Friday, May 28, 2010


Is there a connection between the move of humans to pan/post humanity (obsession with being plugged in/removing physical limitations towards constant networkability) and the the move toward electronic books/e-readers (also being plugged in/removing physical restricitons)
The Matrix demonstrates humans enmeshed in the tangles of the machinery both fighting/resigned.
The terminator demonstrates the embrace by technology of the human body to fit in and destroy while operating at a higher level of efficiency and possibility. (How humanity actually wins still doesn't make total sense.)
Presently humans are attempting to embrace technology with their bodies for better, fuller use of time/money/resources.
Why are we so obsessed with being constantly available? Is it importance/status?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Pt. 1 of 2 What we talk about when we talk about (using) computers

There are a bunch of ways that we talk about using tech stuff especially computers that I think influences the way we think about it or at least describes how we interact iwth it base on the metaphors that are used. At a fundamental level there's the idea of technological determinism which is defined as "technology as the central force behind progress and social development".
A really good example of this currently is Apple's iPad. The iPad isn't an example so much in and of itself, but rather Apple demonstrates its own belief in technological determinism in its methods of marketing the product. This is a link to Apple's latest TV ad for the iPad.

Take the approx. 45 seconds to watch it-I'll wait for you to come back.


Ok, we're back. What did you think? What stood out?
There's a couple of things that stand/stood out to me almost immediately upon watching this.
1)The first three sentences. "What is iPad? iPad is thin, iPad is beautiful." Whoa. Really? Granted, thin/beautiful is a standard, commercial construct for selling pretty much everything so maybe this blatant statement should not be entirely surprising. Throughout this commercial you do indeed have thin/beautiful parts of people, no actual whole individual is displayed.
2) "iPad" is used as a proper name instead of a thing. Which is odd. You would expect that hipster voice over to state "The iPad is thin, the iPad is beautiful" but instead the device is referred to as a proper name. I could actually insert your name into this sentence. This is progress, right? Such a state of technological development has been achieved through this device it no longer needs an article of speech to delineate it. It stands on its own celebrity power as an equitable name to a celebrity person being used in a commercial. If someone is holding this device out in the world, it is not yet standard speech to ask them "Is that iPad?"(vs."Is that an iPad?") in the same vein we ask about a retreating/approaching individual to confirm their identity "Is that Jeff?".
3) Moving along in the commercial we come to my favorite part. Here's the context/transcription from the beginning.
" What is ipad? iPad is thin. iPad is beautiful. iPad goes anywhere and lasts all day. There's no right way or wrong way. It's crazy powerful. It's magical. You already know how to use it. It's 200,000 apps and counting. All the world's websites in your hands. It's video, photos, more books than you could read in a lifetime. It's already a revolution and its only just begun."

Out of the context of the image-the right way/wrong way statement sets all moral absolutes aside. But my favorite part of this whole paragraph is the statement-It's magical. I'm not actually sure what that means in terms of reality. The iPad is a computer that receives input and produces output. When did processing data become magical? It is definitely a different of processing data but there's no magic here kids. Hopefully iPad puts a disclaimer on the box that users should not expect any Gandalf-like powers with purchase.

4) The last thing about this commercial is that there is nothing about the iPad's functionality that is really shared with the viewer/user. Sure you see different aspects of the iPad being demonstrated but as much as the commercial might say the viewer/user knows how to use it, the viewer/user has no clue until they buy it.

I am aware that this is a bit of a rant and that there are commercials that are far worse. This one just struck me as interesting/frightening/an excellent example of pretending to talk about technology but actually talking about how the user/viewer is going to feel about purchasing.
Part two to follow shortly.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Sitting with the Artist's Image: Links and Thoughts

Link to NYT article Sitting with Marina Abramovic

MOMA Live video link of the performance

MOM Link to images of those who have sat with Abramovic

MOMA Interview with Abramovic: (I would highly recommend this interview. It is fairly short but gives some excellent framework for thinking about the previous links.)

The author of the NYT article, Arthur C. Danto, describes Abramovic's face achieving a state of luminosity as he sits in front of her. Just like in viewing an image, each of the quote unquote sitter(s) are having a dialogue that is one-sided, guessing at intentions/purpose/composition. (I.e. many of these images show very deep emotion or blankness. Why weep? What is being thought about/remembered/connected that draws out that particular response?)

To me, the really interesting aspect of this site is the link to the images. Take a couple of minutes and click through the images of the people staring/gazing/______ back at Abramovic. One of the really nice things the MOMA did in setting up this slider was to insert different images of Abramovic at different points. (i'm guessing these different iterations represent different days). This helps the viewer of the images to reengage with the slightly changing 'who', 'other' the people are looking at.
However I would suggest that while this experience of sitting and wordlessly gazing/staring/_______ has the two individuals observing each other as well as those who are waiting observing the two sitting, there is also the level of us as Internet observers seeing a moment frozen as a static pov as though we were/are Abramovic. (There's also the video link as well which allows a quote unquote live view.) The computer screen viewer bc of the camera angle takes the artist's spot via the screen and stares back. The installation, which demonstrates a certain discourse in antithesis to traditional paint/photography/etc., between and being observed by two living people + crowd within a museum is turned back into a static encounter as photograph. Thus the archive of this event, even while it is happening, via photographs, causes the installation to make a complete circle back to the beginning of what it was attempting to subvert/question. Not to abuse Benjamin but the aura of the event, the one-timeness of it is severely undercut by the taking/existence of photographs. The images are even called portraits on the image page. If the point that the Artist is Present, why are those who are sitting documented (MOMA's word). Does the web site provide an additional layer of complexity or is it only marketing?
Conceivably the individual can return home pull up this site and stare back at themselves.Not that this is necessarily more narcissistic or even more solipsistic than normal self-viewing (mirror, digital camera) but it removes the puts the individual into the place where Abramovic was. Is the MOMA simply using the images as advertising to pull people to come 'experience it' for themselves?

Abramovic states in the interview linked at the top that she sees performance as being able to directly link with the public preferring this to not being secluded in the studio. But the idea of what quote unquote public is in this instance is radically changed because I can privately view a public event without physically attending so that even though the Artist may be present in that location the viewer is not. It could be conceivable that none of us would have to physically attend and could simply stare back from our computers leaving the artist with nothing to see or be present to.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Are you listening?

Recently discovered that Amazon, besides selling all the books in the world, also hosts free mp3 sampler downloads. Here's what I've been listening to the past couple of days. They are somewhat similar in genre but still really good. Since the library is an empty, quiet place the music in my office gets pretty loud. These fall nicely into the whole summer/spring time listening section.

worn & grazed a park the van sampler

Paper Bag Records Fall 09 Sampler
Merge Records 2010 Digital Sampler
Digital Bang: 2010 Sub Pop Sampler
CMJ 2009: Vol 3
Deep Elm Sampler No. 9 "We Dream Alone"

Roasted coffee last night. Think it went well. No pics this time.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Vacation travel blog (of sorts) 1

Currently sitting in a Ramada Inn in Manning, South Carolina about 7 hours and/or 420 miles from Orlando Florida which is our final destination for our week of vacation. We took the laptop with us for GPS-like work. So that if we need to figure out where places are we map it out from the hotel and then head out. Once we are out Kara's ingenuity and map reading skills coupled with my peerless ability to listen to her ingenuity and map reading skills allow us to navigate with aplomb. A vacation travel blog would be way better with pictures, which we are taking, but I forgot to grab the camera-to-USB cord. bah.
We packed up the car and left NY this morning around 7am. It was snowing when we left which made the fact we are headed for Florida that much better. The driving was really uneventful. Kara took over for several hours in the middle of the day, around WAshington, D.C.. Note to ourselves-any place that has issues with volume on a Sunday at noon is not a place we want to live. Today we drove-that was it. However we did have a delicious cheap dinner at the Waffle House. People also are allowed to smoke in restaurants, apparently. Didn't know that and don't miss it.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


Got Koha 3.00.00 installed and running on the localhost this afternoon! Linux is making more sense this time around which is helpful and the install instructions are/were just spot-on. Thanks to Blazing Moon!! The Koha 3.0 interface is so much nicer than the one we are currently running (2.2.5). This interface will display book covers and other such niceties. Created the first user and using those credentials was able to easily access the user account information, complete with tagging. The user section of the current setup is woefully lacking-like comparing a yurt to a palace. Was able to begin to set the parameters for patrons/users, itemtypes and some of the other global functions. Tomorrow is going to present some unique challenges:
0. Finding instruction to configure Zebra
1. Configuring Zebra (the search functionality)
2. Figuring out why I can't save the Library that I set in the admin interface.
3. Set Up MARC21 framework
4. Successfully porting the info from the old system into the new system. (This is one of the places where massive intellectual/technological bottlenecking happened last time I tried this so hoping that this goes way smoother this time.
Good times!
Listened to this a bunch today: The Classroom is Sacred Siva Vaidhyanathan (The mp3 you can download doesn't always play nice with iTunes (i.e. you can't pause or it completely throws off any sort of timing the file had which is the main reason I listened to it a bunch) but Vaidhyanathan raises some good/interesting/provoking points.)