Bookmarks for 2012-10-19

October 19th, 2012 | brainjuice

  • Stories from the New Aesthetic: James Bridle on Vimeo
    Stories from the New Aesthetic: James Bridle Stories from the New Aesthetic took place at The New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York City on October 11, 2012. The New Aesthetic is an ongoing research project by James Bridle, investigating the intersections of culture and technology, history and memory, and the physical and the digital. For this event, Bridle will be joined by Aaron Straup Cope and Joanne McNeil to discuss stories related to these ideas. James Bridle is a writer, publisher, and technologist. He writes a regular column for the Observer (UK) and his writing has also appeared in Wired, Domus, Icon, and widely online. He speaks worldwide on the intersections of literature, technology, and culture, and writes about what he does at Aaron Straup Cope is currently Senior Engineer at the Smithsonian Institution’s Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum. Before that, he was Senior Engineer at Flickr focusing on all things geo-, machinetag-, and galleries-related between 2004 and 2009. From 2009 to 2011, he was Design Technologist and Director of Inappropriate Project Names at Stamen Design, where he created the prettymaps project. Joanne McNeil is the editor of Rhizome. She is a 2012 USC Annenberg-Getty Arts Journalism Fellow. Her writing has appeared in Modern Painters, Wired (UK), the Los Angeles Times, and other web and print publications. Organized by Rhizome, the New Silent Series receives major support from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. Additional support is provided by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and the New York State Council on the Arts. Rhizome
    (tags:ifttt vimeo video )

Unsocial Media: The Uselessness Of Facebook And Google+

October 17th, 2012 | researchmaterial

Google+ is apparently a success, according to many tech reporters.  Anecdotal evidence suggests that most people are using G+ to post inside Circles.  Some 11,000 people have added me to G+ circles – but, apparently, none of the ones they post to.  Of the 150+ people I had in circles, precisely three of them posted content I could see.  When I posted content, only a thin fraction of those 11000 people could see it, because at some point I got tuned out by the system.  G+ is therefore useless to me, and I just nuked my circles.

Facebook Pages allow some 16% of the people who clicked Like on a Page to see the posts from that Page.  Regardless of whether or not those people specifically requested those posts in their News Feed.  If a Page owner wants to access the eyeballs of more of the people who clicked Like on a Page because they wanted to see that Page’s posts, that Page owner has to pay to Promote those posts.  I would currently have to pay USD $10 to ensure that all the people who Liked the official Warren Ellis Page on Facebook actually saw one single post.   Facebook Pages are therefore useless to me. 

(Of the 150+ people I had as Friends on my personal page, maybe five people were aware I was actually there, so I’ve nuked my friends list there, too.)

None of this is important, you understand.  But I’ve not been paying a huge amount of attention to social media this year.  Until it became time to start thinking about raising awareness of GUN MACHINE.  So I’ve had to dig into this a bit – I’ve been talking about this in the newsletter, too. 

Facebook, in search of monetisation, has killed engagement – unless your brand is so big that you are in fact desperate to pay for connection.  Because small brands like me can move around, but big brands have to be seen in the big places.  The Facebook Page is now completely broken unless you open your wallet.

And who the fuck even knows how Google+ works now.  It is, in its way, the most “service-y” of the social network sites – now the dust has settled, it really seems to be a souped-up version of Google Groups, with built-in discovery and significant tech enhancements like Hangouts.  A service, not a network.

None of this is important, but it is interesting to me. 

Facebook will have to rely on big companies for one of its revenue streams, driving the small-fry like me out of the Pages system and possibly off Facebook entirely.  People like me will probably keep a FB account alive, though, and maybe even use it to log into things, thereby sending data back that they can sell in another revenue stream.  FB won’t care that I’m not running a Page. In theory, by usurping the “single sign-on” role that things like OAuth were supposed to fill, Facebook gets data to sell without even having to run a social network.

Google doubtless gathers enough data about me in other ways that my non-use of G+ won’t matter a whit.  They felt that they had to have a social network, but they are not a social network company, and don’t need to run a social network in order to do their business.

Perhaps you could add “the death of the social network” to “the death of blogging” in the media-headline scare list.  Replace it with pervasive digital loyalty, maybe.

Whatever it is, it’s no bloody use for hearing from people, or talking to a crowd.

GUEST INFORMANTS: Kim Boekbinder & Jim Batt

October 16th, 2012 | guest informant

This is Warren.  Allow me to present the video for Kim Boekbinder’s new song, “The Sky Is Calling."  Everything that follows is by Kim, and the video’s director, Jim Batt.


Inspired by NASA, the Universe, and Carl Sagan.

Kim Boekbinder:

I’m standing on a street corner in New York City with a bit of metal shrapnel clasped in my hand. It feels heavy and important. Once upon a time, billions of years ago, this small piece of 93% iron was the core of a planetary-sized body that collided with another planetary-sized body. These massive, heavenly orbs broke apart on impact, sending pieces of themselves careening through the universe. Some time ago one of these pieces came screaming through our atmosphere, exploding into smaller shards before reaching the Earth.

But before it was an exploding meteor, and before it was an exploding orb, this metal was forged in the nuclear heart of an exploding star.

Everything that our world is made of came from the cosmos. The iron in my blood came from supernovae; my heart pumps through me the violently catastrophic deaths of stars.

This knowledge makes me feel so small. And so big. So many things had to go so perfectly for me to be standing on this street corner, holding the metallic heart of the sky.

And perhaps even more staggering is the fact that I am a member of the species that can leave the planet. A species that can look up and think: Yes. We will go there.

A species that can look down and know that our world is unique in all of the known universe. For thousands of planets, millions of stars, billions of light years.

And whether looking up or looking down, in the deep darkest parts of ourselves is a force pushing us further, better, more.

I am writing an album about space. Because.


- Kim Boekbinder Oct. 16th, 2012

More information on the Kickstarter page:

Jim Batt’s notes on the video:

The video is primarily made up of individual frames of raw data sent back from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, currently orbiting Saturn. The eerie monochrome glitch aesthetic is the result of various technical factors – data artefacts, exposure calibrations, environmental conditions, and cosmic rays hitting the sensors. The main exception is the stunning footage of the sun, which was captured by another spacecraft.

NASA carefully clean up and calibrate their images before releasing them, but there’s an inherent beauty in the unfiltered footage, driven by the aesthetics of how this spacecraft watches the solar system. A machine-vision perspective on the cosmos.

The overlays are diagrams of humanity’s attempts to understand the universe throughout history, from astrology to the astronomical calculations of Copernicus and Kepler: early attempts at flight to blueprints of the spacecraft that now enable us to reach the sky.

For the final sequence I used footage of the Russian Soyuz capsule resupplying the International Space Station, largely because the Russians are damn good at making a rocket launch look starkly dramatic and appropriately science fictional.   @kimboekbinder   @battsignal