Monday, February 28, 2005

Til Tuesday

(How depressing is it that I'm probably the only reader of this blog playing out the "Voices Carry" video in my head now...) Okay, all, for tomorrow we are talking about William Mitchell's short piece "Replacing Place" -- but be sure to read Paul Miller (aka DJ Spooky)'s Material Memories as well, and to bring along your Lev Manovich from last week, too. There will be a couple of in-class presentations tomorrow.

Also, I mean to force you to talk about your papers in class since you aren't doing it here for the most part. Come prepared to tell me which essay you are writing about and have a nice short clear thesis statement in mind you might want to argue for (fear commitment? don't worry, I won't hold you to anything -- but you need a point of departure and that's that). Attendance isn't optional, and having something in hand to work with for the paper is also non-optional. The paper's due a week from tomorrow and I want everybody to do well. Please come in a talkin' mood, even if you need to be juiced to get there.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Bryan Davis Thesis

Bryan Davis Thesis I intend to write on The Cyberspace Dialectic by Michael Heim. The problem I find with this text, and for that matter many of the texts in this book, is that they seem to form a dialectic (and thus set the stage for discourse) from the most bizarre extremes imaginable. Michael Heim uses the Unabomber on one hand and Teilhardian head freezers on the other. I mean I consider myself to be a major net junky, I spent at least 30% of my waking hours on the web and I never encounter anything in a any way connected to the fantasy worlds of Teilhard or the Unabomber. I intend to argue that these mad men who have simply latched onto technology as a conduit for their own delusional paranoia or optimism, should be thrown out of the equation as irrelevant outliers or at least reduced to the level of a footnote, and the attention should be focused on far more rational examples of the dialectics parameters.

Wikipedia Britannica Smackdown

Here's an interesting article by Aaron Krowne taking up issues we've discussed a bit around folk-based information filtering practices -- worthy of admission into the Virtual Reader in case anybody wants to talk about it in an upcoming in-class presentation.

Political Blogs As News Source

Interesting tracking of political blogs by Chris Bowers over at MyDD:
Using the blogad traffic rankings as my source (since these involve money, as far as I am concerned no other ranking system matters), I have produced a list of the fifty most trafficked partisan, political blogs that can be considered part of a larger leftist or rightist network…. As a whole, these blogs receive more traffic than the websites of CNN, MSNBC and Fox News combined. By the 2008 election, blogs might become the number one online source of news for Americans. The rankings are in the extended entry.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Hell's Bells

Where is everybody this week?

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Upcoming Papers

So, has anybody decided yet which of the essays they mean to write their papers on from The Digital Dialectic? Are people leaning toward essays we've already covered in class or essays we haven't gotten around to yet? Anybody thinking yet what sort of thesis they may want to support in their papers? Anybody have questions about what I mean by a "thesis"? Remember to click on the Four Habits for Argumentative Writing link for more of a sense of what I am looking for in general terms from a paper. Don't hesitate to work through your papers on the blog together -- we don't meet often enough in a weekly class for me to give you useful detailed feedback over the whole writing process. Some of that has to happen here or via e-mail.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Tuesday's presentation

Hey guys,

I guess it's my turn to present. My article is called Material Memories by DJ Spooky and you can find it here.


Monday, February 21, 2005

Up Next

For tomorrow, don't forget to read the Erkki Huhtamo essay from the Digital Dialectic, and the Lev Manovich piece available online here. L'Affaire Propagannon continues to rage on, and so we can talk some more about blogracking if you like, but I'd also be interested to hear what else you may have stumbled onto in the blogosphere this week. If there is time I would like to return briefly to the Katherine Hayles piece as well -- so if you have comments or questions that weren't addressed last week, you may have another shot at it. See you tomorrow morning.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Student Suspended for Filming American Anthem Protest

[via NYCindymedia]
A high school teacher in Brick, NJ pulled a chair from under a student after the student refused to stand for the national anthem. The school suspended one student for filming the incident, but has yet to punish the teacher.


Friday, February 18, 2005


Thunder and lightening in San Francisco, beautiful, it never happens here. Anyone from anywhere else has probably noticed the lack of thunder and lightening here. I hope you heard it because it's rare. I'm special, I've seen it snow twice here, so light you had to look at something dark to see the faint little flakes. I'm looking for a new home with great roommates, so if you know of anything, please let me know.


I hope that I am not mistaken, but has any one heard of the two bloggers arrested in Iran recently?

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Ted Hitler Weighs in on Propagannon and Blogracking

[via Crooks and Liars]Scroll down to "Gannon/Guckert on the Daily Show." So good and so good for you.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

damn, this contraption is confusing...

Since internet at my house is on the fritz, I'll just jump right in and send some stuff off while I have some time here at school. I don't know how relevant any of this stuff is but I thought that for anyone who hasn't heard about these things they might be interested, and maybe, just maybe they might fit into something that could be relevant for the class.
The first is this website that used to be my neighbor but now they've moved onto bigger and hopefully better places. They are interesting because although it is a Bay Area arts website, it is read by people all over the country and world making our little spot here seem all the bigger. Sometimes you have to wade through a bunch of silly bullshit, but it's kinda blog like and they also have a good calender for art events around here and california... also here's the website for a organization that my friend helped start a few years ago pertaining to our discussion of "peak oil"
-aight for now

Creative Commons

Well, we've talked about it for so long now it's started to seem like the comedy of the commons. I'm satisfied at last that everybody's had a chance to figure out the issues and express their preferences, and so I've added a CC License to our blog. Yesterday, there were five votes each for a License insisting on attribution and noncommercial use for any works based on original material created by us here. There was one vote for a License insisting that derivative works also have a License permitting the same terms as our own, and there were no votes at all for restricting derivative works to verbatim copies. In the spirit of democracy, then, the License I tacked onto the blog insists just on the first two and that's that. Click on the icon to see the License itself.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Presentation Topic: "New Media from Borges to HTML"

This is a text by Lev Manovich and is available in MS Word .doc format* for easier printing or HTML if you would rather read online.
It is a text in the New Media Reader which I came across recently. I do agree with some of his ideas, and some I think is off-base, I look forward to discussing this with you next week.

*(If you click the .doc link, it will prompt for a save and is then openned in MS Word.)

Monday, February 14, 2005

Drunk Dialing

Well, I suppose it's clear by now how much I enjoy tech-neologisms. Anyhow, a short piece over on Smart Mobs, excerpted from WSJ, talking about the ways in which ubiquitous cellphones have changed everyday communication practices offered up a neologism that amused me -- "Drunk Dialing" -- to describe how ready-to-hand phones make it too easy to make calls and leave messages in states of mind we may later have occasion to regret.

"Recent Comments"

Since it is easy to lose track of ongoing conversational threads, as new posts scroll older stuff off the screen rather quickly with a team as big as ours (even with so few of you actually posting -- hint hint) I'd really like to have some kind of indication of "Recent Comments" visible high up in the sidebar so you can see who is responding to what as it happens. But I can't figure out how to do it. Does anybody have the skills for that? Help me out.


For tomorrow: Brook is, if I remember correctly, going to give the first of our in-class presentations on an essay by Richard Barbrook and Andy Cameron called "The California Ideology." It is available in more than one version online, but here's a link to one of the versions in case you haven't looked it over already and want to find it. I can't guarantee that this is the same version Brook will be taking as his point of departure. Since we're going to devote some of the class to a discussion of the piece everybody should at least give the thing a looksee.

Also, we will be discussing the Katherine Hayles essay from The Digital Dialectic. I think it's an important essay, so I'm looking forward to hearing your comments on it.

I'd also like to take a vote on the issue of which Creative Commons license we want to tack onto our blog -- if any (here's a link to a page that summarizes the options).

In our blog roundup early on I'll be interested to hear what you guys think of the Blogracking issue, how it relates to Folksonomy and some of the other topics we raised last time round, and I wouldn't mind getting your impressions of this piece I found on Social Design Notes, about online activism.

Many of you still haven't posted anything to the blog at all, by the way. What's up with that? See you tomorrow.

Saturday, February 12, 2005


Interesting post over on kos this afternoon, inspired by l'Affaire Propagannon, about how blogging might transform muckracking investigative journalism -- and there's even a lovely neologism, blogracking, to describe the new phenomenon.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005


"in everyone is a spectator and an actor, one who speaks and one who answers."


"Ethics or Aesthetics? That is indeed the question at the dawn of the millenium. If freedom of SCIENTIFIC expression now actually has no more limits that freedom of ARTISTICexpression, where will inhumanity end in future?" Paul Virillio "Art and Fear" pg. 61

Monday, February 07, 2005

hella aphorism

"In big parades and monster rallies, in sports events, and in war, all of which nowdays are captured by camera and sound recordings, the masses are brought face to face with themselves". (notes 21)

Next Up

For tomorrow be sure to have read Carol Giglliotti's short essay, “The Ethical Life of the Digital Aesthetic,” from The Digital Dialectic. Also, we should return to the Benjamin a bit, and tease at some of the stuff that has been coming up here in the blog. I'll also want to talk about the things you've found in your surfing... Is anybody following the folksonomy discussion on Many2Many, for example?

I'm very happy to see blog participation rising here, but many of you are still shying away from posting. Don't put it to the last minute, let's see some more aphorisms and discussions. Also, everybody should be thinking a bit about the general subject area and time frame when they'll want to do their in-class presentations. Browse the titles in the Virtual Reader from the Syllabus, or talk to me about your interests and we'll come up with something that works. Definitely, I'd like to see some presentations happening over the next few weeks, otherwise I'll get nervous we won't be able to fit everybody in. See you all tomorrow.


"By making many reproductions it substitutes a plurality of copies for a unique existence. And in permitting the reproduction to meet the beholder or listener in his own particular situation, it reactivates the object reproduced. "

NYC Surveillance Camera Players

click pic to goto NYC Surveillance Camera Players map site.

In case you did not know...

Try and browse for hours.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Another Log on the Fire

While we're tossing out tidbits of Benjamin, I'll toss this one out too, in the hopes that people will think about it more closely for some more discussion Tuesday as well...

With [the work of the photographer] Atget, photographs become standard evidence for historical occurences, and acquire a hidden political significance. They demand a special kind of approach; free-floating contemplation is not appropriate to them. They stir the viewer; he feels challenged by them in a new way. At the same time picture magazines begin to put up signposts for him, right ones and wrong ones, no matter. For the first time, captions have become obligatory. And it is clear that they have an altogether different character than the title of a painting. The directives which captions give to those looking at pictures in illustrated magazines soon become even more explicit and imperative in the film where the meaning of each single picture appears to be prescribed by the sequence of all preceding ones.

Now, there are many immediate perplexities that this passage calls to my mind. Why suggest that the political significance of evidenciary photography is "hidden"? Isn't it quite obvious and palpable actually? What is the force of the imagery of "free-floating" contemplation, which to me seems to call up the same immateriality of the imagery of the aura? Why doesn't it "matter" whether the "sign-posts" proposed by picture magazines are right or wrong? Why focus attention there if it doesn't matter?

But delving deeper, clearly there is some very contemporary sounding media criticism coming out of this comment on sign-posting and captions and images. The conjunction of image and text here is a multimedia insight, and the point about sign-posting makes me think of media criticism that distinguishes the manipulation of a "broadcast model" of content distribution from various networked, peer-to-peer models. It's easy to see how hypertext and open source break down what Foucault calls the "author-function" produced by traditional print publication, and then we have peer-to-peer breaking down *author*ized distributions of information... Does Benjamin's thesis about aura cast light on these developments? His final point that the actual "sequence" of frames that produces the illusion/representation of a moving image is itself an expression of the *same* kind of textual signposting that would direct our interpretations of "static" images blows my mind a bit, and I still don't know what to do with that idea. Are hypertext and tagging and wikis disintegrating or expressing this sign-posting function of textuality? I'd be interested to hear more from you on Tuesday.

In the meantime, get some aphorisms up folks. And remember to check out the sites on our blogroll and to link to interest things you find in them and elsewhere, and to blog about your impressions. I want to see more life in this space.

A question (or two) for you

"Magician and surgeon compare to painter and cameraman. The painter maintains in his work a natural distance from reality, the cameraman penetrates deeply into it's web. There is a tremendous difference between the pictures they obtain. That of the painter is a total one, that of the cameraman consists of multiple fragments which are assembled under a new law. Thus, for contemporary man the representation of reality by the film is incomparably more significant than that of the painter, since it offers, precisely because of the thoroughgoing permeation of reality with mechanical equipment, an aspect of reality which is free of all equipment. And that is what one is entitled to ask from a work of art."

I know that I am not suppose to comment on the Benjamin quote I post, but this quote intrigues and confuses me, and I would like to hear if anyone understands it better than I do. My question is, can this idea be interpreted and extended to digital media? And is the digital the painter or the cameraman? Benjamin seems to be saying that because the camera uses an objective mechanical tool, it is a better representation of reality. The digital and the internet are also mechanical tools, does this make them more true? Is the digital artist a painter because he has control to create a "total" picture? Or is the digital, which is available to everyone and probably cannot be argued to have aura, the most real representation of reality because it encompases a million fragmented pictures of reality? Any thoughts?

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Walter Benjamin Aphorism

The adjustment of reality to the masses and of the masses to reality is a process of unlimited scope, as much for thinking as for perception.


Only five pages into "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction" and my hunch is that Benjamin prefers the original over the reproduction. Statements that ring loud:

"Even the most perfect reproduction of a work art is lacking in one element: its presence in time and space, its unique existence at the place where it happens to be".

"The presence of the original is the prerequisite to the concept of authenticity."

"The situations into which the product of mechanical reproducion can be brought may not touch the actual work of art, yet the quality of it's presence is always depreciated"

....but I'm only on page 5.

Friday, February 04, 2005


Benjaminian aphorisms? Word on next week's in-class presentation? Anyone? Anyone?


Blade Runner is one of my all time favorite movies, perhaps because it shows us a future where it's possible to have huge apartments for dirt cheap. If you haven't already been to Bladezone, then click here

I'm having fun

It's 4am, and I've been following links via Dale's blog for hours. Obviously his links led to more links and so on, as it does. I have found alot of amazing things, and here's one of them. I could link you guys to dozens of things, but I'm tired, and the wind and snow have erased my tracks for the moment. Enjoy this one, though, if you haven't already. I have often thought I was the first to link someone to something fabulous only to have them say, "oh, yeah, I saw that two months ago, isn't it great?", the question mark taking back ownership, naturally. This is from the NASA site, it's an animation showing one day of air travel into, out of and around the U.S. I hope you like it:

Thursday, February 03, 2005


Somehow, some way, I did find a blog page that had links to everyone's blogs on it, most people hadn't said anything, but some made a start, but how I got there I can't quite remember, I should have left a trail of breadcrumbs.

On the subject of cybernetics, or near the subject, here are prosthetics. I found a website about medical care for returning wounded soldiers. The site stands out for the optimistic tone it sets, though I find it distressing and saddening. Of note: computer 3D mapping used to render a hard copy skull. Looks like someone got a fair chunk of her head blown away, though it's not clear if it equaled death. Perhaps they want to use the skull to render the missing part and make a plate? I'm not being morbid, go to for that, just passing it on. I believe whole heartedly in wounded soldier visibility as there is so very little of it. I for one hadn't considered the possibility of amputee FEMALE soldiers until I saw more than one on this site. Also note "Last military eye maker hopes legacy will continue". My brother has a glass eye, so I know plenty about them, again, this is not morbid curiosity. I'm not sure why Vince Przybyla is the last eyemaker, perhaps it's all automated now and a human doesn't have to hand paint on the tiny little red veins. Personally, if the legacy continuing involves more blinded soldiers, well, good riddence. Here's the link:


Where are everyone else's blogs? Are they private? Mine is on here but perhaps I can see it because I logged in, but I assumed there would be links to classmates' blogs, the links on the side only email them. It's probably obvious, but that has never stopped me from not noticing something. I'm a photographer, and I am either hyper observant, or oblivious. I wonder if anyone else in the class would be interested in a study group? I'm not sure what that would be, I just am not the best at studying. Perhaps coming together would distract from studying. Or perhaps writing about our readings on the blog is really what it could be most useful for, ask questions, get other viewpoints to break a log-jam. I feel like the only person on this thing. Brook.