Thursday, 17 December 2009

Generally there are 2 sides to every coin

In response to Manovich's essay and what was earlier discussed in class: The internet is definitely a marvel, and so are newspaper and both radio and televised broadcasts etc. Needless to say, all of the said forms of media and beyond are subject to manipulation. People are also partial to formulating opinions and in (many parts of the world) some way obliged- socially perhaps? (although not forced) to contribute towards the grand, plentiful data pool that is... The internet.
There are certain benefits of this invention, mainly being related to its democratic 'all may contribute' nature, because every one can and does have a voice in some way shape or form, and the internet is one place where your voice can be publicly expressed.
This is a powerful principle, perhaps frightening to some. I think we can all agree that there IS an abundance of digital noise out there and that a lot of internet content is trivial but what the input represents in terms of technology, communication and censorship is much more important.
Its important that there is a means that encourages freedom of expression. No matter how trivial, else censorship would become far too severe and depends on the opinion of perhaps very few individuals.
Of course, the immense mass of data dilutes some a sense of intelligence, necessity, creativity and/or ingenuity just like how the sounds of a busy road or noisy environment may drown out parts conversation you are trying to engage in. Lots of people enjoy talking about nonsense, which is not necessarily an insult because its an observable fact. The process and experience of the internet is by nature a selective one. In most countries you may select the content you view as much as you select the content that you contribute.
My sister forwarded me an email containing a public message from her friend. This blog entry is a comment on what he has said despite his request at the end "PS Please don’t comment on this. I don’t want to hear what you think and it will only encourage me to post more useless shite." I agree with the content and think its funny. At the same time its relevant to this part of my course. Its all an important part of the information development process. I presume there is a use for the reflections people produce in response to what other people say when given unlimited opportunity to express themselves, never mind how blandly they decide to do so.
Keep your trivia to yourself... by Jack Sharp
I don’t want to know what you had for lunch, what hat you’re wearing
or what type of dog you just saw. Stop spewing mindless content into
the great expanse of the internet in the vain hope that someone will
read it and give you a virtual pat on the bum for the cute little life
you lead.
True, the human mind has been a festering hive of trivial sewage for
thousands of years, but the sluice gates tended to stay shut or at
least only open on street corners or in public houses where the stink
could disappear harmlessly into the atmosphere. Now the stench of
mindless drivel is trapped and displayed for the entire world on the
internet. Constantly being replaced and updated with more totally
pointless shit.
The absolute worst thing about it is that when I inevitably stumble
across these shit-nuggets I feel compelled to read them and further
dull my over-stimulated brain when I would much rather be reading a
novel or playing my guitar or ….actually anything… jamming cocktail
sticks into my tear ducts.
But I’m unable to turn away and just end up making myself feel wretched.
-‘Happy 1st Birthday Winston (the dog)!!’
-‘I’m drinking tea and all happy about watching episode 7x21 of Buffy’
-‘Now that the new Lotus Tesco Market has just opened on my street, I
have it plus three 7-Elevens to shop at. All within a half km. Cool!’
-‘Now I have to wait ten minutes in the cold’
-‘Fun start to the day. Coffee while doing laundry’
See, you just read all those and what did it contribute to your life. NOTHING!
And yet, here I am, committing my worthless opinion to virtual print
for someone to like/comment/blog or twitter on about. I feel sick.
My only hope is that on reading this a few people may be compelled to
ignore the vast ocean of trivial musings on the web and most
importantly refrain from contributing their own mind-scat to the
intellectual sewage pipe.
PS Please don’t comment on this. I don’t want to hear what you think
and it will only encourage me to post more useless shite.                                                                                                                 

WHAA HAA HAAAA! I feel like I have completed the cycle some how. If this is referring to facebook, Jack should adjust the settings so that that he receive NO NEWS from any one. Its an option.  On media: It's useful to be skeptical, patient and informed. And to question all things presented to you without irrational assumptions that you know everything. Question things with out feeling obliged to follow unreasonable and extreme theories or conspiracies.
No one has all the answers and no one ever will.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Interactive internet stuff: FOLDIT and Richard's Loops

I found this performance on youtube using an MPC 1000 and recorded samples of Mozart's 'Ronda Alla Turca':

Its shows some more extent to which the digital environment can expand our creative capacities. I though this was an excellent example because you can clearly see and hear exactly how and how well this MCP has exploited a digitised performance of Mozart's piece, a basic drum loop and some good timing. It introduces potential in a really clear way. (Listen to Ronda Alla Turca if you do not already know it).

I found Richard Houghton's youtube channel and then his website. An interesting feature of his website is that it allows you to mix loops he has made. Making it whoely interactive and dependent on the internet for its success. It allows many different combinations through use of his website on the internet, perhaps an infinitely large number of combinations (in theory) of 9 simple looped sounds.

A very large volume of combinations is only possible through using the internet. Have a look at his website:

FOLDIT (Online problem solving game)

and blog:
and wiki page:

This experiment depends on internet interaction to for fill its intentions. 'FoldIt' is an online game in which humans try to solve one of the hardest computational problems in biophysics: protein folding. Almost like trial and improvement the success of its interactive nature is due to the fact that the more people try/build/make/fold/etc different varieties the more likely the program is able to find a solution to a protein folding problem testing the limits of the game with existing problems with known solutions.

FROM PHYSICS WORLD Volume 22 Number 7 July 2009: "FOLDIT draws on the idle hours of several thousand data-crunchers for help in solving scientific puzzles. FOLDIT is all about biophysics. The project's goal is to understand how proteins- the chains of amino acids that drive processes inside living cells- fold themselves into a myriad of different shapes. But the most striking difference is that FOLDIT's protein folding operators are actual human beings, and the datasets they are sifting are disguised as an amazingly addictive computer game." 

Its educational, user friendly, Tetris-like by nature and takes advantage of the human penchant for pattern spotting. It outsources these problems to any one with a computer and spare time, seeing what the game is capable of telling us about interactive problem solving in the hope that human players can one day tackle protein-folding problems that have no current solution. 

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Switching and some history

Before solid state digital electronic devices became available circuit swithed network technology used analogue electronics operating with variables represented by continuously measuring voltages and other quantities.

How a microphone works:
Microphones are an example of a device that changes information from one form to another. Sound information exists as patterns of air pressure; a microphone changes the information that makes the patterns what they are into patterns of electric current.

In 1960
Many companies started to use computers to manage and organize their business. Thus a network was needed for these different computer terminals to communicate with each other and transmit data.

Data was first encoded in the same way that the voice networks encoded sounds. The data was sent over conversional telephone circuits. The devises used to convert data from digital to analogue signals appropriate for telephone circuits are called modems. The 1st modems operated at rates of 110 bits per second. With in 5 years they had reached speeds of 300 to 1120 bits per second. Today, bandwidth of a typical copper line reaches 56kbps (56000 bits per second).

Processor and memory technologies developed throughout the 60's becoming faster and more capable to deal with more signals. Circuit-switched communication was not able to catch up. The US DOD became aware of the potentials of strategy planning through this technology. The circuit switched technology prevented them from using hight speed computers and so ARPA (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network) worked on developing better communications technologies. Resulting in a simple solution of allowing many computers to share the circuit so each individual one receives a part of the total capacity, making packet switching switching automatic and fair. In this solution data had to be divided into packets. The network accepts packets from multiple senders each with its own destination in a header. Then routes them to their respective destinations. The need for better communication networks stimulated much of the research, Bell Labs being a pioneer.

In 1991
Packet switching data network ARPANET celebrated its 20th anniversary, faster high speed communications became more popular and the original ARPANET with its network address was discontinued.

Intrigue: The work of Field and TRAUM

(OLD POST FROM 'LE POMP' BLOG- Interesting use of digital environments to create art)

On the evening of the opening reception of the exhibit at the Pebbledash Gallery (EXHIBIT X), were two very wonderful instillation/performances.

A wondrous due from Germany who through the power or their patience programed and animated this wonderful place (click for HD)

Poor visibility; weather again unsettled today. Surreal rocks and riven lowlands, valleys fog-shrouded. Frightening depths, and emptiness. Rarity of air is noticeable. What are you looking for in this hostile stretch?

'Traum' enters the derelict landscape of the Lee Valley, London, UK, the site of the 2012 Olympics. Cut to a complex score by Isambard Khroustaliov the film proposes a way of looking through the surface of banal things to find new and surprising territories.

Music by Isambard Khroustaliov, film by Martin Hampton.
Made as part as part of the Not-Applicable project. 2008.

I found both FIELD and DIFFERANCE very inspirational. I was very glad to be associated with them.

Graphics programming and animations imitating them before they existed

"Early Abstractions" (1946-57), Pt. 4

Yantra - James Whitney (1957)



Thursday, 22 October 2009

Robot dialog

Here is a dialogue between a robot and someone (another robot maybe?) giving it instructions. I found it rather amusing, confusing and endearing. (Please read the associated text, refferenced from a book called Robots from the Library who’s author and publisher I cant remember at the moment.) This is not partiucularily relevant right now but an interesting representation of 'intelligence' through what I can only assume are pre-programmed responses to predicted (or likely) changes in data input from environment, that are subject to annalysis and argument through formal logic.

Please stack up the yellow and purple blocks, and either a blue cube or a pyramid.
Which cube is sitting on the table?
The large blue one that supports the green pyramid.
Put a small cube onto the blue cube that supports a pyramid.
Put the littlest pyramid on top of it.
How many things are on top of the blue cubes?
I’m not sure what you mean by ‘on top of’ in the phrase ‘on top of the blue cubes.’
Do you mean:
1 - Directly on the surface?
2 - Anywhere on top of?
Three of them.

Had you touched any pyramid before you put the red one the little cube?
Yes, the red one.
When did you pick it up?
While I was stacking up the purple cube, a large yellow block, and a large blue cube.
To get rid of it.
Why did you do that?
To clear off the purple cube.
Why did you clear off that cube?
To put it on the large blue cube.
Why did you do that?
To stack up the purple cube, a yellow block and a large blue cube.
Why did you do that?
Because you asked me to.
Very well. Now please stack both the blue cubes and the smallest pyramid.

(Photo courtesy of Rosanne Eveleigh here is her blog DOUBLE RAINBOWS

Thursday, 15 October 2009


WEEK 1's introduction to the Digital Environment elective drew my attention to the different between the things we learn about the world that are objective, real and in clear existence just waiting to be understood against the aesthetics humans so infamously create and construct. That we can all say (when speaking of a certain bird that can fly e.g. pigeon) 'That bird can fly' but we will not all say 'that bird is beautiful'- Aesthetics are constructed, and subjective. They depend on your preferences and ideas, which develop depending on upbringing, culture, environment, personal choice and many other derivatives of the nurture and nature of individuals.

Here are four videos from you-tube:
1) Demonstration early digital music technology  
The Fairlight CMI (Computer Musical Instrument) was the first polyphonic digital sampling synthesizer. It was designed in 1979 by the founders of Fairlight, Peter Vogel and Kim Ryrie, and based on a dual-6800 microprocessor computer designed by Tony Furse in Sydney, Australia.[1][2] It rose to prominence in the early 1980s and competed in the market with the Synclavier from New England Digital. Both instruments would be put through their paces by famed producer Trevor Horn, much to the chagrin of rival Martin Hannett (who left Factory Records after the company refused to subsidize his purchase of a Series IIx model mere months before Horn's production of "Relax" hit the airwaves).

2 ) This is an example of the improvements of the applications of the digital in more recent times (Wii Hacking by taking advantage of infrared technology using infrared camera in a Wii remote.

3) Johnny Harcastel's video to his 1981 composition 'King Tut'.

4) This is a video from "bionicTechnophobe's" you-tube channel:  
Using the 8x8 LED matrix of the Meggy Jr as a low resolution video display. The video is captured with the built-in iSight camera of a MacBook Pro using Processing. The image is formatted specially for the Meggy then sent via serial. The refresh rate is certainly acceptable, although there needs to be more error checking with the video sync.

FUTURE SHOCK is documentary from 1972 reaches into some interesting topics. Its based on the book written by the sociologist and futurologist Alvin Toffler in 1970 and contemplates ways in which technology might change the future. It is suggestive of disposable, temporary life styles and distant relationships through computers. These examples are now quite real e.g. fast food, Primark, Ikea, face-book etc. Some people live in knowledge that fast food is bad for you and still eat it. That physical encounters with our environment are currently unrivaled health wise and in terms of experience by anything networking sites can offer and still spend hours on end on them. Some also speculate that primark clothes are inexpensive because they are made in sweatshops and still shop there. Needless to say encouraging wasteful/spoilt behavior through the fact that things are so easily replaced and produced reduces reasons for purchase to something very decadent and pointless. This particular episode seems try expose potential dangers of technology. I cant take it seriously but Id like to read the book.

I have added this video predominantly for aesthetics. I think technology is overwhelming- predominantly a good and wonderful thing. Concerning disposable lifestyle and the current state of the environment this era of wastefulness will inevitably have to end, our environment does after all contains us so we must keep it livable in one way or another.

DIGRESSION: Newton's laws of motion.
I. Every object in a state of uniform motion tends to remain in that state of motion unless an external force is applied to it.
II. The relationship between an object's mass m, its acceleration a, and the applied force F is F = ma. Acceleration and force are vectors (as indicated by their symbols being displayed in slant bold font); in this law the direction of the force vector is the same as the direction of the acceleration vector.
III. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Here is a link to and interactive learning website which includes some Java applets on Physics so you can play around with that. Java is a digital environment.

Friday, 9 October 2009


My elective is digital environments. The progressive emergence of digital technologies over the course of the 20th century and into the 21st is one of exponential growth. If we look back to the 1930's we happen across George Stibitze, researcher at Bell Labs and mathematician (who today is internationally known as one of the fathers of digital computers, but Im sure had he not figured it out, some one else definitely would have.) He devised Boolean logic digital circuits using electromechanical relays as the switching element. (Switching element being the word coined for the component and/or element which is responsible for the transfer of data within or across a network/s. For example, using the electron.) We could probably claim that the work Samuel Morse and his creation of Morse Code were also partly responsible. Similar code related contributions by other mathematicians and logic derived by philosophers and physicists could also be relevant. We could say that they are also collectively responsible for the emergence of the computer.

(Link to Bell Laboratories)

This topic is going to be a very interesting part of my course. Digital information is transfered, stored and understood through the interpretation of two states of an electron: positive and non-positive. Read as 1 and 0 respectively. Thats It!.

Everything in the computer, on the internet, programs, games, digital cameras, mobile phones, other small processors e.g; found in microwaves, washing machines and DVD players. All the information; images and sounds in your lap top/computer/ipod/MP3/any digital device, is just the translation of one of these two states in a sequence (or instruction?) that is interpreted and translated into understandable or meaningful information.

As it stands, I already find it flabbergasting to say the least that the elementary, ordinary matter (such as electrons) that our world is built from can and does exhibit such extraordinary behavior in living plants and beasts.

Down to the functioning of all the bodily systems that make us alive, from the mechanical and chemical digestion of food to the complexity of the nervous system and the consciousness of the brain, charge movement/shift is responsible.

Generally, what we do and what occurs naturally with electrons in the environment is astounding. Of course the creation of the digital environment that we are vaguely familiar with is not apart from this. I needn't elaborate when I remind myself (and yourself) that all things have a bad side as we can expand networks, share data, create and edit music, art and film within digital environments but it is a predominantly tremendous boon to our understanding of the world and the development of the modern culture and creativity that emerges in response to it.

I look forward to what I will be doing later on this year. Another reason why seeing the work of Field on the opening of the exhibition was so interesting. Ill be looking up some of what other people have been up to once October begins.

(Extract from LE POMP: Digital Environments)