Government Proposes to Forbid London Urban Explorers From Speaking To Each Other for 10 Years

Last year four members of the London Consolidation Crew were caught exploring the abandoned platforms of Aldwych tube station four days before the Royal Wedding. They were let off with a warning. But now Transport for London is trying to stop the group from even associating with each other:

Last month TfL applied to issue anti-social behaviour orders which would not only stop them undertaking further expeditions and blogging about urban exploration but also prohibit them from carrying equipment that could be used for exploring after dark. Extraordinarily, it also stipulates they should not be allowed to speak to each other for the duration of the order – 10 years. […]

For Garrett, part of the goal is helping to iron out the security loopholes they exploit. But this “service to the city” has proved a double-edged sword. “What this all comes down to is the Olympics because what we’re doing could make London’s security seem weak, which is embarrassing for TfL,” he says.

“But rather than stifling our free speech to tell Londoners there are security weaknesses all over the system, they should probably call us and bring us on as consultants to help fill these gaps.”

Guardian: Underground ghost station explorers spook the security services

See Also:

Place Hacking, a blog on urban exploration with tons of photographs and videos.

Night Vision

This news story on Ningunismo and the late Agent 222 (aka Roy Khalidbahn aka Rodrigo Sierra)

Beyond Belief: Enlightenment 2.0

As you watch the conversation in Beyond Belief: Enlightenment 2.0, it might help to know about one of the sources that was helpful to me in formulating the agenda, assembling the cast of characters, and setting the tone for the meeting. I quoted this passage from Humanity: A Moral History of the Twentieth Century by Jonathan Glover (who directs the Centre of Medical Law and Ethics at King’s College, London):

“Now we tend to see the Enlightenment view of human psychology as thin and mechanical, and Enlightenment hopes of social progress through the spread of humanitarianism and the scientific outlook as na?ve…One of this book’s aims is to replace the thin, mechanical psychology of the Enlightenment with something more complex, something closer to reality…another aim of the book is to defend the Enlightenment hope of a world that is more peaceful and humane, the hope that by understanding more about ourselves we can do something to create a world with less misery. I have qualified optimism that this hope is well founded…”

I say Amen to that. If Enlightenment 1.0 took a thin and mechanical view of human nature and psychology, I think Enlightenment 2.0 can offer a much ‘thicker’ and cognitively richer account – less na?ve and also, perhaps, less hubristic. If there’s one thing we’ve learned – particularly from cognitive neuroscience – it is that we need to have some strategic humility about the hobby horses we are inclined to ride.

-Roger Bingham
Director, The Science Network

(Beyond Belief: Enlightenment 2.0)

Alan Moore pays tribute to Robert Anton Wilson

Queen Elizabeth Hall, London, March 2007

(via Only Maybe Blog).

London: City of Disappearances

London: City of Disappearances is a 655 page anthology with over 50 contributors, including: Ann Baer; J.G Ballard; Paul Buck; Brian Catling; Driffield; Bill Drummond; Tibor Fischer; Allen Fisher; Bill Griffiths; Lee Harwood; Stewart Home; Tony Lambrianou; Rachel Lichenstein; Michael Moorcock; Alan Moore; Jeff Nuttall; James Sallis; Anna Sinclair; Stephen Smith; Marina Warner; Sarah Wise.

Citizens disappear constantly, along with their homes, artifacts, buildings and spaces. As your time-flow accelerates, old friends email the latest obituaries and the function of the writer becomes increasingly clear. You’re there to count the dead; and re-count the missing landmarks. Scribe of mutability and mutation, you’re only a memory-shaman, chronicler of the crumbling scrolls – destined yourself to become a mere neural trace in the world-brain, as the towers tumble around you.

Full Story: Culture Court.

Buy London: City of Disappearances.

Also, if you’re in London: Alan Moore, Michael Moorcock, and Iain Sinclair will be reading from the book on October 26th. Details here.

M.I.A: remixing the future

I have a piece up on Alterati today about M.I.A and her new album Kala:

M.I.A’s new album Kala whips listeners through the poorest corners of the world, moving too quickly to quite distinguish between the various locales. Is this Rio or Trinidad? Calcutta or London? Wait, the Australian outback? It’s all blurred, mashed-up.

M.I.A brings us straight to the bleeding edge of modern culture. While indie rock endlessly recycles the past, M.I.A is busy remixing the future. In his essay The Sudden Stardom of the Third-World City’ Rana Dasgupta wrote ‘Is it going too far to suggest that our sudden interest in books and films about the Third-World city stems from the sense that they may provide effective preparation for our future survival in London, New York or Paris? Our fast-moving media culture, groping always for any image of the ?new’ that can be used to produce more astonishment, operates in a zone slightly ahead of knowledge.’ In other words, westerners are increasingly looking to the Third-World to catch a glimpse of our own future.

Full Story: Alterati.

To do in London: Foolish People’s Terra Incognita

foolish people terra incognita

If you’re going to be in or around London on March 31st, you must check out .

The Sudden Stardom of the Third-World City

This brings us to the most perverse suspicion of all. Perhaps the Third-World city is more than simply the source of the things that will define the future, but actually is the future of the western city. Perhaps some of those tourists who look to the Third World for an image of their own past are reflecting uneasily on how all the basic realities of the Third-World city are already becoming more pronounced in their own cities: vast gulfs between sectors of the population across which almost no sympathetic intelligence can flow, gleaming gated communities, parallel economies and legal systems, growing numbers of people who have almost no desire or ability to participate in official systems, innovations in residential housing involving corrugated iron and tarpaulin. Is it going too far to suggest that our sudden interest in books and films about the Third-World city stems from the sense that they may provide effective preparation for our future survival in London, New York or Paris?

Full Story: Rana Dasgupta.

(via Abstract Dynamics).

I hadn’t really thought of it quite like this, but yes I think some of my own interest in 3rd world megalopolisis is in gaining some insight about what the future may look like for all of us.

See also: Feral Cities, Grim Meathook Future, Biopunk: the biotechnology black market, and Adam Greenfield’s Design Engaged 2005 presentation (does anyone have better notes for this?).

Popularity of hobbies by geographic location

An interesting thing about Meetup, a web site for organizing local interest groups, is that it ranks cities by number of people signed up for certain meets.

  • Burning Man City: Seattle
  • Body Modifcation City: Toronto, ON (# 2 is Tel Aviv)
  • Discordian City: Seattle
  • Magickal City: Charlotte, NC
  • Smart mob City: Denver
  • Coffee City: Chicago (Seattle was only # 6)
  • Comics City: New York
  • Dumpster Diving City: New York
  • Straight Edge City: Providence, RI
  • Pagan Parenting City: St. Louis, MO
  • Amiga City: Tel Aviv
  • Newly Single City: Toronto, ON
  • X-Men City: London (with a whopping 2 members)
  • Japanese Pop City: Houston
  • EFF City: Austin
  • Nanotech City: Minneapolis

    What’s big, city by city?

  • Tel Aviv: Pagan
  • Rio: Linux
  • Moscow: Britney Spears
  • Perth: Goth
  • Madrid: Russell Crowe
  • Cairo: Knitting
  • Stockholm: Body Modification
  • Prague: Vampire (not the game apparently…)
  • New Delhi: Sex and the City
  • Islamabad, Pakistan: Gilmore Girls
  • William Gibson on Japan, London

    William Gibson has written a bit on the The Guardian about London, Japan, and Vancouver. An interesting read:

    ‘Why Japan?’ I’ve been asked for the past 20 years or so. Meaning: why has Japan been the setting for so much of my fiction? When I started writing about Japan, I’d answer by suggesting that Japan was about to become a very central, very important place in terms of the global economy. And it did. (Or rather, it already had, but most people hadn’t noticed yet.) A little later, asked the same question, I’d say that it was Japan’s turn to be the centre of the world, the place to which all roads lead; Japan was where the money was and the deal was done. Today, with the glory years of the bubble long gone, I’m still asked the same question, in exactly the same quizzical tone: ‘Why Japan?’

    Because Japan is the global imagination’s default setting for the future.

    The Japanese seem to the rest of us to live several measurable clicks down the time line. The Japanese are the ultimate Early Adaptors, and the sort of fiction I write behoves me to pay serious heed to that. If you believe, as I do, that all cultural change is essentially technologically driven, you pay attention to the Japanese. They’ve been doing it for more than a century now, and they really do have a head start on the rest of us, if only in terms of what we used to call ‘future shock’ (but which is now simply the one constant in all our lives).

    The Guardian: Modern boys and mobile girls

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