Museums and the future history of the information age

Last spring, I gave the keynote address at the Museums and the Web conference in Florence, Italy, speaking in the glorious confines of the big room at the Palazzo Vecchio; the organizers were kind enough to put my talk online. It was very well-received at the time and lots of people have since asked where they could get it -- and here it is!

Italian scientists acquitted of culpability in L'Aquila quake


Seven natural disaster specialists had previously been convicted of manslaughter for not being emphatic enough about the 2009 quake, which killed 309 people, but that conviction's been overturned by an appeals court.

Read the rest

Free Di Filippo story inspired ancient Italian city of Matera


Author Paul Di Filippo did a residency for Matera, a legendary, ancient Italian city and wrote "Chasing the Queen of Sassi" based on his experience of the region.

Read the rest

Cops bust cybercrook who sent heroin to Brian Krebs

Sergei "Fly" Vovnenko, a Russo-Ukrainian cybercrook who stalked and harassed security journalist Brian Krebs -- at one point conspiring to get him arrested by sending him heroin via the Silk Road -- has been arrested. According to Krebs, Vovnenko was a prolific credit-card crook, specializing in dumps of stolen Italian credit-card numbers, and faces charges in Italy and the USA. Krebs documents how Vovnenko's identity came to light because he installed a keylogger on his own wife's computer, which subsequently leaked her real name, which led to him.

Read the rest

Public Prosecutor of Rome unilaterally orders ISPs to censor 46 sites


The Public Prosecutor of Rome has unilaterally ordered Italy's ISPs to censor 46 sites, and it appears the ISPs are complying, even though no complaint had been lodged against the sites, nor had any judge issued any order related to them. This doesn't bode well for the governance style of the new Prime Minister, Matteo Renzi, a young politician who is trying to set himself apart from the autocratic Berlusconi regime, which used tight media control as part of its corrupt governance strategy.

Read the rest

Pixel-art on classic furniture

Trip Pixel Furniture, from Studio Badini Createam/Seletti, adds pixellated fine-art images to the Trip line of furniture, created a tastily dissonant juxtaposition of modern glitchiness with ponderous, weighty French classic furniture.

Read the rest

Dante for fun: kids books that retell the Inferno, Purgatorio and Paradiso


As mentioned, I'm in Florence, Italy with my daughter for a speaking gig. We toured the Palazzo Vecchio on the first day, and happened on a bust of Dante, and I began to explain the story of Dante, his exile, and the way he damned all his enemies to the most grotesque tortures in his epic poem. My kid was fascinated -- being sentenced to an eternity to boil, head down, in a lake of filthy blood, is pretty fascinating when you're six!

When we got to the gift-shop, we discovered an improbable set of childrens' picture books that retell Dante for young people: it's called "Dante for fun" and it comes in three volumes (naturally): Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise.

Read the rest

Fine metalworking: tiny knives and batlike brooches from Mario Cesari


I ran into Mario Cesari at a market in Florence, Italy today (I'm in town to speak at the Museums and the Web conference). He's a metalworker who produces beautiful pieces that are really to my taste (I bought a weird, bat-like brooch from him). There was a lot more I was tempted by, especially the little, finger-length machete pen-knives. He's got an Etsy storefront with a good selection of his work. Having handled it and bought some of it, I can affirm that the workmanship and aesthetics of these things are beyond reproach.

Farmhouse narrowly avoids boulder-flattening


A farm in Ronchi di Termeno, Italy, was nearly squashed by titanic boulders that rumbled off nearby mountains in a landslide. One of them destroyed the barn, while another stopped a whisker shy of the farmhouse itself. The furrows the boulders cut through the fields are straight out of a golden age DC comic.

Boulder smashes through Italian farm [BBC]

(Thanks, Fipi Lele!)

(Images: downsized, cropped thumbnails of photos from the Associated Press)

Skeletal tile-mosaic in the chapel floor


The Cornaro Chapel at the Santa Maria della Vittoria church in Rome sports many beautiful works of art, but I'm especially taken by the skeletal figure set into the floor tiles, whose upraised arms seem ready to snatch sinners into the underworld. The photo above was taken by Chris and memorialized in a fabulous post on Roman Patina, which also includes photos of many of the other works in the chapel.

Cornaro Chapel, Santa Maria della Vittoria (via Kadrey)

Improvised tools made from flotsam, sticks and stones


When the artists at Studio Fludd were sent to a peaceful Italian island with a group of other artists, they decided to improvise a set of living tools out of random flotsam and other found objects. They took their inspiration from John Cage's aphorism that "Poor tools require better skills." The resulting tools are beautiful in a Gilligan's Island/Apollo 13 improvisation aesthetic sort of way.

Read the rest

Revamped Goggle Jacket recreates Italian endurance-race fashion


CP Company worked with the Royal College of Art to recreate and update Massimo Osti's "Goggle Jacket" -- a jacket designed for Italy's Mille Miglia open-road endurance race that ran between WWI and WWII. They modernized the materials, rethought some of the fit issues -- a clever flourish reduces bunching while sitting; another moves the watch-window so you can check the time without moving your hands from the steering wheel -- but still managed to produce something that looks simultaneously futuristic and retro. It's a gorgeous piece of clothing, though £879 is too rich for my blood.

Read the rest

Italy passes Internet censorship laws: regulator can censor sites on 12 days' notice without judicial review

Italy has passed an Internet censorship bill that allows for a regulator to order the national blocking of websites without judicial review. If the website's operator wants to come to Italy to object, they have as little as 12 days to do so. ISPs that fail to comply with the censorship orders face fines of €250,000 per day.

Read the rest

Berlusconi kicked out of Italian senate

Silvio Berlusconi's scandal-haunted political career has suffered a potentially killing blow: following his conviction for tax fraud, the upper house of the Italian parliament has tossed him out, stripping him of his seat. Berlusconi insists that he will be exonerated by new evidence, and has called upon the president of Italy to pardon him (though he will not formally petition for a pardon, insisting that it should be forthcoming as a matter of course). Assuming the pardon is not forthcoming, he will go to prison in 2014.

See also: Berlusconi's "decadenza"

Read the rest

Marvelous grotesques from Domenico Gnoli's Modern Bestiary


These illustrations are from Domenico Gnoli's 1968 title Bestiario Moderno (Modern Bestiary), an "incredible collection of pen and ink illustrations that are intricately detailed and nothing short of amazing." The book appears to be out-of-print, which is a damned shame.

Read the rest