The Null Device


Another piece from Signum 6: Recovering digeratus Douglas "Cyberboy" Rushkoff on cyberculture in the late 80s/early 90s:

Even if the Internet has not yet become altogether ubiquitous, it has certainly been absorbed by the same mainstream culture that denied its existence and resisted its ethos for an awfully long time. True, cyberculture has inalterably changed its co-opter, but in the process has become indistinguishable from it as well.


There's a new issue of Signum, looking again at the '90s cybercultural revolution and whatever happened to it. It contains some interesting articles, including one from Brenda Laurel on Purple Moon, the company she ran to create computer games for girls:

Everyone knew that girls simply didn't like computer games and wouldn't play them. Examples would be trotted out as proof. My favorite was Barbie, published in 1985 by Epyx for the Commodore-64. Barbie was at the mall, shopping for the right outfit to wear on her date with Ken. Now, "everyone knows" that girls aren't good at shooting games, so the designers reasoned that the game should make it easier for them. The brilliant solution: make projectiles that move slowly. And so it was decided that the action component of the game would consist of throwing marshmallows. "You see," the game execs would say, "they did everything right, but sales were dismal."


Melbourne's homie gangs have upped the ante; no longer satisfied with crashing teenage parties and robbing those in attendance, a gang of four enthusiastic gangsta rap fans allegedly bashed a 51-year-old man unconscious outside his home in McKinnon (which is somewhere in the general vicinity of the teenage gangland of the Frankston railway line).

Police are looking for four males in their late teens who were seen in the area wearing baggy clothing and baseball caps.

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Scientists at Aberdeen University have discovered a way to make cannabis soluble. This will allow cannabis-based medicines to be manufactured. Of course, patients taking them will be legally obliged to take drugs (currently under development) to block the "high".


Professional curmudgeon Julie Burchill on John Lennon, on the anniversary of his death and the resulting outpouring of sentiment. (via Pearls)

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A survey of acclaimed Australian teenage novels, conducted by three child psychiatrists, has suggested a disturbing trend towards nihilism. The survey has found that 64% of novel characters have experienced severe trauma such as rape or a life-threatening car accident, 87% suffered a severe loss such as the death of someone close, and 2/3 of books mentioned psychiatry, though few characters benefitted from it. A case of progressive realism run amok, an attempt by the authors to be relevant to NIN/Limp Bizkit-listening young rebels, or just some official "experts" keeping themselves in a job?


Hong Kong-based educational toy manufacturer V-Tech has had to change the programming of a talking keyboard toy, after some customers feared it could be teaching racism. The old toy said "A is for Ape, B is for Black, C is for Crack", a sequence V-Tech say was chosen for phonetic blends and rhyming qualities. V-Tech are offering to replace any of the 305,000 old Alphabert toys with new, non-racist models. (Wonder whether, now that this has made the news, white-supremacist rednecks will start bidding on eBay for the old ones to instruct their kids.) (via Leviathan)