The Trons

The Trons are an all-robot band, composed of little machines named Ham, Wiggy, Swamp and FiFi. They have a MySpace page and play gigs in their native New Zealand. Here’s a poster featuring them from an upcoming show:

trons

Magnetic Movie

Naturally, magnetic fields are invisible, but the scientists from Space Sciences Laboratory at NASA have made animated photographs to make them visible. To create this, they use 3D compositing along with sound-controlled CGI, that make the fields dance in an “absolutely gorgeous movie”, called the Magnetic Movie. (devicedaily.com)

Via Architectradure

Chaotic Communities

Some early findings on running a global ARG are coming in from Lost Ring puppetmaster Jane McGonigal. If this thesis statement grabs you, then read the full article on designing and playing in “chaotic communities” here:

…in videogames, sandbox mode is an intensely personal style of gameplay, and if you’re the player, you don’t have to worry about other players arguing with you about the experience you decide to create for yourself. Even if you’re playing online, the virtual world is big enough that other players will leave you alone to play however you want. But in ARGs, because gameplay is often so collaborative, and there’s supposed to be very little experience that a player can have alone, sandbox mode can create interesting — and sometimes contentious — intersections of personal gameplay style. That’s because some players might be building an elaborate sand castle, and other players might be racing through the box to make supercrazy tunnels, and other players might just want to squish the sand between their toes. And when your castle meets my tunnel and their toes, well it takes a bit of paying attention to let everyone have their fun. (avant game)

Taking the Cure

I shot a (still-unfinished) documentary a few years back about the Doukhobors of British Columbia, and am always happy to find new articles about their fascinating place in Canadian and Russian history. Here’s one about Aleksandr Yakovlev from the June ’08 issue of The Walrus:

It stands as one of the more unusual turning points of the Cold War, thanks mostly to the surprise appearance of several naked middle-aged women. It began with a plasterer named Peter Voykin driving his 1970 Ford Meteor toward the local community centre in Castlegar, in the Kootenay mountains of southeastern British Columbia, on the Saturday before Victoria Day in 1980. As a Doukhobor, a member of a sect of Christian anarchists who settled in the Kootenays after fleeing Russia in the 1890s, Voykin was a vegetarian and a pacifist who championed an ethic of communal living and sharing.

For most of the previous four decades, the Doukhobors had been harassed by a zealous splinter group, the Sons of Freedom, which had mastered several idiosyncratic refinements to the art of the political protest, including placard-and chant-filled parades in which many demonstrated without clothes. To punctuate these naked parades, the Freedomites also employed arson and firebombing, often targeting community centres and homes belonging to the main group of “orthodox” Doukhobors.

The latest issue in this version of the Hatfield-McCoy feud was the Doukhobors’ newly forged ties with Russia, a response to their creeping cultural assimilation after almost a century in Canada. The orthodox group was investigating the possibility of a mass migration to their homeland, and to help establish the necessary ties they had invited the highest-ranking member of the Soviet Union in Canada, Ambassador Aleksandr N. Yakovlev, to Castlegar, to attend the annual youth festival, the highlight of the Doukhobor calendar.

On the Saturday in question, Voykin was driving Yakovlev to the opening of the festival. They were heading for the peninsula where the Kootenay River meets the Columbia, the site of the local community centre, when Voykin spied something he’d hoped not to see: a small group of Freedomite protesters. As soon as they saw the car, they held up signs accusing the orthodox Doukhobors of ties with the kgb. Other placards told Ambassador Yakovlev to go back to Ottawa. Half a dozen of the elder women were stark naked. (Walrus Magazine)

H/T: lutherandjohnny

ACTA Draft Leak

Cory Doctorow continues his efforts to sound the alarm about the threat posed by the panicking entertainment industry’s overreaching copyright treaty initiatives:

Wikileaks has the full text of the dread Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, a draft treaty that does away with those pesky public trade-negotiations at the United Nations (with participation from citizens’ groups and public interest groups) in favor of secret, closed-door meetings where entertainment industry giants get to give marching orders to governments in private.

It’s some pretty crazy reading — among other things, ACTA will outlaw P2P (even when used to share works that are legally available, like my books), and crack down on things like region-free DVD players. All of this is taking place out of the public eye, presumably with the intention of presenting it as a fait accompli just as the ink is drying on the treaty.

Honestly, it’s becoming clearer and clearer that the entertainment industry is an existential threat to the idea of free speech, open tools, and an open communications network. (Boing Boing)

School For Corn

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The school is set up on ten tabletops with different learning stations, with the corn seeds learning through audio speakers as well as by the use of electric fans behind a row of books, which carry knowledge through the air like pollen. In this program of accelerated learning, the individual kernel is not expected to learn everything — the species as a whole will absorb the knowledge collectively. The variety of knowledge bases is hoped to heighten the corn’s wisdom, especially since despite their enormous acquisition of knowledge, humans have acquired so little wisdom. (WMMNA)