Filtering by Category: Book

Year of the Depend Adult Undergarment: InterLace Telentertainment, 932/1864

"Year of the Depend Adult Undergarment: InterLace Telentertainment, 932/1864 R.I.S.C. power-TPs w/ or w/o console, Pink2, post-Primestar D.S.S. dissemination, menus and icons, pixel-free Internet Fax, tri- and quad-modems w/ adjustable baud, Dissemination-Grids, screens so high-def you might as well be there, cost-effective videophonic conferencing, internal Froxx CD-ROM, electronic couture, all-in-one consoles, Yushityu nanoprocessors, laser chromotography, Virtual-capable media-cards, fiber-optic pulse, digital encoding, killer apps; carpal neuralagia, phosphenic migraine, gluteal hyperadiposity, lumbar stressae."

David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest, 1996, p.60

Why do I blog this? because it's a lovely type of poetry.

8-bit reggae book playlist

For those who asked, here's the list of the tracks I've included in the 8-bit reggae book. Definitely not exhaustive but a good list of tunes that inspired me. Of course there's not just chip music as the book started with the evolution of reggae.

Jahtari X Uprooted Sunshine: "Level Up"
Jody Bigfoot: "Nintempo riddim - Heathen dub"
Sunset Dub: "Circuit Bent Snes # 1"

The Jolly Boys: "Touch Me Tomato"
The Skatalites: "Scandal ska"
Higgs & Wilson: "Manny Oh"
Desmond Dekker: "'007' (Shanty Town)"
The Wailers: "Simmer Down"
Prince Buster: "Judge Dread"
Folkes Brothers: "Oh! Carolina"
Toots and the Maytals "Do the Reggay"
The Paragons: "On The Beach"
Lee Perry: "People Funny Boy"
Lee Perry "Clint Eastwood"
Scientist: "meets the Space Invaders"
Prince Jammy: "Conspiracy on Neptune (Destroys the Invaders)"
The Clash: The Guns of Brixton""
Blackbeard: "Electrocharge"
Papa Levi: "Mi God Mi King"
Smiley Culture: "Cockney Translation"
Dub Syndicate: " Ravi Shankar
Scientist: "meets the Space Invaders"
Wayne Smith: "Under Me Sleng Teng"
Shabba Ranks: "Get Up Stand Up and Rock"

8-bit reggae
Hirokazu "Hip" Tanaka: "Balloon Fight"
Hirokazu "Hip" Tanaka: "Wrecking Crew"
Mortimer Twang: "Move Move Dub 001"
Mortimer Twang: "Move Move Dub 000"
The Secret Of Monkey Island
Henry Homesweet: "Out-House #11"
Dubmood: "Pressure Drop" (Atari-Ska L’Atakk)
Puppa Jim: "I am a robot"
Quarta 330: "Sunset Dub"
Helgeland 8-bit Squad: "Psybeam Riddim"
Jahtari X Uprooted Sunshine: "Level Up!"
The J. Arthur Keenes Band: "Expelling Bee"
Burro Banton: "Badder dan dem"
Black Chow feat. Pupajim: "Signs
Goto80: "Steel Egg"
Raquel Meyers and Goto80: "2SLEEP1 ❚❚❚❚❚❚❚ 001 Echidna, moder till alla monster"
Goto80: "bababy dubub"
Extraboy: "Flintskall dub"
wellwellsound: "Super Marley World"
LEGO Sounds "Dubologist Encephalogram"
Sunset Dub: "Circuit Bent Snes # 1"
2SLEEP1 ❚❚❚❚❚❚❚ 005. EXEDUB
Squincyjones: "Nintendub"
??? "Burgerville in 3D"
Snoop Lion: "Here comes the King"

Speech at UC Berkekley: Adventures in Algorithmic Cultures

Last week, I was in the Bay Area for a series of events about the future of the book. On Oct 23, I spoke at "Creating Minds" at UC Berkeley, along with James Bridle, François Bon, Bernard Stiegler, Warren Sack or Kathryn Hayles. Here are the slides of my speech, which basically dealt with the new forms of creolization (cultural hybridization) enabled by algorithmic culture, and its consequences for textual production:

[slideshare id=27610032&doc=2013-berkeley-131027040418-phpapp01]

Interview (in French) at 36-15

No, it's not a minitel service, it's just called 36-15, and it's a cool new podcast in French about digital innovation by Laurent ("L'émission qui se demande si le 21e siècle est une bonne idée"). Last week, I've been interviewed on my book about failures and it's located there on the infosphere.

New book about recurring technological failures

A quick egocentric note. My new book about recurring technological failures has been released two weeks ago. It's called "Les flops technologiques: comprendre les échecs pour innover" which obviously means that it's written in French.

Based on the analysis of several cases (the intelligent fridge, the visiophone and e-books), the book describes the notion of recurring technological flops, discusses the very notion of failures and their underlying reasons. It also addresses strategies and design tactics to take them into account. The intro is available on scribd.

For the record, my introductory speech at Lift09 was somehow the starting point for this project. I'll use this material in upcoming conference such as NEXT2011 or media footage.

To keep track of interview/critique, I also opened a french tumble about the book here.

Hopefully the next one about game controller is gonna be in English.

Why do I blog this? Well, I just keep track of recent inscriptions.

About The City and the City by China Miéville

One of the best novel I've read recently was The City and the City by China Miéville. Quick notes I've taken while reading it: What struck me (as well as lots of other readers of course) as fascinating in this book was the role played by the cityscape in the whole narrative. The action takes place in the distinct cities of Besźel and Ul Qoma. However, both of them actually occupy the same physical space. It's the city and the city. Because the citizens chose this separation, Besźel and Ul Quoma are perceived by people as two different cities... which means that inhabitants are taught to "unsee" or "unhear" the persons from the other city:

"They knew I was in Ul Quoma: I could find them and could walk alongside them in the street and we would be inches apart but unable to acknowledge each other. Like the old story. Not that I would ever do such a thing. Having to unsee acquaintances or friends is a rare and notoriously uncomfortable circumstance."

Unseeing, as described above, is supposed to be unconscious. This ability is important because it doesn't mean that people would'nt notice anything (e.g. if you drive in Beszel, you have to be aware of Ul Qoma car presence but you must not see them). This of course means that this ability is taught very early to children and that each cities has its own peculiar design/color/shape/architecture. This "unseeing" process is so deeply grounded in the cities denizens that it almost act as a physical barrier.

The act of ignoring this separation, even by accident, is called "breaching". Illegal passage between the two cities or discussing with an Ul qoman citizen while being in Beszel can be qualified as "breach" (" Someone said graffiti were appearing on walls in Ul Qoma in styles that suggested Besźel artists."). But this is hard to do, as shown by this excerpt:

"An elderly woman was walking slowly away from me in a shambling sway. She turned her head and looked at me. I was struck by her motion, and I met her eyes. I wondered if she wanted to tell me something. In my glance I took in her clothes, her way of walking, of holding herself, and looking.

With a hard start, I realized that she was not on GunterStrász at all, and that I should not have seen her.

Immediately and flustered I looked away, and she did the same, with the same speed. I raised my head, towards an aircraft on its final descent. When after some seconds I looked back up, unnoticing the old woman stepping heavily away…"

Besides, the fact that the twin cities exist in the same physical space leads to highly curious topological problems... such as the intriguing typology of places:

  • Total areas: locations which are entirely in one of the two cities
  • Alter areas: locations which are entirely in the other city (as a resident of your city, you would have to ignore it).
  • Crosshatched areas: places where inhabitants of both cities walk alongside one another (unseeing each other). Most of the crosshatched areas have different names depending on which city you're in. However, some crosshatched locations (such as Copula Hall) have the same name in both city as this place plays the role of a border between the two towns.
  • Dissensi: "As the two cities had grown together, places, spaces had opened between them, or failed to be claimed, or been those controversial dissensi". This is perhaps the most curious

And this is just part of the remarkable vocabulary that the author employed to create this odd geography. See also "fractured city boards", "Schrödinger's pedestrian", "maybe-grosstopic proximity", not to mention Orciny (I don't want to spoil anything about this).

Why do I blog this? I am currently preparing a workshop (planned to be conducted in Zürich at the end of the week) and I wonder whether I could use this spatial typology in the design brief (to engage students in designing locative media based on this universe). Despite the importance of spatiality in this novel, it's curious to see that the various covers do not try to pick on that. I would have been intrigued to see how the cities could have been represented visually.

Reading notes from "Player One" by Douglas Coupland

A few quotes from "Player One" by Douglas Coupland that I enjoyed (combined with an exploration of how I can export note from a Kindle app on an iPad): About artifacts and objects

Encountered at "Location 92" (Oh btw, given that I read the Kindle version of the book, I exported the note from and got this weird new term that people in the future may refer to as the new version of pages):

"some kind of sin-detecting hand-held gadget lurking in his shirt pocket, lying in wait for Karen to undo more buttons or pick her nose or perform any other silly act that was formerly considered private, a silly act that will ultimately appear on a gag-photo website alongside JPEGs of baseball team portraits in which one member is actively vomiting, or on a movie site where teenagers, utterly unaware of the notion of cause and effect, jump from suburban rooftops onto trampolines, whereupon they die."

Location 869:

"he can’t believe the crap people used to put in their bodies in the twentieth century."

Location 3336 (it's awkward to think about the equivalent in a paper book: page 3336 feels like a vacation to a country with a devalued, say when you trade 10 millions against 5$):

"Dark-Age High Tech Technical sophistication is relative. In the eleventh century, people who made steps leading up to their hovel doors were probably mocked as being high tech early adopters."

Location ? (for some reasons I cannot get an excerpt's location when other people also highlighted it as relevant for their own purposes):

"Cash is a time crystal. Cash allows you to multiply your will, and it allows you to speed up time. Cash is what defines us as a species. Nothing else in the universe has money."

About space and place

Location 1065:

"An airport isn’t even a real place. It’s a pit stop, an in-between area, a “nowhere,” a technicality — a grudging intrusion into the seamless dream of transcontinental jet flight. Airports are where you go right after you’ve died and before you get shipped off to wherever you’re going next. They’re the present tense crystallized into aluminum, concrete, and bad lighting."

About "the future"

Location 1076:

"The future is not the same thing as Eternity. Eternity is everything and nothing. In the future, things that were already happening keep going on, but without you."

Location 1901:

"the thing about the future is that it’s full of things happening, whereas the present so often feels stale and dead. We dread the future but it’s what we have."

Location 1262:

"a clump of business cards so old they lacked area codes in front of the phone numbers. Even amidst the confusion, this absence of area codes struck Rachel as remarkable. Sometimes the events that mark the change from one era to another are so slow that they are invisible while they happen."

What we are as human

Location 1827:

"I think we’re everything: our brain’s wiring, the things our mothers ate when they were pregnant, the TV show we watched last night, the friend who betrayed us in grade ten, the way our parents punished us. These days we have PET scans, MRIs, gene mapping, and massive research into psychopharmacology — so many ways of explaining the human condition. Personality is more like a . . . a potato salad composed of your history plus all of your body’s quirks, good and bad."

Location 2001:

"Look at you all. You’re a depressing grab bag of pop culture influences and cancelled emotions, driven by the sputtering engine of the most banal form of capitalism. No seasons in your lives — merely industrial production cycles that rule you far better than any tyrant. You keep waiting for the moral of your life to become obvious, but it never does. Work, work, work: No moral. No plot. No eureka! Just production schedules and days. You might as well all be living inside a photocopier. Your lives are all they’re ever going to be."

Why do I blog this? As usual with Coupland's book, the vocabulary and the insights brought by his writing are compelling and strikingly pertinent to discuss current socio-technical trends. I find it useful to keep them up my sleeve just in case I need to exemplify certain topics in my presentation/teaching.

Computer motherboards, citadels and Michel Houellebecq

For those who read the Michel Houellebecq's latest novel, there is this intriguing quote "computer motherboards, which, when filmed without any scale indication, evoke odd futurists citadels"... which immediately made me think of this wall observed in a shop in Lisboa, Portugal.

In French: "les cartes mères d’ordinateur qui filmées, sans aucune indication d’échelle, évoquent d’étranges citadelles futuristes

My super quick notes about William @greatdismal Gibson's "Zero History"

As discussed in his speech at the Cadogan Hall, few days ago (see write-up here), William Gibson's work is grounded into three interesting principles:

  • His approach to science-fiction is not about trying to predict the future, it's rather about the present.
  • He doesn't write about a distant future anymore. Instead he writes about the the contemporary present, which is more and more interesting to him.
  • The narrative is less important (and hence prominent) than the idea of "telling about society" (as Howard Becker - the american sociologist - would frame it). Gibson's book can be seen as a report about our society. A postmodern society to put it shortly.

With this in mind, reading "Zero History" made a lot of sense and I enjoyed spending time with Hubertus Bigend, Hollis Henry and other characters. I was certainly less impressed by the plot itself, but as mentioned above, it was something I expected.

The whole thing revolves around marketing strategies, trends evolution, the conquest of cool and the commodification of stylish fringes (which in this case corresponds to military outfits). Page 22 and page 216 offer a quick example of the topic at hand, showing how product design has been turned into storytelling and building narratives:

Also, my feeling about the book was certainly influenced by the fact that I read it exactly in some of the places described (London, Paris). For example: "he walked on shortly finding himself in what an enameled wall-signed informed him was the rue Git le Coeur. Narrower, possibly more medieval (...) He saw a magical-looking book-shop, stock piled like a mad professor's study in a film, and swerved, craving the escape into text. But these seemed not only comics, unable to provide his needed hit of words-in-row but in French as well"... which corresponds to one of my favorite book-shop in Paris:

As usual with Gibson, I liked the way he expresses things about this postmodern society of ours: "harshly tonsured child-soldiers, clad in skateboarding outfits still showing factory creases" or "eye that peered from face suggestive of gas-station taxidermy", "her Waiting for Godot outfit", "some complex electrotechnical Tesla-node no designer had even had to fake up", "he seemed to exist in his own personal time-zone" or "he looked like something that had gone wrong a computer screen". These quotes are amazingly well-put and manicured. Of course it's less stunning than the Sprawl trilogy but it's still enjoyable.

Beyond this, there are also some interesting perspectives and advices which always echo with my own activities and feelings: "when you want to know how things really work, study them when they're coming apart. Another comment that I liked was the following:

"Some very considerable part of the gestural language of public places, that had once belonged to cigarettes, now belonged to phones. Human figures a block down the street, in postures utterly familiar, were not longer smoking.""

(A picture of a friend which I found in line with the quote above)

Reading notes about "Get Back in the Box"

I just finished reading"Get Back in the Box : Innovation from the Inside Out"by Douglas Rushkoff.

To me, it was a very clever book, easy to read and the author's point is quite smart. Rushkoff advocates for a new move: instead of thinking in terms of "out of the box experience", manager and innovators should better get back in the box by engaging their core competencies ("core values renewed from the inside out") to really meet people's needs and not trying to flood them with useless crap. This is also supported by turning every interaction users/consumers have with the company into an opportunity/source to innovate (and not by using consensual focus groups).

However, the underlying issue of this topic is certainly of much interest. It's simply the advent of a new Renaissance (rebirth) based on our relationship to others: the new renaissance person, better connected to others is engaged in the playful activity of fulfilling the need of the community instead of trying to win the Maslowian self-actualization.

Of course, this is a really pessimistic way of thinking and I am worried that he brought no critique on the table; Paul Virilio (for instance "City of Panic (Culture Machine)") would have been great to hear in this context

I like Rushkoff's stance about "resistance is futile, restoring order too" and surely that the driving force behind this is the social currency (not as formalized as in Cory Doctorow's book"Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom" in which he is talking about whuffies): people engage with each other in order to exchange "stuff", looking for group appartenance or cohesion. That is why the content is not the king: "The Internet was never about computers or the content they carried. It was about elevating people to the role of creators and letting them interact with this new capacity" as he says.

His part about play is also intriguing (he says that we'd better of getting engaged into playful activities, work should be more so that we would be in the "flow state" as in "Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience" by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi). But this certainly controversial as shown by this discussion between Ulla-Maaria and Anne. I won't enter into the debate here, but for me, injecting more fun in my work is simply being paid for what I would do anyway (if is fits to my values).

Why do I blog this? this is not related with my research but it's rather helpful to understand how innovation is impacted by new social and cultural practices. However, I am not so optimistic as the author.

Besides, it's funny how this "Renaissance" meme is spreading: this will be the tagline of Reboot this year.

Gonzo Gizmos

This seems to be an intriguing resource:

"Gonzo Gizmos: Projects & Devices to Channel Your Inner Geek" (Simon Field)

Here is the blurb:

It's possible to use optics to roast a hot dog without electricity or a stove; to make a simple radio with just an iron, a few basic circuits and three shiny pennies; and to assemble a simple steam-powered boat with a plastic bottle, a candle, copper tubing and a nail. Of course, only die-hard science nerds would attempt these projects. But information systems specialist Field knows he's a geek, which is part of the charm of his science manual-cum-survival guide. Like Cy Tymony's recent Sneaky Uses for Everyday Things, Field's book does not depend on high-tech equipment. Most of the "shopping lists" he includes for each gizmo consist of items that can be found in hardware stores. His experiments range from the disarming (e.g., a plastic hydrogen bomb which, he admits, "sounds a bit dangerous" but can also function as "a high-tech squirt gun") to the useful (such as a "quicky electric motor"). Throughout, Field shares explanations of each process, with sidebars entitled "Why does it do that?"

French book about innovation

"Objectif Innovation : Stratégies pour construire l'entreprise innovante" (Jean-Yves Prax, Bernard Buisson, Philippe Silberzahn)

A great book (in french) about the concept of 'innovation' which summarizes the most important (and recent) theories about it (Christensen, Moore...). It's very well presented and the approach is very pragmatic; I appreciated the part about the paths to innovation, with plenty of insighful questions to think about.

I just missed two dimensions:

  • Even though there is a part about the networked economy, I think it's too limited, the authors do not tackle that much the issues like the new way to collaborate, the open innovation model or the co-creation. For instance I miss what's in this IFTF report: Towards a literacy of cooperation
  • The forecasting + R&D dimension which is not really addressed here but the authors mentions this drawback in the introduction

Besides, the authors have a good blog here.

We will deal with these issues at our Lift conference.

Philosophy of Bullshits

Might be good to read this book:

"On Bullshit" (Harry G. Frankfurt)

Mary Park describes it as (editorial review from

"One of the most salient features of our culture is that there is so much bullshit," Harry G. Frankfurt writes, in what must surely be the most eyebrow-raising opener in modern philosophical prose. "Everyone knows this. Each of us contributes his share. But we tend to take the situation for granted." This compact little book, as pungent as the phenomenon it explores, attempts to articulate a theory of this contemporary scourge--what it is, what it does, and why there's so much of it. The result is entertaining and enlightening in almost equal measure. It can't be denied; part of the book's charm is the puerile pleasure of reading classic academic discourse punctuated at regular intervals by the word "bullshit." More pertinent is Frankfurt's focus on intentions--the practice of bullshit, rather than its end result. Bullshitting, as he notes, is not exactly lying, and bullshit remains bullshit whether it's true or false. The difference lies in the bullshitter's complete disregard for whether what he's saying corresponds to facts in the physical world: he "does not reject the authority of the truth, as the liar does, and oppose himself to it. He pays no attention to it at all. By virtue of this, bullshit is a greater enemy of the truth than lies are."

From New York to Coruscant

Last week-end, I read this book:

"" (Alain Musset) (!!! book in french !!!)

The authors' point is that science fiction novels, as Dickens or Zola's books reflects how society behave at a specific moment in time. He thinks that studying how sci-fi envisions problems related to social/political/organisational/environmental issues are very rich; it can be useful to get some feedback about our society which is the basis of the one described in the novels. He then assumes that sci-fi pushes our society is today to its limits. Coruscant (Star Wars' Republic and Empire central city-planet) is an extension of North-American cities from the east coast (based on the skyscraper paradigm) as well as being based on the socio-spatial divisions that we can find in todays metropoles worldwide.

In this book, the authors analyses Star Wars cities under the lenses of social sciences to study todays societies AND he tries to understand how todays' cities are perceived, using the image and the discourse of sci-fi.

It's very insightful, there are lot of interesting parallels drawn here. For instance, some are really easy to find like the Senate which is a good metaphor of today's United Nations or connection between Coruscant, Saskia Sassen global city and Isaac Asimov' Trentor planet (in Foundation). The part about socio-spatial division is very interesting and the ghettos formed by various zones inhabited by different aliens clearly close to 20th century's worse moments.

Why do I blog this? I really appreciate the authors' claim: the way he uses science fiction as a way to explore the present (assuming that writers base their fiction as an extension of today). This approach is very uncommon for french academics and I am glad to see that some now move forward and do not consider sci-fi as just a genre.