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June 30, 2005


Robin says,

So I've been running into this term 'angel-headed' recently. I saw it yesterday in The Onion, in a review of Miranda July's new movie --

July's strangely ingratiating dreamers, lost souls, and angel-headed dorks have to scream just to make their voices heard above the white noise of modern life.

-- and it was finally too much. I had to Google it. And it turns out I'm a cultural illiterate; it's from Allen Ginsberg in "Howl."

He wrote:

...angelheaded hipsters, burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night.

So what I want to know now is: Did Ginsberg coin the term? And what, exactly, do you think it means?

P.S. Also in this edition of The Onion: My rocker clone with a smart interview.

Comments (0) | Permasnark | Posted: 9:10 PM

Inside Baseball

Robin says,

Ye gods! A big chunk of the digital staff from The World Co. in Lawrence, Kansas (who produce one of the coolest newspaper sites in the world) just up and moved to the Naples Daily News, reports


Comments (1) | Permasnark | Posted: 11:09 AM

An Installment of Metasnark

Robin says,

1. I was totally going to link to the David Foster Wallace commencement address! I read it on MUNI going home a few days ago and really liked it. DFW, along with my two personal gurus Philip Pullman and Billy Collins, both underscore the value of patience and compassion -- virtues that get lost in the shuffle of courage, love, etc. sometimes.

2. So our wonderful hosts at ICDsoft told me I can't run the BitTorrent tracker anymore because it "forks background processes." That seems a totally reasonable limitation, as we are currently paying approximately forty-eight cents a month for great service. BUT: Anybody got recommendations for slightly more high-powered and flexible hosting if I want to get the tracker up and running again?

Comments (1) | Permasnark | Posted: 9:16 AM

People Suck

Matt says,

Have you seen the movie Crash yet? Phenomenal, and I'm very excited about the prospect of it being turned into a TV show.

Timely, too, considering you still read stories like this:

A group of white men set upon three black men on the streets of Howard Beach, Queens, early yesterday, beating one with a baseball bat and fracturing his skull, the police and prosecutors said.

The white men, who emerged from a black 2005 Cadillac Escalade before dawn, sent the black men fleeing into nearby swampland and through the streets of the largely white, insular neighborhood. ...

Mr. Minucci, the accused, said that the three black men might have been looking at his jewelry earlier last week, and that he was responding to that when he came across them around 3 a.m. yesterday. For their part, two of the black men, according to police, admitted under questioning that they had been in the area with hopes of stealing a car.

Sad. Every which way.

Comments (7) | Permasnark | Posted: 8:36 AM

June 29, 2005

Best. Commencement. Speech. EVER.

Matt says,

I take it all back. Sorry, Mark Danner. David Foster Wallace clearly gave the best commencement speech this year at Kenyon College, filled with his trademark meta-metadiscursion, but much less pithy than his usual fare. It teeters at one point right on the edge of trite, but slams it all home marvelously, I think.

Comments (2) | Permasnark | Posted: 11:29 PM

King Kong Trailer

Matt says,


Comments (2) | Permasnark | Posted: 11:02 PM


Matt says,

From JKottke, scientists posit that the reason we can't remember our early youth is because we don't have the language skills to encode events into memory.

Comments (0) | Permasnark | Posted: 10:55 PM

Trash Mappin'

Robin says,

Yahoo's Jeffrey McManus on why the Yahoo! Maps API is better than the Google Maps API (both were released today).

I love how snarky he is. I call for more snarkiness in inter-corporate communications!

Comments (0) | Permasnark | Posted: 8:51 PM

June 28, 2005

Books... So Many Books

Robin says,

Google Print is out in beta.

Noted via Download Squad, a cool new blog. Note the familiar name lurking in their entry...

Comments (4) | Permasnark | Posted: 6:12 PM

Back to the Future France

Robin says,

NYT: France to Be Site of World's First Nuclear Fusion Reactor.

Wait a minute! I thought we didn't have nuclear fusion reactors??

Comments (3) | Permasnark | Posted: 3:26 PM

June 27, 2005

Behind the Suck

Matt says, takes a look at the story behind Suck, one of the first Web publishing phenoms, former stomping ground for the likes of Terry Colon, Nick Gillespie and Brian Doherty, Carl Steadman, Ana Marie Cox and Greg Beato. Along with Feed, Suck was once the darling of the cyberati.

"It may not fully be the equivalent of having served time in a Mexican prison where we were all raped and tortured and scarred for life," says Gillespie, "but it is something like that."

Comments (0) | Permasnark | Posted: 3:48 PM

June 26, 2005

Lloyd Davis's thoughts: *blushes demurely* Thank, I think you, like, totally rock too, dude. ... >>

'A Strange and Threatening Vision'


EPIC in the Sunday Observer. Nice column by Frank Kane, but uh-oh, he plays the serendipity card!:

Another member of the audience summed it all up by pointing out that the original Reithian code for the BBC, along with the requirements to inform, educate and entertain, also included the obligations to 'surprise and delight'. It struck me that here was the essence of it. No digitised writing machine could ever manage to achieve those two aims, even if it were laden with all the personality of, say, Bill Gates.

Lloyd Davis handles the rebuttal:

Having a news feed that gives you what you want doesn't equate to only having the nice comforting familiarities. Blogs are written by people. Some days they're clever, some days they're not. Some days they're dull and inarticulate and then there's a nugget of gorgeous rich prose. Some days I sit and nod my head vigorously at the screen. Other days I scream at them, and then get on and respond.

Actually, Lloyd's piece is fab all-around. Here's this, too:

My interpretation of the animation is "Don't give up hope, don't run away just because this stuff looks frightening. Go up to it and say 'Hello'. You're human and it's not. You have intelligence, emotion and compassion on your side. Work out how it could help you express yourself as you really are to a global group of people. Team up with your friends to see how you could use it to build on your existing relationships. Don't be afraid."

That's really quite lovely! (Do you like how I'm reading British blogs and using phrases like 'quite lovely'?)

Posted June 26, 2005 at 11:13 | Comments (1) | Permasnark
File under: EPIC

June 25, 2005

More International Development RomComs, Please!

Robin says,

At this very moment I am 41 minutes into The Girl in the Cafe on HBO, and it is GREAT!

Yahoo News agrees.

Lead actress Kelly Macdonald is hott. And hotter still? The G8! That's right, this movie is set at a G8 summit!!

Seriously, this movie is really subtle and smart, on all levels. Love it.

Update, 53 minutes: Okay, it just got a little preachy. But only a little. It's still great.

Update, 77 minutes: Okay, hella preachy. Not necessary. Could have gotten point across without sermon scene. Fact that Kelly Macdonald is delivering sermon not helpful. Well, actually it is a little.

Comments (3) | Permasnark | Posted: 8:45 PM

Giant Baby

Matt says,

Heh. (Via.)

PS: Now that Michael Jackson is retreating from the limelight a little bit, I'm happy Tom Cruise has decided to step up to play the part of Insane Celebrity. It's the role he was born for. Although it sucks that he killed Oprah.

Comments (6) | Permasnark | Posted: 12:44 PM

Newsbotster, y'all


New site design plus some new technology over at MSNBC.

At the bottom of every story there's now a sliding scale of stars. I'm not sure what I'm rating, though: The topic? The story's execution? The usefulness of the information?

Anyway, the site looks better now, and they got rid of those insane in-yo-face pop-up menus. I swear I used to be terrified to move my mouse anywhere on the left side of the screen.

I predict I will now read MSNBC 50% more. Unfortunately, 150% of zero is still zero.

More dish over at L to the R.

Posted June 25, 2005 at 12:04 | Comments (0) | Permasnark
File under: Media Galaxy

One Ring to Rule Them All

Matt says,

Newly formed solar system contains Eye of Sauron ... news at 11. (Via.)

Comments (0) | Permasnark | Posted: 11:34 AM

June 23, 2005


Robin says,

Now THIS is what I've been waiting for: distributed investigative journalism via wiki.

A group of volunteers has begun using collaborative wiki software to expedite the process of perusing thousands of pages of complex documents related to detainees held by the U.S. government at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

I kinda wish they weren't all Daily Kos readers, but nonetheless, I love the idea. The actual wiki pages are here.

Comments (0) | Permasnark | Posted: 10:59 AM

June 22, 2005

'Democratic Middle Eastern Union Votes to Invade U.S.'

Robin says,

The Onion in the year 2056.

Comments (1) | Permasnark | Posted: 6:24 PM

Individual Brain Cell Recognizes Halle Berry

Robin says,

Say WHAT?? Malcolm Ritter of the AP reports:

When scientists sampled brain cell activity in people who were scrutinizing dozens of pictures, they found some individual cells that reacted to a particular celebrity, landmark, animal or object.

Apparently this suggests that information could be stored on something close to a cell-by-cell basis, instead of distributed over huge complex networks of cells.

Either that or SCIENCE IS CRAZY.

Comments (0) | Permasnark | Posted: 1:45 PM

June 21, 2005

nobody's thoughts: I almost broke out in tears when he related the flickr transparent screen story.... >>

Supernova: Jeff Weiner

Jeff begins with what he calls "an exercise in sizing knowledge." Enter the query "real estate," and you come up with over 100 million results on Yahoo! search, Google, and MSN search. But what if you were seeking a more contained, possibly more valuable font of information? Say, everything Jeff's mother has learned in the last 26 years of selling real estate in Larchmont, NY.

That is knowledge that could be available on the Internet, Jeff says, but isn't, because of the technological barriers and the disincentives (or nonincentives) that keep it from getting there. According to Jeff, that's what Yahoo!'s here to fix.

The Yahoo! search vision, he says, is to "Enable people to find, use, share and expand all human knowledge."

  • Find: Enable people to find what they are looking for
  • Use: Search not for sake of searching, but to achieve a purpose
  • Share: Sharing knowledge with people you connect with and connecting to people who you share knowledge with
  • Expand: If we're successful at doing all of the above, Jeff says, this one's a freebie.

He points out that the first letters of each keyword in this mission statement spell FUSE, and helpfully defines the word.

He talks about finding a restaurant review on Yahoo! Local Search. Because both he and the writer of the review happened to be members of Yahoo! 360 ("happened" is probably a strong term here; he's Vice President of Yahoo! Search and the other member also worked at Yahoo!), he was able to better evaluate her review.

Relating a moment of extraordinary serendipity at a speech he gave in eastern Asia, Jeff sounds mildly Scientological -- This is the manifestation of the vision!

But then, we all have our L. Ron moments. Jeff leaves us with some helpful links:

Posted June 21, 2005 at 11:53 | Comments (1) | Permasnark
File under: Technosnark

Supernova: Mobile, Connected World Panel

Evan Williams, Mena Trott, Caterina Fake, Lili Cheng and Amy Jo Kim have gotten off to a rollicking discussion of our private selves, our public selves, and our cyber-selves. They're extending Jonathan Schwarz's talk on trust.

Trust structures on the Internet are complicated. Not just because it can be difficult to quantify who you trust to provide you information*, but also because it's difficult to control who accesses your online persona. And even the implications of this are not so clear-cut. Amy Jo Kim mentions that when she blogs, she must accept having no idea which strangers are reading it or how they'll use the information. Evan Williams points out that for some, the concern isn't strangers, but acquaintances or coworkers. Caterina Fake paraphrases a David Weinberger anecdote -- in the world around us, strangers mean danger; on the Internet, they mean connection.

So how do we create trust networks that can serve these diverse approaches? I didn't hear any direct answers from the panel, but it's a big question, so I forgive.

Interesting question from Amy Jo Kim: The kids who are blogging today, taking photos every day, writing their lives in public, what expectations are they creating for the future?

* I love my mother very much, but two of the last three e-mails she sent were quickly debunked in a trip to Sorry, mom, you don't get to filter my news.

Posted June 21, 2005 at 10:25 | Comments (0) | Permasnark
File under: Technosnark
Tim's thoughts: I also think that trust is the key issue -- for media, information, everything -- although I woul... >>

Supernova: Trust

Jonathan Schwartz of Sun has the following pithy view of the near-future: It's all about trust and authentication. The defining characteristic of the next wave of web stuff will be: Who has access to what?

Also, a book reco: Empires of Light, a history of electricity. Analog to new networks and systems? You bet, Schwartz says!

He awaits the day when a mobile operator says: "We're open! Do whatever you want on this network." As do I... as do I.

Schwartz has a blog. He calls it "an extremely valuable tool." Cool.

Posted June 21, 2005 at 9:18 | Comments (1) | Permasnark
File under: Technosnark

June 20, 2005

Howard Weaver's thoughts: I hear about China and MS banning terms like "democracy" from blog titles and pray they fail. Act... >>

Supernova: Whole New Internet?

Janice Fraser, the author of this article, is facilitating a discussion about what's new on the Internet -- what developments like Flickr, Technorati,, &c. mean. Do they signify a broad advancement in the pattern of innovation?

She starts off with a slide explaining her thesis: "The new internet embraces openness, relinquishes control, and assumes an unknowable future that will be realized through collective effort."

So where does this leave us? We're turning away from publishers providing content and embracing people as content providers, Janice says. We're mistrusting centralized authority in favor of collective wisdom. We're rejecting a packaged experience for an authentic one.

... Read more ....
Posted June 20, 2005 at 4:41 | Comments (3) | Permasnark
File under: Society/Culture
Alexander Muse's thoughts: So any news on the party tonight? (the guy with no hair four rows back on the left)... >>

Supernova: Virtual Wooorlds!

I'm psyched for this session 'cause Ian Bogost, the curator of Water Cooler Games, is here. He's also into "persuasive games" -- that is, games that do more than just entertain. Also here: the CEO of Sennari, a company that creates mobile economies (!), and a guy from Linden Labs.

Running notes:

Whoah dude, I didn't know this: In the Linden Labs game Second Life, players retain full IP rights to the stuff they create in-game. That is great!

ALERT: The phrase "value chain" just appeared. What is this, a presentation at a business school or something??

ALERT: Uh-oh, "extract value" has joined it. Save us, Ian Bogost!

Bogost is up. Talking about advertising in games. Noted: Disney's Virtual Magic Kingdom, a simulation of... a simulation.

In the world of advertising, Bogost says, the primary medium, TV, is being degraded. What ad guys know about is buying media space. So it's like: Hey, find me a new medium! Video games, YES! This company Massive is selling videogame ad-space in a very traditional way. So maybe you'd be playing Snarkmarket Adventures 3 and see a Volkswagon billboard. Done.

Bogost asks: Is that the best we can do?

He enumerates some qualities of online media: It's spatial, encyclopedia, participatory, and procedural.

The one that's particularly missing from videogame advertising is procedural, he says. (By "procedural" he means "rule-based" or "cause-and-effect.") Advertising that shows how products work -- not just how they look or feel.

More TK.

Posted June 20, 2005 at 4:20 | Comments (1) | Permasnark
File under: Technosnark
Howard Weaver's thoughts: "I could definitely never be an executive. Don't quote me on that, if they start offering,... >>

Supernova: The Long Tail

At the Supernova conference, day one, at Wharton West in San Francisco.

Chris Anderson talking about his Big Idea: the Long Tail.

Gah! Dave Goldberg of Yahoo's music service says they have 5 billion (!) song ratings entered by users. 150 million a month. That's a lot of data! Also: They stream a billion songs a month and 350 million music videos a month. YE GODS.

Goldberg also says TiVo missed the opportunity to make their recommendation filters really good and useful. (They are currently quite bad and bizarre.)

David Hornik of August Capital keeps using the phrase "extract value." Very business.

Jeremy Allaire of Brightcove says big studios are spending $50-100 million each just to clear the rights on all their old content so they can distribute it over the internet.

Bottom line: Whatever, I'm sure the Long Tail is very long and very profitable. But I think being a "Long Tail company" per se would be boring. Making content is where it's at.

Posted June 20, 2005 at 2:48 | Comments (3) | Permasnark
File under: Technosnark

June 18, 2005

Hashim Ali's thoughts: I like this movie too much espacially Christian Bale.He is a master piece sort of actor and has p... >>

Batman's Back


Batman Begins is super, super good. It is both a good Batman movie (which would be enough to satisfy a comic book nerd) and a good movie (which should be enough to satisfy anybody).

It's not perfect. But the cast, from Christian Bale to Liam Neeson to Morgan Freeman to, of course, Michael Caine (who I think might be my favorite actor ever) is charismatic and convincing all around.

Worth noting: One thing that's been missing from previous movies, and even a lot of previous comics, is the sense that Batman is scary. That is ostensibly the whole point of his outfit, but it never quite gets realized: He's always more grim techno-ninja than terrible monster of the night.

There's plenty of techno-ninjitsu in this version, too. But thanks to the setup -- the Scarecrow, a classic Batman foe, plays a big role, along with his hallucinogenic fear gas -- we get the opportunity to see what Batman looks like when you're running scared in the streets of Gotham. And I -- a hard-core Batman fan -- actually felt like I "got it" for the first time.

Nerd extra: This movie's story draws from the plot of the first Batman comic I ever got, a thick Batman annual that had Ras Al Ghul poisoning Gotham's water supply. The key difference: In the comic, Ras was going to use a giant lens orbiting in space to filter the sun's rays and activate the poison. So Batman took a shuttle up to his space station to stop him. Um.

Posted June 18, 2005 at 10:52 | Comments (5) | Permasnark
File under: Movies

June 17, 2005

Todd's thoughts: Citizen reporter has served OhmyNews well (in both Korean and English) since 2000.... >>



All right. I'm throwing down my official entry in the Name-the-Unofficial-Journalist sweepstakes. For those of you who have lives beyond journalism, interactive media enthusiasts like Dan Gillmor and JD Lasica have been in a bit of a muddle to find a term for the many, many folks who are now producing works of journalism, but are not employed by any media organizations. Various factions are calling this "grassroots journalism" (Gillmor's fave*), "personal media" (Lasica's pick), "stand-alone journalism" (Chris Nolan's choice) and "citizen journalism" (Steve Outing's preference).

Why is it important? I guess because naming is a first step towards celebrating, acknowledging, and organizing. Names are important.

Pragmatically, if I'm not working for a news organization, I'm daunted from the task of reporting by the prospect of the question, "Who are you with?" or "Where is this going to go?" The very first thing I usually say to interviewees and potential sources is, "Hi, my name is Matt Thompson, I'm a reporter for" But I honestly feel as though it's the term "reporter," not the institution of The Fresno Bee, that lends me more of the cachet of officialdom.

I'd feel a bit sheepish if I were out telling my interviewees that I'm doing "citizen's journalism" for The Fresno Bee.

So, first off, if we're calling these folks journalists, it stands to reason they're doing some reporting. So can we give 'em the word "reporter"? It sounds better, more comfortable, and it's easier to toss off.

We could just stop there. After all, I'm pretty down with saying, "Hi, I'm Matt Thompson, I'm reporting for" (Not that I ever do, but stay with me here.)

But I think there's value in creating a separate term distinct from traditional media reporting. The term should imply what all those above do: I acknowledge that my reporting carries a perspective; I'm not hiding behind a big institution, nor are the resources of such an institution standing behind me.

My nomination? Street reporter.

  • Quick, casual, easy-to-say.
  • Accurate, especially to describe folks like Jarah.
  • Simple conjugating: "I'm doing citizen's journalism for ..." vs. "I'm street-reporting for ..."
  • Implies performance of actual reporting, thereby distinguishing it from "blogger."
  • Fun aural affinities with "beat reporter" and "street performer."

How's about it, sports fans? Any counter-offers? Open to suggestions, here.

P.S.: I understand that this may be just like that time Amy Gahran started a campaign to get everyone to call RSS feeds "web feeds." And no comment.
Correction: Dan Gillmor says his term of choice is actually "citizen journalism" as well.

Posted June 17, 2005 at 2:18 | Comments (5) | Permasnark
File under: Journalism

June 14, 2005

feh's thoughts: The whole porn thing is overhyped. We're talking 70's era Playboys - today's average Maxim or Stu... >>

So Cool... Yet So Creepy


Perhaps you are familiar with American Apparel. Quick run-down: The clothes have a classic '80s vibe; they're all solid colors, with no logos; and they're all produced at a factory in Los Angeles, by workers making a fair wage with solid benefits. That LA facility is actually the biggest garment factory in the entire United States. Business is booming.

However, AA founder and CEO Dov Charney is freaky.

That probably wouldn't matter much, except that it finds concrete expression in AA's business: The stores are tiled with old porn magazines. The NYT's Alex Kuczynski thinks that's creepy, and I do too.

It's just so bizarre, you know? Every other aspect of the entire operation is so straight-edge and socially responsible. And then there's porn hanging above the dressing rooms.

Anyway, whatever. As weird as it is, it's not enough to kill off my fascination with the company and what it's managed to do.

This ties into a documentary I saw recently called The Take. Without going into excruciating detail, it was about workers in Argentina who rallied around a new business model when hard-core international capitalism failed them. And it's like, yeah: There are other ways to run cagey, competitive businesses. We can invent new models.

And I love it when these new models get applied to stuff that's very "heavy." I mean, there's a co-op bakery in my neighborhood, and it's really great, but, whatever, it's a bakery.

In contrast: The focus of The Take was a foundry. It dealt in molten metal. And of course American Apparel is very industrial -- the company can crank out a million t-shirts a week. That's big stuff, both practically and poetically: Textiles and garments have been at the center of industrialization and labor for, well, forever.

So, I'm curious: What other industry is ripe for an agile new entrant, a la American Apparel? Except without the porn this time?

Posted June 14, 2005 at 9:56 | Comments (8) | Permasnark
File under: Society/Culture

Tsunami Warning

Robin says,

Hmm. This sounds, uh, problematic:

A major earthquake struck about 80 miles off the coast of Northern California on Tuesday night, prompting a tsunami warning along the Pacific coast.

Here's the stat page from USGS.

Addendum: Never mind, they called it off.

Also: USGS has a real-time earthquake RSS feed! Cool. I think.

Comments (0) | Permasnark | Posted: 9:02 PM

Doggie Dynamics

Robin says,

Best and most interesting social networking site on the internet: Dogster. (Catster too.)

Check out this cool new feature: You can map your pet's personality. Ted Rheingold, one of the sites' co-founders, is psyched about all the data this will generate.

I wish there was more cool data coming out of sites like Friendster and MySpace...

Comments (0) | Permasnark | Posted: 3:31 PM


Matt says,

How is this even possible? Basic census data on Google Maps, down to the city block level. As you zoom, it tells you the population within the map's viewable range. (Waxtastic.)

Comments (0) | Permasnark | Posted: 6:32 AM

June 13, 2005

Tim's thoughts: Hannah Arendt famously took a stand against school desegregation when the federal authorities for... >>

The Eternal Sanctity of Marriage

Of all the arguments against same-sex marriage, I always thought this one, given by Maggie Gallagher to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary in March of 2004, was the most rational: The available evidence indicates that children raised by both their biological parents in a low-conflict marriage tend to fare the best, on average, in our society. Government should have the freedom to promote this most successful arrangement above any other family structure, reserving for it the prized label of marriage.

Or, to put it another way:

Society is structured on the institution of marriage. ... It has more to do with the welfare and civilizations of a people than any other institutions. ... The state has a natural, direct, and vital interest in maximizing the number of successful marriages which lead to stable homes and families and in minimizing those which do not.

And honestly, it's also true that families headed by partners of the same sex "are subjected to much greater pressures and problems" than straight families are, no doubt. Of course, the principal cause for that is probably societal bigotry, but when it comes to protecting the children, we must legislate with a mind to consequences as well as causes.

While I'm on a roll, it's worth agreeing that removing the ban on same-sex marriage really does put us on a slippery slope towards things society considers unsavory, since it stands "on the same footing as the prohibition of polygamous marriage, or incestuous marriage."

You have to admit, these are all rational arguments. Fortunately, the Supreme Court didn't find them convincing 38 years ago yesterday, when it ruled against Virginia in the case that made interracial marriage legal in every US state.

All the quotes in this post were from the arguments made by Virginia's counsel in that case, R. D. McIlwaine III, reproduced from the transcript of the case.

Posted June 13, 2005 at 4:48 | Comments (1) | Permasnark
File under: Fairy-Tale Marriage


Matt says,

A Flickr photostream showing more pictures of Sony's Librié. (Via if:book.)

Comments (0) | Permasnark | Posted: 3:09 PM

'Members of the Class of September 11'

Matt says,

Why English majors "see developing the moral imagination as more important than securing economic self-justification," why conversations with mass murderers are often disappointing, why the readers of Snarkmarket are all doomed, and more, in my favorite graduation speech of 2005 so far, by Mark Danner.

Comments (2) | Permasnark | Posted: 2:20 PM

Chinese Pop Culture Police

Robin says,

From the CSMonitor, a tale of pop culture regulation:

In China, foreign-culture imports are carefully watched and vetted. No organized initiatives, no serious advertising, no creation of media fads or buzz can take place without party approval.

Approved: Lions Clubs. Not approved: anime.

Lots of weird notes on Chinese culture in here.

Comments (1) | Permasnark | Posted: 1:03 PM

June 12, 2005

LAT Steps Up

Robin says,


1. Andrés Martinez is editorial page editor of the Los Angeles Times, working under Michael Kinsley. He is frickin' smart, and did some awesome work back on the NYT editorial page.

2. Wikitorials!! (Two bullet points up from the bottom.)

Comments (1) | Permasnark | Posted: 5:24 PM


Matt says,

Thirty gigabytes on a super-cheap credit-card sized disc? Invented by a company whose English-language site hasn't been updated since 2002? Gosh, why does this sound so familiar? (Unmediated.)

Comments (0) | Permasnark | Posted: 3:08 PM

External USB Hard Drive

Matt says,

This is rather tempting, except for the fact that I don't need it at all. A 200-gigabyte USB 2.0 external hard drive, for only $108. Expires tomorrow.

Comments (0) | Permasnark | Posted: 12:15 PM

Elite, Elderly Read About EPIC

Matt says,

The New York Times has started up a print column about what's being discussed in the blogosphere. EPIC gets a brief mention in the first entry.

PS: Sorry, James Fallows. Google's awesome and everything, but you're still going to have to actually report.

Comments (2) | Permasnark | Posted: 8:49 AM

June 11, 2005

Robin's thoughts: I agree, Tim -- I've already begun formulating guidelines for the next wave, and they will includ... >>

Remember Snarkmarket Collaboration #1?

screengrab from snarkmarket collaboration video

It's done! Get it here.

(Don't have BitTorrent? Get the basic client, or Azureus if you want something a little fancier. You can also try BitComet if you're on Windows.)

Also: Download it from the Internet Archive.

Posted June 11, 2005 at 5:22 | Comments (3) | Permasnark
File under: Collaborations


Robin says,

Barack Obama gave the commencement address at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois last weekend. Man, this is some good rhetoric:

Now, no one can force you to meet these challenges. If you want, it will be pretty easy for you to leave here today and not give another thought to towns like Galesburg and the challenges they face. There is no community service requirement in the real world; no one is forcing you to care. You can take your diploma, walk off this stage, and go chasing after the big house, and the nice suits, and all the other things that our money culture says that you should want, that you should aspire to, that you can buy.

But I hope you don't walk away from the challenge. Focusing your life solely on making a buck shows a certain poverty of ambition. It asks too little of yourself. You need to take up the challenges that we face as a nation and make them your own. Not because you have a debt to those who helped you get here, although you do have that debt. Not because you have an obligation to those who are less fortunate than you, although I do think you do have that obligation. It's primarily because you have an obligation to yourself. Because individual salvation has always depended on collective salvation. Because it's only when you hitch your wagon to something larger than yourself that you realize your true potential.

Knox is a jewel of a liberal arts college. Founded by anti-slavery activists, it was the site of one the Lincoln-Douglas debates. It also has fun traditions.

Comments (3) | Permasnark | Posted: 1:59 PM

EPIC Australia

screen grab from Australian EPIC-style presentation

Now THIS is a trip: The fine folks at the Chamber of Minerals and Energy of Western Australia (!) have posted their own EPIC-style Flash future-doc.

And they even got Minus Kelvin to do the music! For real!

It's actually pretty fun to watch. Great production, and the narrator's Australian lilt almost matches Matt's basso rumble for coolness. They kinda skipped the whole quasi-apocalyptic vibe, but I guess that's understandable.

Posted June 11, 2005 at 11:37 | Comments (0) | Permasnark
File under: EPIC

June 10, 2005


Robin says,

Back in elementary school, my dad worked in the computer business and had a subscription to InfoWorld. I used to always hunt down the new issues and flip straight to the back for the gossip column by Robert X. Cringely (who was signified by a dark silhouette in a fedora, natch).

And this is exactly why: Intel's going to buy Apple, you say?

I love this kind of stuff. LOVE it.

Comments (2) | Permasnark | Posted: 12:07 AM

June 9, 2005

Digital Edition? Try Only Edition

Robin says,

Word on the street is the Christian Science Monitor might go all-digital.

That'd be pretty sweet. The CSM is already rockin' it online; just imagine what they could do if they dumped the dead wood altogether.

Comments (0) | Permasnark | Posted: 6:15 PM

Poster Geek for Google Maps

Robin says,

So I'm on MUNI this morning, glancing at some guy's Examiner, when who do I see peering back at me but...

the arched eyebrows of one a. holovaty

Adrian Holovaty! Looking devious, I might add.

Adrian, a longtime Friend of Snarkmarket, is featured prominently in this AP story about Google Maps hackery. Rock on!

Comments (1) | Permasnark | Posted: 10:00 AM

Detroit Tag City? What?

Robin says,

Over on Smart Mobs they're talking about Detroit and social software, two topics that interest me greatly.

But... I have no idea what any of this means:

Detroit, like the urban experience in general, has become non-referential. Its empty spaces, or "ruins" as the Fabulous Ruins of Detroit website declares, don't refer to anything anymore. Tagging allows us to transform that non-referentiality into social experience.

Gah! Is this more than techno-gibberish?

Comments (20) | Permasnark | Posted: 12:10 AM

June 8, 2005

The Ultimate Zeitgeist

Matt says,

A peek into the mind of God. A live feed of changes to Wikipedia. (Joshlicious, but also Waxtastic.)

Comments (4) | Permasnark | Posted: 6:18 PM

June 7, 2005

Towards An Interactive Story?


You, the player, using your own name and gender, play the character of a longtime friend of Grace and Trip, an attractive and materially successful couple in their early thirties. During an evening get-together at their apartment that quickly turns ugly, you become entangled in the high-conflict dissolution of Grace and Trip’s marriage. No one is safe as the accusations fly, sides are taken and irreversible decisions are forced to be made. By the end of this intense one-act play you will have changed the course of Grace and Trip’s lives – motivating you to re-play the drama to find out how your interaction could make things turn out differently the next time.

Façade is the first attempt I've heard of to make a graphical, interactive, real-time short story. You can call it a game, you can call it (as the makers do) a one-act play. But it's about to be released, and it's been in the works for several years (don't let the low-key graphics fool you).

The drama between Grace and Trip goes on with or without your interaction, but the words you type and the gestures and movements you make affect the narrative. The AI of each of the characters has been programmed to respond to a robust range of natural language.

The makers acknowledge the limitations of the project in their overview:

By the time Façade is done, we will have spent two man-years on authoring alone, but even this results in only a 20 minute one-act play replayable 6 or 7 times before it is exhausted. Furthermore, Façade of course does not achieve general purpose natural language understanding; instead it listens for a large variety of word patterns and phrases focused on the context of its dramatic situation, which feed into a discourse management system.

But even within those limits, if they've succeeded in "design[ing] an experience that provides the player with 20 minutes of emotionally intense, unified, dramatic action," I think they'll have accomplished something wholly new in video game design. I'm very curious to see if they've done it.

Definitely read the overview if this interests you, and you might want to check out The New York Times' preview of the game as well ("This is the future of video games.").

Posted June 7, 2005 at 6:49 | Comments (0) | Permasnark
File under: Video Games

The Best Episode III Review in the Universe

Robin says,

The Best Page in the Universe weighs in on Revenge of the Sith. Warning: Profane. Also: Hilarious.

Comments (1) | Permasnark | Posted: 6:25 PM

Easy Google-Map Hacking?

Matt says,

I wouldn't keep posting these Google Map hacks if they didn't keep getting so darn awesome. The ability to customize Google Maps has been around for a few months now. But it has typically involved things like sending requests to various servers via Python proxies and altering XSL stylesheets (i.e. not for the faint of geek).

GMapTrack, on the other hand, looks easy enough for AOL subscribers to use. Look! Surveillance cameras in Vancouver!

Fill out a simple form, and bam -- you've got a map. Your map nodes can have images, links, captions, etc. The next logical step is either Robin or I actually making a map with one of these things. With this one, I might just try. (Unmediated.)

Comments (1) | Permasnark | Posted: 6:32 AM

June 6, 2005

High Concept

Matt says,

Word It is a monthly project by the design collaborative Speak Up. Every month, they post a word, and anyone can submit a 5x5" image illustrating that word. Very simple, yes. Surprisingly absorbing. I think this is my favorite (the word is "pleasure").

Comments (0) | Permasnark | Posted: 11:04 AM

While We're Housekeeping ...

Matt says,

Where do you put a 9-year reminder to yourself? I figure I'll put this one here, since I'm sure that 9 years down the road, when I'm perusing through the Snarkives as C.O.O. of Snarkmarket, Inc. (and chairman of the board of directors for the Snarkmarket Foundation, natch), I'll come across this post and say, "Oh yes. I must get on that."

So -- Note to future self: If the Vermont High Court didn't unseal Howard Dean's records back in '05, go to Vermont and dig them up. You may be the only person still curious about what's in there, but still. It'll be a nice getaway for you.

Comments (0) | Permasnark | Posted: 10:41 AM


Robin says,

1. Thanks to all who sent in media for Snarkmarket Collaboration #1! I know there a few more things coming in as well -- but we've got a good bundle of stuff and I will now, um, do something with it.

2. Check it out: Snarkmarket is closing in on its 1000th comment! I will not disclose the current number, but I am confident that someone will post the mega-comment this week. To the person who does... IMMORTAL GLORY!

Comments (0) | Permasnark | Posted: 9:15 AM

June 5, 2005


Matt says,

Color me mind-blown. (Waxtastic.)

Comments (2) | Permasnark | Posted: 11:55 PM

Web Apps

Matt says,

This unofficial Web applications list is fantastic. My favorite is the Brilliant Button Maker. (Via Tim Yang.)

There's also a brilliant list of color palette resources out there, but I only have the link bookmarked at work. I'll put it here when I find it again.

Update: Tim Yang also notes this helpful list of Web developer resources.

Comments (0) | Permasnark | Posted: 1:37 PM

'It Keeps Rearing Its Ugly Head'

Matt says,

Ouch. EPIC's third tour through MetaFilter is not so auspicious. Hype. Backlash. The circle always comes around in the end.

Comments (0) | Permasnark | Posted: 2:59 AM

June 4, 2005

The Real United Nations

Robin says,


Try this on for size: The U.N. as robust war-fighting alliance. According to Dan Plesch, that's how it really began:

The "United Nations" had been the official name for the coalition fighting the axis powers since January 1942, when Roosevelt and Churchill had led twenty-six nations, including the Soviet Union and China, in a "Declaration by United Nations".

Lots of cool images. Link via MeFi.

Comments (0) | Permasnark | Posted: 1:45 PM
Robin's thoughts: You will have to wait for Snarkmarket Collaboration #2!... >>

Don't Forget! Snarkmarket Collaboration #1

It's SATURDAY! You live somewhere! That means you gotta take a minute to document something about the experience of living in that place. Video is A+ for overachievers, images or sound are great too, and I'll even take text if that's all you got. You can email to me at rsloan at gmail, or post as a comment here if you like. More deets are back here.

As for me, I bought a new videocamera this week and I am taking it out on the town right... now.

Posted June 4, 2005 at 9:56 | Comments (2) | Permasnark
File under: Collaborations

June 3, 2005

BBC on Steroids

Matt says,

Apparently people have been going nuts with the BBC API BBC's RSS feeds. The BBC Backstage blog ("Use our stuff to build your stuff") is currently blowing my mind just a tad. Bayesian news filtering!! Extract names and places from stories! News maps galore!

All of it is hella beta, but also scrumptious. Why is the BBC so awesome?

Comments (2) | Permasnark | Posted: 4:29 PM

Peak Oil Primer

Matt says,

Kevin Drum just wrapped up an excellent five-part series on peak oil and its portents. If your eyes aren't already glazed over, take a read.

Comments (2) | Permasnark | Posted: 1:31 PM

EPIC Sighting: CNN Thingamajig

Robin says,

TVNewser blogged a CNN panel called "Trust As the New Truth," which apparently opened with a presentation of EPIC. Check it:

3:54pm: The panel began with the presentation of Epic 2014. [Christiane] Amanpour said she disagreed with it: "What we do is extraordinarily special, and it's not going to be cannibalized," she believes.
Comments (1) | Permasnark | Posted: 12:06 PM

June 2, 2005

Just Can't Leave It Alone

Robin says,

What's that you say? Sick of EPIC? Too bad!

Jemima Kiss added an update to her story which includes some anecdotes about EPIC's creation.

Jeff Jarvis notes it as well.

Update: In nerdy tech news, I rigged it up so EPIC 2015 is being distributed via BitTorrent, the cool peer-to-peer downloading technology. Thanks, BlogTorrent!

Comments (7) | Permasnark | Posted: 2:25 PM

'Neckties Were Wide'

Robin says,

From Hank Stuever's essay on the idea of Deep Throat in the WaPo:

Journalism schools were suddenly overcrowded with people who all wanted to find the next Deep Throat. Neckties were wide. Robert Redford, IBM Selectrics, pay phones, the clutter, the drabness and wonder of the '70s: Everyone wanted a piece of it, and some days you can still get a whiff of what it might have felt like. It was possible, our ancestors inform us, to go to a bar and tell a girl that you were a reporter for The Washington Post and she might go home with you. That was part of the allure of the Deep Throat culture -- the reporter as chick magnet. (Now she would tell you that she doesn't really ever look at the paper. Or worse, she only looks at it online.)

SO good!

Over at, Chip Scanlan has a veddy interesting interview with Stuever posted.

Also: Stuever's book Off Ramp is excellent.

Comments (0) | Permasnark | Posted: 10:22 AM

Own All 4,000+ Issues of The New Yorker

Matt says,

For its 80th anniversary, The New Yorker is releasing a DVD collection containing every single issue of the magazine -- cover, ads, articles, cartoons, everything. Only $100.

Umm, can every publication in the world do this immediately, please? (Via Kottke.)

Comments (4) | Permasnark | Posted: 6:44 AM

June 1, 2005

RSS Life

Robin says,

Hey, lookit this comprehensive guide to getting all sorts of stuff -- not just blogs -- via RSS. I didn't know about half these sites.

Oh yeah, Matt wrote it.

Comments (0) | Permasnark | Posted: 5:53 PM

Make Your Own Comics

Matt says,


I feel pretty confident that will change your life.

Comments (2) | Permasnark | Posted: 4:40 PM
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