December 2012

Am I the plague? Have I the plague? – I thought and photos by Shomei Tomatsu 東松 照明


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incompossible worlds, including never-before-seen indigenous signs, autochthonous style, hermaphrodite beasts

working with the plant
only people shaman thinks can work with the plant are given the plant


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please share, promote, invite, refer, suggest, touch, shout out, contact, add, follow, disrupt, mobilise, occupy, invest, conspire, watch, help, release, embrace, connect, relate

network critical

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it’s weird

I’m feeling America is no longer cool

and the internet / web effect of this cooling off has yet to be felt

because cool is a liminal category, another edge in the middle

smoke from lips


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the meaning of personalised – a note

“personalised” – what does it mean?

Personalised recommendations from Amazon, for example, extrapolate data – just for you – from your existing, past shopping and browsing behaviour on Amazon. As a process, this does not however define the subcategories according to your online activity from which “personalised” suggestions will be drawn. These are set. The system of subcategories is open to the extent that new subcategories may derive from the interaction or intersection of sets and new products may be added to sets, form subsets, and, in the case of product lines wholly new to the total system, new categories may be founded.

The fit between your browsing and shopping – what you add to your basket, whether actually purchasing it or ‘wishing’ for it, or leaving it for later – and what a semi-automated system of settings grouping like products with like and establishing categories for product lines is the “personalising” process from which the suggestions arise. What is recommended just for you is that you belong to a superset of semiautomated comparative decisions: what you are like or really do like is of no consequence apart from how your activity bears out these predelictions; what is like a novel by Haruki Murakami is of consequence and so is what others like you have liked.

Such decisions in turn – like with like – belong to the general concept of representation, as does the personalising process where it is one that cancels out difference. Here personalised means founded rather in like you than just for you.

What you are like is, to risk plunging into a philosophical discourse, identical with itself and not generated under the principle of sufficient reason, for the purposes of what seems to be a differential process, but is only represented as such, which is what I am calling “personalising.” What’s the difference? Or, what difference does it make that my activity online on Amazon, for example, is not generating the differences amongst a diversity of products and product lines but rather that the personalising movement is from decisions that are not mine about what is like what I like and therefore entails that I am like someone who reads Haruki Murakami?

It should at least be obvious that there are two distinct processes in question here: one, the existing one, which groups the same or similar; and one, which I am proposing, for the time being hypothetically, that produces difference. The latter provides my excuse for allowing the principle of sufficient reason to enter this note, since Deleuze reads the principle of sufficient reason as exactly personalising. This principle grounds the different things I do in difference itself and not in preset decisions about what it is I do that resembles something else or what someone else does.

How would a subrepresentational personalising process – i.e. avoiding representation by avoiding resemblance or avoiding making resemble – work for Amazon?

In a word, better. I would no longer be receiving suggestions that are already redundant or inappropriate because the image of what I want could not be prearranged. I would perhaps buy or browse 1Q84 and Quentin Meillassoux’s After Finitude and no longer be classed with others like me who liked Reamde. But instead a definite penumbra of contextual resources would arise around each of the former choices and perhaps include Neal Stephenson. It would also include primary and secondary works around contemporary French philosophy and possibly all of Haruki Murakami’s extensive oeuvre.

This definite penumbra of contextual resources available on Amazon would thereby assume the form of localised rankings: Meillassoux and Murakami would not be forced into unholy matrimony to produce Stephenson. Rather, for each writer singly and differentially there would appear works, media, products which related only to them. These would descend from them into the future.

This system would respect the fact that I am in the process of personalising myself. It would open 1Q84 to a process whereby it continued to gain both new readers – who either would want to recommend it or not – and new and unforeseen items, products, works, ideas, inventions, to which it related. The book would also be undergoing the differential process of personalising itself, becoming what it will be.

To me, it seems that this is the best definition of personalised – something that adds to personalising and which retains its difference. This is the definition of personalised that company means to embody.

network critical

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H(uman)API & IoT according to Brian Solis in an article I understand to support Little Elephant’s social media proposition: “the Human API, the idea that who we are, who we know, what we experience and do are important layers in the Internet of Things.”

Considering the relationship between the Internet, data, and devices, I can’t help but think about Marshall McLuhan’s ominous words, “The more data banks record about each one of us, the less we exist.”

With the Internet of Things, that data takes residence in the cloud with various devices and apps siphoning and funneling information in and out, requiring an incredible amount of vision and architecture to organize, analyze, and present it in a way that makes sense while also offering insight and utility. Instead of eclipsing our individuality, I believe the future may reveal the exact opposite. There’s a sense of empowerment and personalization that emerges and, along the way, we subconsciously and consciously begin to crave it. We become insatiable in our pursuit of personalized feedback and it may, in fact, define us.

– from here


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tui in branches & other


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Kicking Silicon & the Death Star – 2 bare links

[Netscape’s ex – sold it to AOL – Marc Andreesen, Google CEO Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo, and other businesspersons and financiers of the Silicon Valley school] all uniformly emphasized the need for improvements to America’s A) education system, and B) immigration system. Which is great, because both of those systems are in need of reform. But the Silicon Valley idea of reform for these two systems is that school systems should be awash in charter schools and standardized measurement, and that very smart foreign-born students who come to the US to get higher degrees should all be awarded green cards, so that they can stay here to work. In other words, their solutions to these huge systemic problems extend as far as the needs of Silicon Valley.

– from here

Yes, Virginia there will be a Death Star.

– from here


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#GOAPNZ @the_icehouse – reviewed

Andy Hamilton started with a joke. “Turn around folks…”

“Isn’t it beeeoootifool!”

“Aren’t we lucky to be in this beautiful building. Aren’t we lucky to live in this beautiful city!”

As if realising Andy’s mistake, Sir Stephen Tindall addressed the issue with words to the effect that neither this building, nor the improvements to this waterfront would be here without New Zealand winning the America’s Cup, which he had a hand in, having given a hand to, full of cash. And that he hoped and expected – since they’re such a great team – we’ll win it back and be able to pour more billions of dollars into this “beautiful” city.

Grey clouds churned around the harbour. Grey water lapped at the pier. The view “behind us” was grey broken by the dark hill of Northcote and the jumble of lousy buildings around the shore, buildings that although temporary, fitting the architectural vernacular of this part of the world, were exceeded in every way by the tent we were in, this beautiful piece of excreted plastic tethered to the wharf and held upright and outstretched by lightweight struts. Obtrusive LED strips added mood and the room shone white against the grey outside. The wonderful acoustic conditions of a tent were further complimented by a state-of-the-art hired PA in use for speakers, who were at most seven metres away, that made them sound at least fifty metres away and in a reverberant bubble or rubber balloon.

We were in this beautiful building to celebrate – how the email put it – the arrival in New Zealand of the Geeks On A Plane, happy geeks from America, the home of those brave enough to take up the geek flag and wave it and even take it on tour, in a plane, to spread the geek gospel. We were celebrating this arrival, this visitation, and so needed to remind ourselves that we were worthy, against this beautiful outlook, in this beautiful city, which still needs billions spent on it to make it livable.

This was Dave McClure’s idea, the geeks explained, to take a plane. They were college drop-outs who couldn’t afford to then but who now had enough money to travel. A strategy of dazzling simplicity. Did they know when they boarded the plane that we would be in Auckland on a dull Tuesday night in a tent celebrating their arrival in New Zealand?

Ice House organised the celebration. Having recently met with Ken Erskine and Kevin Park from Ice House, I could claim a discount on my tickets, still the price of dinner for two and wine, which it in fact included, since it was advertised as a traditional NZ barbie for our foreign visitors. So food was laid on and strangely short waiting staff circulated in the early and later parts of the evening with trays of full glasses and bottles. One of the staff had been unlucky enough to lose the balance of his tray on his hand and send beer fountaining all over the arriving suits – not the geeks, thankfully.

I haven’t written here much about my infiltration of start-up culture. Perhaps I should start. Perhaps I should stop. Since this cultural infiltration has been and is for the sake of my own start-up, for Little Elephant Ltd.’s social media offering, or proposition, called company. Perhaps I might harm my chances by speaking of it, my chances of having my offering or proposition accepted, supported and celebrated. Perhaps however it will be to my cost if I don’t write or speak of it since I will have missed an opportunity.

#GOAPNZ – or a hashtag to that effect – appeared behind Andy Hamilton on the screen. Twitter were a sponsor. Here Andy made another joke. Some of his colleagues had been sending him messages with the hashtag GOATNZ instead. This was incorrect. To find the event and keep up to date with what Twitterage and Tweetment the twats at the barrage of laptops and tablets off to stage-left were giving it, you should go to #GOAPNZ, with a P, @the_icehouse.

Improvising freely after the spectacle of a competitive triple bout of pitching, pitches, pitchery, I informed a fellow networker – for this was what the traditional barbeque and drinking were supposed to encourage – networking – that the system I am proposing or offering – to any taker who is willing and able to give – would make this whole hashtag nonsense a thing of the past. Along with its confusing acronyms and the unnatural speech that has otherwise sensible people using acronyms and hashtags, as if they were to say LOL and BTW and IMHO. ROFL. #ROFL.

The centrepiece of the celebration was then the pitching competition. Each person had two minutes to pitch from the stage to us, the audience, their idea. The geeks off the plane sat on stage, left of the pitcher, and a group selected by Ice House, including Sir Stephen, sat on stage, to the right of the pitcher. The judges were all in the background of the pitcher, because this was the role they were supposed to assume. They shared the stage to judge how well each pitcher sold their idea. Competitive pitching is a descendant of those training sessions for itinerant salesmen, where the salesperson has first to get his foot in the door, and then convince the put-upon housewife that as a houseperson she should spend what little discretionary capital she has on drugs or a new thousand-dollar vacuum cleaner.

the_icehouse billed the event as “NZ Rocket Pitch Competition” – not a question of getting from the plane to the rocket and the hell out, but an allusion to the length of time before the keeper of the house slams the door in the face of the itinerant seller, who, still dusty from the road, starts softly to sob, picks up his battered suitcase of sextoys and lingerie, and checking his polyester suit for tell-tale tear stains, fixes his smile for the long road ahead. In the descendant scenario, the rejecting party is the investor, or more likely Angel. The Angelic race move among us. They share with their celestial namesakes a penchant for collecting souls in return for elevation, since early-stage investment in untried business ‘ideas’ entails paying as little as possible for as great a share of the business as they can get away with, withal that even this angelic behaviour is in the throes of being standardised, sanitised and set at a limit of a 30% share for investing … as little as they can get away with, in a heavenly transaction called, pragmatically, The Deal.

The pitcher must be versed in the patter of a highly formalised style of persuasion. Here of course, in the tent, called mockingly The Cloud, we were not going to be persuaded to invest. It was for sheer spectacle and fun. And here, of course, the geeks and Sir Stephen and others, were not really about to help the pitcher, but judge him or her. And really, there was not an idea in the pitcher. Each pitch concerned young but established businesses, one with a projected revenue of 73 million, for, as it happened, inserting sensors into cows to upload data from the inside of the cow to the cloud. Whence it was supposed to descend like grace or fall like manna from heaven into the palms of the poor farmer and aid him or her in his or her efficient extraction of value from the virtues of the animal on an industrial scale. No doubt it could also warn of dangerous CO2 levels leaving the anatomy of the cow and other effluvia.

I am taking liberties describing this poetic process, since the ‘cloud’ is obviously code, not to be confused with The Cloud, and the ‘palms of the poor farmer’ refers to some sort of digital device, handheld or occupying the farmer’s desk, to make farming increasingly an office job. The ‘cloud’ is a delicious sort of digital debt and the nomenclature a euphemism for owing to a mechanism of mechanical memory storage so much, in so many layers of imbricated deficit, that were it overnight-and-day to materialise it would put the global economy into freefall. Just a second, has this happened?

Hearing Susanne’s Rocket Pitch for Kahne, the hilarious cow tech, Dave – Dave, Andy, Sir Stephen, we were all by now on a first name basis, this being the only name stickered on our badges – Dave McClure, distracted from his constant online background checks of the pitcher’s business credentials, said that the number 73 million was the only thing that had registered with him from the whole two minutes Susanne was speaking. If you have 73 million, what the hell are you doing here? he asked, with a certain level of redundancy. It registered with me that none of the 12 – a reason for this number? Geekspell, the musical? as a friend sugggests – businesses represented seemed to require Angelic elevation.

This had been my experience of IBM’s SmartCamp round of pitchery as well, where there was one pitch concerned with quantum encryption of computer hard-drives, hardly an idea, a reality which had won a hugely lucrative contract with NASA. The difference with what went on in the tent called The Cloud was not to be found in the existing success or quality of the business being pitched but that IBM spent the day before that spectacle and the fun of the competition in exactly the sort of intensive training a travelling salesman could use. Here the process was pitch, judge, dispatch and let that stand as a celebration of the geeks’ arrival in beautiful Auckland.

the_icehouse had split the chosen 12 into three sponsor-appropriate categories. The only category which seemed to possess any internal logic in its grouping dealt with applications of material technologies, called “Return on Science” suitably to flatter the sponsor, Return on Science. Dave averred of this group that it was lucky they all seemed to have customers since their pitches fucking sucked ass. Andy, our courageous MC, mastered the moment, where for a moment naturalness had pierced the beautiful and celebratory bubble, by saying that the reason he’d asked at the evening’s outset we keep it seemly was that he is religious and does not approve of the use of the word fuck.

General hilarity ensued. Of the self-congratulary sort that only serves to restore complacent bubbles around events like this one. Or polyethylene sheet or whatever it is from which The Cloud is fabricated.

It was a theatrical evening, then, organised by the Ice House to promote itself and cheapened by its self-promotion. With stale bread. A patronising MC. Risible gestures at national or civic bolsterism. Low entertainment. Of no conceivable use to the parties pitching except being seen. By geeks. From America. To which we were asked to bear witness, authorise and share in, co-complicit. A celebration of mediocrity. And vested interests. No more or less. Another night of New Zealand theatre.

Then, there was more. Andy introduced J Geek and the Geeks to really finish off the evening with a routine that seemed to have been borrowed – perhaps they had given it away? – from a gay male strip review, tiny piupius, bad make-up and charming smiles, celebrating the geeks’s arrival in beautiful New Zealand with some native entertainment. As I heard one of our geek visitors say with deep insight to a journalist who asked probingly what he made of the place, he’d been amazed by the traditional Maori welcome. That there were still people in the world in this day and age with such a deep connection to the land.

National Scandal
network critical

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from The Curves of Time, 1998, Oscar Niemeyer

“What attracts me are free and sensual curves.

The curves we find in mountains,

in the waves of the sea,

in the body of the woman we love.”

– quoted here


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