Aesthetics Art Computing Free Software

Streaming Aesthetics (Colour)




Download the version for your operating system above, expand the archive, and run the application. You will need Java installed. OpenJDK is OK, that’s why it’s an application rather than an applet (Processing doesn’t work with the OpenJDK browser plugin yet, bizarrely).

The application will ask you for a Twitter username and password. It needs this to connect to the Twitter streaming API and won’t use it for anything bad. You can’t use OAuth for the streaming API yet, so the application really does need a username and password to log in.

If you decide to run the application full screen, you can finish it by pressing the Escape key.

Source code included under the GPL v3.

(Update 2010-06-21 – Thanks to Zeroinfluencer and Laundryman for problem reports on Mac OS X and Windows. I’ve updated the downloads above.)
Aesthetics Art Computing Free Software

Work In Progress – Streaming Aesthetics

This is a visualization of common colour names as they appear in the main twitter stream –

twitsthaetics.pngThis is just a screenshot, I’ll show the live version when it’s finished. The colours are placeholders and (although you can’t see it) the animation needs improving. It’s written in Processing using a Scala-based Twitter Streaming API library.If this works well I’ll do shape and pattern ones. This is a follow up to “The Colour Of…”, “Friending The Aesthetic” and “Random Aesthetics”.

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Free Software

Shooting The Messenger

There’s been another round of criticism on various blogs of the FSF’s media campaigns to draw people’s attention to the harm that not respecting software users freedom does. But the FSF’s campaigns explaining why Microsoft and Apple’s failure to
respect users freedom is harmful have been successful in getting out the
message that alternatives are needed. In the mainstream press as well as in the tech and tech culture media.

The FSF’s critics are ignoring the fact that most of the FSF’s work consists not only of the positive promotion of the idea of free software, but in practically supporting and protecting its creation and use.

The FSF does help people find free software on Windows –

The FSF is making Web 2.0 alternatives –

Then there’s Libre Planet, WFS, GNU Generation, all positive practical measures to expand the constituency of free software.

And you may have heard of a little project called GNU or of a licence called the GPL.

It’s very easy to sit at an almost entirely free desktop and criticise the FSF for not capitulating to those who would once again remove people’s freedom to use software. But without the FSF’s pragmatic idealism, projects like Linux and Ubuntu
would have nothing to sell out to proprietary interests.

If people believe that the FSF should be doing something different then constructive suggestions are needed that aren’t simply gesture politics or capitulation. Otherwise it looks like people are just being “negative”.

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Aesthetics Art Computing Free Software Generative Art Howto

Techo Art Roundup

HOW TO: Connect an anemometer to the Internet:

(I don’t like Pachube’s walled garden approach thought. We need a federated free equivalent, like StatusNet .)

“Binary Code View”, an offline show in London:

How exactly do you own a net based artwork?:

Art from its own data visualisation (not as good as my encoding of a LeWitt literally as itself, but still fun):

RSS feed icon pillow (want! or maybe I should make one…):

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Free Software Howto

Using a 3 Wireless Broadband USB Stick Under Fedora

I bought a 3 Wireless Broadband USB Stick to use with my Fedora subnotebook.

Installing it was about as painful as installing a WiFi adapter a few years ago.
Install modeswitch to switch the usb stick to broadband mode (I think) –
su -c ‘yum install usb_modeswitch usb_modeswitch-data’
Reboot (I think).
Plug in the wireless broadband stick.
Configure the wireless broadband connection using Network Manager or System/Preferences/Network Connections

Select ‘enable wireless broadband’ from the network manager right-click menu.
Connect to 3’s web site to register and get sent your password by SMS.
Install gammu to get the text message containing the password –
su -c ‘yum install gammu’
dmesg | grep tty
su -c ‘chmod +rw /dev/ttyUSB2’
gammu getallsms
Use the password to complete online registration and you’re ready to go.
Free Culture Free Software

Notes Towards Free Culture

Fair Use Gets a Fair Shake in Second Life

Why I won’t buy an iPad (and think you shouldn’t, either) – Cory Doctorow

Enforcement of the GNU GPL in Germany and Europe

Wall wart / plug servers – A UK-based seller of devices fitting Eben Moglen’s “wall wart” internet server description

A landmark decision of the Italian Constitutional Court: granting preference to free software is lawful

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Free Culture Free Software Generative Art links

Links Roundup 2010-03-26

Miguel de Icaza acknowledges Mono’s past problems with patents, but not its current ones –
Theora is not more of a patent threat than h246, Gruber 😉 –
Gruber’s Theora journey continues (answers to his questions – because it would be easier to establish the precedent while the MPEG-LA won’t face massive retaliation from cross-licensees, and it depends on the text of the licence)  –
An example of “open source” hardware’s growing pains. Ideas of “openness”, “share-alike” and “the commons” can easily be misleading here: it is only users of hardware who need schematics in order to protect their freedom, the original authors of the schematics neither need nor are owed them, and the freedom of users of simple hardware may not be restricted by the lack of schematics (I don’t know) –
The UK GIS industry’s largest players are, unsurprisingly, against making Ordinance Survey data free despite the fact that it would be better for the economy than they are-
Synthetic biology meets art, you can apply for a residency in the UK or the US until March 31st 2010. Mutate and take over the artworld! –
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Aesthetics Free Culture Free Software

Livecoding As Realistic Artistic Practice

Realism in art is the absence of sentiment. Livecoding is writing software in public while presenting the source code and its output along with the programmer as a kind of performance. Hacking (computer programming) is usually a solitary activity and hackers (computer programmers) rarely get to hack on (program) software that they themselves will use for their own ends or benefit directly from. Livecoding turns hacking into a public, social, self-directed activity by turning it into an artistic event.

By doing this livecoding briefly restores the kind of shared social context and the relationship of hackers to the fruits of their labour that Richard Stallman described in his account of life in the MIT AI Lab of the 1970s[1]. As Simon Yuill points out[2] about this account, Stallman describes the proletarianisation of hacking as business interests took over from pure (state funded) research.

If livecoding romanticised hacking or was simply an exercise in professional nostalgia for a lost age of authentic relations between hacker and machine then it would be sentimental. Sentimentalising hacking would add nothing to culture or to the socioeconomic situation of hackers. It would mis-represent its subject to its audience. It would be distraction, a comforter, spectacle.

What protects against this and what makes livecoding realistic is that livecoding involves the solving of technical problems in order to produce aesthetic results that maintain a social encounter between performer and audience. This is not relaxing either for the hacker or the audience. It can involve unexpected results and failure for both performer and audience. The hacker can lose their place in the code, corrupt it, or crash it. The audience cannot fall back on the cliches of rock or classical music appreciation. Both have to work at it.

Livecoding is a form of critical self-representation. It does not simply present the everyday activity of hacking as complete and exemplary. The differences between livecoding and hacking in a cubicle or in an office off of Brick Lane identify and make up for a lack. The heroics of performance are deflated by what is being performed rather than inflating the subject of the performance.

The use of aesthetics (sound and vision) as the subject of tasks in livecoding rather than, say, mathematical or logistics problems is resistant to immediate commodification by corporate information culture. Aesthetics, as Alan Liu points out[3], is resistant to corporate information culture because it is based on the quantitative rather than the qualitative. This isn’t to say that the qualitative cannot be commodified, but the culture industry prefers more easily reproduced and less demanding experiences.

Like, Livecoding might be folk art of the hacking (or web and motion graphic designing) class. But its aesthetics are higher than middlebrow, and if it can resist the inevitable attempted putsch by the cultural studies department it will be able to create its own noise within broader cultural life.

Livecoding presents and represents a form of labour through aesthetics. This presentation is socially, aesthetically and technically risky. It requires work on the part of the performer and the audience. Their reward is to experience through an unusual aesthetic event what hackers are missing in society and what society is missing in hacking.

[1] – Richard M Stallman, “The GNU Project”, 1998.
[2] – Simon Yuill, comment at the second “Breakfast Club” round-table at MAKE ART 2009.
[3] – Alan Liu, “Laws of Cool”, 2004.

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Free Software

Open Source Against Free Software

“Open Source” is in danger of coming to mean corporations sharing source code in order to reduce their development costs for proprietary software incorporating that code and thereby removing the freedom of its users. Those corporations may share code with a “community” and hire people to “manage” that community, but any code shared will be under a non-copyleft licence and/or a copyright assignment to the corporation (rather than to a trusted third party) to protect their ability to make that code proprietary rather than respect the freedom of users to use the software that it represents.

Hackers involved with such projects often support the replacement of freedom for all by the sharing of resources between producers, or at least don’t see it as a problem. This seems to come from a belief that they are not “just” computer users, they are the producers of software and so the benefit of sharing code and deciding which mere users get to use it is their (or at least their bosses’) right. This is misguided. Hackers use software in order to write software, and with such projects use of the software in any given context can always be denied to them. Hackers must make common cause with all users of software otherwise they will end up without freedom as well.

Open Source must not come to describe a guild or camarilla of hackers and their managers that oppose their perceived economic interests to the interests they share with all users of software. Feelgood rhetoric and permissive licences don’t offset the demands for privilege and control that corporate “open source” projects make, they conceal and enable them. Ignore them and instead use copyleft to protect user freedom with all its benefits for everyone.

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