State Machines: The Quest For The One True Chain

The story that I wrote for Dogecon 2018 has been published in the book “State Machines: Reflections and Actions at the Edge of Digital Citizenship, Finance, and Art”:

https://networkcultures.org/statemachines/2019/03/19/out-now-state-machines-reflections-and-actions-at-the-edge-of-digital-citizenship-finance-and-art/

“The Quest For The One True Chain” was written to embody the themes of governance that Dogecon 2018 explored and to provide flavour for puzzles on one day of the event. To these ends it is organized in an epistolary style as a series of short segments that, apart from the first and last, are designed to be readable in any order. Each segment features a social, economic and technical failure and a cyberpunk literature trope.

It’s the second Doge-themed story I’ve written after “Bad Shibe”, they don’t share a setting though.

Artists Re:Thinking The Blockchain

“Artists Re:thinking the Blockchain” Edited by Ruth Catlow, Marc Garret, Nathan Jones & Sam Skinner, 2017, ISBN 9780993248757.

Furtherfield and Torque have compiled an excellent range of writing and imagery about blockchain network technology’s role in the arts and vice versa. You can buy it here:

https://liverpooluniversitypress.co.uk/products/100826

If you are in North America, Amazon UK will be cheaper for postage until the North American edition is out in February 2018 here:

https://global.oup.com/academic/product/artists-rethinking-the-blockchain-9780993248740

I have two pieces in the book.

“Bad Shibe” is the story of a young person in a post-fiat-currency utopia suffering from their first pangs of doubt that they, and more generally the society that they live in, may not be as wonderful as they previously thought. It is accompanied by Lina Theodorou’s wonderful illustrations of a story that the narrator makes very difficult to illustrate.

“Blockchain Poetics” is an essay about what proponents and critics of cryptocurrency think it is about, the historical context of these views, and how they are expressed culturally and rhetorically. It discusses trust, hodling, anti-politics, the nature of truth, and the “doge” subculture that is a major feature of “Bad Shibe.

The book is a wonderful physical artefact and the writing presents a wide range of voices, see the LUP page for details.

Bad Shibe – Out Now!

Cover Illustration for “Bad Shibe” by Lina Theodorou.

Bad Shibe, Novella, 2017.

“Bad Shibe” is the story of a young member of a near-future cryptocurrency-based utopia. YS works in an orchard in the day, goes to school in the evening, and tips everyone like a good shibe. Until one day they start feeling jealous of a newcomer and start digging in to how their world really works…

My page about the project, with some reading notes, is here: http://robmyers.wpengine.com/bad-shibe/

It’s published by Furtherfield and their page about the project, where you can order a print copy or download the electronic version for free, is here: http://www.furtherfield.org/projects/bad-shibe-sci-fi-novella-rob-myers

Massive thanks to Lina Theodorou for their wonderful illustrations, and to Ruth Catlow for their excellent afterword (and tireless advocacy for the project). You are amaze.

Art Data Money

title: Art Data Money

adm-logo

Art Data Money is Furtherfield‘s new programme of art shows, lab events and debates.

“Art Data Money aims to build a commons for arts in the network age, and invites people to join us and discover new ways for cryptocurrencies and big data to benefit us all.”

I’ve art and writing in the programme, which brings together some of the themes I’ve been working on for the last few years. Take a look, download a manifesto, join the conversation and buy some re-de-enclosed 3D printed readymade art for Bitcoin.

Art For Algorithms

art-for-algorithms

My first article for Furtherfield as guest editor is now online:

Rob Myers takes a look at how we can subvert the operation of the algorithms that the Digital Humanities, corporations and governments use to read, see, and draw conclusions about human expression by treating them as the true audience for contemporary art and literature.

http://furtherfield.org/features/articles/art-algorithms

Work In Progress: Contemporary Art Daily Data Analysis

cad-pre

Word clouds (don’t worry, there are heat maps as well 😉 ) of words from shows by city.

Cryptocurrency Culture

http://thecypherfunks.com/

“”The Cypherfunks” is a network of musicians working individually & together to make music under the same name. A cryptocurrency [FUNK] acts as “stock” in the band.

Both the currency & band are completely decentralized. It is a grand experiment in permission-less, internet scale innovation in music, collaboration, and technology.”

http://www.monegraph.com/

http://techcrunch.com/2014/05/09/monegraph/

“monegraph helps anyone verify that a digital artwork is an original, exactly as created by the artist.

monegraph encourages a vibrant market around the sale and exchange of digital art.

monegraph uses the same technology as Bitcoin to let anyone participate in the digital art market.”

https://forum.ethereum.org/discussion/446/the-ephemeral-artcoin

The Ephemeral Artcoin (EA) is a platform designed to spark the creation of qualitative new works of non-commercial art in the post-bitcoin digital economy.

http://bitcoinmagazine.com/12259/fine-art-meets-bitcoin-rise-aesthetic-paper-wallet/

“Fine art meets bitcoin cold storage in Troy Fearow’s “labour of love”, CryptoArt, a project that took the fine art dealer 8 months to construct and launch.

Troy searches for and commissions high level artists, starting with Alexander Fedosov of the Ukraine, to produce fine art paper wallets in limited editions. These prints are meant for bitcoiners who wish to store their bitcoin safely and show them off in a beautiful way.”

http://saycheers.co/

“Cheers is an app that allows you to tip (or “Cheer”) any musician or band in the world using Bitcoin. You can Cheer any song or band, whether it’s your all-time favorite, or just a song that you loved on the radio that you’ve never heard before. See what your friends are Cheering, discover new music and reward them for finding it.”

If You Can Get To Buffalo

Image from CityPaper, © 2013

There’s a play on in Baltimore this week by Trish Harnetiaux called “If You Can Get To Buffalo” about Julian Dibbell’s 1990s Village Voice LambdaMOO article, “A Rape in Cyberspace”:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Rape_in_Cyberspace

You can read reviews here:

http://citypaper.com/arts/stage/what-a-tangled-web-1.1492872

http://www.dcmetrotheaterarts.com/2013/05/23/if-you-can-get-to-buffalo-an-exploration-of-a-rape-in-cyberspace-by-amanda-gunther2/

There’s an interview with the playwright here:

http://www.baltimorefishbowl.com/stories/new-baltimore-play-tackles-totally-weird-1990s-cyber-culture/

And the theatre company’s page about the production is here:

http://www.theacmecorporation.org/content/current-shows

This isn’t the first dramatic presentation of LambdaMOO, another example is this short film scripted from chat logs:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pqR_xM_50vk

Dibbell’s article was expanded into a book. It is a sometimes salacious but ultimately insightful examination of life on the MOO. You can read it here:

http://www.lulu.com/shop/julian-dibbell/my-tiny-life-crime-and-passion-in-a-virtual-world/ebook/product-17492539.html

A more comprehensive insight into the operation, history and geography of LambaMOO is “Yib’s Guide To MOOing”, available here:

http://www.yibco.com

And a more ethnographic study of MOOing with lots of interesting historical and cultural details is Lynne Cherny’s “Conversation and Community: Chat in a Virtual World”, which you’ll have to buy a copy of:

http://cslipublications.stanford.edu/site/1575861542.shtml

LambdaMOO is still here and is well worth exploring. You can install a Telnet client on your computer or mobile device (there’s one already on MacOS X) and telnet to:

lambda.moo.mud.org 8888

Cybersalon January 2013

Cybersalon

Legendary London net culture meet up Cybersalon has returned with a new home at The Arts Catalyst. The first event in the new series was appropriately retrospective, being devoted to the history of the digital design scene that has centred on Shoreditch from the 1990s to today, from self-proclaimed “Ditcherati” to government funding for “Silicon Roundabout”.

Richard Barbrook’s introduction explained the history of Cybersalon. Begun in mid-1997 by Armin Medosch it ran until the mid 2000s, getting kicked out of the ICA for getting too popular along the way. Barbrook also made the case for remembering the specific contributions that London made to cyberculture during this period. Beside the stage, old pre-iMac all-in-one Power Macintoshes displayed Antirom interactive multimedia CD-ROMs alongside brick-like mobile phones and floppy disc-based digital cameras from 1997. The scene was set for an evening of media archaeology, design criticism, and cybercultural history.

Jim Boulton’s presentation gave a history of the optimistic and fertile interaction of art, design and commerce that was London’s interactive multimedia and web design scene from the mid 90s to the mid-2000s along with its historical re-evaluation with INTERNET WEEK in 2010. Laura Jordan, despite having just lost her archive to a hard disk crash, told her history of being inspired to edit a feminist cyberculture zine in Australia after encountering a VNS Matrix poster then starting the world’s first cybercafe in London before finding success in design business and academia. Next Craig Blagg critiqued the tools and content of the design of web sites from the 90s to the state of the art. Finally Jordan chaired a discussion between Boulton and Blagg, with additional questions from the floor and from the net.

Seeing old and often long-forgotten work was nostalgic, and there was a sense of loss voiced by some of the audience. The dial-up Internet’s alterity has been squandered to build the walled gardens of social media. But the audience also reminded us that the wildness and openness of the early web is still with us in the form of Anonymous, Wikileaks, and the legacy of Aaron Swartz.

Even before this, what moved the event far beyond nostalgia was the way the history of digital design was presented critically, both in the sense of warts-and-all introspection and long overdue rediscovery and re-evaluation. Both provide an inspiring contrast to the contemporary Internet. The knowledge and awareness that Cybersalon gives us of the potential of the Internet to be different than it is can help us to start reclaiming a fun, abstract and fantastical Internet.

Not Now James, We’re Busy

This post does not include the phrase “frantic academic clopping”.

Where The F**k Was I?James Bridle’s “Where The F**k Was I?” (2011) is a book containing 202 maps depicting his movements over the previous year. The maps were produced using OpenStreetMap (2004) to plot the secret location database that iPhones (2007) had been discovered to be keeping (April 2011). It is printed as a hardback book using Lulu (2002), although images from it can be seen on flickr (2004).

In writing about this project, Bridle reflects on the impact of discovering that he was being spied on and takes this as a leaping off point for wider and deeper reflection on the nature of memory and of the mediation of experience by technology. In doing so he discusses contemporary art, contemporary literature, and contemporary cybercultural theory.

I would like to make two points about this project.

The first is that it would have been impractical before 2007, and unnecessary before 2011. I appreciate that in the 1990s JODI were multi-billion-dollar companies profiting from pervasive digital devices and logistics that meant the virtual tail of the military-industrial-fashion complex was wagging the actual dog of society in ways that were bleeding through into everyday experience, but I think we all have to admit that they didn’t have a Tumblr (2007).

The second is that the project is a serious and literate consideration of personal experience as shaped by our present situation that uses aesthetics not due to Theoretic inarticulacy but precisely to communicate the full impact of its subject effectively.

I am arguing that Bridle’s project of The New Aesthetic (TNA) is indeed considering both the new and the aesthetic, and that both these aspects of it are critically valuable and cannot be reduced to historical or textual surrogates.

My favourite responses to TNA so far have been:

David Berry critiquing Object Oriented Philosophical approaches to TNA and provides three different ways of considering it that come from within cyberculture –

http://stunlaw.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/what-is-new-aesthetic.html

Saul Albert providing some very useful historical comparisons to net.art –

https://www.jiscmail.ac.uk/cgi-bin/webadmin?A2=ind1204&L=new-media-curating&F=&S=&P=18212

And Honor Harger pointing out the gap between the straw man of TNA that many people are attacking and what it actually is –

https://www.jiscmail.ac.uk/cgi-bin/webadmin?A2=ind1204&L=new-media-curating&F=&S=&P=20818