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Weekly Link Roundup 12.06

This week in our link roundup: DARPA is interested in harvesting space junk, a new essay by Errol Morris in The New Times, what’s coming after Web 2.0 (nothing says a journalist from Forbes), Michel Foucault’s archives are for sale, Edvard Munch’s painting The Scream (1893) was sold for a record price of $120M, Bret Easton Ellis and Paul Schrader’s next project may be funded via Kickstarter, some mesmerizing animated GIF illustrating emergent patterns in quasicrystal-like structure and more.

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  • Informationweek: “DARPA Aims To Reuse Space Junk” by Therese Reger, April 26, 2012. Excerpt:

    The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) wants to turn disabled satellites and their components, including antennas and solar arrays, into functioning systems. The agency will host a conference on June 26 to explore ways to create refurbished satellite systems at a fraction of what it would cost to build them from scratch.

  • The New York Times: “What’s in a Name?” by Errol Morris, Part 1 (April 29, 2012), Part 2, (May 1st, 2012) and Part 3 (May 3rd, 2012). Excerpt from Part 1:

    Just what names might be and how they relate to things in the world has been a long-standing subject for philosophical discussion and argument. In “A System of Logic: Ratiocinative and Inductive” (1843), John Stuart Mill quotes Thomas Hobbes (from “De Corpore,” 1655).

    “A Name,” says Hobbes, “is a word taken at pleasure to serve for a mark, which may raise in our mind a thought like to some thought we had before, and which being pronounced to others, may be to them a sign of what thought the speaker had before in his mind.”

    MORRIS 2012 Whats in a name

  • Forbes: “Here’s Why Google and Facebook Might Completely Disappear in the Next 5 Years” by Eric Jackson, April 30, 2012. Excerpt:

    Social companies born since 2010 have a very different view of the world. These companies – and Instagram is the most topical example at the moment – view the mobile smartphone as the primary (and oftentimes exclusive) platform for their application. They don’t even think of launching via a web site. They assume, over time, people will use their mobile applications almost entirely instead of websites.

    We will never have Web 3.0, because the Web’s dead.

    Web 1.0 and 2.0 companies still seem unsure how to adapt to this new paradigm. Facebook is the triumphant winner of social companies. It will go public in a few weeks and probably hit $140 billion in market capitalization. Yet, it loses money in mobile and has rather simple iPhone and iPad versions of its desktop experience. It is just trying to figure out how to make money on the web – as it only had $3.7 billion in revenues in 2011 and its revenues actually decelerated in Q1 of this year relative to Q4 of last year. It has no idea how it will make money in mobile.

  • La république des livres: “À qui les archives Michel Foucault?” by Pierre Assouline, April 29, 2012. Excerpt:

    Ce scénario-catastrophe relève d’autant moins de la science-fiction que le classement des Archives Foucault s’est bien fait de manière préventive afin, dans un premier temps, de les empêcher de quitter le territoire en douce. Le sociologue Daniel Defert, qui partagea la vie du philosophe et hérita de leur propriété, a en effet décidé, à 75 ans et au lendemain d’une opération du cœur, de s’en séparer ; il a donc déposé une demande d’autorisation à l’exportation qui a mis le feu aux poudres : « La famille de Michel Foucault et moi-même souhaitons que ces archives restent en France, d’autant que l’édition de ses cours n’est pas achevée. Mais si ce n’est pas possible, je n’ai pas de réticence a priori contre l’Amérique, qui a tant fait pour lui » confie-t-il. Mais qu’est-ce qui ferait capoter l’affaire ? Deux choses qui pourraient n’en faire qu’une : l’argent pour s’aligner sur le prix du marché (nul ne veut se risquer à lâcher un montant, mais pour être plus précis, disons que c’est beaucoup, c’est à dire nettement plus que pour l’acquisition du manuscrit des Mémoires de Casanova ou des archives de Guy Debord) et une ancienne rivalité entre deux institutions culturelles qui ont chacune leurs arguments et… un même ministère de tutelle (ce n’est pas celui des sports et arts martiaux).

    Michel Foucault

  • The New York Review of Book: “In the Zone of Alienation: Tarkovsky as Video Game” by Gabriel Winslow-Yost, May 1st, 2012. Excerpt:

    But one aspect of Stalker’s enduring fascination has been the way it seems to prefigure the Chernobyl disaster that occurred seven years after its release: the nuclear meltdown created an abandoned, radioactive “zone of alienation”—over a thousand square miles considered too radioactive to enter, though tourists began to be allowed in last year — that to many was eerily similar to the Zone of the film. It is this parallel that inspired a Ukrainian video game developer named GSC Game World to create a series of first-person shooter game adaptations of the film called, respectively, S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl, S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky, and S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat (Pripyat is the name of the abandoned city built to house Chernobyl workers). The different “levels” or settings in the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. games are detailed (though thoroughly fictionalized) recreations of Pripyat, the cordon itself, and so on. Released between 2007 and 2010, the games have been absurdly successful; Shadow of Chernobyl alone sold several million copies around the world (and, bringing the cycle of adaptation full circle, a series of novelizations based on the game were released in Russia).


  • AlJazeera: “Munch’s The Scream fetches record $120m”, May 3rd, 2012. Excerpt:

    The only privately owned version of Edvard Munch’s The Scream – one of the most recognisable images in history – set a world record when it sold for $119.9m at Sotheby’s in New York, far exceeding pre-sales estimates of about $80m.

    The 1895 pastel of a man holding his head and screaming under a streaked, blood-red sky has become a modern symbol for human anxiety, popularised in movies and plastered on everything from mugs to Halloween masks. It is second in worldly fame to only the Mona Lisa.

    MUNCH Scream

  • The Guardian: “From the archive, 1 May 1992: Stephen Hawking reviews film of his best selling book” by Stephen Hawking, May 1st, 1992. Excerpt:

    I have been fortunate in the director of the film, Errol Morris. He is a man of integrity, with a feeling for the issues. It would have been all too easy to have someone who would have concentrated on the more sensational aspects of my private life, and my medical condition, and who would have treated the science in a superficial way. A friend of mine, who has had several television programmes based on his work, was envious of how the scientific ideas came through on the film.

    Stephen Hawking 006

  • The New York Times / Media Decoder: “Nielsen Reports a Decline in Television Viewing” by Brian Stelter, May 3, 2012. Excerpt:

    To the astonishment of some in the industry, total TV viewing has been on the rise in the U.S. for years, despite a plethora of other entertainment options. But new Nielsen data, also released on Thursday, showed an unusual dip in TV viewing in the last three months of 2011. At the same time, some people are spending more time playing video games and watching Web video — though TV still retains the lion’s share of people’s free time.

    In the last three months of 2011, the average American with a TV set at home spent 153 hours and 19 minutes watching “traditional TV” — TV viewed on a set rather than a computer or a tablet. That total is about 46 minutes less than was watched in the last three months of 2010, or a decline of 0.5 percent.

  • TorrentFreak: “Pirate Bay Enjoys 12 Million Traffic Boost, Shares Unblocking Tips” May 2, 2012. Excerpt:

    Last week the UK High Court ruled that several of the country’s leading ISPs must block subscriber access to The Pirate Bay. The decision is designed to limit traffic to the world’s leading BitTorrent site but in the short-term it had the opposite effect. Yesterday, The Pirate Bay had 12 million more visitors than it has ever had, providing a golden opportunity to educate users on how to circumvent blocks. “We should write a thank you letter to the BPI,” a site insider told TorrentFreak.

    Pirate Bay

  • Kickstarter: “The Canyons” A Narrative Film project in Los Angeles, CA by Braxton Pope”. From the project’s page:

    The Canyons is a contemporary thriller written by Bret Easton Ellis (Less Than Zero, American Psycho, etc.) to be directed by Paul Schrader (Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, Affliction, Auto-Focus, etc.) The Canyons documents five twenty-something’s quest for power, love, sex and success in 2012 Hollywood. […] The Canyons team has realized the Kickstarter is indeed a part of this new independent change, and is seeking to connect with our fan base even further with this campaign. Raising money will assist us in the production of our film in addition to increasing awareness of it. There is a distinct value in having an intimate relationship to those who care most about our work, and we are thankful to Kickstarter for helping foster these relationships.

  • Bookshelf Porn: “Porn for book lovers. A photo blog collection of all the best bookshelf photos from around the world for people who *heart* bookshelves.”

    Bookshelf Porn

  • The Atlantic: “The Government Would Like You to Write a ‘Social Media Will’” by Rebecca J. Rosen, May 3, 2012. Excerpt:

    By some estimates, nearly a half a million people with Facebook accounts passed away last year, leaving family and friends to navigate what to do with those pages. Leave the account open? Shut it down entirely? Convert it to an official Facebook memorial page? What would you want for your own Facebook profile? And forget Facebook, what do you want to become of your email account?

    If you want any say in such matters, you might want to consider creating a social-media will, as the US government is now recommending as part of its advice on estate planning.

  • main is usually a function: “Quasicrystals as sums of waves in the plane” by Keegan, October 24, 2011. Excerpt:

    This quasicrystal is full of emergent patterns, but it can be described in a simple way. Imagine that every point in the plane is shaded according to the cosine of its y coordinate. […] To render this animation I wrote a Haskell program, using the Repa array library.

    First spotted via Science Tumbled. The result can be seen below (animated GIF).

    “Quasicrystals as sums of waves in the plane” by Keegan, October 24, 2011