The President's challenge: What more does government want — or deserve — from the tech world?

There's an old joke. Heavy rains start and a neighbour pulls up in his truck. "Hey Bob, I'm leaving for high ground. Want a lift?" Bob says, "No, I'm putting my faith in God." Well, waters rise and pretty soon the bottom floor of his house is under water. Bob looks out the second story window as a boat comes by and offers him a lift. "No, I'm putting my faith in God." The rain intensifies and floodwaters rise and Bob's forced onto the roof. A helicopter comes, lowers a line, and Bob yells "No, I'm putting my faith in God."

Well, Bob drowns. He goes to Heaven and finally gets to meet God. "God, what was that about? I prayed and put my faith in you, and I drowned!"

God says, "I sent you a truck, a boat, and a helicopter! What the hell more did you want from me?"

As SOPA looked shakier, the President handed a challenge to the technical community:

"Washington needs to hear your best ideas about how to clamp down on rogue Web sites and other criminals who make money off the creative efforts of American artists and rights holders," reads Saturday's statement. "We should all be committed to working with all interested constituencies to develop new legal tools to protect global intellectual property rights without jeopardizing the openness of the Internet. Our hope is that you will bring enthusiasm and know-how to this important challenge."

All I can think is: we gave you the Internet. We gave you the Web. We gave you MP3 and MP4. We gave you e-commerce, micropayments, PayPal, Netflix, iTunes, Amazon, the iPad, the iPhone, the laptop, 3G, wifi--hell, you can even get online while you're on an AIRPLANE. What the hell more do you want from us?

Take the truck, the boat, the helicopter, that we've sent you. Don't wait for the time machine, because we're never going to invent something that returns you to 1965 when copying was hard and you could treat the customer's convenience with contempt.

Republished with permission from O'Reilly Radar

Vortex, a USB keytar


A $250 USB keytar with DAW automapping, MIDI-assignable motion sensitivity and an internal battery for optional use with an iPad? Yes. [Alesis]

Inside SpaceX's Dragon

When it heads into orbit this year, SpaceX's Dragon will be the first private spacecraft to visit the International Space Station. It won't be carrying tourists, but you can explore it now thanks to a panoramic view published by the company. [SpaceX] Rob

NYT Pony Correction revisited

I'm a little late back to the party, but here's even more coverage of the now-infamous NYT My Little Pony Correction. [Romenesko] Previously.

Elfquest too much like The Hobbit, says Warner Brothers


Warner Brothers has canceled production of Elfquest, a movie about the feral descendants of space-faring shape-shifters and their quest to uncover the truth about their ancestors' crash-landing on a primitive planet, because that sounds rather too much like The Hobbit.

Trailer for Die Antwoord's upcoming "TEN$ION" album

[Video Link] This just hit the internet today. TEN$ION, the South African band's new album scheduled out February 7, will be their first release since breaking up with Interscope.

Ornate Victorian typewriter


AntiqueTypewriters.com has a great section on the Crandall New Model, "one of the most beautiful typewriters ever made."

It has a wonderful curved and ornate Victorian design and is lavishly decorated with hand painted roses, accented with inlaid mother-of-pearl!

Lucien S. Crandall was born in Broome County New York in 1844. He would become one of the great early typewriter pioneers during the 1860s and 1870s. He patented perhaps ten typewriters with six or so being manufactured. All of his designs are very intriguing and brilliantly imagined machines. The Crandall - New Model was his third typewriter to be manufactured but the first to have some success in sales.

The Crandall was the first typewriter to print from a single element or "type-sleeve", well before IBM's 'Golf ball' of 1961. The Crandall's type-sleeve is a cylinder, about the size of your finger (see photo below), which rotates and rises up one or two positions before striking the roller, achieving 84 characters with only 28 keys. The type-sleeve is easy to remove, allowing for change of font style and character size.

Crandall, New Model (Thanks, Antique typewriter Collector!)

A.D.D. comic book: Exclusive essay and excerpt by author Douglas Rushkoff

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Everyone seems to have A.D.D. these days. (In case you’ve been too distracted by your Twitter feed to remember, A.D.D. stands for Attention Deficit Disorder -- the inability to focus on any one thing for too long, the urge to do nine things at once, and the hyper, constantly shifting, unsettled feeling that goes along with it.)

Apparently, it’s an epidemic -- particularly among boys, and especially among those who love video games. And so video games are now blamed for destroying their brains, and their capacity to become productive members of society.

But, to me anyway, something never felt right about this line of reasoning. Even if playing video games and answering txt messages shortens the attention span, what if it broadens the attention range? What if the downsides of an A.D.D. approach to life were actually offset by some other, still unidentified advantage? Or in computer programmer’s parlance, what if A.D.D. weren’t a bug, but a feature?

In fact, this whole Attention Deficit craze really only began in the late '90s, a few years after the Internet business magazines unanimously declared we were living in something called an “attention economy.” The idea was that the Internet is essentially limitless in its ability to hold content. The only limiting factor on how much money media companies can make off us in an age of infinite bandwidth is human attention itself.

They came up with a new metric, “eyeball hours,” to describe the amount of time they could keep someone’s attention glued to the screen. Media companies arose to make websites more “sticky” so that people -- especially kids -- would end up spending more of their eyeball hours stuck on their web pages.

Over the next decade, prescriptions for Ritalin -- the leading A.D.D. drug, otherwise known as “speed” -- went up by about 5000%. Were real cases of the formerly rare sensory disorder multiplying at this rate? Were they simply being diagnosed more easily? Or was something other than A.D.D. now getting labeled this way?

That’s when I started to believe that at least this new breed of Attention Deficit Disorder may not be a sickness but a defense mechanism: an adaptation to a world where someone -- usually some corporation -- is trying to program us everywhere we look. Fast channel surfing and short attention spans are not deficits but strengths -- weapons, really -- in the battle for human consciousness.

When I think about kids being diagnosed by public school guidance counselors and then drugged to pay better attention, I can’t help but suspect we are no longer treating a child but repressing the messenger.

So I decided I wanted to tell a story in which A.D.D. was quite literally a bug that was being turned into a feature. Following the what-if structure of science fiction, all I needed to do was ask who would do such a thing to kids, and why? And what would happen if it worked? What would American, videogame-playing “new type” mutations look like, and how would they relate to the world in which we are living?

The story in A.D.D. may be fiction, but the war on our minds and against our resistance is as real as the mediaspace in which we live. They mean to occupy our reality before we occupy theirs.

Buy A.D.D. (Adolescent Demo Division) on Amazon

Read Cory's review of A.D.D.

After the jump, an exclusive excerpt of Doug's A.D.D. comic book, published by Vertigo.

Make: Talk 002 - Bob Knetzger, Toy Inventor

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Here's the second episode of MAKE's new podcast, Make: Talk! In each episode, I'll interview one of the makers from the pages of the magazine.

We created Make: Talk to find out about the people who write the how-to articles in MAKE. As you might guess, MAKE's authors are often as interesting as the projects they build. In Make: Talk, you'll find out why they make things, how they acquire skills, where they go for inspiration, and what's on their workbenches.

Our maker this week is Bob Knetzger, MAKE's "Toy Inventor's Notebook" columnist.

Marble-MazeBob's a designer, inventor, and the co-founder of Neotoy in Kirkland, Washington. Bob's designed hundreds of toys and games for companies like Mattel, Hasbro, Simon and Schuster, and CBS. He's designed and invented everything from cereal box toys, to educational software, to games. His creations have been seen on The Tonight Show, Good Morning America, and ABC's Nightline.

See videos of Bob's collection of "groovy" mechanical sound players.


Download Make: Talk 002 as an MP3 | Subscribe to Make: Talk in iTunes | Subscribe via RSS | Download single episodes as MP3s

Secret history of the SOPA/PIPA fight

Carl Franzen's history of the SOPA/PIPA fight on Talking Points Memo is a fascinating account of the behind-the-scenes stuff that created the series of ever-larger protests that resulted in the bills' demise. Of particular note is his credit to Tiffiniy Cheng, who, along with Nicholas Reville, and Holmes Wilson, forms a trio of Boston-bred activists who are three of the most creative, passionate, skilled and engaged shit-disturbers I know. You may remember them as Downhill Battle, but they're also the folks behind Universal Subtitles, Miro, FreeBieber, and many other interesting and noteworthy campaigns and projects.

“There was sustained effort for the past three months,” said Tiffiniy Cheng, co-founder of Fight For the Future, an online advocacy non-profit that was founded in mid-2011 with a grant from the Media Democracy Fund, itself a fund-raising and distribution organization founded in 2006 “on the belief that freedom of expression and access to information are basic human rights.”

Fight for the Future played an early leading role in coordinating the various websites and groups opposed to SOPA and PIPA into a cohesive coalition.

That coalition, which ended up including upwards of 70 different companies and advocacy groups — From Tumblr to Demand Progress to Don’t Censor the Net — first took shape as a coalition in November 2011 under the banner “American Censorship,” just in time to rally opponents ahead of the House Judiciary Committee’s first hearing on SOPA.

How The Web Killed SOPA and PIPA (via Michael Geist)

Marx Brothers history

The latest installment from the great pop culture podcast Tank Riot is an in-depth look at the Marx Brothers. The lads cover the Marx's personal lives, their filmography, their place in the histories of Vaudeville, film and radio, and more besides. MP3

Gweek 036: Grab bag of comics, book, gadgets, apps, and websites we love

Gweek is a weekly podcast where the editors and friends of Boing Boing talk about comic books, science fiction and fantasy, video games, board games, tools, gadgets, apps, and other neat stuff.

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Notes towards a practice of responsive comics

Here's the very talented Pablo Defendini -- developer, designer, artist, digital guy -- describing how "responsive" comics can be made using HTML and CSS that intelligently format themselves for a variety of devices, and addressing the writing and illustration challenges this gives rise to. He's not talking about "motion comics" -- he's talking about comics where the layouts and writing take into account a range of screen-sizes and aspect ratios.

Responsive design works for websites, why not for digital comic books?

New Righthaven offers hosting service "with a spine"

After snatching a notorious copyright troll’s name at auction, a Swiss company is turning Righthaven.com into a web hosting service. The intended customers?

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