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April 30, 2007

World Without Oil

The Institute for the Future of the Book has published an article on the latest alternate reality game created by Jane McGonigal, World Without Oil

Posted by SWEAT at 04:40 PM

April 15, 2007

Thank you to Ian Bogost

Art does not take exit surveys. Thank you Ian for this strong clear statement.

Posted by SWEAT at 10:58 PM

April 13, 2007

This week in the war on drugs

Posted by SWEAT at 07:54 PM


Boomshine is a beautiful game by Danny Miller. [via MetaFilter] I don't know if the gameplay is quite emergent, but the visual organization of ephemeral moments is. One has to intuit motion and grouping to win. Sound/music is generated procedurally over (under?) a jazzy accompaniment.

Posted by SWEAT at 05:32 PM

April 12, 2007


  1. Start with a blank piece of paper, a pencil
  2. write or draw a "wrong" idea with the pencil on the paper
  3. fix or make better the "wrong" idea
  4. repeat until you have a perfect plan, or have run out of time

Posted by SWEAT at 08:03 PM

April 11, 2007

Pearls Before Breakfast [Washington Post]

What if Joshua Bell played the most sublime music for free, in public, and no one noticed? The Washington Post proposed to virtuoso violinist, Joshua Bell, that he play at a subway stop without any fanfare for an hour or so, just to see how many people would notice. The account is heart wrenching and humbling for anyone who believes in the transcendant power of art.

Posted by SWEAT at 08:46 PM

April 10, 2007

Conservando la diversidad de la expresion cultural

Unesco Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions 2005

Se encontró via Wired News

Previamente, Doctor Jenkins entrevistó a Chris Kohler sobre el tema de los videojeugos como expresion cultural. Y despues extendió la entrevista.

Posted by SWEAT at 08:58 PM

April 09, 2007

Sol Lewitt, 1928 - 2007

Sol Lewitt, Master of Conceptualism, dies at 78. [via NYTimes].

Fallece pionero del arte conceptual. [via BBC Mundo]

I have just begun to explore the ideas of Sol Lewitt, especially thinking how they can inform the work of new media. His work has an algorithmic component, and a collaborative component. The residue or outcomes of his process challenged those who would treat those outcomes as precious artifacts.

Lewitt's "Sentences on Conceptual Art" from 1969 form a kind of primer on how to read and make conceptual art. Although within the sentences, he claims that the sentences are not a conceptual work, I think that they are.

I've created an iPod Notes version of the sentences on conceptual art that are available for download as a 24KB zipped archive. They are useful for reflection. You'll need a third generation device or newer. Drag the unzipped folder into your iPod's Notes directory to carry them around with you.

[thanks to Make and Phillip Torrone for the HowTo]

Posted by SWEAT at 08:19 AM

April 06, 2007

Webkinz in the Toronto Globe and Mail, and in the house

The author of the article in the Globe and Mail calls Webkinz revolutionary and the publisher/manufacturer visionary.

Our link is courtesy of Raph Koster, who is also tracking the Webkinz craze, and who admits he didn't consider the collectability of the plush dolls. There has been a secondary market on eBay and Amazon for some time. The dolls are fragile, only surface washable. This may contribute to their long-term scarcity, and reinforce their collectablility. I wonder what will happen when the accounts change hands without need for the physical doll.

I got my Webkinz yesterday. It's a tree frog. I haven't named it yet.

Posted by SWEAT at 08:16 PM

Phantasmagoria: spectres of absence- is a new exhibition taking place at the Luis Angel Arango Library in Bogotá

Alejandro Tamayo is an artist-engineer and a teacher working in the intersections of design, art and new technologies in Colombia. He is the director of the v*i*d*a lab, part of the Aesthetics Department at the Universidad Javeriana, in Bogotá. Regine at We-Make-Money-Not-Art posted an interview with him that alone would be exciting enough. Regine has convinced Alejandro to post news about the goings on in Colombian electronic media art and design. Alejandro's first post is about Phantasmagoria: spectres of absence a new exhibition taking place at the Luis Angel Arango Library in Bogotá. His descriptions of the work are compelling and fill me with joy. They provide a counterbalance to the recent reportage from the LA Times.

Alejandro will quickly become an important voice. His is not the only one from Colombia in new media. La Universidad de los Andes also in Bogotá has been experimenting with Processing since 2003, and has a thriving multi-media creation post-graduate degree program.

Posted by SWEAT at 05:58 PM

Gaviotas in Colombia

To balance an earlier post, I'd like to explore amazing things that are happening in Colombia. Collaborator and friend Timothy Weaver brought the Gaviotas to our attention.
From the website:
Gaviotas is a village of about 200 people in Colombia, South America. For three decades, Gaviotans - peasants, scientists, artists, and former street kids - have struggled to build an oasis of imagination and sustainability in the remote, barren savannas of eastern Colombia, an area ravaged by political terror. They have planted millions of trees, thus regenerating an indigenous rainforest. They farm organically and use wind and solar power. Every family enjoys free housing, community meals, and schooling. There are no weapons, no police, no jail. There is no mayor.

Posted by SWEAT at 05:38 PM

April 04, 2007

This week in the war on drugs

I don't know if I will have the heart necessary to make entries of this sort often. National Public Radio [NPR] announced on monday a week long set of audio features (sweetened by online exclusive features) on the "forgotten" War On Drugs. It is spreading its coverage across two of its daily news magazines, Morning Edition and All Things Considered. The overview of all NPR coverage on The Forgotten War On Drugs can be found at their website. They also offer an RSS Feed for their coverage.

The BBC Americas online edition offers several stories from last week. The Peruvian President has announced that he will commence bombing of cocaine labs within his own country. He is using the potential for political insurgency like that in Colombia as his causus belli. His is becoming a typical action as he has to be seen to be doing something about cocaine, even as he has declared that he will attempt to make legitimate uses for coca economically viable. In another story Police in Mexico have arrested a man they believe is the head of one of Mexico's biggest drug cartels. The "take the war to them" policy in Colombia and Bolivia has spread the violence and insecurity to Panama, Costa Rica, and Mexico. In the meantime, in Colombia, paramilitary militias were raised as private security forces, either because the rule of law was thought to be threatened, or as protection for the operations of drug cartels and their leaders. These militias have themselves become self-sustaining through participation in the drug trade. The Colombian government has issued international arrest warrants for three Israeli men wanted in Colombia in connection with the alleged training of paramilitary fighters. These militias are distinct from the groups of guerillas that also have been fighting an insurgency in Colombia for close to fifty years. Currently, any relationship with these militias, past or present, is considered political poison, as reported in the BBC Mundo, a spanish language news source. This politcal poisoning is affecting the highest levels of elected office in Colombia. The President of Colombia, Alvaro Uribe, has been accused of ties to one or more of these milita groups. The LA Times now reports that one of Colombia's top military officers is being accused of having ties to the militia groups by the CIA. [requires free registration] An allegation which the Colombian goverment renounces. [requires free registration] In another story of "heartwarming courage", the LA Times reports on the Mayor of Neiva (the town of my birth) who won't give in to continued attempts on her life by the guerilla group known as the FARC.[free registration required] She has been attacked with explosive devices since before she took office. My parents live in Neiva, and we plan to visit them this summer. The last story in our update also come from the LA Times. A drug shipment of 20 Tons of cocaine were seized in Panama on their way to Mexico for distribution.

So that is a snapshot of what has gone on this week. Tune in to see if I can screw up the courage to chronicle more of these tidbits of research.

Posted by SWEAT at 08:59 AM

April 02, 2007

Suit created entirely within 100 mile radius of Philadelphia on Wired news

As a logical extension of the ethos that encourages us to eat food grown locally and in season, design educator Kelly Cobb proposed to create a man's business suit from material and labor found within a 100 mile radius of Philadelphia. The article lets us see some of the consequences of our globalizing tendencies. The western garment and textile industry existed entirely in Europe prior to the industrial revolution. It has moved westward and southward across the Atlantic ocean in the years since, and has continued to move westward across the pacific ocean in the latter half of the twentieth century. The 100 mile suit is a thought-provoking project.

Posted by SWEAT at 10:52 PM

April 01, 2007

Chinese educational re-form in NY Times Sunday Magazine

Today's Sunday New York Times Magazine brings a long article exploring evolving attitudes toward education in China. Registration will be required, and the article only accessible for a week or so. I cite two salient paragraphs below. The author asks - but leaves open - the question of how China's economy will be affected by changes in educational strategy that foreground the develpment of the individual and her critical reasoning skill over the rigorous testing of math and science skills in which there can be only one, narrowly defined, correct answer.

This article has resonance. In the last quarter of last year I participated a seminar sponsored by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) on the future of design education. The opening keynote was provided by Roger Mandle, President of the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), who had just returned from a consulting and fact finding trip to Shanghai. There he saw a new university of design that was about to open, and (the number shifts in my memory like a fish story) some sixteen-thousand students ready to study design. These students are to form part of China's economic engine. Mandle has recently announced that he will not seek renewal of his contract as head of one of the worlds most famous design schools when it ends in twelve months. His letter to alumni states that he is ready for one final career challenge, which he doesn't detail. I am tempted to jump to conclusions, to make inferences, to creatively connect the dots, because that is what I have educated myself to do. I think he will head up a school in China and attempt to attract the worlds greatest design talents to teach there.

From the article:
Even as American educators seek to emulate Asian pedagogy — a test-centered ethos and a rigorous focus on math, science and engineering — Chinese educators are trying to blend a Western emphasis on critical thinking, versatility and leadership into their own traditions. To put it another way, in the peremptorily utopian style typical of official Chinese directives (as well as of educationese the world over), the nation’s schools must strive “to build citizens’ character in an all-round way, gear their efforts to each and every student, give full scope to students’ ideological, moral, cultural and scientific potentials and raise their labor skills and physical and psychological aptitudes, achieve vibrant student development and run themselves with distinction.” Meijie’s rise to star student reflects a much-publicized government call to promote “suzhi jiaoyu” — generally translated as “quality education,” and also sometimes as “character education” or “all-round character education.” Her story also raises important questions about the state’s effort, which has been more generously backed by rhetoric than by money. The goal of change is to liberate students to pursue more fulfilling paths in a country where jobs are no longer assigned; it is also to produce the sort of flexibly skilled work force that best fits an international knowledge economy. But can personal desires and national demands be reconciled? Will the most promising students of the new era be as overburdened and regimented as before? As new opportunities have begun to emerge, so have tensions. If Meijie’s own trajectory and her Hsylc brainchild are any guide, the force most likely to spur on deep-seated educational ferment in China may well turn out to be students themselves — still struggling with stress, yet doing so in an era of greater personal independence and international openness. Overachievers of the world unite!

and from later in the article:
In 1998, years before the McKinsey report of a talent shortage, Xu heard the wake-up call when he initiated Chinese recruiting for Goldman Sachs.

He picked three graduates from China’s top universities and was impressed that they all scored 100 percent on the exam following the associate training stint in New York — only to be disappointed a year later, when their performance reviews were in the bottom quartiles. “There’s a price,” he concluded, “for 12 years of prep for an exam, and that’s to always think there’s a narrow, right answer. If you give precise instructions, they do well. If you define a task broadly, they get lost and ask for help.” If he and Lin had their way, independent students eager to use their imaginations would be the dominant breed on their campus. They were counting on a rising tide of “broad-minded” parents eager to provide their children with the less-straitjacketed education — a creative mix of the best of East and West — that Xiwai preached and aimed to find teachers able to impart. But as we toured a campus plastered with exhortations to be “global citizens” and to “Smile, Embrace, Communicate, Cooperate, Negotiate,” Xu was also blunt: there are lots of obstacles, not the least of them the gaokao that exerts such sway. “The dilemma is, everybody realized it is the problem, but nobody knows what to do.”

Posted by SWEAT at 08:42 AM