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july 2002

sampling new cultural context

friday :: july 19, 2002
> men for a social bond
human cooperation
:: biological basis revealed

Functional MRI scans have revealed a 'biologically embedded' basis for altruistic behavior, with several characteristic regions of the brain being activated when players of a game called 'Prisoner's Dilemma' decide to trust each other and cooperate, rather than betray each other for immediate gain, say researchers from Emory University.

For many years, evolutionary biologists, behaviorists, economists and political scientists have attempted to understand why cooperation exists between human beings, even though that cooperation may not result in a direct or immediate reward. This unselfish behavior called 'altruism' is almost uniquely a human trait.

During the mutually cooperative social interactions, activation was noted in those areas of the brain that are linked to reward processing: the nucleus accumbens, the caudate nucleus, ventromedial frontal/orbitofrontal cortex and rostral anterior cingulate cortex.

"Our study shows, for the first time, that social cooperation is intrinsically rewarding to the human brain, even in the face of pressures to the contrary," said Gregory S. Berns, co-investigator. "It suggests that the altruistic drive to cooperate is biologically embedded -- either genetically programmed or acquired through socialization during childhood and adolescence."

"The combination of game behavior and functional brain imaging also provides a unique paradigm to explore the neural basis of social behavioral disorders," adds Clint Kilts, co-investigator. "It defines the most complex form of the human genesis of a social bond. It may help us define why wars are fought and loves are lost." >from *Emory brain imaging studies reveal biological basis for human cooperation* july 17, 2002.

related context
cooperation and affiliation: primary social behavior in primates. february 25, 2002
> social skills earlier than thought. september 14, 2001

thursday :: july 18, 2002
the hacktivismo declaration
:: assertions of liberty in support of an uncensored internet

"Deeply alarmed that state-sponsored censorship of the Internet is rapidly spreading with the assistance of transnational corporations, (...) The international hacking community has a moral imperative to act, and we declare: That full respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms includes the libery of fair and reasonable access to information, whether by shortwave radio, air mail, simple telephony, the global internet or other media.

That we recognize the right of governments to forbid the publication of properly categorized state secrets, child pornography, and matters related to personal privacy and priviledge, among other accepted restrictions.

But we oppose the use of state power to control access to the works of critics, intellectuals, artists, or religious figures.

That state sponsored censorship of the Internet erodes peaceful and civilized coexistence, affects the exercise of democracy, and endangers the socioeconomic development of nations.

That state sponsored censorship of the internet is a serious form of organized and systematic violence against citizens, is intended to generate confusion and xenophobia, and is a reprehensible violation of trust.

That we will study ways and means of circumventing state sponsored censorship of the Internet and will implement technologies to challenge information rights violations." >from *the Hacktivismo Declaration*, issued by Hacktivismo and the CULT OF THE DEAD COW. July 4, 2002. [temporaly out]

related context
h2k2: hackers on planet earth 2002. july 10, 2002

> censorship bouillon
wednesday :: july 17, 2002
> opus crative commons
:: digital commons in culture

Opus is an acronym for 'Open Platform for Unlimited Signification!'. Most importantly, it is an online space for people, machines and codes to play and work together - to share, create and transform images, sounds, videos and texts. Opus is an attempt to create a digital commons in culture, based on the principle of sharing of work, while at the same time, retaining the possibility (if and when desired) of maintaining traces of individual authorship and identity.

The basic ideas of the Opus project is to create a community of creative people from all over the world, who want to share and gift to each other the images, sounds and texts made by them for general public usage. Opus will give people the chance to collaborate and to present their work to an online community of practitioners and artists willing to work outside the increasing global domination of intellectual property regimes in cultural production. Once you have published in Opus, each act of uploading by you becomes an opportunity for others to take your work as a starting point for transformation, for a new rendition, for a rescension. Opus users will also be able to give their comments and reflections on your work through the discussion forums that will grow around each project within Opus.

Opus is inspired by the free software movement and is an attempt to transpose the principles that govern the creation of free software on to general cultural production. Opus follows the same rules as those that operate in all free software communities - i.e. the freedom to view, to download, to modify and to redistribute. The source(code), in this case the video, image, sound or text - the contents of media objects uploaded on to Opus, is free to use, to edit and to redistribute. Needless to say the 'source-code' of the Opus software is also free to use, edit and redistribute. Opus users are governed by a license that protects them from their work being taken out of the commons and into the regimen of proprietary protocols.

Work on Opus began in September 2001 and the Beta version was uploaded in April 2002. Opus is launched into the public domain with the opening of Documenta11 in June 2002. The work was done by Raqs Collective, within the Sarai Initiative at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies. >from *Opus site*

related context
documenta 11
> sarai, space and network for digital culture in delhi. february 13, 2001

tuesday :: july 16, 2002
:: art/science research station

The Makrolab site is on-line. Makrolab is a temporary sustainable research station designed to listen in to data from around the world from locations in remote and fragile environments.

During summer 2002, Makrolab is sited in a remote glen on the Atholl Estate in Highland Perthshire, Scotland. Makrolab is equipped to accommodate artists, scientists, tactical media workers and creators and provides them with tools and means for their joint independent progressive work. People in the Makrolab do research primarily in the fields of telecommunications, weather systems and migrations on a very wide basis. Makrolab sees these three multiple-dynamic global systems as the source of understanding how our planet functions on social, technological and natural levels and see the knowledge inherent in them as the primary source of new cognitive and evolutionary strategies.

Makrolab is a 10 year processual project, devised and run by Slovenian artist Marko Peljhan and involving many contributors from all over the world. Makrolab started in its first phase at Documenta in Kassel 5 years ago and has travelled to the Highlands via Rottnest Island off Western Australia. It's due to go next to South Africa and its final phase is planned to be a permanent art/science research station in Antarctica in 2007. >from *Makrolab site*, july 12, 2002.

> makrolab position: context
monday :: july 15, 2002
> nomadic technologies
:: a culture of ubiquity

(re)distributions exhibit explored the expressive potential of Handheld Computing (PDAs), Information Appliances like Pagers and Cellular Phones, as well as Nomadic technologies like Embedded Processing and Distributed Systems.

"In a way, the move towards embedding computing in all manner of smart devices is a distinct move from moving computation off the desktop onto the body and into architectural space, hinting at the possibility for ubiquitous computing. The original vision of this exhibition was to focus on work created for these devices as a form of cultural intervention... In the online media, futurists are projecting 'the death of the World Wide Web' through the emergence of distributed networked devices, large numbers of wireless and embedded products, as well as the coming of new computational strategies for online interaction.... such commentary does represent the potential for a significant paradigmatic shift in distributed network technologies. Perhaps there may be a change developing in the way humans use networking technologies and their resultant expressive and representational practices. The proliferation of small personal devices, embedded processors, as well as objects that are connected, but operate in a more cellular fashion may create a more distributed, nomadic interaction with objects and one other. This exhibit is only one possible manifestation of the how these changes may be occurring, and how they are being represented through artistic practice," explains Patrick Lichty, curator of the exhibition in their statement.
*(re)distributions exhibit site*.

related context
(re)distributions pda art show opens at voyd.com. august 6, 2001
> building a culture of ubiquity by patrick lichty

friday:: july 12, 2002
earth 'will expire by 2050'
:: living planet report

Living Planet Report, released by World Wildlife Foundation, shows that humans are currently running a huge deficit with the Earth -- using over 20 percent more natural resources each year than can be regenerated -- and this figure is growing each year. Projections based on likely scenarios of population growth, economic development and technological change, show that by 2050, humans will consume between 180 percent and 220 percent of the Earth's biological capacity. According to the report, this means that unless governments take urgent action, by 2030, human welfare, as measured by average life expectancy, educational level, and world economic product will go into decline.

Of course, it is very unlikely that the Earth would be able to run an ecological overdraft for another 50 years without some severe ecological backlashes undermining future population and economic growth. But it would be far better to control our own destiny than to leave it to nature. If we are to return to a sustainable development pathway, it means making changes in four fundamental ways. First, it is necessary to improve the resource-efficiency with which goods and services are produced. Second, we must consume resources more efficiently, and redress the disparity in consumption between high and low income countries. Third, population growth must be controlled through promoting universal education and health care. And, finally, it is imperative that we protect, manage and restore natural ecosystems in order to conserve biodiversity and maintain ecological services, and so conserve and enhance the planet's biological productivity, for the benefit of present and future generations.

The Living Planet Report is WWF's periodic update on the state of the world's ecosystems -- as measured by the Living Planet Index -- and the human pressures on them through the consumption of renewable natural resources -- as measured by the Ecological Footprint. There is a cause-effect linkage between the two measures. >from *Humans running up huge 'overdraft' with the planet says new WWF report*, july 9, 2002.

related context
Living Planet Report 2002. july 9, 2002

> earth expiration date
thursday :: july 11, 2002
> box dynamics
model representations
:: seminar on aesthetic computing

'Aesthetic Computing' refers to the search for a new development of representation and notation, the exploration on the use of artistic methods and processes within common representations found in computing. The term was coined by Paul Fishwick a researcher on modeling, simulation and computer arts. Fishwick defined Aesthetic Computing as "the study of artistic, personalized formal model structures in computing."

The workshop will be held from july 14 to 19, 2002 in Dagstuhl, Germany. Represents an investigation in alternative, cultural and aesthetically-motivated representations for models found in computer science. Example model types include automata networks, flow graphs, software visualization structures, semantic networks, and information graphs. Models serve a variety of purposes from modeling the behavior and dynamics of software, or a physical system, to modeling the static information relations among concepts.

Aesthetic Computing heralds a new beginning for model representations where art and science come together, with art in direct support of science. >from *Introduction of 2002 Dagstuhl seminar on aesthetic computing*

related context
aesthetic computing
context series 2002
, february issue

wednesday :: july 10, 2002
:: hackers on planet earth 2002

H2K2, the 4th HOPE conference, will take place July 12-14, 2002, in New York City, sponsored by 2600 Magazine.

The first HOPE (HOPE stands for Hackers On Planet Earth) conference took place in 1994 in New York City. It was the first hacker conference in the United States to draw more than a couple of hundred people. Much of the inspiration for HOPE came from the Galactic Hacker Party of 1989 and Hacking at the End of the Universe (1993), both of which took place in the Netherlands in front of large crowds. It was generally thought that such events simply weren't possible in the States, due to organizational, political, and economic reasons. We set out to destroy this myth.
*H2K2 site*

The former hacker movement in The Netherlands where responsible for the late hackers' magazine Hack-Tic and for setting up the second Internet Service Provider in The Netherlands called 'XS4ALL.' They organised the hackers conventions series that has been running every four years since 1989: "The Galactic Hacker Party" (1989), "Hacking at the End of the Universe" (1993), "Hacking in Progress" (1997) and "HAL" (2001), "for those that can truly celebrate the Internet and embrace new technologies, without forgetting their responsability to tell others that all these wonderful new technologies come with new risks to the individual and to society as a whole."

related context
jargon file (the new hacker's dictionary) by eric raymond
> 2600 magazine. the hacker quarterly
> open_source_art_hack. april 30, 2002
> codecon. february 21, 2002
> hackers at large, or hal 2001. august, 2001
> galactic hacker party. international conference on the alternative use of technology, declaration.1989

> clan of the axe
tuesday :: july 9, 2002
> ars longa, vita wiki wiki
wiki wiki
:: communicating asynchronously across the net

"The ideas of 'Wiki' may seem strange at first, but dive in and explore its links. 'Wiki' is a composition system; it's a discussion medium; it's a repository; it's a mail system; it's a tool for collaboration. Really, we don't know quite what it is, but it's a fun way of communicating asynchronously across the network," said Ward Cunningham. Ward is well known for his contributions to the developing practice of object-oriented programming, the variation called Extreme Programming, and the communities hosted by his WikiWikiWeb.

The first ever wiki site, founded in 1995, is dedicated to programming (Pattern Languages of Programs). Ward explains that "I created the site and the WikiWikiWeb machinery that operates it. I chose wiki-wiki as an alliterative substitute for quick and thereby avoided naming this stuff quick-web. An early page, WikiWikiHyperCard, traces wiki ideas back to a HyperCard stack I wrote in the late 80's... PatrickMueller wrote probably the first WikiWikiClone"

A distinct Wiki culture forms around wiki tools:

- Any and all information can be deleted by anyone. Wiki pages represent nothing but discussion and consensus because it's much easier to delete flames, spam and trivia than to indulge them. What remains is naturally meaningful.

- Anyone can play. This sounds like a recipe for low signal - surely wiki gets hit by the unwashed masses as often as any other site. But to make any sort of impact on wiki you need to be able to generate content. So anyone can play, but only good players have any desire to keep playing.

- Wiki is not WYSIWYG. Contra the dumbing down of programming, it's an intelligence test of sorts to be able to edit a wiki page. It's not rocket science, but it doesn't appeal to the TV-watchers. If it doesn't appeal, they don't participate, which leaves those of us who read and write to get on with rational discourse.

- Wiki is far from real time. Folk have time to think, often days or weeks, before they follow up some wiki page. So what people write is well-considered.
*the original wiki site*

related context
Wiki Wiki Engines

monday :: july 8, 2002
:: evolving platform for social change

The Simputer -- short for Simple, Inexpensive and Multilingual comPUTER -- was launched in April 2001 by the non-profit Simputer Trust. The Simputer Trust is the coming together of academics and technologists from industry (Encore Software and professors from Bangalore's Indian Institute of Science to license designs of the device) with a broad imperative of harnessing the potential of the Simputer for the benefit of all sections of society. The vision of this non-profit trust is to promote the Simputer, not as an end product but as an evolving platform for social change. All is ready this month to roll out $200 Simputer.

The Simputer is a low cost portable alternative to PCs, by which the benefits of information technologies can reach the common man. It has a special role in the third world because it ensures that illiteracy is no longer a barrier to handling a computer. The key to bridging the digital divide is to have shared devices that permit truly simple and natural user interfaces based on sight, touch and audio. The Simputer meets these demands through a browser for the Information Markup Language (IML). IML has been created to provide a uniform experience to users and to allow rapid development of solutions on any platform.

The Smart Card feature that the Simputer provides enables the Simputer to be shared by a community. A local community such as the village panchayat, the village school, a kiosk, a village postman, or even a shopkeeper should be able to loan the device to individuals for some length of time and then pass it on to others in the community. The Simputer, through its Smart Card feature allows for personal information management at the individual level for an unlimited number of users. The impact of this feature coupled with the rich connectivity of the Simputer can be dramatic.

Linux and the free software movement are a critical part of the Simputer vision. However, they also intend to bring in a similar model for hardware. >from *Simputer site*.

related context
The Bangalore Declaration: Information Technology for Developing Countries in the Global Village. November 4, 1998

> simputer: a shared device
thursday :: july 4, 2002
> streamer radio
:: pirate radio for the digital age

This is a response to the closing of Audiogalaxy and the imminent closure of many net radio stations. Streamer is an internet radio program that allows anyone to broadcast streaming mp3 music, to an unlimited number of listeners, from an internet connection as humble as a 56k modem, and with the broadcasting pc being fairly untraceable.

It works by relaying the mp3 data stream from one listener to the next, forming a branching tree with the broadcasting pc at the base. This is different to the normal method where all the listeners connect to a central server, and it means you don't need lots of server bandwidth. There is also no limit to the number of listeners, since each new one provides more relay bandwidth to the network.

Streamer currently uses Winamp (or any other icy-200 mp3 streaming receiver) to actually listen to the mp3 data that it's receiving. No point re-inventing the wheel. Streamer is really just a method of shovelling the data around the network. It doesn't actually process or interpret the data at all. To be a broadcaster you need something to create the mp3 data stream. For example, shoutcast dsp plugin for winamp. It's another wheel.

This is a beta version, work in progress. It's been GPL'd now. >from *Streamer site*

related context
rates and terms for webcasting and ephemeral recordings. july 3, 2001
> gnu radio, software defined radio. june 27, 2002
> save internet radio. dmca threatens internet radio. april 29, 2000

wednesday :: july 3, 2002
al-wasiti art center
:: art bridge between palestine and the outside world

Despite its rich history, art in Palestine today faces a situation of neglect and stagnation. Thirty three years of military occupation has left Palestinian artists faced with a forbidding array of political economic and cultural problems. Practically all forms of cultural communication and interchange between Palestinians inside the Occupied Territories and those in the Diaspora have been severed. Cultural links with the outside, including those with the Arab world, have also been affected, whereby Palestinians under occupation have little opportunity to learn from or interact with the dynamic art movements in the world. In fact Palestinians today in the towns, villages and refugee camps of Gaza and the West Bank have little access to the artistic heritage of their principal city, Jerusalem. Art books, specially in Arabic, are largely inaccessible and there are no specialized art publications or journals. Furthermore, the absence of specialized exhibition halls makes it almost impossible to hold professional exhibitions in Palestine. The lack of these basic prerequisites has made exposure to art a luxury for the very few rather than an essential right for the community.

The establishment of Al-Wasiti art center in late 1994 by leading artists, addresses some of these obstacles and the artistic needs of artists, amateurs, children and the general public alike. >from *Al-Wasiti Art Center site* [temporaly out]

related context
present tense by mona hatoum. january 9, 2002
> articulations of identity: changing trends in contemporary palestinian art by tina sherwell
> contemporary palestinian art by samia a. halaby
> the intifada and the information society by john horvath. october 31, 2000

> palestinian graphics
tuesday :: july 2, 2002
> desktop evolution? from memex to ...
gnome 2.0
:: multi-platform desktop environment

The GNOME Foundation released version 2.0 of the GNOME Desktop and Developer Platform at the Ottawa Linux Symposium.

"The GNOME 2.0 project is the culmination of a major effort which had the dual objectives of dramatically improving developer productivity and significantly enhancing the GNOME user experience," said Miguel de Icaza, president of the GNOME Foundation. "The result is an elegant, new multi-platform desktop environment for individual, corporate and government users worldwide."

GNOME is supported on a variety of platforms, including GNU/Linux, Solaris Operating Environment, HP-UX, Unix, BSD and Apple's Darwin. The enhanced user interface moves from a traditional X Window System interface to one that is easy to use and familiar to users of other environments. The user interface also boasts powerful features such as high-quality smooth text rendering and first class internationalization support, including support for bi-directional text. "Developing on the GNOME platform will take a leap forward with the release of 2.0," said Havoc Pennington, GNOME Foundation board chair.

GNOME is a free software project that is developing a complete, easy to use desktop for Linux-based operating systems, BSD and a variety of other Unix and Unix-like operating systems. The GNOME desktop is used by millions of people around the world. >from *GNOME 2.0 Desktop and Developer Platform released*, June 26, 2002

related context
10th anniversary of Linux. august 25, 2001
> creation of the gnome foundation. august 15, 2000

monday :: july 1, 2002
:: experimental net art collective

Colluding with artists, critical poets and net-nomads to reinvent the worlds that straddle earthly and digital zones.

Furtherfield is an online platform for the creation, promotion, and archiving of new work for public viewing and interaction. Furtherfield collaborates with independent visual artists, digital/net artists, writers, critical thinkers, musicians and noisemakers with a special focus on work developed and produced outside the recognised institutional support structures (colleges, galleries, corporate and public funding). We explore new and imaginative strategies for communicating ideas and issues in a range of digital & terrestrial media contexts.

Furtherfield's activities focus on presenting works online and organising global, contributory projects, which exist simultaneously on the Internet, the streets and public venues.
*Furtherfield site*

> straddle furtherfield
> context weblog archive

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