2010 From 2005

July 3rd, 2012 | researchmaterial

In 2005, Bruce Sterling, in his role as Visionary-In-Residence at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, worked with students to generate a bunch of design looking forward to 2010.  I just found some shots of their work hiding in the back of my Flickr stream, and they’re kind of interesting to look at from here.

Don’t pay attention to the Arnie thing so much.  Look at the smaller headline in the left, and the slugline above the logo.

Notes On The Future Of The City/The City Of The Future

July 2nd, 2012 | notebook, paper and process, researchmaterial

Copying these from the notebook before I lose it.  I want to come back to a bunch of these: one of them led to a long Twitter conversation between Deb Chachra, Eleanor Saitta and myself that I need to return to soon.  So, anyway.  Jottings for the outboard memory.

Notes I worked from:

What is the legal status of the weather?

*  Are we in fact tending to imagine a city-state?  A city that borders on a closed and self-sufficient (resilient) energy state?  Singapore rather than Brussels?

*  Sonic architecture – footfall energy harvest – road energy harvest

*  Repurposed ambient urban drones

*  The ethics of machine reportage

*  The lessons of archaeo-acoustics – can cities be designed for sound?

*  acoustic mirrors in architecture

*  Buildings that breathe

Notes from things Simon, Rachel and Bruce said:

*  Futurism as radical reductionism

*  Capital as simplification – human life happens in the friction

*  To be an ecological human means understanding our bacterial nature

*  Dematerialised Urbanism

*  Predator Lidar

*  Cities as habitats that domesticate the human

*  Architecture forces solutions on materials

*  It costs $1000 to grow three inches’ worth of tissue culture


[top image cropped from a bad iPhone shot of one of Rachel’s slides]

SF MAGAZINES: Clarkesworld And The Numbers

June 11th, 2012 | researchmaterial

I’m not getting back on this old hobby horse per se, but last night I tripped over some data provided by online sf magazine CLARKESWORLD.

In 2009, ANALOG was the best-selling print sf magazine, at around 25K, probably bolstered to the tune of around 3K by ebook-version sales.  It habitually posts a year-on-year decline of between 2 and 6 percent.

So Neil Clarke, who owns and operates digital-only CLARKESWORLD magazine, posted a bunch of data. Including:

The solid line in this chart indicates unique readers per issue and the dotted line is a cumulative six-month average that influences how I determine our monthly readership.

While these are almost certainly all free readers – and the one datum Clarke doesn’t give up is how many paid readers he has – compare the reach to what I just told you about ANALOG.  CLARKESWORLD is now a place that’ll bring a writer of science fiction more readers than will the most popular sf short-fiction magazine in English.

Obviously, individual blogs and special platforms have been bringing people more readers than that for a long time.  But I think it’s worth noting that a place that specifically defines itself as a science fiction magazine has crested over the top of the remaining print magazines and remains on an upward curve.  I wish Neil and his team continued success.


June 6th, 2012 | researchmaterial

One of the very interesting people I met at How The Light Gets In was the writer and filmmaker David Malone.  In conversation with him and (it was a very weird weekend, okay?) Michael Nyman and the head of cultural affairs at the Mexican embassy to the UK, he’d mentioned that some of his work had been uploaded by other people to the net.  Also, that his preferred form, the lyric televisual essay, had gone out of fashion.  As I’ve noted here more than once, proper rhetorical television isn’t really made any more.

So I went looking, when I got home.  And I found his DANGEROUS KNOWLEDGE:

In this one-off documentary, David Malone looks at four brilliant mathematicians – Georg Cantor, Ludwig Boltzmann, Kurt Gödel and Alan Turing – whose genius has profoundly affected us, but which tragically drove them insane and eventually led to them all committing suicide.

I don’t think David will mind if I show it to you here.  It’s beautiful.

David also writes a blog, and can be contacted there.

When The Internet Deletes Hype

May 29th, 2012 | daybook, researchmaterial

Editor and writer David Hepworth:

You can’t hide. I was talking to somebody in the record business recently who pointed out, rather mournfully, that it was no longer possible to hype people. What he meant was that it was no longer possible to convince them that something was more popular or widely adopted than it actually was. You no longer went into Radio 2 and told them that they should be playing a record because it was going to be popular among this or that demographic. You simply sent them a link to the You Tube page where they could see how many people had streamed the video. Digital is its own audit. This is something magazines are going to have to get used to.

“Digital is its own audit.”  That’s really kind of interesting to me.  I’m used to unique counts being obscured and lied about.  But I hadn’t considered the open-count public services.  And, of course, this is what Likes and RTs and +1s lead to.  A world where we encourage everyone to vote on everything (an element of more than a few sf pieces).

Cultural voting, of course, leads to the triage suggested in the quote: following counts leads inexorably to media that play only the things they already know people like.

Which makes me prize things like Mary Anne Hobbs’ Saturday night show on XFM all the more: because I know that for three hours I will hear things that I have never heard before.

Still.  Interesting point.