Flash Mobs

Hot on the heels of my MiniRant(tm) about the Internet and empowering Joe User, I have just discovered Flash Mobs. The very embodiment of spontaneous and overwhelming group action powered by the ‘net, these things sound like a lot of fun.

The idea is that someone suggests a crazy thing for a crowd to do (usually on their ‘blog). Then, a whole bunch of people appear at the agreed time and place and just _do_ it. For example (from cheesebikini.com):

A flash mob went down today in Rome, as an estimated 100 to 300 people flooded a books and music megastore. They asked employees for nonexistent books. They broke into a round of spontaneous applause. Then they dispersed.

The ‘net rules. For more tasty Flash Mob action, check out Satan’s Laundromat.

I really hope this is the start of something big.

Conservatism, Linux and the ‘Net

If you think Linux geeks make too much of a big deal over what operating system people use, this article might change your mind. It manages to weave together cross-media ownership, spectrum licensing, Linux and the Internet in a way that is not just cohesive, but frightening.

The author doesn’t say much that is new to the tech community, but draws together a number of separate threads that have a powerful cumulative effect. Since the dot-com crunch it has become all-too-easy to forget the potential we once saw in the ‘net, as a totally free and open marketplace of ideas, products and raw information, with all the power concentrated at the edges, in the hands of the general public. Anyone could make a server, plug it in, and run their own online store.

Recent moves by the major media players, who have blindly swallowed most of the information ecosystem in the US, indicate that they are gradually shifting the tide back to the one-way-pipe days of TV and radio. At the same time, they are attempting to return copyright law to something like that of the medieval Stationers’ Company, which for a time controlled almost all printing and copyrights in England. They seem to have conveniently turned their backs on the very laws and free market that spawned them in the first place.

Linux is mentioned mostly as a positive result of the new, empowering, Internet-driven market place, even while SCO tries to drive back its adoption through patents and contracts for technologies that it never developed, and in all likelihood doesn’t truly own. It is a striking example of the clash between the the ‘net as a level playing field, and the relatively new notion of “Intellectual Property”, as practised by traditional companies attempting to stem the new wave of openness. To an extent, I sympathise with companies like SCO – they’ve had their business model whipped out from under them. However, in the long run, I strongly believe projects such as Linux will be of benefit to the IT industry and society as a whole, by providing a ubiquitous set of basic services on top of which applications can be built, without restricting use to those with the cash to pay for commercial equivalents – provided the ‘net stays free enough for development to continue.

Anyway, you should read it if you care about keeping the ‘net free 🙂

Insanity, thy name is IBM

I’m a nerd.

No, I’m not sure you understand. I’m a truly massive nerd.

This is why when I read that IBM has written some office applications (i.e. Word Processor, Spreadsheet etc) using only cross-platform DHTML, I fell off my chair crying with laughter.

Check it out: The future, as seen from 1996. Try that with Netscape Gold 3.0.

Death to the Media Oligarchy!

CD Baby is an awesome site dedicated to profiting from unfortunate stoners helping independant artists distribute their music. They have a surprisingly simple but effective business model:

  • Pay them $40 (US) to encode your CD (artists keep all copyrights, rights to non-digital distribution, and can leave at any time with 30 days notice)
  • They distribute it to Rhapsody, iTunes, and other digital distribution outlets
  • For every dollar made, 9c goes to CDBaby, 91c goes to the artist
  • Profit!

I’m sure there are caveats and catches, but it still sounds a lot better than the traditional model:

  • Get signed by music label
  • They distribute CD, all expenses incurred are culled from any royalties you make
  • Artists don’t actually own their own music, copyrights, or distribution rights – these go to the label
  • Artists get a couple of cents in the dollar, but are left with crippling debts
  • Label goons tie up artists’ grandmothers and slowly break their fingers to blackmail artists back into the studio
  • Artists die alcoholic and alone

My plan for goldsounds.com was always to turn it into a music site, so don’t be surprised if you see a CD-baby-ish business model appear. I like it a lot.

It was a dark and stormy night…

In a recent post, Matt‘s blog wisely pointed us to the Bulwer-Lytton Awards, granted to the most “impressive” openings to imaginary novels. I loved this one:

Colin grabbed the switchgear and slammed the spritely Vauxhall Vixen into a lower gear as he screamed through the roundabout heading toward the familiar pink rowhouse in Puking-On-The-Wold, his mind filled with the image of his comely Olive, dressed in some lacy underthing, waiting on the couch with only a smile and a cucumber sandwich, hoping that his lunch hour would provide sufficient time for both a naughty little romp and a digestive biscuit.

It reminds me of everything my Dad would love in a novel. If he ever read them.

Study finds humans afraid of glowing cadaverous heads

Let’s face it, if you were to pick the field of science that could wipe out humanity in the coolest way, it has to be robotics.

Some guys at the University of Reading wanted to build a robot that measures people’s reactions to itself. Well, clearly this baby is optimised for generating fear:

And this is my robot, Maximillian.

The robot is so scary that the University’s ethics committee forced them to put a sign up declaring under 18’s not be allowed in without an adult. A quote from the article:

A University of Reading spokesperson said the college is confident that its policies are “successfully maintaining appropriate ethical practices for research”.

… for now. How long before someone gives in to temptation and gives it chainsaw-arms?

Also:

Morgui, which is Mandarin for Magic Ghost, cannot experience emotions

Wow, this guy is totally set up to think fleshies are weak.

Impro Tuesday

Hm – another night at the Kitten Club, and overlooking certain interpersonal events stemming from my poor judgement regarding a post on this board, it all went swimmingly. Somehow I don’t think I’m cut out for blogging – poor motivation, mediocre writing and too much blogging while stoned all contribute to a thoroughly captivating experience for the reader… provided the reader is a rhesus monkey whose brains have been replaced with a heaping spoonful of mashed potato.

Anyway, tonight.

It started a little slow, and according to some witnesses, my introduction of Yianni was less than impressive. Sorry Yianni. I tried to make up for it in the second half. Apparently, the first intro went like this:

Me: “Well, I’ve finished mucking around. Um.. you guys ready? Ok. Here’s Yianni.” [slow clapping]

A born showman I am not. However! Born showmen everyone else was (Yoda would be proud). They were great, kicking things off with the Kitten variation on “Die!”, which doesn’t have a name yet, but should probably be called “Die while singing!” because that’s exactly what it is. Essentially, the players are given a topic, and have to sing a story on that topic while the host’s finger is pointing at them. When his finger moves to someone else, they continue where the last person left off. If the new singer stammers or just looks at someone a little funny, everyone shouts “Die!” and we gun them to death on the spot. We go through a lot of players that way, but the ones that are left are _great_ singers.

Another notable game was an open scene, where the players can do whatever they like with no restrictions. Does this make things easier, you ask? Shut the fuck up.

“Sing about it” was great. Adam V. was a brilliant crotchety father, whose crotchety-ness reached scaled heights that Wurzil Gummidge could only dream of. He was prepared to wear out the back of his shirt for comedy, and that’s more than I can say for most people. The story centred on a young man who dreams of being an Archaeologist, but who is afflicted with a fear of heights so crippling he can’t stand up without falling over. The ending where he brought a cure for his father’s crotchy-ness back from Egypt 20 years later was surprisingly touching.

Anyway, by the end of the show everyone was ecstatic and the players got carried out on the shoulders of the audience, which looked a bit like an upside-down human pyramid.

Oh yeah, and my parents were there, and yet again they politely avoided mentioning how much we say the word “fuck”. I love my parents. Seriously. They’re awesome.

To the enlightened reader who posts comments like “boring”: What’s more boring, typing this crap or taking the time to comment on it? 🙂 I’m having a good time. Are you?

Anti-war protestor shocks world by realistically depicting own genitals

I was amazed to see that left-wing protest girls have finally acknowledged that they are likely to have more pubic-hair than their less politically-active, more sexually-oppressed sisters.

Looks like a fucking cow pat

I’m not sure I’d trust her bush either. Anything could be hiding in there.

Speaking of labelling, oppressing, and demeaning women and judging them by unrealistic standards, check out the rack on this hot hippie chick:

I'm against whatever you're against

That guy is all like “I can’t believe I have an excuse to stare at her chest!”.

I gotta hate the status-quo more, or something.