Posts tagged culture

Misc. links Sep 12th - 26th

The fiction of the creative industries by Florian Cramer. From a Dutch perspective but translates well into the Portuguese reality. The gist of it — the ‘creative industries’ hype conceals centralism (and nepotism) under a veneer of advertising, and harms both non-profit Art and independent creative businesses. Agreed! (via Ricardo Lafuente)

A Reddit group about explaining stuff in a way a five-year-old could understand.

JavaScript Garden: good documentation about the idiosyncrasies of the language.

Txt2re is a useful regular expression generator. Headache relief indeed.

An introduction to Arduino — a comic book. Perhaps I’ll start tinkering with electronics now?

This realtime face substitution demonstration is easily the creepiest video I’ve seen recently. It almost seems like a nasty device out of cyberpunk sci-fi.

A selection of the best moments from The Simpsons, according to Wired.

You Are Not a Photographer. Or, owning the kit and using it on occasion doesn’t make you a master — sometimes, hardly an apprentice, it seems.

That which we have now, having never been

An interesting post on urban renewal, real estate speculation, nostalgia and gentrification. This seems a pretty universal phenomenon: right now downtown Porto has a mix of successful (?) and not-successful renewal, in the form of new drinking establishments all over the place and costly overhyped low-quality apartments like those the article describes. The former are all too dependent on fashions and are risky business, while the latter can’t have a good future value — being located in buildings surrounded by abandoned fire hazards, in streets where the drunken hordes roam on weekends.

Up to a point, John. These things matter as long as you don’t pretend your tastes are achievements. Any idiot with a bank account can buy Criterion Collection DVDs at the local Fnac or, even better, a book containing select quotes from the French New Wave… (via Filmquotes)

I remember playing with my dad’s CDs when I was tiny, and then at school we’d put our projects on to CD-Rs to take home. But I never really owned any— by the time I was getting into music nobody bought them.

An article about the CD revival of the 2020s. (via The Null Device)

Which I’m actually unsure if it’ll ever happen. It seems plausible at first, but unlike vinyl the compact disc is actually quite a sophisticated and unstable media. It’s unlikely many discs will survive into the 2020s, let alone players in good working order (this is why you’ll never see a Lomography-style revival of late 90s VGA digital cameras). I think CDs will instead go the way of the floppy disk or the VHS tape: charming pieces of retro plastic.

While previous youth movements have challenged the dysfunction and decadence of their elders, today we have the hipster – a youth subculture that mirrors the doomed shallowness of mainstream society.

Adbusters calls the ‘hipster’ The Dead End of Western Civilization (via Drive-by Blogging).

I may not agree on this overly dramatic tone, as hipsterism must be seen as something aligned with the fact that in a way Art History stopped somewhere in the late 70s. So, in the same way postmodernism means there are no longer vanguardists fighting both the art market and the previous vanguards, youth subversion too became postmodern, ceasing to truly exist.

I don’t even think hipsters exist. There might just be too many obnoxious douchebags, overgrown tweens caught in a loop of consumerism, peer pressure and a fix for vacuous praise, for as long as their parents can support that. Most will hit head-on against a brick wall after college, when faced with poor salaries and a job economy much worse than the economy that gave their parents material progress and enough of a surplus to generate their hipster douchebag children in the first place. Others will be lucky and have enough money to continue being obnoxious douchebags for the rest of their lives.

Same as it ever was.

The tumblelog conundrum

Yesterday Tumblr rolled out yet another improvement to their free ‘tumblelogging’ service — the ability to read ‘tag channels’ in your Dashboard, which you can filter by popularity in realtime. I immediately said ‘Wow!’ and found it very cool from a software development standpoint (an aesthetic appreciation my recently academic studies has been sharpening). But still, there was that old part of me that just said:

“Hey, whoa! Wait a minute!”

There’s much to be loved about Tumblr. I happily jumped onboard two-and-a-half years ago, right at the launch. I’ve seen this webservice grow, adding a ton of features in the meantime without losing focus. One of the reasons I like it so much probably doesn’t make much sense: Tumblr is made in New York, not in California, so somehow something has passed into its design and software engineering that I find more appealing to my European sensibility than similar services from the Far West. But there’s another, double-edged reason. When recommending Tumblr to people (which I do, a lot), I tell them “in a nutshell, it’s blogging for lazy people”. I’m lazy, so that’s a great reason. I don’t blog much, and would blog even less if there were no ‘bookmarklets’ or whatever you call them. So in way, the greatest reason for my enthusiasm about Tumblr is the bookmarklet.

If you are one of the two persons who visited If Then Else a few years ago and still do, you know that shortly after I signed up for my Tumblr account my blogging style changed dramatically. It may have taken a couple of years for me to get everything smoothy integrated, but essentially since 2007 If Then Else was ‘possessed’ by my ‘tumblelogging’, and what used to be a text-heavy blog became something quite different, a somewhat random collection of text, yes, but also photos, links, quotes and videos (I never had much care for chats and audio posts), not a web-journal anymore but some cross between a certain 1990s ideal of what an ‘e-zine’ should be and a chaotic Robot Wisdom-esque mess updated for the broadband age (mind you, when I started If Then Else in 2001 it was still costumary for a webdesigner to ensure a webpage’s ‘weight’ was below 50KB — or else people would get fed up with the loading time). In effect, If Then Else became a clone — diligently mirrored by a cronjob I put on its server — of my Found Objects tumblelog.

While If Then Else sports different visuals, a six years deeper archive, a photologue (itself a similar clone of my Fotologue account — I never liked Flickr, so I went Far East rather than West), a pretty pristine hand-coded comment system and some of the other knick-knacks old weblogs usually have, Found Objects ‘follows’ and is ‘followed’, and there are ‘notes’ (that is, ‘likes’ and ‘reblogs’) instead of comments. If Then Else won’t get out much, its best feature is perhaps the RSS feed, which allows people to read it without ever visiting the sorry-ass website a second time. But the party never stops in Tumblelogueland, where people like posts and posts get liked, where reblogs are conduits throughout which content gets pushed and memes gets traced. It’s Web 1.0 versus Web 2.0, my host versus their server.

This is the great trend of the late noughts Internet: centralization. Unless you are an A-lister, your own private, hand-or-Dreamweaver-coded website means squat. Sure you can put a portfolio online on your own host — and you should, as a courtesy for those who google you or so that you can have your vanity address written on the back of your business card —, but all the action’s at Behance, and that’s the place where you should put your stuff. In a sense, we’re back in the old BBS days, and the early Web was a crazy anarchic phenomenon that wasn’t fit to last. Why should I bother building my own spaces if nobody visits them, and people get their dose of whatever Ed is up to in the places everybody lists what they are up to?

I guess the answer lies at the beginning of this rant. While the means to filter huge amounts of information like the ‘tag channels’ are undeniably cool, and somehow meet the romantic promises of early information futurisms such as Vannevar Bush’s Memex, the flipside to the content-sharing cultures of places like Tumblr and Facebook is that nobody’s actually creating anymore. A ‘reblog’, while interesting as a meme-tracing construct, gives us an illusion of production through consumption, and in the end many weblogs and tumblelogs, in their quest for ‘new’ content every day hour become someone else’s parrot so they can improve their ‘tumblarity’ — a Tumblr feature I really dislike, as it introduces a competitiveness that encourages mindless reblogging as original posts are harder to do.

This is why I believe keeping your own, let’s say ‘Web 1.5’, site is still important: It’s your space, so you keep it neat and clean.

A person who has not been completely alienated, who has remained sensitive and able to feel, who has not lost the sense of dignity, who is not yet “for sale”, who can still suffer over the suffering of others, who has not acquired fully the having mode of existence - briefly, a person who has remained a person and not become a thing - cannot help feeling lonely, powerless, isolated in present-day society. He cannot help doubting himself and his own convictions, if not his sanity. He cannot help suffering, even though he can experience moments of joy and clarity that are absent in the life of his “normal” contemporaries.

Erich Fromm (via psychotherapy)

Xkcd — Mission to Culture. I can definitely relate to feeling embarrassed while trying to show uncooperative people something new, but I also believe culture is something you consume and doesn’t necessarily make you a better person, so I have a hard time coping with some people’s smugness.