Archive for February, 2008

the balloon project: ich liebe es

Saturday, February 9th, 2008
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i love this project and its’ documentation.

the combination of the terrestrial and aerial footage in the documentation really brought out the complex interactions that occurred as the elements of the event drift in and out of phase with the simple gesture and intention to release, follow and retrieve a camera attached to a bunch of helium filled balloons. the piece was clearly a collaborative effort from start to finish and that was great to see.

if you’ve read any of the other things on this blog you probably realize that i love the intersection of simultaneous and linear time, and this project (and its’ documentation) seemed, at least to me, to portray that dynamic. while watching the footage it occurred to me that perhaps when our intentions are being efficiently realized we experience the simultaneous, and when they’re not, we experience the sequential.

i also detected a difference in persona between the american and german participants – and smiled as the american guy occasionally muttered ‘fuck!’ as things unfolded – because i, an american who has also incorporated balloons, the weather, cities, and the public into my own work, often catch myself muttering ‘fuck!’ as my own projects ‘drift in and out of phase’. when i watched the san francisco footage the amount of fuck muttering seemed to increase proportionally with the amount of american participation. i digress.

i visited their site and watched some other versions in other cities and a few things crossed my mind:

i imagine that running this project near large bodies of water would complicate the process. i’d do a test launch in each site by attaching a weight to a bunch of balloons first – just to see what’s what.

it might also be interesting to attach a phone running something like qik (streaming video from a phone camera) so that the video could be logged whether the camera was retrieved or not. if they bought a used nokia 6682 (or something) with an unlimited data plan it might not cost much more than the current version, even if the phone was never rescued – and if the phone disappeared they could just report it stolen and start over – or, of course, they could extend the work by incorporating whatever the people who found the phone would do with it. i suppose they could also add some GPS stuff with a suitably enabled phone and use that data, etc.

but it is beautiful as it is.

Write (soon) to Protect The Spiral Jetty in Utah

Friday, February 8th, 2008

Pearl Montana Exploration and Production LTD, of Calgary, Alberta, seeks a permit to drill oil wells in the Great Salt Lake about five miles southwest of Rozel Point and the Spiral Jetty. Drilling activities will be based on floating barges anchored to the lake bottom.

The public may comment on the proposal through Feb. 13 through the state Resource Development Coordinating Committee, E-210 State Capitol Complex, Salt Lake City, Utah, 84114, or

The public may also express their concerns by sending emails to John Harja who runs the state’s public land policy coordinating office:


An oil company’s plan to begin exploratory drilling near the remote site of Robert Smithson’s “Spiral Jetty” along the Great Salt Lake in Utah has stirred an impassioned response from artists and others who fear that the project could endanger that massive artwork. The jetty, a 1,500-foot-long curlicue of salt crystals, rocks and mud jutting into the lake, was completed by Smithson in 1970, three years before he died in a plane crash. The State of Utah, which must approve any plan for drilling in the area, decided recently to extend a period for public comment on the proposal until Feb. 13. John Harja, who runs the state’s public land policy coordinating office, said on Tuesday that the office had received 900 letters, e-mail messages and calls about the issue in the last several days. Richard Moe, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, issued a statement calling the jetty “a significant cultural site” and saying that the trust was “deeply concerned about the potential harm that energy development could bring” to it.

Lanier on the nature of the Turing test, and some recent observations on the nature of Octopi

Friday, February 8th, 2008

from Jaron Lanier’s One-Half of a Manifesto

“…In Turing’s famous thought experiment, a human judge is asked to determine which of two correspondents is human, and which is machine. If the judge cannot tell, Turing asserts that the computer should be treated as having essentially achieved the moral and intellectual status of personhood.

Turing’s mistake was that he assumed the only explanation for a successful computer entrant would be that the computer had become elevated in some way; by becoming smarter, more human. There is another, equally valid explanation of a winning computer, however, which is that the human had become less intelligent, less humanlike.

An official Turing test is held every year, and while the substantial cash prize has not been claimed by a program as yet, it will certainly be won sometime in the coming years. My view is that this event is distracting everyone from the real Turing tests that are already being won. Real, though miniature, Turing tests are happening all the time, every day, whenever a person puts up with stupid computer software.

For instance, in the United States, we organize our financial lives in order to look good to the pathetically simplistic computer programs that determine our credit ratings. In doing this, we make ourselves stupid in order to make the computer software seem smart. In fact, we continue to trust the credit-rating software even though there has been an epidemic of personal bankruptcies during a time of very low unemployment and great prosperity.

We have caused the Turing test to be passed. There is no epistemological difference between artificial intelligence and the acceptance of badly designed computer software.”

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Call For Makers: Maker Faire Bay Area 2008

Wednesday, February 6th, 2008

We are now accepting entries for the Maker Faire Bay Area, May 3 and 4 at the San Mateo County Fairgrounds.

Maker Faire Bay Area Entries: Deadline March 12, 2008

Key Points:
• Entries Due: March 12, 2008. Space is limited, please submit your entry early!
• Maker Faire Tryouts (See below): February 17, 2008, The Exploratorium, noon – 4pm.
• Notification of Acceptance: Entries submitted by March 12 will be notified by March 19.
• Maker Bay Area: May 3-4, 2008
Hours: Saturday 10-6 pm; Sunday 10-5pm.
• Entry Form

Organized by the staff of Make and Craft magazines, Maker Faire is a newfangled fair that brings together science, art, craft and engineering plus music in a fun, energized, and exciting public forum. The aim is to inspire people of all ages to roll up their sleeves and become makers. This family-friendly event showcases the amazing work of all kinds of makers–anyone who is embracing DIY and wants to share their accomplishments with an appreciative audience.
We encourage you to join the fun and enter a project to exhibit. You can submit an entry through the web using the link described below or you can come show us your work at a Maker Faire “tryout” on Feburary 17, 2008, noon to 4:00pm at the Exploratorium at the Palace of Fine Arts, 3601 Lyon Street, San Francisco. Please RSVP to to request a spot.

The first step to participating in Maker Faire is to submit an entry that tells us about yourself and your project. Entries can be submitted from individuals as well as from groups such as hobbyist clubs and schools. Please provide a short description of what you make and what you will actually bring to Maker Faire. Please link to photographs or videos of what you make. Maker exhibits should be non-commercial. We particularly encourage exhibits that are interactive and that highlight the process of making things.

Here’s some suggested ideas for topics that we’re looking for:
• Things Made From Recycled Items
• Making Musical Instruments
• 3D Printers and CNC Milling
• Textile Arts
• Home Automation
• Rockets
• Ham Radio
• Puzzles, Games and Toys
• Cars (hot rods, custom vans, electric vehicles)
• Airplanes and Aeronautics (models, etc)
• Biology/Biotech
• Chemistry
• Food Makers
• Model Trains and Planes
• Green Tech
• Sewing and Felting
• Kites
• Old Farm or Garden Equipment (Tractors, etc.)
• Temporary Structures (Tents, Domes, etc.)
• Unusual Tools or Machines
• How to Fix Things or Take them Apart (Vacuums, Clocks, Washing Machines, etc.)

Maker Exhibit: Our standard setup for a Maker exhibit is roughly a 10×10 space. Use this space to display your work and/or demonstrate how you make something. You will need to bring your own tables and chairs.
Once we have accepted participants, we will send out a call asking for presentations, performances and demonstration workshops.

Application Form: Please go to the following URL and fill it out the entry form to tell us about your project:

All proposals will be reviewed and we will notify makers of acceptance via email by March 19 (for entries received by the March 12 deadline).

NOTE: Makers whose entries are accepted will receive free registration to Maker Faire. However, we cannot pay for transportation and accommodations.
If you have any questions about participating in Maker Faire, please contact use by email:

Commercial Exhibitors and Event Sponsorship
Makers do not pay a fee to exhibit at Maker Faire and maker exhibits are non-commercial. We welcome paid exhibitors and there are a wide range of choices for space and exposure at Maker Faire. If you have a commercial product or service or represent a company, please contact Sherry Huss
We look forward to seeing you this year in San Mateo.
Dale Dougherty
Editor & Publisher, Make and Craft
O’Reilly Media, Inc.