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Mutation Vectors: Best Vectors of 2014

A video posted by Mark Graves (@markwgraves) on

Above: time lapse video shot by my friend Mark of him, my wife and me putting down flooring in my new office.

Status Update

I had an eventful year. A few highlights:

Writing a cover story for Oregon Business magazine

Doing an art installation at the Weird Shift gallery, and giving a talk on tarot there as well.

And, of course, buying a house. We’ve only just hauled the last bits of stuff out of our old apartment into the new place today, which is why I decided to just do a best of 2014 post instead of a new post.

Browsing

gamergate-flag

The best article I read all year was, hands down, Betsy Haibel’s “The Fantasy and Abuse of the Manipulable User”, which manages to sum up exactly what’s wrong with the Silicon Valley mindset: a complete disregard for gaining users’ consent for practically anything, from data collection to whether to sign-up for email notifications.

My nine other favorites of the year, in no particular order:

Grooming Students for A Lifetime of Surveillance by Jessy Irwin.

A Mysterious Sound Is Driving People Insane — And Nobody Knows What’s Causing It by Jared Keller.

The Sexist Facebook Movement The Marine Corps Can’t Stop by Brian Adam Jones.

Dylan Matthews’s profile of BuzzFeed founder Jonah Peretti and the influence that Deleuze and Guattari had on him.

The Future Of The Culture Wars Is Here, And It’s Gamergate by Kyle Wagner.

Mark Dery’s interview with Mikita Brottman.

The New York Times’ profile of Dark Mountain founder Paul Kingsnorth.

The Mindfulness Racket by Evgeny Morozov.

Miya Tokumitsu’s article on how the “Do What You Love” mantra enables exploitation.

Data Doppelgängers and the Uncanny Valley of Personalization by Sara Watson.

Watching

true-detective

The best TV show I watched this year had to be True Detective. (Stephen Grasso’s take on the show is definitive).

The best new series I watched was The Knick which, as Matt Zoller Seitz put it, is doing some next level shit, despite something of a slow start.

I didn’t see many new movies this year, but I liked and Snow Piercer well enough. It didn’t come out last year, but I loved Electrick Children.

Reading

The Peripheral by Wlliam Gibson

I didn’t read any other novels that came out in 2014, so The Peripheral by William Gibson wins by default. But I have the feeling it probably would have been the best thing I read anyway.

My favorite books I read this year, overall, were Cat’s CradleThe Dispossed by Ursela K. le Guin.

Comics

Stray Bullets issue 3 "The Party" cover

I didn’t read many comics last year, and to be honest am feeling a bit disenchanted with the medium. But I enjoyed what I read of Zero, The Private Eye, and Prophet. But the big highlight of the year for me was Stray Bullets Uber Alles Edition. Reading that is keeping me from giving up on comics altogether.

Listening

It was sort of a disappointing year for music. My favorite release was probably White Lung’s Deep Fantasy. Runners up: the new Bruxa and Nolon Ashley albums.

Podcasts

Podcasts of the year (besides Mindful Cyborgs, of course): Gin and Innovation and Weird Shift Radio.

Playing

I’m not much of a gamer, and didn’t really play any other games this year, but I think A Dark Room deserves a mention, even though I think it was released in 2013.

I still haven’t played Technoccult the game (no relation to me or this blog), but thought it worthy of note as well.

Top Technoccult Posts of the Year

Grinding: Post magnet installation

In terms of pageviews, these were the top five hits of the year:

On Race and Sexual Violence in the Works of Alan Moore

New Age for Nihilists

The Baffler on Neoreactionaries

Why Google’s New Open Source Crypto Tool Might Not Be Such a Good Thing

Grinders: Tomorrow’s Cyberpunks are Here Today

Favorite Things I Wrote Elsewhere

pieter-levels

I think my favorite thing I wrote this year was this thing on bullshit jobs and Silicon Valley.

My top nine other favorite things I wrote this year, in chronological order:

Forget Mega-Corporations, Here’s The Mega-Network

This Farmbot Makes Growing Food as Easy as Playing Farmville

Raise Your Own Edible Insects With This Free Kit

How to Build a Kinder Web for the Transgender Community

Google Renews Battle With the NSA by Open Sourcing Email Encryption Tool

The Internet of Things Could Drown Our Environment in Gadgets

Online Security Is a Total Pain, But That May Soon Change

Why Everyone Is Obsessed With E-Mail Newsletters Right Now

College Hacker

Report: Solar Power Will Soon be as Cheap or Cheaper Than Conventional Electricity

Bloomberg on a Deutsche Bank report on solar energy prices:

Even if the tax credit drops to 10 percent, solar will soon reach price parity with conventional electricity in well over half the nation: 36 states. Gone are the days when solar panels were an exotic plaything of Earth-loving rich people. Solar is becoming mainstream, and prices will continue to drop as the technology improves and financing becomes more affordable, according to the report.

Full Story: Bloomberg: While You Were Getting Worked Up Over Oil Prices, This Just Happened to Solar

Given the current grid’s struggles to keep up with demand, this can’t happen soon enough.

Mindful Cyborgs: 2014 Year in Review

This week we look back at 2014, from Facebook’s manipulative experiments, to protesters crashing the Wisdom 2.0 conference, to the notion that all technology is assistive technology.

Happy new years everyone, see you all soon!

Download and Show Notes: Mindful Cyborgs: 2014 in Steamy Review

A Buddhist priest confronts Japan’s suicide culture

Here’s a long piece by Larissa MacFarquhar from the New Yorker last year about Ittetsu Nemoto , a Zen Buddhist priest who works with suicidal people and shut-ins known as “hikikomori.” Read the whole thing, but I found this letter a hikikomori wrote to Nemoto, included in the article, particularly interesting:

Long ago, becoming a training priest was recognized as a way of living, and I think that considerable numbers of the priests were people who had troubles that prevented them from living in society—people who would be called depressed or neurotic in today’s terms. . . . The basic rule was to leave the family and friends, discard all the relationships and renounce the world. . . . The old society accepted these training priests, although they were thought to be completely useless. Or rather, it treated them with respect, and supported them by giving offerings. . . . In very rare cases, some attained so-called “enlightenment,” and those people could spread teachings that could possibly save people in society who had troubles. In other words, there were certain cases where training priests could be useful to society, and I think that is why society supported them. . . . I think that training priests and hikikomori are quite similar. First, neither of them can fit in to this society—while the training priests are secluded in mountains, hikikomori are secluded in their rooms. They both engage in the activity of facing the root of their problems alone. . . . However, nobody accepts this way of living anymore, and that’s why hikikomori hide in their rooms. . . . But hikikomori are very important beings. Hikikomori cannot be cured by society; rather, it is society that has problems, and hikikomori may be able to solve them.

Full Story: The New Yorker: Last Call

The KKK is Recruiting Veterans

Short Vice documentary on the modern KKK’s attempts to recruit veterans to their cause. They claim both Klan membership and right-wing extremist activity are both up in recent years, but I wish there were some quantitative research to back that up.

See also:

The Military-Gang Complex

The Sexist [and racist] Facebook Movement The Marine Corps Won’t Stop

Why it’s so hard to talk about social responisbility in technological innovation

Georgina Voss on why it’s so hard to define responsible innovation, especially with regards to defense contracting:

For a fun festive game, you and your loved ones can go through this enormous list from the European Commission of “dual use” technologies, which includes gas masks, plant pathogens, imaging cameras, and lasers; and try to figure out the military and civilian use cases for each one. Technologies, and parts thereof, can slide between these spaces, with the former director of the US Navy’s Future Operations Unit stating to the Christian Science Monitor that “There isn’t any ground-breaking technology that the military hasn’t found some way to eventually weaponise” (and he was speaking in the context of the Navy developing an underwater drone that looks like a shark, so think on that over the holiday season).

Conversely, the origin story of many ostensibly mainstream technologies such as the internet, GPS, and spaceflight, can be found in military research. The latter is particularly important in considering how defence companies bump up against responsible innovation, because defence companies often do far more than create defence technologies: BAE Systems, for example, also develops commercial aircrafts, advanced materials, and energy management systems.

Full Story: The Guardian:

See also:

The Military-Maker Complex: DARPA Infiltrates the Hackerspace Movement

Voss and Justin Picard’s podcast Gin and Innovation.

Mution Vectors: December 25th Edition

Photo by avlxyz / CC

Photo by avlxyz / CC

Status Update

Long time no see. I mentioned last month that my wife and I had put in an offer on a house. Well, we got it, so now we’re getting ready for the big move to Portland’s illustrious Gateway district. But today we’re taking a break from painting, flooring, packing and moving — not to mention professional obligations — to partake in the American tradition of lounging about and eating on the 25th. I’ve actually got a backlog of vectors to share with you, but I’ll keep this one short.

Browsing

Watching

We just finished watching the first season of The Knick, which starts slow but turns into an amazing piece of auteurism. Think we’re going to watch the Black Mirror Christmas special today.

Reading

Rip It Up and Start Again by Simon Reynolds.

Listening

8-bit Reggae

A Look at Contemporary Amish Life

The 8-Bit Reggae Underground

Robert Berry writes:

There is an alternative universe in which the most important reggae tune of 1985 was not Prince Jammy and Wayne Smith’s ‘Under Me Sleng Teng’, but the music to a Nintendo game called Wrecking Crew.

The game saw a pixelly young Mario smashing his way through a series of obstacles with a hammer as big as his face. The skanking soundtrack, with its square-wave walking bass and off-beat 8-bit accents, was created by a 27-year-old Sly and Robbie fan named Hirokazu “Hip” Tanaka. In this other world, kids who grew up with SNES controllers permanently appended to their thumbs are today busily recreating classic riddims using Gameboys, toasting over chiptunes, and colouring in power-up mushrooms with the distinctive red, gold, and green of the Ethiopian flag.

Fortunately, the internet is a place where all parallel worlds exist at once, and this alternative reality is just a few clicks away, down a wormhole composed of Wikipedia pages, Facebook groups, and Soundcloud communities.

Full Story: Fact Mag: Digital mystics: the strange story of the 8-bit reggae underground

(via Chris)

Status update: head bobbing furiously.

See also:

Jahtari netlabel

Natty Droid netlabel

Laptop Reggae/Electric Dub group on Soundcloud

Pasta and Vinegar’s 8-bit reggae playlist

Dada Data and the Internet of Paternalistic Things

Flash fiction from Mindful Cyborgs co-host Sara Watson:

My stupid refrigerator thinks I’m pregnant.

I reached for my favorite IPA, but the refrigerator wouldn’t let me take one from the biometrically authenticated alcohol bin.

Our latest auto-delivery from peaPod included pickles, orange juice, and prenatal vitamins. We never have orange juice in the house before because I find it too acidic. What machine-learning magic produced this produce?

Full Story: The Message: Dada Data and the Internet of Paternalistic Things

See also:

The Nightmare on Connected Home Street

The Internet of Things Could Drown Our Environment in Gadgets

The Dark Side of the Internet of Things

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