Domo Arigato Restaurant Roboto!

Chris Arkenberg visits an establishment where pop culture and history merge into a light show of singular magnificence.

Chris Arkenberg: Thanks and sayonara!

I've had a great week here at Boing Boing! It's been fun, educational, and a little bit nerve-wracking. And it's been a great opportunity to promote some of the minds & ideas that are inspiring me. Thanks to the staff for supporting me as a guest blogger, and special thanks to David Pescovitz who is just about as nice a guy as you could imagine.

Here's my own self promotion before I depart: I post all original content semi-regularly on my blog URBEINGRECORDED. I'm very active and trading a lot of sweat equity but I'm technically unemployed. Here's my LinkedIn.

I make music - mostly electronic but across diverse genres. My currently-posted works are at N8UR, including originals and a bunch of remixes. I'm very proud of my Radiohead remix so if Thom or Johnny are reading this (or anyone who knows them), please give it a listen. My most recent published work is an E.P. called Western Rains, embedded below. Read the rest

Jim Graham - Racing, tele-working, & battling multinationals

Jim Graham, AKA Ronjon, is Director of Marketing at The Satellite Telework Centers in Santa Cruz County, an avid Burning Man attendee who ran Media Mecca for several years, and Stock Bug class rally racer. He was one of the founders of the Felton Friends of Locally Owned Water (FLOW) movement that successfully re-claimed Felton water rights from the German multinational, RWE.

You were instrumental in your town's successful fight to recover its water rights from a major multinational. What happened with Felton and FLOW?

Our town water system had been privately owned since the late 1800s, but in 2001-2002 it was acquired by American Water, which was then acquired by the German multinational RWE. American Water immediately applied for a 78% rate hike with almost zero public notice. The town banded together to fight back and formed Felton Friends of Locally Owned Water (FLOW). We initially planned to fight the rate hike at the Public Utilities Commission, but quickly realized that it was so weighted in favor of big business that our only option was to take the water system back via eminent domain. We got a measure on the ballot to raise $11 million to buy the system. American Water fought dirty, as it has in other communities around the U.S. We were leaked a copy of their campaign strategy, which included using an ad agency to provide flyers that would go out under a co-opted community group and push polling to intimidate our local county Supervisor. Read the rest

Bruce Damer - Burning Man, NASA, & artificial life

Bruce Damer is a technologist, virtual world pioneer, and computer historian. He is the CEO and founder of The Digital Space Commons, director of the Contact Consortium, and author of the book "Avatars".

I talked with him about Burning Man & Katrina, NASA & near-earth-objects, artificial life & his EvoGrid project, and the legacy of psychedelic visionaries...

At the end of August, 2005, you were at Burning Man in a heavily-outfitted RV. News quickly spread of the Katrina disaster. How did you respond from the middle of the Nevada desert?

At Burning Man in 2005 our camp was among other things, running the webcast and helping maintain the playa wifi network, so we knew about Katrina while other burners were in their glorious offline world. One of our camp-mates, who worked for the Pentagon devising "extreme communications" disaster relief hardware and deploying it in places such as for the Asian Tsunami that year, pointed our dishes skyward and tracked the incoming hurricane via some super high-res satellite. He phoned the Pentagon to order up some blackhawk helicopters to take his crew down to New Orleans to help the citizenry but due to government red tape that order was denied. I said at the time "whew, those scary loud black things buzzing the playa would have caused some serious kind of mass panic about a bust by the Bushies or a belief amongst burners that the UFO invasion had chosen Black Rock as its landing pad". Read the rest

Tish Shute - Augmented Reality, ARWave, and the industry

Tish Shute is a visual effects designer, technologist, and social ethnographer. She explores the world of augmented reality through her blog, Ugotrade, featuring interviews with many of the leading minds in the emerging AR industry. She recently co-chaired the Augmented Reality Event 2010 in Santa Clara, Ca., recognized as the first major augmented reality conference.

I recently asked her some questions about her background and interests in AR, the ARE2010 event, the Google Wave Federation protocol, and the possible future of augmented reality...

Would you tell us a bit about your background? How did you become so interested in Augmented Reality?

My interest in augmented reality began with doing visual effects for film and television. We used robotically controlled cameras, and models, to create augmentations for movies with multi-pass photography back then. There are several key people involved in the emerging industry of augmented reality today that have a background in special effects, flight simulation, theme park rides, and virtual reality. This work is part of the family of technologies that includes augmented reality and virtual reality. But Bruce Sterling nails it when he says,"VR is the gothic sister of AR." Read the rest

Thoughts on augmented realities

CC-licensed photo from robinmochi's Flickr stream

Augmented Reality is definitely trending up the Hype Cycle in a big way. The past year has seen explosive growth in this nascent field buoyed by the rise of gps-enabled, cloud-aware smart phones. The marketing hype has, of course, been even more resounding, like a wailing chorus of virtual vuvuzelas trumpeting the next great wave of advertising (I couldn't resist). But beneath the hype and the fluff is a thriving community of innovators & designers working to weave this technology into the very fabric of our lives. Read the rest

Justin Boland - The indie hip hop game

Justin Boland, AKA Wombaticus Rex, AKA Humpasaur Jones, AKA Thirtyseven, is a rapper, philosopher, and independent record producer who is just as likely to spend a year researching the technologies of bioremediation as he is to relentlessly educate the hip hop industry on DIY promotion & marketing from his blog, Audible Hype. He is a founder of the independent hip hop label, World Around Records, and his most recent work is published there as Algorhythms.

I talked to him about identity, avatars, independent hip hop, and the industry at large...

What's it like being a white, nature-loving, long-hair hippy playing the hip hop game? Do you find acceptance or has it been a challenge to bring your ideas into the scene? Or does acceptance even matter?

Well, it's been awesome. And yes, acceptance definitely matters. We don't fetishize being "outsiders" and we hold ourselves to high technical standards on all our projects. I am into emceeing as an art form, and I would rather listen to Big Daddy Kane rap about shooting people than a mediocre rapper doing a "conscious" verse with a really good message. I absolutely don't rap about normal anything, but I do push myself to make every verse the tightest possible puzzle box it can be. There's an international community of obsessive writers like that, and that's definitely the peer group I'm aiming to impress, no matter what they look like or talk about. We're all engaged in the same war against the alphabet. Read the rest

Keytar-playing platypus explained

From Tenso Graphics. Read the rest

Behnam Karbassi - Transmedia world-building

Behnam Karbassi is a founding partner of No Mimes Media, currently producing alternate reality and transmedia projects. He has worked in the entertainment & advertising industry for the past decade, leading teams at Saatchi & Saatchi and producing projects for companies like Toyota, Warner Bros. and Sony. He is a producer & director at LIFTmob, and was a producer at 42 Entertainment where he worked on the alternate reality experiences Why So Serious? for The Dark Knight and Project Abraham for Playstation 3's Resistance: Fall of Man franchise.

I sent him some questions about transmedia world-building and the new media landscape... [Disclosure: No Mimes is a Hukilau partner.]

Before creating No Mimes Media, you and your partners were at 42 Entertainment where you helped create the Why So Serious? transmedia campaign for The Dark Knight. Would you describe that project? Did the results meet or exceed your expectations?

I've worked on a lot of amazing projects, but, at the time, Why So Serious was by far the most incredible movie marketing I'd ever seen, much less, been a part of. I think that's because it went way beyond marketing, it extended the story of the Batman reboot, bridged the gap between the two films, and most importantly, made millions feel they were actually citizens of Gotham City. Read the rest

Transmedia Storytelling and the New Media Convergence

Narrative media is undergoing a shift from the traditional model of single, linear story lines to much broader explorations of the story world. Narratives are developed within larger contexts where even tertiary characters can act as launch points for new stories that flesh out the fictional universe. These bleed into the physical world through alternate reality gaming and transmedia cross-platform experiences that directly engage the audience, drawing them into the story through real-world challenges. ARG's may not be especially new but they're being more commonly integrated into franchise productions through transmedia campaigns across web sites, mobile engagement, shorts, graphic novels, video games, music, and any other possible medium that can extend the story.

While much of this shift has been driven by the entertainment industry, typically around run-up advertising campaigns, transmedia experiences are perhaps most compelling as native expressions of a fully-articulated narrative universe. This is transmedia world building: creating a fictional universe so rich and complete that a multitude of interweaving stories can emerge from it, taking form through the social and technological spaces we share. Read the rest

Gregor MacDonald - Energy, transportation, and transitions

Incredible photo manipulation by Hubert Blanz.

Gregor MacDonald is an independent energy analyst & investment consultant. He publishes public analysis to his website, and hosts the internet investment show,, with Howard Lindzon. He offers private consultancy and regular email newsletters on global energy trends & investment guidelines.

I asked him some questions about his background, the state of global energy, the BP disaster, and California's dependency on oil...

How did you end up as an energy investment analyst? Would you describe the work you do now?

In 1995 I moved to London and found that living outside my own country enabled me to see the world with fresh eyes. In university I had studied cultural anthropology with an emphasis on markets and economies, and a number of the insights from those studies began to unfold the more time I spent in the UK, and Europe. I started to become interested in currencies as a cultural phenomenon, for example. I concluded there was very little logic in the purchasing power of the US Dollar, The British Pound, and continental currencies, and I started to form an early idea that perhaps in relation to oil, the US Dollar was overvalued. And that's how my interest in oil began. Read the rest

Painting: Kim Jong Il Launches Nuclear War

This appears to be a rendering of Kim Jong Il overseeing a Pikachu ICBM nuclear war. I have no idea who the artist is but I love it! Read the rest

John Robb interview: Open Source Warfare & Resilience

John Robb is a globally-recognized author, technologist, and entrepreneur specializing in the complex systems of insurgency and asymmetrical warfare. His book, Brave New War, is an Amazon best-seller and established his expertise as a researcher & military consultant. He has been featured in the New York Times, The Economist, and the Wall Street Journal. His daily thoughts are collected on his blog, Global Guerrillas.

I asked him some questions about his work, our times, and the shifting landscape of governance & power...

In your book Brave New War you explore the changing nature of warfare. What are some recent examples of insurgency, resource conflicts, or terrorism that you feel best illustrate this new landscape?

Here's an interesting story that may do the trick. Back in 2004, the US military was getting trounced in guerrillas in Iraq. Worse, the US military establishment didn't know why. Didn't have a clue. To correct this, I began to write about how 21st Century warfare actually worked on my blog, Global Guerrillas. Essentially, I concluded that guerrilla groups could use open source organizational models (drawn from the software industry), networked super-empowerment (freely available high tech tools, network information access, connections to a globalized economy), and systems disruption (the targeting of critical points on infrastructure networks that cause cascading failures) to defeat even the most powerful of opponents, even a global superpower.

The new theories of warfare I developed on the blog proved both predictive and very popular. As a result, I spent a lot of time on the speaking circuit in Washington DC (DoD, CIA, NSA, etc.). Read the rest

The Mexican Narco-Insurgency

Benefiting from the inflated margins of the illegal drug trade, Mexican cartels move billions of dollars worth of cocaine, methamphetamine, & marijuana to the high-demand markets of the United States, using sophisticated weaponry and horrific violence to defend their markets against competitors and directly challenge attempts by state militia to control their activities. In return, they purchase guns from border states like Texas, Arizona, and California to arm their narco-insurgency. The Mexican state apparatus has become a hollow shell, heavily militarized but incapable of managing its territories.

PEMEX, the major oil developer along the Mexican Gulf, has reported that cartels siphon about $1B in oil annually, reselling it on the open market to fund their insurgency. Read the rest

Bruce Sterling Interview: Cities

Bruce Sterling probably needs little introduction here... Through an electric career as a science fiction author, cultural observer, and futures provocateur he's emerged as one of the most important voices of the nascent 21st century. He has a sharp wit, an impeccable turn of phrase, and a keen eye for spotting the most interesting and obscure trends before they hit the world stage. His 2009 novel, The Caryatids, was released to glowing reviews by the likes of Cory Doctorow and Alex Steffen. You can grab his daily brain feed over at the Wired blog, Beyond the Beyond.

I got in touch with Sterling and asked some questions about cities...

What are some of the cities you find most interesting? Why?

I go for Austin, Belgrade and Turin. Because I hang out there enough to have some idea of how they function. I'm also keen on the much bigger cities of Berlin, London, and Mumbai, but in a more detached way. I'm getting very interested in Sao Paolo lately.

What do you see as some of the more valuable aspects of urbanization and some of the more dangerous?

Well, the "valuable" aspect, or at least the interesting one, is that bigger towns are getting much more "urban-informatic" lately. Read the rest

Running On Empty - L.A. Without Cars

Here's the video by Ross Ching, Running On Empty, that Bill Barol referred to here a couple weeks ago. I think it's a great bit of provocative future fiction showing the vast topologies of the Los Angeles roadway infrastructure absolutely free of automotive traffic. Perhaps a sudden, massive lifestyle change has ended car use. Or a Peak Oil soft landing, or personal teleportation devices have gone mainstream, or the Rapture came and somebody lost the list of sinners and just decided to take everyone... I like to imagine this vision rolled forward 20 years when vegetation has overtaken all the useless hardscaping, no doubt matched by some Jumanji-type unleashing of large fauna across the sprawl.

Matt Logue's "Empty Los Angeles" photography book Narrow Streets: Los Angeles Read the rest

Beautiful big wave set at Jaws

I'm a surfer but I'm not crazy. I wouldn't go anywhere near these waves. But I really like this video by iamkalaniprince capturing a seemingly relentless set of 25+ foot peaks rolling in at Jaws on the North Shore of Maui. These monsters come barreling across the deep water trenches of the Pacific then heave up onto the Hawaiian reef creating some of the biggest and fastest waves in the world. The slow-motion (and the glorious Canon optics) underscores, to me, the majesty of this great dance and the strange harmony we human apes find amidst the power of nature. Read the rest

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