On August 11, 1987, Bill Atkinson announced a new product from Apple for the Macintosh; a multimedia, easily programmed system…

hypercard, multimedia, retrocomputing, archive.org, 1987, 2017, apple

On August 11, 1987, Bill Atkinson announced a new product from Apple for the Macintosh; a multimedia, easily programmed system called HyperCard. HyperCard brought into one sharp package the ability for a Macintosh to do interactive documents with calculation, sound, music and graphics. It was a popular package, and thousands of HyperCard “stacks” were created using the software.

After our addition of in-browser early Macintosh emulation earlier this year, the Internet Archive now has a lot of emulated Hypercard stacks available for perusal, and we encourage you to upload your own, easily and quickly.

(via http://blog.archive.org/2017/08/11/hypercard-on-the-archive-celebrating-30-years-of-hypercard/ )

The Battery is the Message: The Materialities of Powering New Media

Medium, media, battery, thermal runway, Pixelache, Community Power Bank, Li-ion

When media start to explode in your hands, it deserves a description. When it causes airplane evacuations, general panic and hysteria, it warrants an examination. When it quietly dies in your pocket before the end of an eight hour work day just like the other two billion smartphones, it deserves an explanation. It is reasonable to believe that a ‘Thermal Runaway’ event is far more spectacular than a quiet smartphone death. Leakages take place, fire and toxic chemicals are involved, possibly leading to personal bodily injury. It can be traumatic. Thermal Runaway is today one of the prime modes of battery failure. Chemical reactions within raise its internal temperature, and if not dissipated, the temperature keeps rising that will further accelerate the reactions causing even more heat to be produced, eventually resulting in an explosion. Especially a Lithum-ion cell above a certain temperature, its internal chemical reactions out of control, will explode.

via https://medium.com/@samir_bhowmik/the-battery-is-the-message-the-materialities-of-powering-new-media–89ca4107227c

Studying Storms from Air and Space


Technology we’ve developed is helping study the movement of storms.  

From satellites that can slice through a hurricane with 3-D vision to computer models of gale force winds, scientists now have unprecedented ways of viewing extreme weather.

This August, we’re sending an unmanned aircraft called a Global Hawk to study hurricanes. This mission is called the “East Pacific Origins and Characteristics of Hurricanes,” or EPOCH. It will fly over developing tropical storms to investigate how they progress and intensify. 


The three instruments aboard this Global Hawk aircraft will map out 3-D patterns of temperature, pressure, humidity, precipitation and wind speed as well as the role of the East Pacific Ocean in global cyclone formation. These measurements will help scientists better understand the processes that control storm intensity and the role of the East Pacific Ocean in global cyclone formation.


To better understand hurricane formation and intensity, scientists also utilize models and other observations.


Satellites such as our Global Precipitation Measurement Mission, or GPM, and computer models can analyze key stages of storm intensification.  


In September 2016, GPM captured Hurricane Matthew’s development from a Category 1 to Category 5 hurricane in less than 24 hours.  


Extreme rainfall was seen in several stages of the storm, causing significant flooding and landslides when it passed by Cuba, Haiti and the Dominican Republic.


By combining model and observed data, scientists can analyze storms like never before. They can also better understand how hurricanes and other powerful storms can potentially impact society.

Make sure to follow us on Tumblr for your regular dose of space: http://nasa.tumblr.com

the vicarious experience of machine subjectivity


Sherry Turkle’s The Second Self(1984) is about the relationships early personal computer users had with their machines, and how this reciprocally reshaped “what it means to be human.” Whereas once humans defined themselves in relation to animals (which are incapable of rational thought and given over to sensation), now they are beginning to define themselves in relation to machines (which are incapable of feeling). “Where once we were rational animals, now we are feeling computers, emotional machines,” she suggests. 

Turkle is writing about computers that are unnetworked here, so she sees using them as a kind of escape from interpersonal interaction, whereas now computers primarily mediate human interaction in all sorts of ways. So she tends to assume that computer use is a form of safe isolation that simulates interacting with a living being while protecting a person from the uncertainties of that: “Terrified of being alone, yet afraid of intimacy, we experience widespread feelings of emptiness, of disconnection, of the unreality of self. And here the computer, a companion without emotional demands, offers a compromise. You can be a loner, but never alone. You can interact, but need never feel vulnerable to another person.” 

That same analysis has carried through to Turkle’s more recent work, which can make it feel out of touch. The “computer” in the form of an internet-connected phone can allow for all sorts of vulnerability and intimacy, and it opens one to all sorts of new emotional demands. People may feel compelled to always be available to others, always be “present” even when they are geographically distant. You can never be alone in a new and different sense.

That said, I found Turkle’s comparison of then-emerging AI theory with psychoanalysis pretty interesting. 

The question here is not which theory, the psychoanalytic or the computational, is true, but rather how these very different ways of thinking about ourselves capture our imagination. Behind the popular acceptance of the Freudian theory was a nervous, often guilty reoccupation with the self as sexual; behind the widespread interest in computational interpretations is an equally nervous preoccupation with the self as a machine. Playing with psychoanalytic and computational theories allows us to play with aspects of our nature that we experience as taboo.

People are afraid to think of themselves as machines, that the are controlled, predictable, determined, just as they are afraid to link of themselves as “driven” by sexual or aggressive impulses. But in the end, even if fearful, people want to explore their sexual and aggressive dimensions; hence, the evocative power and popular appeal of psychoanalytic ideas. Similarly, although fearful, peo
ple want to find a way to think about what they experience as the machine aspect of their natures; this is at the heart of the computer’s holding power. Thinking about the self as a machine includes the feeling of being “run” from the outside, out of control because in the control of something beyond the self. Exploring the parts of ourselves that we do not feel in control of is a way to begin to own them, a way to feel more whole. 

To extrapolate from this analysis: We like to think about artificial intelligence because we want to vicariously experience the subjectivity of a machine and enjoy, for that time, the idea of being a machine, of not being individually responsible for our actions or their consequences, and to thereby enjoy simply what we are “made” to do. In other words, it is a submissive fantasy of being made into a robot and having to obey orders. It is a way of eroticizing the experience of a loss of agency. That reminds me a lot of the “machine zone” of video-gambling addiction, where fate is mastered by total surrender to it and to the rhythms and determinations of the gaming machine. It feels good because there is only one way to lose, and it is inevitable.

Again, this analysis needs to be adjusted to accommodate the experience of using networked computers, which calibrate our experience of agency with a sense of connectivity and dependence, a sense of inescapable intersubjectivity in which we are always in the midst of thinking with a group. Often in these cases, the lost sense of agency may be a concrete signal of social belonging, a reassurance that one has been permitted to participate in a collective subjectivity. Not only might our self be made up of myriad biological programs running within our brain, producing consciousness as a kind of epiphenomenon, but those programs are interacting with the programs of other brains and are being coordinated beyond our understanding. We are one small machine running a subroutine in an emerging consciousness that is and isn’t our own.

Trying to vicariously experience machine-hood then becomes a way to try to imagine consciousness beyond individualist atomization. Thinking like a machine becomes a matter of thinking unselfishly rather than thinking without feeling.   

Last week a flatbed truck in Oregon overturned and released 3400 kilograms of live hagfish on the highway and nearby cars….


Last week a flatbed truck in Oregon overturned and released 3400 kilograms of live hagfish on the highway and nearby cars. Hagfish are eel-like fish known for their impressive slime production. When threatened, the hagfish produce mucins that, when combined with water, form an extremely viscoelastic mucus. As it’s stretched, the mucus thickens and becomes more viscous. Normally, hagfish use this property to clog the gills of fish trying to eat them. The slime is weak, however, to shearing; hagfish actually tie themselves in knots to slide the slime off when there’s too much of it. The Oregon Department of Transportation managed to clear the road of mucus (and hagfish) using bulldozers and fire hoses, but it did take them several hours. For more photos and videos from the incident, check out Gizmodo and the Oregon State Police Twitter feed. (Image credit: Oregon State Police; via Gizmodo)

Murdered but Undefeated

Medium, Wu'er Kaixi, Liu Xiaobo, China, Tiananmen Square, 1989, 2017

Liu Xiaobo, who has died after eight years in jail, despite being awarded a Nobel Peace Prize, was a complex human being, but he was bold, an intellectual, and in China he was a threat because he understood that civil society can organize against corruption and autocracy. Beijing released him from jail, not for the medical treatment he deserved, but simply to die. In other words, he was murdered by a murderous regime. It is time for the world to ask itself, are we accomplices, do we appease this, or do we stand up against so-called Chinese values?

via https://medium.com/@wuerkaixi/murdered-betrayed-but-unconquered–5a6dc3c04ccb

This space and time peculiar to the image is none other than the world of magic, a world in which everything is repeated and in…

“This space and time peculiar to the image is none other than the world of magic, a world in which everything is repeated and in which everything participates in a significant context. Such a world is structurally different from that of the linear world of history in which nothing is repeated and in which everything has causes and will have consequences […] The significance of images is magical.”

Towards a Philosophy of Photography

Vilém Flusser 


Massive Change — 10 Provocations for the Next 10 years of Social Innovation.

Medium, social innovation, scale, challenges, Indy Johar, 2017

The last ten years have been an important, formative period for the revival of social innovation, we have seen a new generation of actors contribute to the renewal of our societal goods. The work of the Young Foundation, Nesta, McConnell foundation, MaRS, Big Society Capital, SIX, TACSI, Impact Hubs and too many others to mention have been critical in seeding this question and driving its renewal globally.

Much of the work, has been focused on prototyping, understanding where the opportunity for change is and testing out micro additions or addressing edge failures in the welfare model — be it public, private or civic. Modest beginnings, and rightly so. Thereby, the work to date has largely been limited to relatively small scale interventions — tinkering & fixing at the very edges – the so called market or public service delivery failings ( social innovation projects to date have been driven largely by black swan procurement). Simultaneously and slowly over that period the sector has become stuck in the hope that “a theory of scale and impact” borrowed from the VC world and the Silicon Valley start-up landscape would be its structured salvation to societal impact.

This is not to decry an age of testing and discovery but it is also important to collectively recognise we have not gone after and meaningfully challenged mainstream social institutional infrastructure and its associated outcomes — which absorbs not just 100,000s of pounds through, but in the orders of Billions. As a community we have also failed to move any significant chunk of resource that the government allocates to military, technology or business innovation, into social innovation and the everyday services and social structures we most rely on.

via https://provocations.darkmatterlabs.org/massive-change–10-provocations-for-the-next–10-years-of-social-innovation-df4756ed8629

The Gadget that Makes DNA Sequencing Child’s Play

Medium, DNA, sequencing, DIYBio, MinION, 2017, nanopores

The MinION costs $1,000 and is the size of a candy bar. It connects to a laptop computer’s USB port. To have it read a DNA sample, you use a micropipette to drop a “DNA library” (more on that in a minute) through a millimeter-sized opening on the MinION. Inside the device are nanopores, cones just over a billionth of a meter wide, placed in a membrane. A steady ion current flows through these nanopores. Since each nucleotide (A, T, C or G) has a unique molecular makeup, each one is shaped a little differently. The unique shape passing through the pore interrupts the ion current in a specific way. Just as we can infer a shape by analyzing its shadow on a wall, we can infer a nucleotide’s identity from the disturbances it causes to the ion current. This is how the device converts bases to bits that stream into a computer.

via https://medium.com/neodotlife/nanopore–6443c81d76d3?source=ifttt————–1

Midimutant: a system that programs synths by artificial evolution

midimutant, foam, aphex-twin, genetic-programming, artificial-evolution, automation, TX7, music

It can be really boring trying to program new sounds on complicated synthesizers. So why not get a computer to do it for you? By a process of what FoAM are calling artificial evolution, the Midimutant can grow new sounds on hardware synthesizers based on your starting sound. Midimutant. Developed, apparently, with Aphex Twin, the video below shows the Midimutant generating sounds on a Yamaha TX7. Something no one in their right mind would want to spend time programming.

via https://www.gearnews.com/midimutant-system-programs-synths-artificial-evolution/

How The ‘Afghan Cameleer’ Campaign Accidentally Hides Diversity

New-Matilda, Aussie, history, Australia, Pashtun, Afghan, Baloch, camels, cameleers, British-Raj

the word Afghan is used in a contemporary sense to refer to someone from Afghanistan. However, this has not always been the case. For hundreds of years, Afghan as a term was primarily used by Persian speakers to describe another ethnic community, known as the Pashtuns (also called the Pakhtuns and Pathans). In the twenty-first century, the Pashtuns made up the largest ethnic group in Afghanistan, yet more Pashtuns live in Pakistan, particularly in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, the North Western province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Karachi. The reason I provide this background is because the Pashtuns along with the Baloch (another ethnic group found in South Asia and Iran), probably played the most significant role in non-Aboriginal explorations of the Australian outback in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, as cameleers. For example, the most famous cameleer, Bejah Dervish, was a Baloch.

via https://newmatilda.com/2016/06/13/how-the-afghan-cameleer-campaign-accidentally-hides-diversity/

Our cosmic environment could be richly textured, but on scales so vast that our purview is restricted to a tiny fragment; we’re…

“Our cosmic environment could be richly textured, but on scales so vast that our purview is restricted to a tiny fragment; we’re not aware of the ‘big picture’, any more than a plankton whose‘universe’ was a liter of water would be aware of the world’s topography and biosphere. It is obviously sensible for cosmologists to start off by exploring the simplest models. But there is no more reason to expect simplicity on the grandest scale than in the terrestrial environment—where intricate complexity prevails.”

Martin Rees

“There is a fundamental reason why we look at the sky with wonder and longing—for the same reason that we stand, hour after…


“There is a fundamental reason why we look at the sky with wonder and longing—for the same reason that we stand, hour after hour, gazing at the distant swell of the open ocean.

There is something like an ancient wisdom, encoded and tucked away in our DNA, that knows its point of origin as surely as a salmonid knows its creek. Intellectually, we may not want to return there, but the genes know, and long for their origins—their home in the salty depths.

But if the seas are our immediate source, the penultimate source is certainly the heavens… The spectacular truth is—and this is something that your DNA has known all along—the very atoms of your body—the iron, calcium, phosphorus, carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, and on and on—were initially forged in long-dead stars.

This is why, when you stand outside under a moonless, country sky, you feel some ineffable tugging at your innards. We are star stuff. Keep looking up.”

―Gerald D. Waxman, a distinguished and enormously popular professor of astronomy and environmental science. From his book, Astronomical Tidbits: A Layperson’s Guide to Astronomy, (Authorhouse, 2010).

Pictured: Vincent van Gogh,  Starry Night Over the Rhône, 1888

GRAVITY: a scalable infrastructure for the crypto-economy

Medium, Gravity, ethereum, world computer, distributed systems, Economic Space Agency

Value production is inherently networked. Therefore, in order to thrive, it needs an architecture as granular, scalable, and flexible as possible in order to accommodate the kinds of diverse applications and interactions that will, in turn, support its self-organization. Here at the Economic Space Agency, we want to build an ecosystem in which everyone can launch and participate in crowdsales, and exchange tokens without breaking the network. For these reasons we are building GRAVITY: a new common infrastructure for the crypto-economy. As mentioned in our previous post, GRAVITY is an open source, general purpose computing fabric based on an object-capability paradigm. The logical decentralization that this affords introduces important innovations in terms of scalability and speed, and also the possibility to host on-chain solutions for multi-blockchain integration.

via https://medium.com/@ecsa_team/gravity-a-scalable-infrastructure-for-the-crypto-economy-f653ca73b881

Third Thumb: an opposable prosthetic enhancement


Designer Dani Clode’s Third Thumb is a 3D printed robotic prosthetic thumb that goes on the pinky side of your hand, created a motorized, opposable additional thumb that you can use to play the guitar, pick up objects, or crack an egg.

Clode proposes that her thumb can be styled as a piece of jewelry or as a tool, depending on the materials used and the system’s programming.


“When a whale dies, it becomes a rotting feast for birds and sharks. If it ever happens to reach shore, it’ll likely be in…

whale, whale heart, plastination, preservation

“When a whale dies, it becomes a rotting feast for birds and sharks. If it ever happens to reach shore, it’ll likely be in terrible shape. Lucky for mammalogy technicians at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, a blue whale that washed up in Newfoundland in 2014 was in good enough condition that they were able to preserve its 440-pound ticker. “Its sheer size alone accelerates decomposition, so it’s remarkable we got to salvage a heart,” says Jacqueline Miller, who led the first-of-its-kind preservation effort. It recently went on display, and Miller gave us a deep dive into how to plastinate a leviathan organ.”

(via https://www.wired.com/story/how-scientists-preserved-a-440-pound-blue-whale-heart)

Time travel is time research

Medium, Long Now, James Gleick, time, time travel, futures, history

“We’re still trying to figure out what time is,” Gleick said. Time travel stories apparently help us. The inventor of the time machine in Wells’s book explains archly that time is merely a fourth dimension. Ten years later in 1905 Albert Einstein made that statement real. In 1941 Jorge Luis Borges wrote the celebrated short story, “The Garden of Forking Paths.” In 1955 physicist Hugh Everett introduced the quantum-based idea of forking universes, which itself has become a staple of science fiction.

“Time,” Richard Feynman once joked, “is what happens when nothing else happens.” Gleick suggests, “Things change, and time is how we keep track.” Virginia Woolf wrote, “What more terrifying revelation can there be than that it is the present moment? That we survive the shock at all is only possible because the past shelters us on one side, the future on another.”

“Enjoy the present. Don’t waste your brain cells agonizing about lost opportunities or worrying about what the future will bring. As I was working on the book I suddenly realized that that’s terrible advice. A potted plant lives in the now. The idea of the ‘long now’ embraces the past and the future and asks us to think about the whole stretch of time. That’s what I think time travel is good for. That’s what makes us human — the ability to live in the past and live in the future at the same time.”

via https://medium.com/the-long-now-foundation/time-travel-is-time-research–6f3248fef6b0

The Stelvio Pass in northern Italy is the highest paved roadway in the Eastern Alps, with an elevation of 2,757 meters (9,045…


The Stelvio Pass in northern Italy is the highest paved roadway in the Eastern Alps, with an elevation of 2,757 meters (9,045 feet) above sea level. Only accessible in the summer months, the road and its 75 hairpin turns are sometimes scaled during the famous Giro d’Italia cycling race.

46.528611°, 10.452777°

Instagram: http://bit.ly/2up6Gfm

Source Imagery: DigitalGlobe

“The video, called “Alternative Face v1.1”, is the work of Mario Klingemann, a German artist. It plays audio from an NBC…

GAN, Mario Klingemann, ML, AI, News, Fake News, media, 2017

video link

“The video, called “Alternative Face v1.1”, is the work of Mario Klingemann, a German artist. It plays audio from an NBC interview with Ms Conway through the mouth of Ms Hardy’s digital ghost. The video is wobbly and pixelated; a competent visual-effects shop could do much better. But Mr Klingemann did not fiddle with editing software to make it. Instead, he took only a few days to create the clip on a desktop computer using a generative adversarial network (GAN), a type of machine-learning algorithm. His computer spat it out automatically after being force fed old music videos of Ms Hardy. It is a recording of something that never happened.”

The solar-powered tech that generates water out of desert air

Medium, water, desert, solarpunk

It might seem counter-intuitive, but Coleridge’s famous line from the Ancient Mariner could also apply to the desert. Even in some of the driest places on earth, the air holds thousands of litres of fresh water that have remained tantalisingly inaccessible. Until now. Scientists at MIT and the University of California at Berkeley have created a device that can suck water from the air. Even better: it’s solar-powered. So, even in the most remote, arid deserts it can harvest drinking water from the atmosphere.

via https://medium.com/world-economic-forum/the-solar-powered-tech-that-generates-water-out-of-desert-air–1587851da487

Can speculative evidence inform decision making?

Medium, Anab Jain, futures, decision making, choice, uncertainty, evidence, speculation, data, 2017, Superflux

Over at Superflux, our work investigating potential and plausible futures, involves extensively scanning for trends and signals from which we trace and extrapolate into the future. Both qualitative and quantitative data play an important role. In doing such work, we have observed how data is often used as evidence, and seen as definitive. Historical and contemporary datasets are often used as evidence for a mandate for future change, especially in some of the work we have undertaken with governments and policy makers. But lately we have been thinking if this drive for data as evidence has led to the unshakeable belief that data is evidence.

via https://medium.com/@anabjain/can-speculative-evidence-inform-decision-making–6f7d398d201f

As I get older I tend not to get less cynical about things but to move judgment from individuals to systems. And just about…

judgment, systems, oppression, choice, culture

“As I get older I tend not to get less cynical about things but to move judgment from individuals to systems. And just about every time that I’ve made some sort of judgment on the integrity of people, individually or in groups, I later find that in fact those people are just trapped in systems or cultures that they didn’t create and which narrow and dictate their choices in unhealthy directions.”

Freddie deBoer