Monday, February 28, 2005

In search of lost lines

Putting down a copy of Hollinghurst's Booker Prizewinner 'The Line of Beauty' to tune into Radio 4's excellent adaptation of Proust's gargantuan 'In Search of Lost Time' makes me think of the similarities and differences. For a start both are written from the point of view of aspiring writers. Proust's narrator has an obsession with the aristocrats and high society of the Faubourg St-Germain; Hollinghurst's hobnobs with a mixture of Tories, English nobility and haute bourgeoisie. Separated by just under a century both are gay writers; but neither claims to have written a gay novel. Proust because he was most certainly not out; Hollinghurst because he his. Times have changed. But time is the grand design of Proust's work and this rather diminishes Hollinghurst whose lines are those of James, male bodies, cocaine, and generally far shorter than the beautiful but convoluted ones drawn by Proust. Still I enjoyed The Line of Beauty, but not as much as Marcel.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

I saw this...

..and thought ah yes, meaning as use as Wittgenstein put it in Philosophical Investigations. So there€'s football teams like one of Sheffield's own (the Owls) and Brentford's (believe it or not the Bees) conjoined with a verbal metaphor. Here's the story (yawn). So, context is everything (cue blogpost). Will this be good enough to make sure they log my blog? I hope so!

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Snowed in

Couldn'€™t get to work with 20 inches of snow outside my front door! Well that ends the weather theme (apart from remembering to tie in this post). So here'€™s something visual, in the form of Elliot Golden's graphic work (here) Click portfolio A or B to the left and wait for the gallery to load. And here's something musical in the form of DJ BC'€™s mash-ups of the Beatles and the Beastie Boys (The Beastles). More mash-ups available here. Here's something more on the verbal side, a short tattoo narrative from Australia. And, finally something a little more academic in the form of a research blog on skinning. Good, because blogs are a great way to open up research, but a little more on skinning would help!

Friday, February 25, 2005

Visit Venice
This blog and its links often touch on the separation of time and space from place. This is, I think, one of the most powerful insights from Giddens. So, yesterday’s blog joined snow in Westport (13 November 2004) with snow in Sheffield (forgetting, by the way snow in New York). And in this space, which dear reader is the screen, you can temporarily migrate to Northern Italy to a ‘flash-space’ which is really worth spending some time inhabiting. It’s called Their Circular Life and it’s great!

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Snow in old England

Following my penchant for marks, tracks and footprints, today's snowfall held the promise of a blank canvas. Hoping for the Westport picture I blogged here, I went out with great expectations. I failed miserably (probably the wrong kind of snow). Anyway, second best - but somehow not quite so romantic - here are my tyre tracks in the fresh snowfall.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Never blog your fingers...

They look awful! But I said I woul€™d never blog my finger, and then it suddenly came to me, why not? You can see how the injury (middle finger trapped in supermarket trolley) is beginning to heal now. But somehow that means more than the following factoid: '400 teachers in Queensland don'™t know what a syllable is (never mind the fact that they could be mathematicians). Enough to launch an enquiry. Anyway that'™s from this...but then this suggests that the inquiry is about cash. Interesting how ideology and money are sometimes interchangeable. Anyway I feel for Australian teacher educators if they are to face the same levels of suspicion, the policing of knowledge boundaries and the layers of accountability that inhibit their colleagues in the UK. And then on a more cheerful and totally unrelated note, I'm pleased to be here, too!

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Chav Champion

Lady Sovereign is hacked off about being called a chav. And, now it's official, the whole chav thing just recycles class prejudice as I suggested here. The Chavscum website is particularly distasteful with its references to the '˜peasant underclass' (here if you must). So, Julie Burchill is a controversial figure at the best of times but her celebration of Chavdom (last night on TV) is one of the more intelligent bits of Sky One programming. OK, she got angry, but I think her argument, summarized here, is right. And she gave Lady Sovereign a different voice. 'I mean I'€™ve seen things,' said the DJ, '˜and they probably live in Chelsea, and all they see is buses going past and that lot.' They, of course, are those re-inventors of class prejudice (the real chavvies) ... Rule Britannia?

Monday, February 21, 2005

And who are you?

No more embarrassing moments staring at someone€'s chest to find out who they are (at conferences) - just alter the font size accordingly on your digital scrolling name tag badge. Read all about it here: these comments are good!. And this is nTag in the news, it has RFID and infra-red so it is interactive, and the site has a really compelling page-design. Looking for the competition I found the digital message buckle (very bling!) and this is the bargain I was hunting for your word on the streets (sounds like an invitation to a graffiti party). Now I wonder what a prpgrammable diplay is?

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Selling Elvis

This is an unlikely research product - a web-based messy text (some links are broken) based on a critical/post-ethnographic study of shopping in Graceland Plazza. It'€™s the work of Daniel Heaton and is written up in a more conventional way here.

And for me, Sunday is meme day. No blog seems complete without a reference to The Gates (that was mine) - but as usual BoingBoing excel with spoof versions (like this made from cheese crackers!). Blogtalk about folksonomy seems quiet of late. Maybe this meme's under control. Well, it must be now it's domesticated in the pages of The Observer.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Cloud-Chamber Bowl

I dream I'm tiptoeing around a large house with empty rooms when I hear the sound of Harry Partch playing the cloud-chamber bowl. Here's a set he built way back, and you can click on this picture for a sound clip. A modern exponent of the cloud-chamber bowl is Max de Wardener. Here's some detail about him, and a review of his most recent recording - it's new music, but it's a natural acoustic and a particularly ethereal slice of digital culture.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Defining digital culture
Gamimg, sampling, remixing, and messaging seem to be examples of practices that are often referred to in relation to the concept of digital culture. But it’s quite interesting how loosely we’ve started using this idea of digital culture. So Shift sets out 10 defining moments of digital culture (actually, I think they’re all contested), but that’s not important – it’s the assumption that we know what digital culture is in the first place. This piece on education and training seems to me to build on an inadequate model of what techno- or digital culture actually is. I’ve started to think of it as a set of practices clustered around the use of particular tools, and modes of communication and interaction. There’s also sets of values and underpinning mindsets at work. This is a link to the Institute of Multimedia Literacy at the University of Southern California – digital culture gets a mention alongside media, art, design and technology. ..interesting stuff, but definition remains problematic.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Oh Superman!

The word BLOG was first used in 1959 in a Superman comic - what about that! And if you're drawn to Nietzsche's idea of the Ubermensch, the ideal/superior being, why not try the Hero-Machine. Superheroes have been popular in the Arab world for some time (see here). This copy is 30 years old.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Time is not linear...

Time is not linear it's folded round like a spiral. How else could I dream about 'flow' just the night before I accidentally read it and blogged it? (OK - you smirk - that's OK!). Yesterday afternoon I filmed half an hour of the ancient craft of gilding with gold leaf, and I'm sure Kate was in 'flow' right through. Maybe I'll blog some stills... And, hey, look no links...but that makes up for the fact my Flickr was down with a parsing error yesterday. I see from the boards that happens a lot, so maybe it's true, time isn't linear!

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Go with the flow
Moving to Norrath describes how immersive game-play may be like migrating to a virtual world. Is this more than the experience descibed by Czikszentimihalyia (1988) as flow? In flow-states you lose track of time, miss meals etc. That's a bit different from narrative pleasure as Andrew Stern argues - it's about fully entering a rich world. Blogging, on the other hand is lightweight use, although, as Dr Joolz observes it modifies one's experience of everyday life. Somewhere or other there's the pleasure principle. This report gives a useful exploration of new media and new pleasures. Food for thought.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Love is a mental illness?

So argues Frank Tallis - but that's just hot air - I think he means love is a state of mind ('love looks not with the eyes, but the mind'). There's plenty of hot air around today. For instance here, on Valentine's cards. However, the changing ways of messaging are making an impact, with an estimated 6.7 million love-themed texts in Australia and 20 million emails. And whilst on the 'crickey' factor, here's Karan Sachdev, the new world champion speed texter, who claims he keeps in training by having loads of girlfriends (or something like that). And then for a dry look at Valentine's Day, there's this. Lots of love until next year!

Sunday, February 13, 2005

A thin path leading nowhere.

Dead wood or water-logged timber? On The Message we learn about Norman Geras, academic, blogger and 'leftwing darling of the right' who supports military action in Iraq. Blah blah blah, free speech, blah blah blogging, blogging as democracy blah blah blah. Meanwhile, Storming Norman has a brainwave and calls it blogximity - a thin path indeed.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Pattern recognition?

Another day, another sign. Does this mean: a) Friday should be crossed off. b) Don't travel today? c) I live on the Manchester flightpath? As much of a miracle, I suppose, as mystical toast and the fantastic array of messages hidden in fruit and vegetables. Apophenia, divine citation, metaphysical footnotes...I look out and it's clouded over. The forecast is blizzards and that's a coincidental link to cold(not synchronicity!).

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Hypertextual citation

Apparently it is (or was) windy and cold in Geneva as the photo appears to show. From an image randomly selected it's hard to tell if this is documenting extreme weather or simply a visitor's snap. Who knows, without a reference point? Selective sampling has become an important part of popular music. Much has been said about looping the bass of an old James Brown track or mixing in classic Blue Note tracks. Sampling involves a sort of disembedding or context-stripping. It's the first move in a remix and it can happen in any media. Web curios are often like this. For example, what's all this about...but wow!

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

We are thinking people

This is a close-up of a fabulous t-shirt given to me by friends at SHU. The back, which I may blog another day has some great quotations (including the 'we are thinking people' one, which is now inscribed in local folklore!). And those of you who know about my concern for PC hygiene will be pleased to learn that I have, at last, solved the dirty screen problem with this.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

i pod therefore i am

These are nifty new mini ipod cradles, part of the expanding array of add-ons. I've already noted the ipod vegan recipe book, add to this the ipod text-message scrapbook - clearly there's a universe of market niches out there. For the techies there's how to make a shuffle RAID and from the Mac development people an introduction to podcasting. But on a more day to day level, the snap-on ibeam flashlight and laser pointer look good (and don't ilike the new prefix - ifix?).

Monday, February 07, 2005

(gender) At the leading edge ...

Gear Live'€™s augmented reality software is impressive - they blend real and 3-D video images - check the video link at the bottom of this page. But watching this content you can'€™t help thinking about how they let the boys lose in the toy shop. OK, so there's a rose in the first demo, but watch how quickly this turns into a weapon. Then we have cars (plenty of them), a helicopter, tanks... this is a demo, a sales pitch, so maybe the faceless hotel audience is significant - are they into hand-to-hand fighting and military hardware? Or are they just wannabe boyracers? So then, how different is this (see picture), courtesy of William Gibson? Pimp my ride! All I can say is '€˜boys will be boys'€™.

Sunday, February 06, 2005


Curiosity took me here - one of the most attractive blog designs I've come across. Anyway, I went through, looking for the origin of the (rather naff) blog survey, arriving here. At first these people all sound like harmless Christians, until doubt sets in. I do a reality check with DJFood, looks interesting but the site's down, stumble on another music-thing and then discover Krazydad - his mosaics are so cool.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Till we have faces

Here, I choose my face for the Ranmoor gig (Trois Tetes would need a special deal here). Fortunately, I was recognisable. I could, of course, find out more about myself with Face Analyzer, although as this blogger humorously illustrates, it's not always too reliable. 'Till we have faces' is a C.S. Lewis myth, now cunningly re-cycled by San Diego emo-punks Noise Ratchet. Here's the lyrics. Off now to look into face transplants!

Friday, February 04, 2005

Accidents and mistakes
I'm so impressed by this guy who texts in his sleep, he must be well on the way to becoming a seamlessly-blended cyborg! If he is accidentally sending text messages, what is it like to be accidently reading text messages, like these (or was it planned?). Elsewhere, I notice that we can form 'accidental online communities' by linking i-messaging to our frequently-visited blogs (!). Thank goodness for good management advice on how to avoid accidents/mistakes in emailing. I think I just broke every rule in the book in half an hour. Good.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Watch the hack!

This is a modified cashpoint (ATM) on the London tube. A portable cardreader, attached to the machine, clones your personal ID (see below). As you are copied, your hard-earned cash is syphoned away from your account. Trois Tetes thinks a mirror may be handy for checking your identity (how many faces will he see 1,3 or more) but I'd rather play safe.

Watch your back!

As the identity meme mutates through the blogosphere with this on image and identity, and this on self-reflection, Trois Tetes worries about identity theft. The photograph here shows the standard Barclays cashpoint (ATM) on the London tube. Check that nobody sees you pump in your PIN,when you get your cash, because you are a number, after all.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Digitising Dunhuang
I was fortunate to catch an excellent broadcast on the Dunhuang caves today. Having admired the world's oldest known printed book in the British Library's Silk Road exhibition last year, I've become fascinated with the the work of the International Dunhuang Project. Basically, a rich archeological hoard (mostly textual) was found and plundered by Aurel Stein at the beginning of the twentieth century. Others, of various nationalities followed and by the 1920s material was dispersed around the globe. Dedicated scholars working across international boundaries are slowly cataloguing and digitising the material. It's been suggested that no-one has ever seen all the material together, but soon you will be able to see it all (virtually), even though it is dispersed, thanks to new technology. You will be able to do a virtual visit, actually entering the cave, eventually, but there are a few sticking points around intellectual property to negotiate first.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Drab blog
There's so much good use of visual image out there, that I sometimes feel that my short (mainly verbal) blog looks drab! I enjoy looking at photos from round the world like these, and really loved this concept of a visual travelogue - although it took a bit of time to load up. There's also a blog that comes out of a ESRC project on personal photography on the web. Images aside, my favourite hit of the day is Enrique Quintero's vegan recipes for the ipod - now that's what I call lifestyle!