BrainJams Saturday

Tomorrow/Saturday is the day for remixing brains over geek and non-geek stuff at Chris Heure’s BrainJams event. It’s a collaborative, relatively freeform shindig that revolves around the nebulous concept of “knowledge sharing”. The gist is you spill your passion or project to fellow ‘Jammers and grow from there. Nate and Chris‘ posts explain this much better than I currently understand, but it seems much like the Advocacy Dev shindigs I’ve participated in in the past. Check out the wiki for more deets and register. Oh yeah, it’s in Shallow Alto, but don’t let that freak you out. Added bonus: GETV will be there to cover the fun.

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Flocking for the Winter

FlockAs the rainy winter sets in here in San Francisco, two birds of a feather spread their wings. Last week, the much anticipated social browser Flock made it’s debut. This is my first post using Flock to see how she flys. So far, she’s airborne.

The other Flock coming to San Francisco is the beautiful metal sculpture piece pictured here from Burning Man 2001, by longtime artist Michael Christian. Flock (the sculpture) will be coming to the plaza in front of City Hall in mid-November, assuming the Black Rock Arts Foundation can raise enough dinero. You should donate, hint hint. Flock is one of my favorite pieces from all of Burning Man. The legs that rise up from the ground are organic and vine like slowly transforming to an animal shape as it reaches the headless mammalian torso. Possibly a glimpse into our own genetic future?

Hey Scott, so I think Flock officially bridges the gap between the SF Burning Man art scene and the new generation of open source geekdom. Your perception was spot on.

UPDATE: The San Francisco Examiner did a story on Flock coming to SF. I’m happy they chose to use my photo, despite not giving me a credit.

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Videos contradict cops at RNC

There’s a piece in today’s NY Times [reg required] that describes how amateur video helped get a few people off who were falsely charged during the RNC protests last year. The real story is how the cops, in at least two cases, completely lied and fabricated evidence.

“We picked him up and we carried him while he squirmed and screamed,” the officer, Matthew Wohl, testified in December. “I had one of his legs because he was kicking and refusing to walk on his own.”

During a recess, the defense had brought new information to the prosecutor. A videotape shot by a documentary filmmaker showed Mr. Kyne agitated but plainly walking under his own power down the library steps, contradicting the vivid account of Officer Wohl, who was nowhere to be seen in the pictures. Nor was the officer seen taking part in the arrests of four other people at the library against whom he signed complaints.

The last bit about the officer not being present to make the arrest doesn’t surprise me. When I was arrested, I was basically assigned an officer to make my arrest. There were so many of us corralled together on the sidewalk, they just peeled us off five at a time and delivered us to the next available officer for processing. For most of us, our arresting officers could not have witnessed (and therefore truthfully testify) about anything that we may or may have not done as they weren’t even present during the alleged infractions. Yay for cheap video cameras and people who aren’t afraid to use them.

Gmapping History & Future

Washington, DC 20050
Originally uploaded by ekai.

The latest example of cool emergent technology is Google Maps rendered with satellite imagery annotated with Flickr notes. Geeks and the geekly inclined are zooming in on neighborhoods where they once lived and are tagging those screen capture images with notes describing historical moments in the geography. Flickr has a group called Memory Maps dedicated to this.

Since I grew up in the DC area, I decided to look around some internationally known locations to see what they look like from the sky. Interesting to note that the White House and the neighboring Old Executive Office Building and Department of Treasury buildings are “sanitized” from the top, for national security reasons I’m sure. Their roofs are represented as blank continuous dull colors with none of the detail you’ll find on other buildings. Some areas, such as the courtyards in the Old Executive, are grossly pixelated. On the other hand, the Pentagon, looks complete with detail. This begs the question, what does it take to get a piece of property obscured from Google’s database? Can I fill out a form and demand that my house be gzapped so no one knows that the grass hasn’t been cut in 3 years or that my meth lab exploded?

As if that wasn’t enough cool, this brilliant individual figured out how to remix Craig’s List housing ads with Google Maps. This is the kind of thing that some bubbleheaded VC would have sunk $30 million into 5 years ago. And now it’s done emergent style with an idea and a little duct tape. Imagine what can happen when there is an open API for all this.

That Subliminal Kid

Originally uploaded by ekai.

DJ Spooky is friggin’ brilliant, let it be said. He kicked off Rhythm Science, a lecture last night on art history, philosophy, hiphop and remix culture, by invoking the gift economy. He handed out free mix CDs to everyone in the audience. He then proceded to pull out a personal stash of records that are obviously the tools of his trade and shared them with everyone in the audience. Not for keeps, but show and tell like, letting everyone fondle and caress each piece of vinyl before passing it on to his and her neighbor.

And then the lecture started. Here’s some notes I picked up along the way.

-the culture of copy
-information ecology
-the source code is human expression mediated by human interpretation
-the Beats of the 50’s gave birth to the beats of the 21st century
-discourse of the nation state
-Internet inheriting the remixing from the streets (the first network)
-the artist as font, moveable to different compositions
-Spooky is a French lit and philosophy major
-dialectics of sound
-streetlights as controls of the original network, the streets
-music is liquid architecture
-copyright as it is written and as it is lived is diverging
-electronic music is the folk music of the 21st century, everyone knows and plays each other’s music
-Birth of a Nation was the first film to play in the White House

And then there was the other reason he was here. This free lecture proceeds a $40 a head gig he’s doing this weekend at Yerba Buena in San Francisco. Spooky uses the 1915 silent KKK propaganda film The Birth of a Nation as source material for video on 3 giant screens and an accompanying composition he created. Too rich for my blood right now, but I’d love to hear report backs.

UPDATE: Some pix I took. Steve Rhodes has more.