- Agata Pyzik writes about Ostalgia in Frieze, brilliant from start to finish: "Just as Žižek has already published 30-odd books, in which he calls for a reevaluation of the idea of Communism, one might well ask: is this an infinite project, serving only the perpetual Ostalgie business? How many times is the same ‘Idea of Communism’ (the title of a book by Tariq Ali) being sold to us?"
- This week's must read: The Social Graph is Neither by Pinboard's Maciej Ceglowski
- Douglas Rushkoff at Occupy Wall Street
- Social Media in the Age of Enlightenment (Open Culture.) "Europeans living in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries had to deal with their own version of information overload. Emerging postal systems, the proliferation of short letters..and the birth of newspapers and pamphlets all pumped unprecedented amounts of information — valuable information, gossip, chatter and the rest — through newly-emerging social networks, which eventually played a critical role in the French Revolution" ...
This essay was originally published in N+1's Occupy! An OWS-Inspired Gazette
Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images via The Big Picture
A Tumblr of user-submitted handwritten signs with bleak personal testimonies first captured the internet’s attention. Presented are the lives of real people, unmistakable hardships, ready to reblog and retweet. But implied—by the faces, the faces, the faces —is that to sympathize you must show up. This time a Facebook “like” is not enough.
There is something twisted and belittling about the momentary act of tapping on Tumblr’s like button — a heart icon — when you are looking at the face of someone who has itemized his debt in magic marker for you to calculate. How much we have and what we owe is what we are typically raised never to discuss openly in polite company. These images of persons denuded of financial mystery request from the viewer something just as human; not a thoughtless mouse click. To properly commiserate with the enormity of this curated series of individual misfortunes, one must in person participate.
Around the globe, the “99 percent” sloganing rings effortlessly. This is a generation accustomed to encapsulating arguments into 140 character messages. It is also a generation experienced in negotiating private entities for public means. Zuccotti Park’s tenuous standing as a privately owned public park seems an inevitable metaphor for the questions of free speech, assembly, and property rights posed by so many virtual spaces. Brookfield is like Facebook, Bloomberg like Zuckerberg: their threatened park closure is like the ever-present possibility that Facebook will suspend activist accounts and group pages used to plan rallies and activities, for vaguely specified reasons.
"We must occupy real and virtual spaces,” Reuters’ Anthony De Rosa tweeted, quoting an occupier at the second Washington Square park General Assembly. Without one there couldn’t exist the other.
Last month, I visited the BMW Guggenheim Lab for a talk by my friend Kio Stark, author of the novel Follow Me Down. Kio is interested in cities, technology, and intimacy; the intersection of which is explored in the class she teaches at ITP on stranger interactions.
"Cities are machines that produce interactions," she explained at the outdoor lecture hall. While most of us go out of our way to avoid having to acknowledge persons we do not know, she argues the presence of strangers is probably why you live in a city in the first place. "The culture of cities is a culture of strangers."
Stranger interactions can be emotional and meaningful. Most of us can recall some insight gleaned from a fleeting interaction with someone at a coffee shop or queuing up for a train. Kio says it's actually "good for your brain" to talk with strangers as we become more creative when our frame of references grows wider. Stranger interactions make us more tolerant people, and also expand "our sense of the group we belong to."
She concluded the talk with practical advice on how to go about initiating and/or welcoming stranger interactions. Much as I appreciated the lesson, as a hardnosed introvert, I was still not so inclined to put it all in practice — intending to step out for the interactive portion of the event. But before I could stealthily exit out the side, I was paired with an enthusiastic freshman at NYU. As part of the assignment, we struck up conversations with people and asked "what are you afraid of?"
While the answers from these strangers we met were thoughtful and the experience of meeting them randomly was empowering, in the end, the conversation I had with the girl I was partnered with ...
- Leigh Alexander writes about Ian Bogost's Facebook satire Cow Clicker that unintentially gained an audience not in on the joke (It was supposed to be silly, insultingly simple, a vacuous waste of time, and a manipulative joke at the expense of its players-–in other words, everything Bogost thought that Facebook games like the Zynga-made hit). The article also discusses his series of "game poems" A Slow Year.
- What CNN thinks hacking looks like (Betabeat)
- The Movie Set That Ate Itself. Fascinating story of the ongoing (since 2006) filming of Dau in Ukraine, a massive built to scale undertaking even more absurd than Synecdoche, New York or Tom McCarthy's Remainder, with the "institute" taking strict measures to avoid an inauthenticity or anachronism. Guards even impose fines if you use words that are inauthetic to the time period ("Google" is now "Pravda," as in "Pravda it.") More on writer Michael Idov's Tumblr.
- The Paris Review considers the "high art fanzine" with one exceptional example. In 1997, Johanna Fateman was the twenty-two year old author of the fanzine Artaud-Mania. (the syphilitic and schizophrenic Artaud, an enfant terrible of French arts and letters, was an unlikely idol for the feminist punk scene that Fateman had been a part of and was reacting against—post–Riot Grrrl publications that rarely ventured beyond subjects like the DIY music scene, grassroots organizing, and personal politics. Her appreciation for Artaud came through artists and writers like Nancy Spero and Kathy Acker. Like them, she was inspired by his fierce articulation of what Spero once termed a “sense of victimhood”; Fateman put it more bluntly when she wrote approvingly that Artaud was a “crazy bitch with male authority.”)
- QR maleware (via Beyond the Beyond.)
- A murmuration of starlings ...
CNET has a great analysis of SOPA ("Stop Online Privacy Act"), also known as the E-PARASITE Act ("Enforcing and Protecting American Rights Against Sites Intent on Theft and Exploitation Act."):
House leaders assured Silicon Valley they would correct serious defects in the Senate bill. Unfortunately, SOPA does just the opposite. It creates vague, sweeping new standards for secondary liability, drafted to ensure maximum litigation..
The House bill, for example, dubbed the "E-PARASITE Act," proposes alternative versions of several provisions from Protect IP, including new authority for the attorney general to cut off access and funding for "parasite" foreign Web sites. (SOPA requires the U.S. copyright czar to determine the extent to which these foreign infringers are actually harming U.S. interests, data collection that logically should precede such sweeping new powers.)
Once the Justice Department determines a site "or a portion thereof" is "committing or facilitating" certain copyright and trademark violations, it can apply for court orders that would force ISPs and others who maintain DNS lookup tables to block access to the site.
Search engines (a term broadly defined that includes any website with a "search" field), along with payment processors and advertising networks, can also be forced to cut ties with the parasites. Operators of innocent sites have limited ability to challenge the Justice Department's decision before or after action is taken.
SOPA also includes its own version of another Senate bill, which would make it a felony to stream copyrighted works. The House version allows prosecution of anyone who "willfully" includes protected content without permission, including, for example, YouTube videos where copyrighted music is covered or even played in the background.
While supporters deny that such minimal infractions would meet the bill's definition of "willfully," the actual text suggests otherwise. Prosecutors need only demonstrate ...