hypermedia ethnography

Note to me: Checking your own referrer-log ain’t just a bonfire of vanity, but sometimes indeed proofs to be useful. Anthropology student Andrea Handl of Vienna urges me in her blog entry to have a look on the dissertation by Johann Stockinger. Then some soul was good natured enough to click the link to xirdalium Andrea had inserted and presto—I found it in my logs. That’s one of the ways the blogosphere works, I guess. Here’s what I am urged to read:

STOCKINGER, JOHANN. 2004. Ethnologische Wissensrepräsentation mittels XML. Univ.-Diss. Wien.

Unfortunately it seems not to be published yet. Mr. Stockinger, Sir, choose one of those and bring your wisdom online, please. All this reminds me of XML and Open Office, the OpenOffice.org XML Essentials and Astrid Blumstengels Entwicklung hypermedialer Lernsysteme. The latter being a true hypertext (in German, though) trying to fathom how to create a scientific hypertext.

Anyway, word has it that Stockinger tries in his dissertation to develope hypermedial ethnological (equals ‘sociocultural anthropological’ in this context) means of representing knowledge. This shall happen by an interactive process of data-collecting, data-analysis, represenation, publication, and interaction. But that’s not enough yet. Stockinger wants that this data can be worked upon in the future, too. So he includes ethnological meta-data and does everything in extended markup language. That’s what I have understood from Andrea’s blog-entry.
Another note to me: Urge Stockinger to take part in my panel.
via entry at zerzaust


world wind add-ons

Death StarWorld Wind (see world wind works) was released by NASA as Open Source Software, and quite naturally a world wind community emerged, generating add-ons. See The unofficial unofficial add-ons list, which includes download-links. There is much which can be put to good use, and things beyond. For example the WorldWind 1.3 Deathstar addon—like Skall, the creator, said: “Useless, but somebody had to do it !” That’s absolutely right.


german casemod masters

Alien caseconLast Saturday, 16 April 2005, the 4th German Casemod Masters (DCMM) took place at Dortmund. There were two categories: casemod, meaning the modification of an of-the-peg case, and casecon, meaning the from-the-bottom-up construction of an entirely new and original case. As a third category there was ‘most spectacular casemod’. The latter was not judged by the jury, but by the audience attending. Maico Bensien from Hamburg won the casecon-category with his creation “Alien” depicted here. For me another wonderful example of everything fusing together: pop-culture icon influence, resistance against the industry’s design-dictate, and cultural appropriation of computer hardware in the form of complete reworking. I am happy. See more at modding-faq.


atari archives

Well, back in the 1980s I was in the other camp, because I was a proud owner of a C64—and we somehow looked down on those having an Atari. But that is history, and exactly from that point of view atariarchives.org is very worthwhile, as it “makes books, information, and software for Atari and other classic computers available on the Web. Everything here is available with permission of the copyright holders.”


notebook’s roots

Alan Kay's DynabookMobile Magazine has a nice article on The Birth of the Notebook by Christopher Null. The article starts with Alan Kay’s 1968 idea ‘Dynabook’, which saw the light of day only as a mockup made of cardboard (picture from ↵Lees 1980:5), as the necessary technology to make it a real thing just was not yet in existance. The Dynabook was thought for kids [play!] and the field of learning and education—the software was thought to grow with the children. The contents of Alan Kays’s original draft notes at Xerox Parc, which are dated August 1972, are remarkable: “The size should be no larger than a notebook; weight less than 4 lbs; the visual display should be able to present at least 4000 printing quality characters [Did you hear the rumours about Microsoft wanting the next generation of operating systems to sport vector graphics instead of bitmaps for displaying characters?] with contrast ratios approaching that of a book; dynamic graphics of reasonable quality should be possible; there should be removable local file storage of at least one million characters (about 500 ordinary book pages) traded off against several hours of audio (voice/music) files.” (cited from ↵Lees 1980:5-6)

The OsbourneNull’s article goes on covering designs like the ‘Osbourne’ from the 1980s, which looks decidedly strange to our contemporary eyes, but may be inspirational to casemodders searching for the optimal shape of LAN-party machines, and concludes with ‘the 1990s and beyond’, when manufacturers ‘agreed’ on one basic shape for notebooks. Astoundingly enough this shape—to which we all are used to nowadays—comes quite close to Kay’s original design from way back.
hint via entry at infocult



This weblog is meant to fulfil a whole array of purposes. Among those is organizing and structuring my material and thoughts. The magnificent search plugin is an essential part, but categories are nevertheless necessary. Problem is that I have to think up the categories myself, as the software won’t. I asked it to do so, but it stubbornly refuses. In my project’s abstract I already boasted: […] the interpretation of the fieldwork-results will be set into relation to the appropriate parts of the history of technology […]. History of games’n’software is all fine, but the machines themselves and material culture are absolutely vital. In consequence I created the new category hardware.



Wonderful, wonderful, they have done it again. The god of the information age indeed is a trickster. The ‘World Multiconference on Systemics, Cybernetics and Informatics’ (WMSCI) has accepted a paper submitted by the graduate students Jeremy Stribling, Max Krohn, and Dan Aguayo—of course all three of them home-based at MIT, where hacker-culture was born—called “Rooter: A Methodology for the Typical Unification of Access Points and Redundancy[.pdf | 709KB]. That’s nearly as good as Alan Sokal’s famous “Transgressing the Boundaries: Toward a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity” with which Sokal triggered a hard-time for the journal ‘Social Text’ and a hotly debated science-scandal. Thing is, the MITites even pushed it a li’l farther than Sokal, who crafted his hoax of an article meticulously by hand. Stribling et al.’s paper was done by a program called SCIgen, which obviously is able to pass some people’s vision of a Turing-test and more:

SCIgen is a program that generates random Computer Science research papers, including graphs, figures, and citations. It uses a hand-written context-free grammar to form all elements of the papers. Our aim here is to maximize amusement, rather than coherence.

One useful purpose for such a program is to auto-generate submissions to “fake” conferences; that is, conferences with no quality standards, which exist only to make money.

Seemingly WMSCI qualifies to this standards. But even more startling is the case of Vienna-based researchers who sent in some abstracts to the VIDEA-conference. All abstracts were accepted, and it was said that they had been reviewed … one of the sent-in abstracts consisted of the conference’s call for papers itself! Excuse me loosing my temper, but conferences like that are the inverse pendant to plagiarism. I welcome every hoaxer who discloses on-goings like that.

Anyway, with “Rooter” the guys hacked themselves well down to the roots of a degenerated part of the scientific community’s so-called competition. ‘Root’ definitely seems to be a magic word of the IT realm. Remember when Randy Waterhouse, one of the main protagonists in Neal Stephenson’s “Cryptonomicon” mistook root@eruditorum.org [<—c'mon bots, harvest this] for the e-mail address of an Unix-overlord? What does the last annotation have to do with the above? Well, nothing—I just took up training for boosting my list of publications: Boasting with weird associations + SCIgen + how-to-talk-postmodern pave the streets of gold to success, I guess.
hint via Anthro-L