INFORMATION DOESN’T WANT TO BE FREE by Cory Doctorow | Kirkus

I’m excited to find out about this book. I wasn’t aware that Cory was working on something non-fiction. The second quote below defines the internet as “one great big copy machine” which is amusingly accurate. I had the opportunity to ask an interviewee for a one-word definition of the internet. Her response was the word “open” followed by a string of warm musings about sharing and connecting directly with others to exchange everything from ideas to art. “Copies” wouldn’t be a bad definition either, though I sincerely hope we can re-position that term as a positive one.

The first quote from Palmer and Gaiman is a belief that is widely shared on the web. I wonder if it is a belief or a truth, because  these industries still exist while producing and distributing content. It just feels like their business model has shifted away from the exchange of content and money when they fought so hard against the web. Things like Patreon are fascinating examples of alternative means to make the exchange more meaningful and direct.

“We are a new generation of artists, makers, supporters, and consumers who believe that the old system through which we exchanged content and money is dead. Not dying: dead.”

Instead, the author advocates for a liberalized system of copyright laws that finally admits that the Internet, for all its virtues and diverse purposes, is nothing but one great big copy machine, and it’s not going away.

via INFORMATION DOESN’T WANT TO BE FREE by Cory Doctorow | Kirkus.

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Untitled

Had an idea for a thing. At the moment I’m calling it <broken poets>.


Clark was having one of his moments.

"There were roughly three thousand people using public transport that day; thirty-four where riding on the bus in question; eighteen were Caucasian, twelve were Hispanic, two were black, two were Asian; nine were wearing hats: three where dark, six were light; one of the Hispanic women was wearing gloves – it wasn't cold that day; three of the Caucasian women were wearing winter coats – it was not cold that day; and one of the Caucasian men noticed this disparity in dress before the crash that killed thirty-three of them – I should not have questioned them about their seasonally inappropriate attire so close to the end of their mortal lives."

The department store worker asked again, "do you need this gift wrapped, sir?"

"That would be nice. I could give it to someone if I chose to. It's always good to have your options open. You have a very nice choice of attire that is seasonally appropriate."

"Thank you. Just one final ribbon –"

"Tremendous! I can tell you're going to live for a long time. God doesn't take the talented or well-dressed."

Superintelligence

This article pointed me toward the book Superintelligence which pointed me toward a quote from a shorter document by the author from which I’ve quoted below. Anyone wondering what to gift me this Christmas can look into the linked book above. I enjoy being terrified by other people’s thoughts.

Two things are striking from the below quote:

  1. The future of humanity could be decided by algorithms—iterated through countless other machine-iterated algorithms—beginning with something being coded today (hopefully without any bugs or typos).
  2. The implication that superintelligence would eradicate human invention.

The first point is terrifying. I’d like to believe that if such a superintelligence is brought forth it would be smart enough to fix any bugs or major design flaws in the original. Of course I assume that what a superintelligence wants and what mere human intelligences want will differ in profound ways. What then?

The second point is—I believe—wrong (assuming we’re using the word ‘invention’ similarly). Unless humanity has been exterminated by this superintelligence then invention will not cease. The more fictional forms of invention (e.g. art) should flourish. I strongly believe that humans are a necessary component in art. Creation, reception, critique, categorization, and other components require human beings.

Superintelligence, if/when it materializes, will spur a Renaissance in human artistic production.

<that’s what I think anyway>

Superintelligence would be the last invention biological man would ever need to make, since, by definition, it would be much better at inventing than we are. All sorts of theoretically possible technologies could be developed quickly by superintelligence — advanced molecular manufacturing, medical nanotechnology, human enhancement technologies, uploading, weapons of all kinds, lifelike virtual realities, self‐replicating space‐colonizing robotic probes, and more. It would also be super‐effective at creating plans and strategies, working out philosophical problems, persuading and manipulating, and much else beside.

It is an open question whether the consequences would be for the better or the worse. The potential upside is clearly enormous; but the downside includes existential risk. Humanityʹs future might one day depend on the initial conditions we create, in particular on whether we successfully design the system (e.g., the seed AIʹs goal architecture) in such a way as to make it ʺhuman‐friendlyʺ — in the best possible interpretation of that term.

via Nick Bostrom.

Well, I’m not saying I’m like, ALLOWED to do this…

An awesome, educational, fair use-using post about studying, recognizing, and appreciating components of visual storytelling.

So I want you to watch this movie and think only about staging, how the shots are built and laid out, what the rules of movement are, what the cutting patterns are. See if you can reproduce the thought process that resulted in these choices by asking yourself: why was each shot—whether short or long—held for that exact length of time and placed in that order? Sounds like fun, right? It actually is. To me. Oh, and I’ve removed all sound and color from the film, apart from a score designed to aid you in your quest to just study the visual staging aspect. Wait, WHAT? HOW COULD YOU DO THIS? Well, I’m not saying I’m like, ALLOWED to do this, I’m just saying this is what I do when I try to learn about staging…

Hit the link at the very bottom for a soundless, black and white version of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Ask yourself what modes of study IP law is functionally preventing. [hint: some interesting ones]

via A one-of-a-kind marketplace from Steven Soderbergh. – Extension 765.

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Being the Worst

What a great idea.

“I don’t have anything against Yelp. The idea is fantastic, but the blackmailing thing is ferocious,” says Cerretini. “I think I should be the one deciding if I’m on the site or not. At least I can be there on my terms. The only power they have is they make you reliable to them. So, I’m going to be one of the most unreliable restaurants.”

“I want to be the worst restaurant there is in the Bay Area,” he says. “I think this is the best business move I have made in years.”

via Inside Scoop SF » Richmond restaurant encourages bad Yelp reviews.

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art-cycle

I took what was weird
repackaged it whole
sealed it in plastic
up-charged for in stores

and for a small fee
— I loan my IP —
you can license
repackaged-sealed-weird
just like me
(but not for free)

Hypo-quandary of the Week

♥ — 5 Useful Articles is great.

While on an expedition in Indonesia, a nature photographer’s equipment is hijacked by a roving band of artistic monkeys. One of them snaps a photograph of herself. The photographer recovers his camera and posts the picture to the internet. A designer creates a 3D model based on the picture, and uses a 3D printer to make this.

The designer also uploads the file of the model (monkeyselfie.ztl) to Thingiverse. Parker downloads and edits the file, mounting the monkey’s head onto a centaur’s body of his own creation. Can the designer sue Parker? Assume any litigation takes place in the Second Circuit.

via Takedown My Breath Away: 5 Useful Articles – Vol. 1 Issue 23.

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Why Flunking Exams Is Actually a Good Thing – NYTimes.com

Very interesting quotes on the proper balance of study and practice. The article relates the idea that pre-testing (i.e. failing) primes the brain for future success by opening different neural pathways than studying a single question:answer relationship.

The quickest way to master that Shakespearean sonnet, in other words, is to spend the first third of your time memorizing it and the remaining two-thirds of the time trying to recite it from memory.

Further, it expands on the processes of remembering, studying, and guessing. Of the three, guessing is the most likely scenario to result in failure, and this failure once again inspires a fuller listing of associations to spur memory.

Retrieval — i.e. remembering — is a different mental act than straight studying; the brain is digging out a fact, together with a network of associations, which alters and enriches how that network is subsequently re-stored. But guessing is distinct from both study and retrieval. It too will reshape our mental networks by embedding unfamiliar concepts (the lend-lease program, the confirmation bias, the superego) into questions we at least partly comprehend (“Name one psychological phenomenon that skews our evaluation of evidence”). Even if the question is not entirely clear and its solution unknown, a guess will in itself begin to link the questions to possible answers. And those networks light up like Christmas lights when we hear the concepts again.

It seems clear that this linking of failure, guessing, and higher test scores — derived from more complex mental associations — may contribute more directly to creativity.

via Why Flunking Exams Is Actually a Good Thing – NYTimes.com.

Non-Ambiguous Tasks

The dishes clearly need to be washed. There’s no ambiguity about whether it’s a necessary task and when you’re washing the dishes, it only takes a tiny portion of your attention — a tiny portion of your mind — and so the rest of your mind just wanders around drifting and stumbling across all sorts of interesting shit. And then when you’re done, it’s clearly done. You say: Yep, moving on to my next task. And honestly, I don’t exactly know how to phrase it, but that was the most pleasant aspect of the whole thing. My day was a series of discrete things that I knew that I wanted to do, and I knew when they were done and none of them were lingering. At night, I had achieved them and they were done and it was all off my plate and there was nothing hanging there for later. It made me nostalgic for manual labor.

via 5 Things You Learn When You Take a Yearlong Break From Facebook, Twitter, and Work (nymag.com).

The End of Absence: Reclaiming What We’ve Lost in a World of Constant Connection – Boing Boing

I’m relieved to learn that someone has taken the time to codify terms and phrases related to pre- and post-web. There are currently—and increasingly will be—reasons to mourn what we have already lost. We should also celebrate the many advantages.

Straddle Generation

Neither Digital Natives nor wholly Digital Immigrants; they were born in the 1980s and will be the last people to remember life without the Internet. After she got text-dumped, Stacey was determined to only date Straddle Gen guys. “They’re so Romantic!”

via The End of Absence: Reclaiming What We’ve Lost in a World of Constant Connection – Boing Boing.

Old Office Art

I used to do repetitive work for pay. Office-type work in a building with cubes. I was surrounded by staplers, locked shred bins, clinging cash registers, and disorderly queues served by staff who didn’t care. When I had downtime I would take the humble office tools I found myself surrounded by and stave off boredom by creating art. I would use cheap plastic pens and office supplies to create art on discarded scraps of paper. I would arrange the office supplies on the scrap paper, trace a part of their outline with the pen, and then move them to another location and retrace to create images like a duck.

I have kept these creations for the past 9 years. They have been folded flat at the bottom of a box that has moved with me from almost-Canada to nearly-Mexico. My packrat nature would not allow me to part with these artworks. I recently found them while cleaning out my basement and they were perfectly preserved between other things I should have discarded long ago. Instead of throwing them away I decided to do make them better.

Now that I have a different set of circumstances and skills1 I decided to update those old pen drawings using krita, gimp, and inkscape. This new work has finally made these drawings useful after sitting for idle so long. My only goal 9 years ago was to keep boredom at bay. I very much hope that these artworks lift your spirits as they have lifted mine.


The duck artwork was originally created on the back of a scrap piece of paper turned landscape. I used scissors for the rounded outline elements2 and a black pen for tracing. Digital FLOSS tools1 were used to augment these original drawings.

You can see my art for sale here. I plan to add additional works as they are completed.


  1. a powerful computer, FLOSS, a pen input device 
  2. inner, large handle for body; inner, small handle for head; tip of scissors for beak and wings 

The GNU/Linux Lagniappes

I’ve been enamored with free software since Windows Vista decided to disappear what I called my “trial run” Wubi install of Ubuntu. By the end of this “trial” I preferred GNU/Linux so strongly that I had forgotten there was another operating system (OS) installed on the computer.

But then there was a problem. I couldn’t boot into GNU/Linux anymore. Vista was working fine but my preferred OS was missing. I would later discover that my first real issue with GNU/Linux was created by Windows. While this situation did not give me joy at the time, it was extremely fortuitous.

The problem of a “missing” OS prompted my first visit to a support forum. I solved my own issue with helpful guidance from others. A total stranger thanked me or my efforts because they were experiencing the same issue and benefited from the solution I had discovered and shared.

I switched firmly to GNU/Linux that day.

Computing is now an activity I truly enjoy, benefit from greatly, and intend to utilize for the greater good. GNU/Linux is like a rabbit hole of lagniappes; the fringe benefits keep coming. This chain of positives is in addition to the software itself. I now know and care more intensely about computers, technology, sharing, IP law, programming, ethics, teaching, and more.

GNU/Linux changed me. It changed me for the better. There is just one problem: I don’t feel like I’ve changed GNU/Linux. I don’t feel like I’ve given back enough.1

I’ve been working to figure out what I can do to help GNU/Linux. Here are some things I’ve done for a while now:

  1. Introduce people to GNU/Linux
  2. Teach people about the value of the four essential freedoms
  3. Help people become users of GNU/Linux
  4. Donate to projects (e.g. Gimp)

In a post about UX redesign, Máirín Duffy created a graphic depicting the chasm between use and contribution. What a striking image.

CC-BY-SA 2014 Máirín Duffy.

I was left with one burning question: how do I make the jump?

While I continue actively contributing in the ways listed above, I recently came across a very different opportunity to make the leap:

It is time to open the submission phase for Fedora 21 Supplemental Wallpapers… The deadline until you can submit your artwork is the August 16 2014 at 23:59 UTC.

minor commitment: Create and submit a supplemental wallpaper for Fedora 21.

In some ways I believe that this image-based contribution will be significantly less valuable than the educational, philosophical, and monetary contributions I am currently making. It’s not that I don’t think art is important2, it is more that I don’t believe I will clearly see the impact of the contribution so as to correctly assess its value.

When I talk about the necessity of the four freedoms, specific people go away thinking differently. When I help people install GNU/Linux, I am able to see them begin to redefine their relationship with computing. When I donate to projects, I do so with the knowledge that my financial contribution is supporting those who support users. When I submit a wallpaper, I… just don’t know. I can’t imagine what the impact may be and I may never know.

That’s why I’m making the jump. That uncertainty is, for me, a leap of faith. Let’s see if I end up on the other side.


  1. In truth, I don’t know that any individual could give back enough. 
  2. I know art is vital. 

Three Things: Six

a minor commitment

Pain
– remained conscious throughout the day
– stretched frequently
– moved often

Play
– frisbee
– nice weather
– carefree time
– directed interest

Quality
– minor accomplishments along the way on small projects that add up to major accomplishments
– slowly built buy-in to more easily port success in one area to large-scale improvements in others
– proved efficacy on previous projects of a similar nature

Transform any text into a patent application – Sam Lavigne

I wrote a program that transforms literary and philosophical texts into patent applications. In short, it reframes texts as inventions or machines.

This is just plain awesome software art. Just look at this patent by Kafka! If a visual artist out there doesn’t start creating the visual figures for these wonderful patents I’m going to have to pick up a drawing aparatus and do it myself.

Transform any text into a patent application – Sam Lavigne.

Three Things: Three

a minor commitment
three things: one
three things: two

Enjoyment1
– a walk in the park
– beautiful weather
– an early start
– a park
– a snack

Books2
– a decision pre-made
– a collection pre-created
– a clear objective
– a step-by-step pathway to success

Cleaning3
– something you are interested in to listen to fedora.next
– no distractions
– a clear and meaningful objective
– tea


  1. consider making this outing one you repeat. 
  2. with many unnecessary books taking up space in boxes in basements I decided to give paperbackswap a trial run. So far so good. 
  3. happy mother’s day 

Three Things: Two

a minor commitment
three things: one

Basement Cleaning Activity1
– Loud children’s music by the brilliant Justin Roberts provided the soundtrack
– Simple objectives for my little helpers (e.g. these in the box; these on the table; these in the garbage)
– The only distractions were game-oriented and fun

Bedtime2
A combination of:
– The stories they request
– The poems of A. A. Milne — some favorites: Buckingham Palace and Independence
– Patience

Book Selection3
– You’d pre-selected them first
– You chose from the much smaller pre-selection
– They were awaiting action when you arose for the day


  1. tl;dr — fun music and clear game-like objectives won the day 
  2. tl;dr — (1) let them choose a few. (2) finish with something good that you enjoy. (3) wait. 
  3. tl;dr — remove the unnecessary 

Three Things: One

a minor commitment

Breakfast1
– The coffee was strong
– We arose to bright sunshine
– We were up earlier than usual
– There was laughter and smiles

Data2
– We put in the work — when it didn’t make sense — in order to capitalize when it did
– We honed our skills on other projects which enabled quick completion on this important one
– We pushed for a better timeline when the argument was strongest
– We worked with the relevant stakeholders

Dinner3
– Great (new!) flavors
– Quite impressively from scratch
– Rambunctious, beautiful, hilarious children
– Good friend
– Weather change: cooler, windy, rainy (brief hail), thunder


  1. tl;dr — good weather, food, and company 
  2. tl;dr — we cared early, prepped often, pushed when necessary, and collaborated 
  3. tl;dr — well-prepared new flavors and interesting weather with good friends and children makes for a great time