Two Ways to Watch All of Carts Of Darkness

My prayers have been answered. You can now watch the entirety of Carts of Darkness, right now or very soon.

Option 1:

Open Cinema is doing a showing in Victoria, 5:30 tomorrow. The mayor and others will be there to discuss homelessness and such.

Options 2:

The whole thing is now available on Have I mentioned Oh right, repeatedly.

Some people might think that putting entire movies on the web for free in high quality might reduce the number of folks who will go watch it in on a big screen. And maybe those people would be right. Then again, even though it is available right here, on this web page, below this text, I’m going to wait 24 hours and pay $10 bucks to watch it in a room with other people tomorrow. So there you go.

The “Talk Page” of the Wikipedia Entry on the Sokal Affair

The “Talk Page” of the Wikipedia entry on the Sokal Affair. The tone of discussion is what I imagine Usenet to have been like, back before September.

Google Earth Gets Oceans, Time

Major upgrades to Google Earth getting rolled out today. For one, oceanic surfaces will be explorable in the same way that terrestrial ones have been.

Not getting as much press, but more exciting to me, is a new ability to scroll through time, seeing changes in landcover through history. Currently, custom data can be time-stamped and viewed as a temporal animation, but the landcover data that is the core of the Google Earth viewing experience has not taken advantage of that ability. Visualizing landcover change is fundamental. Being able to see how things used to be can shift perspective completely on how things are today. Watching that change might yield a sense of trajectory, adding a feeling of dynamism and potential.

Generally, western reductionist science drops the ball on understanding the world as an ever-changing place. We tend to describe the world and it’s systems as as a series of isolated static snapshots, and I think that way of thinking either leaks out from science into broader cultural understanding, or maybe leaked in from it. As Dean Bavington would say, we need to tell stories about flows, not just stocks.

Of course, stories about flows in landcover and human footprint requires having a time series of data, and that’s challenging both from an archival and technical viewpoint. I haven’t played with it yet, it will be interesting to see just how many mountains the Google Earth people have moved to make it workable.

According to the New York Times:

“By choosing among 20 buttons holding archives of information, called “layers” by Google, a visitor can read logs of oceanographic expeditions, see old film clips from the heyday of Jacques-Yves Cousteau and check daily Navy maps of sea temperatures.” —Google Earth Fills Its Watery Gaps

10 points to anyone who can remember the name of the guy who carried the onion-skin “layers” overlay metaphor into a computerized GIS context. It’s escaping me now, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t “Google”.

The 400 Bush Scandals

The overwhelming quantity of Bush administration policy horrors makes them difficult to think about in a coherent way, and it’s tempting just to turn to and forget about the whole debacle, now that we finally can. Which might be a healthy thing from a personal equanimity perspective, but we should probably be balancing that with an effort to learn from these mistakes.

Hugh (a different Hugh) has been compiling a list of the scandals of the Bush years. It’s not going to soothe your spirit, but I find it satisfying as an effort to throw up all the terrible things into one place where you can look at them, and have some kind of unified feel for the whole bloody mess. 

Bush Scandal List

It’s inevitably subjective. The bullet points range from specific (Harriet Meirs supreme court nomination) to relatively abstract (Marginalization of the UN). A number of the listed scandals strike me as debatable in content, and some of them are not principally the fault of the executive office, but overall the list generally seems to get things about right.

There’s a titles-only version here, and you can break it all down by category by clicking on the links on the right. For instance, I have this nagging feeling that the sub-list of environment-specific scandals is a little lacking, but that may be because a lot of the decisions the Bush administration made on environmental policy may still appear relatively inconsequential, and we’re only going to find out which ones were especially regrettable over a long painful period of reflection. Becomes

I posted earlier regarding, the well-executed online video distribution service from the National Film Board. I subsequently emailed them with some feature requests, and I’ve received an email in reply, in which Matt (“Social Media Manager”) confirmed that the new version of their video player does everything I had hoped it would, and that furthermore they have recently gone into full release mode. The new site is thus simply, just as it should be. If you’re a public film institution, your principal online presence should be about getting film into the eyes of the public. Love it.

I’m hoping their next improvement is to implement a suggestion from Paul Coyle, who commented on my first post:

“My only criticism would be that it appears that they’re streaming the videos through Flash Media Server which is slightly restrictive in that it uses Adobe’s proprietary FLV format. I would love to see them post up some MPEG4 versions of the videos for direct download.”


Update — Matt Responds:

I totally agree. The problem with downloads is another rights issue. We were able to acquire the rights to the films (from music, actors unions, etc) for streaming but not downloads.

We’ll be offering paid downloads through iTunes soon and hopefully through the site in phase 2.

Cheers and please keep in touch,

A Personal Tour-Date Aggregator

Here’s a website that somebody should build:

  • You register. You enter a bunch of bands that you like.
  • The site scrapes the websites of bands looking for what looks like tour dates and builds a calendar of who will be where when.
  • When that database indicates that one of your listed bands is coming to your town, it emails you to let you know.

How many times have I gone to a band’s website and found out they were in town 5 weeks ago? I don’t have the energy to search down the website of every band I like in case they’ve posted some tour dates lately.

Or is that all too web 1.0? Maybe people can enter their own recommendations for other websites that do the same thing better, or upload pictures of themselves using the website or something.

Challenge: any such aggregator would have to be able to access and interpret the artsy-horrible flashblobs that pass for websites for so many bands (click on the unlabeled red bird-silhouette in the corner, against the purple background, to see photos! Click on the black circle in the lower left for 20 seconds of abstract animation and the band’s bio!). Perhaps if somebody did start such a service, and more people knew to attend shows for the bands whose websites were standards-compliant text based and hence more easily parsed for tour-date-scraping, then it would encourage bands to build sane websites also operable by mere humans.

No Actually New Janelle Monae

I got excited when I saw that Janelle Monae’s website had been massively overhauled, and featured an “In Stores August 12, 2008!” teaser. I’ve been waiting hard on the second installment of the Metropolis Suite for what feels like a very long time now.

But apparently what hit the stores in August was Metropolis Suite 1: The Chase. Which is the same album I was playing last year this time. Literally, in fact, I believe I played the entire album through start to finish while subbing a late-night show last year. Not that I was being edgy or prescient by doing so, “Violet Stars Happy Hunting” was already an established thing on the college circuit when I got hooked on it. And as for blowing up “Many Moons” (video premier tonight!), dude, I totally rocked that solo on my show like last week.

Janelle, I love you, but you need to step up your release schedule to where it’s not a year behind my sorry grasp on the zeitgeist. I’m guessing this is a major-label release of what had previously been indie-distribution-only. Don’t get bogged down defining yourself by when your music is in Wal*Mart. Great if they carry your music in their commodity-distribution way, but don’t pretend that your official release happens when it hits their beige and dusty shelves. What matters as far as ritual and event is the indie or even the network release. When you’ve released to the internet, your music is released. You may afford less zircon-encrusted hummers thinking that way, but you will be cooler. And ask yourself: when you are on your death-bed, which will seem more important?

Susan Crawford, One Web Day Founder, Ann Arborite

Tomorrow is One Web Day. Is there anything more dorkotopian than One Web Day? I doubt it, so you know I’ll be there.

Turns out OWD is led by Susan Crawford, who is law faculty at U Michigan. Anybody heard of any meatspace OWD events in Ann Arbor?

Getting Google Out of Your Googling

By the time you read this, Google will probably have released the first public beta of their new web browser. (You can read about it in this comic. Nobody ever said Google wasn’t smart, and commissioning a comic book from Scott McCloud is a brilliant way of showing off their brilliance.) Looks like it will eventually be a great browser, a real competitor for Firefox. Kevin Newcomb makes the point that it will be the first browser built primarily for running web-based-applications (email, document editing, photo editing…) rather than just being a webpage displayer that can be cajoled into front-ending such applications. He makes the further point that by building such a browser, Google is setting itself up as author of the de facto standard for future web applications. And we are all told again and again that web applications are the future of personal computing.

Here’s another of Kevin’s points:

“As with the Google Toolbar before it, Chrome will also present an opportunity for Google to collect more user behavioral data. On the plus side, that could help Google develop better Web analytics applications. More cynically, Google can also take this mountain of user data and use it to better monetize its ad platforms.”

To which I would add that anybody vacuuming up that much information about people is just a bad thing for privacy.

This seems like a good time for a how-to turn off Google’s Search History “feature”. That’s the one that keeps track of everything you search for through Google and everywhere you go from Google. It lets them show a reminder in your search results of how many times you’ve been to a given page and when you last went there. It also lets them build a lasting profile of your online behaviour. It only happens if you have a Google account and have signed in to it recently. Personally, I use my account for Google Calendar, but lots of people have one for Gmail or Picasa or any of their many other services. I think they give you the option of turning Search History on or off when you first sign up for an account, but I don’t remember ever seeing that option, or at least not fully explained.

To turn off and wipe Google Search History:

  • Go to the search screen.
  • If you aren’t signed in already, Sign In at the top right corner of the screen.
  • Go to
  • . Hey, lookit all that stuff.

  • On the list on the left, click Remove Items.
  • On the right, click Clear entire Web History

That should have both cleared out Google’s history of your browsing, and “paused” the saving of future browsing. You can, of course, turn it all back on again if you want.

You Put Your Data in Their Cloud

Here’s a video of Danny O’Brien convincing you not to put your data in cloud computing services, like 3rd party email, web document editors, photo hosting sites, social networking sites, and the like. He argues a) why would you give your own data, including your most personal data, to an anonymous corporate mediator to store in any case and b) we can probably get the same always-on effortless sharing and still store our data on our own boxes through the magic of technology. The video is terrible. But the idea seems awfully good.

And here’s a guy who makes heavy use of Google’s online services, such as Picasa and Google Docs and Gmail, who has been suddenly, silently and inexplicably shut out of the Google cloud.

I’ve decided to start spelling Google with a capital G again, to remind myself that Google and Google services are not randomly beneficent forces of nature. Google is a company, and it lives a corporate life. Is that (or Yahoo, or Facebook or whomever) the cloud where you want to keep all your stuff?

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