Monocopters, the highest level feature of C, the Worst things for Sale and the Density of Information

Monocopters are just as brilliant as they sound.

An argument for the “switch” statement being the highest level of C.

“The switch statement is the only part of the language where you specify anintent, and the choice of how to make that a reality is not only out of your hands, but the resulting code can vary in algorithmic complexity. “

The Internet’s most horrible items. A daily blog. The worst things for sale on the internet.

What if…. from XKCD. The good news is that Twitter will never run out of things to say.

“How many unique English tweets are possible? How long would it take for the population of the world to read them all out loud?”

Critical Engineering, Tarik and Marek, Duration and Upstream Color (sic) on VHX

Below I repost the Critical Engineering manifesto in full:

The Critical Engineering Working Group
Julian Oliver Berlin, October 2011 Gordan Savičić Danja Vasiliev


0. The Critical Engineer considers Engineering to be the most transformative language of our time, shaping the way we move, communicate and think. It is the work of the Critical Engineer to study and exploit this language, exposing its influence.

1. The Critical Engineer considers any technology depended upon to be both a challenge and a threat. The greater the dependence on a technology the greater the need to study and expose its inner workings, regardless of ownership or legal provision.

2. The Critical Engineer raises awareness that with each technological advance our techno-political literacy is challenged.

3. The Critical Engineer deconstructs and incites suspicion of rich user experiences.

4. The Critical Engineer looks beyond the ‘awe of implementation’ to determine methods of influence and their specific effects.

5. The Critical Engineer recognises that each work of engineering engineers its user, proportional to that user’s dependency upon it.

6. The Critical Engineer expands ‘machine’ to describe interrelationships encompassing devices, bodies, agents, forces and networks.

7. The Critical Engineer observes the space between the production and consumption of technology. Acting rapidly to changes in this space, the Critical Engineer serves to expose moments of imbalance and deception.

8. The Critical Engineer looks to the history of art, architecture, activism, philosophy and invention and finds exemplary works of Critical Engineering. Strategies, ideas and agendas from these disciplines will be adopted, re-purposed and deployed.

9. The Critical Engineer notes that written code expands into social and psychological realms, regulating behaviour between people and the machines they interact with. By understanding this, the Critical Engineer seeks to reconstruct user-constraints and social action through means of digital excavation.

10. The Critical Engineer considers the exploit to be the most desirable form of exposure.

As Barry Threw says:

@tarikbarri is creating the best real-time visuals out there today”

You can see some of Tarik’s work here – for me it’s a toss up between Mr. Barri and Mr. Bereza – his work for Jamie Lidell‘s latest tour was great.

Duration is a lovely way of laying out generative work on a timeline.

Finally, VHX is a platform that I’ve been using quite a bit, mostly for documentaries, but features are being released on it now too.

Oblong & Art+Com releasing code, Squama: Modular Visibility

Last week I met with my old friend from CRD days at the RCA,  Jussi Ängeslevä.  Jussi has been working for Art+Com for a few years now, and he drew my attention to two open source software projects that have emerged from A+C in recent years – Y60 and Creative Computing.

Kate Hollenbach of Oblong recently announced the release of greenhouse:

“Oblong’s SDK for creating gestural, spatial, multi-screen interactive systems. Internally, we’ve done a lot thinking about physical space, screens, gesture, and input devices, but we haven’t yet shared that openly with the world. Greenhouse is our first step toward sharing what we do with developers and creative coders outside of our own walls.”

Jussi also pointed me in the direction of the delicious Squama project: “Modular Visibility Control of Walls and Windows for Programmable Physical Architectures”.

Understanding git, the truth behind the Harlem Shake, the ratio of Seed to Leech and Bitcoin Mining as an Environmental Disaster

@pornelski 25/03/2013 14:10 “They say git gets easier once you get the basic idea that branches are homeomorphic endofunctors mapping submanifolds of a Hilbert space.”

What a lovely description for Git! It also led me down a rabbit hole of definitions.

@memotv 29/03/2013 16:11Truth behind the harlem shake, an internet meme created by marketers.

Memo tweeted recently about the truth behind the Harlem Shake.

I was recently thinking about a quality metric for BitTorrent – do people use the ratio of Seeders to Leechers already? Surely a high Seed and low Leech is best of all.

Finally, Bloomberg with the news that mining for virtual gold in the form of Bitcoin is just as bad as mining for gold in the real world.


s[edition] Hacking, The Media Space at the Science Museum, Soundcloud DJ and Stanford Cooling

We at Hellicar&Lewis have been speaking to Sedition about making some films for their digital art platform. I wonder what happens when hackers break into their back end? Would the collectors be mad? I remember the first time that I saw a .torrent file for Matthew Barney’s Cremaster Cycle and thought about how those limited edition laserdisc owners must be feeling. Or if one of the owners digitised it themselves? Or if Barney did?

Keri Elmsly has taken over at The Media Space at the Science Museum in London.

Science Museum Media Space Keri Elmsly

Universal Everything have kicked off the first show there.

In reference to the previous post about 80% of NYC’s carbon footprint being down to air conditioning, Stanford have the solution.

“a typical one-story, single-family house with just 10 percent of its roof covered by radiative cooling panels could offset 35 percent its entire air conditioning needs during the hottest hours of the summer.

Radiative cooling has another profound advantage over other cooling equipment, such as air conditioners. It is a passive technology. It requires no energy. It has no moving parts. It is easy to maintain. You put it on the roof or the sides of buildings and it starts working immediately.”

Meme Blocking, Mass Action, Mogees and Fantastical

Meme blocking is when a Meme blocks a genuine piece of information from spreading. This all came from my flatmate Pete’s story of a cat breeder friend on the edge of Bodmin Moor – after all the “Bodmin Beast” sightings, they saw all their genuine Google traffic disappear.

Mass action is something that has been in my mind recently – what if everyone under 40 changed their bank account? Would it really make a difference? Trying to think of non-violent ways to effect change.

Mogees are a delicious sound interactive device that my flatmate Pete has been experimenting with recently.

Wouldn’t it be amazing if Natural Language Processing was used in more interfaces?

Kinectic Sculpture Racing, Bicycles for the Mind and Cryptologs

A kinetic sculpture race is an organized contest of human-powered amphibious all-terrain works of art. The original and longest race is held annually since 1969 in Humboldt County in far northern California. Participants compete for three days over 42 miles of land, water, sand, and mud. Other races are held annually in locations throughout the United States, and in Australia. Surely we should have one in Hackney?

Perhaps Hermann Tilke could design the next track? What an amazing job to have.

Jessi Baker recently saw a preview of my interview in the upcoming Clouds documentary:

“The computer is like a bicycle for the mind” ace Jobs quote @JoelGethinLewis @kickstarter backed Clouds @obviousjim @deepspeedmedia #res13

I’ve tracked down the Jobs quote to here:

The NSA’s archive of it’s internal magazine on cryptography was recently released. Some interesting blacked out sections, naturally.

Bubble Machines, a better Blog Engine, Abrash on VR/AR Challenges and Negative Feedback

A terrifying and infuriating piece from 2009 on Goldman Sachs and the Great American Bubble Machine. Morally, how can these people do this? You don’t get any prizes for being the richest person in the graveyard. Is the corporation a highly efficient guilt assuager?

Steve Yegge complained way back in 2006 about how terrible Blogging software is. Why haven’t things moved forward? Intertia around WordPress? Is it “Good Enough”?

Michael Abrash has uploaded his slides from his recent Game Developers Conference talk on what he is doing in AR and VR.

Putting together the talk made me realize how many challenging problems have to be solved in order to get VR and AR to work well, and how long it’ll to take to get all of those areas truly right; it’s going to be an interesting decade or two. At least I don’t have to worry about running out of stuff to talk about here for a long time!

Elon Musk interviewed at TED – an interesting video, especially the part when he talks about what makes him different, and what he thinks people can do to be more like him:

  1. A solid Physics education – so you don’t rely on analogy to explain the world around you.
  2. Soliciting negative feedback from peers – hardly anyone does this.

Low light, Everything is automatically tracked, Justin Bieber and the Dream Machine

All I want from a digital camera these days is low light performance. I hate flash. It looks like Canon is first in line to make what I want. Perfect for photographing parties and galaxies alike.

Russell Davies recently posted about BAE’s surveillance camera, the ARGUS-IS. What a system! Made up of four lenses and 368 cell phone cameras, at 5 megapixels each – making a 1.8 Gigapixel overall resolution. Effectively allows people to monitor an area of around 3 km radius, and scrub in time, with automatic tracking of every moving object. Look at the image that comes out of this thing!

Parag Mital is working on software to automatically reconstruct videos from other video sources. He’s recently been going around the houses with Justin Bieber and YouTube over the copyright of these videos. He’s also been working on doing image reconstruction from brain scan information – opening the way to a future where you can replay your dreams. Legally also fascinating – do I own the copyright on the images that I “see” in my head? If I made a video from the images in my head would I own it? Even if I was looking at copyrighted material? As I’ve said before, digital technology is outpacing our legal system’s ability to cope, and things are only going to get faster in the future.

A handy summary of some of the latest developments in AI/Neural Networks.