of nature.

In the 1960s and 70s, the hippie movement tried to pull together a "whole earth" movement, but then the world swung back toward the consumer and consumption culture of today. I hope and believe that a new awakening will happen and that a new sensibility will cause a nonlinear change in our behavior through a cultural transformation. While we can and should continue to work at every layer of the system to create a more resilient world, I believe the cultural layer is the layer with the most potential for a fundamental correction away from the self-destructive path that we are currently on. I think that it will yet again be about the music and the arts of the young people reflecting and amplifying a new sensibility: a turn away from greed to a world where "more than enough is too much," and we can flourish in harmony with Nature rather than through the control of it.



1. An asymptote is a line that continually approaches a given curve but does not meet it at any finite distance. In singularity, this is the vertical line that occurs when the exponential growth curve a vertical line. There are more arguments about where this asymptote is among believers than about whether it is actually coming.

2. This is a common paraphrase. What Einstein actually said was, "It can scarcely be denied that the supreme goal of all theory is to make the irreducible basic elements as simple and as few as possible without having to surrender the adequate representation of a single datum of experience."

3. Western philosophy and science is "dualistic" as opposed to the more "Eastern" non-dualistic approach. A whole essay could be written about this but the idea of a subject/object or a designer/designee is partially linked to the notion of self in Western philosophy and religion.

4. Fitness landscapes arise when you assign a fitness value for every genotype. The genotypes are arranged in a high dimensional sequence space. The fitness landscape is a function on that sequence space. In evolutionary dynamics, a biological population moves over a fitness landscape driven by mutation, selection and random drift. (Nowak, M. A. Evolutionary Dynamics: Exploring the Equations of Life. Harvard University Press, 2006.)

5. Nowak, M. A. Evolutionary Dynamics: Exploring the Equations of Life. Harvard University Press, 2006.

6. Norbert Wiener, The Human Use of Human Beings (1954 edition), p.42.

7. A fitness function is a function that is used to summarize, as a measure of merit, how close a solution is to a particular aim. It is used to describe and design evolutionary systems.

Credits

Review, research and editing team: Catherine Ahearn, Chia Evers, Natalie Saltiel, Andre Uhl

I first met Karole Armitage at a dinner Tod Machover's home. (Tod is a faculty member at the Media Lab.) Karole was a perfect candidate for the Director's Fellows program and she agreed to join us.

Karole describes herself as a former "punk ballerina" and through dance and movement is able to connect so many interesting ideas and worlds. She's already started to actively collaborate with a number of people at the Lab. In this conversation we discuss some of those collaborations as well as some new ideas.

Audio is available on SoundCloud and iTunes.

Virginia-Heffernan-Joi-Ito-3.png

I first met Virginia in 2015 when she and I were on a panel with Fareed Zarkaria at the Connecticut Forum. Late last year, she and Panio from Heleo reached out to see if I'd join Virginia in a conversation over Skype. Heleo "curates compelling, candid conversations between writers and thinkers about their work, research, and interests." You can see their great summary of the conversation on their website.

After the conversation, I asked if I could repackage the audio as a Podcast which you can find on iTunes and SoundCloud.

Virginia and I had recently gotten each other's books and a wide ranging but super-fun conversation ensued. It definitely left me excited to talk to Virginia again and expanded the perspective - thinking about the Internet in the context of art and design - that she covers in her book. We talk about the media, the Internet (yes, I still capitalize "Internet"), design, art, culture and many other things.

Also, as I explore various modes of publishing conversations online, I find it fascinating running into others exploring this space too.

If you've finished reading Whiplash, definitely pick up MAGIC AND LOSS: The Internet as Art if you haven't already. It's great.

For the 22nd time, Prix Ars Electronica, the foremost international prize for computer-based art, calls for entries in the categories Computer Animation / Film / VFX, Interactive Art, Hybrid Art, Digital Communities, Digital Musics, the Media.Art.Research Award and u19 – freestyle computing, Austrian’s largest youth computer competition.

More than 3,300 submissions in 2007 have further enhanced the Prix Ars Electronica’s reputation as an internationally representative competition honoring outstanding works in the cyberarts. This year, six Golden Nicas, twelve Awards of Distinction and approximately 70 Honorary Mentions as well as the Media.Art.Research Award are presented to participants. The 2008 winners will receive a total of 115,000 euros in prize money.

We would like to ask you to help us "spread the word" in your community by circulating the information as widely as possible. We also would be very glad if you could help us identify some projects, which in your opinion should participate in the competition.

For a detailed description of the competition, please consult our website http://prixars.aec.at

The deadline for submissions is March 7, 2008.

If you need any further information or support, please do not hesitate to come back to me.

With best regards,
Bianca Petscher
Organisation Prix Ars Electronica

My favorite computer-based art competition and festival. I'll be there again this year.

Gerfried Stocker
Gerfried Stocker

Other than being 7 degrees celcius and raining most of the time, Ars Electronica this year was a lot of fun. It was packed full of work for me this week with five talks and ten media interviews, but with Sandra, Elizabeth and Fumi's help, everything went smoothly and I survived. Unfortunately, I didn't have time to see all of the installations or talk to as many artists as I would have liked, but I had more than enough interesting conversations to make it great.

I went to Ars Electronica this year together with the MOGA unit which is a collaboration between Professor Inakage's lab, Joi's lab (mostly Fumi) and Hiroyuki Nakano's Peacedelic team. MOGA set up the "Jump" installation in Linz. Yuichiro Katsumoto, also from Professor Inakage's lab presented Amagatana. It was fun seeing the students I had been working with in the Ars Electronica context.

I think that most of the talks will end up online somewhere, but I'm not sure where. ;-) I did see one video interview on Artivi.com.

The theme of this year's Ars Electronica was privacy.

The first session I participated in was with the Austrian Association and Judges and members from the Ars Electronica community. I talked broadly about the generation gap and the how the behavior and use of the technology was very different among the new users of the Internet and how difficult it was, yet how important it was, for the older generation to try to understand the way the new generation used the new medium. I was really impressed in the conversations with some of the judges and how forward looking they were. I also talked about the importance of Global Voices in the future of global democracy. I suppose that federal judges can think more long term about democracy and things like the cost of privacy than their politician brothers. Having smart judges is a great thing as the recent ruling by the 10th Circuit Court in the US shows.

Summer Watson
Summer Watson

The second session I participated in was a discussion about future trends with some of corporate executives. It was a good group with a number of interesting presentation. The presentation that was the most interesting to me was Summer Watson, a British soprano opera singer, who announced that she is going to ski the last degree (from 89 to 90) of the North Pole and sing an Aria at the North pole as a call to action on environmental issues.

I had coffee with her afterwards and we talked a lot about Creative Commons and online identities and was inspired to start the Summer Watson Wikipedia article.

I also did a session about WoW which I think you can imagine without me going into too much detail.

Volker Grassmuck
Volker Grassmuck

I did a session with Leonard Dobusch to talk about importance of Free Networks and Free Knowledge. Again, I'm sure readers of this blog can imagine what my position was. Leonard, who is also the son of the Mayor of Linz, had some interesting perspectives on the role of municipal governments in supporting public access. He had co-edited a book recently where they discussed many of these issues. He cited an article by Volker Grassmuck where Volker argued that having a public space for hosting content on the web was important.

Finally, I was on a panel as part of a awards ceremony and a kick-off meeting for Fair Music. The idea behind Fair Music was sort of a music parallel for the Fair Trade mark. Whereas the Fair Trade mark tries to identify products where the production meets basic Fair Trade parameters and requirements, Fair Music marks were awarded to companies and projects where the artists and consumers were treated fairly. Fair in this context means a number of things including the artist receiving a fair share of the remuneration or the project promoting diversity against the bias of "Northern" dominance in the music business.

I mostly talked about the need for new business models and the role of Creative Commons in this context.

I uploaded my photos a Flickr set.

Cool things going on on our Sim in Second Life.

blueair.tv
BRIAN ENO’S 77 MILLION PAINTINGS TO PREMIERE IN MULTIPLE LOCATIONS ACROSS SECOND LIFE THIS FRIDAY, 8PM PDT, 6/29/07

pdf is here

Click this picture to attend the opening:

Screensnapzln

We are pleased to announce that this Friday the 29th, at 8 PM PDT (Second Life Time), The Long Now Foundation will begin the Second Life premiere of Brian Eno’s 77 Million Paintings. This will occur alongside its North American premiere in San Francisco, in partnership with blueair.tv. Each installation of 77 Million Paintings will be unique to its location.

The event will open at 8 PM in Second Life on Kula 1 Sim at The Commons amphitheater (intersecting Kula 1 through Kula 4 and by Joi Ito). The opening will include an interview of Second Life artist Angrybeth Shortbread (Annabeth Robinson, creative partner of blueair.tv). Angrybeth developed the 77 Million Paintings remix in Second Life through blueair.tv.

Drawing on the Artist Within
When I was in the Bay Area last week, I visited Howard Rheingold and went for walk with him and Pearl. (More photos: 1 | 2)

We were talking about meditation and other related activities. Howard recommended drawing as another relaxing and mind expanding activity. I told Howard that I had no talent and that drawing was one thing I would never be good at. Howard smirked and explained that there really wasn't much talent necessary for basic drawing and that he thought I would enjoy it.

I was skeptical but Howard gave me his copy of Drawing on the Artist Within by Betty Edwards from his library and I lugged the huge hardcover book onto the plane and read it. I was prepared to be surprised, but I was more surprised than I imagined I could be.

Betty Edwards starts out explaining that drawing is like reading and writing for the right hemisphere of the brain. The right brain deals with spacial and relationship oriented things and is good at dealing with chaos and complexity. She explains that people who are "not good at drawing" typically have strong left brain tendencies which often prevents the right brain from taking charge of drawing.

The right brain likes order and abstraction and parses everything you see into symbols. For instance, instead of seeing small person, medium sized person, large person, if the people are framed correctly, you will see person (far away), person (medium distance), person (close) and parse the different sizes as distances rather than three separate sized people. This is useful when you are trying to assess a visual image in a left brain sort of way. However, when you are trying to draw an image or notice differences or details, your left brain can get in the way.

When you are trying to draw a human figure, for instance, you will often draw a round head, eyes, hands, feet, etc. Each component will look like some abstraction of that part of the body. In fact, depending on the direction from which you are viewing that part of the body or person, the shape of each of those elements are infinitely different. When your left brain is in charge you label each element, for instance, "that's an eye" and draw what your left brain thinks of as an eye element instead of what you actually see. That's how people like me end up with child-like drawings.

She gives an example of an American flag hanging on the wall. The first week, her students draw things that looks like parallelograms with straight bars. The next week she tells them to notice that the bars cross each other in real life at angles. The students then draw a slightly more realistic flag with folds/waves. The next week she tells them to notice that the bars are different widths and the stars are each a different shape. This is paradoxical to the left brain since it is imagining the symbolic view of each element. In fact, when you look at a flag hanging on the wall and the image is flattened onto a 2D view like a drawing, all of the elements turn into different shapes.

She gives the reader a number of techniques to "trick" the left brain into letting go - drawing very fast, drawing very slow or drawing an image that is upside down. She presents exercises that show how easy it is to dramatically improve your drawing by just getting your left brain to let go so that your right brain can see things as they are and not abstracted.

The right brain is a very important partner in problem solving and thinking and your left brain and right brain already have a lot of back and forth. Your right brain deals with most of the complexity of driving while your left brain thinks of something else or remembers directions. Your left brain collects information and your right brain then "incubates" the idea tossing it back sometime in the future to your left brain as an "aha!"

Edwards hypothesizes convincingly that drawing is a great way to talk to your right brain and more directly bring your right brain into a "conversation" of conscious problem solving. I thought about drawing in the context of meditation which is also a lot about getting the left brain to "go away" or "shut up". Since reading the book on the plane, I have been scribbling sketches in my notebook. I continue to be surprised at this newly discovered ability that has been hidden for 40 years. Who said you can't teach an old dog new tricks?

I'm not sure yet whether I'm going to share any of my "artwork" with the public, but I am surely going to begin drawing as a way of thinking about things and spending time. I have a feeling that it will also help me communicate graphically and may even improve my sense of direction. ;-)

I'm REALLY excited about discovering a key to a door I shut way back in elementary school and I think this new hobby will work well in my "new lifestyle". If you've every thought, "I'm not good at drawing," I highly recommend and urge you read this book and reconsider. Also, if you recommend any other books or resources along these lines, I'd appreciate any pointers.

Tesla Coil Music at Dorkbot
Leica M8 1/30 ISO640 - Elmarit 135mm

Just saw the Tesla coil music demo at Dorkbot at SXSW. It was amazing. I'm not sure exactly how the technology works, but hey use a computer to control the frequency of a tesla coil so it "plays" music. This image was taken while the coils were playing the theme from Ghost Busters.

When I was kid, I lived with my family in Birmingham, Michigan. During this time, a young artist named Masayuki Oda came to stay with us. Yuki studied art at the Cranbrook Academy of Art. Yuki stayed in the basement of our house which quickly became my hangout. He was stuck baby-sitting my sister and me. We made him play dungeons and dragons, build our dog house, drive us to the mall and teach us things our parents weren't allowed to teach us yet. We had heard that he was an "artist" but never realized that he would become the star that he became after leaving our home and "going pro". In 1990 he won the Grand Prix at the International Environment Art Exhibition in Osaka.

Yuki makes very large out-door, cool/modern/fun installations that win awards and stuff, but he also makes very cool objects that work inside the house or in the yard. Our homes have always been decorated with Yuki's art until we moved into the rather difficult to decorate Japanese home that I live in now.

Anyway, Yuki is coming to Japan and will be showing his work at Art Planet gallery in Shinkoiwa. (03-5672-0372.) If you're interested in his stuff, please check out his web page and visit the gallery. If you see him, tell him Joi sent you.

Mozilla Japan will be one of the sponsors of a symposium/salon about open source art on September 24 in Tokyo. Sounds interesting. There is a post on TAB about it, but the basic details are...

Event:
DIVVY/dual Project #1 "Is Open Source Art Possible?" Open Salon

Date:
2006-09-24 from 14:00 to 17:00

Artists:
Noboru Tsubaki, Kiyoshi Kusumi, Dominick Chen, Takumi Endo, Hiroo Yamagata

Fee:
FREE

Address
NTT ICC, Tokyo Opera City Tower 4F, 3-20-2 Nishishinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 163-1404 Japan
Phone: 0120-144199


There is a related exhibition from 9/18-23: DIVVY/dual Project #1 "Type-Trace"

Papermac
My friend Kenji Eno was reminiscing about how cool the old 128K Mac was. He Googled around looking for pictures and had a hard time finding one. He was going to sketch an illustration of one, but ended up making a cut-out paper craft version of it that you can download as a PDF. Today, one of his clients called and said they saw this blog post and asked him how their project was going... I'm going to send him a World of Warcraft CD tomorrow...

(He made a paper video iPod too...)

Posted by Thomas Crampton

Been immersed in the world of fashionistas lately:

1- Writing about fashion: Hermès, belle of the ball, denies liaison

2- Attending a fashion party in Paris.

Well, attempting to attend a fashion party would be more accurate. I went with a friend who works for fashion magazine W to the launch of Lanvin's Arpege for men cologne. I am not much of a cologne type myself, but thought it would be fun to go along.

The event took place at the Ledoyen Pavillion on the Champs Elysees. Built in 1842 with a client list running from Emile Zola to Hillary Clinton it is one of the top restaurants in France, according to some.

When we arrived at the party, however, the Paris fashionista scene looked like a crowd of refugees fighting for the last piece of bread. About 150 or so people were pushing to get in the front door with one of the company's top executives standing on a chair or something to shout at people to back off and calm down. Insane.

We checked out the scene for a little while from a distance and finally determined that it was not worth our while to push in with the crowd to go to a party promoting a product.

The aggressive bouncers reminded me of when I was covering the Cannes Film Festival where film directors would be refused entry to the parties celebrating the launch of their own films.

Do humans need to feel rejection in order to think something is worthwhile?

Technorati Tags:

I'm an advisor to Eyebeam R&D and they have recently posted a Call for Fellows.

Eyebeam
Call For Fellows

Eyebeam R&D seeks inaugural fellows to work on creative technology projects in the Eyebeam Open Lab. The fellowship is a unique opportunity to participate in a new kind of research environment and contribute to the public domain.

The Open Lab is dedicated to public domain R&D. We are seeking artists, hackers, designers and engineers to come to Eyebeam for a year to develop pioneering work. The ideal fellow has experience creating innovative creative technology projects, a love of collaborative development, and a desire to distribute his or her work as widely as possible.

Participation in the R&D Fellows program includes:

* One year fellowship
* 4 days/week commitment
* $30,000 annual stipend + health benefits

Public Domain

Work created within the Open Lab will be widely distributed and freely available under open licenses. All code will be released under GPL, media will be released under Creative Commons, and hardware projects will be released with Do-It-Yourself instruction kits...

There's more on their site. Take a look if you're interested. I have a lot of respect for what the Eyebeam team have done and look forward to seeing some cool stuff from this program.

The other day, I met with the guys doing Tokyo Art Beat. Tokyo Art Beat is probably the most comprehensive art event site for Tokyo in both English and Japanese. Interestingly, even though they are both French, the site is not yet available in French. Anyway, I know at least a dozen people who have pinged me that they are going to be in Tokyo over the next few weeks so I would recommend this site to find cool things to do when you are in town.

The winners of the Prix Ars Electronica 2005 awards have just been announced. I was on the Digital Communities jury this year. We gave the highest prize, the Golden Nica to Akshaya, an Indian ICT development project.

The two awards of distinction went to the alternative media movements NewGlobalVision/Telestreet in Italy and the Free Software Foundation. We also gave a special prize to BitTorrent as an enabling technology.

The honorary mentions were: Upmystreet (UK), E-Democracy.Org (US), Wikimedia Commons (US), The Sout-East Asian Earthquake and Tsunami Blog (IN), Kubatana (ZW), Sistema de Información Agraria vía Internet para Agricultores del Valle de Huaral, Perú (PE), Borneo Project: Mapping Their Future: Digital Communities, Indigenous Lands (US / MY), Catalytic Communities (CatComm) (BR), microRevolt (US), TXTmob (US) and CouchSurfing Project (US)

There will be a proper jury statement coming out soon, but it was a very difficult task. We had to compare the value of telecenters in developing nations with things like BitTorrent. The definition of "digital community" was very broad. I would suggest that next year, we might want to split the category into access/digital divide oriented projects and project focused on new technologies and styles of communities.

Anyway, congratulations to all of the winners. We went through hundreds of projects and these projects are the cream of the crop.

Although I missed two years or so, today marks ten years since I started working with Ars Electronica. I think this is my 16th time in Linz, Austria and for this reason I know Linz better than any other European city. I know taxi drivers, hotel staff, shop owners and it feels sort of like coming home when I visit now. I was on the first World Wide Web category jury in 1995 and we gave Idea Futures the Golden Nica that year. I remember getting a lot of "that's not art" feedback which marked the beginning of my struggle to forge my own definition of "art". The year after that we gave the award to etoy which continues to lead the way in the alternative digital art scene and with whom I continue to have a active relationship since meeting them at Ars Electronica. Last year Ars Electronica started a new category with the leadership of Howard Rheingold called Digital Communities and the two Golden Nicas went to Wikipedia and The World Starts With Me. I met Jimmy Wales and many of the Wikipedians for the first time at this Ars Electronica and we've become good friends since then. I've met many amazing people through this process and there are many people I ONLY see during the jury or the festival of Ars Electronica.

This year I am on the Digital Communities jury again and I've just started looking over the hundreds of projects we will be reviewing over the next few days. The jury is really hard work, but it is always a great way for me to catch up on all of the cool things going on on the Net and engage in rigorous discussion with fellow jury members about all of the projects. I both dread and look forward to this and imagine I will be drinking a lot of strong Austrian coffee.

I have a flickr set that I'll be adding to with photos.

Cms2005
Announcing the world's first Contagious Media Showdown. Do you have what it takes to corral enough traffic to win the cash prizes? Can you make the next Dancing Baby, All Your Base, or Star Wars Kid and ride into the sunset with the bounty? This is your chance to prove you are the best in the West.
Organized by the Contagious Media Group at Eyebeam R&D with some sponsorship from Alexa, Creative Commons, Technorati and Datagram. Eyebeam know for their super-cool often-viral art should be sending shivers down Search Engine Optimization (SEO) companies' spines.

I will be on the Prix Ars Electronica digital communities jury again next year. Please help us out by submitting work that you think meets the criteria below.

For the second time in 2005, Prix Ars Electronica will honor important achievements by digital communities. This category focuses attention on the wide-ranging social impact of the Internet as well as on the latest developments in the fields of social software, mobile communications and wireless networks.

The "Digital Communities" category is open to political, social, and cultural projects, initiatives, groups, and scenes from all over the world utilizing digital technology to better society and assume social responsibility. It is meant to recognize the initiators and propagators of these communities as well as the developers of the relevant technologies, and to honor those whose work contributes to the establishment and proliferation of Digital Communities as well as provide understanding and research into them.

The prizes in this category will total 20,000 Euros: one Golden Nica (10,000 Euro), two Awards of Distinction (5,000 Euros each) and up to 12 Honorary Mentions.

For full information please check http://www.aec.at/en/prix/communities/communities.asp
Online submission: http://www.aec.at/en/prix/registration/index.asp
Deadline for submissions: March 11, 2005

The Zoomquilt, a collaborative art project.

via karlcow

ichalkwifi.jpg
Christoph Wimmer asks where I got my "I )( Wi-Fi" bumpersticker. I got it from www.bumperactive.com. It's a very cool site with lots of great bumpersticks. Part of the money is donated to a variety of non-profits. This bumpersticker benefits Creative Commons.

The "I )( Wi-Fi" bumper sticker can be found on the Tech Culture page.

Ars Electronica , the oldest, largest, and most prominent art and technology festival in the world, today launched a web site inviting participants to make predictions about the next 25 years, year by year, and to vote on predictions already posted.
Looks interesting. Give it a try.
Ars Electronica 2004
Video Streams

In addition to the proceeding of the Ars Electronica Gala, the panels of the TIMESHIFT Symposium and the Prix Forum as well as the speech by Itsuo Sakane, the Re-inventing Radio Symposium and the launch of Creative Commons Austria will be available online as video streams.

The program is online here. I'll be on the DISRUPTION panel.

Now listening to: Anarchy in the UK by the Sex Pistols

Xeni Jardin @ Boing Boing
RNC protests: Bikes Against Bush organizer arrested

A post on an indymedia website says activist Joshua Kinberg -- inventor of a wireless, bike-mounted, dot-matrix printer for spraying protest messages in the street -- was arrested yesterday at the RNC in NYC. At the time, he was reportedly being interviewed by Ron Reagan, covering the convention for MNSBC.


Kinberg's invention allows users to spray messages transmitted to the bike-printer by way of the 'Net or SMS. They're painted in a water-soluble chalk solution that washes away with water (not spray-paint, as misreported elsewhere). Link to indymedia post, Link to previous BB post about Bikes Against Bush, Link to August 02 Wired News story with background on Kinberg's invention, Link to yesterday's NYT piece on Bikes Against Bush, and link to a torrent identified as video coverage of the incident, via DV Guide. (Thanks, Patricia and el norm)

I think I saw this device at Ars Electronica a few years ago. I have a feeling that at the time it wasn't mounted on a bike. I remember thinking, "What a cool idea. I wonder if it will ever be used for something useful." I love it when political art projects/proposals get put into real world action. It's too bad that they confiscated the bike before it was used "in the wild." I wonder whether this bogus arrest will end up getting this project more press than if they hadn't arrested him...

mural_piece1 mural_license_closeup

These pictures taken by Brad Neuberg

Mona Caron has created a beautiful mural on Church street near Market in San Francisco with a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 License. So cool. More pictures on Brad Neuberg's site and her site.

via Creative Commons Weblog

Hugh, aka Gapingvoid has a great post on creativity. He's one of the few artists/cartoonists who have taken advantage of blogs and has been successful in creating his own back of a business card cartoon format.

I use a blog card designed by him.

sent
SENT, "america's first phonecam art show" opens in LA's Standard Hotel Downtown tomorrow. The site looks great. Congrats Xeni, Sean and Caryn!

I had fun with some photoshopping last night, but this morning someone showed me a site of a photoshop-a-rama on the new MEP from Finland, Alexander Stubb. Too bad most blogs don't allow images in comments anymore. It's such a ... "creative" form of communication. ;-)

24 Hour Dotcom
Creating a Dotcom in 24 Hours

Right now we are at the Wizards of OS conference in Berlin to make a performance art/business project. The mission is to create a dotcom business from scratch in 24 hours. That means designing and programming a complete and useful web application, recruiting people, doing marketing, creating investment programs and much more. After 24 hours, the complete business will be sold on an eBay auction, and everyone involved will be rich!

Funny real-time project going on right now. ;-)

In the comments on an earlier post on this blog about an artist suspected by the FBI of bioterrorism, there was a great deal of speculation about the incident and the facts. (Read the link above to my previous post for the background.) I emailed the artist, Steven Kurtz, asking him for the facts, and here is his reply.

Deleted by request.

Many people talked to me about this incident and strongly support the FBI's position on this. I still don't know enough details on the FBI's handling of the matter, but I DO think biotech as art is a legitimate form of art. At Ars Electronica, we did a whole festival on Life Science as art. Artists, including Steve, publish their works, talk about the impact, and often teach. Terrorists do not.

One famous example of biotech art is the bioluminescent rabbit created by genetic engineering, adding genes from a jellyfish to a rabbit to make it glow in the dark. This created a great deal of controversy and debate. It was the intention of the artist to cause this debate with an extremely tangible project.

I believe this form of expression is important and mistaking artistic expression for something else is a great risk to society. However, I suppose it would be prudent for artists to be aware of the risks involved in handling the "supplies" they use for their art.

RTMark
FBI ABDUCTS ARTIST, SEIZES ART Feds Unable to Distinguish Art from Bioterrorism Grieving Artist Denied Access to Deceased Wife's Body DEFENSE FUND ESTABLISHED - HELP URGENTLY NEEDED

Steve Kurtz was already suffering from one tragedy when he called 911 early in the morning to tell them his wife had suffered a cardiac arrest and died in her sleep.  The police arrived and, cranked up on the rhetoric of the "War on Terror," decided Kurtz's art supplies were actually bioterrorism weapons.

Thus began an Orwellian stream of events in which FBI agents abducted Kurtz without charges, sealed off his entire block, and confiscated his computers, manuscripts, art supplies... and even his wife's body.

Like the case of Brandon Mayfield, the Muslim lawyer from Portland imprisoned for two weeks on the flimsiest of false evidence, Kurtz's case amply demonstrates the dangers posed by the USA PATRIOT Act coupled with government-nurtured terrorism hysteria.

Kurtz's case is ongoing, and, on top of everything else, Kurtz is facing a mountain of legal fees. Donations to his legal defense can be made at http://www.rtmark.com/CAEdefense/

It reminds me a bit of when the Secret Service came after etoy.

RTMark is nortorious for social hacking, but this story appears to have at least two supporting news stories.

WKBW Local News - Local Investigation Into Ub Artist Continues
WKBW Local News - Bio Hazard Or Art?

The weird thing is that these news articles are archived on RTMark's site and I can't seem to find them on the WKBW site. Having said that, a search on Google News shows an article about this, but it has "expired" and can't be accessed.

IF this is true, it's another example of patriotic stupidity, but it's often the role of artists to help us understand this stupidity.

Anyone else heard about this? Lately I'm becoming more wary of single source news stories. ;-) Any help in veting this story before I get really excited would be greatly appreciated.

via Scott

UPDATE: Email from artist, Steven Kurtz.

italiaspeed
13.05.2004 Lamborghini have donated one of their Gallardo sportscars, complete with siren & flashing lights, to the State Police on the occasion of their 152nd anniversary

For the first time, Italian State Police (Polizia di Stato) will use a Lamborghini Gallardo Police Car.

The supercar, in State Police colours, with a siren and flashing lights on the roof, has been donated by the House of Sant’Agata Bolognese to the State Police on the occasion of its 152nd anniversary, held in the customary setting of the Piazza del Popolo in Rome on the 14th, 15th and 16th May 2004.

The Gallardo Police Car will be used by the traffic police (Polizia Stradale) during emergencies and alarm situations on the Salerno-Reggio Calabria highway, also under the powers of the special safety operative which is already being employed along this tract of highway.

The Gallardo will also be used in first aid activities – thanks to its special defibrillator equipment, which performs electrocardiograms and automatic diagnoses of arterial pressure and the presence of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood, as well as the transportation of plasma and human organs for transplants.

Apart from being fitted with medical equipment, the vehicle will also have advanced technological apparatus’ for receiving and transmitting information and images relating to particularly critical situations, such as road traffic accidents, fires and other disaster situations.

Those Italians... ;-) I'm looking forward to visiting Italy again next month. This articles reminds me of some of the reasons why I love Italy.

via Louis

etoydaycare
"etoy.DAYCARE is operating. A first group has been graduating from our camp in Amsterdam." - etoy.TALK
Unique use of 2D barcodes by etoy. Using them to match parents with their kids at etoy.DAY-CARE in Amsterdam.

etoy is an art group that won the Golden Nica in the net category at Ars Electronica in 1996.

The winners of the Prix Ars Electronica have been announced.

I was on the Digital Communities jury this year for Ars Electronica. Thanks to the two jury pre-selection and final jury process, we were able to spend a lot of time on the 60 or so entries that were selected from hundreds of submissions by the first jury. We had an awesome jury. The final jury was me, Andreas Hirsch, Shanthi Kalathil (co-author of Open Networks, Closed Regimes: The Impact of the Internet on Authoritarian Rule), Jane Metcalfe (co-founder of Wired), Dorothy Okello (Coordinator of the Women of Uganda Network), Howard Rheingold (the Smart Mobs guy ;-) ) and Oliviero Toscani (The guy who made the controversial Benetton ads). We gave our two Golden Nica cash prizes to Wikipedia and The World Starts With Me. I'm sure everyone knows Wikipedia. The World Starts With Me is a project from Uganda.

"The World Starts With Me" is a sex education and AIDS prevention project that simultaneously gives young Ugandans the opportunity to acquire Internet and computer skills. The program is aimed at school children and young adults. To reach this target group, 52 "Telecenters" (facilities equipped with IT infrastructure including PCs with Internet access) have been set up throughout Uganda. The program focuses particularly on 12- to 19-year-olds, with the objective of improving their understanding of sexuality. The website features a very attractive, inviting design and takes a playful approach to mediating complicated content, which is presented in a way that enables young people to recognize situations confronting them personally in their everyday lives. This program is very popular in Uganda and is being used in many schools and institutions.
Now if only "The World Starts With Me" would make a wiki page...

Creative Commons won the Net Vision Golden Nica. Yay! (I wasn't involved in that jury and this was a pleasant surprise.)

We gave our four Awards of Distinction (also cash prizes) to:
Dol2Day, Krebskompass, Open-Clothes and smart X tension.

Our honorary mentions were:

Salvador Dalí
Ideas are made to be copied. I have enough ideas to sell them on. I prefer that they are stolen so that i don't have to actually use them myself.
I wish Dalí has said, "works" or "art" instead of "ideas", but this still rocks.

via danah

I'm at Narita airport on my way to Linz to be on the Digital Communities jury of Ars Electronica. I think this is my eighth year as a jury member for Ars Electronica so going to Linz feels like going back to an old home. I look forward to eating my favorite wienerschnitzel soon.

Umm... thanks Betsy. But I would rather have been superman. But I guess it's better than this.

My photoshopping has definitely gotten better since I've started blogging.

Lucky for MT users that images in comments are turned off by default now.

I had a few ginger ales with Shekhar Kapur, a well known Indian film director. We talked about the life, the universe and everything. We talked about what it takes to direct a good film and how Shekhar chose which films to direct.

He talked about being asked to direct "Long Walk to Freedom" about the life of Nelson Mandela. He said he turned it down. He understood about inequality and prejudice from his experiences in India and being Indian, but that he didn't think he would ever truly understand the extreme conditions of apartheid. He would never truly understand the rage of being treated as a completely different class of human being by the white man.

Later, in Hollywood, in the office of an important studio exec, Shekhar explained that he had turned down the offer to direct "Long Walk to Freedom". The exec told Shekhar that he thought that it was a good idea since people weren't interested in a story about the struggles of a black man.

Shekhar was infuriated by the comment, but contained it and kept a straight face. He excused himself and went to the rest room. From the rest room, he called his agent and told him to accept the deal. Shekhar was now able to feel the rage and his passion for the film had developed.

It is very difficult to get the cultural passions right in a movie. Usually the culture is the backdrop of a story or the story is about how American culture triumph over other cultures. Shekhar's insistence on understanding the cultural passion that would be core to a movie was impressive and something that more directors would strive for when making movies about other cultures.

Helmut Newton, Who Remade Fashion Photography, Dies at 83 - NYT

I first met Helmut and his wife at Timothy Leary's house. Tim and Helmut were good friends. (I guess that would mean that Tim would be 83 if he were alive now...) They were the same age and even wore the same tennis shoes. I remember Helmut and as a funny and really cool guy.

When I was working on Indian Runner, we asked him to do some of the photography for the movie and I remember hanging out with him in Omaha, Nebraska where we were shooting the film. I remember helping him find "corn-fed beauties of the Midwest" during his free time. He had this amazing talent for making women feel beautiful and capturing this on film.

I had always loved landscape photography since I was a child, but Helmut was the one who got me interested in portraits and helped me appreciate the amazing talent required to take portraits.

I'm going to miss you Helmut. Say hi to Tim for me if you see him.

Very cool work by Cassidy Curtis.

Graffiti Archaeology is the study of graffiti-covered walls as they change over time. The grafarc.org project is a timelapse collage, made of photos of San Francisco graffiti taken by many different photographers from 1998 to the present.

Using the grafarc explorer, you can visit some of San Francisco's classic spots, see what they looked like in the past, and explore how they have changed over the years.

via danah boyd (her site is down right now)

joiitographic
Hugh aka gapingvoid, one of my favorite online cartoonists, let me pick a cartoon and sent me 500 business cards with my contact info on once side, and this image on the other. After getting a stack of 500 cards that say, "You are the most important person in my Life" I realized the irony and realized that maybe I chose the wrong phrase. ;-p

I do think his idea of cartoons on business cards is a cool idea.

So what I need is a bunch of different cards ranging from "You are the most important person in my Life" to "Talk to the hand." Then I can choose which cards to give to people. This would be the intentional physical version of what Cory doesn't like about social software.

Of course, I would only give "Talk to the hand" to someone as a joke... really.

Phillip Torrone, moblogger extraordinaire breathalyzer moblogs his NYE.

Ars Electronica, which is always on the cutting edge of expression using new technologies and has created a new category called "Digital Communities". I will be on the jury with Howard Rheingold, Jane Metcalfe and several other people I'm looking forward to meeting.


Among the projects, phenomena and fields of activity subsumed under the heading Digital Communities are:

social software
eDemocracy, eGovernment, eGovernance
emergent democracy
collective weblogs, social networking systems
filtering and reputation systems
social self-support groups
learning and knowledge communities
computer supported collaborative processes
gaming communities
digital neighborhoods, community networks
free net initiatives, wireless LAN projects
digital cities, urban development projects
citizen involvement initiatives, citizen conferences
telecenters

Prizes

Total: 40,000 Euro

2 Golden Nicas
10,000 Euro each

4 Awards of Distinction
5,000 Euro each

Up to 14 Honorary Mentions

Please see the web page for more details, but I look forward to seeing your submissions.

A few days ago, I asked Nanjo-san if he could give a few of us a special tour of the new Mori Art Museum before it opens this Friday. Lisa has some notes and photos on her new blog. This Art Museum will be largest in Japan. It's quite amazing what they've done and what they plan to do. Look forward to visiting often.

Weird image that tricks your eyes and your mind...

On design media via Boris who just quit his job so he can blog on...

I received a link from Chris to a fanimutation called Irrational Exuberance by Veloso at verylowsodium.com. It's very funny. It's a flash animation over the Happatai song "Yatta!". Max and James turned me on to "Yatta!" When I saw them in May at FiRe. Happatai are a group of Japanese comedians who released a song back in April 2001 called "Yatta!". It's a very silly song with silly lyrics and a video of them dancing around with no clothes and just a fig leaf. The weird thing about this is that it was slightly funny when it came out in Japan, but the mpeg video of this has been zooming around the Internet in the US and has developed small cult following. this fanimutation by Veloso is just another "derivative work" of "Yatta!" I wonder if this is an example of Japan's Gross National Cool export. Maybe I should contact them and see if they will release the rights for these fanimutations since they are clearly increasing their popularity in the US. ;-)

Flash animations over popular or weird songs or "fanimutations" are becoming a funky new art form. People seem to encourage sharing of the flash code. They are another example of a new form of "art" like mashups that aren't really feasible under traditional copyright/licensing. Mixing, sharing and attribution are at the core of this new subculture. If you go to the sites, you'll notice that people go to great lengths to link and attribute.

Thursday.8pm. August 14.2003

DECONversation / Maurice Benayoun and Steve Mann, moderated by Derrick de Kerckhove

Looks interesting. Someone go so we can heckle. ;-)

Steve Mann

Brainwave Building Blog

Deconism Gallery/Arts Complex was designed as a blog --- something we call "buildinglog" (which, like cyborglog, abbreviates to "glog").

We've all seen smart buildings, smart lightswitches, smart toilets, and intelligent user interfaces, but what happens when you have "smart people"? What happens when you wire up the "intelligence" onto people?

2003 August 14th and 15th we explore what happens when the intelligent building meets intelligent occupants.

The August 14th event will be an intellectual discussion about the relationship between cyborglogs and buildinglogs. Three panelists (Maurice Benayoun, Pierre Levy, Steve Mann), moderated by the Director of the Marshall McLuhan Program in Culture and Technology, will enter an immersive multimedia space (a brainwave bath) while discussing the implications of thepost-cyborg age.

The August 15th event will be an actual collective (de)consciousness where the occupant-cyborgs interact with the building, to create an audiovisual experience from their brainwaves, as part of a brainwave (de)concert performed by jazz musicians Bryden Baird, James Fung, Dave Gouveia, Sandy Mamane, and Corey Manders.

Flash Mobs Take Manhattan

Very cool social hack. Time sensitive. Check it out.

Thanks to crysflame for the link on #joiito

Mizuka and I went to see the last cherry blossoms last week and I shot some Provia 100 with my Hasselblad. I got sick of the poor quality of the Photo CD's considering the cost and bought a Nikon 8000ED film scanner so I could do my own scans instead. Here's my first attempt. I'm still trying to figure out how to get it right and it does take a lot of time, but you have control and obviously much more tender loving care than the people scanning for you onto Photo CD's. I've posted a few pictures on my .mac site. I can't figure out what the white space is that gets inserted when I publish from iPhoto.

Anyway, my iLife just got better thanks to Nikon.

mecorca4.jpgI just published my pictures from Menorca on .mac so you can finally see them without a password. Sorry, old news, but published well for the first time. I had them on Yahoo, but I guess Yahoo requires you to have an account. That's silly.

The photos were taken with my Hasselblad 205 FCC and a FE 60-120 Lense, scanned into a PhotoCD and uploaded to .mac from iPhoto.

fiorella_thumb.jpgHad lunch with Dr. Fiorella Terenzi. She is an Astrophysicist / Recording Artist / Author. She recently created a line of jewelry based on astrophysical phenomenon. She is selling them on QVC. She said that some of her colleagues mocked her, but that reaching the masses and trying to appeal to them about the beauty of science was an important mission. I totally agree. I admire Fiorella and her desire and courage to break out of the ivory tower of academism and try to communicate. I feel that the art community, the science community and academic community in general shuns the popularization of their fields. I think that with the communications technologies of today, it is an utter waste to not try to communicate to the public, what is going on in art and science. It takes a great deal of courage, but I think people like Fiorella should be encouraged and supported by both the public and people in their respective fields. Fiorella has made space the theme of her music and other forms of public expression that she has been engaged in and is truly an ambassador from the field of astrophysics.

logoars.GIFI was interviewed yesterday by NHK to talk about the Net category winners and the jury process this year. I talked about how in the early days, we approached the category from a media theory perspective. Derrick deKerkhove and Mitsuhiro Takemura were both on the first jury and they are both very media theory oriented. The jury, over the last seven years has swung around a bit, but we had always tried to look beyond the interface to find the "webness" or the community beyond. We always used to look at flashFlash animation sites as superficial and thin.

At this year's jury meeting, I said something about flashFlash being superficial, Joshua got really mad and argued that flash could do everything Java could do but better. He said that flash talked xml and could be used to do just about everything. He said that it got a bad rap because people thought it was a design tool developed by Macromedia. He said that he hated "old school" guys like me that kept the Net from moving on and getting to the next level. I have to admit, I underestimated flash, but Joshua's religious ferver was also pretty interesting. Joshua won last year with his site, Praystation, which is an amazing flashFlash site that makes flashFlash examples available and has lots and lots of great examples of how to make flashFlash do cool things.

Later, at the ORF studios, I saw Joshua "the first guy to ever call Joi Ito 'old school'" Davis. He was nice and acted almost like he felt sorry about being mean to me. Maybe it's because he's coming to Tokyo next month. ;-p Anyway, I like Joshua and he really opened my eyes to flash so now I'm anxious to learn flash. I told him that I was having difficulty figuring out how to get started with flash and that I wanted to have someone help me build a flash interface to blogs. He said he would help. Cool.

So, to get back to the NHK interview. I told them that we are now seeing artists drawn into the expressive flexibility of flashFlash, finding that they can dig into content using xml and other tools and that there is a meeting of the political, "old school" Internet and design people causing greats sites like They Rule and projects like Carnivore to be born.

Dan Gillmor
Music Industry's Death Wish

Dan Bricklin has looked closely at the numbers in the music industry, and suggests that the record companies are killing themselves by stamping out music downloads. He makes a compelling case in this essay.

His bottom line: "Given the slight dip in CD sales despite so many reasons for there to be a much larger drop, it seems that the effect of downloading, burning, and sharing is one of the few bright lights helping the music industry with their most loyal customers. Perhaps the real reason for some of the drop in sales was the shutdown of Napster and other crackdowns by the music industry."

I don't expect the music companies to pay attention to inconvenient facts. That would be out of character.


Interesting perspective. I am feeling very sick of the music industry. They can keep Britney Spears and their lawyers. I actually have really cut back on buying CD's generally. When I see a CD, I see don't an artist selling music, I see an enslaved artist boxed up in a the shrinkwrap of a industry trying to protect itself by choking the customers and the artists that it is meant to be serving.

No, now I get my musical kicks from open air concerts, ring tones in on my cell phone and cool flash sites like Joe Sparks and his Radiskull and Devil Doll.

Do I need the record industry to enjoy music? Hell no.

One interesting thing to note is that the karaoke industry used midi files to play back music on synthesizers inside of karaoke machines. This lead to a huge industry of midi files. They decided to do a flat fee payment system to simply the billing for the little bars that played the music. Then, when ring tones became popular for cell phones, they used the same flat fee model to license the music. THAT is why ring tones are a huge money making business in Japan. Simple billing, cheap billing and no record companies.

(Apologies to my record company exec friends and to my friends who sell CD's... but you guys suck these days.)

If you haven't seen this, it's a great site. We gave it a Golden Nica this year at the Prix Ars Electronica.

From the Prix Ars Electronica web page:

Golden Nica Josh On, Futurefarmers (USA): "They Rule" http://www.theyrule.net Database visualization is an important area of interactive design. "They Rule" is an excellent example of this kind of project. It attempts to demonstrate the relationships between some of America's most powerful corporate executives by visually showing you which companies they are involved with, and how these companies might gain from such a relationship.

The interface, once you get it, is pretty easy. There was a map of the Trilateral Commission, it's members and the boards that they sit on. (Here is a speech I gave at the Trilateral). You can see all of the board members of a company, other boards they sit on, donations they have made, all mined from public sources presented in an elegant design.

Washington, D.C. — In a surprise decision that exonerates dozens of major companies, the U.S. Supreme Court today ruled that corporate earnings statements should be protected as works of art, as they "create something from nothing."

Full article on Satirewire