Bookmarks for 2012-12-10

December 11th, 2012 | brainjuice

  • Senate Puts Brakes on Defense Clandestine Service
    "The Senate moved last week to restrain the rapid growth of the Defense Clandestine Service, the Pentagon’s human intelligence operation."
    (tags:war spook intel pol )
  • Digital Dualism And The Glitch Feminism Manifesto » Cyborgology
    "Glitch Feminism therefore is feminism for a digital age, a heralding of virtual agency, a blooming of particularity and selfhood. “Glitch” refuses being categorized as subtext, it rejects being labeled as subversive, it does not speak for the marginal or the subaltern, as “sub-” as a prefix needs to be marked as a mode of acquiescence to our own exclusion from the canon, the academy, the Platonic ideal. The first step to subverting a system is accepting that that system will remain in place; that said, the glitch says fuck your systems!"
    (tags:social theory )
  • Michael Chabon and Junot Díaz: Living on the page
    "There’s few people who would argue that one does not have to cut a deal with reality to spend so much time on these projects,” Díaz says. “Whether you’re a young artist, or you’re an artist late in their career, you have made a f–king deal with reality. You’re not going to be in the world as much as a normal person, I don’t think."
    (tags:writing writers )

FAQ 11dec12: Writing On An iPad

December 11th, 2012 | FAQ

I’ve got one for you, actually, though it’s a bit pedantic, I suppose. You said you wrote GUN MACHINE (which is fucking fantastic) on your iPad. With what, howfore, and why? I find jumping between an open Pages doc and Safari a royal pain, for instance, and given the amount of research you did, I’m wondering how you negotiated it. Also: keyboard? program? And any other details you care to share. Me, I’m lost without my laptop.


Greg Rucka, everybody.  When you pass out from stark boredom three lines into this one, blame him.

Okay, so, yes, I did write a chunk of GUN MACHINE on the iPad.  I did it in a couple of different ways, depending on my mood.  To write material on your iPad, you need:

*  A keyboard case.  I have the Logitech Zagg Keyboard Case for iPad, which is a nice keyboard inside a padded aircraft-grade aluminium shell, that connects via Bluetooth.  It is very good.

*  Dropbox.  Dropbox Dropbox Dropbox.  Seriously.

*  I have two basic word programs on the iPad that both pretty much do the same thing.  PlainText and iA Writer.  I still can’t decide which one I like best.  Probably PlainText.  They both have their annoyances.  But what they do is create (inside your Dropbox) a plain old .txt file.  If I was writing something that I needed to check the research on later, or something that I felt was going to need a polish later, I’d just bang it down in PlainText.  Writing in .txt makes me take another look at it before it goes into the manuscript.

*  For actual finished work, I open Quickoffice HD Pro, which uses and creates Microsoft Word doc files, which is what I submit manuscripts in.  Again, it’s seamless with Dropbox.  I can write on the iPad in the main manuscript with full comfort.

*  When I’m mobile with iPad-only and I am stuck for research but want to get a thing done — well, I can simply keep Quickoffice running in the background and launch the Evernote app, which is where my book research lives, organised by folder.  Or I can launch it on my iPhone, for that matter, because where I go, the phone goes, and when I’n writing it’s usually propped next to the work machine anyway, picking up messages, playing a podcast and/or running a news stream of some kind.  (Twitter, or Reedlines, or similar.)

*  Why do I do this?  I’ve always hated lugging laptops around, and have always looked for efficient mobile solutions.  I had one of those early Asus netbooks.  I had a Treo.  Hell, in the 90s, I had a Handspring Visor.  And I figured that since the iPad was light, instant-on, built for wifi and supposedly fucking magical, I should be able to make it work as a mobile work solution without having to screw around with laptops and crappy batteries and all the rest of it.  In the mornings, I just grab the iPad and case and go out into the back garden and sit at the table and am ready to go.  I go back to the office, wake up the laptop, and thanks to Dropbox everything I’ve done is already there.  It works for me.

A Hauntological Literature

December 11th, 2012 | thinking

I was re-reading a bunch of James Bridle over the last couple of days – his brain works very differently to mine, and much better, which makes his stuff a good lever to prise me off old tracks – and I tripped over this, which I bookmarked last year:

What would a hauntological literature look like? I’m not sure, and that makes me suspicious.

And, a few paragraphs further up, related:

While I understand the distinction between nostalgia and hauntology, I am unconvinced by their separation in the application of the latter to music. The two most frequently cited sonic hauntologists are Burial and Ghost Box records, and while I’m a huge fan of both, I also see them as being steeped in nostalgia.

Bridle, as you may know, coined the term New Aesthetic, which can be defined as the observation of the eruption of the digital world into the physical world.  And it occurred to me that there is already an artifact of hauntological literature that does not require or involve nostalgia.  It is, in fact, one of the historical artifacts that was such a touchstone for modern hauntology.

THE CHANGES.  A BBC TV series from 1975.  The first episode of which I recall vividly, because it was (if you were seven years old) so unsettling.  And the subject of this series was simply this:

The eruption of the historical into the present.

Which is, essentially, what Burial was doing, in the moments when he wasn’t (as in “Raver”) specifically summoning up past times through nostalgia or yearning.  The moments where the past can be heard leaking through the walls (in my head, there’s a weird linkage between Burial and Alvin Lucier’s “I Am Sitting In A Room”).

I think my problem with hauntology is that it deals with the problem of the future by going back to the past. And that is fine: but it will not save us.

In a hauntological literature, the future isn’t the problem.  It’s that the past never stops coming to get us.  Hence the frequent Ballardian framing of hauntology: we’re so exhausted by our blind headlong run into the future that we now wander around in a confused haze, and Time (SAPPHIRE AND STEEL!) oozes in like oil all around us.  Dragging us downstream.

Georteyphobia.  Fear of history.

Death Of A Little Printer

December 10th, 2012 | daybook

Or: do not allow a 70-year-old woman to wander about your house unattended, because she will see the pulsing light on your Little Printer and touch it with her aged, destructive claws, thereby doing something unfathomable to it that causes it to be both very difficult to reassemble and refuse to accept reprint commands.

My Little Printer lived in the kitchen.  Which, somehow, seemed the most apt place for it.  It’s a surprisingly heavy thing, with edges.  The combination of brushed metal and white-goods sheen makes it an odd fit in the living room, which is a place where devices (tv remote controls, for instance) are light and rounded things.  It sits better in kitchens, next to coffeemakers and toasters, across from the oven and the fridge.  It is, in fact, a thing you’d set to chunter away while you were making the coffee, and read what it spat out while you were taking your first few sips of the day.  The information that Little Printer prints out, in fact, could usefully be described as “sips.”  A short weather report, the top headlines from the newspaper, a few factoids.

As a proof of concept, a test article and a summation of Matt Webb’s “social letterbox,” it’s a fascinating device.  I’ve seen people start to hack it already, and am keeping an eye on what Dan Catt’s up to.  Dan’s working from the position that some things are just more useful on paper.

However, I must say: Little Printer was certainly presented as the electric Inter Net telegraphy device that your unplugged family members could use.  But I ask you again to observe the result when an ancient relative and her disintegrating talons were left alone with mine.

Bookmarks for 2012-12-10

December 10th, 2012 | brainjuice

  • The Flores Hobbit’s face revealed
    "An Australian anthropologist has used forensic facial reconstruction techniques to show, for the first time, how the mysterious Flores 'hobbit' might have once looked. Read more at:"
    (tags:history )
  • The UK needs a new age of STEAM, and the Ebacc won’t make it happen.
    "An age of STEAM – Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics – (rather than just STEM) is what the UK needs to survive in the foothills of the 21stC."
    (tags:edu )
  • Cyborg au Naturale
    "When Amy Purdy talks about her leg extensions on TED, she slowly weaves in the pain and loss of her legs, which somehow justifies to the audience the new longer, beautiful designer legs. We still apply the century old principle of no pain, no gain -even with technology. There is always a sacrifice for the enhancements. Imagine if someone had to saw off their own legs in order to obtain the beautiful, height-extending legs that Purdy has?"
    (tags:bodymod )
  • The Image Object Post-Photoshop
    Durantini goes on to suggest that “the inevitable disappointment of mass-produced commodities has created a sort of haptic half-life where the image produces more pleasure than the object itself.”
    (tags:theory )