I'm delighted to welcome Mark Dery as our guestblogger for the next two weeks. Mark is a cultural critic and author whose work I've enjoyed for almost twenty years. In my library, his books share a shelf with the best nonfiction by Ballard, Burroughs, and Eco. As I've written on BB before, "Mark and I have overlapping interests in subjects that, as once defined by Mark Frauenfelder's young daughter Sarina, are 'creepy, interesting, and real.' Mark Dery's take on such matters is often filled with wonderfully obscure references to history, culture, and philosophy that, more often than not, are news to me. That's one of the reasons I like reading his essays and books so much. When I finish one, I always have a great list of links and juxtapositions to follow up on." Here's Mark's "official" bio:
Mark Dery is a cultural critic. Way back in the day, he edited Flame Wars: The Discourse of Cyberculture (1994), an academic anthology that kick-started scholarly interest in techno-feminism and black technoculture (through Dery's trailblazing essay "Black to the Future," in which he coined the term "Afrofuturism"). His 1993 pamphlet "Culture Jamming: Hacking, Slashing, and Sniping in the Empire of the Signs" popularized the term "culture jamming" and helped launch the movement of the same name. In 1996, Dery established himself, with Suck essays such as "Bit Rot," his point-by-point obliteration of Nicholas Negroponte's Being Digital, and his book Escape Velocity: Cyberculture at the End of the Century, as a passionate, progressive critic of libertarian cyberdrool. In 1999, he published The Pyrotechnic Insanitarium: American Culture on the Brink, an analysis of the cultural psyche of millennial America as refracted through media figures such as the Unabomber, the Heaven's Gate cult, and right-wing survivalists like Timothy McVeigh, and emerging trends such as gated communities, "safe rooms," and Jerry Springer-style freaktalk---a zeitgeist whose economic instability, social pathologies, and media-fueled weirdness seem to be back with a bang. Until fall 2009, he taught media criticism and narrative nonfiction in the Department of Journalism at New York University. Since leaving NYU, he has been a freelance journalist, book author, and lecturer. In summer 2009, he was appointed visiting scholar at the American Academy in Rome, where he researched his book-in-progress, The Pathological Sublime, a philosophical inquiry into the paradox of awful beauty (images whose retinal seductions are irresistible yet whose content is viscerally repulsive or morally obscene), an aesthetic conundrum that is particularly relevant to our Age of Unreason, with its viral videos, tabloid media, and gorenography.
In this Scientific American video, Rubik’s Cube master Ian Scheffler, author of the new book Cracking the Cube, explains some of the math behind “speedcubing.” Scheduler’s book sounds fascinating even though the only way I could get my Rubik’s Cube solved is to hand it to my 10-year-old son’s friend Luc who was the first […]
Swim Through the Darkness: My Search for Craig Smith and the Mystery of Maitreya Kali is the much-anticipated story of one of the more esoteric, fascinating casualties of the flower power generation. As told by Ugly Things magazine creator Mike Stax, the book tracks the odyssey of Craig Smith, a musician who evolved from clean-cut […]
While “design thinking” has become an overused catchphrase among consultants, it is also a real thing, a formal methodology for solving difficult problems. Bill Burnett, the executive director of Stanford’s Design Program where they take design thinking very seriously, and his colleague David Evans, who co-founded Electronic Arts and teaches a very popular Stanford course […]
I’ve never really felt the need to purchase a smartwatch because a lot of them aren’t very functional, but at just shy of $30, the Martian Notifier Smartwatch was worth checking out. For that low of a price, it actually does feature an impressive amount of functionality, and comes in handy when you don’t want to be carrying around your […]
Geek Fuel is a subscription delivery service that caters to those of us that love comics, gaming, and general geek culture. Every month, Geek Fuel will assemble a box of goodies with a value of $50 or over. The specific items are a mystery, but you’ll always get an exclusive t-shirt not found anywhere else, a full […]
If you like to DIY and you like helicopters, you’re going to really love the Flexbot Hexacopter Kit. This copter blows traditional models out of the water: it includes everything you need to actually build your own hexacopter, and then pilot it like a pro, too.The construction is complicated enough to give you a challenge, […]