How is an IRC channel like a Caribbean street-corner?

My friend Biella, a tireless EFF volunteer who's also finishing a PhD in anthropology, studying hacker culture, has posted a really gnarly paper that she presented at the Digital Genres conference. The paper posits that IRC channels and Caribbean street-corners share a lot of conversational and behavioral norms, and are driven by much the same impetus. (The meaty stuff about IRC starts about halfway down -- search for "IRC and Caribbean" in the page).
IRC and Caribbean street talk, both a result of diasporic realities, are public spaces in which clever word play, performance, and stream of consciousness conversation predominate. In the Caribbean, the Diaspora was a historical moment in time that brought disparate peoples together as slaves and indentured laboreres. Forced over across the Atlantic with materially nothing, cultural elements were revived and refashioned though such avenues as music, language, food, and religion to produce the dynamic character that now stamps Caribbean culture. Language and linguistic word play became an important element given the constraints on bodies, spatial movement, and time that slavery forced upon people

The Caribbean man-of-words currently inhabits various public spaces such as the street corner, the town square, and the corner store both in the Caribbean and in transplanted communities in North America Street talk is a richly complex social and linguistic site for entertainment, performance, the fabrication of legends, the cementing of friendships, for learning and expressing masculine codes of behavior, building reputation, and for making and unmaking political and economic alliances (Abrahams 1983; Wilson 1973). Talk and creative word play are king in spaces where men casually drop in and out throughout the day, mixing gaming with very public loud group conversations with quieter more private conversations that might take place "off to the side." Personal gossip mixes freely with meta-commentary while talk beholds and enfolds a range of tones, emotions, and topics. Play mixes alongside work and argument as business and political deals are informally fleshed out. Found both in rural and urban settings one neighborhood might hold a number of competing public zones for street talk. Sometimes sweet, sometimes grotesquely humorous, and other times spiteful, play and cleverness that often borders on the fantastical mark this form of talk. Not particularly "emotionally supportive" or grounded in much else but talk, its authenticity as a real space for social life would never be questioned.

Link Discuss (via JOHO the Blog)

Theme park of the chariots of the Gods

The author of "Chariots of the Gods" has opened a theme-park in Switzerland. The park explores lots of woo-woo beliefs rendered in severe Swiss architecture, connected by tunnels.
The park is divided into seven themed pavilions:

Vimana -- space shuttles for ancient Indians.

Orient -- the construction of the great Cheops Pyramid.

Maya -- a tribe of ingenious astronomers.

MegaStones -- Stonehenge, a time machine for high priests.

Contact -- initial contact, culture shock or inspiration?

Nazca -- pictograms for the gods.

Challenge -- are we alone in the universe?

Link Discuss (Thanks, Henry!)

Brazilian swarm-muggers

Brazilian crooks are using stolen cellphones to coordinate the actions of underage crooks and create dead-end double-blinds that can't be traced by the cops. The crooks recruit a roper and hand him a parcel of stolen mobiles; then the roper recruits a gang of children and distributes the phones to them. The crook finds a target -- a tourist in a hotel -- and calls his roper, who deploys the children to swarm the tourist and rip him off, and then uses the cellphone to arrange for a dead-drop for the loot. If a kid is caught, he can only point to the roper; the roper only has a bogus cellphone number for the crook -- everyone gets off scott-free.
Xenky's sources say that similar uses of "swarm" architectures are becoming more common in online Web attacks, forming meeting times and exact locations for terrorists, and arranging narcotics transfers.

Law enforcement organizations in Brazil and elsewhere are facing more "social" crime that is enabled by wireless devices, network connections, and a highly-distributed approach to planning, executing, and sharing the "loot" from a crime.

Link Discuss (via Smart Mobs)

Welcome to our guest-guest-guestblogger!

Take a close look at Karen Marcelo's BoingBoing guestbar hijinks. Macki of just invented the nanoblog.

Matthew Barney vs. Donkey Kong: Cremaster deconstructed

In this month's Game Girl Advance feature, Wayne Bremser compares the plotlines, aesthetics, and characters of Donkey Kong with those of the Matthew Barney film Cremaster 3.
Donkey Kong's myth of a man fighting a giant ape on a skyscraper has its origin in the King Kong films. After being captured in the jungle and brought to the city by greedy men, the largest ape in the world climbs the tallest building in New York where he fights humans to the death. Cremaster 3 is based on the Masonic myth of Hiram Abiff, the architect of Solomon's Temple. Barney uses the Chrysler Building as a character to play the temple.

The construction worker Mario moves in pursuit of Pauline, while Barney's construction worker, the Entered Apprentice, climbs in pursuit of the architect, Hiram Abiff. Both workers are presented with a single facial expression, no dialogue and no significant character development except their determination to move ever upwards.

Link, Discuss (via Gawker)

A lazyweb with money

Paul Spinrad sez, "This 'Peer-Enforced Marketplace for New Ideas' lets people share and sell any quickly-describable ideas they come up with, while also protecting them with a combined legal, technical, and social infrastructure that's described in the site's FAQ. This is an experiment I've been working on for a while now, and I'm thrilled to pieces that it's finally ready to show!"
How does it work?

Read the contracts. There are two kinds of ideas on this site, Public and Private. Anyone can read the Public ideas-- they're just here because their authors want to put them out into the world. The Private ideas are accessible only to people signed in as members of the site, who may register free of charge, provided that they agree with all the contracts' terms. Members using the site can discuss any idea among themselves, and also see which other members have read the idea, and when. Furthermore, all members have a financial incentive to rat on any other member who has used and profited from idea taken from the site without its owners' consent, or who has leaked the idea directly or indirectly to someone who has done so.

The financial incentive is that any "bounty hunter" member who demonstrates a stolen idea's path from another member's reading it to its unauthorized use should split the proceeds of any resulting settlement with the idea's owner. Read the legal language here. The ideas posted on this site are inexpensive, and if you're interested in using one of them, you're better off if you come clean, pay for it out of petty cash, and give credit where credit is due, rather than having to watch your back and worry about all the bits of evidence you constantly leave as you browse through this site and communicate with others in violation of the contracts.

Link Discuss (Thanks, Paul!)

Comic-book grunts

The Unh project: colleted comic-panels with "guttural moans." Link Discuss (via The Adventures of AccordionGuy in the Twenty-First Century)

Star Wars Kid Strikes Back: sues those who put fan-video online

Adam sez:
The french-canadian Star Wars kid is suing the people who originally put his video on the net. It's unclear if he and his family decided to proceed or were approached by the lawyer trying to make some fast money. Many of the folks who contributed to his iPod fund are requesting refunds.
Link, Discuss


My friend Dave Thau, who used to work for The All Species Inventory, has been building an neat site about ants, called AntWeb. Link Discuss

Fired by SMS

British Amulet Group fired 2,500 employees via SMS today:
The message said, in part, "you are being made redundant with immediate effect".
Link Discuss

Immortality gene pinpointed, named after Network Operators Group

Researchers at the Institute for Stem Cell Research in Scotland have discovered a gene that turns ordinary cells into immortal stem-cells.
The gene found in mouse ESCs and some human equivalents appears to be the "master gene", co-ordinating other genes to allow stem cells to multiply limitlessly while still retaining their ability to differentiate. It has been christened Nanog after the land in Celtic myth called Tir nan Og, whose inhabitants remain forever young.

"Nanog seems to be a master gene that makes ESCs grow in the laboratory," says Ian Chambers, one of the team at the Institute for Stem Cell Research (ISCR), Edinburgh, Scotland. "In effect this makes stem cells immortal."

Link Discuss

Photos, Audio, Video: Clearchannel protests in SF

Lisa Rein points us to a gallery of video, audio, and stills on her blog from the protests in SF yesterday -- and says:
The one thing that stood out to me was the point people kept making that Clear Channel is already abusing existing regulations. Why on earth would the FCC ever relax them further when Clear Channel doesn't even respect them now? So the problem is not only what could happen if these rules are further relaxed. The problem exists now, with the rules the way they are. Clear Channel owns nine stations in the SF Bay Area market, for example, while the legal limit is eight.
Link Discuss

Photos: FCC/Clear Channel protest @ KFI in Los Angeles

Pho list co-founder John Parres points us to this online gallery of photos from yesterday's ClearChannel/FCC protests outside the offices of KFI AM 640 radio in Los Angeles. JP writes:
I went to the FCC media consolidation protest at KFI today. The Code Pink ladies were in full effect - some of whom appeared to be ex-Brown '92 alums in additon to a smattering of Heal The Bay'ers, supporters of Dennis Kucinich... The Kill Radio Black Bloc'r chick easily earned best slogan for the "Fuck Clear Channel" t-shirt. Besides the attempt to present a pink slip (in the garment sense) to the CEO of KFI, my favorite moment hands down was when one Code Pinker called out to the crowd and suggested that the protesters march around the block to the Dixie Chicks "Because they were right!" And in the photos I took you will see she is not holding the commercial album but instead a burnt CD-R! The march was a little scattered and fuzzy as they set forth but after rounding the block on Wilshire everyone hit their stride in unison:

"Who's airwaves are they?" "OURS!"

Link, Discuss

Web Zen: Translator

Bonus: Eric reminds us of the pornolizer. Yum.
Link, Discuss, (Thanks, Frank)

Damn, the Mills Brothers rock

I've been really digging the Mills Brothers lately. They're a vocal jazz group whose heyday was the 30s to the 50s, and they do a mix of uptempo originals and classic novelty tunes of the day. I'm particularily fond of "How'm I Doin', Hey-Hey," which is full of joyous tweeting and nose-trumpeting and other fun, high-speed noises. There're three Mills Brothers discs available on eMusic -- if you don't have a subscription, you can probably still download must of their tracks through a free trial. The link below goes to a swell little photo-history of the Mills Brothers. Link Discuss