The Language of UI

Every now and then people I know, mostly nontechnical folks, prod fun at the fact that I spend a lot of my time typing obscure sequences of letters into a black and white terminal. “Why,” they ask, “don’t you just use the mouse?” These people spend similar amounts of time clicking on various buttons, equally obscure if slightly more aesthetically pleasing, reveling in the fact that they can solve a lot of their problems by way of moving their mouse to and fro, clicking on graphical artifacts and enjoying the feedback.

Interviewed by Sam Knight

These past few months I’ve been interviewed by virtually every news agency I can think of, and many that, until recently, I couldn’t. It’s been fun, but a lot of work has gone into getting the right information out, and despite everybody’s best effort sometimes minor errors and misquotes slip through. Sam Knight, who I met when he was in Iceland last autumn, interviewed me the other day for a post in Truth Out.

The Disintegration of the Welfare State

I rarely feel a strong urge to take an entire article and pick it apart piece by piece. Butcher it, more like. Today Vinay Gupta pointed out this article by Neil Reynolds, with the comment “awful, Italy, etc.” The article is called “the disintegration of the welfare state,” and upon reading it I felt a strong urge to thwack whoever absolutely failed to teach this man any history, economic theory or sociology at all.

The Shadow City

The Shadow Parliament Project is now almost two years old. The software is still under heavy development and the user interface is still not great, overly cluttered and a bit tricky to start using, but it’s certainly getting there. About a week ago The Shadow City was launched – skuggaborg.is – a instance of the Shadow Parliament software specifically for Reykjavík’s governance. At the time of writing it has 3410 registered users and 479 active issues with 1037 arguments either for or against the issues.

Post-Irony wins the Reykjavík Municipal Elections

I had never heard the term “post-irony” until about two months ago, but the explanation I got was along the lines of “people taking a serious subject, making fun of the subject, but in a serious way” – a shorter version of this could be “ha ha only serious.” Wikipedia more deeply defines post-irony as “a technique that uses the juxtaposition of empty symbolism and loaded evocations to create humor whose roots lie not so much in the mocking of any one ideology proper so much as in mocking the stupidity that lies at the roots of the propagation of modern ideologies.

Privacy at what cost?

I was contacted by an Italian journalist today who interviewed me about the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative. His interest in the subject seems to be somewhat fueled by some rather disturbing developments going on in Italy. The Italian justice minister, Angelino Alfano, has proposed a law which invokes the privacy argument in order to limit freedom of expression in the Italian media, by forbidding them to report on charges brought against individuals until they have been taken up by a court.

Nútímavæðing tjáningarfrelsis

Ný grein eftir mig er komin á hugsandi.is: Tjáningarfrelsi í sinni nútímamynd varð hluti af lagakerfum ýmissa ríkja í kjölfar frönsku byltingarinnar. Sú birtingarmynd þess sem flestir þekkja í dag er fyrsti viðauki bandarísku stjórnarskrárinnar frá 1791, en þar kristallaðist sú heimspeki að sérhverjum manni væri frjálst að tjá sig um sínar skoðanir án nokkurra hafta. Síðan þá hefur margt breyst, ekki síst lagakerfið. Gallar þessa lagaumhverfis hafa orðið æ skýrari eftir að hagkerfi heimsins tóku að hrynja nú um árið.

What’s on

I’ve been trying to avoid writing overly self-referential posts until I get back on track, but it’s worthwhile to start playing out the cards and making it known what I’m up to. My current major project is starting a company. Ambit is in the process of being legally founded by myself and my two associates, Ómar Yasin and Herbert Snorrason. We’ve got a ton of projects but no funding, although we expect to launch our first product by mid-August if everything goes according to our very elaborate plan.

Barnaklámsréttlætingin á ritskoðun

Þetta mál er sæmilega flókið, ekki síst vegna þess að allir verða svo æstir yfir móralískum áhrifum þess að um er að ræða eitthvað sem er álitið skaðlegt fyrir börn. Ég bið lesendur um að lesa þetta alveg í gegn áður en þeir mynda sér skoðun – ég vona að ég nái að koma punktinum nægilega vel til skila. Ég hef verið mjög reiður yfir því undanfarið hvað mikil ritskoðunarvæðing er að eiga sér stað, og hvað ótrúlega mikið af annars ágætlega vel gefnu fólki virðist trúa því að það sé hægt að leysa vandamál með því að fela þau.

Arduino hackathon

Today I helped teach an Arduino course at the Reykjavík Hackerspace (Hakkavélin), as part of the Raflosti electronic music festival. We weren’t focusing so much on music as much as just the general ability to create electronic art, generally using Arduino as a foundation piece. Áki Ásgeirsson did the introduction, running through a great bunch of examples of Arduinos being used in art, ending with my personal favorite, the laser harp: