• Domo Arigato Restaurant Roboto!

    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.


  • 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. (more…)

  • 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. 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…)

  • 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
    , director of the Contact
    , 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". (more…)

  • 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
    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." (more…)

  • Thoughts on augmented realities

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    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. (more…)

  • Justin Boland – The indie hip hop game

     Images Humpjones

    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.

  • 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. (more…)

  • Transmedia Storytelling and the New Media Convergence

     Wikipedia Commons C C3 David Goliath Blanton

    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 – Energy, transportation, and transitions

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    Incredible photo manipulation by Hubert Blanz.

    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 interview: Open Source Warfare & Resilience

     Tdaxp Upload Brave New War Md
    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…)

  • 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

    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. (more…)

  • Bruce Sterling Interview: Cities

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    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
    , was released to glowing reviews by the likes of Cory
    and Alex
    . 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…)

  • Running On Empty – L.A. Without Cars

    Here's the video by Ross
    , 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.

  • 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.

  • 80 HDR Pics of Tokyo

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    Photography purists might see many HDR
    as gaudy & cartoonish but I really dig the way they bring
    out a new experience of the subject. The hyper-realism of some HDR
    compositions seems to almost virtualize the world blurring the lines
    even further between real & synthetic. It's this same boundary
    dissolution that I enjoy in immersive games like the Grand Theft Auto
    series where you can suddenly find yourself gazing at the play of
    light on the city walls at sunset, awed by the natural beauty and
    simultaneously amazed by the number crunching under the hood.

    This series of 80 HDR photos of Tokyo seems especially appropriate to
    me as it pushes the hyper-modernity of this massive city closer to my
    own Manga-fied senses. (Click through each pic for larger Flickr

    Photos of Tokyo in HDR