I was lucky enough to be invited to submit a piece to Ian Bogost's Atlantic series on the future of cities (previously: James Bridle, Bruce Sterling, Molly Sauter, Adam Greenfield); I told Ian I wanted to build on my 2017 Locus column about using networks to allow us to coordinate our work and play in a way that maximized our freedom, so that we could work outdoors on nice days, or commute when the traffic was light, or just throw an impromptu block party when the neighborhood needed a break.
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James Bridle (previously) is the latest contributor to The Atlantic's excellent series on the future of cities (Bruce Sterling, Molly Sauter, Adam Greenfield); in a new piece, Greenfield discusses the phenomenon of "virtual citizenship," and how it affects cities that are either turned into dumping-grounds for inconvenient poor people, or rootless, tax-dodging one-percenters.
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Plenty of parents are unsettled by abysmal quality of videos aimed at kids on Youtube -- which range from the merely dull/hacky/ultra-branded to the slurry of possibly-autogenerated brain porridge that James Bridle recently documented.
The design director and video-producer Rion Nakaya got sick of this same sludge, so she created The Kid Should See This, a site that curates genuinely gorgeous and thought-provoking videos -- ones that aren't necessarily aimed at kids, so anyone, of any age, would also dig them.
My favorites so far include "How does a bowling alley work?", "A 15-color rainbow spiral made with 12,000 dominoes", "How To Make a Navigational Chart", and "Ballet Rotoscope". I'm particularly into the ones like "Journey of a Letter: How a birthday card is sent and delivered in London", which illustrate the marvels of the hidden infrastructure that underpins everyday life.
As Nakaya tells Lifehacker:
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In selecting videos for TKSST, which are all pretty short, Nakaya not only looks for what she calls “wonder and ‘Wow!’ moments” but also seeks to clarify information that’s often misunderstood, like climate change science, evolution, and clean energy solutions, and amplify women and people of color working in STEM fields. While there’s some kids’ content in the mix—like this classic 1981 crayon factory visit from Mister Roger’s Neighborhood—she avoids all the clichéd and gimmicky stuff, like shows with over-the-top sound effects and zany mad-scientist hosts who make terrible puns. “Why dumb it down when the subjects can be compelling on their own?” she asks.
James Bridle takes a deep dive into the weird world of Youtube Kids videos, whose popular (think: millions and millions of views) genres and channels include endless series of videos of children being vomited on by family members and machinima-like music videos in which stock cartoon characters meet gory, violent ends.
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James Bridle (previously) honors the The Cloud Index, "a tool for actionable weather forecasts" at London's Serpentine Gallery, with a lyrical longread about the history of clouds, science, war and computation. Read the rest
James "New Aesthetic" Bridle writes, "I wrote an SF short story about satellites, space weapons, UN inspectors, and the end of personal data! I hope you like it." Read the rest
James Bridle's new essay (adapted from a speech at the Through Post-Atomic Eyes event in Toronto last month) draws a connection between the terror of life in the nuclear shadow and the days we live in now, when we know that huge privacy disasters are looming, but are seemingly powerless to stop the proliferation of surveillance. Read the rest
James Bridle writes, "A couple of months ago I released a browser extension - Citizen Ex - which tracks your browsing (entirely privately) in order to show you your "Algorithmic Citizenship" - where your browsing actually goes, and what this means for your rights." Read the rest
James Bridle writes: "There's huge debate in the UK about the deaths of people in the Mediterranean trying to reach Europe, but we rarely see or hear the people themselves." Read the rest
Anthropologist Gabriella Coleman (author of the brilliant Coding Freedom) spent years embedded with Anonymous and has written an indispensable account of the Anonymous phenomenon. Read the rest
James Bridle has released a CC-licensed DIY Drone Shadows handbook (PDF), which explains, in detail, how to make accurate drone-shadow street art in your town/neighborhood. It's part of a larger project around Dirty Wars, a documentary on drone warfare currently touring the UK. Read the rest
James Bridle photographed every CCTV between his home in east London and Dalston Junction, a 1.4mi walk with about 140 cameras. Welcome to London, where we have 11 CCTVs per red blood cells.
Every CCTV camera between my house and Dalston Junction
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David Cox interviews Bruce Sterling about the significance, lifecycle and future of the New Aesthetic movement:
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First to the issue of “is the New Aesthetic really new?” I’d say those images are “new’” pretty much by definition. Aesthetics obviously is very old. James Bridle doing a project called the “New Aesthetic Tumblr” is over, and receding into the past. But machine-generated imagery that is unlike previous forms of imagery is all over the place. So, yes it is new, for any reasonable definition of novelty.
As for whether James Bridle’s image collection had any analytical rigor, I’m inclined to think he had more analysis going on there than he liked to let on; but I rather think James prefers writing, journalism and publishing to the trying role of a public New Aesthetic visionary. When you have a breakout viral hit on the Net nowadays, the opportunity-cost can be pretty stiff.
On the issue as to what a New Aesthetic ought to do, what the “strategy” is, well, that’s unsettled, but I think that James’s year-long intervention there has raised the morale of tech-art people quite a lot. It’s legitimated their practice in their own eyes, and helped to free them from their traditional hangups on specific pieces of hardware. At least it’s possible to imagine a strategy now — instead of merely saying, I’m an artist, but I do digital electronics, you can re-frame your efforts as something like “a new aesthetic of processual vital beauty,” and you’re not so handcuffed to the soldering irons.
James Bridle published "the 12,000 edits made to the controversial Wikipedia entry for the Iraq War between December 2004 to November 2009 as a 7,000 page, 12 volume set of books."
Archiving Iraq: One Wikipedia Entry's Edit Wars, Printed in 12 Volumes Read the rest