Wednesday, 26 September 2007

Google Ads Loves All Its Children

Doing the good ol' vanity search on Technorati, I came across a blog linking to my roundup of links regarding bacteria. I won't link to them, for the sole reason that they are a site whose main focus is in drawing ad-link clicks, disguised under a thin veil of fashion content. At first glance, with the clean and pleasing interface and fancy quotation marks, one is drawn in with a feeling that perhaps the blog is maintained by a quote hungry fashion student. Then when one looks at the 80 posts written so far in September, you start to notice things like, well...

Spam, of course - for ads. That's not entirely offensive, although certainly in bad taste -- but I am always fascinated by the levels of bad taste that are reached through odd, and traditional techniques. Cut up spam messages some times strike me as so horribly wonderful that I save them and keep them for later - because somehow in the mad frenzy to sell me vicodin, valium and viagra, the random string of words sets off this chain reaction within me to find meaning within the passages, and consider the possible symbolic significance within them -- even though I know they are impossible gibberish, or generated randomly.

Looking at the spam splattered across the ad-blog, I get this dystopian shudder of a world of content controlled by machines, who cannot fathom the meaning of the work they produce. Today I was digging on Technorati to find information on 'big apple cake'.. And this is one of the first results I found: quote quote. I tried several more searches on 'big apple cake' but after 10 minutes I got tired, gave up and posted this entry to 'Big Cakes'. Still, I think it was an interesting time. A cornucopia of meaninglessness, to reel in mouse clicks -- production under false pretenses, which wouldn't be so offensive to me, only there is the sense of banality surrounding the whole ordeal which makes me grit my teeth.

I think it might be a niggling feeling that, if I was to presume that human beings sense of consciousness is an evolutionary accident, purely a function created so as to avoid getting mauled by lions on an open savanna, we are in a sense like blog fogger used to generate ad-clicks. Perhaps al the meaning we try to install in the languages we use, aural and visual, is ultimately meaningless gibberish. Like the spam generators compiling these linked blog entries next to their lines of ads, we cannot fathom the ultimate meaning of the life-content we produce.

The utopian side of me -- which is for the moment stronger them my dystopian side -- tells me that the very realisation of our lack of understanding ultimate meaning, or the possibility of ultimate meaning not existing outside our consideration for it, facilitates understanding of self-meaning, thus validates the, er, validity of our thinking and attempting to create meaning in the first place. Ultimately, the quest for meaning is meaningless and impossible on a grand scale -- the much more interesting aspect to me, is the thinking about meaning in the first place.

Regardless of my gibberish (which is only slightly more evolved than that of spam...), I start to wonder if the ongoing research in AI leading potentially to synthetic intelligence, will allow for a wider context of meaning. What creates meaning? Or value? Can we make a machine understand meaning, and if we could, would it be ethical for us to force meaning upon that machine?

I am faced with the argument of meaning/value every day at school - internally from within my course, and externally from other factions at my University. A machine can be made to produce a painting in the style of Pollock, but why is one worth a substantially large amount more than another? Meaning we invest in the artist, not the work itself? I'm not sure. Film and fine art students tell me digital medium (my medium of choice!) is less valid, because I am working in a less tangible way - not with the physics of light to film, not with the chemistry of paint to canvas, but the mathematics of binary which have been dressed up fancy with coding and packaged into aesthetic GUIs. We are still in such a position where our physical counterparts, two party interaction between body and objects, are considered pivotal to creating meaning.

When you record a scene in digital format, there are three parties -- the object, the virtual representation, and yourself. In Photoshop, there is the compiled image, the virtual image, and yourself. In synthesised music - the sound, the virtual sound, yourself... Writing on a computer is an illusion of writing - the reality is the words I see are symbolically there, but that doesn't take away from their meaning -- because of the human interaction.

Which makes me feel obliged as a Human to expand my own understanding of general context, connections between things and possibilities things have in relation to one another. If context equals meaning, it might be the thing separating me from being generated spam.

Monday, 24 September 2007

I'm A Single Cell On A Serpents Tongue

The female Beewolf Wasp cultivates bacteria within her antenna, which in turn protect young Beewolf larvae from fungal infection. Cosmos Magazine, April 07

An introductory primer to cultivating bacteria, or; Nutrition and Growth of Bacteria, a practical walkthrough. Todar's Online Textbook of Bacteriology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Department of Bacteriology.

We are rockers, we rock out -- some bacteria love heavy metal, and S. oneidensis get a taste for toxic waste. I guess you could call it cultivating alternative culture? PLoS Biology - Liza Gross, 06.

Bacteriophages in micro-reconnoissance. Nanotechnology detects bacteria, and produces to beat the shit ions out of it for our viewing pleasure. Welcome Trust, citing Journal of Biological Physics and Chemistry, March 05

Does Science sell more headlines when it's openly aggressive? Killer clothing destroys Bacteria & Fungi, by attracting negatively charged bacteria/fungi and impaling themselves on a dagger of hydrogen atoms. Unsurprisingly, research funded by the US Army for the Institute of Soldiering Nanotechnology at the MIT. AZoNano, citing Advantage Magazine, Feb 04

Nanotechnology in fashion - student Olivia Ong designed clothes using fabrics that are antibacterial, air-purifying and still, amazingly, rather old looking without any sense of hopeful modernity. Great concept, poor draping, so sad. At $10,000 per square yard, I wonder if the US Army funded the professor and researcher in charge of the textile design. Cornell Conical, May 07.

Friday, 21 September 2007

Flickr & Fairy Cakes

Man, what a drag. I just tried to access my Flickr account, only to find there's no place to log in using the Olde Tyme log-in information - only Yahoo's info. I reckon the last time I used Flickr was around May - but I wanted to change that. Only now I can't log in, and I don't know how to access my old profile and old photos, because Yahoo help as as navigable as driving a phone book in a vat of caramel. Oh wells. I'll get that sorted out later...

I had to do a Mega-Wipe of my Mac, and reinstall OSX again. Woeful, certainly -- all that lost data that had somehow become inaccessible in its partition due to some unknown reason, i.e. my incompetence at backups and the spooky secret flaws of 10.4.10. Note: in 10.4.10 I will be 23 years and 11 months old and out of Uni for a year. Wild.

With the great Information Cleanse of 2007, I lost all my neato additional programs - from nice open stuff like Atlantis (Mu* platform), and nice not-so-open stuff like Photoshop CS. That makes me saddish -- it means I must venture out into the great beyond and find another copy hidden someplace.

I've been looking at open graphics software, such as Xara Xtreme (dudes, poor name choice -- are you making graphics or porn?) - which looks promising, but they're not yet up on OSX due to their lack of Mac developers, which is a drag. GIMP is an obvious choice, and although I have been aware of it for a while now, I am wary of it because... Well, it seems complicated - not as a software itself, but the process to get it running on OSX. Typing that out, I realise what a lame ass excuse that is. Am I really that lame? Apparently. In addition I should note I've been scoping out Ogre 3D, which as the name may suggest, renders 3D graphics.


Noting my own lame-ility, I am setting myself a challenge of sorts.
I am going to stop being a lame ass fairy cake, and install GIMP, and use it on a trial period. I will approach it with the open, all caring acceptance of an optimist, and not be too swift to judge it against Adobe's humpty-kagillion pound package bundles. Maybe I will stop being a lame ass fairy cake.

In addition, over the next few weeks I will be putting together things for my side-blog, lets call it Art & Movement (working title) -- it won't have these blah-blah entries, but rather a collection of sound, images and video which I think are relevant and aesthetically engaging and relate or clash with the work I am doing. Hell, maybe sometimes I'll include my own work -- Science knows I've been keeping everybody in the dark about whatever it is that I do.

Of course... I'm not so sure I want it to be on blogger. I would be more comfortable being situated somewhere independent, where I had more control over layout. Anybody got any Hosting space? I'm good for the deposit, I swear! (You take fairy cakes, right?)

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

Prince is an ancient term // Modern Modernist

Prince is planning on suing YouTube over 'unauthorised' use his music, in an attempt to reclaim his art on the internet (Reuters). He has already caused a stir with music retailers over the distribution of his new album in the UK through the UK newspaper the Mail (Guardian).

From the Guardian:
It's all about giving music for the masses and [Prince] believes in spreading the music he produces to as many people as possible.

Hmm. Am I sensing a little hypocritical tendencies -- or is this man sick of being formally known? I am all aware of any publicity being good publicity, and this claim of a lawsuit has that particular stench of sensationalism I am not keen on.

Are people afraid of new media -- or are they afraid of media whose producers they cannot control? As John Giacobbi said in the Reuters article, they may have taken off 2,000 Prince videos from YouTube, but even when they get that number to 0, the nature of the site allows for users to re-upload and replace those videos as quickly as they are taken down.

As many of you know, the nature of my studies keeps me focused on emerging media technologies, and I have a particular fondness of YouTube and online social networks which cater to communicating media in all forms. It cannot be denied that with YouTube, as MySpace[ship] and DeviantArt and other such sites, one of the most charismatic aspects is the ability to share and promote creative works to a large number of people - both socially and commercially.

I hate to think Prince wants his music videos - be they official or fan created - off of YouTube because he is too old to understand the value of such new media forums. Perhaps it's more accurate for me to say that he is in fact old-fashioned, rather than just an old fogy.

Even some of my most beloved lecturers still have difficulty understanding and accepting spaces like YouTube, Facebook, etc -- to many they are considered limited to social-only situations, or considered naive spaces for juveniles. On my best days I believe sites like them are exciting modern-day salons, and on my worst an epic waste of time. Convincing people that the global village social and media networking sites are more than what they seem is an epic task at times - the virtuality of the spaces seems to lead people who are outside the Internet that they are somehow Less Real than traditional physical realms of galleries, Universities and record company coffee rooms.

All my friends are on the Internet.
Does that make them any less real?
The ones I once knew in MeatSpace seem so much further away.


In Other News: I am trying to get back into the stride of things, which is partially why I have been silent. University, and my upcoming Class of 2009 Status is making me worried. There is never enough time in the world, not when I am watching every episode of Heroes season 1 in three days. I have a theoretical hard on for Peter Petrelli - and I am depressed not because he's a fictional character in a fictional universe, but that he's effectively a huge faggy Mary-Sue and huge fucking Twink -- and I am not talking gay slang here people. I'm talking gamer.

Oh. Also. I gave up Mu*ing because I had no time this summer, and I am feeling bittersweet about it. I have played online text based RPGs for ten years running, and letting go without tying off character strings has lead me to be quietly depressed. I stopped not because I found the game I was active in boring -- rather, I found it so interesting and so much fun, that I had to cut it out of my life due to the fact I was focusing so much creative energy in it's direction. While I know Mu*s have been a major influence in the way I command the English language, consider collective co-operitive narrative, and understand social networks (in the abstract sense!!!), I need time to focus on actively improving my programming, theoretical and, fundamentally, my real-life skill base.

That said, I feel like a Modernist giving away her collection of art history texts so I don't get bogged down with physical weight and mental distraction. The people and ideas I've been able to access because of the existence of Mu*s has been substantial. Without them I would have never been able to have these friends - be they virtual text representations of their physical counterparts - in Sweden, the Americas, Japan, Australia, and beyond. I may have never started studying Leibniz and theories of Metaphysics and Monadology. I may have never become interested in Hypermaths, mysticism, Papua New Guinea cargo tribes, Steampunk, nanotechnology, neurochemistry, Digitalism, linguistics as reality modifiers, the question of good and evil, Medieval social structures, and countless other pet interests of mine that have developed over time. All for the sake of convincingly playing a game that mimics a reality that will never happen.

If I could have a superpower... I don't know what it would be.