Thursday, December 23, 2010


Robert Anton Wilson, The tale of the tribe and Open Source Conspiracy theory.

Robert Anton Wilson lived a life dedicated to sharing. RAWs shared wisdom and information packed writings seem to me to present a special methodology and an illuminating example of comprehensive critical thinking, critical for our grasping a handle on 'what the hell is going on' as he often said. RAW had his hands on the handle or the 'tool' we know as 'language' since a remarkably early age, reading James Joyce, Ezra Pound, William Butler Yeats and Semanticist Alfred Korzybski and many more heavyweights while still in his teens.

Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane - Evidence

Saturday, December 11, 2010

James Brown - Mind Power

Production Models for the 21st Century

Mark Pesce - Words.
CHU - Images.
Steve 'Fly Agaric'' - Mixing

Unevenly Distributed:

Production Models for the 21st Century

external image amsterjam_60-640x220.jpg

I. The Wheels Fall Off the Cart

In mid-1994, sometime shortly after Tony Parisi and I had
fused the new technology of the World Wide Web to a 3D
visualization engine, to create VRML, we paid a visit to the
University of Santa Cruz, about 120 kilometers south of San
Francisco. Two UCSC students wanted to pitch us on their
own web media project. The Internet Underground Music
Archive, or IUMA, featured a simple directory of artists,
complete with links to MP3 files of these artists’ recordings.
(Before I go any further, I should state that they had all the
necessary clearances to put musical works up onto the Web –
IUMA was not violating anyone’s copyrights.) The idea
behind IUMA was simple enough, the technology absolutely
straightforward – and yet, for all that, it was utterly
revolutionary. Anyone, anywhere could surf over to the
IUMA site, pick an artist, then download a track and play it.

This was in the days before broadband, so downloading a
multi-megabyte MP3 recording could take upwards of an
hour per track – something that seems ridiculous today, but
was still so potent back in 1994 that IUMA immediately
became one of the most popular sites on the still-quite-tiny
Web. The founders of IUMA – Rob Lord and Jon Luini –
wanted to create a place where unsigned or non-commercial
musicians could share their music with the public in order to
reach a larger audience, gain recognition, and perhaps even
end up with a recording deal. IUMA was always better as a
proof-of-concept than as a business opportunity, but the
founders did get venture capital, and tried to make a go of
selling music online. However, given the relative obscurity of
the musicians on IUMA, and the pre-iPod lack of pervasive
MP3 players, IUMA ran through its money by 2001,
shuttering during the dot-com implosion of the same year.
Despite that, every music site which followed IUMA, legal and
otherwise, from Napster to Rhapsody to iTunes, has walked in
its footsteps. Now, nearing the end of the first decade of the
21st century, we have a broadband infrastructure capable of
delivery MP3s, and several hundred million devices which can
play them. IUMA was a good idea, but five years too early.

Just forty-eight hours ago, a new music service, calling itself
Qtrax, aborted its international launch – though it promises
to be up “real soon now.” Qtrax also promises that anyone,
anywhere will be able to download any of its twenty-five
million songs perfectly legally, and listen to them practically
anywhere they like – along with an inserted advertisement.
Using peer-to-peer networking to relieve the burden on its
own servers, and Digital Rights Management, or DRM, Qtrax
ensures that there are no abuses of these pseudo-free

Most of the words that I used to describe Qtrax in the
preceding paragraph didn’t exist in common usage when
IUMA disappeared from the scene in the first year of this
millennium. The years between IUMA and Qtrax are a
geological age in Internet time, so it’s a good idea to walk back
through that era and have a good look at the fossils which
speak to how we evolved to where we are today.

In 1999, a curly-haired undergraduate at Boston’s
Northeastern University built a piece of software that allowed
him to share his MP3 collection with a few of his friends on
campus, and allowed him access to their MP3s. This scanned
the MP3s on each hard drive, publishing the list to a shared
database, allowing each person using the software to
download the MP3 from someone else’s hard drive to his own.
This is simple enough, technically, but Shawn Fanning’s
Napster created a dual-headed revolution. First, it was the
killer app for broadband: using Napster on a dial-up
connection was essentially impossible. Second, it completely
ignored the established systems of distribution used for
recorded music.

This second point is the one which has the most relevance to
my talk this morning; Napster had an entirely unpredicted
effect on the distribution methodologies which had been the
bedrock of the recording industry for the past hundred years.

The music industry grew up around the licensing, distribution
and sale of a physical medium – a piano roll, a wax recording,
a vinyl disk, a digital compact disc. However, when the
recording industry made the transition to CDs in the 1980s
(and reaped windfall profits as the public purchased new
copies of older recordings) they also signed their own death
warrants. Digital recordings are entirely ephemeral,
composed only of mathematics, not of matter. Any system
which transmitted the mathematics would suffice for the
distribution of music, and the compact disc met this need
only until computers were powerful enough to play the more
compact MP3 format, and broadband connections were fast
enough to allow these smaller files to be transmitted quickly.
Napster leveraged both of these criteria – the mathematical
nature of digitally-encoded music and the prevalence of
broadband connections on America’s college campuses – to
produce a sensation.

In its earliest days, Napster reflected the tastes of its collegeage
users, but, as word got out, the collection of tracks
available through Napster grew more varied and more
interesting. Many individuals took recordings that were only
available on vinyl, and digitally recorded them specifically to
post them on Napster. Napster quickly had a more complete
selection of recordings than all but the most comprehensive
music stores. This only attracted more users to Napster, who
added more oddities from their on collections, which
attracted more users, and so on, until Napster became seen as
the authoritative source for recorded music.

Given that all of this “file-sharing”, as it was termed,
happened outside of the economic systems of distribution
established by the recording industry, it was taking money out
of their pockets – probably something greater than billions of
dollars a year was lost, if all of these downloads had been
converted into sales. (Studies indicate this was unlikely –
college students have ever been poor.) The recording industry
launched a massive lawsuit against Napster in 2000, forcing
the service to shutter in 2001, just as it reached an incredible
peak of 14 million simultaneous users, out of a worldwide
broadband population of probably only 100 million. This
means that one in seven computers connected to the
broadband internet were using Napster just as it was being
shut down.

Here’s where it gets more interesting: the recording industry
thought they’d brought the horse back into the barn. What
they hadn’t realized was that the gate had burnt down. The
millions of Napster users had their appetites whet by a world
where an incredible variety of music was instantaneously
available with few clicks of the mouse. In the absence of
Napster, that pressure remained, and it only took a few weeks
for a few enterprising engineers to create a successor to
Napster, known as Gnutella, which provided the same service
as Napster, but used a profoundly different technology for its
filesharing. Where Napster had all of its users register their
tracks within a centralized database (which disappeared when
Napster was shut down) Gnutella created a vast, amorphous,
distributed database, spread out across all of the computers
running Guntella. Gnutella had no center to strike at, and
therefore could not be shut down.

It is because of the actions of the recording industry that
Gnutella was developed. If legal pressure hadn’t driven
Napster out of business, Gnutella would not have been
necessary. The recording industry turned out to be its own
worst enemy, because it turned a potentially profitable
relationship with its customers into an ever-escalating arms
race of file-sharing tools, lawsuits, and public relations

Once Gnutella and its descendants – Kazaa, Limewire, and
Acquisition – arrived on the scene, the listening public had
wholly taken control of the distribution of recorded music.
Every attempt to shut down these ever-more-invisible
darknets” has ended in failure and only spurred the
continued growth of these networks. Now, with Qtrax, the
recording industry is seeking to make an accommodation with
an audience which expects music to be both free and freely
available, falling back on advertising revenue source to
recover some of their production costs.

At first, it seemed that filmic media would be immune from
the disruptions that have plagued the recording industry –
films and TV shows, even when heavily compressed, are very
large files, on the order of hundreds of millions of bytes of
data. Systems like Gnutella, which allow you to transfer a file
directly from one computer to another are not particularly
well-suited to such large file transfers. In 2002, an
unemployed programmer named Bram Cohen solved that
problem definitively with the introduction of a new filesharing
system known as BitTorrent.

BitTorrent is a bit mysterious to most everyone not deeply
involved in technology, so a brief of explanation will help to
explain its inner workings. Suppose, for a moment, that I
have a short film, just 1000 frames in length, digitally
encoded on my hard drive. If I wanted to share this film with
each of you via Gnutella, you’d have to wait in a queue as I
served up the film, time and time again, to each of you. The
last person in the queue would wait quite a long time. But if,
instead, I gave the first ten frames of the film to the first
person in the queue, and the second ten frames to the second
person in the queue, and the third ten frames to the third
person in the queue, and so on, until I’d handed out all
thousand frames, all I need do at that point is tell each of you
that each of your “peers” has the missing frames, and that you
needed to get them from those peers. A flurry of transfers
would result, as each peer picked up the pieces it needed to
make a complete whole from other peers. From my point of
view, I only had to transmit the film once – something I can
do relatively quickly. From your point of view, none of you
had to queue to get the film – because the pieces were
scattered widely around, in little puzzle pieces, that you could
gather together on your own.

That’s how BitTorrent works. It is both incredibly efficient
and incredibly resilient – peers can come and go as they
please, yet the total number of peers guaratees that
somewhere out there is an entire copy of the film available at
all times. And, even more perversely, the more people who
want copies of my film, the easier it is for each successive
person to get a copy of the film – because there are more
peers to grab pieces from. This group of peers, known as a
“swarm”, is the most efficient system yet developed for the
distribution of digital media. In fact, a single, underpowered
computer, on a single, underpowered broadband link can, via
BitTorrent, create a swarm of peers. BitTorrent allows
anyone, anywhere, distribute any large media file at
essentially no cost.

It is estimated that upwards of 60% of all traffic on the
Internet is composed of BitTorrent transfers. Much of this
traffic is perfectly legitimate – software, such as the free
Linux operating system, is distributed using BitTorrent. Still,
it is well known that movies and television programmes are
also distributed using BitTorrent, in violation of copyright.
This became absolutely clear on the 14th of October 2003,
when Sky Broadcasting in the UK premiered the first episode
of Battlestar Galactica, Ron Moore’s dark re-imagining of the
famous shlocky 1970s TV series. Because the American
distributor, SciFi Channel, had chosen to hold off until
January to broadcast the series, fans in the UK recorded the
programmes and posted them to BitTorrent for American
fans to download. Hundreds of thousands of copies of the
episodes circulated in the United States – and conventional
thinking would reckon that this would seriously impact the
ratings of the show upon its US premiere. In fact, precisely
the opposite happened: the show was so well written and
produced that the word-of-mouth engendered by all this mass
piracy created an enormous broadcast audience for the series,
making it the most successful in SciFi Channel history.
In the age of BitTorrent, piracy is not necessarily a menace.

The ability to “hyperdistribute” a programme – using
BitTorrent to send a single copy of a programme to millions of
people around the world efficiently and instantaneously –
creates an environment where the more something is shared,
the more valuable it becomes. This seems counterintuitive,
but only in the context of systems of distribution which were
part-and-parcel of the scarce exhibition outlets of theaters
and broadcasters. Once everyone, everywhere had the
capability to “tuning into” a BitTorrent broadcast, the
economics of distribution were turned on their heads. The
distributioin gatekeepers, stripped of their power, whinge
about piracy. But, as was the case with recorded music, the
audience has simply asserted its control over distribution.
This is not about piracy. This is about the audience getting
whatever it wants, by any means necessary. They have the
tools, they have the intent, and they have the power of
numbers. It is foolishness to insist that the future will be
substantially different from the world we see today. We can
not change the behavior of the audience. Instead, we must all
adapt to things as they are.

But things as the are have changed more than you might
know. This is not the story of how piracy destroyed the film
industry. This is the story how the audience became not just
the distributors but the producers of their own content, and,
in so doing, brought down the high walls which separate
professionals from amateurs.

Lies Lies Lies by CHU

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Wikileaks and a new Global Epic?

Wikileaks and the new Global Epic?
By Steve 'fly agaric 23'

A global epic poem including History or 'tale of the tribe' aspires to create a planetary synthesis of symbolic information, striving for a balanced Multi-cultural 'exhibit' a tale that moves from geographical location to individual 'speech' to the global 'stage' while illuminating special details, and often therefore creating a whole new style. Is Wikileaks a whole new style?  

A global epic hopes to bring new information to the people, to inform them of a Global Picture, and to lift the general heart--that great ball of crystal--up to the light, sharing the sources and holding 'objectivity' and 'fairness' in mind, body, and speech whenever possible. Attention to the source, the root causes and the marrow.

In short, with a good editor, the Wikileaks files and their novel methods of distribution maybe a rough outline of 'the tale of the tribe' in some sense: a new global communication network of texts and speech that record a period of evolution into the information activist age. Are they a record of our trajectory towards 'open source' internet and the potential for radical political change, does Wikileaks present a model for planetary synergy? Is Wikileaks demonstrating superior intelligence and methodology that--obsoletes--what came before it? Are the texts sacred and Holy? What makes a text holy, what gives a text its security clearance level, how do secretness and sacredness relate to one another?  

Wikileaks obsoleted and changed 'secret intelligence' into public reading material, producing a new widely read—fragmented--Global Epic, (in the hands of some journalists and writers) a specially edited series of texts, and video, that change--and change utterly--the entire worlds perception of Justice, equality and fairness at the highest levels of Government and Corporate business.

May I suggest a few pointers for individuals interested in 'the tale of the tribe' as a way of interpreting Wikileks, and that may extend the possibilities of ‘poetry’. Maybe set some scenes to verse or to some music, an Opera with the strongest voices you could muster, mash-ups, theatre and stage shows, stand-up routines, photoshop jobs, paintings and tales.

1. E-Prime:
Presents an alternative way of thinking and processing languages that removes the 'essentialism' the 'isness' and the 'spooks' from writing and speech, acting as a defence system against many shades of bullshit and 'spin'; a tool for nurturing semantic hygiene and 'good sense' when interpreting messages. I’m still learning to introduce E-prime, on occasion into my own communication in 2010.

2. RAW: Dr. Robert Anton Wilson:
Continues to inspire millions of alternative thinkers and writers around the world, this article is dedicated to RAW (please see CYBERNETIC RAW SOURCE) and I hope anyone reading this who has not yet read him will READ HIM. He defined our current information explosion over 50 years in his works in a clear and witty manner. He also created a character called Hagbard Celine who influenced an entrie generation of 'information hacktivists' and 'abstractivists'. 

3. Global Village of Marshall McLuhan
Marshall McLuahn, like Dr. Robert Anton Wilson, imagined a new world of the electric man connected by Trillions of nodes in a Global Praxis of electric signals and ‘info’ clippings. His model of the Global Village and environs gives us a pre-internet 'lesson or two' in information processing sensory bias and world literature, and in ‘the tale of the tribe’ McLuhan’s ideas may synthesize all six of these pointers and has the punch line—summary’s--for understanding how Wikileaks impacts the Global Village and the electronic man.

4. Planetary Synergetics of Bucky Fuller
Buckminster Fuller teaches us with a Planetary ‘synergy’ model, also pre-internet; that exhibits evidence for an all-around-the-world revolution in information processing, design science, nano-technology and further semantic hygiene, a design science and ‘language’ revolution. Bucky's World Game can show players the impact and difference between what he calls 'Killingry' 'Livingry' essential differentials in any 'Wikileaks' equation, I think.

5. The Cantos of Ezra Pound.
Ezra Pound's ‘Cantos’ maybe a blue-print for a poetic presentation of the 'illuminated' details of history re-illuminated by Wikileaks. The Cantos exhibit a wonderfully Global mixture of ‘tales’ and show us the possibilities of poetry and history copulating. To hang speech next to speech so as to compare and reflect, the Cantos help us distinguish information from noise, I think, read them and study Pound’s ‘Juxtaposition’ and ‘Ideogrammic Method’.  

6. Finnegans Wake and James Joyce.
Finnegans Wake can teach us information processing on every page. What does it mean, what does it refer too, who is speaking, where is the action taking place? James Joyce can teach everybody to read and hopefully to also write and speak with a critically balanced perception, a Celtic Taoist sensibility, and to never ever forget the bawdy comedy of leaking secret letters and telling tales and spreading gossip and what’s holy.

--Steven 'fly agaric 23' Pratt.

Wikileaks and Umberto Eco

For the celebrated novelist and intellectual Umberto Eco, the Wikileaks affair or "Cablegate" not only shows up the hypocrisy that governs relations between states, citizens and the press, but also presages a return to more archaic forms of communication.
The WikiLeaks affair has twofold value. On the one hand, it turns out to be a bogus scandal, a scandal that only appears to be a scandal against the backdrop of the hypocrisy governing relations between the state, the citizenry and the press. On the other hand, it heralds a sea change in international communication – and prefigures a regressive future of “crabwise” progress.

But let’s take it one step at a time. First off, the WikiLeaks confirm the fact that every file put together by a secret service (of any nation you like) is exclusively made up of press clippings. The “extraordinary” American revelations about Berlusconi’s sex habits merely relay what could already be read for months in any newspaper (except those owned by Berlusconi himself, needless to say), and the sinister caricature of Gaddafi has long been the stuff of cabaret farce.

Embassies have morphed into espionage centres

The rule that says secret files must only contain news that is already common knowledge is essential to the dynamic of secret services, and not only in the present century. Go to an esoteric book shop and you’ll find that every book on the shelf (on the Holy Grail, the “mystery” of Rennes-le-Château [a hoax theory concocted to draw tourists to a French town], on the Templars or the Rosicrucians) is a point-by-point rehash of what is already written in older books. And it’s not just because occult authors are averse to doing original research (or don’t know where to look for news about the non-existent), but because those given to the occult only believe what they already know and what corroborates what they’ve already heard. That happens to be Dan Brown’s success formula.

The same goes for secret files. The informant is lazy. So is the head of the secret service (or at least he’s limited – otherwise he could be, what do I know, an editor at LibĂ©ration): he only regards as true what he recognises. The top-secret dope on Berlusconi that the US embassy in Rome beamed to the Department of State was the same story that had come out in Newsweek the week before.

So why so much ado about these leaks? For one thing, they say what any savvy observer already knows: that the embassies, at least since the end of World War II, and since heads of state can call each other up or fly over to meet for dinner, have lost their diplomatic function and, but for the occasional ceremonial function, have morphed into espionage centres. Anyone who watches investigative documentaries knows that full well, and it is only out of hypocrisy that we feign ignorance. Still, repeating that in public constitutes a breach of the duty of hypocrisy, and puts American diplomacy in a lousy light.

A real secret is an empty secret

Secondly, the very notion that any old hacker can delve into the most secret secrets of the most powerful country in the world has dealt a hefty blow to the State Department’s prestige. So the scandal actually hurts the “perpetrators” more than the “victims”.

But let’s turn to the more profound significance of what has occurred. Formerly, back in the days of Orwell, every power could be conceived of as a Big Brother watching over its subjects’ every move. The Orwellian prophecy came completely true once the powers that be could monitor every phone call made by the citizen, every hotel he stayed in, every toll road he took and so on and so forth. The citizen became the total victim of the watchful eye of the state. But when it transpires, as it has now, that even the crypts of state secrets are not beyond the hacker’s grasp, the surveillance ceases to work only one-way and becomes circular. The state has its eye on every citizen, but every citizen, or at least every hacker – the citizens’ self-appointed avenger – can pry into the state’s every secret.

How can a power hold up if it can’t even keep its own secrets anymore? It is true, as Georg Simmel once remarked, that a real secret is an empty secret (which can never be unearthed); it is also true that anything known about Berlusconi or Merkel’s character is essentially an empty secret, a secret without a secret, because it’s public domain. But to actually reveal, as WikiLeaks has done, that Hillary Clinton’s secrets were empty secrets amounts to taking away all her power. WikiLeaks didn’t do any harm to Sarkozy or Merkel, but did irreparable damage to Clinton and Obama.

Technology now advances crabwise

What will be the consequences of this wound inflicted on a very mighty power? It’s obvious that in future, states won’t be able to put any restricted information on line anymore: that would be tantamount to posting it on a street corner. But it is equally clear that, given today’s technologies, it is pointless to hope to have confidential dealings over the phone. Nothing is easier than finding out whether a head of state flew in or out or contacted one of his counterparts. So how can privy matters be conducted in future? Now I know that for the time being, my forecast is still science fiction and therefore fantastic, but I can’t help imagining state agents riding discreetly in stagecoaches along untrackable routes, bearing only memorised messages or, at most, the occasional document concealed in the heel of a shoe. Only a single copy thereof will be kept – in locked drawers. Ultimately, the attempted Watergate break-in was less successful than WikiLeaks.

I once had occasion to observe that technology now advances crabwise, i.e. backwards. A century after the wireless telegraph revolutionised communications, the Internet has re-established a telegraph that runs on (telephone) wires. (Analog) video cassettes enabled film buffs to peruse a movie frame by frame, by fast-forwarding and rewinding to lay bare all the secrets of the editing process, but (digital) CDs now only allow us quantum leaps from one chapter to another. High-speed trains take us from Rome to Milan in three hours, but flying there, if you include transfers to and from the airports, takes three and a half hours. So it wouldn’t be extraordinary if politics and communications technologies were to revert to the horse-drawn carriage.

One last observation: In days of yore, the press would try to figure out what was hatching sub rosa inside the embassies. Nowadays, it’s the embassies that are asking the press for the inside story.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

heavily fiscalized through contractual obligations...

"Whereas in the United States to a large degree, and in other Western countries, the basic elements of society have been so heavily fiscalized through contractual obligations that political change doesn't seem to result in economic change, which in other words means that political change doesn't result in change.

Read more:,8599,2034040-2,00.html#ixzz17WNUa6u7

Thanks to Stein' for the John Lennon video link.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Schneier's modest proposal: Close the Washington monument!

Terrorists use the media to magnify their actions and further spread fear. And when we react out of fear, when we change our policy to make our country less open, the terrorists succeed -- even if their attacks fail. But when we refuse to be terrorized, when we're indomitable in the face of terror, the terrorists fail -- even if their attacks succeed.  --

No price is to high to pay for security:
The empty monument would symbolize our war on the unexpected, -- our overreaction to anything different or unusual -- our harassment of photographers, and our probing of airline passengers. It would symbolize our "show me your papers" society, rife with ID checks and security cameras. As long as we're willing to sacrifice essential liberties for a little temporary safety, we should keep the Washington Monument empty.

Terrorism isn't a crime against people or property. It's a crime against our minds, using the death of innocents and destruction of property to make us fearful. Terrorists use the media to magnify their actions and further spread fear. And when we react out of fear, when we change our policy to make our country less open, the terrorists succeed -- even if their attacks fail. But when we refuse to be terrorized, when we're indomitable in the face of terror, the terrorists fail -- even if their attacks succeed.

We can reopen the monument when every foiled or failed terrorist plot causes us to praise our security, instead of redoubling it. When the occasional terrorist attack succeeds, as it inevitably will, we accept it, as we accept the murder rate and automobile-related death rate; and redouble our efforts to remain a free and open society.
Close the Washington Monument