Archive for April, 2009

Hifi Soundmuseum

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

Last night I saw in conversation with , a birthday present from my wife, who has been trying to get us to a Laurie Anderson concert for a couple years, but scheduling didn’t work out. This was probably better than a concert, both because I haven’t paid much attention to Anderson’s recent work and what clips of it I’ve seen I haven’t been thrilled with (though I’ll always be a fan because her music is the second that grabbed me as not only enjoyable but somehow special) and because she’s a very engaging story teller without any help from music.

It was fun to hear of her interactions with (as his “straight woman”), (received advice and flowers when she ran for class president during his temporary dictator campaign), and (via his bible, lent from a friend who bought it at auction), among others.

There was of course lots of discussion about music and technology, thankfully 100% actually about music and technology, not the mislabeled and tired conversation that goes by the same name (Anderson did make a passing reference to the imploding music recording industry, but only to say that it is great that the focus has shifted back to live music — on that note Anderson said she likes seeing noise and improv music, which means she has great taste — it’s always disappointing to learn that a fine artist is into dreck, and heartening to learn the opposite).

When asked to predict what music would be like in 2021 (I think the significance of the date was that she had supposedly last been “here” 12 years ago, which sounds really unlikely if “here” meant San Francisco — I saw her twice around then, at SFMOMA and the Other Minds festival, but surely she has been back since), given technology changes, Anderson mentioned “Hi Fi” and sound museums, both of which seemed really curious because they seemed like throwbacks and also not mass market. Of course why should they be? Effectively she meant the same thing by both — taking advantage of technology and space to do much more with sound than is possible with mp3s and earbuds (or an audiophile stereo system for that matter). As an example, she’s currently working on a “sound forest” installation in Basel.

Despite being known as a multimedia artist, Anderson is clearly not enamored with technology per se. On the other hand, the solution is more technology — she is sick of being a “protools serf” (referring to the program’s workings, not its non-freedom), so she’s supposedly working with programmers on something simpler, and looks forward to something the size of a mobile device replacing all of her performance gear.

One question concerned why NYC had an especially fertile arts scene in the 1970s (her bio in the program mentioned that she wrote an article for Britannica on — how quaint) — she said that it was supported by a culture that celebrated poverty (or rather prioritized making art or just about anything else over career) coming out of the 1960s. Doesn’t explain why NYC, but curious nonetheless. What if were as plentiful today as hippies were back then?

Wikipedians against kryptonite

Monday, April 13th, 2009


As mentioned previously incompatible widely used copyleft licenses are kryptonite to the efficacy of copyleft. If you’ve made 25 or more edits* to a Wikimedia project, you can vote to liberate Wikipedia from this kryptonite. Vote now, instructions and much more background on the Creative Commons blog.


Original poster by Brianna Laugher / CC BY

* My favorite interview question for any position at Creative Commons goes something like “tell me about your experiences with editing Wikipedia” which serves the dual purposes of testing whether the candidate knows how to use a computer (you’d be surprised) and has any practical clue about the types of collaboration Creative Commons’ work facilitates.

Visualizing density of places I’ve lived in 256x256px Open Street Maps

Saturday, April 11th, 2009

I enjoyed Tim Lee’s post contrasting the density of various places he’s lived, so I’m reproducing the same for me below. I’ve used the same scale, but the maps are from , a very cool and good project that I hope to contribute to, or at least use and write about, more in the near future.

Knox Knolls (62704), an early (built 1960s?) subdivision on the west side of Springfield, Illinois:

EastWest of the UIUC campus (68120), mostly student housing in Champaign, Illinois:

Sort-of (a block north would be definite) Hayes Valley (94102), mostly subdivided victorians and some later apartment buildings in San Francisco, California:

Lower Haight (94117), commercial hipster and crack addict district (94117) a few blocks southwest of previous in San Francisco, California:

Far eastern block of the Castro (94114) before becoming the Mission, mostly subdivided victorians and some later apartment buildings in San Francisco, California:

West of a small Silicon Valley downtown (94086), mix of single family and apartment buildings in Sunnyvale, California:

College Park (95126), mix of single family style homes, some subdivided, many turned into “compounds” with smaller units on same lot, west of downtown San Jose, California:

Western SOMA (94103), almost all multi-unit buildings in San Francisco:

Golden Gate district (94608), mostly subdivided victorians and later, some later apartment buildings in Oakland, California:

Unsurprisingly the second to last is probably my favorite location so far, though I’d prefer much higher density. I also wouldn’t mind more contrast, as Tim Lee’s post exhibits, and I’m sadly lacking non-U.S. locations (unless one counts a few months in Minabe, Japan, which isn’t covered well by OpenStreetMap yet).

Conveniently I seem to have lived nine places, making for a nice square:

Actually I omitted at least three — one or two places in Collinsville, Illinois and one in Springfield that I don’t remember at all (we moved to the first mapped above when I was three) and a dorm in Champaign, Illinois only a few blocks from the mapped location above.

I hope some other people in my feeds create posts like this for my eyes to enjoy. Jon Phillips‘, for example, would have some great contrasts I bet.