Centralization vs. Decentralization: Two Centuries of Authority in Design

My goal here is to try to link together the idea of design with ideas of authority and power in a way which, if you are anything like me, will make you feel very awkward around designed things. I’m not going to start by talking about design though. When I was asked to give this lecture, my first response was, “what the fuck do I know about design?” – a question which I still believe is apt.

The Case of the Silver-spooned Twist

A limousine parks behind the dilapidated building, it’s backseat occupant shedding his tailored suit in a hurry, as it’s almost five o’clock. From a brown paper bag he pulls some clothes: a stinking woollen jumper and ancient pantaloons held together at the waist with the remnants of a plastic bag. He gets dressed, ruffles his hair, and hopes nobody will notice the cologne. He gets out of the car and sneaks in through the back.

So What’s This Pirate Party You Keep Hearing About?

Kári Túliníus’s incredibly dismissive, if not outright stupid article in the Reykjavík Grapevine today suggests that “free speech”, “transparency of governments and corporations”, and the right of individuals to “speak anonymously” are euphemisms for bizzarre sex acts. Whatever he’s smoking, it didn’t come from our treasure troves. Also, the word “avast” means “stop”, so saying “avasting of mateys” makes no sense – much like the rest of Kári’s article.

Tæknin gefur og tæknin tekur: 2. Hrunfræði fyrir byrjendur (redux)

Þegar litið er til síðustu ára hafa þau ein­kennst af umræðum um kerfishrun, hvort sem um er að ræða hagkerfi, stjórnkerfi, eða jafnvel flugsamgöngukerfi. Bak við þetta allt liggja brostnar forsendur og atburðir sem eru taldir ólíklegir, en lítið hefur verið gert í gegnum árin til að meta samfélagslegar afleiðingar þess að for­sendurnar standist ekki eða að ólíklegir atburðir eigi sér stað. „Collapsonomics“ eða hrunfræði, er að sögn eins upphafsmanna stefnunnar, Vinay Gupta, hliðstæð stefna við hag­fræði.

Gagnaver: Ísland hefur (nánast) allt sem þarf

Það var grein á mbl.is sem hafði eftir manni sem fór með fleipur. Þar segir meðal annars: Það er flóknara en margir halda fyrir tölvu- og hugbúnaðarfyrirtæki að flytja gagnaver sín til Íslands. Ódýr og hrein orka er ekki það eina sem til þarf. Þetta segir James Hamilton hjá Amazon. Hann heldur því fram að Ísland sé einfaldlega of langt í burtu frá helstu notendum og það bitni á hraða því hver einasta millisekúnda skipti máli.

Tæknin gefur og tæknin tekur: 1. Aðlögun að brostnu apparati

Á nýja símanum mínum er ég með tvö skjályklaborð. Á öðru þeirra skrifa ég miðlungshratt á ensku, á hinu skrifa ég frekar hægt á íslensku. Það tekur um sex sekúndur að skipta um lyklaborð, en á því enska get ég með smá bellibrögðum náð að framkalla broddstafi, ö og æ – sem sagt, alla íslenska stafi nema þ og ð. Þannig stend ég mig stundum að því að reyna að skrifa heilu setningarnar án þess að nota orð eins og “það”, því það myndi kalla á sex sekúndna skjápot eða ömurlega útskiptingu fyrir th.

The Pirates of Enlightenment

On the Guardian’s liveblog of Julian Assange’s extradition plea on the 19th of June, they published a statement from the Pirate Party UK, along with an explanation stating that it was a “hard left” political group. Later, they updated the blog to say “libertarian” instead. I’m not sure which of these labels annoyed me more, but both exposed a failure to acknowledge a subtle change in politics – either on behalf of the Guardian, or on behalf of the Pirates themselves.

The Center as seen from the Edge

“I want to stand as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all the kinds of things you can’t see from the center.” Kurt Vonnegut Recently I attended an event in Strasbourg which had a very unclear goal. Organized by the Council of Europe, Edgeryders, a community of young people of diverse origins came together to discuss what to do with their continent.

Spectrum and SETI

The SETI project has been running for a few decades with a fairly consistent lack of signals from extraterrestrial life. This has never been explained by any acceptably encompassing argument, with everything from Fermi’s paradox to Pascal’s wager stacked up against it – the latter of course cheekily. The more reasonable arguments have pointed at the distance signals would have to travel, the massive range of spectrum there is to monitor, the massive amount of sky there is to monitor, and the fact that we’ve only been scanning for a couple of decades.