Silent Revolution handbag

File this one in the “What-goes-round-comes-round” category. Via Josh Spear’s blog I came across an entry that took me to an interesting bit of indy product: Silent Revolution‘s clothing accessories for the hyper-connected cyberculture. The idea behind this start-up being “an effort to create futuristic, minimal bags and clothing reflective of the digital age in which we live.” Okay. But what struck me was how un-cyber these things seemed to me. They didn’t look to me like “minimal, sophisticated, cyber-influenced” bags. They’re nice, but they looked a bit like something else.

What got me in particular was the use of the term “cyber-influenced”. For me the look of all things cyber will probably forever be visually linked to the cover of William Gibson’s short story collection Burning Chrome (the book I owned back in ’88 consisted of only the graphic shown on the new one – no white border and no blown-out hype). That was the look of cyberspace in the mid-80’s when Apple computers were changing the print world with desktop publishing and dot-matrix printouts, frogdesign was designing “Snow White” computer housings for their gear, and videogames were still mostly colorful coin-op machines at arcades that assaulted your auditory system the minute you stepped within earshot. It wasn’t the clean, sophisticated computer-aesthetic of Syd Mead’s earlier Tron work. Nope. The word “cyber” instead evoked the famous first line from Gibson’s first novel Neuromancer, “The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.” Cyber has always been a street term – people remixing technology to their own purpose and sometimes even merging with it. For me it’s always sounded dirty and looked noisy. It’s even now slang for virtual sex.

So what do I see when I look at these bags? Interestingly enough, I see pre-cyberspace. I see clean retro computer aesthetics. Stuff from the 70’s. Looking at these designs reminds me of the days when I was coding Fortran, hole-punching cards and sticking them into a card reader to run my program. Is that cyber? I don’t know. Not to me it isn’t. Maybe we need a new description for this aesthetic; a look which I have to admit I see elsewhere. How about PreCyber Retro? We could use another label before everything gets swallowed up into the singularity soup.

{Image source: Silent Revolution}

Massively Intrusive?

Okay. So. Online videogames will have embedded advertising that not only customizes itself for the player, but keeps track of the player’s “eyes” (i.e. it senses when the avatar’s eye vector points at the ad in question and records a hit, time on “target”, whatever). Now comes word via Wired online of “Project Apollo”, a real-life ad tracking system. Hey, it might be a good thing. If the makers of, for example, Gas-ex ramp up sales in some city, one has to assume the audio is recording something important, and by extension that data might impact a “most livable city” standing. That follows. I mean, I have a right to odorless neighbors, don’t I?

Is this Life immitates Game?

Pulling for the Tortoise

I just posted my blog entry over on Core. Per my own directive, I’m attempting to segregate topics, but that sometimes proves difficult. When I first read this article on New Scientist, William Gibson’s “The Winter Market” came to mind and reminded me that for all the technological and scientific advancements humanity makes, we still have alot of social ground to cover and related issues to resolve – and most of those will be documented in psychological journals; issues I now see bleeding into the “virtual” interactions around me. Perhaps the researchers who use simulations to study real world problems could extend their focus to the seemingly “normal” people who populate them. No doubt we could all use a bit of advice.

Fido, sit. Fido, fetch. Fido, infiltrate and detonate.

image of Boston Dynamics BigDog robot

Read something today that reminded me of this, the first paragraph from William Gibson’s novel Count Zero:

They set a slamhound on Turner’s trail in New Delhi, slotted it to his pheromones and the color of his hair. It caught up with him on a street called Chandni Chauk and came scrambling for his rented BMW through a forest of bare brown legs and pedicab tires. Its core was a kilogram of recrystallized hexogene and flaked TNT.

Having read that, now take a look at this link (courtesy of Engadget) on what the mad scientists at Darpa are trying to create.

[Note: Links went dead, so here’s a Wikipedia entry – BigDog]