Technology Isn’t Magic—It’s Haunted

Vice interviews Tobias Revell and Natalie Kane about the forthcoming Haunted Machines conference, and the problem with “magical” metaphors in technology, especially when it comes to the Internet of Things:

“The intention of that, whether explicit or not, is to obscure the technical and often financial and legal reality of the system by covering it up with those terms,” said Revell. In a world of things “just working,” the curators want to remind people that magic doesn’t actually exist; it’s a sleight of hand, a deception.

Full Story: Vice: Technology Isn’t Magic—It’s Haunted

(via Jay)

Photos from Midburn Festival, the Burning Man of Israel

Midburn Festival, Israeli Burning Man style event

More Photos: U.S. News and World Report: Desert Ignites in Israeli ‘Burning Man’

Community Building: Small Is Beautiful

Coumunity, the online magazine of Thee One True TOPI Tribe, is up. I wrote an article for it about my experience co-orgnizing EsoZone and the way the lust for more attendees can ruin a beautifully small event:

In a community, the quality of connections between members always trumps the number of members. Unlike a network, which thrives on weak ties between ever larger numbers of people, a community thrives on strong bonds.

But it’s easy for community builders to lose sight of this, especially when you’ve gotten a taste of quantity. I know because I’ve been there. Community building is more important than ever, so I’m sharing my story so that hopefully a few others can avoid falling into the same trap I did.

I was the lead organizer of an occultural festival called EsoZone from 2006 -2011 (though I did take a couple sabbaticals along the way). The second annual EsoZone festival started on October 10, 2008. We had talks by Dennis McKenna, Antero Alli, Paul Laffoley and many more, along with performers like Orryelle Defenestrate-Bascule and Hecate.

It was a huge success. Around 300 people turned up, and there were write-ups in the local press as well as High Times magazine. People told me it changed their lives.

But it was also incredibly stressful.The digital projector died constantly. The schedule was constantly shuffled, partially due to the projector, partially due to other logistical nightmares. Some speakers and performers felt snubbed by the changes and problems. One group didn’t get to perform at all.

Full Story: Coumunity: Community Building: Small Is Beautiful

Weird Shift Con Portland 2013 Tentative Schedule

Weird Shift Con

Weird Shift Con is upon us! The gallery opens tomorrow tonight (June 7th) and there will be an opening party. The event is at galleryHOMELAND, which is in the lobby of the Ford Building, at 2505 SE 11th Ave, Portland, OR 97202.

But the “real” conference starts on the 14th. I’m hoping to make it to the party tomorrow night and to the final day, June 17th.

Here’s the tentative schedule:


19:00 Todd Dickerson’s Soup Purse performance.

20:30 Zack Denfeld’s Nanoshare: Never Enough Eyeballs

21:00 Adam Flynn hosts Secret Twitter Film Club at our opening weird-reception.


11:00 Coffee, and an informal tour of the gallery.

12:00 First group of open sign-up Nanoshares.

12:45 Michael Reinsch performs on the subject of anthropology and human evolution.

13:30 Todd Dickerson talks about his Soup Purse performance from the previous evening.

14:15 Break

14:45 Second group of open sign-up Nanoshares.

15:30 LE Long talks about “Critical Fight Studies”.

16:15 Jeff Harris and group share their Twitter Targeting System.

17:00 Break

17:30 Third group of open sign-up Nanoshares

18:00 Suzanne Fischer does a walk and talk about powers of the mind and PEAR lab.

20:00 Center for Genomic Gastronomy hosts dinner.

22:00 Evening socializing at local watering holes.


12:00 Fourth group of open sign-up Nanoshares

12:45 Another presentation: TBA.

13:30 Break

14:00 Laura Allcorn leads the We’ll See Walking Company’s special “Weird Shift” tour

14:00 Other simultaneous field trip to Kelley Butte (possibly).

16:00 Fifth group of open sign-up Nanoshares

16:45 Kyle Drake explains how “We are all already cyberpunks”

17:30 Stephanie Simek performance (pending confirmation).

18:00 A performance by Weird Fiction.

Todo In Portland: Weird Shit Con 2012

Adam Rothstein is organizing an unconference later this month here in Portland: Weird Shit Con.

Weird Shit Con 2012
Portland, Oregon, Cascadia, Western Standard Time, North America, Earth
August 17th & 18th

What is Weird Shit Con?

Tag cloud as suggested by survey responses:

Drone hacking / noise music / DIY transhumanism / graffiti divination / gonzo futurism / ritualistic architecture / geological timescales / cosmic order / the techno-peasantry / Follow the gnarl / math is cheaper than drugs / The Age of Horus / the New Economy / pseudo-coordinated motherfuckery / the color of a dead channel / various individuals and cells coming together to discuss their Great Work / a þing or folkmoot / gathering of the internet tribes, for real-world scenius-based hilarity / a supercollider for weird, spiky ideas / hoaxes / vapourware / paths not taken, and things buried or overlooked / the rough edge, rather than the bleeding edge / strong and weak signals / weird shit is weird for a reason, because it doesn’t fit into existing frames of reference / collecting and disseminating weird shit should be one of the first principles of any good network of power-weirdos / Solarpunk / robots / machine vision / technologies disruptive to society and government / insert the contents of our twitter comments to each other here, as annotated and expanded on by an orangutang that’s been subjected to several successive generations of cognitive enhancement therapy, who’s currently coming down from mushrooms and ranting about post-neoDarwinist Marxism / resilience / design fiction / futurism / sci fi / weird history / VARIOUS ESOTERIKA / systems / synthesis / solidarity

More info here.

I’ll be there.

Forthcoming Conference: Sexual Science 2.0

This looks like an interesting conference, November 8-11, 2012 in Tampa, FL:

The Internet and sex go together like Florida and sunshine. Online resources enrich our lives with sexual health and sexuality information, opportunities for relationship formation and sexual connections, sexually explicit materials, and commercial sex products. We can also face unintended consequences from Internet use, including dependence/compulsion, abuse, and inaccurate information and misinformation. However, beyond the Internet, myriad of technologies greatly influence human sexual behavior and sexuality both positively and negatively. Thus, the 2012 Annual Meeting of the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality (SSSS) theme is Sexual Science 2.0: Technological innovations in sexuality research. Although submissions from all areas of the scientific study of sexuality are welcomed, we are especially interested in multidisciplinary submissions focused on how technology informs and is a part of the research being conducted by sexual scientists. Potential research topics for plenaries, presentations, and trainings may include:

  • Sex and the Internet (Internet sex-seeking, navigating relationships online)
  • E-dating (finding dates and relationships online)
  • Technology-based sexual health interventions (video, web-based, chatrooms, etc.)
  • Cybersex (sexual interactions mediated by Internet or other electronic technology)
  • Compulsive online sexual behavior
  • Non-monogamy and the Internet
  • Special populations and online sexual communities
  • Sex and new media, social networks, etc. (Web 2.0, Google+, Facebook, Foursquare, etc.)
  • Reproductive and contraceptive technologies
  • Technologies pertaining to pharmaceutical/medical treatments and sexual enhancement
  • Sex toys and other commercial sex products that utilize technology
  • Online sexually explicit material, pornography, and erotica
  • Technologies aiding with sex therapy, sex research, sexuality education, etc.
  • Technologies for measurement and data collection, including new measurement styles
  • Sexual harassment online/cyber-stalking
  • “Sexting” and other innovative ways to communicate about sex
  • Sex and mobile phones/other portable communication technologies (tablet PCs, phones, laptops, etc.)
  • And others…

Sexual Science 2.0 conference

5 Articles to Read to Get Ready for EsoZone

EsoZone Portland 2011 logo

EsoZone Portland 2011 starts tomorrow! Here’s some brainfood you might enjoy as you prepare for the event:

1. Technoccult Interview with Tom Henderson Prepare for Tom’s talk on Friday by getting up to speed on his ideas:

1) People use the average Joe’s poor mathematics as a way to control, exploit, and numerically fuck him over.

2) Mathematics is the subject in which, regardless of what the authorities tell you is true, you can verify every last iota of truth, with a minimum of equipment.

Therefore, if you are concerned with the empowerment of everyday people, and you believe that it’s probably a good idea to be skeptical of authority you could do worse than to develop your skills at being able to talk math in such a way that anyone can ask questions, can express curiosity, can imagine applying it in the most weird-ass off-the-wall ways possible.

This does not entirely mesh well with the actual practice of learning mathematics, because that is mostly time spent alone or in small groups being very very confused almost all the time, but it’s still the bullseye I keep in mind.

2. The Rise of Digital Hipsterism by Eric Schiller. Eric’s going to be talking about this idea and delving into some particular examples:

Digital hipsterism is purely anti-intellectual. Depth of research and well reasoned arguments are not valued, but merely the appearance of depth is regarded as the ideal. Criticism is dismissed by way of suggesting that the criticizer is ‘just being negative,’ that they should go and do something else ‘useful’ by creating a movement of their own, or that they simply aren’t sophisticated enough to understand the new paradigm being created.

3. In TED We Trust. I like to think of EsoZone as the anti-TED:

Any critique of TED that focuses exclusively on the conferences’ guest lists has the grating tendency to veer off into the sweat-damp world of Alex Jones-style conspiracy theories. TED doesn’t represent a looming plot to establish any sort of menacing “New World Order.” It represents the world order as it exists now, one on the wane. With TED, an assortment of “Davos men”—a term coined by the late Samuel Huntington, referring to the handful of hyper-wealthy men who transcend national boundaries and see things like governments as scalable nuisances—have shifted the popular image of the elite from that of privileged, authoritarian “masters of mankind” to that of kindly wise men (and women) who just want to share their alchemistic “ideas worth spreading,” ideas that could turn our gloomy world of lead into a shimmering gold planet.

There’s something irritating, if not infuriating, about listening to exhortations to “do something” from people who are or were in the position to do exactly that. Perhaps, though, we should feel lucky that the TED class is so apparently lazy or incompetent. The problem of TED isn’t with who presents the talks or that the proposals found therein are seemingly, tragically beyond our grasp; the problem is the ideas themselves.

Taken individually, there’s nothing particularly dangerous or upsetting found in most TED Talks, certainly nothing that would warrant a mass run for the hills. Please, don’t lose sleep worrying that a speech on AIDS activism by Annie Lennox is going to kick-start a putsch. And please, do listen to Ken Robinson’s incredibly moving TED Talk on education reform—I dare you not to tear up a little. However, the numerous presentations seen and heard at TED are informed by the same larger vision: that scientific and technological advancements can fundamentally overturn the human condition, and for the better. History books are littered with human wreckage strewn in the wake of similar utopian thinking.

See also: The Liberal Communists of Porto Davos

4. An Invocation Against the Inevitable. That said, it can’t be all doom and gloom:

Skilluminati Research has been a very cynical project…until now. Change of policy: there are no sufficient excuses for inaction. There is no point to all this research if I’m not capable of using it for something real. What interests me now is Synthesis. How can we build a politics that takes all of this horrible shit for granted and still provides a master plan?

In 2011, Hope and Change are hollow brand names and representative Democracy itself is hollowed out, broken for decades. Distrust of government has gone from a fringe position to a bipartisan consensus. If you think all that adds up to a “Now is the Time” pep talk, you’re not hearing me at all. We are more fucked than ever. The situation is not “ripe,” it is fundamentally out of control and irreversible. …so what then?

5. Occupy to Self Manage. The “General Assembly” format employed by Occupy and the concept of the Unconference feel related, and it’s impossible not to feel like the Occupy movement is on the precipice of something. What can the Unconference learn from Occupy and vice versa? I don’t know, but this is a good starting point:

Greek and Spanish activists said that at assemblies initially people spoke with incredible passion of their plights and desires. Their voices often broke. Their hands shook. Each time someone rose to speak, something real, passionate, and persistent happened. It was enchanting and exciting. People were learning not only new facts and interpretations – and, indeed, that kind of learning was relatively modest – they were also learning new confidence and new modes of engaging with others. But after days and then weeks, the flavor of the talks shifted. From being new folks speaking passionately and recounting their reasons for being present and their hopes for their future by delivering deeply felt and quite unique stories, the speakers shifted toward being more seasoned or habituated folks, who lectured attendees with prepackaged views. The lines of speakers became overwhelmingly male. Their deliveries became overwhelmingly rehearsed. Listening to robotic repetition and frequent predictable and almost text-like ranting got boring and alienating. Sometimes it was even demeaning.

At the same time, new people, who were still far more prevalent, didn’t know what to do while they were occupying. We could assemble, they reported. We could talk and engage with each other. We could listen to others and sometimes debate a bit – the Greek and Spanish Assemblers reported – but, how long could we do that and feel it was worth the time we had to spend away from our families, friends, and jobs, not to mention from rooms with a roof?

See also: Occupy Wall Street – New Maps for Shifting Terrain

To Do in LA: Extreme Futurist Festival

Extreme Futurist Festival

This sounds like a great event:

Picture an event where the bridge between the counterculture and academia is finally crossed. From live tech demonstrations to futuristic presentations to provocative performance art to live music we will take you off the grid as we explore a new kaleidoscopic wonderland. If the original Burning Man was to meet the Singularity Summit, you would have Extreme Futurist Fest 2011.

Extreme Futurist Festival

Here’s an interview with organizer Rachel Haywire on Acceler8or

Help Keep EsoZone Free – Donate Today!

This year’s EsoZone Portland was fairly cheap to operate, but there were a couple significant costs. Rent came to $1,000 – a tremendous value for the quality and location of the space. All the rent money goes back into p:ear programs, so it’s a great cause. A double win. We also had to shell out for event insurance, to the tune of nearly $400. We’re hoping to recoup as much of this as possible from your donations.

Your donations keep EsoZone a free and open event.

Click here to lend your support to: EsoZone Portland 2011 and make a donation at www.pledgie.com !

EsoZone Schedule Announced

You can check out the full schedule. There’s still a few holes – we’ll hopefully announce the DJ(s) and performers soon.

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