Book Five of King's Dark Tower is out

I've been addicted to Stephen King's Gunslinger books since I was about 17. They're long, tense, gripping tales, filled with enough po-mo weirdness to make them interesting and keep me guessing. The first book was begun when King was a teenager; the last book will be the last fiction King ever writes, according to him. Book five -- the third-to-last in the series -- is Wolves of the Calla, a 600+ page brick of a novel that I've just finished reading. It's a very satisfying installment in the saga, and ends, as they all do, on a cliff-hanger that is as exciting as it is exasperating. I can't wait for the next two. There aren't a lot of modern genre authors playing with the memes from the Western pulps these days; King's reinterpretation of them makes me want to dig up some old Zane Grey. Link

Warren says:

"When clambering into an anime-girl body suit just isn't enough for you: there's MightyLady.Net, for those who derive special enjoyment from giant robot women, either in bondage, wrestling, doing gymnastics or on a slab being repaired. "

Coming soon: America's first phonecam art show, "SENT"

I'm co-curating an exhibition of camera phone photography at sixspace art gallery in February, 2004. The project is called "SENT," and through it, we're inviting professional photographers, filmmakers, media personalities, and regular folks to explore the camera phone's potential as a creative tool:
Their use is largely utilitarian: snap a photo of your baby, your sunset, your face; then, share it with friends or family. They're small and cheap. We use them to capture the mundane, the obvious, and the personal. Soon, we'll use them to capture and manipulate data: phonecams are becoming handheld barcode readers, and tools for a variety of new mobile commerce applications.

The images they produce are undeniably crude, but like Polaroids or snapshots from vintage or "toy" cameras, that lack of finesse lends a distinctive, awkward charm. And the fact that they fuse together the abilities to capture, view, and distribute what we see (through e-mail or online photo weblogs) makes them revolutionary. Phonecams are changing the way we see the world, and our place within it. They're an extension of urban eyes. They democratize, hack, and deconstruct photography. When everyone is both photographer and publisher, how will art change? How will human conversation change? What will be the difference between professional and amateur? Through SENT, we'll find out.

Check out the growing list of invited participants here -- and contact us if you're a technology company who'd like to get involved. Soon, we'll announce the launch of the completed project site, where anyone with a phonecam can contribute their snapshots to the exhibition. Link.

update: Now, NPR's in the mix. They've issued a "Phonecam Challenge," inviting listeners to contribute mobile phone snaps -- some of which will be included in SENT. Link to more info on NPR Phonecam Challenge. Listen: Real, or Windows

Xeni on NPR's "Day to Day": phonecam revolution

On today's edition of the NPR program "Day to Day," I speak with host Alex Chadwick about how phonecams are changing the way we communicate with each other, and the way we see the world around us. The segment includes a live in-studio demo (which produced the phonecam snapshot at left), and a chat with anthropologist Mimi Ito (yes, Joi Ito's sister!) who's been researching phonecams and culture in Japan and the US for several years. On Monday, she launched a "bento blog" -- a phonecam photo gallery where she archives snapshots pictures of the lunches she makes for her children every morning. How cool is that? Link to "Day to Day" home, listen to the archived show: Real, or Windows

NPR's turkey Soda taste test

Click thumbnail for full-size phonecam snap. "Day to Day" host Alex Chadwick did taste test of that Jones Turkey and Gravy soda yesterday. I was in the studio just before the moment of horror, and snapped this phonecam shot of NPR producer Kathryn Fox preparing for Mr. Chadwick's total grossout. Listen to the segment here, after 12PM PST. Link

Exotica album produced through open collaboration, licensed CC

Michael sez, "Two Zombies Later is a 'double CD' set... The artists featured on these 'discs' are all members of the Exotica mailing list and within the shortest period of time managed to get together and compile this compilation. The whole set is downloadable as MP3s and has been published under the Creative Commons license. They will only be available (at this URL) for 3 months, after that, they are taken 'off the market' and (hopefully) something else will be published." Link (Thanks, Michael)

Guy in Japan makes girl masks from paper, then asphyxiates himself.

Matt Fraction, trying desperately to kick the extreme japorn web hunt habit, found this -- and forwards, with apologies

"Kumiko" says: "can't stop myself to go to the deadline. The second series I took off my wig and I wrapped my head tightly. At my neck, there are no hole for new air. There are no tricks in these pix. Please stop your breath while you're browsin these. Please, please NOT do the same. You must be killed. "

By the time you read this, the Geocities Japan site will be BoingBoinged to death, but: Link (didn't notice nudity or explicit sexual content, but didn't stay too long, either)

Diebold rolls on back, pisses self, begs for mercy

Diebold has withdrawn its lawsuit threats against the sites that republished the leaked memos demonstrating its gross malfeasance in its voting machine business. Having had these memos exposed by whistle-blowers, Diebold sought to use copyright law to censor websites that published them. Then EFF took up the cause of one of the site-operators, the Online Policy Group, and now Diebold is slinking away with its tail between its legs, off to plot the downfall of democracy in some rancid warren of its own devising. Don't let the courtroom door hit yer ass on the way out. Link (via Copyfight)

Diebold ATMs are vulnerable to worms

Diebold's ATMs, which run Windows XP, are the first ATMs to become infected with malware:
It is the first known case of a worm actually installing itself on individual ATM operating systems, says Peter Lind, a security expert at Spire Security in Malvern, Pennsylvania...

Diebold does not know how the worm got on to the closed financial network. But security experts suggest it could have been carried past security measure on an infected laptop computer. The laptop would have contracted Welchia while connected to the internet, and then transferred it when later connected to the financial network.


Hilbert's 16th problem solved by 22-year-old student

A Swedish math student has solved number 15 part of number 16 of David Hilbert's 23 math problems for the Twentieth Century, which has stood unsolved since 1900. Link (Thanks, Mikael!)

35,000 zombies form lobby group in India

35,000 Indians have joined the Association of the Living Dead, a group of people whose relatives have cheated them out of their fortunes by bribing officials to have them declared legally dead. The living dead, being dead, can't afford the counterbribes necessary to get un-dead-ified.
The ``living dead,'' having been cheated out of their property, cannot afford to pay bribes or even legitimate fees to get their cases dealt with.

Lal Bihari, president of the Association of the Living Dead, estimated 35,000 people in Uttar Pradesh state have been wrongly certified as dead.

Link (via Beyond the Beyond)

Creative Commons Moving Image deadline looms

The Creative Commons Moving Image contest (which gets you a G5 or equally shitkicking PC as grand prize for a two-minute film explaining Creative Commons) deadline of Dec 31 is fast approaching -- time to get started! Link

Yesterday was the best day of my writing career (so far!)

Yesterday, I had the flat-out most amazing day of my writing career:

I finally got to see the paperback edition of my novel Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, which is out just in time for Christmas. For various good reasons, Tor elected to publish the hardcover in January of last year, too late for Christmas shoppers. A lot of people complained (including me), but it's clear that they knew what they were doing -- the book didn't end up competing with the big, frontlist holiday titles and sold very well indeed. Still, I'm very grateful indeed that the paperback (which Amazon has for $10.36) is out in time for the holidays this year.

I also got to hold a copy of the second edition of A Place So Foreign and Eight More, my short story collection, which sold out its first print run in six weeks or so and is well on the way to selling out the second edition, I'm told. A bunch of you submitted errata for this printing, and made it a better book altogether. I'm told that the next printing will have the Neil Gaiman quote added to the cover, which is all to the good indeed.

As if that weren't enough, I also got a stack of gorgeous, color-cover advance review copies of Eastern Standard Tribe, my second novel which will be a March, 2004 hardcover on sale in late January (pre-order it for a 30 percent discount). The William Gibson quote on the cover ("Utterly contemporary and deeply peculiar -- a hard combination to beat (or, these days, to find)") looks unspeakably swell...

But the good news kept coming. I also got word that my agent, Don Maass, has sold my next two novels, Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town and /usr/bin/god, to Tor for 2005 and 2006 publication.

The icing on the cake is that I signed off on the inclusion of Flowers from Alice, a short story that Charlie Stross and I co-wrote for Mike Resnick's forthcoming New Faces in Science Fiction anthology, in a Year's Best Science Fiction anthology.

Wired: Mark Cuban -- I'm a Maverick, not a mogul!

I interviewed Mark Cuban ( founder, Dallas Mavs owner, HDnet founder, etc.) for this month's Wired Magazine about his recent purchase of Landmark Theatres -- and his plans to build a digital entertainment empire in which production, development, and distribution are all housed under one corporate roof.
Q: How is this any different from the studio conglomerates that led to antitrust laws?

A: Digital makes filmmaking cheaper and more accessible, so we see ourselves as a conduit for new, independent voices who'd otherwise never have a shot. You could shoot your film on digital, dump it on a hard drive, edit it on a laptop, send us that file, and 20 minutes later we could show it in a theater or upload it to a satellite. You could say that if we became huge, we'd risk becoming a Microsoft. But if we become huge, we want to become more like a Linux.


Bruce Sterling and "Tech Nouveau" design examples

On Bruce Sterling's Viridian email list this week, a round-up of 21st-century "Tech Nouveau": buildings and products that incorporate organic forms in a manner similar to Art Nouveau movement of the early 20th century. Some cool outtakes:
* "There is a new, witty nouveau afoot, from the Vallo watering can by Monika Mulder at Ikea, which looks like a stork," Link (halfway down the page)
* "to the coffee and tea set by Greg Lynn for Alessi, which opens like a clove of garlic." Link
* "Tord Boontje's chandeliers for Swarovski look like clouds of slender branches surrounding a light." Link
* "In the United States, the Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava's addition to the Milwaukee Art Museum looks like a giant bird about to take off." Link
* "William Sawaya, a designer based in Milan, created a blossom-like plastic Calla chair for Heller, which was inspired by a lily." Link
* "A new digital camera for Creative Labs by the California company Whipsaw Design takes its inspiration from the many-chambered spiral shell called the nautilus." Link