Scientific topics receiving prominent play in newspapers and magazines over the past several years include molecular biology,…

“Scientific topics receiving prominent play in newspapers and magazines over the past several years include molecular biology, artificial intelligence, artificial life, chaos theory, massive parallelism, neural nets, the inflationary universe, fractals, complex adaptive systems, superstrings, biodiversity, nanotechnology, the human genome, expert systems, punctuated equilibrium, cellular automata, fuzzy logic, space biospheres, the Gaia hypothesis, virtual reality, cyberspace, and teraflop machines….Unlike previous intellectual pursuits, the achievements of the third culture are not the marginal disputes of a quarrelsome mandarin class: they will affect the lives of everybody on the planet.”

John Brockman (viainthenoosphere)

“10 hours video of Arctic ambience with frozen ocean, ice craking, snow falling, icebreaker idling and distand howling wind…

arctic, soundscape, delta

video link

“10 hours video of Arctic ambience with frozen ocean, ice craking, snow falling, icebreaker idling and distand howling wind sound. Natural white noise sounds generated by the wind and snow falling, combined with deep low frequencies with delta waves from the powerful icebreaker idling engines, recorded at 96 kHz - 24 bit and designed for relaxation, meditation, study and sleep.”

The New Gulliver - Directed by Aleksandr Ptushko, Soviet Union. The world’s first feature length stop-motion animation film….


The New Gulliver - Directed by Aleksandr Ptushko, Soviet Union. The world’s first feature length stop-motion animation film. Released in 1935 to widespread acclaim it earned Ptushko a special prize at the International Cinema Festival in Milan. (image via In Search of Pagan Hollywood). View the film in it’s entirety on YouTube:

How to Read the News to Reduce Fake News Consumption

Medium, news, fake news, media literacy

The skill of intelligently reading the news is one that is not taught in our schools. But with some easy tricks, and a change in awareness, you can help protect yourself against fake news, hoaxes, and even poor reporting. It takes time to develop these skills, but it is not difficult or labor intensive.


NanoNets : How to use Deep Learning when you have Limited Data

Medium, Machine Learning, deep learning, transfer learning, small data, AI, cats, Van Gogh

With transfer learning, we can take a pretrained model, which was trained on a large readily available dataset (trained on a completely different task, with the same input but different output). Then try to find layers which output reusable features. We use the output of that layer as input features to train a much smaller network that requires a smaller number of parameters. This smaller network only needs to learn the relations for your specific problem having already learnt about patterns in the data from the pretrained model. This way a model trained to detect Cats can be reused to Reproduce the work of Van Gogh


Make America Bohemian Again

Medium, USA, NYC, art, bizniz, The Chelsea Hotel, co-working, co-living, communal production, value creation, economics, bohemian, MABA, culture

The Chelsea thrived because it stuck to Philip Hubert’s original vision: to house and nurture New York’s creative community — and do so while still being affordable and open to all. It is unlikely that the Chelsea will house the next wave of American creativity (the hotel was closed in 2011, and the new owners are converting it into a pricey boutique hotel. Many of the rooms, including Bob Dylan’s, have since been destroyed.) Yet while New York city’s greatest art colony is all but dead, its structure and ethos continue to enrich American culture — albeit in a different way, and on an entirely different coast.

Yet despite the lucrative returns of Y Combinator and other startup accelerators sprouting up around the USA (like TechStars, 500 Startups, AngelPad and SeedCamp) no ambitious community-building projects exist for American arts like they do for American tech. While most talented tech gurus can find a startup accelerator to join (and fund them), aspiring artists are told to get a bedroom in Brooklyn or move to Iowa for an MFA — both of which cost upwards of $40,000 a year and don’t come with a patron.

Summing up the net worth of the Chelsea’s most famous residents […] the Chelsea Hotel was responsible for more than 2.1 billion dollars of value creation while it was open. That estimate is only going off of the net worth of the artists themselves — not all of the downstream albums or paintings or ticket sales they contributed to (i.e. a single painting by Pollock fetched $200M and Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey took in more than $190M at the box office. A single room of de Kooning paintings was estimated to be worth as much as $4B.) The funny thing? Despite their obsession with wealth, most startup accelerators don’t even come close to matching the economic impact of the Chelsea Hotel — much less its cultural impact.


Thoughts on Software for the Visual Arts

Medium, Processing, software, artware, programming, sketching

It’s hard to pin down what Processing is, precisely. I admit, it can be confusing, but here it is: it’s both a programming environment and a programming language, but it’s also an approach to building a software tool that incorporates its community into the definition. It’s more accurate to call Processing a platform — a platform for experimentation, thinking, and learning. It’s a foundation and beginning more than a conclusion. Processing was (and still is) made for sketching and it was created as a space for collaboration. It was born at the MIT Media Lab, a place where C. P. Snow’s two cultures (the humanities and the sciences) could synthesize. Processing had the idea to expand this synthesis out of the Lab and into new communities with a focus on access, distribution, and community. Processing is what it is today because of the initial decisions that Ben and I made back in 2001 and the subsequent ways we’ve listened to the community and incorporated contributions and feedback since the beginning. Processing was inspired by the programming languages BASIC and Logo in general, and specifically by John Maeda’s Design By Numbers, C++ code created by the Visual Language Workshop and Aesthetics and Computation Group at the MIT Media Lab, and PostScript. Processing wasn’t pulled from the air, it was deeply rooted in decades of prior work.


3quarksdaily: Deep learning dead languages

music, Language, linguistics, machine-learning, Espen-Sommer-Eide

I turned my experiments back towards language again. Would it be possible to train a deep learning network for a dead language? I have in my previous art projects worked extensively with languages that are endangered or already extinct – so called dying languages[4]. Every ten days a language disappears, and at that rate, within a few generations, half of the approximately 6000 languages in the world today will be extinct. The concept of a dying language is a highly complex mechanism. In order for language to survive, it is of central importance that the language is in use, especially in normal households, and between generations of a family. Can a language be kept and conserved for future generations, or is a language alive only when actively used and spoken between people in a society? Can a language be detached from a people’s culture, knowledge and identity? Among the family of Sámi languages (of the indigenous groups of northern Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia), several of the languages are already extinct or with very few and old speakers left, but efforts are being made to help revive some of them.


Researchers use music and LSD to understand how we attribute meaning.

meaning, LSD, neuroscience, psychology, salience, psychedelics

Attribution of meaning and personal relevance is important for our everyday lives. In psychiatric disorders, the attribution of meaning is often altered, and the mechanisms causing this were unknown. LSD has also been shown to alter the attribution of meaning and personal relevance to the environment and our sense of self. However, the exact mechanism and brain structures had not been investigated yet. Therefore, LSD offered a unique opportunity to investigate these phenomena.


Meet your earliest known ancestor: Saccorhytus

evolution, Saccorhytus, biology, paleontology

How is Saccorhytus related to humans? Humans are vertebrates and so are one of the major groups that collectively define the deuterostomes, a group that also includes animals that are quite different from humans, such as sea-urchins and sea-squirts, all ultimately descended from an original deuterostome. Our argument is that Saccorhytus is close to this ancestral form, and so is the most primitive known deuterostome.


The Dadaab Refugee Camp in Northern Kenya is the largest facility of its kind in the world, with a total population of 400,000…


The Dadaab Refugee Camp in Northern Kenya is the largest facility of its kind in the world, with a total population of 400,000 people. Hagadera - seen at the right of this Overview - is the camp’s largest section and is home to 100,000 refugees. To cope with the growing number of displaced Somalis arriving at Dadaab, the UN has begun moving people into a new area called the LFO extension, the gridded area filling with white tents on the left in this Overview.


Why Do We Believe Anything, Anyway?

Medium, belief, religion, philosophy, reality, perception, worldviews

navigating the limited piece of physical reality we encounter in life, and remaining mentally and emotionally secure enough to survive, find mates, and propagate the species, requires an unquestioning, and when you think about it, strikingly unreasonable confidence in ourselves and in the world. Since full awareness of reality as-it-is was not an option for our ancient ancestors (as the overwhelm caused by so much data would have diminished, rather than enhanced, their chances of survival), evolution equipped them –and, as their descendants, us too — with brains capable of generating a convincing illusion of the reality of our own small words.


Trial Balloon for a Coup?

Medium, Yonatan Zunger, USA, politics, coup d’état, coup

That is to say, the administration is testing the extent to which the DHS (and other executive agencies) can act and ignore orders from the other branches of government. This is as serious as it can possibly get: all of the arguments about whether order X or Y is unconstitutional mean nothing if elements of the government are executing them and the courts are being ignored. Yesterday was the trial balloon for a coup d’état against the United States. It gave them useful information.


Pattern Recognition – Alex McLean

slab, slub, algorave, Alex McLean, live coding

Watching him work, chopping and changing the lines of code that controls his loops by changing a number or adding a word to change a function, is like watching a graphic designer who has memorised keyboard shortcuts and can transform an image in seconds. Complexity emerges from simple instructions. With a few keystrokes, McLean transforms an arpeggio and a simple set of beats into complex polyrhythms that pan in decaying arcs across speakers. He granulates sound patterns and reverses them, and creates blobby, queasy Aphex Twin-style textures before switching up samples to produce something nasty and sputtering, like the filthiest work of The Bug. It’s pure concentration and flow, and in an algorave setting it can throw up quite a few surprises.


Classifying Animal(s)

Medium, taxonomy, biology, naming, species, Controversy studies

These names were themselves disputed and used as insults or boasts by either side, as were various taxonomic terms of art. Reading through the pages of Systematic Zoology, it is not uncommon to see authors accuse each other of redefining key terms or to see them attempt such redefinitions (usually in the name of “clarity”) themselves. Determining what a word essentially denoted was a problem not only for naming species of beetles or apes, but also for naming groups of taxonomists. As the advent of genetic sequencing shifted the central focus of biological taxonomy (Woese et al. 1977), determining which side of the debate had “won” became primarily a question of which of their features one took to be definitive. To use a term that anthropologists would later borrow from the taxonomists, the two schools were polythetic classes (Needham 1975) — identifiable through a set of shared characteristics or “family resemblances,” but not defined by any one in particular.


Making as an Act of Caring

Medium, Anab Jain, making, caring, creativity

If we are going to idolise makers and create large-scale foundries, incubators and educational programs to inculcate and embrace the love for making, then lets nourish this idea of making as care-giving too, and ensure that the ‘maker-culture’ we build is diverse and inclusive. And in doing so, encourage a relentless inquisitiveness, integrity, and pliancy that it can bring for us, those around us and the environments we live in.


The Art of Darkness

Medium, art, darkness

For centuries, artists, authors and alchemists have gazed into the void and extracted new ways of seeing and thinking about our place in the universe. Second Home members super/collider invited two experts in dark matter — Royal Observatory Greenwich astronomer Marek Kukula and curator Melanie Vandenbrouck — to our Spitalfields campus to discuss the most notable visual examples of darkness in art, science and literature.


“Nothing is Forbidden, but Some Things are Good”

Medium, ethics, morality, preference, vegetarianism, philosophy, choice, taoism

“Nothing is Forbidden, but Some Things are Good” So morality may be a mirage, but it’s a useful mirage that helps us find life-giving meaning in what would otherwise be a desert of pure perception. I found de to be a helpful bridge towards holonic integration, but you might prefer Sharia law, act utilitarianism, or any number of moral or ethical ideas. Whatever your choice, in this way morality serves as an oasis that will sustain you on your journey to find meaning, especially when all meaning seems lost to the harsh winds of an uncaring world.


our interpretations of the world are necessary tools for making sense of it, but fixing onto these beliefs as if they revealed…

reality, perception, chaos, Umberto Eco, the nature of things

“our interpretations of the world are necessary tools for making sense of it, but fixing onto these beliefs as if they revealed the true nature of things can be dangerous. The world is always more chaotic than the order our closed systems of signs impose.”

Brent Ables (on the work of Umberto Eco)

Discrete Time Crystals: Rigidity, Criticality, and Realizations

10.1103/PhysRevLett.118.030401, time-crystals, non-equilibrium, matter, Physics

Despite being forbidden in equilibrium, spontaneous breaking of time translation symmetry can occur in periodically driven, Floquet systems with discrete time-translation symmetry. The period of the resulting discrete time crystal is quantized to an integer multiple of the drive period, arising from a combination of collective synchronization and many body localization. Here, we consider a simple model for a one-dimensional discrete time crystal which explicitly reveals the rigidity of the emergent oscillations as the drive is varied. We numerically map out its phase diagram and compute the properties of the dynamical phase transition where the time crystal melts into a trivial Floquet insulator. Moreover, we demonstrate that the model can be realized with current experimental technologies and propose a blueprint based upon a one dimensional chain of trapped ions. Using experimental parameters (featuring long-range interactions), we identify the phase boundaries of the ion-time-crystal and propose a measurable signature of the symmetry breaking phase transition.


time crystals

Physics, matter, Time, time-crystal, non-equilibrium, oscillation

Normal crystals have an atomic structure that repeats in space - just like the carbon lattice of a diamond. But, just like a ruby or a diamond, they’re motionless because they’re in equilibrium in their ground state. But time crystals have a structure that repeats in time, not just in space. And it keep oscillating in its ground state. Imagine it like jelly - when you tap it, it repeatedly jiggles. The same thing happens in time crystals, but the big difference here is that the motion occurs without any energy. A time crystal is like constantly oscillating jelly in its natural, ground state, and that’s what makes it a whole new form of matter - non-equilibrium matter. It’s incapable of sitting still.


Vooruit (1): waar liep het de jongste jaren mis? | rekto:verso

Vooruit, Belgie, Belgium, Belgique, kunstencentrum, rekto verso


“Wat is er loos in Vooruit? Achter de indrukwekkende façade in eclectische stijl heeft zich de voorbije vijf jaar een flinke crisis afgespeeld. Het bleef een publiek geheim, maar het voormalige Gentse kunstencentrum – tegenwoordig Kunstinstelling – zat op zijn gat. Van artistieke bloedarmoede tot falend personeelsbeleid: rond een wankelende organisatie leken enkel nog de stenen van het historische monument overeind te staan. Wat liep er fout en hoe wil Vooruit zichzelf in de toekomst heruitvinden?”

Vooruit (1): waar liep het de jongste jaren mis? | rekto:verso

(via The number of people using search engines is in decline - Business Insider) Actually looking for data/studies on the…


(via The number of people using search engines is in decline - Business Insider)

Actually looking for data/studies on the *effectiveness* of search engines. Personally I feel that Google in particular, but others as well, are less and less useful as they return ever more (targeted?) results which tend towards recent events, products etc.

Case in point: I just googled the phrase “as above so below”, and all but one result on the first page was for a 2014 horror movie. The history of this phrase is much wider, and older, than this movie. The one exception was for a very ropey old summary page - which also included a mention of the movie. Duckduckgo’s first page at least included the wikipedia page on Hermeticism, perhaps the most relevant result I would imagine, among various mysticism sites - and more links to the movie.

The same occurs when I google almost anything and mostly get a lot of near-identical news reports (selecting for recency?) that mention something similar to the topic, but usually totally obscuring what I’m actually searching for. Perhaps the result of contemporary SEO-driven web design, rather than an explicit fault of the search engine, but a failure nonetheless.

Short version: I’m finding search engines increasingly useless, and am looking for studies on this.

We eventually reached a distant, all but silent corner of the airfield. This was where suspected bombs were dealt with. Moore,…

“We eventually reached a distant, all but silent corner of the airfield. This was where suspected bombs were dealt with. Moore, whose mother also once worked for LAWA police, pointed my attention down to a number of painted blue grids. These indicated spots where suspicious baggage could be detonated. She then gestured to a massive blue circle surrounding it all, a shape so large I would not even have noticed it. This circle, visible on Google Earth, marked the outer perimeter within which an entire aircraft would be parked during a bomb scare.”

Inside LAX’s New Anti-Terrorism Intelligence Unit (viaiamdanw)



“A working definition of contra-Internet is the refusal of Internet totality, but this is not a simple outright refusal. Rather,…


“A working definition of contra-Internet is the refusal of Internet totality, but this is not a simple outright refusal. Rather, it is a refusal of naturalizations, hegemonies, and normalizations of the Internet that have contributed to its transformation into a locus of policing and control. Supplementing this, contra-Internet is also the search for and constitution of Internet alternatives. I consider the examples of alternative infrastructure outlined above as crucial to the contra-Internet because they reveal that social movement no longer necessarily see the Internet as a political horizon—it is, rather, about finding something else. This is where the commons comes in for me, as a collective and open project of thinking, imagining, and building something other than “the Internet.” From an artistic perspective, I would like Contra-Internet to give a particularly queer consistency to this activity, and this must happen not only by documenting Internet alternatives but also by imagining beyond the network form itself.”

Zach Blas in conversation with surveillance scholar Simone Browne

Electricity now flows across continents, courtesy of direct current



WHOA great story! DC power grid? For real? Apparently China has been working on it for years. This is nuts. I asked my engineering friends over at FB for any critiques, because this could save the planet. No joke.

Simple version: most houses and electrical grids are wired for AC (alternating current) electricity. The majority of consumer electronics are designed to use AC power. However, solar and other forms of energy are DC (direct current). One of the things about installed PV solar systems in your home is that you usually have to get a converter (which converts your DC power to AC power), which is inefficient and causes you to lose some of that electricity you generated with your panels. 

For years the talk has been that solar is wasteful and inefficient, because for over a hundred years we’ve set up entire national electrical grids based on AC. But this newer technology changes that. Apparently China has been on top of this, and has been installing ultra high voltage direct current (UHVDC) projects, to move energy all around their country. 

The author points out at the end of the story that this isn’t truly a technological problem - we apparently have most of the technology we need for this - the problem once again is the political will to implement such projects. 

For all the Tesla fans out there, DC was his baby.

But holy shit this could change everything.

This is very cool. I’ve collected some links to HVDC (High Voltage Direct Current) Projects below

Growing DC Power - US (discussion)

HVDC has a very important role to play in transmission networks and is an economical viable option at ultra-high voltages (800 kV) in several regions in the USA. These DC links need to operate as hybrid HVAC and HVDC networks for integrating and controlling remote renewable resources, and they are well established to interconnect asynchronous areas. At the relative low capacity factors of wind (40%) and solar PV (20%) power production, HVAC networks are not utilized at an economic level for integrating these intermittent resources to the load centers, especially over long distances


North-East Agra project - India

North-East Agra project is planned for commissioning in 2016. It will be rated 8000 MW, 800 kV using four bipolar lines, and will transmit power from two converter stations in the east to a converter at Agra, a distance of 1728 km.

HVDC Sileru–Barsoor - India

The HVDC Sileru–Barsoor is a high voltage direct current transmission system between Sileru, India and Barsoor, India, which went in service in 1989 as the first HVDC line in India.The HVDC Sileru Barsoor couples two asynchronously operated parts of Indian electricity mains over a 196 kilometers long overhead line, which was originally a double-circuit 220 kV AC line from which three conductors are parallelized.

There is a great deal of technical factors that influence the type of HVDC required for site to site wikipedia is very detailed on this subject.

And lastly for those that enjoy Tesla nerdiness - I love this section on wikipedia about the last holdouts in the ‘War of Currents’.

War of Currents

This was the building in which AC pioneer Nikola Tesla spent his last years, and where he died in 1943. In January 1998, Consolidated Edison started to eliminate DC service. At that time there were 4,600 DC customers. By 2006, there were only 60 customers using DC service, and on November 14, 2007, the last direct-current distribution by Con Edison was shut down.

There is something very @99percentinvisible​ about the last DC holdout int he US closing in 2007.

Electricity now flows across continents, courtesy of direct current

The supposedly new forms of governance emerging from these technologies look partly archaic and partly superstitious. What kind…

“The supposedly new forms of governance emerging from these technologies look partly archaic and partly superstitious. What kind of corporate/state entities are based on data storage, image unscrambling, high-frequency trading, and Daesh Forex gaming? What are the contemporary equivalents of farmer kings and slaveholders, and how are existing social hierarchies radicalized through examples as vastly different as tech-related gentrification and jihadi online forum gamification? How does the world of pattern recognition and big-data divination relate to the contemporary jumble of oligocracies, troll farms, mercenary hackers, and data robber barons supporting and enabling bot governance, Khelifah clickbait and polymorphous proxy warfare? Is the state in the age of Deep Mind, Deep Learning, and Deep Dreaming a Deep State™? One in which there is no appeal nor due process against algorithmic decrees and divination?”

A Sea of Data: Apophenia and Pattern (Mis-)Recognition - Journal #72 April 2016 - e-flux (vianewdarkage)

KATE CRAWFORD. Actually I was about to go exactly to the history, so your comment is absolutely dead-on. I was thinking of…


KATE CRAWFORD. Actually I was about to go exactly to the history, so your comment is absolutely dead-on. I was thinking of physiognomy, too, because what we now have is a new system called Faception that has been trained on millions of images. It says it can predict somebody’s intelligence and also the likelihood that they will be a criminal based on their face shape. Similarly, a deeply suspect paper was just released that claims to do automated inferences of criminality based on photographs of people’s faces. So, to me, that is coming back full circle. Phrenology and physiognomy are being resuscitated, but encoded in facial recognition and machine learning.

There’s also that really interesting history around IBM, of course back in 1933, long before its terrorist credit score, when their German subsidiary was creating the Hollerith machine. I was going back through an extraordinary archive of advertising images that IBM used during that period, and there’s this image that makes me think of your work actually: it has this gigantic eye floating in space projecting beams of light down onto this town below; the windows of the town are like the holes in a punch card and it’s shining directly into the home, and the tagline is “See everything with Hollerith punch cards.” It’s the most literal example of “seeing like a state” that you can possibly imagine. This is IBM’s history, and it is coming full circle. I completely agree that we’re seeing these historical returns to forms of knowledge that we’ve previously thought were, at the very least, unscientific, and, at the worst, genuinely dangerous.


I ain’t seen the sunshine


… since I don’t know when

- Johnny Cash, Folsom Prison Blues

We don’t normally write about our travels at Crap Futures, but last week’s trip to Longyearbyen, Svalbard seems worth a mention. The archipelago lies between Norway and the North Pole, far above Iceland, and at 78 degrees north Longyearbyen is the world’s northernmost settlement. There are 30% more polar bears than humans. There are northern lights, apparently. We did not see the northern lights, or any other natural light, during the six days we were there. The conference we attended was called, in all caps, REMOTE.

If you ever get a chance to visit Svalbard, even in January, take it. Despite the 24-hour darkness of polar night, drawn like a heavy curtain over Longyearbyen from October to February, the people we met there were lively and happy, even slightly giddy, drunk on the melting together of night and day. School children wearing reflective vests built snow forts under stark electric lights. People rode past on bicycles even in -20 degree temperatures, or on snowmobiles with rifle mounts. Huskies were tied up outside shops, and you had to check your gun at the door. It all had a Wild West feel about it.


The day after we arrived a mother polar bear and her two cubs wandered into town and were gently escorted out again in the most Scandinavian way, only to return the following day. The three bears also showed up at our dogsledding camp outside Longyearbyen, news that was conveyed to us by a man with a gun as we warmed ourselves with coffee and brandy in the lodge. (By law you can only leave the city limits with a high-powered rifle, or a guide who carries one.) The exchange between the man with the gun and our guide, who also had a rifle but carried it discreetly and put it in a locker at the camp, went as follows:

‘These people have all signed the waiver.’

‘Ah good, they’ve signed the waiver.’ (The waiver stipulated that if we were eaten by a bear it was not the company’s fault.) 

‘Look – they’re in Philip’s camp, near his tent.’

‘Is Philip there?’

‘Ja, I think so.’

‘Yesterday they scared them away and said everything was okay, but they came right back.’

‘Ja, they must be hungry. They came up here maybe because of the meat.’ 

Then they turned to us and said: ‘So stay with the boss, okay?’


The scary thing about bears wandering into settlements – aside from the obvious menace of a large white bear hiding in a blizzard during the polar night – is the suggestion that something is going seriously wrong with nature; that hungry bears are a visible sign of climate change. Rising temperatures in the Arctic mean melting sea ice, which in turn makes it harder to find food (in the form of seals), and the whole sea ice ecosystem starts to collapse. The desperate mother bear – for what bear in its right mind would go near a place full of dozens of barking dogs, shouting humans, and vehicles – was likely trying to find enough food to feed her cubs.

The Arctic weather was generally cold and clear, with soft, drifting snow, but again, dark. The surrounding mountains and fjord could be glimpsed only in dim outline. The effect of day after day of total darkness is hard to describe. It wasn’t far to reach the end of the road in any direction, and the end of the streetlights – after which there was only an abyss, like falling off the map. Gale force winds whipped up unexpectedly, turning a walk to the pub into a blind life-or-death journey in which your colleagues suddenly disappeared and you were walking down an endless icy road, alone. This made one pub on the edge of town feel a bit locked in, like Minnie’s Haberdashery in The Hateful Eight. On the other hand there was the hygge factor: everywhere indoors, for example, in restaurants and pubs and shops, people padded around in woolly socks; we even presented in socks, which certainly gave the conference room a cosy vibe.


At the conference itself we met Owe Ronström, ethnologist and musician, a warm and generous soul from the island of Gotland in the Baltic Sea, who gave the keynote (and showed us Don Martin cartoons of desert islands). We sat drinking wine from the Nordpolet late into the night with colleagues like our subversive friend Kirsten Marie Raahauge, from the Design school at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts. We talked about anticipation and wish fulfilment, needs and desires, the late Zygmunt Bauman and our own beloved Borgmann, as well as more topical questions: What is the best (peaceful) defense against polar bears? What are you supposed to do with brown cheese? How long can a human survive without sunlight? Is it healthy to jump into the snow after a jacuzzi? Credit must go to the organisers, Adam Grydehøj and Yaso Nadarajah, for keeping things running smoothly and losing not a single delegate.

We’ve been to larger events in the past year, but none so remote or intimate. Bringing together an eclectic mix of Island Studies researchers, the presentation topics ranged from medieval Norse-Sámi relations to intercorporeality and islandness to cultural identity and animal husbandry on the Estonian island of Ruhnu (pop. 97). For our part, we spoke about designing energy solutions for Madeira, ending with a video of our first prototype that James cut together on the plane. (We’ll post the video along with the latest project news in the next week or so.)

The theme of our panel was ‘Remote Island Sustainability’, and our talk was about ‘Promise in the Periphery’ – so how did Madeira fit in? In many ways Madeira is not remote or peripheral at all: it is the second wealthiest region in Portugal, it has decent air links to the rest of Europe, a centuries old tourism industry, and historically it was a major stopping point on transatlantic journeys. Nevertheless, it is peripheral in the sense of dependence; that – for example – much of its energy is still imported, along with much of its food and other goods – more than need be the case, given its natural attributes. Why is this? The constraints of infrastructure make it easier and cheaper to buy into the larger grid than to find local solutions. But is it easier and cheaper? What are the real costs of ignoring the local?


Judith Schalansky has a useful description of islands as ‘footnotes to the mainland’: ‘expendable to an extent, but also disproportionately more interesting’. Similarly, after her recent trip to Svalbard, Rebecca Solnit wrote: ‘More than anyplace I’ve ever been, [Svalbard] imposes a dependency…. Which is also an independency, from the rest of the world.’ Being peripheral should not be viewed as an obstacle, but as an advantage and an opportunity.

We’re exploring ideas of dependency and independency in relation to energy – taking the shape of a speculative design approach to energy generation, infrastructure and behaviour in Madeira. In our work we’re seeking to exploit remoteness and peripherality as drivers of creativity, possibility, resilience. In particular we aim to challenge the traditional radial model of centrally generated electricity, with the aim of allowing communities to reclaim ownership of energy generation and storage. We want to create new ecologies of energy relationships among islanders.

Darwin called the Galapagos Islands ‘a little world within itself’. The insulated species he found there – the tortoises and finches – give us an analogy for tailoring solutions to island-specific challenges. Bespoke innovation requires you to see the island as a whole, as a unique, self-contained site. Unlike the finches of the Galapagos, however, we intend that our bespoke energy solutions for Madeira will fly abroad, to be adapted to other Macaronesian Islands – in the case of one of our projects – and places further afield, as in the case of another project we’re developing.

The first line of the Madeiran anthemDo vale à montanha e do mar à serra (‘From the valley to the mountain and from the sea to the highlands’) – gives a sense of how extreme this landscape is. The highest point, Pico Ruivo, is almost 2km above sea level, and it gets snow in the winter when it is still 20 degrees at the coast (and in the sea).

As a recent BBC documentary on Svalbard states: ‘ This is not a place for normal.’ We found this to be true – certainly after a week in the dark – but we also found the potential for experimentation, both in the case of Svalbard and our own remote island. We saw the sun again at last as we flew back to Oslo via Tromsø. That night we re-entered the world just in time to watch Trump’s ‘American carnage’ inauguration speech on CNN. Suddenly the remote expanse of Svalbard looked far less like a hostile and frozen wasteland, far more like an oasis in the midst of a greater apocalypse.

Introversion | Andrew Meredith


‘Introversion’ is an exploration of subjective ambiguity and scale within a dark landscape devoid of landmarks and identity. A probe into spatial awareness, vagueness and keeping interpretation very much out in the open. Leaving the mind to search for answers.

There is something so beautiful about being alone within a landscape, introverted, quiet and at peace with your mind, somehow, very little matters when you are surrounded by nothing in particular. The senses are heightened by the utter lack of built environment and people. The silence can be meditative and yet, somehow, deafening.

Introversion is influenced and loosely based upon the Mars landscape images that NASA released on finding evidence of historic traces of water on the red planet. The intention was to recreate a landscape that could be otherworldly, microscopic or somewhere in between.




All images and text © Andrew Meredith

January 26th was an assault on a strong, phenomenal culture — and that is why you shouldn’t…


“January 26th was an assault on a strong, phenomenal culture — and that is why you shouldn’t…” via @Medium————–1


Last week Jonathan Albright, an assistant professor of communications at Elon University in North Carolina, published the first…


Last week Jonathan Albright, an assistant professor of communications at Elon University in North Carolina, published the first detailed research on how rightwing websites had spread their message. “I took a list of these fake news sites that was circulating, I had an initial list of 306 of them and I used a tool – like the one Google uses – to scrape them for links and then I mapped them. So I looked at where the links went – into YouTube and Facebook, and between each other, millions of them… and I just couldn’t believe what I was seeing. “They have created a web that is bleeding through on to our web. This isn’t a conspiracy. There isn’t one person who’s created this. It’s a vast system of hundreds of different sites that are using all the same tricks that all websites use. They’re sending out thousands of links to other sites and together this has created a vast satellite system of rightwing news and propaganda that has completely surrounded the mainstream media system.

Google, democracy and the truth about internet search | Technology | The Guardian

When your boss is an algorithm - It’s hard to spread the word when you don’t even know who your colleagues are. But the…



When your boss is an algorithm -

It’s hard to spread the word when you don’t even know who your colleagues are. But the couriers have an idea. They open their apps as customers and order food to be delivered to them. As UberEats couriers arrive with pizzas at the place their app has sent them, the strikers tell them about the protest and urge them to join in. Algorithmic management, meet algorithmic rebellion.

Deliveroo’s algorithm monitors couriers closely and sends them personalised monthly “service level assessments” on their average “time to accept orders”, “travel time to restaurant”, “travel time to customer”, “time at customer”, “late orders” and “unassigned orders”. The algorithm compares each courier’s performance to its own estimate of how fast they should have been. An example from one of Kyaw’s assessments: “Your average time to customer was less than our estimate, which means you are meeting this service-level criterion. Your average difference was -3.1 minutes.” 

The Unbearable Present – Paul Currion

Futures, Present, Paul-Currion, dark-mountain, singularity, futurism, Accelerationism, Neoreaction

Marinetti’s automobile races on, but now it is Musk’s Tesla, an electric car that runs silently. What Musk lacks in Tsiolkovsky’s cosmic awareness, he makes up for in survival instinct, calculating that humanity has more chance of surviving if it becomes a multiplanetary infection, with Mars as Patient Zero. If Musk’s plans to colonise the red planet sound like science fiction to many people, this is partly because, like all entrepreneurs, creating his own mythology is almost as important as creating his own business. What could be more mythological than conquering the God of War himself, on a planet whose redness signifies the rubedo8Rubedo (“redness” in Latin) is the fourth, final stage in the Great Work of alchemy: the creation of the philosopher’s stone capable of transmuting the elements. of the alchemists’ Chymical Wedding, the point at which we discover our true nature? Yet the possibility of colonising other parts of the solar system is real, and they only sound like science fiction because science fiction was talking about it long before Elon Musk.


Remembering Mark Fisher

music, politics, quietus, Mark-Fisher, obituary, ccru, writing, theory, 2017

The loss of Mark Fisher, aged just 48, has not just left family, friends and colleagues shocked and devastated; it leaves a gaping crater in modern intellectual life. The poet and writer Alex Niven, with whom he worked at Repeater books, described him as “by some distance the best writer in Britain” and, as a flood of tributes on social media have come appended with links to his work, whether on k-punk, his much-read blog, interviews he conducted for The Wire or extracts from his very latest book The Weird And The Eerie, that is a judgment with which it is hard to disagree.