August 30, 2004

Yesterday evening

Pillsbury State Park, NH. It's quiet out there.

August 24, 2004

Gizmo Journalizm

(via Pito) An interesting Bruce Sterling talk at Siggraph. Some pull-quotes for discussion:

End-Users, who are people like practically everybody in this audience, do a great deal of unpaid pro bono work in developing Gizmos. The true signs of a Gizmo are that it has a short lifespan and more functionality crammed into it than you will ever use or understand. A Gizmo is like a Product that has swallowed a big chunk of the previous society, and contains that within the help center and the instruction manual.
Nailed. Gizmos are ugly, hyper-functional, trash. I've yet to find a useful one; my favourite blobject (the memory-stick) is very un-gizmo.
Next step, the evolution of the "spime":
When you shop for Amazon, you're already adding value to everything you look at on an Amazon screen. You don't get paid for it, but your shopping is unpaid work for them. Imagine this blown to huge proportions and attached to all your physical possessions.
This is one of the reasons I don't (often) shop at Amazon, nor do I (much) link to them. Google neither. Allmusic? Maybe (if only their links worked), since their presence has a nice balance of completeness and hamfisted noncommercialism.

I'm not a stakeholder in any of those enterprises. I don't have a bunch of time logged on gizmo-feeding. The deal's no good -- all the world's best marketing is still an underhanded exercise in marching you over someone's monetarized attention-investment event-horizon. (Most gizmo users over a certain age know that, of course, having been burned a few times before).

Sterling's vision of a "spime" goes a few steps further, and ends up somewhere quite optimistic, or at least inspirational. Read the whole article. Here's the end:

It's possible to live in a cleaner way. We live in debris and detritus because of our ignorance. That ignorance is no longer technically necessary. Those who know, know. Instead, our problem is becoming obscurantism, which is a deliberate hiding of the facts by vested interests who know they are injuring us.
...We are changing, but to what end? The question we must face is: what do we want? We should want to abandon that which has no future. We should blow right through mere sustainability. We should desire a world of enhancement. That is what should come next. We should want to expand the options of those who will follow us. We don't need more dead clutter to entomb in landfills. We need more options.

August 02, 2004

Quick links

Picasa (superb digital photo management software for Windows) recently acquired by Google. Download it for free. An interesting data-point when reading Joel's surprisingly incoherent doom-saying about the Windows franchise...

Mono, open-source cross-platform reimplementation of the .NET framework; owned by (gasp) Novell; supports IronPython (Python classes can extend CLR classes...)

Habitat Chronicles, weblog from Chip Morningstar and Randy Farmer; fascinating stories about online community "from two guys who've been building this stuff for a long, long time" (true)