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New Media

Things for a Friday morning:

A number of things.

First of all, I have been warning the world about this for several months (feels like years), but finally the mass media have caught up to the impending threat of total and utter annihilation. Actually, it’s about time I stopped being silly about this. While there is a justifiable danger raised by the search for subatomic particles at the level that the LHC will undertake, it does represent something astonishing that we might actually be on the verge of verifiably demonstrating the existence of multi-dimensional space.

By the way, there’s a wonderful interview with Stephen Hawking at the Guardian that touches on some of the issues raised by the LHC.

And here, we learn that Apple will be occupying one of the new spaces in the refurbished and rebuilt city centre shopping space in Bristol. Which, having a fiancee who gets to hear of such planning things and goes to seminars on the like, you’d think I might have known about already. I suspect that information is being kept from me in order that I not throw money away on shiny things.

Damn them!

They just know I’m trying to be responsible and not spend money on beautiful pieces of kit when I should be using it for something more grown up instead. Will have to stay away from Cabot Circus.

Regarding city centres though, there’s a stunning essay by Dan Hill on cityofsound (to my shame, I didn’t spot this when Dan wrote it – I came to it today while browsing William Gibson’s blog). It’s called ‘The Street of the Future‘, although Hill notes that the technology being employed in the piece is based on the here and now, with only a marginal nod to the ways in which systems are likely to inter-link in a near-future scenario. From the intro:

The way the street feels may soon be defined by what cannot be seen with the naked eye.

Imagine film of a normal street right now, a relatively busy crossroads at 9AM taken from a vantage point high above the street, looking down at an angle as if from a CCTV camera. We can see several buildings, a dozen cars, and quite a few people, pavements dotted with street furniture.

Freeze the frame, and scrub the film backwards and forwards a little, observing the physical activity on the street. But what can’t we see?


We can’t see how the street is immersed in a twitching, pulsing cloud of data. This is over and above the well-established electromagnetic radiation, crackles of static, radio waves conveying radio and television broadcasts in digital and analogue forms, police voice traffic. This is a new kind of data, collective and individual, aggregated and discrete, open and closed, constantly logging impossibly detailed patterns of behaviour. The behaviour of the street.

Dan writes well, and he writes with an ear toward his reader, which is to say that this piece, in common with much of his online journalism, can be read in a variety of ways. Go and read it, then come back here for the next thing.

Just in this morning from Olga Nunes, is a striking example of what can happen when creators stop and consider the nature of a medium when producing content in it:

I’ve been trying to teach ‘interactive comics’ for years now, and students have consistently stumbled with translating the mechanics of the form (as it exists in an off-line environment) onto a digital platform. Scott McCloud went some way towards exploring the possibilities of an environment for publishing that went beyond the confines of the printed page (see ScottMcCloud.com for more examples) but this is the first time that I’ve seen the platform – the medium itself – considered as an aspect of the storytelling experience. This is what Katherine Hayles expressed as the materiality of the medium – a richer version of Bolter and Grusin’s Remediation (which I have a big problem with, insofar as it’s been considered and implemented by authors to date), being one that actively employs the specificities of the technology itself as part of the communication act.

The rain’s stopped here, which means that the men with power tools are back digging up the concrete outside my office window. I’m not sure which is worse…


One comment for “Things for a Friday morning:”

  1. The Apple Store for Bristol was only a matter of time. It will piss Western right off, which is no bad thing really since as self-important as Apple Stores can be (and they can), Western is much worse.

    Unlike many people I haven’t suffered as a consequence of their rather snobbish attitudes, but it’s about time they were forced to compete with someone.

    Posted by mongo | April 11, 2008, 11:15 am

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