Bruce Sterling's closing SXSW keynote: disruption and destruction

In Bruce Sterling's barn-burning closing keynote for SXSW 2013, he confronts the realities of disruption -- that disruption leads to destruction. Our wonderful things destroy other wonderful things. The future composts the past. We roast the 20th century over our bonfire, let's not shamefully pretend that we did it by accident. Let's eat our kill.

Important stuff.

Bruce Sterling closing remarks at SXSW2013

Steampunk DJ mask from Bob Basset


The wonderful folks at Bob Basset in Ukraine have a new piece up, the "Steampunk DJ Mask," of which I'm rather fond.

New Steampunk DJ Mask

The gel that stops bleeding instantly

This video is a bit gruesome, but it is demonstrating a remarkable substance that can stop bleeding almost instantaneously. Jack Millner of Humans Invent interviewed NYU student Joe Landolina, the creator of Veti-Gel.

"In all of our tests we found we were able to immediately stop bleeding,” says Landolina. “Your skin has this thing called the extracellular matrix,” he explains. “It’s kind of a mesh of molecules and sugars and protein that holds your cells in place.” Landolina synthesises his own extracellular matrix (ECM) using plant polymers, which can form a liquid when broken up into pieces. He says, “So it goes into the wound and the pieces of the synthetic ECM in the gel will recognise the pieces of the real ECM in the wound and they’ll link together. It will re-assemble into something that looks like, feels like and acts like skin."

The gel that stops bleeding instantly

Happy birthday, Lee "Scratch" Perry! (and 1985 interview video)

Happy birthday, Lee "Scratch" Perry! The dub pioneer is 77 today. Here is an interview with Perry from the 1985 documentary "Jools in Jamaica," hosted by non other than Squeeze founder and TV/radio presenter, Jools Holland.

LEGO Star Trek Into Darkness trailer

(Spoken in the voice of Don LaFontaine): You may have seen the Star Trek Into Darkness trailer, but have you seen it... in LEGO!? Directed by Antonio Toscano and Andrea Toscano.

Is it worth spending half your profits "fighting piracy"?

On TechDirt, Tim Cushing follows up on a WSJ story where filmmaker/indie distributor Kathy Wolfe says that half of her profits, about $30,000, are spent sending out DMCA takedown notices to fight piracy. Wolfe has an admirably successful and long-lived business, and Cushing tries to find out how Wolfe hit on the $30,000 figure as the optimal amount to spend fighting piracy, but it seems that Wolfe's spending of half her profits are based largely on faith, and unsupported by any data she is willing to share.

Removing links may generate a few sales, but certainly not enough to offset an effort of this magnitude. Some file sharers will never purchase anything, and if they can't pirate a Wolfe film, they'll simply find something else to download. Others will purchase something after an illicit "preview." Taking away the link they might have utilized simply sends them looking for other links... or other movies. Generally speaking, a failed search for a "free" movie rarely results in the sale of the same movie.

Wolfe Video is doing the right thing by diversifying its distribution across multiple services and, even better, by running its own in-house digital rental/download platform. These efforts will do more to increase sales (and profits) than $30,000 worth of takedown notices. It's hard not to view illegal downloads as "lost sales," but entertaining that notion results in deterrence efforts that far outweigh the benefits.

The fact is that removing illegal options won't generate sales. Removing a negative ("lost sale via illegal download") doesn't create a positive ("gained[?] sale"). It simply levels off at $0. Positive efforts will tilt that scale back towards the creators. Negative efforts max out at $0, at best.

As I stated in my email to Kathy Wolfe, I have no desire to paint her as someone who tilts at windmills to the tune of $30,000/year. She strongly feels this effort needs to be made in order to protect a business she's run for over 25 years. I can completely understand that. My concern is that this effort is over-funded and a long, hard look should be taken at any connection between the takedown effort and corresponding sales fluctuations.

Could the same be accomplished at half the price? How about $10,000 per year? Or $0? I think some experimentation is called for. Back all enforcement efforts off for a few months and watch for any signs of a sales decline. If the drop is precipitous, scale the efforts up and see if the numbers respond. But rather than intensify the efforts, slowly escalate until you find a balance between deterrence and sales that works out best financially.

This is the kind of empirical business question that the piracy debate needs answered, rather than ideological claims that all piracy is bad and anything you spend fighting it (or the world spends fighting it in the form of laws) is worthwhile.

Indie Film Distributor Spends Half Her Profits Sending DMCA Takedowns, But Is It Worth It?

James Herbert, esteemed British horror/SF author, RIP

Herbbbb Famed British horror/dystopian fiction author James Herbert has died at age 69. Herbert was the author of more than twenty scary, science fiction, and/or apocalyptic tales like the 1970s man-eating rodent classics The Rats and Lair, and also The Fog, about an insanity-inducing chemical weapon.

"James Herbert: Master of British horror fiction" (The Guardian)

James Herbert (Amazon)

The Owl is wise to the monumental mischief of the Terror Twins!

Jerry Siegel, co-creator of Superman, wrote the script for The Owl #2 (1968). Be careful, Terror Twins -- the blades on your gyro-copters are too close!

(Via Suddenly)

3D printing and law/policy conference in DC

Michael Weinberg from Public Knowledge sez, "We are bringing the 3D printing community back to Washington, DC for 3D/DC II. This time around, we are having a public reception in the Rayburn House Office Building on April 24th to give policymakers a chance to see 3D printing in person and talk to some of the people behind the machines. If you are in DC and are interested in 3D printing, this could be your chance to check it out." Michael wrote two amazing, definitive papers on 3D printing and the law. Cory

Bike headlight displays speed

My friend Matt Richardson made a system for his bike that projects a spotlight with data onto the street. It's currently set up to display speed, but it can also be used to project other kinds of information (like turn-by-turn directions). He's going to write about it for MAKE so you can build one, too.

Mr. Green shows how he composed a song for Rime

Mr. Green had fun making a song for graffiti writer Rime at Art Basel.

Back at it for December, 2012′s Art Basel, Rime and The Seventh Letter teamed up with Klughaus Gallery and Live From The Streets to bring an out of the box experience to Miami. With rented UHaul trucks to be painted, mobile music performances, and a cache of alcohol, weed, and mushrooms on deck, Rime and crew were able to keep the party going through out the week. Long nights of painting, partying, disappearing people and vehicles, and outwitting cock blocking cops made for hard to forget adventure.

See the 10-minute video here

Ray Bradbury's fan letter to Robert A Heinlein


The Houston Press's 2011 coverage of Comicpalooza included this shot of a beautiful letter of appreciation from Ray Bradbury to Robert Heinlein, written in 1976.

DEAR BOB:

YOUR INFLUENCE ON US ALL, FROM 1939 ON, CANNOT BE MEASURED. I CAN ONLY SAY I REMEMBER, WARMLY, YOUR MANY KINDNESSES TO ME WHEN I WAS 19–20–21 YEARS OLD. THAT YOUNG MAN BASKED IN YOUR LIGHT AND WILL CONTINUE TO BE GRATEFUL FOR THE HELP YOU OFFERED WHEN I WAS SO POOR & NEEDFUL! YOURS IN THAT MEMORY — RAY BRADBURY

AUG – 1976

The wonderful thing for me is that when I was 19-20-21, I, too, found many writers who were graceful and helpful to me and my writing, from Judith Merril and Damon Knight to James Patrick Kelly and Nancy Kress. Science fiction has always been a place where debts are paid forward.

From Ray Bradbury to Robert Heinlein, 1976 (via MeFi)

Pop-up egg-on-a-stick cooking gadget

OK, seriously, I have no idea whether the output of this "cook a perfect tubular egg-thing-on-a-stick" thinggum is anything remotely edible, but the production company that made it is basically staffed with evil geniuses who made me vibrate with desire within about ten seconds. Also, there's something weirdly compelling about a device that appears to get a boner while it cooks for you.

Rollie Eggmaster Cooking System | Official Site (via Red Ferret)

ACLU files suit to stop warrantless mobile phone searches

The ACLU of Northern California today filed suit against San Francisco and its Police Chief Gregory Suhr on behalf of civil rights activist Bob Offer-Westort, "whose cell phone was searched by the San Francisco Police Department without a warrant after he was arrested while engaging in peaceful civil disobedience."

The suit charges that warrantless cell phone searches at the time of arrest violate the constitutional rights not only of arrestees but also of their family, friends, co-workers, and anyone whose information is in their phones. This practice violates the right to privacy, and the right to speak freely without police listening in to what we say and who we talk to.
Here's the lawsuit document (PDF). It's interesting reading.

Offer-Westort advocates for the rights of homeless people. There's a video about his work here.

Last chance to kick in for the Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project

The Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project, which seeks to convert and preserve priceless lunar mission data from old analog media for future space nerds, has just a few hours left to reach its goal. Previous BB post here with video, and Maggie has more here. As tweeted by William Shatner! Yes, people will write checks to explore space. You can donate here, for a few more hours.