Here's a little visual aid for any inflation hawks out there who're looking for just the right graphic to stick in a powerpoint decrying stimulus packages or extolling gold's virtue: a group of Weimar-era kids using bundles of devalued Deutsche marksReichsmarks as building blocks.
Benjamin Mako Hill writes, "Last year, I participated in a discussion on Wikipedia that led to the deletion of an article about the "Institute for Cultural Diplomacy."
Because I edit Wikipedia using my real name, the ICD was able to track me down. Over the last month or so, they threated me with legal action and have now gotten their lawyers involved. I've documented the whole sad saga on my blog. I think the issue raises some important concerns about Wikipedia in general."
Donfried has made it very clear that his organization really wants a Wikipedia article and that they believe they are being damaged without one. But the fact that he wants one doesn’t mean that Wikipedia’s policies mean he should have one. Anonymous editors in Berlin and in unknown locations have made it clear that they really want a Wikipedia article about the ICD that does not include criticism. Not only do Wikipedia’s policies and principles not guarantee them this, Wikipedia might be hurt as a project when this happens.
The ICD claims to want to foster open dialogue and criticism. I think they sound like a pretty nice group working toward issues I care about personally. I wish them success.
But there seems to be a disconnect between their goals and the actions of both their leader and proponents. Because I used my real name and was skeptical about the organization on discussion pages on Wikipedia, I was tracked down and threatened. Donfried insinuated that I was motivated to “sabotage” his organization and threatened legal action if I do not answer his questions. The timing of his first letter — the day after the ICD page was recreated — means that I was unwilling to act on my commitment to Wikipedia and its policies.
A German startup called Nanoscribe says it will ship a nanoscale 3D printer in the second quarter of 2013, and that its device will run 100 times faster than similar devices currently in the market:
The technology behind most 3-D microprinters is called two-photon polymerization. It involves focusing tiny, ultrashort pulses from a near-infrared laser on a light-sensitive material. The material polymerizes and solidifies at the focused spots. As the laser beam moves in three dimensions, it creates a 3-D object.
Today’s printers, including Nanoscribe’s present system, keep the laser beam fixed and move the light-sensitive material along three axes using mechanical stages, which slows down printing. To speed up the process, Nanoscribe’s new tool uses a tiny moving mirror to reflect the laser beam at different angles. Thiel says generating multiple light beams with a microlens array could make the process even faster.
The smallest features that can be created using the Nanoscribe printer measure about 30 nanometers, says Julia Greer, professor of materials science at the California Institute of Technology.
This tetris of vehicles was constructed by a Polish truck driver, who conceived of it as a clever means of transporting several trucks and a car in one go. His plan was foiled by a spoilsport German cop, who made him destack it. I say that if there was a problem with this construction, it was in its lack of ambition: why not a motorcycle atop the car? Why not a bicycle atop the motorcycle? Why not a strapping lad in rollerskates on a pogo-stick bouncing on the bicycle?
On the road, the officers stopped the breakdown field daredevil transport (on the way to Belgium). On the Iveco car carrier (1) there was a large truck (2, on the deck again, a smaller VW MAN truck (3 And on the deck one Mercedes (4)!
Police spokesman Acor Kniely: "This tower contradicted all road traffic legislation. Especially as he to make matters worse the trailer still wanted to charge another truck! "
Activists in Berlin have created a game called Camover where they move through public spaces in disguise, smashing CCTV cameras, recording the act and uploading it to YouTube for points.
The rules of Camover are simple: mobilise a crew and think of a name that starts with "command", "brigade" or "cell", followed by the moniker of a historical figure (Van der Lubbe, a Dutch bricklayer convicted of setting fire to the Reichstag in 1933, is one name being used). Then destroy as many CCTV cameras as you can. Concealing your identity, while not essential, is recommended. Finally, video your trail of destruction and post it on the game's website – although even keeping track of the homepage can be a challenge in itself, as it is continually being shut down.
East Germany withered under the punishing, spying gaze of the Stasi, whose surveillance was always couched in the language of "public protection" and "crime solving." Today, the CCTVs used by commercial firms are an extension of government surveillance, because their footage can be seized, often in secret, in the name of "fighting terror" and similar rubrics.
A case before the German Federal Court of Justice has ended with a man being awarded damages for an erroneous Internet disconnection by his ISP. He sued on the grounds that being deprived of the Internet resulted in economic harm, and the court agreed:
But the plaintiff is entitled to compensation for the lost DSL line because the Internet has been a crucial part of people's economic living standards for a while now, the court ruled.
The internet is important because it offers access to information in the form of text, images, video and audio files. Almost all subjects are covered on the Internet, from light entertainment to highly scientific topics, the court said.
Because of its availability, the Internet increasingly replaces other media such as encyclopedias, magazines or TV, and it also enables a global exchange between its users via email, forums, blogs and social networks, the court said. In addition, the internet is increasingly used for the initiation and conclusion of contracts as well as for legal transactions and the fulfilment of public service obligations, it added.
The German Herald reports that men serving in the elite Wachbataillon unit of the German army are developing breasts on their left pectorals. A doctor who is treating the men says that their trademark close-order drill is at fault, as it has the men repeatedly, violently slamming their guns into the left side of their chest, stimulating mammary growth.
The condition - called one sided gynecomastia - has been diagnosed in 74 per cent of battalion members who presented to army medics with concerns over the growths.
Director of plastic surgery at the military hospital in Berlin, Professor Bjorn Krapohl, confirmed: "There is a very significant link between the activity in the Guard Battalion and the development of the breast on the left side.
"They need to change the way they drill. The constant slamming of the rifles against the left hand side of the chest is clearly a significant factor," he added.
This is pretty cool: Berlin's C-base, home to the Chaos Communications Club, has spawned a theatre troupe called C-artre. They've produced a theatrical adaptation of my short story "When Sysadmins Ruled the Earth" (from my collection Overclocked) and they're staging it later this month at Berlin's Transmediale festival.
Dark Roasted Blend has a beautiful gallery of Spreepark PlanterWald (originally called Kulturpark Planterwald) a Soviet-era abandoned themepark in central Berlin, which is gracefully rotting away. This is a Boing Boing/Cory Doctorow trifecta: abandoned themeparks, Soviet kitsch, and urban exploration. Yes, please!
When it opened in 1969 as Kulturpark Planterwald, it was the "only constant entertainment park in the GDR, and the only such park in either East or West Berlin". However, the Berlin Senate did not seem to have provided for enough parking space... which is quite silly, all things considered. Plus, the forest around the park was deemed to be doomed from the impact of visiting crowds. In any case, the socialist and then private owners were left with a bunch of debt and the place got suspended in limbo... But the story does not end there (read on).
Constructable is an experimental laser-cutter from the Hasso Plattner Institute in Potsdam. It uses a light-pen to direct the cutting beam, so that you can draw the cuts freehand, in realtime, rather than designing a pattern that is fed to the cutter. Basically, it transforms the cutter into a hand tool, rather than a programmable plotter.
Personal fabrication tools, such as laser cutters and 3D printers allow users to create precise objects quickly. However, working through a CAD system removes users from the workpiece. Recent interactive fabrication tools reintroduce this directness, but at the expense of precision.
Constructable is an interactive drafting table that produces precise physical output in every step. Users interact by drafting directly on the workpiece using a hand-held laser pointer. The system tracks the pointer, beautifies its path, and implements its effect by cutting the workpiece using a fast high-powered laser cutter.
Ray sez, "I was looking for teat cups to build a simple hand vacuum pump milking machine for our new pet goat. And I found this website for milking machine teat cup liners, with the associated disco dancing promotional video.
No Pattern Required tells us about the KUBA Komet, a 5'7" tall, 7' wide, 300lb TV that could swivel all the way around:
Wow! What can I say about this TV, but Wow! Is this not the most retro, kitschy, crazy TV you have ever seen? This is the Kuba Komet from Germany, and I am totally in love. The KUBA Corporation manufactured the Komet from 1957 to 1962 in Wolfenbuttel, West Germany. These were kind of an early version of the entertainment center, as there were 8 speakers embedded in this along with a record player, a radio, and a TV tuner in the bottom cabinet. For an extra charge you could also get a early version of a type of tape recorder and a Remote control with UHF tuner!
Conversations with William Gibson are always a treat. Yesterday we sat down for a chat after our joint appearance at the Vancouver Writers' Festival, and talked about everything from how dead people use the Internet to the existential dilemmas of hipster time-travellers. Somewhere in there, Bill mentioned BagJack, a German messenger bag manufacturer that supplies some of the biggest (and most expensive) Japanese brands, and from whom you can buy at much lower prices (though the bags still run &eur;150-300).
The handmade bags really do seem lovely. I've ordered one to try out, and I'll let you know if it turns out to be the winner it looks like. In the meantime, have a look for yourself (Bill mentioned the extremely clever tablet holster that swivels around to prop your tablet open against your chest, which is awfully martian in the very best way).