Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Seriously, when is the last time you looked at a goddamn encyclopedia to retrieve information on something? For me it was Mrs. Kim’s 5th grade report on the sinking of the Titanic, which I’m certain that in 1997 hadn’t changed much since 1912. Today an elementary student can hot click away at titanic keyword sites and find anything from informational pages on the ship to Celine Dion’s buttery voice, maybe even the pseudo sex scene from the movie. Sweet little Jessica Litman acknowledges the absence of these informational aides as the internet provides all that and more (if you can decipher and dismiss the land mines of false statements.) She seems to be trying to find the best deal for those who peer-to-peer share everything from straight information to music, but she’s having a hard time due to the fact that people want to share for free and the top-dogs want to make cash. In introducing the idea of what the copyright stands for and promotes, she recognizes its existence as allowing vast dispersal of various work. Digitally, the dispersion of work becomes increasingly easier to do and receive by way of consumer interaction, leaving the chore of the middleman distributor unnecessary and inevitably alters the relationship of the author as head distributor (a bad thing?), its cheaper in the end result, and I got the idea that the copyright is unlimited in time/ will be considered copyrighted whether you like it or not. Litman seems all for file-sharing and putting a cesspool of music out there for pickins because first, she believes that in theory, music should be treated the same way factual information is with respect to copyright. I believe she refers to information as “unprotected fact” and things like music and art to be “protected expression”, so the question is still unanswered as to who decides what is original and what is simple fact, and how one goes about protecting it or using it. Second, if its good exposure for the product or work, that’s the point, ain’t it? It should be common sensical that sharing promotes the dissemination of work and should therefore be supported rather than stopped, let alone punished. But the ownership! Who owns it, whos making the dough, and wtf are they doing with it? Litman says no one really knows who digitally owns these rights, and that the recording companies don’t know what they even have dibs on (in the raging case against napster.) Lawsuits executed in the favor of the record company still hasn’t had enough of a profound effect to stop or even slow the actions of free sharing. Not to mention, though people have the option to strictly share by peer-to-peer, I know that many of my friends and me, myself still use itunes and make financially devastating visits to record stores. Some artists have even embraced the idea of a consumer paying what they deem fair and valuable, such as Radiohead’s In Rainbows album and Girl Talk’s Feed the Animals album. Unfortunately for us, some artists are insistent on seeing the obscene amounts of green yielded by our contributions. Litman comes up with her own theory in order to find a compromise in paying royalties, as she picks a little off proposals from Fisher, Gervais, Ku, Lessig, and Lunney. Her plan would be to start up another music sharing system that would be much like the free sharing one we currently use, except that there would be exceptions for artists able to refrain from letting their music participate, not that we should encourage that. Money made from the consumer’s purchase (which she notes should be individually on a smaller scale than it is now) would go directly to the creator of the music or recording, and if there were intermediates, the money would do a kind of trickle down. For money to be distributed among the creators, Litman has two suggestions. The first is a direct access to the money collected through performance rights organizations where peer-to-peer sharing would involve a small fee. The next is a tax, but she says since the music would ultimately feel like it was free, we’d be right where we started in thinking its not necessary to pay the creators for their music. In Litman’s perfect sharing world, she would allow freedom among the creator to withhold their music and freedom among consumers will to want to pay a fee. But what happens when a rebel consumer doesn’t want to buy into this new system and wants to freeload? I can’t help but think it could come back full circle, spawn another dilemma such as the one being discussed.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Posted for kati kati is the precis...awesome short story by the way. It gave
me and my friends something interesting to talk about all week! Dave
is sorry he can't come to class with me again to talk to everyone in
class about it.

Stiegler has certainly written a bizarre and beautiful story. What is
most unsettling about this story, I found, is the actual plausibility
of the whole thing! It is a story about a woman who works with trees
and flowers near Mt. Rainier, a nature woman. She sees this man
briefly, who works in the tech industry. They discuss the idea of
technological singularity and its effects on the future and the
possibilities in store for her. Being a nature buff she is (we
assume) not very technologically savvy... At first she is scared and
appalled at his predictions and the "wicked delight" in his smile
while disclosing these new possibilities technology will provide. At
first she is repulsed by the idea of immortality, of talking to
computers with her mind, of visiting distant planets and living on an
asteroid near Jupiter but like the title suggests she is "gently
seduced" by the new technology.
The seduction begins when she is confronted with the daunting tasks
of shoveling the snow off her walkway with her 82 year old back. Her
children who seem to be more comfortable with the new technology have
given her a "mechanical beast" that could shovel the snow, but she
finds the snow shoveling robot to be loud and offensive. Not as
offensive as the tiny pill of nanobots her children also gave her,
that could fix her back. I found it to be especially curious that she
would rather swallow a bunch of tiny robots that would fix the bones
in her back than have one big giant robot shovel the snow for her, but
I guess we all know that people love popping pills. So after her back
is repaired she goes on to fix her lungs and her brain, with this
newfound vitality she gets her appearance "stabilized" so that she
always appears to be around the age of 32. Then there is the crazy
headband that allows you to interact with distant computers with your
mind. This is when things got especially interesting to me with the
headband thing. With this headband or implant you are then linked to
these computers that allow you to view the world through cyborg eyes.
All you have to do is think about something and it appears in your
mind, an aerial view of Mt. Rainier, a projected view of a ski slope
to see the patterns of snow and ice, complicated math problems,
potential hazards on the mountain whatever really. She is also able
to communicate without vocalizing with other people and their head
implants! Amazing! So now she is able to talk to her family even
though they live on Mars. When she decides to go visit them on Mars
it emboldens her to travel to other planets and experience other alien
landscapes. After all being someone that enjoys the scenic route, she
should naturally want to explore the terrain of distant planets.
The interesting thing about visiting these other planets is that she
visits them outside of her body, through a robot that is receiving the
sensory information then feeding it back to her via head implant.
These new senses are transformed from her earthly senses. Now she can
"see ultrasonic vibrations" and "smell ionic changes" Enraptured by
all her new senses and abilities she is experiencing with her head
implant and her perfectly functioning brain, she voraciously begins to
explore the universe around her. She describes the "boundless
singing" in her head to be the most wondrous of all her new
abilities. At one point she describes the music in her head as
"rippling waves of love that never quite [go] away" This is the moment
where I start recognizing these metaphysical themes.
Here in this ecstatic moment: "As the melodies suffused her mind they
intermingled, sometimes playing upon one another in a concordance of
point and counterpoint. Once, such a duet evoked from several
masterpieces a harmony, which surged to drive the cadence of a grander
euphony, that captured and empowered an even greater polyphony,
filling her mind with a symphony of symphonies. And on a thousand
planets, with a thousand bodies and a thousand voices, she leapt in
the air and filled the sky with lilting laughter, a chorus of joy that
spanned the arm of a galaxy." Does this not sound like Nirvana to
anyone? Could the head implant not be akin to a "third eye"? Or how
about this traveling to different planets in your mind...astral
projection? Or the dream bound death being like heaven? Maybe I've
been hanging out in Fairfax too long...I found it interesting how her
body seemed to mean less and less to her. How technology had actually
turned her into a non-materialist and seemed to rid her of her basic
human instincts...did she even need to eat or sleep anymore? The
machines freed her from her body and in a sense she behaves less like
a robot and more like a free mind. Interesting indeed...
In the last part of the story, she is asked to make contact with the
alien intelligence one of the space needles collided with. They needed
her for her "elemental resilience and adaptability." They needed her
to open her mind to share her mind with others minds and the aliens
minds to make contact. After her experience in the minds of the human
team and the aliens, when she came back to herself, she asked "Was she
still herself?" This experience reminded me of "hive mentality"
Everyone sharing the same knowledge, the collective knowledge is the
hive, each person an appendage. "Of course you are. You are all you
have ever been, and more." She too realizes that she is merely an
appendage of something greater. "Expanded communion would not destroy
her; she was her own bubble no matter how frothy the ocean might
become." Is Stiegler then saying technology could be the catalyst for
human evolution on the level of consciousness?

Tomorrow --

Anybody giving reports tomorrow morning should provide links to materials we can look over before hand if you've got them. What about a precis from tomorrow's co-facilitators?

As you already noticed, tomorrow we're talking about about a strange short story (The Gentle Seduction), an old-school polemic by C.S. Lewis, and a lovely literary essay by Hannah Arendt. These are all quite fun to talk about, and I can't imagine anybody finding them too difficult. We're going to be missing some of our colleagues to a field trip tomorrow, so it's really important that everybody left behind be prepared to talk. These pieces are all enjoyable and and quite accessible so that really shouldn't be too difficult. See you all tomorrow!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Howard Finster

Howard Finster is a wonderful artist who believes he is recieving messages from God and communicating them in his artworks. Is he nuts?...or is he on the same page as Isaac Newton?
see his artworks at


Stem Cell Map

Need you be reminded, Religion is blocking stem cell research from developing....


It has always seemed to me that humans have their heads in the wrong places whenever spending money. It is especially easy to see this in America. Why are we building bombs and putting cameras into space and obsessed with leisure and products. Shouldn't we be spending our time and money worrying about the pollution of the Biosphere which surrounds the planet, and helping prevent people from getting painfully sick, then treating them in the most humane manner when they are? Educating people so that they can form their own ideas and know how they should spend their money? Why does every beverage you purchase come contained in something which will be disposed of in less than twenty minutes? Possibly it is because we are such a "progressive society" that we are allowed to drink from such sanitary containers, each sealed in a factory by a powerful and productive machine. Plus, we can give some lady in China a job who would otherwise be working in the rice fields! isn't she lucky we are giving her money? Who knows where these notions came from? It seems so out there and crazy to me,

The truth is that the ideals of man are based on the delusion that we are all going to experience an apocalypse one day. It may happen in your lifetime, but hopefully in the far away future, because we need to get ready! We need to send men on the moon to see if it is liveable after the Earth is destroyed. When you see how much technological development has been fuelled by the delusions of religion, it is easier to understand why certain areas of science have been pumped full of money, while others left on the shelf. For me, it is a little scary. Scary, because even though I know that religion is all a delusional distraction from reality, there are still a lot of people I know who are dead set in their beliefs. People are content believing these lies and what they do not realize is that are engaging in a completely selfish delusion that is supporting activities which are not helping the ecosystem of our Planet, but destroying it, because that actually is the delusion….The earth is going to burn up and we are all going to die! Only if we let this happen, at least.

Viva la Shiftspace!

I know this is pretty late for tomorrow's class, but I just came across this project and was so excited I had to share.

Shiftspace is a tool based activism art project that was developed by two media activists, Dan Phiffer and Mushon Zer-Aviv. The project is an open source layer that goes above any website and enables users to make changes and save them to a new public space on the web. Shiftspace attempts to subvert the Internet's growing trend of closed hierarchical systems and bring it back to a peer to peer network. This video explains it really well for us visual learners.

So basically you download this program, become a member of the network thus enabling you to change pictures, add comments, highlights, and edit the code over the site of your choosing. Your changes are made public and other users can choose to see your intervention or do an entirely new one. Check out the public square, it keeps track of all shifts.

Here is my graffiti using the picture swap tool:

Hello, everybody...

I'm posting this message to the blog and also sending it out as a mass mailing to many of your e-mail addresses. I suspect I'm going to miss some of you this way, so please forward or mention this message to folks you know who are in class but aren't listed among the recipients to this e-pistle.

I have noticed that no précis has been posted to the blog and that there are no new links posted to organizations or artists or events on the blog either, even though I do believe that there are co-facilitators and people giving reports for tomorrow's class.

This makes me very nervous.

It makes me especially nervous because last week's class was really terrible and I don't want a repeat of that tomorrow.

Let me make something very clear that I shouldn't have to make clear at all.

Attending this class is not optional if you are enrolled in it. Arriving to class on time is not optional if you are enrolled in it. Reading the texts assigned for our class meetings and being prepared to discuss them is not optional if you are enrolled in it.

An unbelievable number of you asked special permission to enroll in this class. I had assumed that this meant you had an enthusiasm for the topic or for the style of teaching or for the community of the classroom you were expecting. I let everybody into the class who wanted to be here. Now I fully expect you to repay that generosity by contributing to the class you have joined.

You all know that I am pretty anarchic when it comes to class structure. I tend to think your engagement with this difficult material is more productive for everybody when we grapple with it as peers.

But you all need to meet me halfway. And that is not yet happening in our class together this term in too many cases.

If you need to miss a class, let me know before hand or immediately afterward. I tend to be very affable about such things. If you miss the class more than three times, however, there may be a real question whether you are really even participating in the class in any meaningful sense, and if you miss without ever doing me the service of explaining why I have little reason or inclination to be generous with you.

I'm taking attendance from here on out and if you arrive too late I'm treating you as absent. It is a ridiculous and infantilizing sort of thing to do, in my opinion, and I truly hate that sort of thing, but that's how it's going to be until you demonstrate to me that I can dispense with this sort of idiocy by coming to class on time and ready to talk.

Again, I get it that many of these texts are alienating and dense. Critical theory is already unfamiliar and complex and many of these texts add the complexity of obscure technological details to the already weirdly complex attentions of a theoretical vantage.

But nobody expects you to spin crystal clear lectures on these topics after a couple of readings! If you don't understand a text, try to figure out what is making it especially difficult for you. Come up with actual questions to ask your peers and me about the text, rather than just giving up. or dismissing it, or whatever it is that you want to do instead of reading the text carefully.

We are reaching a place in the syllabus in which the texts deal with more general issues that apply to all sorts of issues, not just to the specific historical moment of the 90s digirati we've been focusing on up to this point. This is a perfect moment to reconnect with the course and try to dig in a bit.

There are a few of you who are excused tomorrow but there are so many more of you that I still expect a full house tomorrow. I'm not interested in excuses or explanations, just come tomorrow, find something you are prepared to talk about in these texts, and let's all move on.

That is all. Dale

Saturday, October 04, 2008


heres the link to the group i was talking about today. also, heres a you tube video shortly describing some of the things i touched on...

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Geert Lovink

Geert Lovink, (b. 1959, Amsterdam) is a media theorist, net critic, and activist.

Check out his blog here. Also his essay Blogging, the Nihilist Impulse, might be interesting for discussion.


I am going to give a presentation on Geert Lovink: bio
Blogging, the nihilist impulse: link

Brittany McCall