MARCH 1999


Messy Office (1)

Got up at 3 A.M. this morning to kick off March 1999. Began by reformating my entries for March 1998. While doing this I found the picture of Esther Dyson's office that I've been looking for... (this was the route: my 25.03.98 entry for Dyson's 'Intellectual Property and the Net' led me to the Release 1.0 site, where I found a reference to an article on Dyson in Wired 1.5, and in my paper version of the magazine I found the picture...) As you can see, Esther keeps a pretty wild office.

On 14.03.98 I pointed to the BIG question she once posited to John Brockman's (and James Lee Byers) World Question Center:

What makes a soul? And if machines ever have souls, what will be the equivalent of psychoactive drugs? of pain? of the physical / emotional high I get from having a clean office?

Wired magazine called Esther a 'ruthless information processing machine.'

[She] reads every piece of mail entering her office... Famous for making piles of litter in the first-class section of airplanes as she rips through publications.

I've got a few more 'Messy Office' pics which I'll publish sometime.

Paul Treanor

I received mail from Paul Treanor after I invited him to visit our presentation in De Appel. I've archived his response as Paul Treanor comments on Amsterdam 2.0.



Sing a song of sixpence,
A pocket full of rye:
Four and twenty blackbirds
Baked in a pie...

I love the song of the blackbird (Turdus merula). For the last month they have been singing early in the morning around my apartment. People don't eat blackbird pies in the Netherlands (anymore). Perhaps this is the reason that the Dutch Central Bureau of Statistics has declared that the blackbird population is on the rise...

The Blackbird is one of the commonest breeding bird species of The Netherlands. It favours tall shrublike vegetation for nesting but the species seems not too critical in its choice of breeding habitat. According to the results of the BMP, the Blackbird will strengthen its position as common breeding bird. Apart from coastal dune areas, where a trend is somewhat hard to distinguish, its numbers are steadily rising almost everywhere. The causes remain unknown.


Remko Scha paid a visit to Media-GN and the MFA students today. Together with Arthur, Mark, and Martin Meeldijk we had a very pleasant dinner afterwards. Remko is a very bright man--who acts disarmingly foolish. There is something unnerving about this way of displaying intelligence. The only other example of this that I can think of is the physicist from the Niels Bohr Institute that I met briefly in Copenhagen (at a lecture from Greg Chaitin on Algorithmic Information Theory) in the summer of 1996. What was his name?


Hong Kong Cinema

Ivonne Zijp showed me the opening scenes of 'Swordsman' a video made by Ching Siu Tung that she and her boyfriend rented. It looked pretty amazing, a kung-fu movie where characters fly like superheros, shapeshift and change sex and where the swordsmen cut horses in half (length-wise!). Very mythical, fairy tale-like and charming. The inevitable net search revealed that the film was made in 1990, that there are many sequels and that it is not even rated very highly by true aficionados. I'm impressed though. The Hong Kong Cinema database opens a door to new entertainment possibilities...

The Hong Kong Cinema Database: http://razzle.Stanford.EDU/hk/

Hayduke Lives! and other Programming Tales

Mark Madel and I took the train from Groningen part way home together (to Amersfoort). We took some G and started to babble about Edward Abbey's book 'Desert Solitude', systems thinking, John Lily's 'Programming and Metaprogramming in the Human Biocomputer' and NLP.

Mark told a wonderful story about how 'Desert Solitude' was passed between him, Mark Dion and Ashley Bickerton in the early 1980's and how it inspired he and Ashley to make a trip to the American Southwest in order to 'tree spike'. Bickerton bought a new four wheel drive for the purpose with mud flaps printed with 'Heyduke Lives!'.


Came home yesterday evening and found a birth announcement in the mail. Tom van Gestel and Brigitte van der Sande have had a son, 'Tyl van Gestel'.


Today is my brother Guy's birthday.

Deep Ecology

Yesterdays discussion of 'tree spiking' and 'monkey wrenching' led me to do some searches on Arne Naess, the father of the Deep Ecology Movement. With some trouble I managed to track down The Shallow and the Deep, the manifesto which launched the movement in 1973.

Silly idea for a billboard for the canyon model in 'The Mind on Scale' exhibition in Arti:


The T-REX of...

This evening was the opening of the 'Private Room Public Space' exhibition in Almere, for which I made a new work/installation. Although I had planned to go to the opening (honest!) I didn't manage to get there... Something very special and strange came up. Something that I'm not at liberty to speak about here...


Shopping in the Jordaan

Bought some decaffinated coffee (good) and some afternoon tea (not so good) from 'De Keizer'. Also bought a copy of Celia Green's 'The Human Evasion', Masahiro Mori's 'The Buddha in the Robot' and Barry Sear's 'Enter the Zone' at Book Traffic.


Spent the day installed software (the new Mac Palm desktop software and GlobalFax 2.6.5) and reading online about how different foods (as glucose) enter the blood stream at different rates (the glycemic index).

Stanley Kubrick died today (at the age of 70). I remember seeing 2001 (1968) and a Clockwork Orange (1971) when I was a teenager (with Harley Gifford and Alan Bird?) The soundtracks of both films (2001's Strauss waltzes and Walter/Wendy Carlos 'Switched on Bach' and Beethoven) played a important role in my musical 'growing up'...

Trading Volume

March's Wired: Sotheby's offered 150,000 items (lots) for auction last year and E-Bay offers 150,000 new items every day.

The world's largest source of out-of-print books, Advanced Book Exchange ( currently lists books from 4,644 used bookstores. Through their search engine I found and ordered a copy of 'The New Strategy of Style' at a store called the 'Book Bin' in Lancaster Pennsylvania. (It's still in print but I'm only paying $12.50 for it--Amazon charges $53.00)


...and the BBC reports that Chernobyl reactor Unit #3 is back online after being down several months repairs. Reactor Unit #4 is the one that exploded on the 26th of April 1986 and is now contained by a 'sarcophagus' (completed in November 1988 and visible in the picture below as the black, cash-register-like structure). Reactor Units #1 and #2 were permanently shut down in 1991 and 1996.

For a picture of Unit #4 after the explosion in 1986 see the Alamut entry for: 03.05.98


Two architecture students from the TU Delft visited to discuss the workshop that Dick Rijken and I will do with them at the end of the month.

My God! It's Filled with Stars!

While the Volkskrant reports that Kubrick was both a perfectionist demanding that some "... scenes be repeated up to 100 times," as well as a misanthropic hermit, "He was a man who had lost his interest in the rest of humanity," I think that the final line of 2001, "My God! It's filled with stars!" is a much kinder way to remember the man.

(Thank-you Robot Wisdom for the pointer to the epitaph thread on

Let's not waste serendipity: -- As it happens, "My God! It's filled with stars!" strangely summarizes Jouke's 'Notes, Quotes, Provocations and Other Fair Use' entry yesterday...

"...I cherish my own hesitation about what to publish and what not. I steal (my own and other's) time and attention. I notice some people's initial embarrassment to read this `diary'...

"...When I published my unedited notes of 1992 in a lightbox for exhibition, typeset in a 3pt. Univers 55, I was aware of the extremely personal content it contained, and theoretically broadcast. Also I realized the small chance of people actually reading the intimate passages, since they are hidden in the dense field of text. To most the piece looked like a luminous picture of some star spangled universe, which upon further inspection appears to be lines of text. In the context of the exhibition it remained a sign. If the piece was sold it would change its context and probably be studied in detail, which is a privilege sold with the piece. It is still available, so it most probably will be on the transport to St.Germain-des-Bois, this March 30."

From NQPAOFU (7 March 1999)

Note: I too have experienced the selfsame uncertainty over what-to-publish-and-what-not and have witnessed embarrassment in the faces of colleagues after they've read something 'a little too personal' on Alamut.

Note: I'll never forget how shocked one of our MFA students was when he saw that Mediamatic editor and publisher Willem Velthoven had posted pictures of his brother's new baby on the Mediamatic website.

Bad Simulacra

Ideas for the 'A Mind on Scale' exhibition in Arti:

  • a model of a figure hanging (by the neck) from a tree (bonsai)
  • a model of a billboard stating "This is Not a Canyon".
  • a model of a nuclear waste depot
  • a model of a garbage dump
  • a model of a dead whale

Movie Scene

Feel like some (more) melodrama? Look again at yesterday's photograph of the Chernobyl lamb. Now imagine it 'hopping' around and listen to Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young sing 'Helpless':

There is a town in North Ontario
With dream, comfort, memory, dispair,
And in my mind I still need a place to go
All my changes were there...

Leave us helpless helpless helpless...


Accompanied Jouke to Scheveningen yesterday evening--we had coffee in the Kuurhaus and then an excellent dinner at the Canton... He and his family will be leaving for their new home in Burgundy in exactly 3 weeks.

Discussed at the Kuurhaus...

  • Business oportunities: leverage of our websites, collecting and selling unique objects either singly or in the form of collections, curatorship.

  • Jouke suggested that we donate Beachhead/TAZoo-II (the porcupine work) which is currently stored in Ijmuiden to the Vleeshal/Middelburg collection. They already own the giraffe work: Movable Observation Post--High Viewpoint/TAZoo-I. This is a good idea.

On my way to the station I witnessed a Greenpeace vandalism/action against a 'supertrawler' which was moving down the Maas. Greenpeace had stopped its passage just before the Erasmus bridge by laying nets in its way. And yes, the press were there to register the entire event.


Alamut is a year old today!

After creating a series of small sites for different projects that I was working on, it was a year ago today that I decided in the future, one site would fit all.

Book List

We're paying a hell of a lot of attention to reading and collecting books to be read this month.

  • Gabrielle Marks (who has been doing speech and design research) complains that lately she's not able to finish a book.

  • Mike Tyler has been doing his research for his film script by reading novels. Here's a couple that he's read and recommends:

    Wieland by Charles Brockdon Brown
    Norstrilia by Cornwainer Smith
    The Third Policeman by Flann O'Brien

  • BTW: Manuel de Landa (author of 'War in the Age of Intelligent Machines and 'A Thousand Years of Nonlinear History'--both on my bookshelf, both unread) told me once that he only reads non-fiction. Never novels. Never?

  • And for good measure last week Esther Agricola (who curated the Private Room Public Space exhibition in Almere) recommended two books to me:

    One I should know but didn't: The Fall of Public Man by Richard Sennett and a distopic book that sounds a lot like Robert Kaplan's 'The Coming Anarchy': Utopistics by Immanuel Wallerstein.

Semi-smart paper

Ever heard of a Data Glyph? Gabrielle Marks pointed me to this:


Crumpled Car

Down along the coastal way,
Down along in a little bay,
Lies a crumpled car,
Lies a crumpled car.

I stopped by De Slegte on my way to Media-GN this morning to see if they had any of the 'Null-A' novels from Van Vogt. And there, of all people, was Mike standing in front of the SF case... Unfortunately there was no Null-A, so I bought a catalogue of John Chamberlain's work ('A Catalogue Raisonné of the Sculpture 1954-1985') as a consolation. I've always fantasized about owning a small Chamberlain.

The catalogue contains a really interesting interview with Chamberlain, where he emphasises his concern with the 'common', common processes, and common materials:

Probably the key activity in the occupation of art is to find out what you don't know. To start someplace that's curious to you and delve into it in a common way and come out with an uncommon satisfaction, an uncommon piece of knowledge--that is very satisfying to your nervous system.

...Then, all of a sudden, it occured to me one day that all of this material was just lying around all over the place. I saw the material as other people's idea of waste. Shortstop was made at Larry Rivers's house, and only years later did it occur to me that I had taken the material from an antique car of his--it was material from a 1929 Ford. So it was an antique, it wasn't throw-away junk. It was years later that I figured out that what I had done was a little presumptuous: to use material of his that very likely had some value to him. Nevertheless I took a fender. I didn't want to use it as a fender, so I drove over it a few times to rearrange its shape, which was the beginning of what I now know as process.

It had to do with wadding something up, without color, and without being a goddamn car crash. It seems no one can get free of the car-crash syndrome. For twenty-five years I've been using colored metal to make sculpture, and all they can think of is, "What the hell car did that come from?" Who gives a shit what car it came from?



Oi Vey! Woke up at 3:45 am with what seems like the evil cold/flu that's been going around.


From the alt.syntax.tactical FAQ:

The alt.syntax.tactical crew decides every now and then to start a colossal crosspost / flame war. One of their attacks started by crossposting between alt.smokers,,, asthma and SCI groups. The trollers would take an original post from alt.smokers, pass it thru a anonymous remailer (with the original e-mail name intact) and repost it to all of the above groups. This (as you can guess) started a massive flame war with the original (innocent) poster getting in trouble for the crosspost that they never made. It migrated to rec.pets.cats and beyond, but the lines are ever changing. It is rumored that the alt.syntax.tactical crew communicates through a listserver, planning their next attack thru the back channels. Wouldn't want the plans posted out in the open, now would we :-).

Michael tells us that the alt.syntax.tactical crew definitely DID NOT have their origins in the alt.shenanigans newsgroup. There have been several jokes played upon newsgroups which were planned in alt.shenanigans and its associated mailing list, but none of them have been anything like alt.syntax.tactical They've all been harmless, in fun, and have caused no real damage.

To 'troll' then, (the term 'trolling' comes from a form of fishing) is to consciously create a 'mind virus' or idea that 'plagues' the host mind such that it causes a change of the host's behaviour. This activity can be as reprehensible as a scam, as accepted as pornography or advertising, as natural as biological parasitism, as sought after as a compelling film or adventure game.

During the last Rotterdam Film Festival, John Wijver described how he once received a misaddressed email from a stranger named Denny Reikert--how he returned the mail and exchanged a few brief messages with Reikert, and then, a few days later, was informed that Denny Reikert had died.

In the following days, Wijver was drawn (through his computer) into the criminal investigation of a out-of-hand business fraud that apparently ended in murder.

As it turned out later, the entire episode was a hoax, an experiment in immersive storytelling crafted by John Sanborn and Michael Kaplan, a team of artists. It was done without asking and so well done, that not all of the victims of the 'Denny Reikert Story' were amused. Some were furious.

See Time Magazine's report of the story:
Is Denny Really Dead? An Edgy Email Prank (or is it Art?) Ruffles Feathers While Testing the Limits of Online Storytelling

And Eric Idle's report (as one of the 'victims'):

The practice of trickersterism and alt.syntax.tactical raise a lot of questions. Some ethical. The prime issue seems to be 'whether or not someone has given their consent to be fooled', which is what one does when one voluntarily enters an art gallery, an amusement park or a theatre. Outside of these zones one expects responsible behaviour and 'the truth'.

But the borders of these zones have long been under attack--both from within and from the outside. Artists have taken their work to the streets and large sections of the population, increasingly bored, have sought more and more extreme and radical forms of entertainment. Joseph Pine argues that 'experience' will be the basic commodity of the next economy. Experience is real and people want real experiences, deep experiences, want change and transformation. People want experiences that are impossible to plan for or don't come off when they are expected.

André Breton said:

Beauty will be convulsive or will not be at all.


  • Trolling culture:
  • Trolling defence:
  • Fiction: The Magus (1965) by John Fowles
  • Film: The Game (1997) directed by David Fincher
  • Non-fiction: Trickster Makes this World: Mischief, Myth and Art (1998) by Lewis Hyde
  • Article: Universal parasitism and the co-evolution of extended phenotypes (1989) by Richard Dawkins (available here: )
  • Who owns your mailbox? See my Sept. 11/98 note on 'the literature') for an interesting take on this question.

  • SATURDAY, 13 MARCH 1999

    'The New Strategy of Style' arrived in the mail this morning, direct from Jane Shull and 'The Book Bin' in Lancaster PA. courtesy of Advanced Book Exchange. Long live the net market!

    Loes arrived with a box of Oscillococcinum, a recent (homeopathic) medicine which apparently is successful in treating flu (especially if taken at the outset of the symptoms). I'm willing to try it, I already swear by Nisyleen (another homeopathic medicine for colds and flu).

    Heat Dissipation

    In the sixties, my father talked about the 'rat race' which was another way of expressing the pressure to 'keep up with the Jones's' or the stresses of consumer society. Today it hardly seems possible to keep up with one's own information environment. There seems to be too many actors in our lives; too much action; too many emails; too many 'To Do's'. We feel that we are constantly falling behind; that we are being overtaken by events... What to do about the backlog?

    Delanda in 'War in the Age of Intelligent Machines' writes about the question of maintaining identity and control in the face of (wartime) turmoil. He suggests that the answer may be found in self-organizing systems where structures emerge for 'the dissipation of 'heat' or the 'dispersion of friction'.

    How can a complex machine maintain its identity in the middle of turmoil?

    The structures generated by turbulent flows are called 'dissipative structures' because they use a pattern of eddies inside eddies to transport energy from higher scales to lower scales, where it can be dissipated as heat. Heat transport, normally considered a source of waste, is made into a source of order: channeling and dissipating energy across a hierarchy of nested eddies can generate complex patterns by amplifying and stabilizing small random fluctuations.

    Heat lies in the difference between a system and its environment. Heat is relative. Too much difference is deadly or as our friend the pharmocologist would say "The poison is in the dose". Overheating leads to dissruption and ends in death. Here at Alamut we see three strategies available to an overheated system:

  • the system can seek a cooler environment
  • the system can invest in an expensive heat shield
  • the system can apply a small quantity of (heat) energy in order to channel away excessive heat
  • The Use of Metaphor

    Paul Treanor sent me the following URL and comment:

    'A European Identity: Experimental Articulation through a Dynamic System of Metaphors'

    You will like this absurd paper, (which is from a reputable international organisation)...

    Hmm. He's right--I like absurd papers. Especially when the author (one Anthony Judge) sees metaphors like 'Europe as a nuclear fusion reactor' as a way of "enchanting people". Apparently nothing short of enchantment will work with people who are, as he puts it, "seeking some sense in the development of their personal and professional lives". Mr. Judge:

    Why this emphasis on metaphors instead of relying on the language of models? In part this is because in the elaboration of strategic policy it seems less and less useful to employ the old language in which so many reports have been presented. Despite the level of expertise and the complexity of the models, such reports have tended to be "forgettable"...

    Of course the metaphors Mr. Judge describes as 'images' are in fact communicated in 'words'. All language is 'model' just as all language is completely riddled with anthropocentric (human centered/social centered) metaphor.

    As with every model, a metaphor can only give a partial image of a complex reality. And like a model, a given metaphor may not be to the taste of everyone. A metaphor has a limited audience (or a "market") which may be a function of culture, education or age. Consequently any effort to impose a single metaphor is therefore destined to failure (even though this may be disguised to the extent that there may be resistance to the meaning carried by the metaphor, which is then seen as a sterile dogma).


  • Bandler and Grinder: The Structure of Magic (1975)
  • Lakoff and Johnson: Metaphors We Live By (1980)
  • Gareth Morgan: Images of Organization (1986)

  • SUNDAY, 14 MARCH 1999

    Reader's Digest

    Alright, alright, I'll admit it. We had a subscription to Reader's Digest when I was a child. And as an incorrigable reader, I consumed every issue. No shame, no blame, it was another time and place, and as children we didn't know any better--though I sometimes wonder what my life would be now like if we'd had a subscription to the Atlantic Monthly... Today all I remember of Reader's Digest were the two monthly sections: 'Laughter is the Best Medicine' and 'It Pays to Increase Your Word Power'. Strange how these two collections, one of elaborate words and the other of banal jokes seemed to compliment each other--laughter the prophylactic for language the disease...

    'The New Strategy of Style' (which I've been reading this morning) has this to say about the importance of having the right words (and enough of them):

    You are blinded by the limitations of your vocabulary. You are often limited in your vision by not having the words, scientific or poetic with which to conceptualize and describe what is in front of you.

    ...your perceptual vocabulary has more to say than your senses about what you observe.

    For language and writing are not ways of expressing experience only, they are experience. At least any response more elaborate than vague feelings is likely to be essentially verbal, made of words. So your capacity for observation and experience, even of the simplest kind, is somewhat determined by the reading you have done by way of preparation.

    Transactional Analysis

    Beautiful sunny day, spent most of it indoors. Managed to accompany Loes almost all the way to the train station before stepping out at the 'Stadhuis' metro stop to shop for the last half hour at 'De Slegte'. Bought a copy of Eric Berne's classic 'Games People Play, the psychology of human relationships' for Hfl. 6.00

    MONDAY, 15 MARCH 1999

    My flu is fading.

    This morning Jouke helped me out after I got stuck trying to remember the name (of the artist): 'Gordon Matta Clark'.

    This afternoon I found the following URL for an online course in critical thinking.

    And a great title of a book by Margaret Mead: New Lives for Old, Gollancz 1956 (referenced in 'Games People Play').

    This evening I ordered 2 packages of Welwitschia mirabilis seeds from Silverhill Seeds in South Africa for $7.50 including shipping. This seems pretty inexpensive considering W. mirabilis is one of the world's strangest plants (taxonomically and morphologically). A 'living fossil' Welwitschia grows exclusively along the inner fringe along the coast of the Namibian desert where some specimens reach 2000 years of age.

    Yes, Do take me away from all this death.

    TUESDAY, 16 MARCH 1999

    Perfect Timing

    This morning I received the following email from davidkremers over the final report of the St(*)rboretum exhibition committee (in Wageningen).

    hi paul...

    am sitting here perusing the final report of the board and of course am thinking of you...had expected the thing to raise my blood pressure but was not prepared for just how plain stupid it is...laughable it just the translation?...

    you can really tell which paragraphs trudy wrote...after all this time i think she's the only one who really understood [or was touched] by the exhibition...

    i'm surprised to find out many of the administrative details...such as the education conflicts and the distribution of the 'factual information on the exhibition' becoming 'available very late'...they really never got that the exhibition opened in november of 1997 and the information didn't 'change' from then on...

    and of course it's such a laugh that they put so much emphasis on answers when we were putting so much emphasis on getting people to ask questions...but it appears we succeeded since they complain in several places on the deluge of questions from visitors...

    my favorite conclusion is 'an exertion-based obligation stimulates today's artist more'...

    so what shall we work on next?...


    It's so uncanny. I haven't heard from David in many months and just last night I noticed that it was a precisely a year ago today that David paid me a visit here in Rotterdam. Mayan calenders (and other strange clocks and calenders) aside for the moment, I'd like to suggest that the plain and simple measurement of the Alamut year contains many hidden rhythms. March, it appears, is very much a book month.

    Patterns and structures and models and maps.

    And cycles. Yesterday's post brought me my completed 1997 tax form (from my accountant). Looking Backwards a year tells me that I'm a few weeks ahead of the game this time around. Whee!

    Brain Tennis

    It looks like Paul Treanor might want to play a little brain tennis since all of a sudden he's sending me notices of his updates. To tell you the truth I'm not really up to it at the moment.

    WEDNESDAY, 17 MARCH 1999


    Rijk van Kooij (one of our MFA candidates) explained this afternoon that for some planets of our solar system days are longer than years. I.e. for these bodies a single planetary rotation takes longer than their circumambulation of the sun.

    THURSDAY, 18 MARCH 1999

    I've been thinking (again) the last few days about making a piece with Welwitschia mirabilis. Since there isn't much information about this unusual tree online--and since the information that is available is sometimes conflicting I've begun to collate and compare all the information I can find on its cultivation. I'll let you know when the Welwitschia Cultivation FAQ is ready.

    Not a Pretty Picture

    One of my DejaNews searches for Welwitschia scored a hit in the usenet group: alt.flame.nigger. This is definitely not a 'nice group' folks... Welwitschia turning up here was sheer accident.

    On the other hand (as ambidextrous L. always puts it), IS both nasty and nice. Here's where today's 'Limits to Growth' and 'Tragedy of the Commons' hipsters hang out. Lots of Notes, Quotes and other Fair Use.

    'Reification' is the apprehension of man's ideas as if they were something other than his own ideas, such as physical objects, facts of nature, universal laws, or manifestations of divine will. Reification implies that man is capable of forgetting his own authorship of the human world. p. 89, The Social Construction of Reality; Berger & Luckmann, 1966.

    FRIDAY, 19 MARCH 1999

    Hunting and Gathering

    Found a great book store: 'Powells' in Portland Oregon claims to be the 'Largest Used Bookstore in the World' and it's inventory (1.5 million books) is available online!

    And saw a great title for a book: 'World as Dictionary' by Jesse Lee Kercheval and Sam Hamill (published by Carnegie-Mellon Press this month).

    All this hunting, gathering and attention to book collecting has resulted in my compiling a few lists of books that belong together. In other words either I'm looking for them or I have already have them and should now get around to reading them.

  • Psycholinguistic Library and Index
    -> General Semantics, NLP etc.
  • patterns
    ->Pattern classification
  • System Dynamics Library and Index
    -> Dynamics, Cybernetics, Systems Theory
  • Binary thought: Would it be useful to consider each person (at any particular moment) as either belonging to the category 'hunter/gatherer' or 'farmer'? As either a hungry searching animal or sessile plant?

    Birthday Shopping

    I spent a lot of the afternoon shopping around (on the phone and online) for the Fuji 1.5 million pixel MX-700 digital camera but I ended up deciding to postpone gratification a couple of weeks and wait for the new 2.3 million pixel MX-2700 instead. As it is going to be more expensive, I could have better spent my time billing clients ;-)

    SATURDAY, 20 MARCH 1999

    Outbreak News

    Outbreak News is a site (actually a part of the World Health Organization site) for tracking outbreaks and epidemics of cholera, yellow fever, haemorrhagic fevers (such as ebola and reston) etc.

    They are fast. The outbreak of Legionaires (legionellosis) disease this week in the north of Holland (dated the 18th of March) is already archived.

    Another Outbreak Site is

    The National Center for Infectious Diseases (part of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta) has a good page of links.

    See also the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

    "In the United States infectious diseases are the third largest cause of death, after heart disease and cancer. Hand washing is the single most important means of preventing the spread of infection."

    SUNDAY, 21 MARCH 1999

    I've been busy cross reading between the drama critic George Polti's 'Thirty-six Dramatic Situations' (1868) and the psychotherapist Eric Berne's Transactional Analysis (Games People Play. 1964). Surely these patterns, structures and routines are applicable to art/sculpture and design/planning?

    'Fairy Tales and Script Drama Analysis' is a short paper exploring the dynamics (switching) of drama and scripts through a series of diagrams, namely the Role Diagram, the Drama Triangle and the and Location Diagram. The Transaction Analysis Journal Internet site.

    MONDAY, 22 MARCH 1999

    I'm today.

    TUESDAY, 23 MARCH 1999

    They Shall Inherit the Earth

    According to a poster on Slashdot, Mandarin is currently the most widely spoken language on earth (with 900 million speakers) followed by Spanish and English (each about 400 million). The next most widely spoken language is Hindi.

    According to Principia Cybernetica:

    1. A language is a system which, if properly controlled, can produce objects called messages.

    2. A message is an object which has some meaning for some agent.

    3. ...messages are always addressed to a certain agent ...they are supposed to influence the actions performed by this agent, otherwise there would no sense in producing and passing the message.

    4. We know of exactly two ways of changing the actions of an agent. One way is to change the state of the world as far as the agent is concerned. The other way is to change the agent's model of the world.

    And according to my little brother Guy:

    "I had a interesting car accident in January where I lost control of the vehicle I was driving and spun around 180 degrees. Unfortunately, a semi-trailer truck was traveling behind me and hit me head on. I think the only thing that saved me was I was still on the ice and I was sliding backwards. The car I was driving was written off but I came out unscathed."


    Since the map is not the territory and the word is not the thing--let us practice semantic hygiene and specify the particular object or process that we are referring to:

    Outbreak Markup Language:

    A year ago today

    I referred to the objects: ontogroup and ontobroker. An ontobroker by-the-way is just another name for a link broker (agent) or web log (object thing).

    WEDNESDAY, 24 MARCH 1999

    Found! -an online copy of Richard Dawkin's 'Universal Parasitism and the Co-Evolution of Extended Phenotypes'. In this article written for the Whole Earth Review the father of the 'Selfish Gene' explores the idea of 'manipulation' in a system of genes: How can the genes of organism A can manipulate the behavior of organism B to the genes of organism A's advantage? The implications of this way of thinking and the consequences for looking at and evaluating behavior are exciting. This is another one of those papers that I keep migrating back to--it seems almost on an annual basis.

    FYI: I'll be conducting a workshop (with Dick Rijken) at the School of Architecture in Delft for the next three days entitled TEOTWAWKI (The End Of The World As We Know It...) and it's going to be about mapping and 'affordances' and public and private and 'genetic takeover' and systems theory and more.

    Marten Terpstra (one of the MFA candidates in Groningen) is building a 'Local Knowledge Discussion System' as his final project. I was delighted last night with the first line of a short text that he's written about the project: I seldom find something that I'm not looking for.

    Take me away from all this death!

    THURSDAY, 25 MARCH 1999

    From: Remind Me Never To Get Sick In His Neighborhood Dept.

    Bart Lootsma told me yesterday that Joep van Lieshout has bought an entire operating room for his his PAZ (Permanent Autonomous Zone). Hmm. Not sure whether I should be happy about this or not. I'm planning to be the medical artist around here...

    The good news is that (1) Dick and I managed an early get-a-way yesterday evening from the workshop to return to Rotterdam for dinner at the Hotel New York, (2) I managed five hours of sleep last night and (3) it's a beautiful morning this morning.

    Dutch Arts and Crafts

    Just read that BOTH awards for the category 'Arts' of the 1999 Webby Awards in San Francisco were given to 'Dutch' sites. won the Webby, while won the People's prize. Good reason to be proud of our homegrown cultural intelligence. Congratulations to Jouke, Kristi, John and the rest of the Design Institute Team.

    From: The Why Settle For Less? Dept.

    Stefan drew my attention to one person's dissatisfaction with the way that the world works:

    I don't want to achieve immortality through my work... I want to achieve immortality by not dying. (Woody Allen)

    From: The What Should We Do About It? Dept.

    The 'apocalyptic' (an)architect Lebbeus Woods will give a lecture tonight as part of the workshop we're doing in Delft.

    Mr. Wood's statement:

    ... One does not participate by following the cries of change, but by being part of its initiation...

    well echoes Paul Treanor's 'Cities are for change, not for people'.

    From: The Embracing Change With All Four Arms Dept.

    Looking for his 1996 paper 'Embracing Change with All Four Arms' I see that the bioethicist James J. Hughes has changed his site around a lot since I last looked. It now houses information about the 'International Network for the Definition of Death' but no path or index to his many earlier papers. Fortunately Google was able to reveal the location of the document I was looking for as:

    From: The Temporarily On Hold Dept.

    or the winner of the stopping change in order to continue changing department is the Alcor Life Extension Foundation:

    FRIDAY, 26 MARCH 1999

    Last Call

    Called Jouke this morning. Probably my last call ever to (020) 638-2111. Will see him and Gilberthe and the kids tomorrow evening at their farewell party. They are leaving the country Monday for their new home in France. I heard that all the books are already packed. At least it's not to the moon...

    The Nation State of One? Jouke Kleerebezem's Walden Dish.

    The Gossip (Confusion) about the Webby Awards, and Imagine an event like the Oscars, suits and evening gowns, bright lights and envelopes stuffed with the winner's names. (Alphabetically) the first prize awarded is for the category best 'art' site and walks up on stage, puts his hand over the lens of the cameraman's camera, roughly pushes cameraman and camera aside, takes the award, mumbles something about 'american commercialism and global capitalism' into the mike, walks off the stage and throws the award on the ground. Obviously confused. Thought he was either Jane Fonda or Marlon Brando. Dumb artist...

    I take back half of yesterday's: 'Good reason to be proud of our homegrown cultural intelligence.' Not all Dutch culture is intelligent.

    SUNDAY, 28 MARCH 1999

    Live and Learn I

    Although the results of the 3 day workshop in Delft were okay (both the participants and the organisation were happy), I can imagine much better results are achievable with the same effort. The point of the exercise was to explore 'paradigm shifting', different points of view, pluralism.

    On one side of the table Dick and myself represented the changes taking place in how-business-is-done and how-culture-is-done. We spent a lot of time talking about today's 'cool things' and tomorrow's affordances and possibilities (let's consider how societies-may-be-done). On the other side of the table were the participants. They were willing, but in my view, unable to freely explore the prospects and come up with interesting designs.

    Part of the problem was their own tradition and pragmatism (as architectural students). I believe however that a great deal of the problem lay with the terms that we used. Words like 'media', 'mediated', 'computers', 'technology' and 'networks' conjure up images of 'the electronic' which resolve into images of 'the artificial' as opposed to 'the natural'. The course of our 3 day discussion was strewn with questions over this dichotomy between man/nature and media/artificial: 'What about personal contact?', 'What about the human?'

    Such a dichotomy is false in that it suggests man can be separated from his extensions or media. Can we think of man without speech? Or man without writing? Of course not. Through their long use these media have become inseparable from our conception of ourselves as human beings. And what about the use of the wheel, the measuring of time through some external device, the use of shells or precious metals (money) to facilitate trade? Surely everyone would agree that these too are integral to our current human condition and as such, are natural?

    Media are extensions of our physical capacities; our limbs and our senses. The 'nature' of man is that of the double transformer: we transform the world and we transform ourselves. Over time we turn into our media. Media 'R Us. Media is our culture and culture is our nature.

    Sufficiently old media are ubiquitous and as such no longer discernable. New media are discernable and provide us with a choice from a cornucopia of different cultures. We can choose what to use and what to become.

    Forget 'media', 'mediated', 'computers' and 'networks'. Think 'choices', 'extension', 'evolution', 'assimilation', 'expansion'. Think 'prosthetics'.

    MONDAY, 29 MARCH 1999


    Jouke and family leave today. Even though most of our contact over the last couple of years has been mediated (by telephone and web site) and thus won't change much, I'm really going to miss his being in Amsterdam. I've been saddened by the thought of his leaving Holland ever since he and Gilberthe made the decision.

    I wonder why the fact of being physically close (when you there is no physical contact) counts for so much? Could it have something to do with sharing a set of 'existential' conditions? Is the feeling of loss more about our shared 'artist in the Netherlands' -ness than the fact that Jouke is no longer in my physically proximity?

    Clark's Blue

    Went to the local Intertuin store and bought some meter long planters and 6 packets of Ipomoea (morning glory) seeds. Came home, filled the planters with potting soil and soaked and planted the seeds. I'm going to try to generate a bit of privacy on my roof terrace.

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