MonthJune 2010

Richard Metzger – Mediapunk Interview

Richard Metzger

Richard Metzger was the co-founder and creative director of Disinfo. He’s now the online editor at the LA Times’ alt weekly Brand X and the host of his own online talk show Dangerous Minds. He talked to me by phone on May 24th from his home in LA about the end of Hollywood as we know it, the future of advertising, and the circus that is the right-wing media.

You co-wrote a book treatment, which was originally called Hollywood Ending and then you renamed it Free for All, on the subject of digital piracy. Could you tell us about the research you did and the conclusions you came to?

This was written in the beginning of 2007 and I co-wrote this extended treatment, which ended up reading like a mini-book, with my old friend Steven Daly, who is a long-time contributing editor at Vanity Fair*. It was taken from what I had seen as someone who was working in the DVD distribution business and also as someone who was downloading quite a number of things myself , true for Steven as well and so seeing it from that insider’s perspective and as someone who was also doing a lot of downloading. We looked around and that story wasn’t really being told. Parts of the story were being told in a lot of different places, but it had never been told in one place with a narrative arc. Since the time we wrote that treatment, a number of books have come out on the topic, but nothing exactly like what we wrote about.
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Entering the Temporary Art Zone with Hakim Bey

Hakim Bey Endarkenment

Hakim Bey has of late been involved in a number of time-based art installation events in New York State. One such event is covered on the band the Loss of Eden’s blog.

The artwork happened simply. There was little ceremony, perhaps to the confusion of some in attendance who had hoped for a chant or a reading. Peter presented items, one by one, and placed them into a hole in the ground that would be filled with cement. Among these were crystals, a fancy bat skeleton from Carolina Biological, the remains of the incense itself…it made me wonder: must things be buried that they may return? Do we re-enchant our environment when we return to the point zero?

Loss of Eden: Entering the Temporary Art Zone with Hakim Bey

Suspended-animation cold sleep achieved in lab

suspended animation

Dr. Mark Roth’s team at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center has figured out how to freeze and re-animate worms and yeasts. The trick is that they must be oxygen deprived before freezing. Knowing that there’s been a few well known cases of humans being frozen and revived, they’re hoping they can extend this technique to humans.

The idea here is not so much to place people into deep freeze in order to endure lengthy interstellar voyages, a staple idea in science fiction but unlikely in the near future (humanity is struggling even to assemble a Mars mission right now).

Rather, Roth and his colleagues think that their work might lead to techniques that would let paramedics or doctors “buy time” for severely injured or ill patients by putting them into suspended states like those achieved by Nordby and Uchikoshi. Then, once the underlying problem had been fixed, they could be reanimated.

The Register: Suspended-animation cold sleep achieved in lab

See also: Roth’s TED talk on suspended animation

Is ‘Barefoot Bandit’ Colton Harris-Moore in South Dakota?

Wanted: Colton Harris-Moore

The South Dakota crime spree started after Harris-Moore apparently left the Northwest, donating $100 to a Raymond animal hospital and stealing a $450,000 yacht on his way to Oregon, then reportedly stealing more cars as he made his way toward Idaho.

A few days after Harris-Moore’s trail went cold in Boise, Idaho, on June 12, authorities in South Dakota noticed an unusual series of incidents:

• A vehicle with Washington state license plates was found abandoned in South Dakota, according to a local news station.

• A vehicle was reported stolen from the Spearfish, S.D., airport and another was stolen from the Yankton airport on Tuesday.

• One or more homes were burglarized in the same area, not far from the airport.

• In one of the burglaries, police say a man who fits the description of Harris-Moore occupied a home while the family was on vacation. The family came home and surprised him in their house, and the man fled the scene.

KATU: Is ‘Barefoot Bandit’ Harris-Moore in the Midwest?

Lots more Harris-Moore stuff at Colton Harris-Moore Fanclub

Open-Source CMS/Blog Software for Musicians Seeks Crowd-Funding

Dbasr introduction video from Joshua Ellis on Vimeo.

I saw a demo of this a few months ago, and it’s great. It’s like WordPress but with very band-focused features – you can manage not just blog posts, but mp3s, photos, videos, and associate content not just by date or category but by show/gig. You could either use it to self-host your site, or use a hosted service.

You can help fund the project here.

My interview with Josh (not about Dbasr) is here.

The State of Wireless Electricity – Will We be Able to Power Devices from Thin Air?

wireless electricity

The Economist round-up various wireless electricity projects, most of which focus on “ambient” energy from “existing radio waves produced by television, radio and mobile-phone transmitters.”

The first devices to be powered entirely by ambient energy are likely to be sensors, calculators and clocks. But the hope is that music-players, e-readers and mobile phones will eventually follow, says Dr Smith. There are other means of harvesting ambient energy, from vibrations, movement or heat. But the attraction of radio waves is that they are pretty much everywhere. It’s like recycling energy, says Dr Fisher. “It’s energy that’s around, and is not doing anything else,” he says.

The Economist: Power from thin air

Be the First to Read My Richard Metzger Interview: Subscribe to the Mediapunk Dispatch

Richard Metzger

This Wednesday, here at, you’ll be able to read my interview with Richard Metzger, co-founder and former creative director of Disinfo and current online editor at the LA Times’ alt weekly Brand X and the host of his own online talk show Dangerous Minds. We talked about the end of Hollywood as we know it, the future of advertising, and the circus that is the right-wing media.

But if you want to read the interview tomorrow instead of Wednesday, all you have to do is sign-up for the Mediapunk Dispatch, the weekly-ish Mediapunk e-mail list. You’ll get all the Mediapunk original content – rants, ideas, commentary, and interviews – at least one day before they go up on the web. You’ll probably also get some exclusive, Dispatch-only content periodically as well.

I promise never to sell your e-mail address or send you Viagra ads or any greasy shit like that.

Boing Boing’s Mark Frauenfelder on Dangerous Minds

Boing Boing’s Mark Frauenfelder: Made By Hand from DANGEROUS MINDS on Vimeo.

Speaking of Boing Boing, here’s Mark Frauenfelder on Richard Metzger’s Dangerous Minds.

Pesco on The World as a Wunderkammer

Boing Boing’s David Pescovitz on The World as a Wunderkammer at TEDx SoMa.

My interview with Pesco is here.

Impediments to a Post-Scarcity Future

Make Yourself by Steven Ansell
Comic by Steve Ansell

Kevin at Grinding asks some questions about the social impediments to a post-scarcity future. He looks at the legislative restraints on P2P file sharing and wonders how that mess will play out when we’re able to copy things in meat-space:

A friend of mine who collects action figures shows me a custom mod of an Optimus Prime Transformer figure. I asked him how much it bugged him to dismantle a classic figure and he smiles and tells me he just scanned the parts he needed of his old one with a 3D scanner and built most of the new one with a 3D Printer. And that’s just one example of how 3D printing is slipping into my everyday life. We’re rapidly approaching the point where duplicating Things for a fraction of the original resources is easy – and by “rapidly approaching” I mean people you know are rapid prototyping and cloning items as we speak. It’s not too much of a jump to think we’re not that far from something resembling nano-assembling – rendering ideas like “original” meaningless. We’re exceedingly close the age where “remix culture” can remix Things with nearly the ease it can remix digital media.

But how will we react? Will we put DRM on food so it can’t be mass produced? Will we attempt to limit access to production engines? Will we allow “market forces” to keep the poor needy while the top 1% don’t even have a concept of need? Will we rush out to buy iMakers that scan the net to ensure anything you’re producing isn’t a component of a copyrighted product or recipe – or that only produce “family safe” products?

Grinding: Torrenting the Future

One need look no further than the world of food for examples of how post-scarcity is already being stifled. Look at Monsanto’s strong arm tactics and how excess food is handled.

One comment at Grinding points to the fact that file sharing continues online unabated. However, ACTA could be a significant blow not only to file trading but to online freedom in general. Meanwhile, in meatspace, grocery stores are dumping bleach on food to thwart dumpster divers. There’s only so much good routing around problems can do before you must confront the fundamental problems.

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