I think it was the disco panda, charging into a clutch of alien invaders, while riding an enormous shaggy cow. That's when my brain melted like butter, no longer able to sustain the thermodynamic struggle against the frying pan. A frying pan dusted with rainbow LED's, wearing bedazzled hot pants, and painted by a hundred neon lasers. Like a sun-blasted Japanese spaghetti western refracted through Tron and Blade Runner.
That's not to undersell the scantily clad cavewomen, riding a giant spider, or the disco Cylon on roller-skates, or even the mermaid riding the great white shark eating an alien invader. Each in their own glorious way, and all together with so much more, rendered complete the steady, inescapable liquefaction of my mind tank. This is the neutron star of Japanisms buried below the light canyons of Shinjuku. This is Robot Restaurant.
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. (more…)
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. We even had an astroturf group surface one month before the election that basically disappeared the day residents voted by 74.8% to raise the money. We eventually acquired the water system and now FLOW members consult with other community groups around the U.S. who are looking at acquiring their water systems from private utilities. (more…)
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". (more…)
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
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." (more…)
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. (more…)
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
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. (more…)
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. (more…)
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. (more…)
Gregor MacDonald is an independent energy analyst & investment
consultant. He publishes public analysis to his website, Gregor.us and hosts the internet
investment show, StockTwits.tv,
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. (more…)
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
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.). Of course,
since my work was on a blog everyone could read it, even the
guerrillas themselves. (more…)
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
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
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. (more…)
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.