Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Like an alien object found inexplicably sitting in open view, here's an excellent piece by Nino Pirrotta on Commedia dell'Arte and Opera. Pirrotta was a brilliant fellow, and whoever took the trouble to spring his work, which by "rights" should be imprisoned within J$TOR's Big House (and probably will be along with the perp if his considerate J$TORlift is noticed by the authorities) deserves our thanks.

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Monday, June 29, 2009

nuages and soupe

je contemplais les mouvantes architectures que Dieu fait avec les vapeurs, les merveilleuses constructions de l'impalpable

"All hail, great master! grave sir, hail! I come
To answer thy best pleasure; be't to fly,
To swim, to dive into the fire, to ride
On the curl'd clouds; to thy strong bidding task Ariel and all his quality."


Phil at Gifthub - Philanthropy at the Crossroads:

To level society, NCRP, we need a bigger bulldozer. Let's abolish, for example, intellectual property. link
Gladwell, dismantling Chris Anderson and Kevin Kelly:

he’s forgotten about the plants and the power lines. link
No more dams I'll make for fish,
Nor fetch in firing
At requiring,
Nor scrape trencher, nor wash dish.

Et tout à coup je reçus un violent coup de poing dans le dos, et j'entendis une voix rauque et charmante, une voix hystérique et comme enrouée par l'eau-de-vie, la voix de ma chère petite bien-aimée, qui disait: "- Allez-vous bientôt manger votre soupe, s...b... de marchand de nuages?"

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Sunday, June 28, 2009

pools of common patronage and micropayments by use

via Stowe Boyd:

Posner Wants To Ban Links To Save Newspapers

juicy bit:
Expanding copyright law to bar online access to copyrighted materials without the copyright holder's consent, or to bar linking to or paraphrasing copyrighted materials without the copyright holder's consent, might be necessary...more

Very rough analogy: Before there was central water, people dug wells and paid for delivery equipment to provde them with clean water; each habitation its own system. Centralized water eliminated the need, and well diggers and equipment providers largely disappeared. People still pay to access water, just via other means.

News organizations need to divorce what we want from the physical encasements that no longer are quite so essential (tho' the net-deprived might disagree). They and we seem to believe that the end of the need for paper is the end of the need for news. It isn't.

Similarly, we think of the necessary costs of Internet provision to consist of the cost of the pipes, the delivery mechanism. An analysis of the actual pipe costs would help us understand why it is that pipemakers are so happy to be in this business. Perhaps some of that profit could be applied to subsidize use.

Not as in giving the New York Times a basic content emolument for existing, but maybe more as in a micropayment method by which, when users choose to look at a story in the Times, a tiny sliver of funds goes to the Times. Not directly out of the pocket of the individual user, but out of a common fund, generated from the pipemakers' profits.

That is, end users fund the pipes and contribute to content costs, but content providers earn their keep by justifying their existence. Links are free and the more you are linked to, the greater the chance of getting those micropayments -- $.0000000000007 or so, nothing huge - but it will add up.

Such a means of common, shared costs of patronage might seem silly, or full of difficulties and obvious problems, but it is surely less so than invoking antiquated and misguided law to "bar linking."

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Friday, June 26, 2009

Ach, du Lieberman

Thursday, June 25, 2009

A piquant brace of lifestyle options

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

re-esemplastic rethread

Afterthought with regard to the thread in the preceding post, much of which focuses on the Berkman Center's mode of presenting talks. For me, the Berkman Center was just cited as an example of how current practice tends to put valuable intellectual property out there and then leave it to its own devices. David Weinberger explains that the Berkman's support of an author like Lewis Hyde has other facets, and that putting his lunchtime talk out there is better than not doing so, even if follow up responses to it do not get tracked.

I want to move off of Berkman to try to make a point that otherwise might be lost. Conversations don't often neatly begin and end. Some have been going on for a few thousand years. Ten years ago, it was suggested that "markets are conversations," but the definition of "conversation" remained somewhat open-ended, like the thing itself (it extended into a deep and mostly tacit theory of voice, among other things).

We in the US and elsewhere have had the habit, for perhaps too long, of assuming that conversation can be bottled up inside a piece of thingliness - a vessel like a book, a CD, DVD, digital file, painting, etc. -- and presented as a self-sufficient, closed object which can then be sold. I don't think that's what "markets are conversations" was intended to mean, but the closing of the conversation, like the enclosure of the commons, leads to improper notions of something as "a property," and then, "intellectual property."

What if intellect cannot be localized because much of what we think and say is already in a dialogic (or, allegoric) relation to other words that have been thought and said? If intellect doesn't lend itself to a local habitation and a name, then "intellectual property" is an oxymoron, or worse, a senseless grouping of phonemes.

Yet in our daily practice, as we're used to slicing up the stream of time into end-stopped segments, we share and sell moments in larger conversations, themselves moments in even larger conversations.

My point vis a vis Hyde was that even as he spoke of a commons and its loss through stages of enclosure, there was both a fidelity and a betrayal of his thinking in how it was situated. It is freely shared - qua segment, qua object, qua Berkman moment; but by bracketing it off from any further precedent or subsequent context, its necessary relation to its origin and its destiny, its power to bear witness to further repercussions of its own impact, is denied.

This is not merely a Berkman phenomenon; it's a representational phenomenon deriving from a scheme that believes intellectual objects have an integrity which in fact they do not possess.

Twitter might be a helpful gloss: no one on Twitter is the source of any given conversation, nor is it the case that a conversation takes place between the same interlocutors. Conversations are witnessed, piled in on, diverted, commented upon, rejoined, attitudinalized, left for dead, by a series of folks who may never directly speak to one another. On Twitter, conversation might be said the be the soul of indiscretion.

So, where the roots of ideas of intellect and property are being seriously examined, the representation of moments in their conversations would do well to explore how they can bring forward the links among themselves and their exfoliations.

Desideratum: A reverse wordcloud - where the words in a post that are cited, linked to, retweeted, etc., grow and (somehow) contain links to posts that link to them. Sort of like Eliot's Tradition and the Individual Talent, where later texts within the tradition contain and esemplastically transform earlier ones.

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Hyde and seek

Interesting talk by Lewis Hyde on the commons - thanks to Jon "Wirearchy" Husband for the pointer. David Weinberger live-blogged it here.

What is proper to Hyde's talk - just the talk? It seems the Berkman Center thinks so. The Berkman offers a ton of interesting talks on its site. What's not here is any follow-up discussion, exploration. Where does responsibility toward ideas and their dissemination begin and end?

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Sunday, June 14, 2009

do the math

all his visage wann'd,
Tears in his eyes, distraction in's aspect,
A broken voice

George Benckenstein on the math of the diffusion of ideas, with special reference to Susan Boyle and Swine Flu.

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Miracle of Qana

Apparently because it was commissioned for a Benedictine Monastery that observed the rule of silence, Veronese's Wedding at Cana, while offering the liveliest depiction of a social event rich in closely observed detail, choked with small intimate exchanges and interactions among more than 130 figures, does not in fact offer a single open mouth, the slightest visible intimation of actual speaking.

That's something of a miracle in itself, sort of not like Twitter.

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Thursday, June 11, 2009

Means and ends of immaterial production

"I don't feel a loss of control over my own productive activity when I contribute to a Wikipedia entry that may benefit others. On the other hand, I might be more likely to feel this loss of control when I discover, say, that details of my online activity have been collected, sorted, and packaged as a commodity for sale to people who may use it to deny me access to a job or to manipulate me based on perceived vulnerabilities, fears, and other personal details about my mental or physical well being." ~ Mark Andrejevic on the IDC list.

This line of inquiry could help clarify intellectual property confusion as well as the thinking of "exploitation."

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Nothing here happened today

Jason Jones visits the lady

But see Jay/Dave:

The New York Times has a neighborhood blogging experiment, The Local. This week it extended an invitation to users: be the journalist. "Here is your first assignment: We're looking for someone to go to the 88th Precinct Community Council meeting next Wednesday, the 10th."

A progression? See Mr. Cubeta:

The development of professionals in this field of fields goes like this:

  1. Diffident ignorance.
  2. Confident siloed expertise, blind and deaf to disciplines beyond the specialist's own.
  3. Panic and dread at being exposed to one's own ignorance of all but a narrow band of knowledge.
  4. Disdain and contempt for "the dark side," or the "touchy feely types," or "the mixed motives sorts."
  5. A growing set of friendships across the sectors
  6. Humilty and graciousness; a sense of appreciation for what others bring to the table.
  7. Team play.
  8. World changing results.

The Times has been at #4 for a while. Is the jocularity and call to neighborhoods a sign of moving past that, or merely another effort to market the seeming of that?

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Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Apparently eviscerated scans are insufficiently feckless

The Justice Department has sent formal demands to Google Inc. and publishers for information about a deal both struck last year to allow the search giant to make millions of books available online, publishing company executives said Tuesday. bleh.


Monday, June 08, 2009

recursive publics and free software

From an interesting review of an interesting-sounding book by Christopher Kelty:

Kelty’s main argument is that Free Software communities are a recursive public. He defines a recursive public as a public “whose existence (which consists solely in address through discourse) is possible only through discursive and technical reference to the means of creating this public.”


Free Software is a continuing praxis of “figuring out” - giving up an understanding of finality in order to continually adapt and redesign the system.

I recently wrote a piece for a multiply-authored book due out next year (more on this later) that sought to look at the "development" of the Internet very much along these lines. I hadn't seen these lines when I wrote it, but yes this, and the notion of “adaptability over planning” seem to me germane to the open system of the Net.

I do suspect "open system" is often oxymoronal. Maybe not always?

And, slantwise, this:
The Pirate Party has won a huge victory in the Swedish elections and is marching on to Brussels.

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Monday, June 01, 2009


Of the still undetermined fate of Airbus AF 447:

“We can fear the worst,” said France's minister in charge of transport, Jean-Louis Borloo, on Europe-1 radio.

This "can" is so unlike the USian "can," as in "Yes we can." Implied for US speakers always is empowerment, the affirmation that the individual or collective actor has permitted the self to a state of self-directed intervention.

M. Borloo's "can" is the resignation to another kind of permission. An acknowledgment that the grounds to fear our utter disempowerment are in place beyond the self. Not "a" place - is Fate ever localized?

This impersonal permission comes despite all we can do. So unUSian.

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