Michael Connor
Since 2002
Works in Brooklyn, New York United States of America


DNS Politics: Citizen journalism after the Twitter ban


Photograph posted to Twitter by Engin Onder on March 20, 2014, with the caption: "‪#twitter‬ blocked in ‪#turkey‬ tonight. folks are painting ‪#google‬ dns numbers onto the posters of the governing party." The poster shows the AKP candidate for Eskişehir.

Last Friday, DNS-themed graffiti and memes began to appear in Turkish streets and on the web, bringing the normally unnoticed architecture of the internet into public discourse.

The sudden focus on DNS, the system that translates a URL into its corresponding numerical IP address, was prompted by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's decision on March 20 to ban Twitter. Court orders were issued to Turkish internet service providers, who apparently implemented DNS redirects, meaning that requests for "twitter.com" would be routed to a different IP address and shown a warning page.

This kind of block is not particularly effective; users can easily circumvent it by using a public DNS server. Instead of sending the request for twitter.com to a Turkish ISP, users could simply change their computer's network settings and send the request to Google or OpenDNS, or any number of international, publicly available DNS servers. While this is easy to do, it's perhaps not widely understood, and so fans of internet freedom took to the web and the streets to spread the word about the DNS workaround. 


The Commenter: A Lament


This post was composed in one hour in front of an online audience for the Rhizome Internet Telethon 2014.

Tom Moody, Double Buckyball (detail of work in process), 2004, mixed media, approx. 60 x 40 inches.

Nearly a year ago, and not long after I started working at Rhizome, I published a post called “Breaking the Ice,” inviting the community to leave their thoughts about our curatorial and editorial direction. It took a while to get started, but eventually some of the Rhizome old timers latched on and got the ball rolling. As my introduction to the Rhizome community in my new role, it painted quite a picture. Heated opinions were debated, n00bs were put in their place, and frustrations were vented. Despite a sometimes negative tone, I was excited by the energy that people brought to it. And the fact that, y’know, people were commenting on Rhizome.org, a non-profit website that serves as an important cultural archive, rather than on a for-profit site that will sell your data to the highest bidder.


Ten Seconds to Hypertext Oblivion


 

Before reading this, you may as well play the game. It's only ten seconds long. But, I recommend that you do it late at night, and all by yourself. OK, here's the link. 

Begin.

Blue helvetica typeface displayed on a black background. You click, and a timer appears on screen, counting off ten seconds. 

In the end, like you always said, it's just the two of you together. You have ten seconds, but there's so much you want to do: kiss her, hold her, take her hand, tell her.

This is game designer Anna Anthropy's queers in love at the end of the world (2013), a work made using the Twine interactive storytelling platform that is as much video game as it is hypertext fiction. In keeping with hypertext tradition, one navigates the work by clicking on highlighted words to choose among narrative threads, playing out one of several imagined end-of-the-world interactions as quickly as possible, from biting to fucking to handholding, before time runs out. 


Liquid Crystal Palace: Jeremy Blake and his new peers


Jeremy Blake, Liquid Villa, 1999 Digital C-print 29 x 84 inches Edition of 3 + 1AP

Rhizome Editor and Curator Michael Connor, in his prior capacity as an independent curator, co-organized Liquid Crystal Palaceopening on March 1. Because of its relevance to the Rhizome community, we felt it was worth publishing Michael's writing about the show. Rhizome.org will also present Blake's Liquid Villa as a front page exhibition on March 6 from 3pm to 5pm EST, courtesy Kinz Fine Art and Honor Fraser Gallery.

Jeremy Blake's work seemed to be everywhere in the early 2000s. At the time, I was aware that he was successful in a commercial context, and that he didn't really see himself as a new media artist. (Blake always described himself as a painter.) Both of these things annoyed me about him, because I liked new media art, and I took some perverse pride in its lack of market recognition. It was therefore somewhat annoying that I liked the work. It seemed unsettling and druggy and dangerous, and it felt funny and good in my brain.

Since Blake's tragic death, I've rarely seen the work anywhere, and it sometimes pops into my head. So last year, I decided to look at it again, or as much as I could get my hands on. I was living near LA, and I brought my 2-month old daughter to the highly accommodating Honor Fraser Gallery to go through a stack of DVDs. This time around, Blake suddenly seemed closely connected with a number of other artists working today. The connections that emerged in this new viewing began a thought process that culminated in the exhibition Liquid Crystal Villa, opening tomorrow at Honor Fraser and co-curated with Nate Hitchcock.


Hey: Your data-driven headlines are probably just drivel after all, but that's OK


A few years back, a writer friend who worked at a prominent blog explained to me that her employer's sensationalist, runon headlines were crafted with the help of a cutting-edge A/B testing system. Each article would go live with multiple versions of the same headline; the version to draw the most clicks would become the canonical version. This, I thought, this is the future: algorithms drawing on user feedback to adjust our texts on the fly for maximum impact.

In 2012, I was among the millions of Americans who noticed that Barack Obama and his campaign staff had started writing some kinda weird messages to me. They'd arrive with subject lines like "Hey" or "Would Love to Meet You." They got talked about at dinner parties. After Election Day, explanations were offered in the press. These weren't the brainchild of a mad creative subject line marketing genius. No, they were carefully tested beforehand among multiple variations sent to smaller groups of supporters, and only the most successful versions made it to the full campaign email list. Obama's campaign raised hundreds of millions of dollars through email direct marketing. 



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DISCUSSION

July 2: NYC poetry event with Kev, Bunny Rogers, and Brigid Mason


Hi Tom,

I feel really good about the event. I'm not really ready to write about it, but I feel like I have to say something...

You used the word "ironic," which means saying one thing while meaning another. But Kev often said one thing while *also* meaning the opposite, which is something different. You call it confusion, I call it an interest in paradox.

I wrote of the spiritual dimension of Kev's work that "Taoism is as much an aspect of contemporary culture as it an ancient philosophy, translated and refracted as it is through the Transcendentalists and the 60s counterculture and numerous scholars. Thus, Kev, who has always played the role of the quintessential American, does so even in his seemingly un-American disavowal of the consumer internet." In other words, a "mishmash" sounds about right.

DISCUSSION

July 2: NYC poetry event with Kev, Bunny Rogers, and Brigid Mason


In summary, I think it's OK for Kev to think about Taoism and the internet, even though I'm not interested in that in particular. But I am interested in his gesture of radical semi-refusal and its limits, and where he will go next.

DISCUSSION

July 2: NYC poetry event with Kev, Bunny Rogers, and Brigid Mason


I'm not particularly interested in the spiritual aspect of digital art, hence our recent emphasis on infrastructure and labor and materialism, mundane afrofuturism and internet realism...

It strikes me as patently ridiculous to disallow the possibility of "spiritualized computer art." Sure, that's a premise that has been used in lots of dubious ways, and maybe you don't buy Kev's version of it, which is fine. But that doesn't make the premise itself categorically doubtful. No aspect of our lives can really be considered outside of the digital, spirituality included.

I am interested in Kev's ideas, because he has spent the last five years thinking deeply about the internet while attempting to stake a position outside of this. I think others are interested in his thoughts on this, and his reasons for finding this untenable.

Tbh I have no real idea what Kev is going to do tonight, which is scary, but I certainly don't think that Rhizome should only stage events the outcome of which is known in advance.

DISCUSSION

Solidarity after "Sharing:" Notes on Internet Subjects #1


Hi Abe, thanks for your feedback. Our intent with this particular panel was to articulate a position that we felt was missing from the media narrative around the sharing economy. To this end, we felt that including a sharing economy proponent would stall the discussion before any first principles could be established. I did feel, in the end, that Rob Horning's polemical skill in particular was a bit wasted without a real opponent to wield it against...

As you may know, Rhizome works quite closely with many individuals in the tech business sector; in fact, my co-organizers Nathan Jurgenson and Kate Crawford are both researchers with roles in the tech industry. I'd imagine that future Internet Subjects panels will be structured more as debates, when that seems most appropriate, and will feature not just researchers, writers, and scholars, but business people and artists as well.

DISCUSSION

Getty Images: Still Kinda Sexist?


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