I got my new G3 series powerbook yesterday! It was meant for Arthur Elsenaar (we both ordered powerbooks--his came in, mine didn't), but as Arthur is going to be away next week and has no time to spend with his new powerbook, he offered it to me. Nice huh?


Mark Madel brought the term up in a meeting yesterday over the project for the 'Stadsdeelkantoor'. Lovely word. Artists are able to reify abstractions like 'truth' and 'community' into concrete forms (art). I.e. the map becomes the territory. Here's the definition from the OED:

Convert (person, abstract concept) into thing, materialize.

Here's the definition from Black's Law Dictionary:

The embodiment of a right to the payment of money in an instrument so that the transfer of the instrument transfers also the right. The term can also be used to refer generally to the embodiment of any other property in a writing, which writing represents the property.

Sociologically speaking, reification is critiqued as 'concealing' social relations (class struggle):

The concept of reification was popularized by G. Lukács. He used it to describe a situation in which social relations seemed to be beyond human control because they acquire a fixed and immutable quality, almost as if they were features of the natural, rather than social, world. In Lukács's view, reification particularly arises in capitalist societies in which goods are produced for exchange, not for immediate use. These exchanges conceal the social relations involved. For example, men come to see the exchange of wages for labor as an exchange of things, rather than a social relation between people (employers and workers) which is at heart exploitative. Reification is also often related to alienation, in that men feel alienated from the social world as they feel that its thing-like quality removes it from their control.


Wasn't able to make it to Ronald van Tienhoven's lecture today in Goes. Loes came to Rotterdam, we went to the zoo and I installed software on my new machine. I love it. It's great! So damn fast.


Alex Adriaansens called and asked whether I'd be willing to moderate this month's Wiretap at V2. What's the theme?


Camiel van Winkel called to ask for a copy of The Origin of Pride proposal dating from 1992. One day I plan to rewrite this paper-- read now at your own risk! Arjen Mulder's twin papers 'The Least Materiality' and 'World Names' published in Mediamatic vol. 7#2 (1995) are much better discussions of the project.

Bankrupt Banks

Ron Insana, my favorite anchorman in the daily CNBC 'soap opera', added the following footnote to this afternoon's report of the insolvency of many (most?) of Japan's banks:

Today the world's second largest economy has no functioning banking system. And the world's second largest nuclear power has no functioning economy. This, my friends, is not a pretty picture.

You can say that again.


Paid a visit to the 'huishoudbeurs' this evening in Ahoy because I heard that the energy company, Eneco and a new ISP, QuickNet, had a special offer on the new IP over the cable service. Yes--I signed up. It will cost me about Hfl. 100 per month. Should have it in a few weeks.


Paid a visit to the Sandberg Institute with Jente this morning to speak with Jos Houweling about the potential for more co-operation between Media-GN and the Sandberg Institute.

On my way home I stopped by Mark Madel's studio to discuss the Stadsdeelkantoor project. I believe our concept is slowly getting there...

The notion of 'shadows' appeared -- and again disappeared -- from our discussion. Jouke has got some way cool shadow pages on his 'old' xs4all site:

Question: Do you think that 'Remember 1997', the last URL above, would qualify as 'Shadow Figure Sex Theatre'?


Today my attention lies here:

The Death by Media Exhibition

All of the old students (Ad, Edo, Yvonne, Johann, Erik, Arno and René) and most of the new students are interested in participating in the exhibition. ALL of the old students have said that they might not have enough time what with their busy jobs, other work commitments etc. The DEADline approaches!

The Art School of the 21st Century

There hasn't been much activity on the list over the last week or two. Katalin Herzog finally mailed a short essay responding to the discussion between Arjen, Jouke and myself. In order to understand her remarks I've been re-reading the posts and taking note of the many salient points-- I do not believe that Katalin agrees with the propositions that 'Art is for Change not for People' and that 'Schools are for Change not for People'. Inneke Schwartz has contributed a short piece which she promised would 'be continued' and Michael Goldhaber has posted his first remarks.

Strategy Forming for Media-GN

"Each new season grows from the leftovers from the past. That is the essence of change and change is the basic law."

-- Hal Borland, Autumn's Clutter--November 3

"Change as change is mere flux and lapse; it insults intelligence. Genuinely to know is to grasp a permanent end that realises itself through changes."

-- John Dewey, The Influence of Darwinism on Philosophy

"There is something in the pang of change. More than the heart can bear. Unhappiness remembering happiness."

-- Euripides, Iphigenia in Taurus


My new powerbook died (very badly) this morning.


Hotel Nassau Bergen, Bergen aan Zee

Spent Monday and Tuesday at a 'Virtual Platform' brainstorming session on the beach.


Haiku Server

Loes has finished her 'Annotation by Haiku' using Frontier's .wsf framework and is running it off her Snelnet machine at home. Yesterday evening Dave Winer at Scripting News pointed to it and for a few hours she was getting a hit a minute. She's so incredibly excited--she sent a bouquet of flowers to me at Media-GN. [link no longer operative].


The Great Return

As you may have noticed there have been no updates to Alamut since the 7th of October. The reason? On the morning of the 8th my new G3 powerbook irrevocably died (unalterably and beyond all recall). This afternoon Martin Luiken (Guide Group Groningen) ended a week's frustration by bringing me a new one to replace it and return my access to my files, software and the net.

Net Jail

'A week without' reminded me of the saga of the principle protagonist in Bruce Sterling's 'Islands in the Net' Have you ever read it? Near the end of the book Laura is captured and thrown into a central african jail for a number of years--without her communication devices. Jail life is cruel but given the context of the book the reader wonders which is worse: physical incarceration or the fact that Laura is cut off from her community on the Net.

It is scary how quickly net access becomes a necessity. Without it I am lost.


Swiki Server

Spent the evening downloading and installing Squeak and Swiki. Squeak is a reincarnation of the Smalltalk programming environment (nearly Dead Media!) being developed at Apple and Disney. Swiki is shorthand for 'Squeak Wiki Wiki Server'--a collaborative web server which allows users to create, edit and change any and all pages on a Swiki site.

We're thinking of using a Swiki-like server during the 'Art School of the 21st Century Conference' which will take place next month in Groningen (November 13-15). The idea is to distill some of the more 'radical' propositions from the mailing list discussion we've been having (such as: 'Art Schools are for Change not for People') and create Swiki pages with them. Conference attendees would be able to comment and critique the propositions on computers located in the conference foyer and around the city.

BTW: Swiki brings out the control monster in me. I'm thinking of ways to protect the content. It is so completely open and vunerable... a malicious user (or even an unaware user) can easily destroy someone elses content or erase the whole site. Everything is so exposed...


Wiretap 4.10 'Soft Liberation'

I'm to moderate Wiretap 4.10 at V2 tomorrow. The theme of the afternoon is 'Soft Liberation--Independent Software Development in Art'. The invitation states (my translation):

In WireTap 4.10 attention is placed upon the need and necessity for a greater diversity in hardware and software. The dependance of artists on commercial hardware and software has resulted in work 'typified' by the tools used: photoshop images, bryce images, 3D studio max images etc. In addition, today's web browsers and hard and software platforms (developed by a handful of large companies) determine in large the scope of 'digital art'. For some artists these limitations provide a reason to develop their own hardware and software adding another dimension to the aesthetic, social and cultural use of media technology.

I'm worried, I'm sure that there are a number of positions possible in such a discussion. But who is going to represent them? I have a feeling that the speakers completely agree with each other. If I'm moderating (meaning avoiding extremes, rendering less violent, intense, rigorous) who is goiong to provide the afternoon's dialectic? Me?

Documents archived on Alamut that I find relevant to the discussion:

While science and art generate truth and beauty, technology generates opportunities: new things to explain; new ways of expression; new media of communications; and, if we are honest, new forms of destruction. Indeed, raw opportunity may be the only thing of lasting value that technology provides us. It's not going to solve our social ills, or bring meaning to our lives. For those, we need the other two cultures. What it does bring to us--and this is sufficient--are possibilities.
Kevin Kelly, Third Culture

The Secret to Running an Organization that Consists of Creative People

START: Check that the organization's goals match the self interests of its participants
CONTINUE: Check that all participants share the organization's goals


The Wiretap Fiasco

Take the following and mix:

  • Two young artist cum euro-marxist die-hards who see class struggle, power relations and 'big bad business' everywhere in their computers, their interfaces and their networks.
  • A cybernetics nerd who needed to prove to everyone that he was the smartest guy in the room.
  • A masochistic moderator who realised that everyone in room hated Kevin Kelly (he's a Californian, he works for Wired!) but decided to cite him anyway.


The Delusions of Revolutionists

The revolutionaries found covert, oppressive meanings hiding behind old words... and added to their political agenda the "relanguaging" of everything...

The counter-revolution, on its side, saw its enemies as "drunk on syllables; rioting in an orgy of words, issuing from the suffocating rivers of speech, books and pamphlets."

--Manuel de Landa, A Thousand Years of Nonlinear History


Maps, Categories, Possibilities, Stations, States

A clarification of some of terminology that I'm using is one of the consequences of Rolf Pixley's lecture on 'state spaces' last Sunday at V2:

  • Categories exist within the model
  • Locations exist within the map
  • Stations exist within the state space
  • Possibilities exist within a possibilty space
Laws and Simple Rules

determine the 'geometry of behavior' and the spatial contours of model, map, state space, possibility space.

The Event Horizon

will either be the view from any location or from all possible locations within the state/possibility space.

The Singularity

will be the jump from one state/possibility space into another. In other words: the point of rebooting from one 'operating system into another. The point where language, understanding and vision 'break down'.


The 21c SWIKI

Got a test SWIKI configured and installed on our Media-GN server (running that is, within that CAH-RAZY smalltalk virtual machine...) Check it out at: [link no longer operative].


Exhaustion strikes after another Media-GN marathon. Spent most of the day alternating between sleep and trying to debug my modem which is constantly dropping the connection to my dial-up POP. Ended up installing the V.34 script Apple released for iMacs having the same problem. This works. My connection speed is a bit slower (33.6 Kbs rather than 45 or 46 Kbs) but at least I can stay online.

Went to the library and borrowed 'Inside Smalltalk vol. I'


Government by News Leak

Rushed off to Amsterdam this morning for yet another meeting... this time for the 'National Council of MFA Education'. The agenda for the meeting was completely abandoned in light of the articles published this morning in the 'Volkskrant' concerned the dubious future of the MFA programs--including the MFA at Media-GN. Unfortunately the news was premature and biased. An example of what McLuhan described as 'Government by News Leak'?


My first SQUEAK method...


"A method to test whether a string is a palindrome or not. Returns 'true' or 'false'."

| indexStart indexEnd indexMiddle |

indexStart <- 1.
indexEnd <- self size.
indexMiddle <- (indexEnd/2) rounded.

[(self at: indexStart) = (self at: indexEnd)] whileTrue: [
indexStart <- indexStart + 1.
indexEnd <- indexEnd - 1.
indexMiddle <- indexMiddle - 1.
(indexMiddle = 0) ifTrue: [^ true]
^ false

Squeak is cool.

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First created: 3/10/98; 01:28:39 CET
Last modified: 11/2/00; 12:33:05 CET