sphere from above

what goes up must come down Do you remember ‘↑The Gods Must Be Crazy‘ (Uys 1980)? That old comedy movie telling the story of Xi, a Kalahari bushman, who undertakes an epic journey to bring an artefact which fell from the skies back to the gods? Well, in the midst of November this year it wasn’t a Coca-Cola bottle, but a metal sphere that fell from the skies over Namibia. On its impact the sphere, 35cm in diameter and about 6kg heavy, dug a crater about 30cm deep and 4m in diameter. Local authorities contacted NASA and ESA, asking for … Continue reading

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advanced building techniques

A common trait of technoludic online scenes and communities are the efforts undertaken to document, preserve and redistribute specific knowledge. The afols [adult fans of lego] have developed many building techniques beyond those found in official instructions. Back in 2007 Didier Enjary collected a lot of those in his ‘↓The Unofficial LEGO Advanced Building Techniques Guide‘ [.pdf | 1.7 MB]. Didier’s guide explains the geometry of LEGO bricks from scratch, then proceeds to particular techniques. All in all his guide is a testament to the afols’ intellectual and practical appropriation of the LEGO building system.  via ↑entry at ↑the brothers … Continue reading

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setting minifigs free

Since 2011 the minifigures the LEGO group sells on magnetic bricks (so you can place them on your refrigerator door) are firmly fixed onto their magnetic pedestals. As it seems this has economic and copyright reasons, and the licence holders of franchises like ‘Star Wars’ and ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ demanded the fixation—just if minifigs had no rights. Last year I bought some magnetic sets in Berlin’s LEGO flagship store. The minifigs were simply connected to the magnetic bricks in the usual LEGO way. Some of the sets I bought this year are fixed ones, which is a big annoyance. … Continue reading

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apocalypse kit

Merchandising is a strange beast. Manufacturer ↑Gerber Legendary Blades has issued an ↑Apocalypse Kit “as seen in” the TV-series ↑The Walking Dead, based on the ↑comic book series of the same name. I perfectly do understand that this is a limited edition (only two batches of 200 sets) directed at a niche collector’s market. Nevertheless I’m not sure what to think about it. Especially as I always associate Gerber not with tools (which is their absolute main line), but with the ↑Gerber Mark II fighting knife, which not only was identified as the killing-instrument of choice in the infamous and … Continue reading

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96 hours later

↑96 hours to the stone age at ↑GigaOM complements ↵behind closed doors and ↵telegeography. The story asks, especially in respect to information technology, what will happen when electrical power won’t be delivered anymore. Well, an apocalypse in the strict sense of the term will happen—a revelation. It will be revealed to all of us in unblinking clearness, on how much hardware around us we depend, which in turn depends on electricity.     The gist of this kind of speculation is informed by scientific methodology: Take an element, or a whole category of elements, out of a system and see … Continue reading

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simroid

More from ↵robotopia nipponica. The Simroid is a training android for dentists. It is developed at ↑The Nippon Dental University and built by ↑Kokoro [a lot more of weird robot stuff there]. After the first version, called Simuloid and presented in 2007, the new Simroid features a higher level of naturalism (↑video at DigInfo TV):     It ‘behaves’ quite like a human patient on a dentist’s torturing chair [‘Brazil’ anyone?], moves, speaks, and reacts—e.g. by simulating gag reflexes, or by expressing discomfort when the doctor accidentally strokes its breasts with the elbow.     Reminds me of ↵mor gui, … Continue reading

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thai flood hacks

↑Thai Flood Hacks is a wonderful collection of pictures showing off ingenious technical contraptions cooked up for dealing with the flood in Thailand. With their ↑truck-canoe hybrids [still only at ye ole xirdalium] the people of Bangkok already have shown their skill in dealing with water and in the active appropriation of technology—now they drive it to new heights. Also very worthwhile in these respects: ↑afrigadget and ↑street use. ↑thai flood hacks via ↑entry at ↑ethno::log … Continue reading

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behind closed doors

That one came timely—just two days after ↵telegeography, my rant on the other side of information technology, the Internet’s hardware aspect, and its importance for anthropology, ↑boingboing posted on ↑Ben Mendelsohn‘s documentary ↑Bundled, Buried & Behind Closed Doors: I want to share a short documentary that I recently produced about the hidden Infrastructure of the Internet called Bundled, Buried and Behind Closed Doors. The video is meant to remind viewers that the Internet is a physical, geographically anchored thing. It features a tour inside Telx’s 9th floor Internet exchange at 60 Hudson Street in New York City, and explores how … Continue reading

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flying sphere

Star Wars fans (like me) will get a vague sense of deja vu when they see this flying sphere in action. Weighing in at about 12 ounces (350 g), the 16-inch (42 cm) diameter flying ball can launch and return vertically, maintain a stationary hover and zip along at up to 37 mph (60 km/h). Coupled with the ball camera we reported on earlier this month, it could become a valuable reconnaissance platform. Who knows? In time, more advanced autonomous versions might actually be used to train would-be Jedi knights. Once again, life imitates art.     Announced last summer … Continue reading

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telegeography

Amazing, how associations creep up involuntarily. When ↑Mark McGuire ↵asked if ↑Cyberanthropology was available in English, I had to answer ‘I’m afraid, but, no,’ and at the same time thought, ‘but there is a book-length unpublished manuscript in English on my HDDs.’ Then I saw the link to ↑TeleGeography’s map gallery at the ↑ethno::log and was reminded of a passage from said manuscript, ranting about the macroscopic hardware aspect of information technology: When you are doing offline fieldwork in, say, the tropical belt, you have to be able to find your way around in the rainforest, have to know about … Continue reading

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