Wednesday 31 March 2010

Google Retaliates Against China's Great Firewall

In a timely move leaked details of Google's beta firewall breaker is emerging on the internets. Could this be information warfare? Is the Empire Striking Back? More details over at Sinosplice.

Monday 22 March 2010


Clay Parker Jones brought my attention to this after an impoverished skim the first time it hit my life stream a couple of weeks ago. It made first draft and so I'm finishing it off before it starts to rot in my draft folder although I suspect the high resolution art directed shots like the one above contributed towards its renaissance. 

User interface on your skin developed by Chris Harrisson

So anyway, I was listening to another McKenna podcast a while back that conveyed some of his anomalous thinking on the big picture stuff that I find refreshing against what I'm labelling random theory; which is the prevailing explanation for anything prior to a low entropic state.

I'm also re-reading Taleb's Black Swan as part of a process of disposing of anything extraneous including books. I may have lost a lot of important stuff last year but I'm focused on not acquiring replacements and furthermore want to go completely minimal. Too much has been lost over the years, and in various countries to take possessions seriously any more, though I notice The KLEIN would be like having a few fingers amputated should that go missing or need to be jettisoned.

This rationalisation process means my wardrobe is a little less hip than when I was carrying the first division threads in a suitcase carrying way too many other important things, but I can't justify not being resourceful, when I have more 2nd Division T Shirts than I could get through in a lifetime. You realise this isn't just aesthetics, though that in itself is a radical departure from my life until now. It's also an alignment with how I want to live the remainder, which offhand can't be that much than four or five hundred months if I take an unhealthy interest in actuarial norms. Which I don't.

Back to McKenna. he was riffing on as he does so well, about nature being in principle a conservative and conserving force, and about how its frugality driven if that makes sense at all within the context of an abundance machine that we plunder without precedence.

There was also something said about nature's answers being fundamentally elegant solutions, and about that being a good indicator of how to think when trying to solve problems usually belonging within the remit of the natural sciences. Which brings me back to the topic of this post.

Skinput strikes me as a great use of existing human biological real estate. I just made that line up but bear with me because I really think Skinput is clever and resourceful. It's low on atoms and somehow for me begins to change the way we think about the stuff we're hell bent on possessing; principally that will be possessions, or am I over egging with alliterations now? Sorry if it's annoying.

Sure we're always going to be attached to social objects and badges of modernity, sentimentality, nostalgia and utility. However, as it becomes increasingly unnecessary (through possession convergence) to require a watch, a notebook, a phone, a portable music device or even spend time teasing apart the UX debate on the demise of QWERTY keyboards as Apple's iPad has instigated, I can see an evolutionary change in our relationship to stuff which changes quite a lot of what we assume our BIOS will be like in the future. I hope it's not the same. I can't see why it would remain the same if I look at other fundamentals that have shifted as culture does.

In any case, there's a video  about Skinput that I have embedded here for a lot less atomic space than was possible before the emergence of digital delivery. It's a bit dry but worth a look (Though I'd like it if Youtube allowed users to review videos at a faster speed than is conventional. Double and quadruple. That sort of thing.

Anyway, my only niggle is that the line Skinput have used is:

Appropriating the body as an input surface.

It is that already isn't it?

It's also a genius output surface and a lot lot more.

I guess it's the implied subservience of nature to science that annoys me with their endline. Mainly because I feel that nature is often most fiercely legislated around when it comes to sports of all things. Even the EPA hasn't earned the same gravitas and respect for nature that sports do. Whole forests and canyon, whole elements still in the ground don't get the same reverence for nature that sports does when considering the notion of purity and artificial helpers.

Sad, but over the years, I've never met anyone who supported my view (apart from a sports ethics philosophy professor who  I listened to on The Forum) that we should allow sports participants the choice of pharmaceutically enhancing themselves. I think the enhanced Olympics would be more special than the Special Olympics were that to be the case, well it would be ace and well worth watching.

I'm not quite making my point clear. I see glimpses of neurological rewiring from Skinput, in much the same way that Google's anschluss of my neo cortex coupled with stealth tech creep of real simple syndication (RSS) has changed the way I digest data. Not just the way I think but my self awareness (not to be confused with self consciousness as I learned last week)

 I like what Google did, no question they raised my IQ if we're flexible about the definition of intelligence, but I had no idea it would or that there's a quid pro quo. 

So now's a good time I guess to think Skinput through. Spontaneous prodding is OK on Facebook but I can't imagine I'd like my skin to be less than mine if say a Blackberry Skin were to come on the market.

Update: The bioethicist I was looking for is Julian Savelescu

Anatomy of a Hashtag #cashgordon

Tweets containing JavaScript is a new one for me, though anyone who thinks there's any difference between the Tories and Labour is deluded. They're all 'on side'. 

Look at who's introducing the digital *reform*... Lord Mandelson. 

What a snake. Pic via @megpickard

Wednesday 3 March 2010

The Kaiser's Toilet

I was offline for a week or so and missed most of these, so I've been catching up. Marcus is an Englishman who lives in Munich. Actually we grew up a stones throw from each other in Southampton, UK, though I don't think we ever met even though there are a few parks and beaches we both used to spend time at and have both coincidentally gone on to work in Germany. A place we both love.

Anyway far more important than that is his work which is all over the internet under different names which makes it difficult to list but the Vimeo productions are a great start.

Tuesday 2 March 2010


I purchased this in Delhi between travel from Chennai and on the way to Mumbai a few years ago while doing some work for a French multinational that had nothing to do with advertising and yet called upon much of my experience as a planner to figure out a way of developing a market entry strategy as well as developing a nationwide network. No small task given India's size, and that in rural places a cart and oxen will take the place of the more modern services we're used to, and which India is naturally capable of providing in larger cities.

India is the most challenging country to the senses. Not even Burma or Laos comes close. I like it immensely though I find Mumbai less compelling and lean more towards the pregnant haze of spirituality in Madras over the unmistakable scent of gargantuan power in New Delhi. I still find it odd that the most British place I've ever been to in my life was the New Delhi Gymkhana Club. It's straight out of an E.M Forster novel, we had a full on three course dinner with my amiable Indian host, including Spotted Dick and Custard with cigars for the gentlemen afterwards. Lots of really interesting people from all over. People I couldn't figure out what they did or why they seemed so different from the expat crowds in other parts of the world.

This book doesn't take long to read. I just finished it a few minutes ago after two grazing sessions. There's not much that Chomsky can teach me historically these days as I've devoured most of his works over the last few years. He's a great teacher. 

However, this book still pricked my conscience about the historical revisionism that has taken place with regard to Indonesia in the 60's. What the British, the U.S. and the Australians sanctioned through Suharto is possibly one of the worst genocides we've had a hand in and I really don't understand how there's only been one Bali bombing there or why I was I've always felt reasonably safe on my trips to Jakarta, including a stay at the Marriot which took a hit a few years back, and now has a large veneer of safety wrapped round it. I say veneer because all the waving of hand detectors in the world wont stop a determined person and in some ways this book is all about why some people are so determined to hit back and make up for history.

It becomes increasingly evident that the complexity of running a Hyper-power (notice how that word has slipped in the last few years) is extraordinarily complex and yet it's people like Chomsky (and Arundhati Roy who gets a few mentions) that are our real moral compasses; the people who should have got some airtime for every mention of 'weapons of mass destruction'...or was it delusion?

Why Socialised Media Matters

I'd be unhappy if I used to have a monopoly on a monologue communications model where I was the mouthpiece, only to see a dialogue model open up and start calling shots for what they are. I'm surprised that Goldman haven't included Yves from Naked Capitalism here because her blog has that insider authoritative critique which consistently eviscerates the line that Goldman and other financial institutions try to pass off.

Given the quality of information that's available I fear we're in the Golden age of the internet and it wont last. I worry about how Australia is clamping down (as a pilot study?) or why people like Lord Mandelson or Lord Young seem to be in the back pocket of people like Rupert Murdoch. What is the quid pro quo for their legislative favours?

Update: The next link in my feed reader was this Wired story. You should read it to know where the real threat to our freedoms come from.

Good Clean Fun

For me Axe is Brut or Old Spice so I don't really buy into the brand and much of their communications. This just works though doesn't it?