Sep 25, 2005

Handbook for bloggers and cyber-dissidents published by Reporters Without Borders

"Blogs get people excited. Or else they disturb and worry them. Some people distrust them. Others see them as the vanguard of a new information revolution. Because they allow and encourage ordinary people to speak up, they’re tremendous tools of freedom of expression."

Reporters Without Borders has produced this handbook to help bloggers, with handy tips and technical advice on how to to remain anonymous and to get round censorship, by choosing the most suitable method for each situation. It also explains how to set up and make the most of a blog, to publicise it (getting it picked up efficiently by search-engines) and to establish its credibility through observing basic ethical and journalistic principles. Below are links to the English, Farsi, and Arabic versions of the Handbook:

نسخه بالعربیه Enter فارسی

Sep 17, 2005

Google's Entry into the Blog Searching World

Google has released a blog search service, in beta, it searches blogs with feeds, not blogs as such. We can subscribe to search results as feeds. But the feeds can be messy or broken. Users can sort results by relevance or by date.
Google's entering an already developed market, with leaders like Technorati. But Google's offering has fewer services, in comparison, so far. It's narrow in focus - no tags, no graphs, no categories. Are those on the way? Will the Web 2.0 services market heat up with innovations in response?

Sep 13, 2005

random mixed voices on the web

random collages of voices on the web--as gibson would say--ghosts in the machine, x257 hosts several projects, each of which mixes multiple digital sources into web pages. For example, HUB snarfs down several hundred (guess how many) messages from selected email lists. And the ASRF generator mixes the result once more, which the site encourages you to submit to one of the sources, starting the process recursively and again.

What is a Blog? Becoming Research by Mark Amerika

True blog is not true at all. It is pseudo.
For example, the novels of Henry Miller could be considered bloggish, but then again so would the so-called "diaries" of Anais Nin, not because they are diaries per se, but because they subvert the diary form into what reads like an associative, pseudo-autobiographical novel. It's her socio-linguistic poetics coupled with an energetic linking process that makes it feel so bloggered. Her enigmatic jazz momentum totally eroticized by a very stylized use of language as aphrodiasical elixir. This, I believe, is the key to blogging less it become nothing but narcissistic foreplay, and mediocre narcissistic foreplay at that. Mark Amerika
The state of problematized being is erupting. Behind the scenes, I have been creating a document that essentially outlines the new practice-based research initiative I'm developing at the University of Colorado. In so doing, I have come up with an alpha-version of what amounts to an "objective of the study" as well as a "conceptual framework" that will hopefully lead to a more focused research agenda to be pursued within the context of the new "digital art curriculum" I am developing here (but where is here?).
The idea has been there for a little over a year, the language waiting to perform its function. Only now, having changed scenery (St. Kilda versus the foothills of Colorado's eastern slope), has it actually materialized. This is the beautiful thing about evolving a digital culture out of lived reality (mutating codework). You program yourself to write yourself into being, to engage in an ongoing ungoing networked social experience with the Other that borders on becoming. The Other role-plays their codework too, forgetting about acting and just living, and in so doing, becomes a better acting partner. When it all feels right and you find yourself operating in a globally distributed, nomadic narrative space where virtual subjectivities port their artificially constructed intelligence through the network, what you get is an entirely new sense of language as polyvocal remix spurred on by the Apparatus and its coded trend toward mediamatic interactivity.
What you do is you engage with the programming Other, like Belmondo and Seberg in "Breathless" or the various B-rate characters floating in Mike Figgis' Time Code.
In my mind's eye (the Apparatus on auto-focus), I see myself using language to corrupt the meaning of images. These images are essentially being captured by my body as if it were a recording device always already encoding the data so that I can manipulate it all in an on-the-fly narrative remix of what it feels like to be me, a living creature, a living ecriture, "in whose sight we see the world anew" (to quote Wallace Stevens).
To carry the metaphor further, part of my project is to invent my vocation - to turn the the net artist into what Stevens called a "necessary angel," one whose digital poetics reinvents what it means to capture consciousness in a place that is always still in-formation.
Location, location, location -- or so goes the mantra of all real estate agents wherever they may be hovering (waiting for the kill). It's the same with net art as nomadic narrative or Life Style Practice. Nomadic narrative is also about location, location, location - or lack thereof - or even lost states of being on the edge of becoming borderless and optimumly free. It's the place I find myself when I am "writing cyberspace."
I am here, creating, writing, living, evolving. Surfing, sampling and manipulating the open source code that writes me into this place I can never truly get a foothold in yet still feel at home in, as if writing language or writing cybesrpace is how I embody the network, that non-place that is SO not-me. Here, there and everywhere.
But where is here? Boulder? United Airlines flight 841 from L.A. to Melbourne tearing Time to shreds? A happening Italian cafe in Fitzroy? A tempermental dreamwork tuned to the color of television?
I could be anywhere.
And yet I am here, in computer-mediated cyberspace, burning through the sands of time.

It's sort of like when you fly from America to Australia and lose an entire day - somewhere - somehow - it just doesn't exist - and yet it does - and so I want to know where it is - WHAT it is - and how that relates to my thinking about cyberspace - about "writing cyberspace" the way I might think about "writing language" or "writing as digital arts practice." Perhaps I am just writing these thoughts in a random order on a random day to give the appearance of an argument, a story, a diary of my life as it unfolds in linear Australian time. These entries and the headings they are always entitled to give birth to, are both a kind of hyperlinernotes to a visibly corrupt blog that behaves as if it were about "me". But it's no longer about "me" - as if it ever could be. No, it's about The Network - the "not-me".
Note to self: deconstruct the blog.
What is Blog?
A blog should not be defined. Defining a blog would be like defining what a novel is or what a film is or what an experimental art installation is.
Perhaps it would be better to de-define a blog. A blog is not a diary, it is not dated, it is not autobiography, it is not a dreambook.
Or: it can be any or all of those things but probably should not be any or all of them.
It is not a web site per se, it is not even writing if you prefer to see it that way, but writing seems well-suited to the Idea of Blog, as does code. Blog is more a kind of progressive codework (as lived reality) than manifested outcome.
It's driven by the logic of links, always dramatically expressed in a default color that usually suggests a feeling of being blue - yet it also suggests other states of emotion such as being active, dynamic, visited, anchored, floating.
Waiting to be ported to somewhere, anywhere, but here. But where is here? That nagging question that all of the choragraphers keep asking as they invent the universe.
Blogs could be pseudo-autobiographical works-in-progress, where the artist who creates one surfs the electrosphere for useful data, samples it, manipulates it, and then exhibits it in an online environment that makes it feel like something more than just a diary website.
This will probably have to be done in the translinguistic act of writing itself. The writing I speak of is more than just a diary entry with links to things found on the net and is more than just text. It is designwriting, video ecriture, mixillogical sound art, a color field of graphic disturbance.
Human portals are fine, they are even dandy -- in fact, they may even end up being a kind of virtual dandyism strutting their stuff in net space -- but they are not true blog.
True blog is not true at all. It is pseudo.
For example, the novels of Henry Miller could be considered bloggish, but then again so would the so-called "diaries" of Anais Nin, not because they are diaries per se, but because they subvert the diary form into what reads like an associative, pseudo-autobiographical novel. It's her socio-linguistic poetics coupled with an energetic linking process that makes it feel so bloggered. Her enigmatic jazz momentum totally eroticized by a very stylized use of language as aphrodiasical elixir. This, I believe, is the key to blogging less it become nothing but narcissistic foreplay, and mediocre narcissistic foreplay at that.
Of course, if Nin were alive today, she would probably not be so bloggered by it all. As always, she would be looking for the rhetorically-charged juice machine that proactively creates language in rhythm, and any Apparatus would do. Same with Miller and many others of their ilk.
But don't tell that to net artists for whom the aestheticization of the network is part of a formalist dream to turn software into pretty pictures that capture your fancy and who knows what can happen once your fancy has been captured - will it ever be released?
True blog, then, is not blog as we know it, but as we un-know it. It incites creation - more invention - so that you yourself have to get down and dirty into the developmental process activating the network with your own mixillogical discourse. This is blog as inventive remix machine placing value on what it sees, what it links to, how it appropriates the Other and strips it of its isolation.
At the end of scene six in FILMTEXT, the Apparatus says: "In my mind, I point and click on You. How will you respond? What will you do? How will you behave?"
Barthes' "Camera Lucida" or "Pleasure of the Text" are blogs all the way as is Andy Warhol's "A". Cocteau once said that "writing is a sickness" and Bataille said that "I write not to be mad." One could apply this to blogging too. In fact, this is the beauty of the blog, if there is one: it blogs bloggers on, that is, it keeps them generating new material, researching the collective unconscious of the Web for possible destination points to link to so that the pseudo-autobiographical work-in-progress may have some value-added meaning/connectivity.
This value-added meaning/connectivity, when experienced in real-time telepresence, takes on the condition of the material world it is unquestionably a part of. Whoever said cyberspace is immaterial has never seriously read a book in their entire lives.
Of course, this "ceaseless generation" of new material that we might call the avant-pop condition of D-I-Y web production, is a kind of proactively engaged and engaging therapeutic process that one continues as a way to further investigate this Cocteau-ian "sickness," and can lead to all kinds of outcomes whether that be a scholarly book, a novel, a hypertext, a CD-ROM, a feature-length DVD with surround sound, an mp3 concept album, a Flash narrative, a multi-user network performance, or even a deconstructed blog-like writing space that ocassionally morphs into a "cite-specific work of environmental art" (where the cites are designated as links and the environment is manifested as a P2P network of associational thinkers - an artficial intelligentsia).
One thing we can say about the blog is that they circulate consciousness in a potentially value-added network of social fulfillment and that, in very crude terms, they proactively link some of the data associated with that circulating consciousness to specific "sites" of writing (editor's note: notice how the author does not use the term "scenes of writing") -- but they are certainly not site-specific since they are part of a network greater than themselves (Chora X - like Mac OS X - but more immersive?) and this network is not a specific thing-in-itself but is rather more thingless-in-itself.
This doesn't mean it's immaterial.
Living As Opposed To Acting
"to film a thought in action..."
That's Jean-Luc Godard, from his book Godard on Godard. In the same interview, he says:"Writing was already a way of making films, for the difference between writing and directing is quantitative not qualitative."
What does he mean by quantitative? That cinema carries more weight as a medium transmitting narrative ideology? That moving images have more heft? They sure do when it comes to memory hogging and net distribution.
But then again there is a kind of beauty to Quicktime as a potentially interactive desktop cinema format that also assists us as artist-researchers investigating this process of "writing cyberspace." It's viewable, it's listenable, it's scalable (to a point), but it's awfully grungy. And grunge is good, especially if you're the Kurt Cobain of web cinema, but if you have other aspirations, like role-playing some mutant form of new media director who considers herself the Walter Benjamin of streaming cinescripture transponding a fully-immersive, hypertextual consciousness in a networked environment, then don't hold your breath (or: be like Jean Seberg in "Breathless" and put on your best [inter]face).
Seberg once said "...the less I know about acting and the more I know about everything else, the better I'll be at both acting and living..."
In many ways, Breathless was Godard's improvisational manifestation of that thought in action...
Digital Screenwriting
As Darren Tofts so eloquently puts it in his book "Memory Trade":"The unavoidable consequence of the full cultural appropriation of alphabetic literacy, and the complete interiorization of the technology of the alphabet, is that the literate individual is always immersed in a conceptual space contoured by the alphabet. Consciousness is a kind of interface, which alphabetically mediates the empirical world in such a way that it is difficult to comprehend what a non-literate view of the world might look like. The idea of mediated apprehension and understanding of the world, so central to cyberculture, is something that comes into being with the advent of the alphabet and literate societies."
The true language of new media, of writing code into interactive states of being that allow us, cyborgs all, to behave in a society of networked consciousness, has been with us for quite awhile. This ongoing ungoing we all play a role in developing is a kind of Living Theater of the Mind where writing, the code of becoming-cyborg, is im/embedded in our nomadic Life Style Practice. The that arrives with the advent of writing is indicative of the moment we become post-human, cognate matter oozing with the demon leakage we have come to know as the spiritual unconscious.
The advent of cybernetics as a science as well as further development of the personal computer and Internet as nomadically-charged appliances originally formulated in the thinking of Vannevar Bush, helps us proactivate the logic of invention in computer-mediated environments, takes writing to the next level of so that we may now begin to "write cyberspace" yet again. At first a recordable memory device but soon thereafter an inventive remix machine that reconfigures , writing is the ultimate research instrument, both a research tool and reservois of data ready for surf-sample-manipulate action. It is techne (), to its core.
This is another way of saying that the machine aesthetic begins with writing. The body, all bones, muscle, tissue and, eventually, utterance, seeks to record memory and in so doing finds writing. As soon as it finds writing it becomes a kind of meta-body, or a that is scripted with in search of more that will lead to a wider posing as or .
This is where the artificiality of life as kind of stylistic practice becomes primal. What I have come to call Life Style Practice is, in fact, a nomadic narrative that reinvents what it means to be human in post-cybernetic environment. It's because the cyberneticism is already embedded in the - the that captures consciousness for us and that we continuously encode with of meaning. Talmudic in nature, nomadic narrative as Life Style Practice is written into being using whatever technologies happen to be around at the time. Stone, parchment, palipmsest, paint, film, computer code, or even , enable us to perform our abstract expressionism as if it were the jazz of "being becoming something else" splattered over the canvas-cum-interface our lives operate in.

spirit photography

September 4th, 2005 New York Times previews "The Perfect Medium: Photography and the Occult," opening September 27 at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art. It sounds spectacular. Seen here, "The Ghost of Bernadette Soubirous" (unknown, c.1890). From the article:
It is not a place you would normally expect to find a curator preparing for a major photography show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. But a few summers ago, Pierre Apraxine was camped out on the third floor of a rambling town house on West 73rd Street near Central Park, the headquarters of the American Society for Psychical Research, a 120-year-old repository of the paranormal whose founders included the philosopher William James.In the world of photo collecting and scholarship, Mr. Apraxine is nothing less than an institution. For almost two decades, he served as the eyes, ears and auction proxy for the philanthropist Howard Gilman, who built a collection - recently acquired by the Met - that is widely considered to be one of the most important in the world, thanks largely to Mr. Apraxine's expertise and globe-trotting tenacity.On this particular day, however, Mr. Apraxine was working in the service not of photography but of the sixth sense, of that great invisible interchange that the Russian spiritualist Mme. Blavatsky described as a kind of astral post office. He had folded his lanky 6-foot-3 frame into a small, steel soundproof booth illuminated by a red lamp. Halves of Ping-Pong balls were taped over his eyes and headphones hissing white noise were placed over his ears. In a room nearby sat a fellow curator and friend, Sophie Schmit, who was given a randomly selected image on a piece of paper. The goal was for Mr. Apraxine, sealed in his chamber - lulled into a deeply relaxed condition known as a ganzfeld state - to receive the image that Ms. Schmit was sending. .

Sep 11, 2005

Social Bookmarking Explosion

Social bookmarking has entered its heroic age, where multiple actors content for a new, growing world.
In the begining was Elegant and fast, crisp and focused, Joshua's invention was rapidly taken up. In tandem with Flickr it kicked off the folksonomy furor. Furl was there as well, if relatively unsung.

Others have started to emerge. took things a little further. I have recently found RawSugar, which positions itself to attact users, and adds a bit more personalization to one's self-presentation. The same day I played with Sugar I also spotted Shadows, which wants to heighten bookmarking into larger commentary on web pages (NB: site seems to be down tonight).
B tells me about Connotea, which is aimed at the sciences.
The Wikipedia's social bookmarking entry lists still others. More than thirty (30) others. Are we seeing social bookmarking entering the YASN (yet another social network) phase of that movement? Is the duplication of effort going to grow? How much innovation can be attached to each new one to justify exporting one's growing list of links?

New Orleans DoubleQuotes


Think of these paired quotes as twin thoughts dropped into the mind-pond -- not so much for their own sakes as for the sake of the ripples and resonances between them. I invite you to read these DoubleQuotes one pair at a time, slowly, slowly, so that the multiples ironies and quiet nuances that have come together in the weaving of this tragedy have room to breathe.