Tag Archives: WIRED

This Blog is Not a Fungus

Kurt Anderson, writer, critic, and public intellectual

I share David Sasaki’s sentiments when he says,

Along with David BrooksJeffrey Goldberg, and Jad AbumradKurt Anderson belongs to my select fraternity of idealized, intellectual American man-crush.

But while Sasaki is disappointed with Anderson’s “Person of the Year” article, I am concerned about his recent article in Vanity Fair titled “You Say You Want a Devolution.” Anderson contends that the past 20 years have seen a total stagnation in the production of new cultural aesthetics. In other words, the end of the 50s looked nothing like the end of the 70s, but 1989 looks remarkably similar to 2009. Anderson concludes:

We seem to have trapped ourselves in a vicious cycle-economic progress and innovation stagnated, except in information technology; which leads us to embrace the past and turn the present into a pleasantly eclectic for-profit museum; which deprives the cultures of innovation of the fuel they need to conjure genuinely new ideas and forms; which deters radical change, reinforcing the economic (and political) stagnation.

This is concerning, since that means the entirety of our blog is nothing more than the fungal growth sitting upon the neutral technological substrate that we impregnate with decaying cultures of past decades. Tattoos, Facebook, Burning Man, the iPhone, Twitter, sex dolls, wifi, internet memes, reality TV, geek culture, hipsters, video gamesfaux-vintage photographs, and dubstep are all popular topics on our blog, and (along with blogging itself) are products of the last 20 years. Anderson assumes that cultural objects are made possible through technology, but refuses to admit that technologies can also be cultural objects in and of themselves. (more…)

Do We Need a New World’s Fair? (Part 1)

This is the first of a two-part series dedicated to answering the question “Do we need a new World’s Fair?” It is an honest question that I do not have an answer to. What I aim to do here is share my thoughts on the subject and present historical data on what these sorts of events have done in the past. In the first part, I explore what previous World Fairs have accomplished and what we must certainly avoid. The second part will investigate what a new 21st century fair might look like, and how it would help our economy. Part 2 is here.

electrical building

By Charles S. Graham (1852–1911). Printed by Winters Art Litho. Co. (Public domain c/o Wikipedia.)

A “World Fair” is first and foremost, a grand gesture. They are typically months if not a few years long. Think of them as temporary theme parks, or the the olympics of technological innovation. They are extravagant, optimistic, and brash. But let’s be clear here. All of the World Fairs held in Paris, Chicago, New York, and Seattle had sections that are deeply troubling. The 19th century fairs had human zoos and “freak shows.” The 20th century fairs were, in many ways, launchpads for the corporate take-over of the public realm and the plundering of the very cities that hosted them (more on that later). But that does not mean the form is totally useless or inherently bad. In fact, a new American World Fair might be just what we need. (more…)

Tweeting the Quake

Like many others, I learned about the recent East Coast earthquake via Twitter. In fact, it has been demonstrated that the news traveled faster on Twitter than did the actual waves of the quake. For instance, many in New York City found about about the earthquake on Twitter from friends in DC before feeling the rumbling themselves.

See this cool video made by Eric Fischer and follow the quake-tweets represented by green dots travel north from the epicenter in Virginia up through and past New York City:

Twitter has even capitalized on this by making a commercial: (more…)

Mediating Mediums

Mediating Mediums, an architectural augmented reality video. Via Wired’s Beyond the Beyond.

Censorship in New Places (Browser Add-Ons)

Mozilla Firefox add-on MafiaaFire Redirector

Wired’s Threat Level Blog is carrying a story about the Department of Homeland Security demanding that Mozilla take down an add-on that lets users easily redirect to sites that have been given a take-down notice due to copyright infringement. Maybe censorship is too strong a word, but it certainly appears as such. Mozilla agrees and is requesting a reason for the takedown. The government has yet to respond.

Via WIRED.