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Archive for the ‘web’ Category

Open Lecture – Gif

September 21st, 2008 by Tegan

This Tuesday the 23rd of September AVANT CAR GUARD will be giving an open lecture in the Digital Arts Seminar Room. This lecture forms part of a course on Internet Art and Online and Networked Culture offered at the Digital Arts Division of the Wits School of Arts.

Every year we invite local artists to present and discuss work made for online and networked platforms. This year AVANT CAR GUARD will be speaking about the animated gifs (among other things) made for the Artthrob dairy over the past couple of months.

The title of this lecture Gif is great play on the Afrikaans term.

To find the Digital Arts Building please visit this map. You will find us between the WSOA main building and the Nunnery.

How to write for the Web

June 25th, 2008 by christo

Slate has been running some excellent "how-to" articles on the most effective ways of writing for the Web.  Senior Editor, Michael Agger, has a  concise and somewhat tongue-in-cheek demonstration of  "readable"  writing techniques using the theory of  Web usability expert  Jakob Nielsen.  While Editor at Large, Jack Shafer,  extoles  the superb meditation by Caleb Crain entitled  How is the internet changing literary style?  Like Shafer, I have to admit, that after reading Crain’s essay, "I’ll never read the Web the same again."

The consequences of these changes in writing  (and our habits of "information retrieval" ) are explored by  Nicholas Carr in his Atlantic  essay, Is Google Making Us Stupid?

Over the past few years I’ve had an uncomfortable sense that someone, or something, has been tinkering with my brain, remapping the neural circuitry, reprogramming the memory. My mind isn’t going—so far as I can tell—but it’s changing. I’m not thinking the way I used to think. I can feel it most strongly when I’m reading.

The Atlantic, of course, was the magazine that published the seminal essay by Vannevar Bush in 1945 that anticipated the development of information technology, As We May Think.  It’s an essay that is worth re-reading in the context of these discussions.  Although the Memex, the mechanical contraption at the centre of the essay was not to be, Bush anticipates many of the most significant features of the new  technologised mental landscape. For instance he could have been imagining Google when he writes:

Wholly new forms of encyclopedias will appear, ready made with a mesh of associative trails running through them, ready to be dropped into the memex and there amplified.

But what is most striking about re-reading the essay is Bush’s urgent conviction that without these information technologies we will be swamped in the vast amount of data that is generated by new forms of science and industry. It’s perhaps worth bearing this in mind when we consider the negative implications of the new orders of thinking and recall.

Hacktivism against Mugabe – web politics in Zimbabwe

May 17th, 2008 by christo

Zimbabwe national flag

Gugu Ziyaphapha,  writing in Journalism.co.za,  brings encouraging news of what sounds like a "hacktivist" action against the website of  the Zimbabwe government’s daily newspaper/propaganda mouthpiece,  The Herald.   The hacker managed to close down the website for four days by  removing the Herald’s headlines and replacing them with the phrase, "Gukurahundi", referring to the notorious state-directed genocide in which as many as 20 000 civilian opponents of the Mugabe regime were slaughtered by North Korean-trained forces in the early 1980s.  The hacker kept changing the headlines for three days until the Herald had to close the site.

This was followed, a day later, by an attack on the website of the Zimbabwe Financial Gazette.  The Gazette is another government-controlled media outlet, in a country where oppositional media have been driven into silence.   In this attack, "the hacker, only identified as ‘r4b00f’ replaced all the gazette’s headlines in the May 15 web edition to read "Mugabe must go" and "Free Zimbabwe".  The attack on the Gazette included hyperlinks which  "directed visitors to the website of the militant anti-Mugabe civic action group called Sokwanele/Zvakwana/ (Shona and Ndebele for Enough is Enough)."

(Thanks to Antony Kaminju for the link.)

The Charms of Wikipedia

March 11th, 2008 by christo

This blog has featured links to a number of articles about the phenomenal success of the online public encyclopedia, Wikipedia.  Recent revelations about the formative role of an inner elite of editors and the public tribulations of the site’s founder, Jimmy Wales  have forced users to take a more nuanced view of Wikipedia, but it is still the first destination for fact checking or finding out more about any topic that comes to mind.  Hence, the great pleasure of finding that Nicholson Baker has written about Wikipedia.  One of the great obsessives of contemporary American letters, Nicholson Baker devoted an entire book to the subject of a box of matches and taught himself golf in an unsuccessful attempt to emulate the writing style of  his great hero, John Updike.  There is simply no one better to mine the social complexities of Wikipedia and to understand the intensity of the battles between editors, vandals and polemicists.  Not surprisingly, Baker found himself drawn into becoming a contributor, starting with small edits on the "bovine somatropin" page and tinkering with the plot synopsis of Sleepless in Seattle.  Soon developing a full blown Wikipedia dependency, Baker ventured deeper into the project  by joining the battle between "inclusionists", who believe that applying strict editorial criteria will dampen contributors’ enthusiasm for the project, and "deletionists" who argue that Wikipedia should be more cautious and selective about its entries.  Naturally , Baker’s sympathies were with the "inclusionists"  and he found himself becoming one of those people who endeavour to save articles from deletion by zealous editors who tag them as "non-notable":

 I  found press citations and argued for keeping the Jitterbug telephone, a large-keyed cell phone with a soft earpiece for elder callers; and Vladimir Narbut, a minor Russian Acmeist poet whose second book, Halleluia, was confiscated by the police; and Sara Mednick, a San Diego neuroscientist and author of Take a Nap! Change Your Life; and Pyro Boy, a minor celebrity who turns himself into a human firecracker on stage. I took up the cause of the Arifs, a Cyprio-Turkish crime family based in London (on LexisNexis I found that the Irish Daily Mirror called them "Britain’s No. 1 Crime Family"); and Card Football, a pokerlike football simulation game; and Paul Karason, a suspender-wearing guy whose face turned blue from drinking colloidal silver; and Jim Cara, a guitar restorer and modem-using music collaborationist who badly injured his head in a ski-flying competition; and writer Owen King, son of Stephen King; and Whitley Neill Gin, flavored with South African botanicals; and Whirled News Tonight, a Chicago improv troupe; and Michelle Leonard, a European songwriter, co-writer of a recent glam hit called "Love Songs (They Kill Me)."

Read the whole essay in the New York Times Book Review.  It’s a gem!

Art Dispatch Daily: Clouds

February 2nd, 2008 by daniel

Today I would like to introduce you to three artworks/artists with something very obvious in common: Troika, David Rokeby and Jonathan Harris and Sep Kamvar.

Read the rest here…