Possession 0.9 (Beta) – Ownership in open source

Firstly, let me briefly apologise for the abhorrent lack of activity on MUW over the past three months. Blogging is time-consuming, and sometimes life is too, and unfortunately the latter has been the case of late. Expect posting to get back to normal over the coming weeks; no posts doesn’t mean no ideas and there is a colossal backlog of brainwaves. Watch this space!

An image of a communications tower behind a fence.
Information wants to be free?

Possession is nine-tenths of the law. In the past wars have been fought and families split over possession and the idea of ownership. However, this tenuous law is dependent on the idea that there is some value in ownership – the economic worth of property guides the idea that possession is valuable. People understand that the boundaries that surround owned areas and objects are respected by a sense of possession that we take for granted. In cyberspace, ownership is more ambiguous as spaces are owned or maintained in virtual areas that are often maintained for free. So how does possession work in a community with spaces and services provided free of charge?

In the late 1700s and 1800s the frontier lines were pushed west in the United States. Frederick Jackson Turner famously documented the scramble. Continue reading “Possession 0.9 (Beta) – Ownership in open source”

Once Upon A Click – Hypertext and new ways of reading

IMPORTANT: this post is made like a game, assuming complete interactivity. In order to read properly please use the links (highlighted in orange). Or you could just read straight through and become very confused…enjoy!

Kaleidoscopic image of paths

Continue reading “Once Upon A Click – Hypertext and new ways of reading”

Inter Active – Zombies in the machine

inter |inˈtər| verb ( -terred , -terring ) [ trans. ] (usu. be interred)
place (a corpse) in a grave or tomb, typically with funeral rites
active |ˈaktiv| adjective
(of a person) engaging or ready to engage in physically energetic pursuits

(The above definitions are from the Oxford English Dictionary)

Image of a person taking a photo of the Mona Lisa on an iPad, from Broadsheet.ie. Click for link.
Image courtesy of broadsheet.ie, click for link.

A touch of housekeeping again. Just wanted to say a very quick congratulations to Built Dublin, winners of the Best Arts/Culture blog at the 2012 Blog Awards Ireland. Moon Under Water picked up a beautiful certificate for the blog’s listing as a finalist, and I enjoyed a terrific night at the awards ceremony. A new page of recommended blogs is under development – watch this space.

The term ‘interactive’ has become synonymous with technology that allows for user engagement. This includes video games, websites, mobile phone applications and other digitally-based media. However, it is becoming increasingly clear that “interactivity” is perhaps more than it seems (see the definition above), that it is the undead media-manipulated masses of dancing a morose merengue.

Consider for a moment the interactivity of the daily commute. Most people who will be reading this will have used trains, trams, subways and buses as modes of transport in recent times. However, what the average reader may not have noticed is the growing tendency for the undead to meander among them on a daily basis. Every morning coffee-deprived, bleary-eyed commuters board their local public transport contraptions, staring down into their hands at hidden devices that keep them pacified. Continue reading “Inter Active – Zombies in the machine”

Boogie Monsters – Ghosts of the 70s in the digital age

Installation shot from Kraftwerk's 2012 music and art installation at MoMA PS1, New York
Installation shot of Kraftwerk’s 2012 installation at MoMA PS1. Forty years on Kraftwork retain the design motifs that place the band both in the past and in the future.

It is difficult to deny that Kraftwerk have been an astoundingly influential band since their formation in 1970. Revolutionary at the time, the German quartet incorporated an almost entirely synthesised music in an attempt to foreground the oncoming new media phase. But one of the more interesting quirks about Kraftwerk is not necessarily their music itself, but the idea of time that surrounds their music. With its industrial, drum-machine-driven synth and robotic sound, the music was designed to be “music of the future” in the 70s. However, it has since dated due to the technology that they employed in making it, and has instead placed them irrevocably at a certain point in the past. They are a band that lack a temporal definition, both part of the past and part of the future.

The digital age is popularly seen as an age of infinite information. It is described using terms like “interactivity” and “new media”, and is highlighted as an era that allows for the endless access of customised information at the fingertips of every individual user. The result is often a transient relationship between the user and the information, and as a result the idea of time, and our use of time, is becoming topical in current cultural writing.

I recently had a conversation with a friend where we discussed how this overload of information that we are faced with in digital life is becoming impossible to keep up with. He pointed out the growing trend in online browsing to switch from search engines and web-surfing to following “digital curators”. Continue reading “Boogie Monsters – Ghosts of the 70s in the digital age”

Disneyland and Digital Life – What we will leave behind


“I should like to wake up in a hundred years’ time and to have just a peep out of one eye at what is happening in science.” – protagonist Nicolai Stepanovich in Anton Chekhov’s A Dreary Story

I‘d like to just start with a little piece of housekeeping. I was delighted to learn this weekend that Moon Under Water is a finalist in the Best Arts / Culture category at the Blog Awards Ireland. Thank you to all readers and to the judges of the awards – I will notify through here and through the blog’s social media pages of the final results after the awards ceremony on October 13th. Please click here for a link to all finalists in all categories, and give all the other blogs a look over – there is some terrific stuff in there.

I recently read an article in Art Forum magazine online entitled Digital Divide by Claire Bishop. The in-depth piece deals with the shortcomings of the age of the digital within the world of contemporary art. With sound philosophical and art historical reasoning throughout, the conclusion that Bishop arrives at is rather interesting as it suggests a dichotomy of futures for the world of visual art. Echoing the 1980s doomsday art critics, the piece argues that either the digital age will herald a new dawn in the way art is viewed and produced, or it could mean the end of art altogether.

Something puzzling about the digital age that I often muse over is what trace will be left behind for future historians to mull over. Today our historical record is mostly taken from the artefacts, art, tools and architecture of past generations. It is the little grains of past civilisations that give us some form of understanding of their culture or group identities, as well as their level of technological advancement. Continue reading “Disneyland and Digital Life – What we will leave behind”

Believing With Blinkers On – How seemingly open minds can be closed

“The man who never alters his opinion is like standing water, and breeds reptiles of the mind.” – William Blake

Every living person finds something to believe in. The unique, individual way in which we believe is crucial to our individualism, and to our culture in general. Two Catholics may have two very differing opinions on the meaning of a passage from the New Testament. In the same way, two scientists may conceive two completely separate ideas from a single scientific theory.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qL9BjKH5MSY]

After watching the Adam Curtis documentary All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace Continue reading “Believing With Blinkers On – How seemingly open minds can be closed”

Spking fnetics: Bil Brysn’s “Muthr Tung” & txt spk :-o

Image courtesy of Penguin Books, click for link

In 1990, Bill Bryson’s comprehensive book about the history of the English language, Mother Tongue was published. In it, Bryson analyses the origins and evolutions of the English language from its conception to the date of publication of the book. Throughout the book, he places emphasis on the mixed etymological origins of many words and phrases.

Bryson notes various spelling anomalies in the English language. Some include the use of gh as an f sound, for example in enough, or the use of silent letters, such as the s in aisle. Much of the reason for many of the obscure spellings occur due to archaic spellings from  mixed cultural origins, for example debt‘s silent b, with origins in the Latin word debitum, or the French origins of the spelling of debonnaire. Continue reading “Spking fnetics: Bil Brysn’s “Muthr Tung” & txt spk :-o”