Increasingly desperate quest to find photos to illustrate news stories about Eurozone crisis

In Der Spiegel, Friederike Ott polls Europe's photographers on their increasingly desperate quest to find compelling images to use in illustrating stories about the Eurozone crisis. Taking pictures of distressed Euro coins isn't cutting it anymore.

"It is difficult to keep finding a new approach," he says. "I'm glad the euro coins have different designs in each country. That makes it possible to vary things at least a bit."

Lighting effects can help. "A euro coin that is half in shadow immediately looks far more dramatic," he says. When Spain and Italy came under pressure in financial markets a few weeks ago, Stratenschulte lit sparklers and placed them behind two euro coins standing on their edges. The head of King Juan Carlos and the Leonarda da Vinci's Vitruvian Man stood in a sea of sparks.

Update: In the comments, Sagodjur nails it:

To paraphrase Orwell:

"If you want an illustrative photograph of the European debt crisis, stage a scene involving a one-percenter's Testoni dress shoe stamping on an impoverished human's face - forever."

The Absurd Quest for Euro Crisis Images (via Naked Capitalism)

Alan Turing memorial Monopoly set


Last year, I wrote about the hand-drawn Monopoly board that Alan Turing and friends played with at Bletchley Park. Now it's an official set. Chris from Bletchley Park sez,:

Bletchley Park is delighted to officially launch the Alan Turing Monopoly board, developed from a unique original board in the Bletchley Park Museum, hand-drawn by William Newman, son of Turing’s mentor, Max, over sixty years ago.

In this special edition of Monopoly, the squares around the board and revised Chance and Community Chest cards tell the story of Alan Turing’s life along with key elements of the original hand-drawn board, which the great mathematician played on with a young William in the early 1950s – and lost. The board has been developed by the Bletchley Park Trust, William Newman and Winning Moves, which creates new editions of Monopoly.

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Can fandom change society? PBS video


[Video Link] PBS has been making great videos about online culture. This one about fandom is especiall good.

Before the mass media, people actively engaged with culture through storytelling and expanding well-known tales. Modern fan culture connects to this historical tradition, and has become a force that challenges social norms and accepted behavior. Whether the issue is gender, sexuality, subversiveness, or even intellectual property law, fans participate in communities that allow them to think outside of what is possible in more mainstream scenarios. "Fannish" behavior has become its own grassroots way of altering our society and culture, and a means of actively experiencing one's own culture. In a sense, fans have changed from the faceless adoring masses, to people who are proud of their identity and are stretching the boundaries of what is considered "normal."

Can Fandom Change Society? | Off Book | PBS

Video from the Stross and Doctorow show at MakerBot in Brooklyn

Joly MacFie captured video of Charlie Stross's and my tour-stop at Brooklyn's MakerBot this week. We were there in support of our new novel Rapture of the Nerds, and did a talk, reading and Q&A that touched on the Singularity, its precedents, its discontents, and its inherent comedy -- all while 3D printers chattered in the background. And afterwards everyone got 3D printed miniatures of our heads!

We're making our final stops of tour tomorrow -- Sunday! Sunday! Sunday! -- in Rochester, NY, at RIT. Tell your friends!

Cory Doctorow & Charles Stross - The Rapture of the Nerds (Thanks, Joly!)

Super Scratch Programming Adventure: Fun introductory programming book

NewImageScratch is a graphical programming language for kids that was designed at the MIT Media Lab. To write a program in Scratch, you connect colored code blocks together. The neat thing about not having to type in lines of code is that you don't have to worry about spelling errors. Also, the blocks fit together only if they make computational sense, which helps beginners from making frustrating mistakes. (The inevitable bugs that do occur in Scratch end up being the interesting and educational kind). Scratch is free and available for most operating systems.

Super Scratch Programming Adventure is a comic book style introduction to Scratch that reveals the power of this deceptively simple programming language. It's possible to write sophisticated arcade-style games on Scratch, and as you work though the chapters of Super Scratch Programming Adventure, you'll be surprised at what the software is capable of. The book is written in the form of a story, in which cartoon characters are faced with increasingly dire predicaments that require Scratch programs to get out of. It's a fun way to learn how to program Scratch, even for adults.

NewImageMy 9-year-old daughter loves Scratch, and she's learned a lot about sprite animation, variables, applying sound effects, interface design, and more. As Mitchel Resnick, the director of the MIT Scratch Team writes in his introduction, "As young people create Scratch projects, they are not just learning how to write computer programs. They are learning to think creatively, reason systematically, and work collaboratively [people can share their Scratch creations at MIT's Scratch site] -- essential skills for success and happiness in today's world."

The book also has a brief introduction to the PicoBoard, a microcontroller board that interfaces with Scratch so you can write programs that respond to light, sound, and other inputs. I'm going to buy a PicoBoard, because it looks like a lot of fun!

If you have a kid who likes video games, this book is a fine way for him or her to learn how games are created. I also recommend the book for adults who want to have creative fun with their computer.

Super Scratch Programming Adventure

Warren Ellis on life in the science fiction condition

Warren Ellis has posted a transcript of "How To See The Future," they keynote he gave at the Improving Reality conference in Brighton, England this week. Ellis works his way through McLuhan's statement that "We look at the present through a rear-view mirror. We march backwards into the future." He's onto something -- our world is a strange admixture of the mundane and the fantastic, and as usual, Ellis's acerbic wit and vision is a bracing tonic that wakes us from our perambulatory slumber:

Imagine living in a Martian culture for a moment, where this thing is a presence in the existence of an entire sentient species. A mountain that you cannot see the top of, because it’s a small world and the summit wraps behind the horizon. Imagine settlements creeping up the side of Olympus Mons. Imagine battles fought over sections of slope. Generations upon generations of explorers dying further and further up its height, technologies iterated and expended upon being able to walk to within leaping distance of orbital space. Manufactured normalcy would suggest that, if we were the Martians, we would find this completely dull within ten years and bitch about not being able to simply fart our way into space.

Now imagine a world where space travel to other worlds is an antique curiosity. Imagine reading the words “vintage space.” Can you even consider being part of a culture that could go to space and then stopped?

If the future is dead, then today we must summon it and learn how to see it properly.

How To See The Future

Radio circuit board laid out like the London tube map


Yuri Suzuki's "London Underground Circuit Maps" is being shown at the London Design Museum until next January. It was developed through the museum's Artist-in-Residence programme.

responding to 'thrift' as a theme, suzuki's work explores communication systems in consumer electronics. a printed circuit board (PCB) is used as a precedent for developing a electrical circuit influenced by harry beck's iconic london underground map diagrams. by strategically positioning certain speaker, resistor and battery components throughout the map, users can visually understand the complex networks associated with electricity and how power is generated within a radio.

Cue humourless, robotic legal threat from Transport for London in 5, 4, 3...

yuri suzuki: london underground circuit map radio (via Red Ferret)

We Got Power!: Hardcore Punk Scenes from 1980s Southern California - exclusive photo gallery excerpt

G wegotpower
Jello Biafra as the president of the United States in Lovedolls Superstar, occupying an empty office adjacent to SST/Global, 1985. JORDAN SCHWARTZ

We Got Power! is a book of nearly 400 photographs taken for an early-1980s LA hardcore punk zine of the same name. The book includes new essays by Keith Morris of the Circle Jerks, Louiche Mayorga of Suicidal Tendencies, Steve Human of The Vandals, Tony Reflex of The Adolescents, and Henry Rollins, Chuck Dukowski, and Dez Cadena of Black Flag, and more. It also includes the complete color reprints of the We Got Power fanzine from 1981­–1983 and beyond.

After the jump, a gallery of photographs from the book (posted with the kind permission of the publisher, Bazillion Points Books).

There's also an exhibit in Santa Monica that will open September 8 at Track 16 gallery.

Buy We Got Power!: Hardcore Punk Scenes from 1980s Southern California on Amazon

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The 1 Purr-cent: Internet fat cats

Some months ago, I put a dollar bill on my cat Zelda’s head, took a picture and submitted it to cashcats.biz, then a fledgling Tumblr apparently devoted solely to images of cats with money. At the time, I didn’t think much about why I thought it was funny. I’m just one of those internet cat people.

I can’t even help it. When Facebook announced last month that it’d crack down on fake user accounts including cat profiles, I cringed guiltily. Not only does Zelda have a Facebook page, but she updates it regularly with her own frequently all-caps brand of communication, alternately surly and oblivious. Like a serial killer that secretly wants help, I keep pressing my cat’s internet presence, hoping my friends will tell me I’m mental. Instead they keep friending her, texting me pictures of their own cats, posting videos on her wall. Online cat culture is serious business.

I actually have two cats, and the other one is frankly much more charming than Zelda (sorry, Zeldy). Yorda is just about two years old but has remained small. When I first adopted her, a rain-soaked runt my friends found in their cheese shop, she used a brownie pan for a litter box and virtually grew up in my lap, snoozing and cuddling while I wrote on my laptop. She likes to grab people’s hands, can fetch a mouse toy, and often begs for attention by simply sitting as near to someone as possible, angling her head in a charming pose while gazing patiently with moist, sincere eyes.

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Candy-corn flavored Oreos are a thing


The end-times are upon us (Thanks, Fipi Lele!)

Musicians on file-sharing, record industry as Monsanto


On TechDirt, Mike Masnick rounds up three thoughtful and thought-provoking statements from musicians about the way that their careers can be helped by piracy, and the how the response to downloading is bad for art and society. I was especially impressed with this op-ed from Doomtree Collective's Dessa, who makes a connection between the music industry's attempt to control music duplication and Monsanto's iron-fisted demand that its seeds be bought anew every season:

Peddling a product that consumers can duplicate for free is a tricky business. With affordable consumer technology, you can now copy a song a hundred times, with no degradation in the sound quality—and most people seem to immediately recognize why that’s gonna make it harder to get paid for songs. But my first experiences with lossless, duplicable technology didn’t have anything to do with my career as a rapper. My first encounter wasn’t with a torrent site. Or a bootlegged disc. It was a tomato.

Seeds, quite obviously, are the mechanism of plant duplication. You drop a sunflower seed in wet dirt and, bang, you get a brand new one. Essentially, you just 'burned’ a sunflower. The seeds of this new plant can then be harvested and planted to create an infinite, almost lossless supply of flowers and seeds.

Three Artists On Piracy: Sharing, Disruption And Turning Filesharers Into Your Street Team

(Image: Monsanto DSC03058, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from home_of_chaos's photostream)

See you in Rochester on Sunday!

Charlie Stross and I conclude our whirlwind transhumanist comedy two-act on Sunday to support our new novel Rapture of the Nerds with appearances at RIT in Rochester, and the IEEE International Games Innovation Conference 2012. Be there or be consigned to the scrapheap of history! Cory