Steve Jobs, former Apple CEO, passed away on Wednesday October 5th after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. Technology conceived from his vision has changed the world dramatically over the past 14 years. He kissed the snake; we eat the fruit. The Next Nature garden has entered a new era.
Associate professor Anne Trubek argues that handwriting will soon be history, because writing words by hand is a technology that’s just too slow for our times, and our minds. A copy-paste summary from her essay:
“Handwriting has been around for just 6,000 of humanity’s some 200,000 years. Its effects have been enormous, of course: It alters the brain, changes with civilizations, cultures and factions, and plays a role in religious and political battles.”
“Most of us know, but often forget, that handwriting is not natural. We are not born to do it. There is no genetic basis for writing. Writing is not like seeing or talking, which are innate. Writing must be taught.”
Looking for a new kitchen counter-top, but can’t decide between a natural or an artificial material? Soon you might be getting both.
Designer Hironori Yoshida is pioneering hybrids of wood and plastic – to be used in interior, furniture and product design. His ‘woodplastic’ is created by scanning & laser-cutting the grain patterns in a piece of wood to subsequently replace the gaps with a polyester resin. The result is a marriage of the made & the born.
Blue is a beautiful color, but its sound is simply irresistible. It is the song of the unhappy and the depressed. It is a sound that touches people. It was also the sound of a little songbird, the Serinus Canaria Domestica, a sound that so moved me, I was led on a voyage of discovery into the world of birdsong. The Serinus Canaria Domestica is the man-made descendant of the Wild Canary, a finch originally from the Canary Islands, which nowadays exists in many different breeds. This essay deals with the cultivation of the song-bred canary and imagines how its story might lend inspiration to the sound design of electric cars.
While hiking in Trinidad, artist Nina Katchadourian was struck by the similarity of bird calls to car alarms. One inspires us to poetry, the other makes us groan and pull the pillow over our ears at night, but they’re both forms of auditory pollution.
Back in New York, Katchadourian fitted a ‘flock’ of three cars with recorded bird calls to mimic to the six-tone siren that echoes constantly through the city. Far from sounding like a bucolic forest, a ‘natural’ car alarm is just as rattling and irritating as the real thing. Not only is real nature not green, it’s downright annoying.
Remember the gold farmers in China who put in eye-straining hours to earn virtual money in World of Warcraft? Gold farming has now made the leap to the country’s corrupt penal system. Along with back-breaking physical labor and manufacturing work in Chinese labour camps, some prisoners are forced to play massively multiplayer online games to accrue in-game credits. Inmates work in 12 hour shifts, and are beaten or tortured if they fall behind their quotas for the day. The virtual ‘gold’ is sold to players around the world eager to move ahead in the game. After games became jobs, it was inevitable that games would also become punishment.
A while ago I wrote a post about birds which tried to adapt to the city by singing louder and in different tones than before.
Now it seems the birds have taken this adaptation to the next level and started tweeting, in the digital variant. While they already lend their image and name to this popular service, they could never use it until the people of the Latvian weekly magazine “Ir” made Birds on Twitter.
A keyboard made of fat allows the birds to tweet while they eat. Check out the poetry of the birds @hungry_birds.
Unfortunately we will have to wait until November before they start tweeting again, as spring is setting in, which means there is much more to do than tweeting all day long.
For most of us, obtaining food is easy. We go to the grocery store, where fruits are labeled and meats arranged by species. We go to a restaurant, sit, and wait for our food to be delivered to us. The disparities between the modern, industrialized food system and the savannah ecosystem of our ancestors is stunning – and responsible, of course, for ‘new’ diseases like obesity and diabetes. Yet modern agricultural technology is also responsible for the rise of a new tribe of hunter-gathers: Dumpster divers.
‘Freegans’ operate according to notions of seasonality and safety for food that have long since become non-issues for most of the developed world. Like foraging groups, their food is temporally bound. Fruiting trees and moving herds are replaced with bakeries’ closing times and the days when the corner store dumps its lettuce.
Shopping at the store is low-stress, but for dumpster divers, gathering dinner can be fraught with peril. There might not be lions lurking around the garbage bins, but urban foragers must learn to avoid angry store owners and suspicious cops. Real peril lies not just in spoiled food, but in injuries from actually scrambling into the dumpster. No one wants a puncture wound with their lunch.
Dumpster diving re-privileges ancient senses. Because the grocery store is a sterile zone, the eye has become the primary organ of selection. The eye perceives brands. It picks our the most vibrantly red tomato. For dumpster divers, the nose and fingers are once again put into service as vital organs of the food gathering experience, sniffing to see which meats are past date, prodding apples to find the rotten ones.
The industrialized food system divorces us from nature, but for modern foragers, it brings them closer to the tribe.