Vitality vs. Dilution in Individuals and Groups...
I spent the day reading history... and reconsidering (yet again) my proposal for Amsterdam 2.0. Should we retool old cities to become new cities? Or should they be left alone (to live or die)?
If we left old cities alone, new ideals and needs would force us to found new cities in new locations. We would have more diversity than dilution.
Dilution (hodge podge/melting pot) happens when we try to please too many needs (multi-functionality) or combine too many ideals or different cultural logics (multi-culturality) in one location.
Individual organisms seem capable of reconciling different histories, genes and cultures within their own bodies. This in many cases produces an energy we call 'vitality'. New life emerges from old.
The Mission Statement...
Q: Where in collective organizations do we find similar vitality?
Q: Who specifies the group's goals?
Day at Media-GN. I had no appointments in my agenda which left me completely free to spend time with the students.
Big Question: How can we (together) harness all this energy and talent--before it goes bad? (Media-GN keeps talent off the streets...)
Thwarted energy --> FRUSTRATION.
Day at Media-GN. Arrived to find that the students had wallpapered the entire entry hall with black and white posters proclaiming that it 'Komt Wel Goed' (It will be okay). I was touched.
Gabrielle showed me a database of all the world's languages which she had found online and printed out (in color!) and bound as a set of booklets.
We called a student meeting in the afternoon and Margot (our new study co-ordinator) and I spoke about the program for the next few weeks and promised changes in our communications.
Received the following extremely short reply from Paul Treanor at my request for a meeting:
I looked for a website under "perry" at xs4all. but there is none. Do you have a web site with more about the project/texts of yours?
Decided to not yet point him to Alamut. Began formulating a reply on the train home.
Worth reading: Dave Winer's June 1 'Recasting' piece at scripting.com:
Winer's brand of friendly hubris: "I've got great plans for Microsoft."
Speaking of 'recasting' I read last night in Jente's June Wired (it's not yet on the newstands in NL--she gets it earlier because of her subscription) that Nokia started out as a company making rubber boots.
The Eternal Arms Race...
I mailed Arthur asking him to open a special email account for me at Media-GN. I'm planning to post an invitation to some usenet groups to review An Index of Possible Cities and their Laws.
Posting to usenet is an invitation to SPAMMERS who use robots to crawl usenet and gather email address. As I wrote Arthur:
I see now-a-days that people put 'nospam' in their email address and then add a message to remove 'nospam' before replying but I would prefer just to keep my real 'root' address out of the equation.
To which he replied:
I already heard about robots with nospam removers... thing is people tend to adopt the same way to protect themselves.. hence nospam in the domain or user name..
Did you know that Dave Winer's *personal* website at scripting.com contains more than 30,000 pages?
I got a mail from Jaakko van 't Spijker (an architect working on the Amsterdam 2.0 project) suggesting the Amsterdam 2.0 constitution be thought of as The Law of Laws.
Ronald van Tienhoven called last night and made a few remarks about the 'state' of the exhibition in Wageningen (which I'm afraid I interpreted rather badly).
Ronald believes that a better "social interface" for the exhibition is necessary. He is talking about the info center in the 'Koetshuis' (coach house). He's probably right. (But then again, is not Mike Tyler's entire work a 'social interface'?)
Perhaps this explains why Mike is not happy with the presentation in the 'Koetshuis'. My work is clearly NOT about socialization and probably is antagonistic towards any attempts to 'contain' it as such.
In an completely informationalized world why must art be informationalized as well?
THESIS: While information may "set us free", informationalized information does not "set us free" but keeps us social (as society's drug or filter it maintains sociobility).
I'm going this evening to The Hague for Media-GN's production 'De Terugreis' which is to be presented in the 'Ridderzaal' of the 'Binnenhof' (the Dutch Parliment).
The project (interactive theatre/multimedia production) was commissioned by the province of Groningen to mark the anniversary of the 'Vrede van Münster' (the Peace of Münster--at the end of the 80 year war).
Media-GN's production last night was a success. I travelled up to Groningen after it was over with two of our graphic designers.
We moved Jente to her new house in Groningen this morning. Hot and sweaty work...
Returned to Rotterdam to continue working on my 'Possible City' framework.
TIRED: Anselm Kiefer
Addressing a question of Jaakko concerning the jurisdiction of 'geographic, technological, financial or cultural' constituencies I've uploaded Douglas Barnes' The Coming Jurisdictional Swamp.
Also uploaded the summary that Arjen Mulder compiled of our discussions in January and February of this year: Review Amsterdam 2.0 - Feb. 1998.
Ronald van Tienhoven has read the 'Nuclear Garden' manuscript and sent me a mail about it. When he called me the other day he was critical of the fact that the manuscript was on display in the 'Koetshuis'.
His reason for the critique? The text seemed too 'insider', too oblique for the general public to follow.
I agree with him that the text is rough and incomplete (it must still be edited), but it was intended as a sort of theoretical wallpaper...
ANYWAY I'm happy that he has had a chance to properly read the entire manuscript. I've published Ronald's message to start a new page: Criticality (in Physics and Art) IV.
(from Jouke's June 1 entry to his cultural intelligence works site (link updated June 2003).
We had another Amsterdam 2.0 meeting this morning at Maurice's office in the 'Brain Park'.
Jaakko gave me a photocopy of an article in the recent Archis over Rem Koolhaas's 'Generic City' essay in S,M,L,XL:
Took the train to Amsterdam to attend my first 'Virtual Platform' meeting. Jules and I decided that I should replace him there as MEDIA-GN's representative.
The Virtual Platform is a group of people (from the Dutch Design Institute, Society for Old and New Media, Steim, Paradiso, De Balie, Montevideo, V2, Media-GN) organized to 'represent' the state of digital culture for the government.
Today's decision: Each VP member will individually apply for Hfl. 100,000 to do a cultural IT project. The applications are to made to the Mondriaan Stichting that has 'reserved' 750,000 guilders this year for the Virtual Platform.
Had a salad with Loes at De Jaren. Ordered Richard Epstein's book, Simple Rules for a Complex World from the American Book Center. Have read a review of this book and believe it may be of use in formulating constitutions.
Out the door at the crack of dawn to start my weekly trek to GN. Waiting at the bus stop I'm STUNNED by a new Chesterfield cigarette ad. Have you seen it?
Picture this: an amateur painting (brush strokes indicating an explosion), done on brown wrapping paper and pictured with conspicuously torn edges. Painted male and female symbol.
And the following hand painted message:
Give me a break... Just what market segment is the ad agency trying to reach?
Htmlized A Magna Carta for the Knowledge Age on the train.
Added the addenda Jaakko sent me to his The Law of Laws text (which he wrote after our telephone conversation last week).
At GN Mechtild Prins is doing a workshop on 'presentation training' with the students. Sat in for a while. Lively discussion.
Had a meeting at the Groninger Museum to talk with Mark Wilson about doing a new version of Nuclear Garden. For the complete story see: 'Nuclear Garden II at the Groninger Museum'.
Had dinner with Mark Madel and Mechtild at Diamant. Left the party early in order to spend some hours preparing for Thursday's Amsterdam 2.0 meeting.
Slept for the first time at Jente's new house. Woke up to a carcophony of birds. Jente's house is near the 'Noorderplantsoen' and there are a lot of trees in the neighborhood.
An Accident Waiting to Happen...
A weird event: Riding my bike this morning to the university library, I crossed an intersection a little carelessly and nearly went under a car that was crossing my path (he swerved, I jammed on the brakes).
Shaken (he had the right of way) I rode on and was passed by another car just before the next intersection. At the intersection this car slammed on its brakes and hit a third car that was crossing its path. Luckily neither driver was hurt.
Spooky... as if an invisible accident 'angel' had been moving down the road, decided to 'pass over' me and settle on the next object that it met.
Take me away from all this death.
Had a meeting with Bas Paul who is the chairman of MEDIA-GN's board concerning the future of MEDIA-GN. Had a meeting to discuss next year's curriculum with Jules, Margo, Mark Madel and (later) Johan.
At 4 in the afternoon went again to the museum. The directors have suddenly decided not to go ahead with the work. See: 'Nuclear Garden II at the Groninger Museum'.
Dazed at this turn of events--I catch the 18:15 home with Mark and Mechtild. I feel exhausted and slightly depressed.
I was up at 5 to prepare for this morning's meeting and to work on my 'preamble' to Amsterdam 2.0's constitution. It began to pour buckets just before 9 -- so I left my bike at home and took the metro to the meeting at Maurice's office.
From the metro station to the meeting I shared my umbrella with Thomas Buxó, the designer of the Amsterdam 2.0 book.
Slowly, slowly the various projects are starting to synergize and come together. Jaakko has mapped many of my possible cities across his and Maurice's map of (future) Amsterdam.
Arjen brought me a copy of the utopian manual bolo'bolo (1984) by the infamous P. M. (Arjen knows this book well having translated it into Dutch in 1989.) bolo'bolo is like SNOW CRASH meeting THE HOBBIT:
Came home, had a nap, and then spent a few hours cleaning the house. Rick came at 6 to measure for the shelves that he'll build in my storage room downstairs. (I've still got to move my studio from Groningen at the end of the month. Not looking forward to that.)
I was surprised while vacuuming and looking out the window to see art types standing around drinking -- it appeared that a gallery had opened downstairs! Turned out to be temporary -- the space is still for rent -- the artists have made a special arrangement with the developer...
I went down and checked it out but I didn't find the work that interesting. One piece bears description: picture a raised platform with a (Stedelijk Museum) bench on it covered with a pile of envelopes each printed with the following text:
I must have spent a total of 15 seconds considering this. Later I noticed someone climbing on to the platform (while a voice inside my head said: 'Hey don't step on the artwork!') and taking one of the envelopes and opening it. Inside was a copy of the book:
How to Disappear Completely and Never be Found by Doug Richmond
Planning a disappearance, arranging for a new identification, finding work, establishing credit, pseudocide (creating the impression that you are dead) and more.
I asked the people I was talking with, "Are you allowed to take those?" Everyone shrugged. Meanwhile someone else grabbed an envelope, tore it open and pocketed a copy of the book. The hardboard platform was starting to become scuffed with footprints. So I took the plunge and grabbed an envelope for myself. My second book of the day...
The Right to Start Over...
...is one of the constitutional rights that I've been planning to organize a 'possible city' around. How to Disappear Completely and Never be Found is a practical handbook chock full of intelligence for today's citizen seeking this basic right.
'Take Me Away From All This Death' becomes 'Help Me Find The Right Death':
A Close Friend?...
As an investor I've come to appreciate the effect that the voice of Mr. Greenspan's has on the world's markets (and my net financial worth). In a sense Alan Greenspan is one of the most (if not the most) powerful men on earth.
So you can imagine my surprise to read in the most recent Laissez Faire catalog that he listed as a close friend of the late Ayn Rand! An objectivist banker at the head of the world economy?
Got an email from Norman Olsen this morning--in it he sez:
I seem to get a libertarian cast to yr stuff and that does jerk my knee.
Am I really a libertarian? I'm not sure, but I'm certainly no stranger to knee jerking.
Reactionary, Responsive or reciprocal action; action set up by one substance in another; response of organ etc. to external stimulus; return of previous condition after interval of opposite (e.g. glow felt after cold bath, depression after excitement); (military) counterstroke; retrograde tendency especially in politics.
We Take A One Day Vacation...
We call it 'quits' for the day. Loes and I declare today a HOLIDAY and leave for the ZOO carrying a bottle of water.
Increasing DIVERSITY means not just a horizontal widening (the bolo'bolo patchwork of diverse communities). Increasing DIVERSITY means a vertical widening as well. See The Richer get Richer Algorithm.
from V. Turchin, C. Joslyn: The Cybernetic Manifesto (1989):
I ask myself: How much change can an individual identity bear?
Arjen mailed me Lovink's Critique of Transhumanism.
New discovery: the chocolate chip cookies from Hotel New York! Mmmm... they are nearly as good as Jane's (my sister-in-law in Canada).
Open House (Day) on the 'Koop van Zuid' (crowds, music, food). Visited 'Pakhuismeesteren' a building on the Wilhelmina Pier scheduled to be rebuilt starting the end of this year.
Spoke to the architect (Fumi Hoshino) and the project developer. On the top of the building will be 22 extraordinary penthouses. The project developer told me that purchase will be by invitation only!
Fled in the afternoon to Amsterdam. Read the papers with Loes. After dinner we went to see the 'Big Lebowsky' from Joel and Ethan Coen.
Talking about 'bearing change'...
Here's what the cowboy has to say about it in the 'Big Lebowsky':
Excerpt from an email (dated the 10th of June) from Paul Treanor:
No political, geopolitical, or territorial order can reconcile competing universalisms. It is absolutely central to liberal thought that a liberal system can somehow do this, but the peace of liberal societies is obtained by the suppression of their own enemies as liberal societies. They themselves can not resolve the conflict liberal versus principal anti-liberal. So again, and in general: no guarantees are on offer, no guarantees are possible, even if I were in a position to impose them. Any attempt to introduce a plurality on non-nation states in Europe means a bloody civil war.
Worked on the new constitution.
Went to GN in order to be present at the final exam of 3 Minerva media students. An old colleague, Hans van Houwelingen--who had I hadn't seen in years--was acting as external examiner. It was very good to see him again!
Had a meeting with Martin Meeldijk, George Herfkens, and Johan Faber to talk about the procedural process of finding a new director for Media-GN.
The Constitution of Spawn...
I'm developing descriptions of a number of strategies to protect the autonomy of the possible cities.
1) A Strategy of Disappearance (out of sight, out of mind)
I've uploaded Keith Henson's 1988 paper, Memes, Meta-memes and Politics, which contains an interesting passage discussing the evolution and advantages of 'tolerance'.
Read last night in 'Fast Company' magazine a story on the success of Sony's business unit for the development of PlayStation games. The unit generates $3.3 million dollars revenue per person (employee).
Compare Microsoft, a company legendary for its productivity, which generates only $420,000 of revenue per person. Verdict: people who develop games can also be good at business.
PlayStation encourages autonomy--but demands accountability. Game designers like to be left alone. A sense of independence--defiance, really--oozes from every corner of the studios.
The essence of accountability is shared goals. Once a project has been green-lighted and a development team assembled--the team strikes a formal agreement about how the work will proceed.
The agreement includes: project objectives, deadlines, milestones. It also includes metrics that reflect life on software teams: worse-case scenarios and required work hours, "all the things people need to be prepared for."
A decision was made at Media-GN. Jente Klok was 'hired' as temporary (intermezzo) director.
A Reuters' Story--Greenspan: LET MONOPOLIES BE
WASHINGTON--Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan says U.S. regulators should leave most monopolies alone because they could not survive long in a world of rapidly advancing technology and global competition.
While Greenspan did not mention U.S. antitrust action against computer giants Microsoft and Intel, his comments yesterday seemed to question the whole philosophy underlying U.S. antitrust policy.
The government should not interfere with monopolies that maintain dominance through cost efficiencies and low prices, the Fed chief said in testimony to a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the current wave of corporate mergers.
"By the measure of what benefits consumers, such enterprises should not be discouraged," Greenspan said. He called on antitrust authorities to exercise a "higher degree of humility" before acting.
In his testimony, Greenspan said antitrust remedies were applied mainly to firms dominant in their industries, "yet the evidence of sustained dominance where markets are generally open are few."
U.S. Steel, General Motors, and IBM were prominent examples where market share had eroded after early dominance was achieved, he said.
Greenspan said banking and other regulated industries were an exception, and monopolies could flourish in these environments without appropriate care.
But he said technology was increasingly reducing the incidence of "natural monopolies," making it easier for competitors to enter markets that previously had high entry costs.
Finally, Greenspan said the increasing size of very large companies relative to any one nation's economy illustrated the importance of free trade.
"In some industries, free trade may be essentially the only way to maintain truly competitive markets to the benefit of consumers in all of the nations involved," he said.
Does the practice of 'free trade' reduce current (cultural) diversity or restrict possibilities of future (cultural) diversity? Do monopolies limit possibility? Do monopolies lead to monoculture?
Free trade does not necessarily mean trade in a 'mass' global market. Free trade can mean micromarkets. Or international trade between micro producers and consumers.
Worked on the Constitution all day with intermitent breaks of tv.
While watching the run up to the opening of the DOW on CNBC (the 24 HR. Global Business News Channel) Loes drops a bomb. She tells me that CNBC is macho. Damn it, she's right!
Watched 'The Good, the Bad and the Ugly' before falling asleep.
Plugging away (all day) at my Constitution for Amsterdam. It's warm here!
Started using 'Google', the new search engine at Stanford to do my research for Amsterdam 2.0. The quality (read: applicability) of the search results seem better than those from 'Hotbot' or 'Alta Vista'. http://google.stanford.edu
Been thinking about the pun Jouke made at the start of this month on his http://www.ciw.net site: WHAT'S ON A MAN'S MAP?
If the 'Map is not the Territory' (as Alfred Korzybski stated as recipe for sanity in his theory of General Semantics), then the Map is the Mind--and a city map is a reflection of a city's mind...
Found on my hard disk a copy of Hakim Bey's essay on Permanent Autonomous Zones. Uploaded --> Permanent TAZs
Alamut at the Solstice:
SEMPER FORTIS, SEMPER PLACATUS
(Alamut (at least) is) Always Strong, Always Peaceful.
To celebrate the solstice I've uploaded the following 'autonomous zone' essays by Hakim Bey:
Took a break at the end of the afternoon to go 'Sunday' shopping for books. Bought a new copy of Black's Law Dictionary (6th ed.) and a used copy of 'The New Robert's Rules of Order'.
Ecology (these days) means stealing from Peter to pay Paul...
I've been plagued with a cough the last couple of days. The devil is buried deep in my lungs-- they feel sore and heavy--it hurts at times to breathe...
Cough is worse. Slept badly. Not going to Media-GN today.
Woke up with a strange dream. I was at a gallery (opening) looking at a large painting made up from 4 smaller paintings. Hans, Berend and Aernout (Capital Gains artists) had each painted one panel. (Who painted the 4th?)
Each painting depicted the world as seen from outerspace, i.e. the world as globe, with a slice of bread covered thickly with chocolate spread lying on top of it...
Here's a small list that I drew up yesterday while thinking about the law in respect to the individual and to society--and every conceivable legal situation that could arise between the two.
Woke up feeling a bit better. On my way to the station to catch the train to GN, Pauline called to say that the board meeting planned for this evening has been cancelled.
Since I was heading up to Groningen primarily for this meeting (against my body's better advice) I decided to return home and give myself a chance to recover.
Is the message 'The Market is the Medium'?
Microstate Network http://microstate.net/ is a management bureau that advises micronations and microstates:
Microstate Network, Inc. provides strategic consulting and project administration/support services to governments, companies, organizations, and individuals, which desire to more effectively utilize information technologies to assist public and private sector development.
Overheard on CNBC: Yahoo's market capitalization is now 8 billion dollars. Not bad for a company showing no profits. No bad for a couple of college kids who had a good idea about organizing the Net's information.
We had another Amsterdam 2.0 meeting this morning at the Brain Park. Everyone seems to like the direction that I'm taking within the project--which is a major relief.
Arjen mentioned a few things that made me happy--he promised to contribute 'slogans', 'quotes' etc. to the individual 'possible cities' and to look for a copy of Grotius's 'Mare Liberum' (I've had no luck online).
I hope to soon upload the English translation of Arjen's recent article on Hasan-i Sabah and the original Alamut. I haven't read it yet--Mediamatic published it in its 'Secret Agent' issue (which I no longer receive).
Jouke's preparing a project proposal for Media-GN concerning the idea of the 'artist's estate'.
The definition of such an 'estate' (like the definition of 'identity') involves complex (but interesting!) questions and issues regarding property and property rights.
Disputes between 'private property rights' and the 'public right' to art seem to be on the rise these days. What ever happened to the Japanese gentleman who wanted to be burned at death with his own Van Gogh?
Jouke, it might help to check out Black's entry for 'estate'. Here are the first paragraphs... The Estate.
1 day seminar at Media-GN: 'The Market is the Medium'. Speakers were Joke Robaard, Rene Kool, Hans van Houwelingen, Marcel van der Drift and Ruben Abels. Jouke did the honors as chairman.
Joke showed slides and talked about her practice, her methods for 'subsidising' her work--having her models pay to be photographed, incorporating her business relationships within her images.
I like her work a lot--the way that she makes the exchange explicit and turns the credits into the content. Joke read a passage from Deleuze about 'buying and selling' which I'll upload to Alamut soon.
Yesterday on the train up to GN I re-read the correspondence that Jouke I conducted back in March: Incubators and Entrepreneurs. Worth re-reading.
JK: Did you expect 5-8 yrs ago to be in the market that you are in now? With your kind of expertise? I didn't. Can we predict where we'll be in another 5 years--do we want to try?
Do we as artists recast ourselves to fit within a market? Or does a market recast itself to fit us? Or is the meeting approached from both sides?
The Estate as Expert System...
After the seminar Jouke, Jente, Dick Rijken and myself retired to Jules' office to discuss the project proposal to the Mondriaan Stichting.
After an hour or two a concrete idea had emerged: to explore the idea of the artist's estate (or the safe-guarding of the artist's estate) as an 'expert system'.
An expert system can be defined as:
A computer application that performs a task that would otherwise be performed by a human expert. Some expert systems are designed to take the place of human experts, while others are designed to aid them.
To design an expert system, one needs a knowledge engineer, an individual who studies how human experts make decisions and translates the rules into terms that a computer can understand.
Packing the last remnants (of 14 years) at the Parkweg 69-A at the end of such a day happened in a daze. Worked until late in the night.
Today I finally moved the rest of my things (my studio) from the Parkweg to the Handelsplein--the move from Groningen to Rotterdam is complete. Long day, lots of stress and lifting...
Sleep strkes back! Got over 12 hours last night...
Today's big decision: the renegotiation of my mortgage which expires tomorrow. I've been putting this off the last few weeks, ever since I realised that short term interest rates have risen over the last year.
Spent much of the morning on the phone, talking to different advisors (all Rabobank) with a calculator in my hand. Ended up renewing the risk of future interest rate rises by taking another 1 year contract.
Last year I paid 3.8%. The coming year I'll be paying 4.6%. I've borrowed a LOT of money and a raise of .8% means a fair bit in my wallet.
Risk management is a part of life. Here's a book I'd like to read some day:
From the introduction:
This book tells the story of a group of thinkers whose remarkable vision revealed how to put the future at the service of the present.
By showing the world how to understand risk, measure it, and weigh its consequences, they converted risk-taking into one of the prime catalysts that drives modern Western society....
Dutch 17th century culture cannot be imagined without taking into account risk and risk taking...
A 'Google' search to discover the title of the William Gibson book where an AI created Joseph Cornell boxes turned up an interview with Gibson from 1989: http://sfbox.vt.edu:10021/J/jfoley/gibson/maddox_interview.txt
I read the interview on the train up to GN. In it Gibson points out the black humor of his work and expresses his amazement that others take it so seriously. (BTW: The title I was looking for: Count Zero ).
DW: Actually, there is an article in here on NASA's virtual reality project, and the Whole Earth Review calls it cyberspace.
WG: (looking at the photo of a sensor-lined glove that controls the movement of the wearer in 'cyberspace') Hey, Tom: you know, if you turned this thing inside out, you could get the computer to jerk you off?
TM: (laughing) That's beautiful, Bill. Put it in your book and someone'll build it.
WG: (laughing) Instead of jacking in, you'd be jacking off.
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