AL Adam Freed
THE AUGMENTED LIBRARY
Genesis 11:1-9 (King James Version)
King James Version (KJV)
[A Public Domain Bible] [KJV at Zondervan] [Zondervan]
1And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech.
2And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there.
3And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for morter.
4And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.
5And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded.
6And the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.
7Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech.
8So the LORD scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city.
9Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the LORD did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the LORD scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.
Space and Nonspace are not exactly new subject material for an artist to tackle with; painters, photographers, printmakers, and sculptors have been toying with the idea since the 2d cave painting (maybe thats a bit hyperbolic.) The concept of nonspace in detritus or leftover, the remainders that indicate and hint at another existing arrangement, however, is amazing; it is like looking at a river by the silt it collects.
Borges' library terrifies me, as it is far too similar to life, but not similar enough to make me feel that the allusion is complete. The concept of all books being written, of endlessness, seems pretty Escheresqe. I'm really reminded of Douglas Adam's parody of Borges, where there is a building that has been hosting a party since the beginning of its construction, and people are born, live, and die during this millenia long bender. Pretty amazing.
A brilliant people-watcher, Goffman's The Presentation of the Self In Everyday Life (PotSiEL) is an incredible study on the human animal's ability to socialize and create identities for itself. A game theorist at his very best, Goffman was convinced that all interactions between people are motivated and orchestrated; that being genuine is a choice, not a benchmark. At his worst, he was a voyeur and uncomfortable third presence; attending university parties in his standard drab garb and feild notepad, jotting down observations. His later work on social identity and stigma, especially Asylums, shed light onto the concept of roles and identies being ascribed to others, and the self-augmentation that occurs due to the desire to conform to expectations, was additionally groundbreaking. Much of the hospital politik for the mentally ill truly changed due to Goffman's prolific influence.
Everyware is always an interesting read. Sure, its still an emerging force, but it has been written about in fiction for years already. If Verne was the precursor to the Nuclear Submarine and Air Conditioner, Phillip K. Dick (Hollywood's favorite Science Fiction writer) was certainly the precursor to everyware and Dunne and Raby's Design Noir. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep (which most of us know as the super-sweet movie Blade Runner) posed many questions and thoughts, albeit a bit more "out there," that have been echoed with more fact and actual application.
From Beckett's Watt
Personally of course I regret everything. Not a word,
not a deed, not a thought, not a need, not a grief, not a joy, not a girl, not
a boy, not a doubt, not a trust, not a scorn, not a lust, not a hope, not a fear,
not a smile, not a tear, not a name, not a face, no time, no place, that I do
not regret, exceedingly. An ordure, from beginning to end. And yet, when
I sat for Fellowship, but for the boil on my bottom . . . The rest, an ordure.
The Tuesday scowls, the Wednesday growls, the Thursday curses, the Friday
howls, the Saturday snores, the Sunday yawns, the Monday morns,
the Monday morns. The whacks, the moans, the cracks, the groans, the
welts, the squeaks, the belts, the shrieks, the pricks, the prayers, the kicks,
the tears, the skelps, and the yelps. And the poor old lousy old earth, my
earth and my father's and my mother's and my father's father's and my
mother's mother's and my father's mother's and my mother's father's
and my father's mother's
father's and my mother's father's mother's and
my father's mother's mother's
and my mother's father's' father's and my
father's father's mother's
and my mother's mother's father's and my
father's father's father's and my mother's mother's mother's and other
people's fathers' and mothers'
and fathers' fathers' and mothers' mothers'
and fathers' mothers' and mothers'
fathers' and fathers' mothers' fathers'
fathers' mothers' and fathers' mothers' mothers' and mothers'
fathers' fathers' and fathers' fathers' mothers' and mothers' mothers'
fathers' and fathers' fathers' fathers' and mothers' mothers' mothers'. An
excrement. The crocuses and the larch turning green every year a week
before the others and the pastures red with uneaten sheep's placentas
and the long summer days and the newmown hay and the wood-pigeon
in the morning and the cuckoo in the afternoon and the corncrake in the
evening and the wasps in the jam and the smell of the gorse and the look
of the gorse and the apples falling and the children walking in the dead
leaves and the larch turning brown a week before the others and the
chestnuts falling and the howling winds and the sea breaking over the
pier and the first fires and the hooves on the road and the consumptive
postman whistling The Roses Are Blooming in Picardy and the standard oillamp
and of course the snow and to be sure the sleet and bless your heart
the slush and every fourth year the February débâcle and the endless
April showers and the crocuses and then the whole bloody business starting
all over again.
DUNNE AND RABY
Design Noir is one of my favorite art books. Their Project Placebo is one of the strongest encapsulations of an age's social structure. So much of our societal norms are based on this fear of the unknown, of pernicious forces from the "Age of terror." By using these objects that are made to detect, redirect, or stop EMF radiation, our existing fears and expectations are preyed upon to produce really meaningful work. From Icon eye Magazine :
“We don’t have happy endings. Things never work out. They’re grey and muddy and complex,” says Fiona Raby of design duo Dunne & Raby, snuffling into a hanky. “We’re living in this irresolvable, messy place ...”
And its true; so much of the worries of today are free floating anxieties; worries without a direct focus. They are instead invisible forces, be they electronic OR political.
Do you have any of the following symptoms? Insomnia, unexplained anxiety, vision problems, painful lymph nodes, recurring sore throat, headaches, loss of appetite, rapid weight loss or unexplained weight gain, extreme thirst, night sweats, extreme fatigue, memory loss, inability to concentrate, muscle pain, weakened immune system, allergies, heart pain/palpatations, etc. Then you might very well have Microwave Illness! WIFI, Cell Phones, and Cell Phone Towers may indeed be making you sick! EMF took my life!!!!
From the magic of the blogs, my hometown library:
We know that small-town libraries have shed their image as fusty repositories of moldering encyclopedias and are now high-tech temples of e-learning, but we were still impressed to find out that at least one library has come up with a novel way to get teens into libraries: put audiobooks onto iPod Shuffles. We have it on good word that the South Huntington Public Library in Suffolk County, New York, is doing just that. They apparently have a handful of Shuffles, pre-loaded with books, and are planning to add more. Given the ongoing Shuffle shortage (even Apple's online store has a two-week delay on shipping them), we're surprised that the library has any at all to share; let's hope for their sake that borrowers don't "forget" to return them.
Text parsing led me to discover all sorts of groovy home brews on the interweb. Check this out:
A Fast, Enjoyable HTML Parser for Ruby
Hpricot is a very flexible HTML parser, based on Tanaka Akira's HTree and John Resig's JQuery, but with the scanner recoded in C (using Ragel for scanning.) I've borrowed what I believe to be the best ideas from these wares to make Hpricot heaps of fun to use.
# load the RedHanded home page
doc = Hpricot(open("http://redhanded.hobix.com/index.html"))
# change the CSS class on links
# remove the sidebar
# print the altered HTML
Impact. Thats a pretty big deal with what we're working on: a shared, communal space that sees alot of traffic (printing motivated or otherwise.) Habermas' concepts of discourse being tied into heirarchical structures is especially poetic and applicable to the largish area we wish to augment: there is a series of values and stresses, contexts and imports, that have been placed upon the space by its users, controllers and even makers. Thinking of this is the art world, the array of power-process work that Kester shuffles around are more closely linked to what we're trying to accomplish than the performance-leaning ones. Sure, these are great and all, but if we want to get into "is regular usage a performance," and "all the world's a stage," or "we all perform constantly for others ( a particularly Goffmann-esque point,)" is more rich than just thinking of it in terms of performance art. Though, if the intervention we decide on is performance based, than you can disregard this entire tangent I've rocketed us down.
Aesthetics is a tough thing for me to really weigh in on: I feel that its one of the more subjective things a person can argue about. With Kester's laundry list of philosophers, Naturalist thinkers, and sticks-in-the-muds, he does a very good job at articulating the shape of an aesthetical argument or discussion. Let us have a look at what Mr. Keats would say about consuming yourself in the aesthetic:
Ode to a Grecian Urn
THOU still unravish'd bride of quietness,
Thou foster-child of Silence and slow Time,
Sylvan historian, who canst thus express
A flowery tale more sweetly than our rhyme:
What leaf-fringed legend haunts about thy shape 5
Of deities or mortals, or of both,
In Tempe or the dales of Arcady?
What men or gods are these? What maidens loth?
What mad pursuit? What struggle to escape?
What pipes and timbrels? What wild ecstasy? 10
Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard
Are sweeter; therefore, ye soft pipes, play on;
Not to the sensual ear, but, more endear'd,
Pipe to the spirit ditties of no tone:
Fair youth, beneath the trees, thou canst not leave 15
Thy song, nor ever can those trees be bare;
Bold Lover, never, never canst thou kiss,
Though winning near the goal—yet, do not grieve;
She cannot fade, though thou hast not thy bliss,
For ever wilt thou love, and she be fair! 20
Ah, happy, happy boughs! that cannot shed
Your leaves, nor ever bid the Spring adieu;
And, happy melodist, unwearièd,
For ever piping songs for ever new;
More happy love! more happy, happy love! 25
For ever warm and still to be enjoy'd,
For ever panting, and for ever young;
All breathing human passion far above,
That leaves a heart high-sorrowful and cloy'd,
A burning forehead, and a parching tongue. 30
Who are these coming to the sacrifice?
To what green altar, O mysterious priest,
Lead'st thou that heifer lowing at the skies,
And all her silken flanks with garlands drest?
What little town by river or sea-shore, 35
Or mountain-built with peaceful citadel,
Is emptied of its folk, this pious morn?
And, little town, thy streets for evermore
Will silent be; and not a soul, to tell
Why thou art desolate, can e'er return. 40
O Attic shape! fair attitude! with brede
Of marble men and maidens overwrought,
With forest branches and the trodden weed;
Thou, silent form! dost tease us out of thought
As doth eternity: Cold Pastoral! 45
When old age shall this generation waste,
Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe
Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou say'st,
'Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.' 50
Or the (now unloved) Stephen Crane:
A man said to the universe:
"However," replied the universe,
"The fact has not created in me
A sense of obligation."
SPACE: CONTAINED, RESTRAINED, SUSTAINED
We've mapped a whole mess of user experiences in our conversations and groups, and its been more than helpful. I think one of the key things we've touched on is the concept of the avatar, the representation of a self, in a digital plane. When a self is disguised through a slight delay, or an extra step, what kind of interactions emerge? Thinking of this electronically, what kind of signals can be changed and rerouted through a channel? This is intriguing to why people assume strange mirror-version behaviors when online, but I think we can think about this phenomenon for our bookmarks.
What makes Chester Chester? What makes anyone who they are? It certainly can be an inventory of their interests. Lots of social psychologists point to this attributive likes-and-dislikes strategy of insight into another an important mechanism for empathy and understanding, but one would hope that a person is intrisically more than the sum of their parts. To me, temperment and actions also dictate who or what a person is. This is true with inanimates as well; electronic or analog! I can't tell you how often I attribute personality to my cars, toasters, computers, cell phones, and a motley of other objects I interact with and use.
My point is that this is a veritable gold mine of material for us to play with. We certainly can trod along and simply allow temperment to be dictated by the type of books or the programming of the user with the highest use-count, but can we give these marks their own personality, and temperment, as a hard-set? From the get-go, part of their makeup is determined by our design and specifications. We've surrendered control of so much, and I think our ability to let many things go has led us in some really rich decisions and observations, but I think there is a big issue of ommission to not experiment with mechanical-personality, or attachment ideals on inanimate objects.