The only way to change your past is to steal someone else’s

Paul Raven @ 08-03-2012

I get a fairly regular flow of emails about independent film projects. Most of them, to be honest, bounce straight off me – which says less about their quality than it does about my own taste in cinema. Independent cinema – like independent music and literature – has lots of promise over the long term, but a lot of what I see is people trying to replicate Hollywood aesthetics on a budget, rather than turning their back on Hollywood and seeking something new, something different. Which is fine, of course. Just doesn’t push my buttons enough to mention it, is all.

Anamnesis, however, looks very different. They’re looking for postproduction funding on Indiegogo (which is a Kickstarter equivalent); take a look at what they’ve done so far, what they plan to do, and why they want to do it. Then chuck ‘em a few dollars if you think you’d like to see it finished the way they want it.


Woads? Where we’re going, we won’t need woads.

Paul Raven @ 28-02-2011

CVdazzle make-up and haircuts for fooling facial recognition softwareLooks like this one’s resurfaced again; we mentioned Adam Harvey’s efforts to spoof facial recognition software with weird asymmetrical make-up patterns a little less than a year ago, but the project now has its own name and URL – CVdazzle.com – and has expanded into using random hairstyling techniques… which should keep the junior stylists at Toni & Guy in business once the whole emo/Bieber/Lady Gaga thing dies out.

[ Image copyright Adam Harvey; please contact for immediate takedown if required. And yes, I know the pun in the title is terrible, but a) it’s my blog and b) it’s Monday, so please address all complaints to my imaginary lawyer. :) ]


Digital: A Love Story; Nostalgia, Irony and Cyberpunk

Jonathan McCalmont @ 05-01-2011

Nostalgia ain’t what it used to be.  Originally coined in 1688 by a medical student investigating the tendency of Swiss mercenaries to become homesick to the point of physical incapacity, nostalgia soon changed from being a curable physical ailment to being an unassuageable psychological condition, a sickness of the soul.

This shift was the result of nostalgia being partly decoupled from the concept of homesickness.  Homesickness can be cured by allowing the sufferer to return home, but nostalgia came to signify a longing not for a particular place but for a by-gone age forever out of reach… short of someone inventing time travel.  However, despite becoming de-pathologised, nostalgia never quite managed to shed the negative connotations of its medical origins and the late 20th Century’s decision to turn nostalgia from a condition into a marketing strategy did little for its respectability in certain circles. Continue reading “Digital: A Love Story; Nostalgia, Irony and Cyberpunk”


Excellent Bill Gibson interview

Paul Raven @ 06-12-2010

The best author interviews are surely the ones where the interviewer asks the sort of questions that you yourself would have picked, had the opportunity arisen. Granted, the list of questions I’d like to ask of William Gibson is long enough that I could keep the poor guy occupied with them until the heat death of the universe, but Aileen Gallagher of NY Mag‘s The Vulture column has whittled a few of them away on my behalf [via MetaFilter]. Here he is, rethinking terrorism:

You also wrote in Zero History that terrorism is “almost exclusively about branding but only slightly less so about the psychology of lotteries.” How so?

If you’re a terrorist (or a national hero, depending on who’s looking at you), there are relatively few of you and relatively a lot of the big guys you’re up against. Terrorism is about branding because a brand is most of what you have as a terrorist. Terrorists have virtually no resources. I don’t even like using the word terrorism. It’s not an accurate descriptor of what’s going on.

What do you think is going on?

Asymmetric warfare, when you’ve got a little guy and a big guy. [There are] a lot of strategies that the little guy uses to go after the big guy, and a lot of them are branding strategies. The little guy needs a brand because that’s basically all he’s got. He’s got very little manpower, very little money compared to the big guy. The big guy’s got a ton of manpower and a ton of money. So this small coterie of plotters decides to go after a nation-state. If they don’t have a strong brand, nothing’s going to happen. From the first atrocity on, the little guy is building his brand. And that’s why somebody phones in after every bomb and says, “It was us, the Situationist Liberation Army. We blew up that mall.” That’s branding. By the same token, you get these other, surreal moments where they call up and say, “We didn’t do that one.” That’s branding. That’s all it is. A terrorist without a brand is like a fish without a bicycle. It’s just not going anywhere.

And a vindication of Twitter:

I’ve taken to Twitter like a duck to water. Its simplicity allows the user to customize the experience with relatively little input from the Twitter entity itself. I hope they keep it simple. It works because it’s simple. I was never interested in Facebook or MySpace because the environment seemed too top-down mediated. They feel like malls to me. But Twitter actually feels like the street. You can bump into anybody on Twitter.

[…]

Twitter’s huge. There’s a whole culture of people on Twitter who do nothing but handicap racehorses. I’ll never go there. One commonality about people I follow is that they’re all doing what I’m doing: They’re all using it as novelty aggregation and out of that grows some sense of being part of a community. It’s a strange thing. There are countless millions of communities on Twitter. They occupy the same virtual space but they never see each other. They never interact. Really, the Twitter I’m always raving about is my Twitter.

Lots more good nuggets in there; go read.


NEW FICTION: PLATFORM 17 by Stephen Gaskell

Paul Raven @ 01-11-2010

Memory has always been a popular theme in Futurismic‘s fiction selection; maybe that’s a sign of the times, as I seem to blog about neuroscience and memory a lot in recent months, or maybe it’s just one of the frontiers that science fiction will always be best equipped to explore.

Either which way, I’m super proud to have Stephen Gaskell return to the site with “Platform 17″. What would you do to cure your child’s nightmares? Would you go so far as to penetrate to their heart? And what might doing so make you become?

Enjoy!

Platform 17

by Stephen Gaskell

Orsi stroked her son’s head. He slept fitfully, his hair sweaty and matted. From time to time, he moaned, made a low, frightened noise like a cornered animal. She’d rocked him to sleep an hour earlier, then carried him to his bed with numb arms.

“Oh, kicsi,” she whispered, straightening the rumpled blankets. She thought about singing a lullaby, but immediately felt silly at the idea. Csaba was ten, not two.

He jerked his neck back, eyelids twitching. His whole body shuddered and his arm came up to his head as though he were about to shield himself from a blow. “No, no,” he muttered, frantic. The arm across his face trembled, then lurched downwards as if it were being moved against his will. Then, as the previous night and the five before, he began screaming. Not a hearty shriek, but a terrible, hoarse, broken wail like fingernails raking down a blackboard.

“Csaba!” Orsi gripped his shoulders, shook him. “Csaba, wake up! It’s only a dream.”

His eyes blinked open, but he kept screaming. His face was pale, horrified.

“What did he do to you?” Orsi said, hugging her son too hard. “What did your father do to you?”

His screams faded, became whimpers. He didn’t answer. Continue reading “NEW FICTION: PLATFORM 17 by Stephen Gaskell”


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