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  • seandodson 4:18 pm on January 1, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: 28 days later, , , life, , , , ,   

    28 Days of Christmas later … 


    Carnaby Street

    Originally uploaded by

    IanVisits

    London abandoned. A Flickr set taken on Christmas morning (via William Gibson’s blog) by blogger Ian Visits. London looks almost totally abandoned, devoid of both traffic and people, although the lights are still on and the traffic lights are working. Spooky and beautiful.

    From William Gibson’s blog:

    “Christmas, particularly in the early morning, has always seemed so much more liminal to me than New Year’s eve. Spectral, deeply in-between.”

    ———-

    Incidentally, while on the subject of abandoned places: check out the sound stage of HBO’s masterful television epic The Wire. Foolishly I had thought that much of it was filmed on location. But the offices of the Baltimore Sun and the city’s homicide division turn out to be incredibly convincing simulations.

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  • seandodson 8:19 pm on June 2, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: bioethics, biotech, cancer, drugs, , gene, HIV, john harris, life, , nanotechnology, post-human, , transhuman   

    Now is the time to answer the question of the synthetic human 

    I was very impressed by this article on the ever pressing issue of post-humanity by John Harris, Professor of Bioethics at the University of Manchester. It manages to be both intelligent and accessible at the same time, not something you see everday in the Times (of London) these days.

    Now is the time to try to answer this question, because many recent discoveries are beginning to make the prospect of radical human enhancement a reality. Stem cell research, which may lead to human tissue repairing itself; new genes resistant to cancer and HIV; new drugs that improve concentration and memory or enable us to function for much longer periods without sleep; brain-computer interfaces that may harness the power and memory of computers, perhaps by the insertion of tiny “nanobots” into the human brain; and techniques that will radically extend life expectancy from tens to hundreds of years – these are all on today’s scientific agenda and some are already in use.

     
  • seandodson 5:33 pm on June 1, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , chapman brothers, , , , Hitler, life, , little people, , , slinkachu, street art, will self   

    Thimble-sized sculptures installed on the streets of London 

    I quite like the work of the Little People aka the Tiny Street Art Project, which further describes itself as “little handpainted people left in London to fend for themselves”. It reminds me of a much nicer form of contemporary art than the Chapman Brothers (who are currently busily retouching the paintings of Hitler). Anyway, the artist behind the little people, Slinkachu, has a new project, entitled the inner-city snail (the bottom two images, above) and a book out in September. Interestingly enough, the forward is to be by Will Self, who once wrote the slightly sinister short story, Scale, about a man who has lost all sense of it and ends up thinking he is living inside a model village. Slinkachu’s work is too cutesy to get under the skin in the same way. I think I just like them for their wit and the way they soften your view of London.

     
    • andipagallery 5:59 pm on December 7, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      We publish the artwork for Slinkachu and welcome you to view his work in the gallery anytime. His work, including new releases “Glory” and “Spilt Milk”, can be viewed at http://www.andipa.com. Enjoy.

  • seandodson 1:35 am on May 24, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: bikeoff, crime, , , , , european parliament, , life, ,   

    Can you design your way out of crime? 

    A lot has been made of the Design Council’s recent suggestion that good design can cut crime. We all know the environment effects how we all behave, so why not shape it, so goes the argument, to deter wrongdoing? There area a lot of good ideas here. Such as a set of excellent design case studies such as Bikeoff (above): simply a bicycle stand that makes it easier to lock you bike and harder for thieves to nick it.

    The Design Council is promoting lots of stuff about participatory design where the youth get to help design there own gadgets but there’s a paradox here too. There’s the vanity of owning the latest gadgets to contend with. The biometric locks I’m a lot less sure about. As my friend Rob Van Kranenburg has pointed out, there’s something scary about connecting biometrics to devices that connect you to networks like the internet.

     
  • seandodson 7:36 pm on May 19, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , hate laws, , life, , , political correctness, , , racism, shane richmond, socrates, , Unite Against Fascism, user-generated content, Weyman Bennett   

    You might quote Socrates, but you can’t spell my name 

    If you’ve got nothing to hide, why hide behind an official spokesperson? If you believe in free speech, why not agree to a proper interview? The morning’s Media Guardian published an article I have been researching for the last few months. Headlined A Platform for Free Speech … or Hate, it examines the Telegraph’s attitude towards some of the more extremist views available on its readers blogs. My investigation has uncovered that the My Telegraph service is being used by members of the British National Party (BNP) to promote their nefarious views. I knew that I would attract a fair bit of heat from the article, as you can’t go around accusing a national newspaper of harbouring the views of the far right, albeit a vocal minority of them, and not expect it to bite back.

    So here goes. One of the card-carrying neo-fascists I mentioned in the article quoted Socrates in his defence (although he couldn’t actually spell my name correctly) on his blog. Many others from the far right called me, and the newspaper I often work for, a lot of nasty names. All as to be expected. Many of them, moreover, also accused me (apparently without reading my article as there comments were published before it was printed) that I was against free speech. I think it goes without saying that I’m not against freedom of speech. I just want to question whether a reputable and recognised brand like the Telegraph (a newspaper I’ve long admired) wants to allow members of the far right to use it as a platform to propagate their extremist views. Of course, it’s not me who is against free speech, but a party that routinely uses violence to support its views; who deny the holocaust and whose leader has been tried twice for incitement to racial hatred (although he did eventually get off). The BNP is also a party that, according to its own constitution, is “committed to stemming and reversing the tide of non-white immigration.”

    I asked Weyman Bennett, national secretary of Unite Against Fascism what he thought of the free speech defence and whether the Telegraph should allow active members of the BNP to use the Telegraph to promote their views. He told me that the British National Party remain far from a legitimate organisation and that he “would assume that the Telegraph would be at pains to condemn the BNP. Instead they are allowing a fascist party to whip up racism and that it needs to recognise that it is not a benign organisation, but threat to anybody who believes in democracy.”

    The communities editor of the Telegraph, Shane Richmond, published a list of my questions on his blog on Friday without my consent. I took such an intrusion into our private correspondence in good humour, but I think it’s a bit rich of him to complain about freedom of speech when he refused both a face-to-face and telephone interview forcing me to send any questions I had via email and to conduct most of his comments over the internet and in public before even reading my article. So one that question again to Shane Richmond: if you’ve got nothing to hide, why hide behind your official spokesperson?

     
    • FYO 11:41 am on May 20, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Perhaps the Telegraph might want to comment on how advertisers feel about some of the posts published under its brand. Maybe a new strapline; ‘The Telegrapg – Proud To Be Associated with the BNP” might make things clearer for all?

      The same goes for many other poorly moderated sites across the country. Have a look at Newsquest sites for example and see just how reactive moderations works, or fails to work, in practice. One day someone will post something, say an allegation of paedophilia, with personal details, that leads to a serious incident. Will the T&Cs and “reasonable time” for removal of posts (assuming reported) be a suitable defence? Even if legally that stands up – debatable I’d imagine – what damage to the brand? Local news sites are arguably more dangerous – more easy for immediate physical reaction and moderation which as as good as invisible.

    • seandodson 3:32 pm on May 21, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Just received this email from a Mr G Greenwood:

      The obvious solution to newspapers intent of offering user-generated content (Platform for free speech … or hate? 19 May 08) is to require all correspondents, bloggers et al to use their real names. We’ve had enough time to test the concept of anonymous comment and it has failed. With rare exceptions most ‘comment’ represents the unleashed fury of people previously muted by the nature of their opinions or an inability the express themselves rationally and coherently. Now we’ve got a Babel seemingly enraged people shouting at the rest us from the cyber-shadows, able to express their often vile or banal opinions in national newspapers that now appear to equate their hard-earned authority with that of an obscure blog.

      By all means let people say what say think – but only after they’ve shown they’re prepared to put their name to their words

  • seandodson 8:08 pm on April 9, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , football, , life, milan design week, , table football   

    Bringing the beautiful game back home 

    The urgent clatter of table football has much of the pace but little of the grace of the ‘beautiful game’. But now two companies, GRO design and Tim modelmakers, plan to change all that. Next week the pair will exhibit this gorgeous table football at Milan Design Week. According to the designers, “many new football stadiums built in recent years have a strong architectural and sculptural beauty, becoming city landmarks in their own right and enhancing the visual landscape of the local environment. We wanted the design of our football table to be equally spectacular and memorable, enriching the interior space where it will be placed.”

     
  • seandodson 6:11 pm on March 7, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , life, , Martin Firrell, , st paul's   

    We navigate our whole lives using words … now use your’s to light up St Paul’s 

    words.jpg

    Artist & cultural activitst Martin Firrell makes work using projected text. Previously he has crafted site specific pieces for the likes of the Palace of Westminster, Tate Britain and the Royal Opera House. His next project, The Question Mark Inside, will be a series of projections onto and inside St Paul’s Cathedral, to celebrate its 300th anniversary, in November.  French-born Firrell is inviting people to get involved in the project by adding thier own thoughts on the meaning of life, and the meaning of St Paul’s. The words will then be projected onto the Cathedral Dome, the Ludgate Hill elevation and inside on the wall of the Whispering Gallery.

    He says: “Sometimes, the simplest words can sum up the deepest feelings. Words make it possible to share the way we see the world and to discover, perhaps, that we’re really not so different from each other. By adding your words to this project, you can be part of the attempt to describe the great mystery of the question mark that lies inside us all.[via We Made This]

     
  • seandodson 12:59 pm on February 29, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , comedy, , life, , shepherds bush, sixties, steptoe and son,   

    The cult of Steptoe & Son 

    picsteptoeandson2.jpg

    Ah, but if only the same level of energy had been directed towards my post on the new Steptoe and Son biopic. I spent twice as long on it, but received only a single comment (although it was a good one). The Curse of Steptoe is set to run on BBC4 on March 14. It’s an excellent example of working class comedy and I think probably the finest sitcom ever made.

     
  • seandodson 9:50 am on February 17, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , life, , shinsekai,   

    Why the food of Osaka is simply to die for 


    Osaka
     

    Originally uploaded by seandodson

    The Guardian has finally published my article on food in Osaka, which talks about how Japan’s second city has some of the best food in the whole of the country, if not the best.

    Due to constraints of space, some of my details about the wonderful working-class district of Shinsekai was edited down. It included a reference to Alex Kerr’s excellent book Lost Japan, which describes the rough-and-tumble neighbourhood as a “little too dangerous for westerners to travel to alone,” although that was written a few years ago, and certainly didn’t represent my experience when I did. Nowadays,  Shinsekai remains an anachronism in otherwise well-behaved Japan. It is an earthy, direct, unreserved quarter of Osaka that has a surprisingly hip undercurrent, especially around the Tenoji Temple. Not dangerous, just devilishly challenging. I loved it.

     
  • seandodson 4:22 pm on February 6, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , eye-tracking, life, notting hill, , westbourne studios   

    The act of beholding is in the eye of this beauty 

    picture1.jpgpicture2.jpg

    To London yesterday to get a glimpse of eye-tracking, an emerging new technology being employed by the advertising industry and news media to map our collective unconscious. I went to visit Bunnyfoot, a behavioral research consultancy based in the impressive Westbourne Studios in Notting Hill, who use a sophisticated machine that follows the movement of the eye as it scans across a screen.   

    The two advertisements for Sunsilk (above) demonstrate how this works. Both have been given the full treatment: an arrangement of infrared sensors and cameras track the iris as it moves around the screen recording what people *actually* look at. You then get the image above, simple to read, with the red parts representing where people allowed their gaze to linger.

    The difference between the two images is very subtle and demonstrates how a simple tweaking of a design can manipulate the eye towards a product. In the left hand image only 6% of people actually looked at the ‘pack shot’, focussing their gaze, instead, on the face of the pretty girl.  Once the image has been tweaked (simply by moving the eye of the girl to direct your gaze towards the product) the number that landed on the product, according to Bunnyfoot’s research, was 84%.

    So what? Well from this a new kind of visual grammar could be developed, one that makes advertising much more effective at tapping into our unconscious desires. In a kind of moment of futureshock inspired by Minority Report, advertisers might know we want something before we do. If they don’t already. Little wonder Bunnyfoot’s business is booming. It opens its fourth office later this year.

     
    • Jag 6:04 pm on February 8, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      Hello Sean, you left a comment on my pages re bus. I answered, and then came here to make a comment so you could get my email address.

      These guys should get to work on the Iris machine at Heathrow Terminal 2; it’s forever unable to scan the eyes properly.

  • seandodson 11:10 am on January 30, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ffffound, , life, rules, wisdom   

    Beautiful rules for immaculate hearts 

    corita_rules.jpg
    An inspirational set of values (found via hi-and-low) that are made even more special when you discover that they came from the students, some of who have even gone on to expand on them.

     
  • seandodson 5:50 pm on January 29, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: aquatic, , , , , life, , , water cube   

    Beijing’s life aquatic 

    Dodgy politics aside for a moment, at least this summer’s Beijing Olympics will be remembered for one thing: some of the most exciting new architecture of the 21st century. The design blog today Kitsunenoir has posted a wonderful photomontage of the new National Aquatic Centre in Beijing. Known as ‘The Water Cube’ (or even more fashionably as [H2O]3) the buildings fascinating structure is based on the natural formation of soap bubbles, which gives the building both its random and organic appearance.The centre doesn’t open until the summer but already Flickr has been flooded with images of its construction. And where it stands in relation to the “Birds Nest” Olympic Stadium. Both make London’s 2012 efforts a little dated.

     
  • seandodson 4:49 pm on January 26, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: bittorrent, , Coelho, life, ,   

    Author makes piracy pay 


    Paulos Coelhos
    Originally uploaded by dianapassy

    A few years ago a friend of mine recommended The Alchemist by the famous author Paulo Coelho. It ws a real waste of money. I really disliked it. That’s the trouble when you try an author for the first time. Unlike music (which you can hear on the radio) or even the movies (where you often see a trailer), it’s often difficult to tell if you are going to like a new book unless you have the time to sit in a bookshop and read a chapter or two first.

    Aha, but if I had known about The Pirate Coelho, a blog, established by the million-selling author himself, I might not have wasted my money after all. You see, Coelho has been happily pirating his own work for years, spreading electronic versions of his novels over the BitTorrent filesharing network. What the blog does is direct you to where the pirated version are located. He recently told a conference that rather than hurt his sales, this act of self-piract has actually sent them through the roof.

    If you think about it, giving away free digital copies of digital books makes a lot more sense that giving away free music. Downloading a couple of chapters allows you to see how much you might like an author unknown to you, and if you do, go can ahead and buy it, preferably at your local bookshop.

     
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