Panel at CAA: Artist as Startup


I’m chairing a panel at CAA in Los Angeles, with some great participants.

Artist as Startup: Web Application as Cultural Intervention
Friday, February 27, 2:30 PM–5:00 PM
Concourse Meeting Room 402AB, Level 2, Los Angeles Convention Center
Chair: Michael Mandiberg, College of Staten Island, City University of New York Anti-Social Networking
Angie Waller, Parsons the New School for Design

Mechanical Olympics
xtine burrough, California State University, Fullerton

Beyond Friend Collecting and the Gossip Mill: Social Networking for Change
Brooke Singer, Purchase College, State University of New York Why Reinvent the Wheel When One Gear Can Make the Whole System Run Backward
Steve Lambert, Eyebeam Center for Art and Technology

Ping Report, February 19, 2009

I have a bad habit of not blogging little things. Like when I get blogged. It seems so recursive. But at the same time, I delish them, and then they just stay there.

So in an effort to change that practice, I am instituting a Ping Report, which I will do as needed, but at least once a month. Just links, and maybe some pull quotes from blogs and exhibitions.

To start out, here is a bunch of blog coverage of the Bright Bike, Digital Foundations, and my new laser cut work:

Bright Bike:

Again on MAKE blog
And Reblogged on Rolling Resistance.
And Treehugger
And Daily DIY
And Bike Commuters
And Scooter Scoop
And Style Crave
Trends Update
Bike Hacks

Digital Foundations

Was featured on BoingBoing, Creative Commons Blog (twice), and on Just Write Click

Burned Books

James Wagner first post, and second post about his visit to see my new work

The DATA BASE piece was featured on the CRAFT zine


Here is some coverage of the Bright Idea Shade on Guanabee and Inhabitat

I don’t know if I posted the coverage of 31 Acts on N_P

And still riles people up. And was front and center at a conference at Berkeley

Some old news: Oil Standard was in OURS at Parsons

And some really old news: My work was included in, a show curated for by Claude Willey and Ryan Griffis:

curated by Ryan Griffis and Claude Willey with a carload of cultural projects focusing on the problems of mobility and energy. Features works by: Brian Collier, Free Soil, Amy Balkin/Kim Stringfellow/Tim Halbur/Greenaction/Pond, kanarinka, Michael Mandiberg, Laurie Palmer, Platform, Josephine Starrs/Leon Cmielewski.


FLOSS Book Sprint: Digital Foundations from Michael Mandiberg on Vimeo.


Last weekend was the epic Digital Foundations–>FLOSS Book Sprint, led by Adam Hyde of and Eyebeam Senior Fellow Michael Mandiberg. Around 25 volunteers convened at Eyebeam over the course of 3 days to translate Digital Foundations from Adobe to FLOSS (Free Libre Open Sources Software) applications, making good on the promise of Digital Foundations’ Creative Commons license.

Adam Hyde, founder of, guided what he has termed the “Book Sprint” where both experts and novices collaborate with the aim of writing an entire book in a fixed period of time. The process was exciting, exhausting, an effective. We are proud to say that the new translation of Digital Foundations and Intro to Media Design with FLOSS is currently available on the site, and will be in print shortly. One more step closer to easing the monopolizing power of proprietary software companies.

FLOSS Digital Foundations Book Sprint

FLOSS Book Sprint: Digital Foundations from Michael Mandiberg on Vimeo.

FLOSS Digital Foundations Live!

FLOSS Digital Foundations

For three days in February 2009 Adam Hyde and the members of the collective convened at Eyebeam in NYC to translated xtine burrough and Michael Mandiberg’s new Creative Commons textbook Digital Foundations from Adobe software to FLOSS software

Video and print version coming soon

the future is not what it used to be

the future is not what it used to be


February 28 – April 4, 2009, Postmasters Gallery

“the future is not what is used to be”

Opening: saturday, february 28th 6-8 pm

“the future is not what is used to be” brings together artists engaged in the Internet shaped culture. Through drawings, photographs, sculpture, video, and online projects they explore social interaction in a networked world, reflection in the times of speed, new communication tools and smart technologies affecting cultural and sociopolitical reality, sustainable strategies for contemporary life, connectivity and dis-connect, digital/analog divide, instantaneity and obsolescence, the web as the largest image depository ever, and new forms of appropriation, means of production, and modes of political engagement.

What we do today shapes our tomorrows.

Kevin Bewertsdorf conducts Google searches for images that he then orders printed onto variety of objects employing online services like These remotely made “Promotional Objects” transcend banality of its origins as private found imagery: from infinite web space onto a limited product, the unwitting subjects are made physical once again, staring at you across time and space.

Charles Broskoski’s “Films” reverse the culture of image overload. On his site, six well known films (Pulp Fiction, Terminator 2 and When Harry Met Sally among them) play continuously on a fixed daily schedule. There is a catch: the screen is black save only for the subtitles of the dialog; an absurd comfort of knowing that the movies are always there to serve as a catalyst for visual memory.

Marc Horowitz found an analog way to connect with his fellow twitterers: “for the next 100 people that add me on twitter ( ) I’ll send you a small drawing.” The 100 drawings on view will be mailed out at the end of the show. In addition every afternoon Horowitz will broadcast “” – a livestream video and chat talkshow with scheduled field trips, interviews, concerts, covert meetings, cooking instruction, comedians, reviews, round tables, celebrity guests, LA artist studio visits, road trips, and more

Kenneth Tin-Kin Hung has been called “the John Heartfield of the digital era” His collages and animations composed entirely of imagery appropriated from the web deliver a biting political satire. New series -“In God We Trust” – presents global and domestic challenges facing the new Obama administration with the savior president cast as different deities (Jesus Christ, Muhammad, Krishna, prophet Abraham, Yoruba Orisha Trickster God Elegua/Eshu, Buddha, and Guadalupe)

Kristin Lucas pays hommage to the ever-replacable technological marvels: maclassic, a 25 years old icon of personal computing, and other nearly forgotten hardware objects are cast in colored wax as beautiful yet perishable candles

Michael Mandiberg’s altered encyclopedias, dictionaries, and newspapers, words incised into them with a laser cutter, highlight the loosing battle of printmedia at a time of rapid online delivery and the never ending newness of information. Everyday a fresh copy of The New York Times with the words “old news” cut onto it will be delivered to the gallery, a stack accumulating over the course of the exhibition.

Eva and Franco Mattes ( inject new synthetic life into art long gone. Their avatars in a virtual world Second Life re-enact seminal performance works from the seventies. Gilbert and George’s “The Singing Sculpture” and Marina Abramovic and Ulay’s “Imponderabilia” are staged for a very different audience.

Joe McKay finds the ghosts of Google Street View van and Mapjack car. His photographs recreate these stealth vehicles from partial reflections in store windows in San Francisco.

JooYoun Paek’s inflatable objects are smart appliances for urban survival. A bicycle cover made from garbage bags provides inconspicuous “blend-in” protection for a city cyclist, and a self-sustainable chair inflated by walking offers its user an independence from the urban infrastructure.

Sharing and communal nature and of online engagement has lead to formation of surfing clubs: group blogging sites with fast-paced conceptual exchange based on treatment and analysis of online material. Marcin Ramocki & Paul Slocum (with Spiritsurfers) will present “Where is it?,” a short video based on the blog posts of Spiritsurfers.

*The title of this show is a quote from Paul Valery

Postmasters Gallery located at 459 west 19th Street between 9 and 10 Avenues is open Tuesday through Saturday 11 – 6 pm.

Brief Questions from Tiffany Holmes

Tiffany Holmes asked me some questions recently about The Real Costs, in preparation to write about it in her dissertation.

How many website hits to date for Real Costs?

How many downloads of the software (.xpi)?

To be honest I hate counting hits and downloads. It inevitably reminds me of popularity contests and other things that are obsessive and psychologically dangerous.

That said i do think that these things are somewhat useful. In particular I am interested in tracking the number of times it has been bookmarked on delicious, though I think that my digg score is almost irrelevant because of the pure geekery that takes place on digg. I am a geek but my work is often too theoretical. I have been trying to make my new work more diggable so-to-speak.

If you know, how “global” is Real Costs? IE, do you know how many “countries” are represented in the panoply of hits you get on the site?

Again, I’m not so focused on hits, but I can say that the airplane sites that the script works on are truly global. Delta, Air France, El Al.

Or at least those were some of the sites that it worked on most recently. It is a constant struggle to keep my code current with the code of all of those airplane websites. Everytime they change their HTML/CSS I have to correct my code to reflect this

The scientist you worked with (P. Timon McPhearson Ph.D.), what was his role in the project?

Timon made sure my science was ad accurate as itcould be. He guided me to key information resources like WRi. And he researched detailed information on the amount of carbon a tree really offsets one of his colleagues who is a carbon sequestratuon researcher.

Where are you with the next version? Are other projects pressing, or are you still pretty committed to this project? Just curious, not going to write about this…..

I made a google mashup that calculates the cost of travel on dollars and carbon based on the car and the price of gas. I have been waiting to launch it.

Any other worthy factoids?

While air travel accounts for 2% of world carbon production, recent estimates put worldwide computer use at an equal 2%

New Stencilano, version 0.4.2

Laser Letters: heal

We made some serious improvements to Stencilano a month or so ago, but haven’t had the time to announce anything. Also working on some new lasering fonts, but more on that when there is something to show.


Green Marketing in Wikipedia

Click the image for full res version

The Green Marketing page on Wikipedia. Objectively chronicling the pursuit of the various marketing associations to make a greenback of the green movement(s).

Into this page on Green Marketing, some wikipedian has inserted images of Green Markets. AKA Farmers Markets. A wonderful, willful misunderstanding of a pun.

I first noticed this a year ago, and the images are still up there. How wonderful.

On Collaboration

I am going through my things tagged “to blog” and this one seems timely. In June of 2008 the CRUMB list was dedicated to a discussion of collaboration. I wrote a long post in response to a post by Steve Lambert, in which he argued that there were multiple forms of collaboration: Master and Apprentice; Collaboration with leadership roles; Totally balanced collaboration (which he admits probably doesn’t ever really exist. He also points out that

The thing is, I don’t think there has to be openness to the outside world. Collaboration ≠ openness. There’s probably people working collaboratively on some weapon at Lockheed Martin or Lawrence Livermore right now that is classified and worked on in secret. The spouses of the engineers have no idea what they do at work. But there are probably great collaborations happening behind closed doors protected by armed checkpoints.

As I get ready for the FLOSSify 1: Digital Foundations event at Eyebeam next weekend, I’m thinking a lot about collaboration, structuring participation, authorship and credit, and team building. So I think it is relevant to revisit some of the things I wrote in my CRUMB post

So here it is, in its entirety, balanced hierarchy for better and faster work:

I am going to talk about a couple of things. One of which is a response to Steve’s post about modes of collaboration. But ultimately the question I think I am answering is “Why Openness?” and also “Why Collaborate?” And my answer is “Faster and Better.”

I am working on a number of projects, almost all of involve working with other people. I work with other people because i have found it is the best way to get the most things done. The best projects happen the fastest when you work with other people. That sounds kind of puerile, but I am quite serious.

The way I work with other people ranges accross the spectrum of working styles Steve has described. I want to point out that the Master and Apprentice, Collaboration with Leadership Roles, and Totally Balanced Collaboration are part of a continuum of collaboration ranging across differing levels of *hierarchy*.

I’m going to go out on a limb here, and say that Hierarchy & Leadership *is* ultimately necessary when people are working together in a significant scale (more than two or three). Even the Park Slope Food Coop, which is my personal paradigm of a successful communal and collaborative organization, has four levels of hierarchy (shift worker, squad leader, coordinator, general coordinator). I see a number of large scale open source projects run out of the OpenLab, and ultimately it comes down to one or two project leaders, who have the vision, the mad skillz, and the enormous time commitment to *organize* the other collaborators. These roles *can* shift over time. This is true for software work and RL work.

I want to describe one of the group-work models I use: I work with two to four student-assistants who are definitely apprenticing under me; they know exactly why they are working with me: they learn TONS and get to contribute to real projects in significant ways. Role-wise I am the creative/technical director who works out ideas with them, and then they are given wide latitude to execute. They return to me with drafts, we discuss, they make revisions. It is often the first time they have been given responsibility for such a large creative project, and they rise to the occasion. Put another way: they have the passwords to all of my FTP accounts. Trust is an important part of collaboration. To suggest that this is a non-hierarchical collaboration would be false, but to suggest that this is not a collaboration would also be false. We are constantly creating things through working together that neither one of us would come up with alone. So Steve, I am going going call it collaboration, and not just b/c I want to feel better about myself esteem (*kisses*)(LOL)

I have also many times attempted to do the perfect-collaboration-where-everyone-has-the-same-responsibility-and-does-the-same-work-and-gets-the-same-credit. _it_doesn’t_work_. someone always flakes out. someone one’s skills are always more labor intensive, or more needed in each project. someone is always too bossy or controlling. nothing is perfect. utopia is the land that does not exist. that is just the way it goes.

One of my favorite instances of a utopian attempt to do this was made by a feminist art collective I knew (and loved) in grad school: when they edited video all three to four of them would sit in the edit lab and edit the video together. sometimes someone on the keyboard, and a different person on the mouse. beautifully poetic utopian attempt to create perfect collaborative balance. two problems: at the time one of them was much better at the software than the others, and ended up doing most of the work (despite the others’ presence at the computer). AND it was phenomenally inefficient: to my knowledge most of their incredible video is still unedited.

Which brings me to my most successful collaboration to date, and also brings me back around to this idea of “openness” and why I work with others to do better work faster. xtine burrough ( and I are writing a design textbook called “Digital Foundations: An Intro to Media Design”. It will be published by AIGA Design Press late this Fall, and already up online here (yikes!):,3110,0321555988,00.html The book integrates the visual principles of the Bauhaus Basic Course into Adobe design software training. In my life as a professor of media art I do a lot of hands on lab based teaching, where I have to teach students how to use the tools so that they can express their ideas. There are no good textbooks to do this with — they are all corporate training manuals without any visual principles or historical perspective, but with a mind-numbing amount of bad design examples (drop shadows and outer-glow anyone?).

So xtine and I decided to write the one *we* and our peers wanted to use.

Here is where openness and the principles of creative commons come to make it happen better and faster. Many of these things are conventional for a open source project, but not for a book or design project:

1. We are using only public domain and creative commons licensed images in our examples. We did a fair amount of research, and realized that our image costs would be larger than the entire budget for our book ( So we turned to the public domain and creative commons for our examples:

2. We have secured the first Creative Commons license from Peachpit/Pearson. (CC+, BY-NC-SA) We don’t actually have the contract signed yet (LOL) but we do have the go-ahead. This is huge. Not just as a symbolic marker of the acceptance of ‘openness’ in the proprietary media world, but b/c of what it allows us to do. Remember: Better and Faster

(nb: we did get it in writing, and it is on the “copyright page” of the book)

3. What we can do with CC // Better and Faster: Though the book is only half written(!) we are already planning with Adam Hyde of FLOSS Manuals ( to translate the book into Open Source. “Translate into Open Source?” you ask…? Yes, translate the core exercises from Photoshop to GIMP, from Illustrator to InkScape, etc. And then, we’ll translate those translations into the growing set of languages that FLOSS Manuals are working in. Imagine: Josef Alber’s color exercises as a means of explaining how to use the color picker in InkScape… in Farsi. This is openness because it is Better and Faster.

4. In fact we have an entire chapter (#2) which talks about Creative Commons, Fair Use, and openness. Find another intro textbook that does that!

5. We have been blogging the writing of the book ( to share our research and process. Comments become a key component of judging feedback. Expect a post on “How to get a CC license from your publisher” We share our findings, and others have provided immediate feedback.

6. We are writing the book on a WIki ( so that we can write collaboratively and incorporate feedback directly. This has already had direct positive results.

So, to recap, for me it is about Better and Faster. Openness is a faster route to better work. There are lots of ways of doing it, but I do think that as much as they pretend pure openness, successful OS projects all have hierarchy.

Faster and Better,