MonthMarch 2006

Device warns you if you’re boring or irritating

New Scientist reports:

A DEVICE that can pick up on people’s emotions is being developed to help people with autism relate to those around them. It will alert its autistic user if the person they are talking to starts showing signs of getting bored or annoyed.

One of the problems facing people with autism is an inability to pick up on social cues. Failure to notice that they are boring or confusing their listeners can be particularly damaging, says Rana El Kaliouby of the Media Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “It’s sad because people then avoid having conversations with them.”

New Scientist: Device warns you if you’re boring or irritating

(via tkblog.)

Bruce Sterling Designs Bumper Stickers

destroy verbal systems

Sweet bumper sticker designs by Bruce Sterling

(via Posthuman Blues)

Let Them Eat iPods: The Increasing Irrelevence Of The Tech Culture

Josh Ellis’s latest rant about the Grim Meathook Future (this time he talks a bit about the alternatives):

It’s a simple fact that the American lifestyle is unsustainable for more than maybe another decade. That means that all of the companies that are in the business of outfitting that lifestyle are screwed. It’s hard to sell big, expensive HDTVs to a nomad who lives out of a souped-up Winnebago and drives around doing manual labor. (I’m talking about you, of course, my reader, when the oil and the money finally starts to run out.)

The big markets of the 21st century aren’t going to be in luxury consumer goods like iPods and HDTVs and home stereo systems that pump more watts than the Grateful Dead in 1971. It’s going to be Lifestraws and inexpensive antiviral medication and cheap, cheap computers and cheaper Internet access. […]

There are larger markets to consider now, perhaps with smaller individual revenue streams but greater volumes than you can possibly imagine. There’s a great bit in Neal Stephenson’s Cryptonomicon where some of the main characters, who are geeks, develop a system that allows Filipino pinoy workers to send video messages back home from the local branch of the global convenience store. The system is a hit, of course, and the characters use it to fund their long-term deranged money-making schemes.

It’s a good, check it out.

Of course, there are entrepreneurs and designers who are working on this sort of stuff… but like Josh said in his first rant, that sort of thing doesn’t get you on the cover of Wired. World Changing, of course, is the go to place for information about the real future tech.

Web 2.0 is great. I work for a Web 2.0 company (and so does Josh). But the most important challenges faces humanity will be energy, climate change, and water shortages. Hopefully, some of the tools of Web 2.0 will be useful for the people solving the real issues.

Also, check out this great interview with Wes Janz about archetecture and design in squats, slums, etc.

Amnesty International street art ads

Another pic and some more info at Wooster Collective.

24 End of the World Prophecies

End of the World Between 2006-2010.
After 2010.

Philip K. Nixon and the release of the Downing Street Memo

The New York Times has announced they will publish the Downing Street Memo. Wes wonders on his blog whether his Philip K. Nixon work had any influence on this decision. You can read about Wes’s Drowning Street Memo album here.

Along with Chris Arkenburg, Wes is emerging as a leader in the realm of using magic to assault authority. It was his early research on the subject that lead me to invite him to guest blog at Technoccult, and he ended up posting a long article on the subject here.

Brain cells fused with computer chips

The line between living organisms and machines has just become a whole lot blurrier. European researchers have developed “neuro-chips” in which living brain cells and silicon circuits are coupled together.

The achievement could one day enable the creation of sophisticated neural prostheses to treat neurological disorders, or the development of organic computers that crunch numbers using living neurons.

Full Story: Live Science: Brain Cells Fused with Computer Chip

Fashion is contemporary mask magic

A few words from former Technoccult guest blogger Fell:

Fashion is the contemporary equivalent of the mask magic used by aborigines and shamans from times past. The difference is that the shaman had the power of wisdom, thus allowing her or him to encroach situations both spiritual and sociological, utilising the masks to their advantage. Modern-day fashion wh0r3s and the vulgar masses are unaware of their own esteem, thus they lack the power inherent in themselves and rely on the costume, their fa?ade, to supplant these necessary inner wisdoms of power.

And later on, in the comments:

As for fashion, it’s always interested me. Only now am I beginning to properly discern between hipsters and trendy folk, persons with a true style and intimate understanding of fashion as a symbolic language, and then the rest ? those that buy into styles and try to wrap incorporate them into their own veneer, such as skaters, preps, goths, et cetera.

I think this is a very important distinction to make, between fashion and style. How you dress has a magical/consciousness manipulation effect no matter what. But those with true sense of style seem to be more in control of really designing their own realities, rather than buying into ready made realities. And of course, someone can be a skater or goth or prep or whatever and have a deep sense of style. These people are often the trendsetters for a clique, or are on margins drifting between cliques. Either way, and consciously or not, they’re bending reality in conformity with their will.

Full Story: Occult Design: Fashion is contemporary mask magic

The Center for Tactical Magic(k)‘s first column in Arthur Magazine has some relevant commentary as well.

And speaking of clothes, I got my “23 / Everything is True” shirt from LVX23‘s Shiny Apes store today (more here).

The Grant Morrison Interview Archive

Something I’ve been meaning to blog for a while: Barbelith’s been compiling a Grant Morrison interview archive.

The Sudden Stardom of the Third-World City

This brings us to the most perverse suspicion of all. Perhaps the Third-World city is more than simply the source of the things that will define the future, but actually is the future of the western city. Perhaps some of those tourists who look to the Third World for an image of their own past are reflecting uneasily on how all the basic realities of the Third-World city are already becoming more pronounced in their own cities: vast gulfs between sectors of the population across which almost no sympathetic intelligence can flow, gleaming gated communities, parallel economies and legal systems, growing numbers of people who have almost no desire or ability to participate in official systems, innovations in residential housing involving corrugated iron and tarpaulin. Is it going too far to suggest that our sudden interest in books and films about the Third-World city stems from the sense that they may provide effective preparation for our future survival in London, New York or Paris?

Full Story: Rana Dasgupta.

(via Abstract Dynamics).

I hadn’t really thought of it quite like this, but yes I think some of my own interest in 3rd world megalopolisis is in gaining some insight about what the future may look like for all of us.

See also: Feral Cities, Grim Meathook Future, Biopunk: the biotechnology black market, and Adam Greenfield’s Design Engaged 2005 presentation (does anyone have better notes for this?).

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