Archive for January, 2010

Who cares about what you think.

Monday, January 25th, 2010

Last week I conducted a mini experiment on the NYU social network.
I wanted to see how much traffic I could drive to my site by writing about Clay Shirky’s rant about women. It was not a very strong argument, but it was one that was aimed at opposing Clay’s point (which I am apposed to, but normally would never write about). The variable in question (which I actually learned about in Clay’s class); the piggy back effect in youtube videos. I was testing this effect with blog content.

From this post I was expecting to draw at least 30% more traffic just by piggybacking from Clay’s popularity. Which is a little more than 45 hundred site hits a day.

compete.com

Its been six days since I wrote a response to his post and noticed a 15% increase in traffic to my blog which was not anything impressive. I assumed that it was all traffic relating to the post, to my surprise I took a look at the my web site page views and as it turns out, my Shakespeare sonnet post got (which I spent no energy on creating) got the same amount of hits! This came as a surprise to me.

Pie chart

So what did cause the increase in traffic to my site? A combination of interest in my Art Robotica Project, and Damien Hirst from a global audience. 25% of my viewers are from other countries. That’s around 200 people a day. Which is pretty interesting.

As you can see, the piggy back effect did not work. The person I targeted to piggy back from, gained my site very small traffic results. What can be said about this experiment, that people actually care about context. A rant is mere thoughts by a person that don’t have heavy research behind them. This is a very good way to start a dialogue. Playing devils advocate is a good past time of Clay’s he mainly does this to make points or in this case, agitate people enough to begin a discussion. The rant was crafted in such a way that he was instigating a group enough to get a response. And the results, although his web traffic does not reflect the effect, where successful. 415 responses out of roughly 4,500 viewers, that’s roughly 10% participation rate! Very good results in my opinion.

“Hitler Finds Out Scott Brown Won Massachusetts Senate Seat” the most popular youtube video this week has around 2.4 million views and around 10 thousand comments. That’s around .00416% participation.

Even though my blog is linked from Clay’s blog via the site “Responses.” The amount of people that actually cared about my point of view towards Clay are less that those who care about my point of view towards the arts and artists. This was good experiment to find out who is actually ready my blog. It seems that people interested in art are reading this right now =)

I guess an other interesting thing a lot of people are starting to realize, is how to make use of the data available on the web. It took me a total of 10 minutes to do all this research and about 30 minutes to write this post. The mount of information available on the web is incredible. If 10 years ago, you asked the Author of a book, how many people bought and/or read their book that same day, they would laugh. Daily information was not available on things like that for people like Authors. If you asked them to publish an article in one hour so that 100 people around the world can see it with in minutes of publishing, it would probably seem like an impossible task.

Sonnet 116

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

So nice:

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

-William Shakespeare

Green Vs. Sustainable, Round 1

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

What is the difference between “Green” and “Sustainable” Products?

Well its pretty simple, Green is like the cool thing you can buy at the supermarket and Sustainable its like the thing you make with your own sweat and blood. Well maybe i’m being a little dramatic but you may begin to get the idea.

Sustainability implies a system that fits in comfotably with other systems and has very little or no disruption to the other systems. Lets take the Making of a piece of bread. Like a nice loaf of home made bread.


Well if you’re lucky and you may manage to make it will look like this:

To make the bread you will have to do the following. Find wheat, dry it, grind it to make flour. Get some eggs from a chicken, milk a cow to get milk, and this is the part where your recipe becomes modernized; baking soda. if you want fluffy bread you need to use baking soda. Now if you where McGuiver you know that you can easily replace baking soda with Natron and vinegar or lemon juice. But if you are not up to the challenge of finding a dried up lake and finding these dried up crystals, you may be forced to go to your local shop and… buy it.

So here are things that have affected us in a very dramatic way, the ability to know where in the heck these things we buy come from or are made. And here lies the problem for the difference in the things we consume. If you manage to get Natron by going to the lake and finding it and adding it to your mix, then you are on your way to making sustainable bread. Now here is an other tricky part; the baking of your dough. How do you bake something when you have no stove? Well you make a little outdoor brick oven! Its pretty simple, I remember making one when I was 8 years old that lasted about a year. It was made from medium size rocks that I found by the river and some mud/clay. You just stack them in consecutive circles on top of each other till you get a little dome looking thing like this one made by my Grandpa after mine fell apart.

So once you have your little brick/stone oven ready you get some wood and make a fire inside it to heat it up. eventually the wood burns out and all you have left are hot coals. this it the perfect time to use a stick or something to move the coals to the sides and then put your dough in the middle. after 20-30 minutes of baking plus the amount of time it took you to gather the ingredients and make your little oven, you will have delicious bread.

Now this system is pretty sustainable since you took things that will naturally replenish them selves. and you did not harm any systems to get and make your food.

If you don’t want to make your own oven, then you can… buy one at the local Sears, Home Depot or which ever store’s branding you find more appealing. This decision is where your bread becomes a little corrupt. A stove is not just found in nature. They need to be fabricated packaged and transported to a market place. This whole process takes a big toll on the environment, because unlike you and I who actually care about the periphery of the places we live, corporations don’t really care about the periphery of the area around their factories. The workers on the factory may care a little, but they have very little say on the matter because this is the way the industry works. So what ends up happening, a tremendous amount of energy needs to be used to make all of the parts that are needed to make this thing function, not to mention that an infrastructure to get the Natural Gas to your home needs to occur and then some company needs to dig out the Gas and pump it to your house.

Now there has been debates about what is more sustainable burning wood or natural gas, so lets say we omit this step into the making of our bread and say “maybe our new system is not so bad” well… lets just say its not.

So lets say you had to use the cheap baking soda, and maybe your milk was not from a cow you happened to have in the back yard. Maybe you went to the supermarket and got “Organic” Milk and “Organic” eggs. This is ok too, just make sure that your products are Certified Organic, otherwise you may be getting products that harm the environment and there fore are not sustainable. What about the baking soda, maybe you want to be fancy and use baking powder.

This simple decision just added a bunch of CO2 and has given a tiny bit of power to oil producing countries. Why because in order make the baking powder in mass quantities, package it, brand it and distribute it you just contributed to a new system that harms the environment ( wait, so what about the stove? uh, oh.) So your home baked bread is now a little less sustainable. But its still Green. So lets say you did not get Organic Certified products, you got your generic milk and eggs and flour, well you just contributed to animal cruelty, and more unsustainable systems and food production.

So now your bread seems a little less appealing, but its still Green because you made it your self, and that is a big plus. If you had not made that bread on your own, now you have to add an other system of mass production to the bread you buy.

Even if someone claims the bread is Organic, the systems that it took to get that bread to your table will already have spent massive amounts of energy, polluted the environment and no one knows about it because who cares… So this is probably why you have never seen “Green” bread or “Sustainable” Bread, because its almost impossible to have checks and balances for all the systems that go into bread production. So if you see a sustainable bread in your local market, you may want to laugh, unless you know the name of the guy that made the bread and he knows the name of the guys (and wife maybe children) who got the other ingredients, and they all used bicycles or horses to transport their products. With that in mind, lets think about that Green vs. Sustainability thing again. What we are really talking about is A. Energy Efficiency and B. Disruption of natural systems, like eco-systems.

How can we make a difference, it seems we are screwed. The only way that we can make a difference, is to get products from the sources that seem the least harmful (choose the better of the evils), in other words lets collectively use our power to get rid of bad systems. On that note, WTF is wrong with companies!
Seriously, a bike with a battery being labeled green!

Think about the impact of bread and multiply it by 100 and then you will get the harm being made by the production of these “green’ Bikes. I mean look at all the crap you have to manufacture for these things.



So I hope that made you think a little about the word Green. now the real way to go is with a Sustainable bike, made from sustainable things. A good alternative is the Bamboo Bike. Bamboo= !!! <3 <3 =)

Check these babies out:


there is even a tutorial online to make your own. Kinda like making your own bread.

now this prototype may still need work to be fully sustainable, but its a great start. So shame on green washing companies. “green” bike, LOL.

Summary:

I am not encouraging you to “buy” sustainable products or to “buy” anything at all! I’m encouraging you to see what stuff you can deal with out (story of stuff), and what things you should make on your own(how stuff is made). Instead of recycling that glass container, see if you can re-use it. Also it is good to tell your friends to not buy stupid stuff too. Like jeans that tell you to be stupid. Its time to be smart and its time to make sure that the people around us get smart too.

The problem is Cultural. Lets try to make our culture, the human culture better.

Don’t Be Stupid like Deisel:



This is an interesting post on livestock:
http://dianabuja.wordpress.com/tag/livestock/

A Rant About Women by Clay Shirky?

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

Wow

I guess I’m just trying to figure out why clay called me an “behave like arrogant self-aggrandizing jerk” All I wanted was a letter of recommendation. And then his next thought is clearly a con artist! Really! Me! And what does jail have to do with it? Is clay trying to gain a bad-ass persona, or does he just want to tell us that he likes to twist words to gain power?

With all jokes aside (me being a former student of clay’s and joking about he writing about my non existent recommendation) WTF! “women in general” what percentage is he talking about!? That’s kind of like saying that men in general don’t like to have sex, they just like orgasms! Talk about Polarization!

I truly disagree with Clay Shirky’s “A Rant About Women” maybe I owe my way of thinking to my mother, but Women should act as they do; like Women, like people! I think that penis and vagina is not an issue anymore. Its the culture and the all boys club way of thinking that’s the issue. In this world we need to form alliances with people to gain a bit more power, this is the general theory behind politics. The problem that women used to have and still do sometimes, is that there are many circumstance causing women to not pursue professional careers in specific fields (like engineering, programming and garbage collecting to name a few). Because of that, women that do get higher educations and choose to go into those careers with smaller female to male ratios, have a smaller chance of forming their own “all girls” club to gain power. But in this modern world is this really a good move? is having a little girls club or a little boys club a good thing? No. You cannot look at sex anymore unless you are crazy. I mean look at Richard Branson or Hilary Clinton for instance. Branson tends to get people together, regardless of sex, to work together for the better good (or profit) Good things happen when you get a mix of people engaging in dialogue. Hilary was close to getting the democratic the nomination in 2008 and that was not due to her “acting like a man”. The popularity she gained was due to her acting like her self and doing what she thought was best politically. We all know why Obama won, but Hilary is a good example when it comes to politics and power. I mean she went to Wellesley college! You don’t learn to “act like a man”, at an all girls school. You can argue that she would not have done it with out Bill’s help, so why did the Republican Party go with Palin?

The reason Shirky’s female students are not jerks (“women whose educations I am responsible for in particular, are often lousy at those kinds of behaviors, even when the situation calls for it.”) is most likely because he is of the opposite sex and people tend to be politically correct towards the opposite sex in environments like classrooms (well same sex and gender, age, etc. too, people in classrooms I like to think are well behaved). The possibility of a bad grade and offending a “good” professor are enough to keep anyone quiet, this is all an assumption though. Rivalries occur more frequently among people of the same sex because that gender gap is not present. The gender gap often represents either an obstacle or a lack of, depending on your point of view.

“asking women to behave more like men” is completely wrong. Women should behave like Women, gender has nothing with doing a job right (unless is like breast feeding or something?). If a female wants to be a football player, that’s awesome. If she wants to be a Ganitor that’s cool, but not really, but its cool! if she wants to be a chef or the president of the US that’s fine, we need more like that. If they mess up, big deal everyone messes up. Raising your hand to get attention and “risk public failure” has more to do with character and patience than knowledge and sex. As a matter of fact there is something more powerful than raising your hand, and that is talking with an assertive tone to address an answer or response. This happens very often now a days, and its good. You can definitely distinguish alpha males and females.

Bottom line is that there is more than one way to skin a cat, and “forceful and self-confident without being arrogant or jerky” is not the only way to gain power. Its more often that those who don’t need to yell that have the most power. As for “women wait for someone else to recommend them.” Apparently Clay never heard of Women like Cornelia Sullfrank or Rachel Carson two of my row models.

I get that Clay is trying to encourage a conversation (in his mind) that will get women inspired to go on. But indications that you may be a perpetrator of the sexist ideology is not the right way. Maybe Clay did not realize that this point would have as easily been made, with a bit more “Umph” and a less degrading tone by other means. Rants always polarize people. So if the goal was to toss wood in the fire, then we will not go cold any time soon.

My wish is that people (Men/ Women) would deal with other people with grace and stern conduct if any lines are crossed. You will never beat fire with fire (Well maybe in a Savannah with steady winds, but thats not the point) you will beat the fire with water or dirt and there lies the answer. An eye for an eye is part of an “all male” ideology. I’m glad that this era is gone because there just something not fully comforting about that thought.

Level 2

Sunday, January 17th, 2010

The WAMI Dome on Make Zine

Saturday, January 2nd, 2010

WAMI Dome

A couple of years back I made the WAMI which is a simple digital wave modulation instrument, which really means that it can make a bunch of cool sounds by waving your hands over it. Last month I saw a blog post on it on MAKE zine. The WAMI Dome was a project commissioned by my friend Jim Heekin Jr. for his leisurely use =)

Jonah Brucker-Cohen Wrote a brief description of it on the Make Zine Blog.

Thanks for the shout out! =)

Wami Dome from Oscar G. Torres on Vimeo.