Imaging Dolphin Language

Using high definition audio recordings of dolphins, the research team, headed by English acoustics engineer, John Stuart Reid, and Florida-based dolphin researcher, Jack Kassewitz, has been able to image, for the first time, the imprint that a dolphin sound makes in water.   They call it CymaScope and say it reveals detailed structures within sounds, allowing their architecture to be studied pictorially.The resulting "CymaGlyphs," as they have been named, are reproducible patterns that are expected to form the basis of a lexicon of dolphin language, each pattern representing a dolphin ‘picture word.’ (reuters)

CBC interviews Clay Shirky

This week on Spark, a feature interview with Clay Shirky, author of Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations. Clay and Nora talk about the pros and cons of social media, new online business models online, and how big change comes from human motivation, not shiny new technologies. (

Download the podcast here (.mp3)


This is what I want for Christmas. Talk about old-skool drum machines!

In the early days of silent motion pictures, it was realised that background music had a great influence on the audience. Before movies had sound, many picture theatres had special ‘player pianos’ to reproduce music mechanically from piano rolls. The music was meant to accentuate the mood of the film. Some player pianos were elaborately extended, with pipe organs and sound effects installed in adjacent side-cabinets, so that the accompanist could create sounds to match the action on the screen. Several of these mechanical music makers — called photoplayers – were produced and the Fotoplayer brand was one of the most popular. Fotoplayer was a trade name used by the American Photo Player Company. From a location in the front stalls or orchestra pit, the operator of a Fotoplayer would follow the action on the screen while pulling cords and pushing buttons to make sounds that brought ‘life’ to the film. The cords activated such dramatic sound effects as a pistol shot, steamboat whistle, bird chirp, cymbal crash, bass drum and wind, while the buttons activated thunder, the horse trot, telephone bell, Klaxon horn, and other strange noises. The Fotoplayer, it can be truly said, comes with bells and whistles! And all this before electronics. (


Not sure about the voice over, but this is actually a pretty great project. I imagine there will be a kind of tipping-point with RFID-reader ubiquity, after which using the Internet of Things will become commonplace.

8:40 am – you’re getting ready to leave home. On your desk, next to your computer, a halo of light is quietly pulsating. You swiftly flash your car keys at this mysterious device. A voice speaks out: “today, rain 14°C”. The voice continues: “you will get there in 15 minutes”. Your computer screen displays an image from the webcam located along the route you’re planning to travel, while the voice reads out your horoscope for the day. At the same moment, your friends can see your social network profile update to “It’s 8:40, I’m leaving the house”. At the office, your favourite colleague receives an email to say that you won’t be long. And finally, just as you walk through the door, your computer locks.

You personally “scripted” this morning’s scenario: you decided to give your car keys all these powers, because the time you pick them up signals the fact you’re soon going to leave the house.

What if you could obtain information, access services, communicate with the world, play or have fun just by showing things to a mirror, a Mir:ror which, as if by magic, could make all your everyday objects come alive, and connect them to the Internet’s endless wealth of possibilities?

Mir:ror is as simple to use as looking in the mirror – it gives access to information or triggers actions with disarming ease: simply place an object near to its surface. Mir:ror is a power conferred upon each of us to easily program the most ordinary of objects. The revolution of the Internet of Things suddenly becomes a simple, obvious, daily reality that’s within anyone’s reach.

Enter the Mir:ror. (

Pirates of the Amazon


Some creep just sent a legal threat to the lab where I work because a student bittorrented some software for research. Which is one reason why I was so happy to hear about this project (which, it turns out, was itself threatened and taken down by another legal department only one day after launch). 

Last week, two M.A. students from the Piet Zwart Institute went live with the Firefox Application Pirates of the Amazon which placed a "Download 4 Free" link on top of Amazon product pages directing users to .torrent tracker files for the item from the Pirate Bay. The project was intended as a parodic commentary on e-commerce and the distribution of information and products online. After one day of activity, Amazon sent a legal notice requesting that they take it down, and the students complied. Even with this retraction, Pirates of the Amazon received a vehemently oppositional reaction when blogged on digg and CNET, and now the students are using the original project website to document these discussions. According to a recent post to the mailing list nettime, professor Florian Cramer and open source programmer Jaromil, who supervised the project, are seeking statements of support for Pirates of the Amazon. While legal action will not be taken against the students, Cramer and Jaromil want to enlist support in the face of the conservative tone found on the digg and CNET threads. Considering how much labor, outreach, and discussion has occurred around issues of copyright and the distribution of information over the past few years, the comments (which range from "That’s just evil" to "Oh for god sakes can crooks be any more pathetic") are difficult to believe. If anything, they signal the need for more work to be done in the fight for free culture. For those who would like to submit a statement of support, contact mail [AT] (