Sony to bring stylish Vaio W to U.S.. <<The company is betting that its sleek all-in-one Windows desktop can win over buyers in the United States, as it has in Japan.>> [CNET News.com]. This is what it looks like. Kinda cool. It's got a fold-up flat screen monitor that is hinged to the keyboard:
11:44:16 PM # your two cents 
Today was one of those auturmn days in Ireland that make the rain -- OK, a tiny weenie portion of the rain -- bearable. Clear and sunny morning with the glorious hint of crispness in the air, yet unusually mild for us for early October. Trees turning colours. My window boxes still looking good as nary a nip of frost so far. A perfect day for the bicycle.
I pedalled in to Trinity College to meet a pal and see the exhibit of final projects by the MSc class in multimedia, which is on at the moment in the Douglas Hyde Gallery. We only had time to check out a few of them before a quick lunch outside on a bench in the sun, then I was off to interview Paul O'Dea, the new head of the Irish Software Association and (much more importantly) a swimmer and water polo player amongst his achievements. That's a piece that will run next week.
But back to the exhibit: this is well worth the time, and do set aside at least an hour; better to have more. I have been to a few of the students' exhibits and they have grown enormously in sophistication -- not just a leap in the capabilities of the technology but also, I think, an ease with the medium for artistic expression as the computer kid generation hits masters degree age (oh.my.god is all those of us who were reared in a barn with command line interfaces can say...).
Of those I sampled today, I thought Gaze, an electronic rumination on the nature of surveillance and the examined life (in a scary anti-Socratean twist), was particularly good, as well as Humanex (an imaginary corporate pitch to give clients all the lives they (n)ever lived by taking memory samples from the brain, at the point that one has made life-shaping decisions, and fashioning new 'memories' of those lives not lived as a result of that choice). Another simple but gut-punching piece (I didn;t catch its name) involved four touch-screens running images and four separate stories narrated by (actual) Irish heroin addicts -- rough, eloquent, and deeply shocking. Every school in Ireland should screen these four stories to students. I live in the inner city and am no innocent but really, one can just have no understanding or comprehension of the devastation of these lives, of these shattered people who struggle on, most towards an early death from hepatitis and HIV. Powerful stuff that doesn't shout or moralise at you but is allowed to tell its own sad story.
While wandering through the interactive exhibits I said to my friend that it was curious (and revealing) how many such projects tend to play upon the idea of technology as deeply alienating, controlling, and un/in-human(e). Yes, there were a couple of kinder and gentler exhibits as well (more on those, I hope, if I get a chance to go back in). But we flesh and blood people seem still to have a deeply uneasy relationship with technology, even as an expressive medium. Or, I wondered, do we see technology so thoroughly through its frequent representation by Hollywood as threatening and alienating that it permeates all our interpretations? Gaze certainly has that sense, I'm not sure conscious or unconscious, of offering back to the viewer a somewhat clicheed view of technology via Hollywood -- the green type appearing across the screen that identifies and tracks an individual; multiple mini-screen within screen views of a distressed individual or harsh urban street scene. Is this ironic commentary or a failure to move beyond stereotype? This kind of techno-anxiety was all done by U2 (and magnificently so) in their wall of video images stage set for the Zooropa tour many years back. I could hardly sleep when I got home after the show -- even my dreams were bombarded with flashing imagery, a result of the total sensory overload of those screens and the music. Very intense. But the point being -- been there, done that, about 7 years ago. It seems hard for young artists playing with the techno-medium to not nod in that direction.
Exhibit ends Saturday the 5th of October.
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Clay Shirky: Weblogs and the Mass Amateurization of Publishing.
Weblogs are not a new kind of publishing that requires a new system of financial reward. Instead, weblogs mark a radical break. They are such an efficient tool for distributing the written word that they make publishing a financially worthless activity. It's intuitively appealing to believe that by making the connection between writer and reader more direct, weblogs will improve the environment for direct payments as well, but the opposite is true. By removing the barriers to publishing, weblogs ensure that the few people who earn anything from their weblogs will make their money indirectly.
10:25:29 PM # your two cents 
Ben Hammersley writes in the Guardian about rural wireless's viability in England: <<As many small wireless ISPs in the US have discovered, 50 customers may be enough to run a profitable point-to-point network far off the high-speed grid in England, despite what British Telecom says. Of course, their expenses and their requirements for service are much higher than small, cozy ISPs.>>[80211b News]
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The Taoiseach looks pretty stressed and tired in the photo on the front of the Irish Times this morning. As well he may. But what is this with Fianna Fail members launching people's books? McCreevy was cornered for a grilling under the same circumstances a week ago. Since when have FF ministers become such devotees of fine literature? Maybe Bertie's switching from opening pubs to launching books. Sheesh, FF goes all Labour on us! Talk about misleading the electorate!
Meanwhile, inside the Times [subscription only], Jamie Smyth and Colm Keena report on the suspension of Mike Fagan, the CEO of the IEDR, the Irish domain registry.
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"Four months later, Karyn Bosnak is the world's most successful Internet panhandler: At last count, she had paid off nearly $17,000 of her debt, thanks to donations of $1 to $1,000 from the thousands of strangers who have taken pity on her."
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"Six out of 10 youngsters questioned knew the term "homepage" meant the introduction to a website yet only 9% could explain the meaning of a preface in a book.
While 38% knew a hardback was a type of book, 57% correctly answered that hard drive was part of a computer.
The results come in a survey of 1,000 seven to 16-year-olds questioned by NOP Research across the UK.
Less than a quarter knew what to do if someone asked them to RSVP - to reply to an invitation - although 70% were aware what "www" meant in terms of the world-wide web....
Youngsters' reliance on the internet suggests fewer are heading to their local public library to do research. In the poll 25% said the net was their first port of call for help with homework....
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Copyright 2003 Karlin Lillington
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