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june 2002

sampling new cultural context

friday :: june 28, 2002
the worldwide lexicon
:: link dictionaries and semantic networks

The worldwide lexicon project is an open source initiative to create a multilingual dictionary service for the Internet, and to create a simple, standardized protocol for talking to dictionary, encyclopedia and translation servers throughout the web.

The worldwide lexicon project consists of two components. The first component is a simple protocol for discovering and talking to dictionary servers throughout the web (the Worldwide Lexicon Protocol). Think of this as GNUtella for dictionaries. This is based on the SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) interface, and will allow developers to embed dictionary, encyclopedia and machine translation functionality in many different types of programs and web services.

The second component is an experiment in distributed computing, similar to the SETI@Home project. While SETI@Home taps the idle CPUs of millions of personal computers, the worldwide lexicon enlists the help of internet users who are logged in, but not busy (using Jabber for real-time messaging and presence notification). Think of this as distributed human computation. >from *The Worldwide Lexicon site*

related context
> seti@home. december 18, 2000
> gnutella distributed information technology. march, 2000

> lexicon machine
thursday :: june 27, 2002
> noise removal (denoising) radio waves
gnu radio
:: software defined radio

GNU Radio is a free software defined radio, which will let use inexpensive hardware to turn any PC into a receiver or recorder for any type of radio signal you prefer; the signal is interpreted entirely in software.

Joseph Mitola coined the term Software Radio in 1991. "As communications technology continues its rapid transition from analog to digital, more functions of contemporary radio systems are implemented in software - leading toward the software radio. A software radio is a radio whose channel modulation waveforms are defined in software."

GNU Radio is written in C++ and will run in any ordinary PC. (It is designed for easy porting to workstations and embedded processors as well). The software is freely available for public use, distribution, and modification, under the standard GNU General Public License. It can make productive use of multiple CPUs and signal processing instruction set extensions. It is based on the free 'PSpectra' research software from MIT.

Software Radio will be designed to get your computer to do all sorts of signal processing, eventually all radio bands, paging, cellular phone, gps receiver, color tv or event hdtv.
*GNU Radio site*

wednesday :: june 26, 2002
do it (home version)
:: online art-by-instruction

e-flux present do it (home version), curated by Hans Ulrich Obrist. An exhibition of do it yourself descriptions or procedural instructions which, until a venue is found, exists in a static condition. Like a musical score, everything is there but the sound. The historical background for do it is to be found in the area of Ready-Made/Fluxus/Situationalism.

do it is an autonomous show that exists as a growing set of artist's instructions -- (in)formation to be actualized by an interested audience, and capable of taking place simultaneously in many locations in a myriad of permutations. This online edition of do it is a practical utopian show. Should you decide to partake in it, segments of it can materialize in your home, office or any other place you may find appropriate. It is also an online compendium of artists' writings; a 'webzine' containing fascinating essays on the peculiar subject of artworks in the form of instructions and experimental exhibitions, as well as an informal community of people interested in such subjects.
>from Electronic Flux Corporation site.

"The spirit of do it is very much of our time, enjoying in post-modern pastiche both nostalgia for the 1960s and accommodation with the institution. This is clear from the exhibition title, which prompts two very different associations: Jerry Rubin's battle cry from 1968 - the year of Obrist's birth - and the familiar advertising slogan for Nike athletic shoes. do it is a delicate high wire act, balancing subversion with curatorial and artistic renewal."
'Art by Instruction and the Pre-History of do it' by Bruce Altshuler.

> you do it! - instructions manual
tuesday :: june 25, 2002
> richard stallman head with butterflies in his beard [ based on a garcia lorca fotomontage of walt whitman ]
free as in freedom
:: the life story of richard stallman

The book 'Free as in Freedom: Richard Stallman's Crusade for Free Software' was written by Sam Williams, published by O'Reilly and Associates (March 2002), and distributed under the GNU Free Documentation License (GFDL).

Richard Stallman, founder of the Free Software Foundation, is the hacker who challenge propietary software, using 'copyleft' agreements (GNU Licenses) to lock software source codes into public ownership.

From June 2002, the author of the book, Sam Williams, maintains the site FAIFzilla, "the 'no-frills' online version of Free as in Freedom: Richard Stallman's Crusade for Free Software... According to the terms of the GFDL, the copyright chosen for Free as in Freedom, readers are free to copy, redistribute and modify the text content of the book, provided they adhere to certain conditions outlined in the GFDL... I am attempting to follow in the footsteps of the free software/open source tradition. I envision FAIFzilla as an evolving literary project similar to Mozilla in the Internet browser marketplace. Just as Netscape periodically dips into the Mozilla project to create commercial versions of its Web browser, I am hoping that O'Reilly, or any other motivated publisher, will someday see fit to dip into this site and pull out future versions of Free as in Freedom." >from *FAIFzilla site*

related context
richard stallman site

friday :: june 21, 2002
:: summer in north, winter in south, as ever in equator

The angle between the Earth's axis and the Earth-Sun line changes throughout the year. The seasons are mostly due to this changes by the axial tilt of the Earth. And mainly affect northern and southern hemispheres, not equator.

Twice a year, at the summer and winter solstice, Earth's axis of rotation makes an angle of about 23. 5 degrees with the direction perpendicular to the ecliptic (the north pole is inclined towards the Sun in June; the south pole is inclined towards the Sun in December). Twice a year, at the spring and fall equinox the two directions are perpendicular.

The oceans, which heat up and cool down slowly, explains why when we receive the most sunshine in solstice (June in North, December in South), this is regarded as the beginning of summer and not its peak. They are still cool from the winter time, and that delays the peak heat by about a month and a half. And similarly, the day of least sunshine in solstice (June in South, December in North), are know as the beginning of winter and not mid-winter day, because the oceans are still heat from the summer time, and that delays the peak cool by about a month and a half.

related context
bad astronomy: the seasons are caused by the change in the distance of the earth to the sun
> interplanetary seasons
> earth's seasons -equinoxes, solstices, perihelion, and aphelion- 1992-2005

 > solstice tilt
wednesday :: june 19, 2002
 > web semantics graph
context series 2002 [june issue]

semantic web,

the second generation web

Still in a very early stage of development, semantic web vision is designed as the second-generation web, building the foundation of a new information space. The World Wide Web Consortium, the web standars body, presents the semantic web as an extension of the current web in which information is given well-defined meaning, better enabling computers and people to work in cooperation.

The semantic web is one of emerging and converging technology trends that are shaping the Web's future.

This technology trends were discussed in recent WWW2002, the eleventh international World Wide Web conference (may 7-11, 2002). But without solving intellectual property issue, there is a danger that the next Internet revolution won't happen. It could mean that the Semantic Web doesn't really happen. >more on *context series press release.

related context
context series archive

friday :: june 14, 2002
biodiversity include sexual diversity
:: extended concept of biodiversity

There are homosexual and bisexual animals. There are transgendered animals, transvestite animals (who adopt the behavior of the other gender but don't have sex with their own), and animals who live in bisexual triads and quartets. Biologist Bruce Bagemihl spent 10 years of extensive zoological research for data on alternative sexuality in animals to write 'Biological Exuberance: Animal Homosexuality and Natural Diversity,' published in May 1999. This book documents homosexual behaviour, intersexuality and transvestism in over 450 species of animals.

"Scientists are beginning to find evidence that this diversity in social and mating systems contributes directly to the 'success' of a species. The sexual, social and environmental variability may be closely allied. Specifically, the capacity for behavioral plasticity -- including homosexuality -- may strengthen the ability of a species to respond 'creatively' to a highly changeable and 'unpredictable' world.

"The concept of biodiversity should be extended to include not only the genetic variety, but also the systems of social organization found within a species or ecosystem. In other words, sexual and gender systems are an essential measure of biological vitality. The more diverse patterns of social/sexual organization that a species or biological system contains -- including homosexuality, transgender, and nonreproductive heterosexuality -- the stronger that system will be.

"Ultimately, this book is a meditation on the nature of life itself, and a celebration of its paradoxes and pluralities. I hope readers will come away from Biological Exuberance with a (renewed) sense of wonder about the world and a deeper appreciation of their own lives." >from *Why Biological Exuberance? Author Bruce Bagemihl, Ph. D, Explains the Thoughts Behind the Book*

 > queer biodiversity?
thursday :: june 13, 2002
 > supercomputer playroom
indiana virtual machine room
:: tera-scale supercomputer grid

Purdue University and Indiana University have succeeded in linking their IBM supercomputers in a computational grid via the universities' high-speed optical network - called I-Light -. When fully functional, the supercomputer network ‹ referred to as the Indiana Virtual Machine Room ‹ will be the first in U.S. to tie together university-owned computers with a combined peak capacity of more than one teraflop (a trillion operations per second). "What we are effectively doing is building, virtually, a large computer out of multiple pieces," said David Moffett from Purdue.

Combined, IU's teraflop supercomputer and Purdue's IBM supercomputer contain more than 900 processors, for a combined peak theoretical capacity of more than 1.4 teraflops

The supercomputer grid will enable researchers to perform innovative and massive new calculations, including the simulation of 'synthetic environments,' applications that help to predict how millions of people might react to situations ranging from product marketing to natural disasters. "What we do in our synthetic environment is create artificial people," said Alok R. Chaturvedi, one of the software developers. "They are calibrated based on real data, and they behave just as people do in the real world."

"What we've done here is a proof of concept for a system that pools computer resources," said James Bottum from Purdue. "We are pushing the computational frontiers, creating a computational grid that spans geographic boundaries." >from *Purdue, IU create new 'tera-scale' supercomputer grid*, june 11, 2002

related context
mmg: massively-multiplayer games platform. may 10, 2002
> science grid deployement: emerging model of computing. april 3, 2002
> national virtual observatory. november 6, 2001

wednesday :: june 12, 2002
global warming
:: u.s. climate action report 2002

United States' Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sent a climate report to the United Nations detailing effects that it says global warming will inflict on the America environment. For the first time, the report indicates recent global warming as a result of human activities -- mainly due to the burning of fossil fuels that send heat-trapping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere --.

The report says the United States will be substantially changed in the next few decades. But doesn't propose any major shift in the administration's policy on greenhouse gases. It does not recommend making rapid reductions in greenhouse gases to limit warming. It recommends adapting to inevitable changes.

Without a news release or announcement, the new report was shipped to the United Nations offices that administer the Rio treaty on global climate change, and posted on the Web. >from *Climate Action Report 2002. The United States of America's Third National Communication Under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change*, june 4, 2002

related context
biological rhythms modified by global warming. may 30, 2002
> earth's recent warming trend is truly global. april 11, 2002
> global warming and life on earth, we can't take any species of the earth for granted, april 25, 2002

 > fossil fuel burning
tuesday :: june 11, 2002
 > cracking cultural pinballs
hackers recover cultural database
:: helping to norwegian cultural preservation

The private book collection of professor and Ivar Aasen researcher Reidar Djupedal (1921-89) was given to Ivar Aasen-tunet in 1994 as a gift from his family. The collection contains about 14,000 books, periodicals and special prints covering various subjects, mainly in the Scandinavian languages. Some nine years ago, 11,000 titles were registered in a database. The man who made the database passed away before the collection and the database came to the Ivar Aasen centre, and nobody knowed the password. Whithout the database it will probably take 4 years to register the collection, concluded librarian Kirsti Langstøyl.

Ivar Aasen-tunet is a member of BIBSYS, which is a library data center offering services to all Norwegian University Libraries, the National Library, all college libraries, and a number of research libraries. All they were unable to open the historical database catalog. Finally, the news came up May 31st in Norwegian radio, and on thursday, June 6, the Center called for aid in hacking into the database. "Do YOU want to crack the password? Download the files here and give it a try!"

The first answer, of more than 100 e-mail received by the center, the same thursday not only had the correct password, but also included the unencrypted files of the database. >from *Ivar Aasen Center for Language and Culture site*

related context
norwegian hacker jon johansen indicted. january 17, 2002

monday :: june 10, 2002
creative cities
:: the rise of the creative class

This week will be published the book 'The Rise of the Creative Class: And How It's Transforming Work, Leisure, Community and Everyday Life," written by Richard Florida, professor of regional economic development at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. First reviews signals their contribution as a portrait of the values and lifestyles that will drive the 21st century economy, and on the importance of place in the knowledge-driven economy. The conventional wisdom about jobs, public policy and regional development becomes obsolete.

In the 1880s it was the factory worker. The 1950s gave us the company man. In this new millennium, the emerging class in society is the 'Creative Class.' Florida opens the study of this new social class, which is made up of people whose job is to be 'creative.' Creative jobs in science, art, media and research and technology, and creative professionals and managers, lawyers, financial people, healthcare people, now dominate U.S. economy. Nearly 40 million citizens - over 30 percent of the workforce - derive much of our identity and values from its role as purveyors of creativity.

He also documents its impact on people's choices and attitudes about a wide-range of lifestyle issues. The choices creative people make already had a huge economic impact, and they will determine how the workplace is organized, what companies will prosper or go bankrupt, and even which cities will thrive or wither.

Florida develops a new measure called the 'Creativity Index,' as a baseline indicator of a region's overall standing in the creative economy, a barometer of a region's longer run economic potential. The Creativity Index is a mix of four equally weighted factors: the creative class share of the workforce; high-tech industry, using the Milken Institute's widely accepted Tech Pole Index, refered to as the High-Tech Index; innovation, measured as patents per capita; and diversity, measured by the Gay Index (or Bohemian Index too), a reasonable proxy for an area's openness to different kinds of people and ideas. This composite indicator is a better measure of a region's underlying creative capabilities than the simple measure of the creative class, because it reflects the joint effects of its concentration and center for college and of innovative economic outcomes. The Creativity Index is thus . >from *The rise of the creative class' site*

related context
interview to richard florida. salon, june 6, 2002
> 'the rise of the creative class' by richard florida. may, 2002
> sub-cultural urban districts: cities and culture. may 29, 2002
> cities in globalization: global urban analysis. april 22, 2002

 > city genome:[ maze + matrix ]
friday :: june 7, 2002
     > flirting clowns
guide to flirting
:: the essential ability to charm

Why do we flirt? Flirting is much more than just a bit of fun: it is a universal and essential aspect of human interaction. Anthropological research shows that flirting is to be found, in some form, in all cultures and societies around the world.

Flirting is a basic instinct, part of human nature. This is not surprising: if we did not initiate contact and express interest in members of the opposite sex, we would not progress to reproduction, and the human species would become extinct.

According to some evolutionary psychologists, flirting may even be the foundation of civilisation as we know it. They argue that the large human brain - our superior intelligence, complex language, everything that distinguishes us from animals - is the equivalent of the peacock's tail: a courtship device evolved to attract and retain sexual partners. Our achievements in everything from art to rocket science may be merely a side-effect of the essential ability to charm.

"To save the human race from extinction, and preserve the foundations of civilisation" (sic), Martini commissioned Kate Fox at the Social Issues Research Centre to review and analyse all the scientific research material on interaction between the sexes, and produce a definitive guide to the art and etiquette of enjoyable flirting.

Psychologists and social scientists have spent many years studying every detail of social intercourse between men and women. Until now, their fascinating findings have been buried in obscure academic journals and heavy tomes full of jargon and footnotes. This Guide is the first to reveal this important information to a popular audience, providing expert advice on where to flirt, who to flirt with and how to do it. >from *SIRC Guide to Flirting. What Social Science can tell you about flirting and how to do it*

related context
the lost love project by chris bassett
> biological exuberance: animal homosexuality and natural diversity by bruce bagemihl

thursday :: june 6, 2002
think networks
:: the new science of networks

The book 'Linked' by Albert-László Barabási has a simple message: think networks. It is about how networks emerge, what they look like, and how they evolve. It aims to develop a web-based view of nature, society, and technology, providing a unified framework to better understand issues ranging from the vulnerability of the Internet to the spread of diseases. Networks are present everywhere. All we need is an eye for them... We will see the challenges doctors face when they attempt to cure a disease by focusing on a single molecule or gene, disregarding the complex interconnected nature of the living matter. We will see that hackers are not alone in attacking networks: we all play Goliath, firing shots at a fragile ecological network that, without further support, could soon replicate our worst nightmares by turning us into an isolated group of species... 'Linked' is meant to be an eye-opening trip that challenges us to walk across disciplines by stepping out of the box of reductionism. It is an invitation to explore link by link the next scientific revolution: the new science of networks. >from book' sneak preview in the *Linked site*, 2002. Via Roger Malina.

related context
Albert-László Barabási
> Scale-free characteristics of random networks:
The topology of the world-wide web
Albert-László Barabási, Reka Albert, Hawoong Jeong. 2000

 > net thinking
wednesday :: june 5, 2002
 > bioregenerative air pump
bioregenerative life support
:: to live in space permanently

NASA has awarded the University of Florida (UF) a grant to develop new technologies to help grow plants, recycle waste and create breathable air in an artificial ecosystem. In 2000, UF taked a lead role in this area of space research signing a contract with NASA for develop ways to recover and recycle water, air and waste in long-term space flights.

"Basically, we're going to be developing biotechnology solutions to support NASA's future human missions in space and on other planets," said Peggy Evanich, UF director of space research programs.

Because of the expense and difficulty of transporting fuel, food and oxygen into outer space, scientists believe any mission cut off from Earth for longer than 18 months must rely on 'bioregenerative life support,' re-creating miniaturized versions of the Earth's ecosystem in conditions utterly hostile to life.

The grant address human support, plant growth and seeking potential commercial partners and applications for new technologies developed during the research. >from *UF To Explore Biotechnology Space Research With NASA Grant*, may 23, 2002

related context
native american students to use mars 'soil' to grow spuds in space. may 17, 2000

tuesday :: june 4, 2002
amazon rainforest
:: impact of habitat fragmentation

The slightest clearing in the vast rainforests of the Amazon can wreak havoc with the inhabitants, impeding the movement of species and disrupting their communities. This are the results of a 22-year investigation by the Biological Dynamics of Forest Fragments Project, the world's largest and longest-running study of habitat fragmentation.

A team of researchers led by William F. Laurance of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute found that the effect of habitat fragmentation on the structure, composition and function of rainforests is far-reaching and widely felt. It increases local extinction rates for many plant and animal species; drastically alters species richness and abundance; and disrupts ecological processes, as well as creating opportunities for non-native species invasions, altering forest carbon storage and increasing vulnerability to fire.

Laurance believes the results of the analysis indicate clearly that Amazonian nature reserves will have to be very large in order to maintain their diversity and dynamics, and to withstand external threats from such human disturbances as burning, logging and hunting.

The Biological Dynamics of Forest Fragment Project, a joint effort of the National Institute for Amazonian Research (INPA) in Brazil and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, seeks to answer questions about plant and animal relations, the biology of extinction, the process of forest regeneration, and the effects of forest edge and fragmentation on the genetic structure of tropical species. >from *Rainforest wildlife surprisingly sensitive to landscape changes*, may 31, 2002

 > deforastation traces in bolivia
monday :: june 3, 2002
 > bacteria in atmosphere
microbes may control the weather
:: ecology of the atmosphere

A team of microbiologists led by Dr Bruce Moffett of University of East London aims to discover whether airborne microbes play an active role in forming clouds and causing rain to fall, in the eighteen-month pilot project 'Grey skies.'

The researchers are using a revolutionary 'cyclonic cloud catcher', based on vacuum cleaner technology, to sample cloud water from aircraft and on uplands across the British Isles. The samples are then analysed using a technique known as real-time PCR (polymerase chain reaction) to discover the composition and activity of the microbial communities present.

It is known that bacteria, fungal spores, algae and other micro-organisms survive and possibly reproduce in the harsh conditions of the atmosphere, but scientists have until now been unable accurately to detect, identify and analyse these microbial communities. The UEL team aims to test the theory that an active, self-sustaining ecosystem exists in the clouds, and that bacteria and algae play a key role in the processes that create clouds and trigger rainfall.

Dr Tim Lenton is also helping develop the new project. He said: "We are aiming to discover whether microbes that trigger condensation and freezing are active in clouds and thus influencing the weather. The potential implications are profound, and could provide more evidence for the 'Gaia hypothesis' that the Earth's climate and atmospheric composition are regulated by biological processes." >from *Do bugs in clouds control the weather?*, may 27, 2002

related context
gaia hypothesis
> can bacteria 'talk' through the air? study says yes. may 29, 2002

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