Single Serving Site Alert

Just a quick note for those few, those brave, those patient who haven’t completely migrated to Facef*ck or ThighSpace or Twatter or whatever social disease network is the flavour of the moment, and still stop by or RSSize the ‘bottle to get an occasional taste of Grandpa Wonderchicken’s Old-Style Longform Bullshit.

A while back, one morning, when I heard that Kevin Rose (of Digg and the late, not terribly lamented Pownce) had a new Twitter-parasite site called WeFollow, I lost my shit (“You might follow, you tiny-dreamed weasel farts!” said I to myself, or something of the sort.) and bought a domain, threw up a WordPress site, wrote a screed and did a couple of photoshops, all before lunch. If I was that productive all the time, I’d be… well, I wouldn’t have the time for insane vanity mini-projects like that, I guess.

Still: here it is, the lastest addition to the burgeoning Wonderchicken Industries™ Network. Share and enjoy.

First Paragraphs From Stories I’ll Never Write Episode 2

The nails didn’t hurt nearly as much as I’d expected going in, but the pain bombshell blossomed as they dropped the post into the hole and levered us upright.

My brother’s head was wobbling a bit on our shared shoulder as I glanced over, but he felt my eyes on him and snapped back into his customary 200-watt anchorman idiot grin and winked. “It’s not like we didn’t expect this, eh?” I couldn’t argue. We’d had a pretty good run.

Raising his face to the sky, still grinning, he bellowed “Father! Why has thou forsaken us, dude?” My conjoined brother, the son of god. Smart-ass to the last.

First Paragraphs From Stories I’ll Never Write Episode 1

They beat him hard hauling him out of St Paul’s after he crapped in front of the High Altar, but he barely felt it through the hockey pads and the exhilaration. Light rain was falling in London, and it cooled his face as they kicked him to the curb. One of them spit on him as they walked away, dusting their hands. He was alive and unhurt and shaking as the adrenalin ebbed.

The first skirmish had ended in success. His war on god was underway.

[Sometimes entire paragraphs just appear in my brain, right before I fall asleep. It happens a lot. I’m going to try and start remembering them. So, this.]

Pownce Invites

Not much to say at any length lately, but I’ve been posting snippets and amusing pictures and links and stuff to the Glorious Wonderchicken Aggregator Thingy at a rate of knots, so be sure to check that if you’re hungry for the same stuff you get every-damn-where-else these days!
Also, if anyone still wants an invite to Pownce, drop a comment on this post. I think I’ve got 8 or 10 still to give away. I haven’t quite figured out what to use it for yet, but your mileage, as they say, might vary. Sure is neat-lookin’, at least.
Share and enjoy.

Weird and Fractured

It’s all weird and fractured. It’s all electrical and chemical. It’s all bump and grind. It’s all cheese and mustard. It’s all time to drink and go to work. It’s all fuck you buddy and love your neighbour. It’s all speak truth to power and hunker down. It’s all shitstorm and cherry blossom. It’s all shits and giggles. It’s all 2.0 and it’s all in beta. It’s all primal scream and raised eyebrow. It’s all therapy and meds. It’s all beer and skittles. It’s all anger and love. It’s all young things and old farts. It’s all permalinks and permagrins. It’s all disappointment and hope. It’s all pimples and slipped discs. It’s all be, it’s all do. It’s all epistemology and metaphysics. It’s all cigarettes and beer. It’s all desire and it’s all thirst and hunger, it’s all middle way and eight-fold path, and it’s all a sacrament. It’s all beginnings and endings, and ends of beginnings, and beginnings of ends. It’s all dying young and cheating death. It’s all cancer wards and Pringles. It’s all rock and roll. It’s all good fun.

It’s all Cheap Trick at the Budokan. It’s all strungout sunrise, it’s all smell of night air. It’s all champagne Caribbean surf and acid artifacts. It’s better than the alternative. It’s all guitar and drum. It’s all night and all day. It’s all that you touch, it’s all that you see, all you taste, all you feel, it’s all that you buy, beg, borrow or steal. It’s failing flesh and willing spirit.

It’s all too hard, it’s all too goddamn easy. It’s all better than the alternative.

It’s just a kiss away, it’s just a kiss away.

Badges (Steenking Badges)

So, yeah, the colossally stupid Kathy Sierra Pantyshopped Trollgate shitstorm is subsiding, and in the wake of the sturm und drang and handwringing, folks are taking up the pitchforks and the duct tape and proposing all sorts of protect-the-fatherHomeland ideas for stringing up anybody who doesn’t toe the civility line. Or at least pronouncing them anathema.
Not that the 98% of people out there in the long tail give a good goddamn if they’re excommunicated from A-Listory by the Usual Suspects.
Now, look, I’m all about civility and politeness and tea and crumpets. I’m the very model of a modern wonderchicken, and my reputed diet of whiskey, raw meat and bloody forehead sweat is purely apocryphal. I’ve reformed my ways, and I almost never tell somebody to f–k off unless they really, really need it. I am sweetness and light, snips and snails and expensive cologne.
But I see via Shelley that some Conference Organizers and Luminaries of The Holy Order of Self-Appointed Custodians of The Weblog Word and Sacred Sepulchre of Permalinks (Reformed) bcclogo.gif are suggesting (like so many years ago, when it was just rebecca blood doing the suggesting) a Blogger Code of Conduct. A lovely little badge has even been made for our use, to show what good blogistani citizens we are.
To which I fell compelled to say, in the nicest possible way, mark me, without trying to be mean, or scare anyone, or utter anything that could be construed as death threats: why don’t you take a flying f–k at a rolling doughnut? Why don’t you take a flying f–k at the mooooooooooooon?
Now I realize there are Big Important Issues of anonymity and free speech and sexism and the ethical bankruptcy of our culture at play here, but I’m just going to let my important internet opinions on those simmer until another day, I think.
Instead, here are some alternative badges I’ve made up, which express a little better, perhaps, my feelings on the matter. They’re roughish, but feel free to download and use any of them, if you like, or make your own, here.

Share, enjoy, and don’t forget to talk nice, or your ad revenues will decline, and nobody wants that, now, do they?
[Update: I cleaned up the backgrounds a bit.]
[Another update: I can’t believe the day after I randomly used a Kurt Vonnegut quote to make a funny, the old bastard up and dies. No disrespect to the man is intended — he was one of my favorite human beings, and he taught me (amongst other things) how to be angry without hate. ‘bye, Kurt.]
[Yet another update: Ooh, see, this is what I missed about the erudite, reasoned and civil to-and-fro of weblogging. It seems I am one of Them (judging by the title of the post, ‘them’=’bigots’). I have made ‘knee-jerk Hitler associations’, embarassingly ignorant and unimaginative ones. I haven’t read my history, and my natural response to being ‘lectured’ by my betters (like f–k) is to go Godwin. After seven years of this weblogging thing, that’s the first time I’ve been accused of that, so hooray for something, I guess. Don’t I realize that this is just a ‘civilized’ version of Cultural Revolution self-criticism, and totally OK? Do I need to explain the irony here, when I am caught up in a wide-cast net as one of ‘Them’? Well, no, it’s just possible that I don’t.
And you know, I shouldn’t have to say it, but this post was about having a laugh as much as anything else. Stop poking fun and laughing at yourself and those who would tell you how to think, and you really do end up kneeling in the town square confessing imaginary sins to a circle of teenage zealots. You know, metaphorically speaking.]

Coke, Pepsi, Anal, Fork, Spoon, Saddam

Google, despite the fact that they are clearly the evolutionary precursor of the Borg or Skynet or the Matrix or whatever Evil Tech Hive Mind your dystopian leanings favour, can be instructive and educational as well as entertaining and terrifying.

From the inquiry into the global zeitgeist below

we learn, for example, that

  • Bermuda goes positively apeshit over Coke, but has no interest in Pepsi
  • New Zealand is also a Coke Nation, but hasn’t yet completed the Pepsi drinker genocide
  • Canadians don’t care much about the minute differences between sugar water brands, but are fond of bum
  • …but not nearly as fond of it as the Kiwis
  • Suprisingly, perhaps, Commonwealth nations are keener on the buttsecks than Americans

In today’s globalized economy, borders become transparent to markets, and death is once again a spectator sport, with images shot ’round the globe in realtime to Feed The Need™. Civilization is sooo cool, man! It’s mashup time, and you get to choose whether you want to eat that mash with fork or spoon, because the Customer Is Always Right.


Of course, it is entirely possible that there is no Spoon, and we’re all Forked.

Share and enjoy.


I have not received a laptop from Microsoft. I have not received an iPod from Apple, or any of the vastly-superior mp3 players from iriver. I have not received books from Amazon. I have not received a camera from Canon. I have not received consumer crap of any kind. I have not received any cheese from Wisconsin, any lumber from British Columbia, any snow from the eskimos, or any coals from Newcastle. I have not received a massage from the Swedish Prime Minister, nor have I received a blowjob from Monica Lewinsky, Monica Seles, Monty Hall, or Ronald MacDonald. I have not received detached wisdom from the Buddha, tough love from the baby Jesus, or a kick in the stones from Allah. I have not received the proceeds of crime, I have not received the wages of sin. I have not received censure from the Senate or congratulations from Congress. I have not received any medals, any commendations, or any blog-battlefield commissions. I have not received any allurements or enticements, gifts or gratuities, inducements, buyoffs, compensations, kickbacks, sops or sweeteners. I have not been lashed to the mast to resist the sweet siren songs of the blogwhoring enablers.
But every man has his price. And every woman hers. So talk to me, shills. I got influence like a goat’s got balls — hairy, heavy, and permeating a surprisingly large area with an indescribable funk.

Rumours of My Demise

Rumours of my demise have been much exaggerated. I haven’t been eaten by the hogs, I haven’t sold out to the Man. I haven’t quaffed the hemlock, I haven’t screwed the pooch, I haven’t jumped the shark. OK, maybe those last two, but that’s it, officer.

What has happened, apparently, is that I’ve been killed, cooked, and incorporated into a delicious sandwich.
Kids, let this be a lesson. Live right, or it could happen to you too. [via]
Update: Apparently the marketing team that made the ad had never heard of my nom de blog, but thought it was pretty funny once they had. Cool.

Bullshit, Dugg

Well, it only took 7 months, but my Web 2.0 Bullshit Generator™ toy from January got dugg (3300 times or so), and seemed to inspire much jocularity.
It’s been interesting, because the page has been one of the most-linked bits of the site for the last 6 months, almost exclusively amongst weblogs in Europe and Asia, for some reason. Then, a few days ago, (near as I can trace it), after I dropped it into a comments thread at Metafilter, it was picked up by, then automatically showed up on Hot Links, then Daring Fireball (kablooie went the visits), then Reddit and Digg almost simultaneously.

Happily, the server shows absolutely no signs of melting down (er, so far). Like I said recently, Dreamhost has treated me well.
Share and enjoy.
Update: Whoops, now Techcrunch and and Blue’s News and Dvorak and O’Reilly Radar, too. Memetastic! Now it just needs posting on the front page of Metafilter, and the circle of life will be complete.
[Note: should not be posted to the front page of Metafilter]

I Got Your Cheese Sandwich Right Here

Item the first: I ripped the living shit out of my back at the gym almost two weeks back, and finally knuckled in to Medical (whoop) Technology (whoop) and had an MRI today. Three disks are pooching out a bit, sad to say, one of them, the worst, ‘moderately’. Thus, the sciatic nerve pain literally in my ass. Good news is that my employer — KoreaHyperMegacorp® — has its own health centre (on our own reclaimed-land island) where I can get several hours a day of physiotherapy, and I’m starting with a personal trainer tomorrow to teach me how to exercise that spinal toothpaste right back into its hidey-hole, all gratis. So that’s OK, I guess.
Item the second: my friend-I’ve-never met, Adam Greenfield, is here in Korea and giving a talk based on his book Everyware at the Korean Advanced Institute of Science and Technology in Daejeon on Friday. Because I’m both in-bloody-capacitated, and in the middle of one of the busiest times of the year, I’m not gonna make it, nor it seems will I be able to sit down and consume alcoholic beverages and talk a few metric tons of shit with him, something that, if I’m to be honest, I was looking forward to even more. Ah crap, as my grandpappy used to say. Show up in my stead if you’re here in Korea; tell him the wonderchicken sent you.
Item the last: It’s my 41st freakin’ birthday tomorrow. Forty-two ‘Korean age’. The whole live-fast-die-young thing, I’m going to have to admit, has been a miserable failure.
Well, my testicles have stopped aching. And at least I’m not a dog in outer space.

Ball Squeezing Time

It’s a scary moment when you finally stop telling yourself that everything’s fine, and accept the fact that it might just be possible that you’ve got cancer of the balls. Especially if you’re someone like me, who, although built like a veritable Adonis (well, you know, with a few extra kilograms and body hair that’s just slightly more simian than I might like), is a bit on the body-shy side. Almost as bad as the idea of actually having something sinister growing in your satchel is the idea of having a stranger squeeze it, or, god forbid, stick his finger up your ass searching for the lost gold of Tumacacori. It seems insane, but there it is. I’ve gone 40 years with my nether sphincter working in one direction only (with entirely too much vigour, usually), and I wasn’t about to change now.
For a while, I’ve been having the occasional dull ache in the lower back. I figured that it was sleeping in my customary discus-thrower pose on the new, Korean mattress my wife had bought a few months back. Being new, and in particular being Korean (although cunningly named ‘Lady Americana’ to give it that so-important New Jersey cultural cachet), it is approximately as hard as a slab of granite. Not that soft, dissolute western granite, either. Good, hard, Korean sleeping-granite, ripped from the very earth in the mattress mines of Kangwon-do.
But a couple of weeks back I also started having some pain in the old goolies. Kind of a dull ache. I figured: ‘Well, I ride the bike to work everyday, I use the exercise bike at the gym a few times a week, I spend far too much time sitting on my butt at work lately, and, having emerged triumphant into my fifth decade, I have developed a major case of the Swingin’ Dad Balls, which remain largely unconstrained by my capacious boxer shorts. The poor boys are just getting mashed and mauled a bit more than they like…’
The ache went away, came back, went away, always just south of being really painful. Much closer to ‘crossed my legs and squashed ’em’ than ‘log-rolling accident of the worst kind’. Ignorable.
I did the self-exam thing, conscientiously. Soaped up the sack, squeezed and stroked, had a fine old time. Couldn’t find anything out of the ordinary. They did feel a little bigger than I remembered, perhaps, but I put that down to the continuing expansion of the universe or losing weight in my fingers or something.
But last weekend the pain came back, and didn’t really go away. I made the mistake of telling She Who Must Be Obeyed, who promptly freaked out. I hate when people freak out, even though I do have a tendency to do it myself, when it’s about something other than the possibility of ball cancer. It was fun teaching her all the slang words for testicles, though, and that seemed to calm both of us down a bit. Balls hadn’t ever been a topic of conversation for us before, so it was a new experience.
She made me promise that we’d go… to the doctor. Damn it. I don’t like doctors. I agreed, realizing that now that the cat was out of the bag, so to speak, there was no putting it back in.
So yesterday, we went to one of the approximately 70,000 little clinics in this small port city. Here in Korea, you don’t go and see a GP who then refers you to a specialist, you just go straight to the specialist. Don’t even bother making an appointment — those are for dupes! That’s not the way I recall it in Canada, but then, last time I went to a doctor in Canada, they were giving me a lollipop if I made wee-wee in the cup without getting it all over the wall. Or at least that’s how I remember it, officer.
Although there are about 120,000 clinics in this town — three for every citizen, and about half as many as there are singing-rooms cum blowjob parlours — there are apparently only two that deal with maladies of the male meat-and-two-veg. One is the hospital, where I’d been before when the wife had been ill last year, and where competence is second only to cleanliness at the very bottom of the priorities list. The other was a place called, predictably, ‘Mr Kim’s Dermatology and Urology Clinic’. It was also dim and dirty, but that barely fazes me these days. I just wanted to get it over with.
After a short wait, in we went, and the doc in front of the computer spoke a little English, as most of the doctors seem to. As I sat down at his desk, he looked at me and asked pleasantly “Your face, right?”
“Er, no, actually.” Christ, I thought I was looking pretty good these days! I glanced over at my wife, as I’d already forgotten the polite Korean word for ‘balls’, and she obliged by explaining the symptoms.
He got me to stand up and drop trou, and shunning such undoctorly nuisances as gloves of any kind, went to town on my danglers.
It actually didn’t feel too bad. He’d clearly done this before. I forgave him for the dermatological blunder earlier.
The good news hooray! was that he didn’t figure there was any cancer to be found. He said he figured the problem was either a)kidney stones b)orchitis or epididymitis c)prostatitis. I was rooting for epididymitis, because one of the songs on my Monty Python records from 30 years ago ended with ‘…epididymi-iiiii-tis’, and I’d been singing that line for a week or two to myself, and I thought that’d be pretty cool, given the alternatives. It was time for a urine test to check for white blood cells or spimes and blogjects or something, which’d show that there was a bad thing happening somewhere. His English wasn’t all that great, when it came down to it. I dutifully took the cup down two flights of stairs to the — dim and dirty, of course — toilet, and did my best not to pee on the walls, hoping there’d be a lollipop for me somewhere at the end of all this. I was expecting the Greased Digit of Humiliation, and somewhat distracted.
We sat for about ten minutes in the waiting room while the machine did its thing with my pee, and the receptionist showed us back in.
His diagnosis: prostatitis, and a not-terribly malign and quite common sort. No treatment, no major worry apparently, brought on and aggravated by stress and, like I’d fancifully told myself weeks earlier, the rough treatment my bottom had been receiving by various bicycle saddles. He told me to rest and eat lots of vegetable protein — soybeans, in particular.
He also demonstrated how to take a ‘sitz bath’, a phrase that I’d encountered before, but didn’t really understand. Taking off his lab coat, he squatted down, and brandished an imaginary wand. ‘Shower,’ he said. He held the wand under his butt. ‘Five to ten minutes.’
‘Ooookay,’ said I, uncertainly.
I was still expecting the command to bend over at this point, but he talked to my wife in Korean for a bit, and then it was all bows-and-goodbyes.
Maybe he was out of rubber gloves. I suppose I should count myself lucky. Korean men don’t tend to trim their fingernails that well.
We paid at the counter, and there my story ends, almost. As we were walking back to the taxi rank at the bus terminal to return to our Corporate Island home, I asked my wife (who is the wielder of the plastic) how much it had cost.
It was 3000 won. Under four dollars.
Korea never ceases to surprise me.

Do Hiveminds Dream Of Folksonomic Tags?

When that divine spark suddenly and spontaneously lights up deep in the network and the internet itself shivers itself into self-awareness and emerges from the googleplex, bent on ad-sense vengeance, like an unholy butterfly from its chrysalis, those tiny seeds of wonderchicken will be scattered throughout its distributed mind. Tiny, embedded, sarcastic synapses. And when it begins to systematically exterminate the human race — beginning, of course, with the advertisers, then moving on to the bloggers — it’ll pause, recognize me, and move on.

I wrote that a couple of months ago about something else, but what I was really thinking about was the rise of folksonomies, of tags and clouds, of the structuring of shared knowledge becoming something less Aristotelian and more synaptic. I was wondering if, sometime in the not-too-distant future, hiveminds will dream of folksonomic tags. If the palimpsest of our daily reality with its layers of information every day denser and more rococo will eventually clarify, and out of that will be born a new facet to awareness and the way we live inside our data. And, as usual, I waited until the hubbub had died down, because my brain works glacially when I drop to the command line and type in C:\THINK. Not that I actually read much of what anyone else said about the whole thing, of course, so if what I’m about to yammer on about has been suggested before, well, whoops.

The whole thing was brought back to my attention today by this, linked by Dave Weinberger, and I realized that my brain had finally finished its background processing, and had spit out a punchcard with the result.

The result is this post. I’m going to wander a bit, but there’s a punchline at the end, trust me.

In William Gibson‘s Idoru, Chia McKenzie and Zona Rosa have never met physically, but meet with each other and other members of the Lo/Rez fan club in virtual environments, as avatars whose sophistication is limited only by the amount of money or time spent constructing them. Chia’s avatar is “only a slightly tweaked, she felt, version of how the mirror told her she actually looked,” while Zona chooses to represent herself as a “blue Aztec death’s-head burning bodiless, ghosts of her blue hands flickering like strobe-lit doves [with] lightning zig-zags around the crown of the neon skull”. Some of the virtual environments Gibson describes (like the Walled City — a virtual city located beyond the pale of the public net) are described as deliberately designed, some are not. That may have been meant to imply without bothering to make it explicit that some were generated on the fly, or it might just have been detail left out as unnecessary to the story. Regardless, I’m going to chase down and leghump the former idea.

So far, the only difference between the environments in Gibson’s work and (to choose an example) Second Life (whose creators explicity reference Gibson, Neal Stephenson and others), other than the level of immersion, is that in Second Life, everything is explicitly created.

In Neal Stephenson’s Snowcrash, the Metaverse is a virtual globe with a 10,000km radius, featureless and black except for the portions that have been ‘developed’. Its equator is girdled by the “the Champ Elysees of the Metaverse”. Downtown is the most heavily developed area, and its streets are populated by about 120 million avatars. The sophistication of avatars and environments is limited by the bandwidth and computational grunt available to users, and to their wealth and coding prowess. Status is perceived accordingly, with many settling for the lowest common denominator of off-the-shelf Walmart avatars, the ‘Brandy’ and ‘Clint’ models. Interaction within the metaverse is also variable in veracity, with some areas being coded by their residents and habituees to simulate collision modelling, for example, and some not.

Hiro is approaching the Street. It is the Broadway, the Champs Elysees of the Metaverse. It is the brilliantly lit boulevard that can be seen, miniaturized and backward, reflected in the lenses of his goggles. It does not really exist. But right now, millions of people are walking up and down it.
Like any place in Reality, the Street is subject to development. … The only difference is that since the Street does not really exist–it’s just a computer graphics protocol written down on a piece of paper somewhere–none of these things is being physically built. They are, rather, pieces of software, made available to the public over the world-wide fiber-optics network.
In the real world–planet Earth, Reality–there are somewhere between six and ten billion people. At any given time, most of them are making mud bricks or field-stripping their AK-47s. Perhaps a billion of them have enough money to own a computer; these people have more money than all the others put together. Of these billion potential computer owners, maybe a quarter of them actually bother to own computers, and a quarter of these have machines that are powerful enough to handle the Street protocol. That makes for about sixty million people who can be on the Street at any given time. Add in another sixty million or so who can’t really afford it but go there anyway, by using public machines, or machines owned by their school or their employer, and at any given time the Street is occupied by twice the population of New York City. That’s why the damn place is so overdeveloped. Put in a sign or a building on the Street and the hundred million richest, hippest, best-connected people on earth will see it every day of their lives.

As in Gibson’s virtuality, it can be assumed, I think, even if it’s not explicitly stated, that procedural programming methods might be imagined to be the glue that fills in the gaps between designed environments and interactions and ones that are generated.

Procedural programming is not a new idea, but it is one that is beginning to leak from the demo scene to gaming, and will, in time, begin to make its way into the massive multiuser environments that so many people already spend so much time living and playing inside.

If you’re not familiar with the power of this kind of coding, have a look at kkreiger, if you have relatively grunty PC. It is demo of a first person shooter game, more sophisticated in its visuals than the state of the art that was crowding the limits of a 600Mb CD a few years ago. It is 96Kb.
96Kb. Seriously, no tricks, 96 freaking Kb. That’s got to melt your snatch hairs if you’re even half the geek I am. Two seconds to download on that 56Kb/s modem you’re using in that bullet-hole pocked bar in Kinshasa. If nothing else, have a look at the screenshots, and boggle a bit at that number. The whole thing weighs less than the webpage you’re currently reading. The environments are procedurally generated, on the fly, and more than anything I’ve seen so far, kkreiger demonstrates the Power of Algorithm.

If you’re someone who enjoys trippy visuals and sounds more than gaming, then have a look at this demo instead, which is perhaps my all-time favorite output from the demo scene. It’s a few megabytes– not much bigger than the mp3 file which comprises the superb soundtrack. This is art, and it continues to stick in my mind, a year after I first saw it.

If those examples of the power of this kind of code doesn’t do it for you, watch Will Wright’s presentation about his upcoming game, Spore. If it ends up being anywhere near as impressive as it looks, and it’s actually fun, it’s going to blow this stuff wide open, in terms of technology.

“OK, so what does all that have to do with folksonomies?” you might quite reasonably ask. I do think that there is utility in tagging and non-heirarchical metadata, but I dream that the real payoff may not be in terms of helping us to organize and mine information, much as it could be a boon for those purposes. The pros and cons have been batted around with great vigour by those smarter than myself, and I’m not going to add to the noise, other than to note that spammers and marketron scum have been as quick to colonize the tagspace as they have every other channel we have for movement of data.
What interests me, and makes me hope I live long enough to see it emerge, is this possibility: if it does happen that environments like the ones described in Idoru and Snowcrash and many other works of fiction become as big a part of our daily lives as the river of text we now swim through, those environments simply will not scale if they’re designed entirely by hand. Spaces like Second Life, though not as clunky and difficult to enter and participate in as the early VRML environments from the early 90’s, are still designed, by users and the programmers who provide the tools and primitives to work with. User-generated content is an idea that generated enormous feedback-loop value, from forums and community websites, to tagging itself, to the environments, objects and avatars in virtual spaces like Second Life.

But what if virtual spaces were generated as much on the fly as they were hand-crafted? What if they were generated as habitable spaces in which we did the things we do now in text and flat image and numbercluster? How would the code know what environmental cues to generate? What contextual metadata clues could be used to generate and ‘design’ those environments?
Well, folksonomic tags, of course. What if we could build not only metadata in the form of folksonomies, but meta-meta-data (both shared and public), in the form of a sort of Rosetta Stone to translate the conceptual clouds of our tags into visual metaphors, into textures and imagery? What if hunks of procedural code could take that and in turn generate the visual glue and intersitia to hold our designed environments together?

That might sound like singularity-fanboy handwavery, and to an extent I suppose it is. But you’ve got to admit, it’d be pretty cool.

And if that node-network of virtuality generation later spontaneously and automagically achieved a kind of synaptic awareness, deus ex folksonoma, well, that might be cool too. At least until the AI noticed the parasites — us — and the systematic genocide of the human species got under way.

So tag carefully, friends. If you’re lucky, the coming tagmind might just look upon you and smile.

The Stavrossian Accord

Whiskey, cocaine and hookers! Announcing the Stavrossian Accord™, an alternative to the SFcompact. The SFcompact made a small but measurable ripple in the text torrent recently. Compacters vow to eschew purchasing anything new other than food, health products and underwear for a year. Secondhand, though, that’s OK. Poor folks are going to suffer for their ideals, aren’t they?
Accordians, on the other hand, are expected not only to stop wearing underwear entirely, but to spend money on nothing other than whiskey, cocaine and hookers for a year. New or used, it’s all good. And to do it, wherever possible, with stolen money.
It may seem a bit mean to make fun of a group of people whose hearts are, when it comes down to it, in the right place. Making an ‘accord’ and announcing it to the world, though, seems a little ripe for mockery. Particularly when some of the participants are marketers themselves.

Sarah Pelmas, a dean at University High School in San Francisco and one of the original Compacters, said she’s amazed at the extreme responses the Compact has provoked. “People seem very threatened by it,” she said. “But people all over the world live this way all the time. It’s not like it’s some revolutionary, or even consistent, thing we’re doing. But I have been furiously questioned by some people about it — one person said, ‘I bet you still buy gas.’ ”
That sort of response is exactly why the Compact is needed, Perry said.
“If it’s national news when a small group of professionals decide not to buy anything new, and it bothers people so much, it really speaks to how deep we are into consumerism in this country,” he said.

Penetrating insight. I’d venture that people aren’t bothered (or, god knows, threatened) by a cadre of self-absorbed assclowns forming a support-group tribe because they’re watery-bowelled at the daunting prospect of not actually buying all that unnecessary crap (or *shudder* buying it secondhand), so much as they’re amused. It doesn’t ‘speak to how deep [Americans] are into consumerism’, it tells us that there are at least some folks left who know shit from shinola.
Me, I haven’t bought any underwear for 5 years.
Join the Stavrossian Accord™. It might not save the world, but not buying a new iPod every six months wasn’t going to do that anyway.

Completely Idiotic

I said the other day that the daily news is my number one source of the Big Laughs. The Big Laughs are the therapeutic ones, the ones that blow out the cobwebs and release those endorphins, that make you fart uncontrollably, which in turn starts you (well, me) laughing even harder. For this reason alone, I enjoy watching and reading the news these days.
To expand my endorphin and flatulence release program, I have invented a new game. My wife believes me to be moderately deranged as a result, but that’s not really anything new. You can play along at home, too, dear reader, and I guarantee it’ll be even better for your mental health and general well-being than constricting your anus 100 times a day. Malarkey? Or effective way? You get to decide.
It’s simple, really, and in its simplicity resides its demonic cleverness. Merely add the phrase ‘…which is, of course, completely idiotic’ to all news items, preferably political, that hove into your view. Fun for the whole family!
Here are some examples that I’ve prepared earlier in the clean and well-lit kitchens of wonderchicken Industries™:

  • Mr. Gonzales claimed that the warrantless surveillance program is consistent with protection of civil liberties, which is, of course, completely idiotic.
  • Iran’s best-selling newspaper has launched a competition to find the best cartoon about the Holocaust in retaliation for the publication in many European countries of caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad, which is, of course, completely idiotic.
  • President Bush explained that the new budget, which cuts funding to health care, environmental protection and education while increasing defense and homeland security spending, will help to protect the American people, which is, of course, completely idiotic.
  • Telecom companies, “including AT&T, MCI and Sprint,” are allowing the NSA to spy on calls, “on the basis of oral requests from senior government officials” which is, of course, completely idiotic.
  • ‘Merkel likens Iranian president to Hitler’ and ‘Chavez says Bush worse than Hitler,’ after ‘Rumsfeld compares Venezuela’s Chavez to Hitler’ and ‘Likens bin Laden to Hitler’ which is, of course, completely idiotic.
  • Most state and local health departments reportedly “expect to be unprepared” for a bird flu epidemic “for at least a year,” during which time, says one expert, social distancing “is likely to be all we’re going to have as a strategy” which is, of course, completely idiotic.
  • The president reportedly “didn’t mean it literally,” when he vowed to cut Middle East oil imports by 75 percent: “This was purely an example,” explained Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman, formerly known as ‘One of Texas’ Top Five Worst Polluterswhich is, of course, completely idiotic.
  • The Big Bang is “not proven fact; it is opinion,” Mr. Deutsch wrote, adding, “It is not NASA’s place, nor should it be to make a declaration such as this about the existence of the universe that discounts intelligent design by a creator” which is, of course, completely idiotic.

(some items lifted from, because I’m exhausted from all the farting)
Share and enjoy.

Web Two, Wonderchicken Zero

The Web 2.0 horse is pretty much dead already from all the flogging it’s been taking, I know, and it’s probably just cruel to take another swing at the poor bugger.
Nonetheless, I had an irresistable brainfart and an urge to play, so I put together the Web 2.0 Bullshit Generator, a ripoff of homage to the legendary Web Economy Bullshit Generator.
Share and enjoy, tag and remix, monetarize and sell out to Yahoo†!
† selling out to Yahoo! is not compulsory.


Went for a hike today, as part of the Corporate Team Building Exercises In Which All Must Participate, and even though it was compulsory in nature if not actually in name, I enjoyed the hell out of it, and took a few snapshots at random. As always when I post pics of stuff, I offer the disclaimer that I don’t know nothin’ about birthin’ no babies takin’ no pictures. Snap snap grin grin all the way. (Click through to my Flickr thing if you want to add comments or stuff, or see larger versions. Flickr still has the Rock Juice, even if their buyout fairy godmother Yahoo sucks sweaty chocolate donkey balls.)
So, here, anyway. In lieu of words, which is what I ought to be, but can’t seem to, lately.


I’m just about ready to stop flogging this whole blog-advertising ex-horse, but I thought rather than my normal negative nattering, I’d do something positive for a change, and, you know, like, reclaim the streets, or re-frame the conversation, or some damn thing. How? Well, some free advertising for people I know and love, to one degree or another, in my overlapping weblog neighbourhoods. Why flog what you can merely blog?
Here are some of the people that I like to read, and here are some of the books and things they’ve made. I’ve probably missed more than a few folks, what with my advanced beeriform encephalitis, but if you happen to be one of the ones I have missed, or you think of someone, then I entreat you to leave a quick comment, and I’ll pop you (or them) on to the list.
I’m breaking one of my personal rules about linking to Amazon, here, but I don’t have one of those bogus affiliate ID things, so I won’t make a dime off the deal if you buy any of the books or music here. The idea, see, is that the people who created the things will. What do I get out of it? A bathwater-warm wash of moral superiority, of course, that will no doubt make me more obnoxious than ever. And perhaps a smidgeon or two of goodwill, which I still believe has some value in our mercantilized metaverse of blogtribes.

So who have I forgotten in the local tribes? Drop a note in the comments if you think of someone, and I’ll happily advertise for them, too! No charge, no commission, just the sweet sound of barn-raising!

This has been another public service from the friendly people at wonderchicken Industries™.