The Null Device
Some hackers in France have written a multitasking GUI-based OS for the Intellivision game console; that's an old TV game box from the 1980s, based on a bizarre CPU nobody else used). Which looks about as useful as the various attempts at Commodore 64 UNIX.
A while ago, I bought a copy of Morrissey's Under The Influence compilation CD, only to find that the disc was copy-protected and all but defective for my purposes. I sent off a letter of complaint to DMC. Today, I received an email from them, apologising for the situation and offering to mail me a newly pressed Red Book-compliant copy of the CD (sans artwork/liner notes) to replace the drink coaster I had purchased. Now that's what I call customer service.
It looks like the major dictionaries are trying to outdo each other at being hip and up-to-the-minute and savvy to the latest street lingo. A while ago, the OED added a raft of neologisms including "bling-bling" and now the Collins English Dictionary has published its list of new words. As well as cultural phenomena ("Sars", "quidditch") there are neonconservative coinages (such as "regime change" and "road map"), SMS abbreviations ("gr8", "want 2tlk"), definitional terms for new aspirational classes ("yetties", "nylons") and even words scraped from WIRED Magazine's made-up jargon columns, like "idea hamster". (Come on; did anybody ever use the phrase "idea hamster" in a non-ironic sense?)
William Gibson, writing in the NY Times, claims that it is becoming unprecedentedly difficult for anyone, anyone at all, to keep a secret:
In the age of the leak and the blog, of evidence extraction and link discovery, truths will either out or be outed, later if not sooner. This is something I would bring to the attention of every diplomat, politician and corporate leader: the future, eventually, will find you out. The future, wielding unimaginable tools of transparency, will have its way with you. In the end, you will be seen to have done that which you did.
I say "truths," however, and not "truth," as the other side of information's new ubiquity can look not so much transparent as outright crazy. Regardless of the number and power of the tools used to extract patterns from information, any sense of meaning depends on context, with interpretation coming along in support of one agenda or another. A world of informational transparency will necessarily be one of deliriously multiple viewpoints, shot through with misinformation, disinformation, conspiracy theories and a quotidian degree of madness. We may be able to see what's going on more quickly, but that doesn't mean we'll agree about it any more readily.
I'm having an exhibition of digital photographs and autotraced prints thereof over the next month or so at the Empress Hotel, 714 Nicholson St., North Fitzroy. (Not a bad choice of venue; they also have some decent bands playing, fairly good food and Guinness on tap.) The exhibition is partly live-music themed, with a number of photographs from gigs, as well as some others. It opens this Sunday the 29th, and runs until the 26th of June.