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What is Next Nature?

With our attempts to cultivate nature, humankind causes the rising of a next nature, which is wild and unpredictable as ever. Wild systems, genetic surprises, autonomous machinery and splendidly beautiful black flowers. Nature changes along with us.

Posts Tagged ‘Wild-systems’

  • Next Nature intro by Bruce Sterling

    This project is about Nature’s brand image.  One might surmise that “Nature,” being 100 percent all-natural, can’t have any brand image.  The facts suggest otherwise. Try it for yourself: tell a friend that something seemingly 100 percent natural is actually “96 percent natural.”  Not a great difference, apparently, yet a profound unease arises.  That unease is the subject of the many provocative essays and remarkable graphics on NextNature.net

    by BRUCE STERLING

    The project is a study in why we feel uneasiness when the Nature brand is violated.  It’s also about the exciting new-and-improved varieties of unnatural unease that have come to exist quite recently.   It explains why this sensibility is spreading, and what that implies for who we are, and how we live with Nature.

    Now, when Nature is slightly artificialized — say, by installing a park bench under a tree — we rarely get any dark suspicious frisson about that.  The uncanny can only strike us when our ideological constructs about Nature are dented.  We’re especially guarded about our most pious, sentimentalized notions of Nature.  Nature as a nurturing entity that is harmonious, calm,  peaceful, inherently rightful and all-around “good-for-you.”

    This vaguely politicized attitude about Nature never came from Nature.   It was culturally generated.  Nature didn’t get her all-natural identity-branding until the Industrial Revolution broke out.  Then poets and philosophers were allowed to live in dense, well-supplied cities, where they could recast Nature from some intellectual distance.   Before that huge effusion of organized artifice, people lived much closer to the soil.

    These farmers rarely spoke of “Nature” in the abstract.   They were too deeply involved in a lifelong subsistence struggle with natural events, such as inclement weather, bad harvests, weeds, pests, and blights.   They certainly never mistook their existing state of affairs for the Biblical Eden: their theological utopia in which Nature was always harmonious, calm, peaceful and good-for-you.

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  • russian_fire

    Climate Craze in Russia

    Climate change is often thought to have its winners and losers, with Canada, Nordic countries and Russia being portrayed as among the lucky few chilly nations where moderate climate change could mean net benefits such as lower winter heating bills, more forest, longer crop growth and perhaps more summer tourism.

    Russia’s two-month heat wave, which wrecked a quarter of Russia’s grain crop and may cut $14 billion from gross domestic product, is dimming prospects that northern countries will “win” from climate change.

    While Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in 2002 joked that less icy weather would enable Russians to buy fewer fur coats, President Dmitry Medvedev now blamed the heat wave on global warming – even though most experts say it is impossible to link individual weather events to climate change.

    People in Nordic nations and Canada are becoming aware that climate change will not be a simple blessing for them. Possible damaging side-effects of less chill weather, including the risk to forests and crops of insect pests normally kept in check by winter frosts.

    Via Reuters, Thanks to the Canary Project. Image via English Russia.

  • Nanoparticles in Sunscreen Damage Microbes

    Nanoparticles in Sunscreen Damage Microbes

    Nanotechnology has been hailed for its benefits because of the potential ability to create drugs that could cure cancer and radiation poisoning, make miniature pollutant filters resulting in healthier air and even produce better tasting food. Excitement over these benefits has led to corporations heavily investing in the technology for their products.

    However, the same properties that allow nanotechnology to be valuable give it the potential to cause unforeseen consequences for ecological and human health. To date, it’s unclear whether the benefits of nanotech outweigh the risks associated with environmental release and exposure to nanoparticles.

    Environmental Health News reports that nanoparticles in sunscreens, cosmetics and hundreds of other consumer products may pose risks to the environment by damaging beneficial microbes.

    Researchers Cyndee Gruden and Olga Mileyeva-Biebesheimer from the University of Toledo added varying amounts of nanoparticles to water containing bacteria. The bacteria were grown in a lab and stained with a green fluorescent. It turned out the nano-titanium dioxide – also used in personal care products – reduced biological roles of bacteria after less than an hour of exposure. The findings suggest that these particles, which end up at municipal sewage treatment plants after being washed off in showers, could eliminate microbes that play vital roles in ecosystems and help treat wastewater. Oops!

    Nanotechnology is yet another example of mankind playing with fire: It requires enormous care and restraint, yet on the other hand, playing with fire is perhaps one of the very special abilities that defines us as humans.

    Via: Environmental Health News.

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  • iphone_x600

    Here Comes the iPhone Virus

    By analyzing billions of phone calls, researchers at Scandinavian telecom company Telenor, mapped how social connections between people – measured partly by how often they called each other – correlated with the spread of Apple’s iPhone after its 2007 debut.

    The diagram above shows the evolution of the largest network of Telenor iPhone users over time. Each node represents one subscriber, and its color indicates the model used. In this case, red equals 2G, green means 3G, and yellow means 3GS.

    Researchers learned that its owners helped spread the iPhone virus spread rapidly throughout their social network. A person with just one iPhone-carrying friend was three times more likely to own one themselves than a person whose friends had no iPhones. People with two friends who had iPhones were more than five times as likely to have sprung for the Apple device. Apparently the iPhone virus was highly contagious.

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  • ECO Currency – A Proposal to Balance Economical and Environmental Value

    ECO Currency – A Proposal to Balance Economical and Environmental Value

    Imagine we would have an alternative monetary currency for environmental value. Would the rain forest still be destroyed if there existed an ECO–currency to express its value and pay farmers to let the trees stand? Designers of the Next Nature Lab are investigating how we can link economy with ecology. A proposal on how we can link economy with ecology.

    The starting point of the ECO–currency(*) project is the hypothesis that an important factor in the ongoing environmental crisis is the disconnect between the economical ecology and the environmental ecology. With the latter we mean the ecology of plants, trees, animals, and other organic material. Whereas the economical ecology is defined by our financial system of market, money, goods and other economical exchange. Our second working hypothesis states that we could address environmental issues by linking the economical sphere and the environmental sphere in a better way than that is currently the case.

    Comparing the two ecologies: The rain forest is a stable, self-sustainable and threatened ecosystem, whereas the financial system is a unstable and threatening ecosystem that feeds on the biosphere.

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  • Revisiting Jurassic Park

    Revisiting Jurassic Park

    When searching for Next Nature in the world around us, one does not necessarily have to look at the present. The science fiction novel Jurassic Park, written in 1990 by the recently deceased Michael Crichton and later turned into a big blockbuster movie by Steven Spielberg, already discusses the fusion between the born and the made.

    Halfway through the book, there is a chapter where Dr. Wu, the chief scientist, tries to convince Hammond, the CEO, to go over to a next version of dinosaurs.

    Hammond sighed. “Now, Henry, are we going to have another of those abstract discussions? You know I like to keep it simple. The dinosaurs we have now are real, and -”
    “Well, not exactly,” Wu said. He paced the living room, pointed to the monitors. “I don’t think we should kid ourselves. We haven’t re-created the past here. The past is gone. It can never be re-created. What we’ve done is reconstruct the past – or at least a version of the past. And I’m saying we can make a better version.”

    “Better than real?”
    “Why not?” Wu said. “After all, these animals are already modified. We’ve inserted genes to make them patentable, and to make them lysine dependent. And we’ve done everything we can to promote growth, and accelerate development into adulthood.”
    Hammond shrugged. That was inevitable. We didn’t want to wait. We have investors to consider.”

    “Of course. But I’m just saying, why stop there? Why not push ahead to make exactly the kind of dinosaur that we’d like to see? One that is more acceptable to visitors, and one that is easier for us to handle? A slower, more docile version for our park?”

    Remarkable is how these topics, which were science fiction when written two decades ago, are still very much up-to-date and even more relevant today than before. Gene modification for patent purposes is a subject that was covered recently. How far can, and perhaps more importantly should, mankind go ?

  • Europe airspace reboot

    After a ban on flying last weeks due to the volcanic eruption in Iceland, the European airspace was slowly rebooting to its old state of activity. This movie shows the movement of planes over time and shows how the activity grows.

    Via Infosthetics

  • Connected

    Connected

    This is your life. We concur. Self portrait by Kasey McMahon made of steel, CAT5 and other data cables. Photo by Kevin Rolly. Peculiar image of the week.

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  • Robosaurus eats Cars for Breakfast

    Robosaurus eats Cars for Breakfast

    The Robosaurus is the only airplane eating, fire breathing robot on the planet. Pity the thing is merely build for entertainment purposes. Perhaps this thing could finally solve our traffic congestion problem? No seriously, there is truth in pop-culture.

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  • Wild bikes

    Wild bikes

    Bikes seem to be a new life form. They are everywhere in the city. On the street, in bike parking, but also just as plentiful on the bottom of channels, on top of street lanterns or in the tiniest alleys. Somehow they find their way into every nook and cranny of this urban environment. Many of them do not seem to have an owner, and those who have get stolen so regularly that many people stop caring. They buy a stolen one of their own or just find one somewhere.

    I observe and experience a trend taking shape in which bikes become an independent system that no one really has control over or responsibility for. Will bikes at some point detach completely from ownership and just hang around the city, letting us people ride their backs as long we pay a small yearly contribution?

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  • Cultivating the Money-verse

    Cultivating the Money-verse

    Alright, we were mistaken. Money isn’t virtual after all.  A recent TV commercial of a Greek bank shed light on the issue. Your money lives, is anthropomorphic and inhabits an earth-like world. And if you trust this particular bank’s services, your money’s environment will be turned into a ‘green’, sustainable and safe paradise, and the money will mate thoughtfully and reproduce optimally thus creating a happy family. Eventually, all this process will fill you with pride as a new age farmer of your personal money-verse.

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  • Razorius Gilletus – On the Origin of a Next Species

    Razorius Gilletus – On the Origin of a Next Species

    Is the evolution of the single bladed razor into an exorbitant five–bladed vibrating gizmo the outcome of human needs, or is there another force in play? Say hello to Razorius Gillettus, one of the new species emerging from our technoeconomic ecology. Proof that evolution should be understood as a universal principle rather than a DNA-specific process. Yet if this is the case, how can we become responsible stewards of these new, non-genetic forms of life?

    By KOERT VAN MENSVOORT

    My first razor I got when I was fifteen. It consisted of two blades on a simple metal stick and I remember it gave me a really close and comfortable shave. In the twenty years that have passed since my first shave, I’ve used nine different models of razors. This morning I shaved myself with the Gillette Fusion Power Phantom, a rather heavy, yet ergonomically designed battery-powered razor that looks like a bit like vacuum cleaner and has five vibrating blades with an aloe strip for moisture. So what happened? A story about design, technology, market and evolution.

    First, a personal disclaimer (in case you were wondering): Yes, I agree shaving technology was already sufficiently developed when I got my first razor twenty years ago. Actually already in 1975, shortly after the Gillette Trac II razor – the first two-bladed men’s razor – was advertised, its excessive design was parodied on the US Television show Saturday Night Live. The creators of the satirical television program played on the notion of a two bladed razor as a sign of the emerging consumption culture and made a fake commercial parody for a fictitious razor with the ridiculous amount of three (!) blades, emphasizing the consumer is gullible enough to believe and buy everything seen on TV. Of course, the comedians of Saturday Night Live could not know a three-bladed razors would become a reality on the consumer market in the late 1990′s. Let alone that they could have anticipated I would shave myself with a five bladed razor this very morning. Welcome in the twenty-first century folks: No we don’t travel in spaceships… but we do have five bladed razors!

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  • Miniature Sensor Network for the Office

    Miniature Sensor Network for the Office

    “Have you seen my stapler? No, but just look it up on Google home office maps.”

    CSIRO Researchers have developed miniature sensors that track lab equipment, coffee mugs and staplers in the office.

    The sensors are called Fleck Nano and were build on CSIRO’s existing Fleck technology that is being commercially produced for monitoring cows on farms.

    Fleck sensors collect data like location and temperature. They form an ad-hoc mesh network, and communicate with static nodes and each other via radio waves.

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  • What does Technology want?

    Technologist, environmentalist and nextnature thinker avant la lettre Kevin Kelly, muses on what technology means in our lives – from its impact at the personal level to its place in the cosmos as an evolutionary force. Seen at TEDxAmsterdam 2009.

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  • frog_pond

    Monitoring your computer’s activity like a frog pond

    Multi-touch designer and developer Richard Monson-Haefel considers sound as an important part of our user interfaces. As an application of “Calm Technology” which revolves around giving feedback about the running state of a system in the ‘periphery’ of our consciousness – a concept introduced by ubiquitous computing pioneers Mark Weiser and John Seely Brown – he proposes to attach a sound to every process running on your computer: an unique croak, chirp or trill – the sounds of frogs, crickets, and cicadas of a small pond at dusk. Resulting in an ambient environmental murmur people should be able to interpret.

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