CafePress is an online retailer that produces and dispatches a large variety of user-customized products on demand. Opening and operating a basic CafePress shop is free. After creating a shop, you can proceed to select products and upload files, such as images to print on t-shirts, bags, bumper stickers and more. This can be graphics, catchy quotes, etc. The cool thing about CafePress is that you don’t have to worry about production, distribution and storage.
CafePress also has an affiliate program like Amazon. When someone you refer makes a purchase, you can earn up to 20% of product sales.

In my presentation about Guy Debord’s article Theory of the Dérive I would like to argue that the current trend of Urban Exploring is based on the dérive, but that it differs from it on the following levels:

  1. The accent lies on normally inaccessible place whereas the dérive is usually based on accessible places.
  2. The accent on normally inaccessible places has the consequence of it often becoming an illegal practice. The dérive is in that sense quite innocent.
  3. In Urban Exploring there is a big emphasis on recording the urban exploration by filming or photographing it.

My presentation on Marshall McLuhan’s The Galaxy Reconfigured from his 1962 book The Gutenberg Galaxy. As an introduction, here is a quote from a great interview with him from Playboy Magazine in 1969. The whole interview can be found here:

You seem to be contending that practically every aspect of modern life is a direct consequence of Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press.

MCLUHAN: Every aspect of Western mechanical culture was shaped by print technology, but the modern age is the age of the electric media, which forge environments and cultures antithetical to the mechanical consumer society derived from print. Print tore man out of his traditional cultural matrix while showing him how to pile individual upon individual into a massive agglomeration of national and industrial power, and the typographic trance of the West has endured until today, when the electronic media are at last demesmerizing us. The Gutenberg Galaxy is being eclipsed by the constellation of Marconi.

Download The Galaxy Reconfigured


Julian Maire - Digit Julian Maire - Digit

In the foyer of the Balie, Julien Maire performed his live piece “Digit”; the writer sits at his desk with a glass of wine and a pile of paper. There are no writing tools, no pen, no typewriter, no computer. The writer uses only his hands. While stroking his paper gently, words appear out of nowhere, leaving the spectator surprised, lost and somewhat disturbed.

The texts Julien composes make me think of a mix between Dada, Concrete Poetry and a new form of écriture automatique. As a spectator I don’t know if what he is writing has any meaning, but I can see him constructing cubes, drawing twirling sentences and destroying single words. It is a beautiful puzzling sight.

On his website, Julien Maire describes his relation with Burroughs’ cut up method and his concept of the soft machine. Julien refers to his own piece as soft cinema. I wonder if there is any connection to the concept of soft cinema Lev Manovich developed.


This Thursday Anne Helmond will be giving a lecture on ‘The Widgetized Self‘ a term coined by Nancy Baym. Blogs are increasingly connected to search engines such as Google and Technorati through the blog software. This leads to practices that focus on identity building through the engines. What does the increasing popularity of widgets mean for the identity of the blog and the blogger? What role do blog software and blog templates play in identity construction?

The lecture is part of the Mediamatic Beauty Parlour lecture series which deals with self presentation on the net.

I will present our MacBook Reading Club. Digital camera technology advanced ego-photography and ways for self presentation. The web cam advanced camera technology as medium of selfpresentation further. The camera is always directed at the self. The image where the face is shot from a slightly upper angle is known as the “Youtube angle” or “MySpace angle”. With the built-in cam and Photobooth software, the first thing one does when installing a new mac is taking a snapshot of the self. MacBook Reading Club takes advantage of Photobooth and the build-in camera. MacBook Reading Club is a new phenomenon in ego-photography, and introduces the “MacBook Reading Club angle”.

Reading together

Admission is free and the presentations will be in English. Hope to see you there!

General information:

Place: Mediamatic, Amsterdam
Date: Thursday the 27th of March
Time: 18:00 hours
Language: English

More info on the Mediamatic page.

Amsterdam, May 2008

By Michael Stevenson, Rosa Menkman, Jasper Moes, Erinc Salor and Esther Weltevrede (MA mediastudies, University of Amsterdam) with Geert Lovink

Bruce Sterling’s Dead Media Project, now expired, was on to something. In the rush to discover and define the new, there is never patience for what is being replaced. A pet project still sporadically referenced on Sterling’s blog, the idea was to document the ‘spiritual ancestors’ of today’s media.

It’s telling, though, that the Webby version of media archeology takes paleontology as its reference point. Sterling and co. stood ready with shovel in hand to deal with the ‘centralized, dinosaurian one-to-many media that roared and trampled through the 20th century’. The basic conviction underlying the new media frenzy around Virtual Reality and Cyberspace (and now Web 2.0) – one of violent dislocation from Before, on to an unknowable After – remained intact. Pre-history means no history.

If there is room for lament today, perhaps attention should turn to the new media entrepreneur, always gearing up for another revolution. The weight of the burst lingers in the knowing Youtube favorite, Here Comes Another Bubble, and in the rants of Andrew Keen. But are the media theorists any better off? Continually pressed to explain the ‘new’ in new media – something the entrepreneurs do well enough on their own – it is hard to avoid radical stalemate. Inherent in the term new media is a contradiction: the new is registered in the future tense – new media are always what will happen, whether it is replacing ‘mainstream media’ or each other – but will also one day be old, obsolete. New media theories easily suffer from the same flaws as their object of study, outdated while simultaneously framed in the future. The solution is not to avoid Google, blogs or whatever comes next, but to reconsider the role of media theory when its object of study is always on the verge of another transformation.

Coordinates include media archeology and mass psychology, as outlined below. Things to avoid are classical historicism and the cult of the new. The aim is to investigate the foundation of new media without recycling ordinary chronologies. In the age of cross media it is no longer useful to know that radio came before film and television before photography. This is the problem of the media archeology approach. Whereas knowledge of ancient (and superior) models and concepts existed, and unlikely futures were sketched, there is a great danger of misusing history to compensate for the all too fluid present.

What critical new media practitioners need is displacement. We do not necessarily need a general Web 2.0 or YouTube theory. In many cases it is too early for that. Nor do we need general philosophy classes that teach Marx, Deleuze and Freud, which are then applied to the object in need of theorization. This is an old school approach with which new media studies have suffered too long. Instead of mechanically utilizing general concepts from the field of theory and implanting them into Web 2.0, games, social networking sites and so on, we propose another method in which theory disrupts and disconnects the constant cry for new approaches.

Uncontemporary Media Theory is the outcome of a tutorial, taught by Geert Lovink. The aim was to bring us out of a comfort zone and force untimely perspectives on the present. It was a Dead Media Theory Project, but different. The alternative offered is a canon that mixes media archeology with sore-thumb themes, putting new media in an old light.


Store. Search. Digg. Increased awareness of the technological conditions for archiving comes at a time when these over-determine our capacity to remember. What we can still rescue, Friedrich Kittler writes, are stories of what has become. From McLuhan we know that a new technology inscribes itself in those that came before it. Kittler adds to this a sense of what is at stake: media dominate, and make their presence felt, lest they fall to the wayside. Archeology is not so much concerned with history as it is with the ‘site’, a place of occupation and the ‘where’ of traces and past events. Archeology focuses on the mess of media, critiquing linear histories while examining technical conditions governing what is sayable, knowable.

No war without representation. This is the key lesson of the development of media in the 20th century and today. Visual technologies, from searchlights to aerial photography, were deployed to construct and ultimately capture the enemy. Illusion, misinformation and simulation feature prominently in what Paul Virilio calls the logistics of perception, and in the “the deadly harmony that always establishes itself between the functions of eye and weapon” (Virilio, 1984: 69). War remains embedded in new media, whether glaringly – as in the recruitment game America’s Army – or under the surface, as with the tracking and tracing technologies that make up locative media. Today’s networked communications were brandished during the Cold War (Edwards, 1996) and its fallout (Turner, 2006). Genealogies of new media may also take their cue from studies of war sciences (Galison,1994; Hayles, 1999). The liberating potential of new technologies is well-known, their shady pasts less so. How can we learn from these and forge alternative understandings of the present?

Against theories of technological dissemination we could place theories of mass accumulation. New media are still defined in opposition to mass media, both in terms of technical flexibility (speed) and the meanings attributed to this (ideology). The crucial project for new media is to rid itself of the old, but attempts to imagine new forms of the mass – networks and mobs – have only led back to an uncomfortable maxim: the repressed always reboots. It’s hard to move on. One problem, dealt with by Canetti and later Marshall McLuhan, is to see media not just as channels for information but more importantly as substitutes for crowd sensations – differently translated functions of touch, release, seize and incorporate. What can a crowd perspective tell us about the desire to break with the old, about the ongoing mass production of ‘newness’?

Course Description

The course that produced this text, along with a few earlier posts, centers on three core works on media, mass psychology and war. Crowds and Power (1960) is Elias Canetti’s magnum opus, a study of the human condition from the perspective of crowd behavior. For Canetti, the fundamental drive guiding human behavior is to become more, while surviving all the others. In Male Fantasies (1987-1989 [1977- 1978]) Klaus Theweleit draws on Canetti and post-Freudian psychoanalysis to understand how collective trauma, gender relations and a fear of the unruly mass formed essential characteristics of fascism. Theweleit’s former colleague Friedrich Kittler has established the discipline of media archeology. His book Gramophone, Film, Typewriter (1999 [1986]) combines technological histories with contemporaneous reactions by ‘so-called Man’, chronicling the technical severance of acoustics, vision and writing from the body.


Primary Literature

Canetti, Elias. Crowds and Power. New York: Viking Press, 1962.

Kittler, Friedrich. Gramophone, Film, Typewriter. Trans. Geoffrey Winthrop-Young and Michael Wutz. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1999 [1986].

Theweleit, Klaus. Male Fantasies. Volume 1: Women, Floods, Bodies, History. Trans. Stephen Conway et al. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1987 [1977]

Theweleit, Klaus. Male Fantasies Volume 2: Male Bodies: Psychoanalyzing the White Terror. Trans. Erica Carter and Chris Turner. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1989 [1978]

Secondary Literature

Cramer, Florian. Words Made Flesh – Code, Culture, Imagination. Piet Zwart Institute: Rotterdam, 2006. (pdf)

Cramer, Florian. Various Essays and Articles. (link)

Edwards, Paul N. The Closed World: Computers and the Politics of Discourse in Cold War. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1996.

Ernst, Wolfgang. Art of the Archive. Künstler.Archiv – Neue Werke zu historischen Beständen, hg. v. HelenAdkins, Köln (Walter König) 2005, 93-101 (pdf)

Erns, Wolfgang. Various texts. (Medientheorien=>Publikationen Ernst=>Ernst on Media (in English))

Galison, Peter. “Ontology of the Enemy: Norbert Wiener and the Cybernetic Vision,” Critical Inquiry. 21, 1: 228-266.

Hayles, N. Katherine. How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature, and Informatics. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999

Liu, Alan. The Laws of Cool. Chicago, UCP: 2004

Lovink, Geert. Zero Comments: Blogging and Critical Internet Culture. New York: Routledge, 2008.

Reich, Wilhelm. The Mass Psychology of Fascism. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1980.

Sloterdijk, Peter. Sferen. Trans. Hans Driessen. Amsterdam: Boom, 2003 [1998/1999].

Theweleit, Klaus. Buch der Könige. Orpheus und Euridike. Frankfurt: Stroemfeld, 1988.

Turner, Fred. From Counterculture to Cyberculture: Stewart Brand, the Whole Earth Network and the Rise of Digital Utopianism. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006.

Virilio, Paul. War and Cinema: The Logistics of Perception. London: Verso, 1984.

New Network TheoryToday’s final speaker is Florian Cramer of the Piet Zwart Institute, who has a nicely low-key website. Florian’s work deals with text, code and aesthetics – one piece of his is the extended essay, Words Made Flesh: Code, Culture, Imagination, which is a kind of alternative history of code. His presentation here is about Text and Networks.

Florian asks, what is the effect of having the metaphor of the network at the center of new media studies? That is, metaphors can come to act like maps or models, making some lines of inquiry more amenable while closing others off. To answer this, Florian takes us back a little and addresses the relationship between the words network and text. Etymologically, there is little difference, as text is closely aligned with the word ‘web’ (it comes from ‘textus’, basically meaning ‘something woven’).


A youtube clip:

efashion-day @ mediamatic. 17th of april, 2008.

After an introduction on Elfriendo, Leah Buechley gave a presentation on computational textiles or e-textiles. Buechley defines these as handcrafted, personal computers.
She starts with showing the work of Nikki S Lee , an artist who tries to blend in with different subcultures, mainly by wearing their clothing style. After this Buechley shows some random images about fashion. This as an introduction on changing fashion styles over the years. With Leah Buechley, a new style is born.
She shows the listeners her bracelet that lights up when she shakes her arm. And when she puts her hands on the figures of her sweater, it starts to make a beeping sound. This wasn’t really working like it was suppost to be because, ‘her battery was running low’.
When Buechley started experimenting with wearables, not much had been done in this field. The electronics that she used were big and unflexible. They were also hard to attach to fabrics. This is why Buechley came up with the idea of making the e-textile contruction kit. This is a little computer chip with some input and output devices. This made it easier for other people to experiment with wearables. Buechley also posts the descriptions of how she works on her blog. With this she tries to ‘spread the word’. But she found out that her tutorials were to hard for other people to follow. So, after the contruction kit, she invented the Lillypad Arduino. A round piece of fabric with all the electronics in is already. She used the existing Arduino software to make it easier for people to program the application.

Buechley is now teaching young adults in making wearables. She also looks at things beyond the work that the participants make. It is surprising to see that often girls do the workshop and not boys. They also find it really nice to work with electronics, which brings it more out in the open in stead of staying a niche with a bit of a nerdy feel to it.
Buechley concludes her reading with the remark that electrinics and programming should be mixed with the more arty and popular side. This to make it more accessible for all people.

-At the bottom of this post, you can find interesting links which explain the meaning of commonism-
We have received a question from Mieke Gerritsen, who has made a beautiful graphic design with the word “Commonism” on it. She has made this design and wondered if the word “Commonism” is already being used in one way or another.

Well to answer this in a new media kind of way: the best way to find out whether a word already exist is to use the word as a search string in google. When I typed commonism in google, I received 9110 results. The strange thing is, however, that this morning I searched at as well and I received nearly 9500 results, so apparently the search machine has been updated and broken links have been removed?



The Masters of Media are at the New Network Theory Conference – organized by Network Cultures, ASCA and the Media Studies department at the University of Amsterdam (that’s us!).

Geert Lovink introduced the program as an ambitious attempt to reinvent network theory – a post-Castellsian theory, if you will – before Jan Simons gave a brief history of ASCA the Media Studies department. And now we’re off…

We will be trying to cover as much as possible, so check back often.

New Network Theory

New Network TheoryNew Network TheoryNew Network TheoryNew Network TheoryNew Network Theory

View the whole New Network Theory set at Flickr (more to come the next two days).

Wikipedia as band promotion? Maybe, it sure makes your band better searchable on the internet. I added an entry to the Dutch Wikipedia about the band I play in, check out the entry at Wikipedia NL.

Of course Wikipedia is no Myspace in terms of bandpromotion and marketing, but an addition of your band with pure factual information (forget about putting in a ‘we-want-to-play-do-you-have-any-gigs-for-us’) can help people find some background information on what you’ve done in the past.

Besides that I also edited the Dutch entry on Virtual Reality, which is actually far from complete. Just for starters I added an example of virtual reality in fiction: William Gibson’s Neuromancer. What bothered me was the amount of what seems like random information on topics like Virtual Reality, I don’t even know where to begin to clean it up and just tell the plain facts instead of some random thoughts of people on the subject. Just as an example on how it should work, here is a link to the English post on Virtual Reality.

I also made a start with a Dutch Wiki about Cyberspace, the term coined by William Gibson in Neuromancer.

Net Network TheoryNoshir Contractor is the first speaker today, here to present MTML meets Web 2.0: Theorizing social processes in multidimensional networks.

Noshir begins with a story of the social life of (technologically-enhanced) pets. Your smart-tagged dog can meet other dogs and exchange information. When your dog returns home, that information can be downloaded, you can learn about your dogs’ friends, the owners of those dogs, set up dog dates and so on. What is new today, for us even more than for pets, is the extent to which we use technology to find new social networks rather than cementing existing ones. And this creates the need for a multi-theoretical, multi-level approach to understanding social behavior.


Today I went and saw a new opera from the hands of Lars Boom (who also writes for Endemol), Marcel Sijm and Caroline Ansink, conducted by Jussi Jaatinen. Now, I don’t consider myself an opera person, but I was lured to this opera by the promise of extensive use of digital projections. As the picture below shows: I got what I was promised. (more…)

nnt-0207Katy Börner, with her presentation Global Brain Pressures: Towards Scholarly Marketplaces, asks what the relationship is between knowledge and the individual, and knowledge and networks. Over a long enough timeline, one sees increasing specialization, and thus a changing perception of how knowledge is produced.


Browsing through 43 Things is intended to give you inspiration on goals yet to achieve and stimulate you to realize at least one. However some people will feel down and helpless, they are reminded of their infinite debts, their broken dreams and a life without prevailed aspiration. I don’t belong to the latter group. I was pleasantly surprised how easy it is to set 43 aims in my life, there is yet so much to be done. Most of the forty three things I want to do are a little over the top, things like winning an Oscar or being on the cover of Time Magazine seem only able to be attained when I set my priority accordingly and lower my attention on 42 other dreams. I recon realizing this is one of the effects that makes 43 things so superb, you learn to set priorities and are pushed to think of the right way in getting there.

After making your preferred selection of things to do, 43 things offers to remind you on a regular basis (weekly/monthly/yearly) to get to work (and ultimately spamming your mailbox with 43 unaccomplished objectives every week). You are supposed to rank your 43 things according to it’s its importance. I haven’t done so yet. I guess ordering 43 things takes the most time and will provide an intimate sketch of one’s profile. 43 things tells allot about someone. If I would take 43 things seriously and organize my to-do-list accurately, I would spend a whole day reflecting on my life, persona and future. I would also be strategizing ways to achieve my goals in an order that would fit the order of the to-do-list. My unwillingness to spend a day investing in perhaps a flourishing future perhaps says more then anything else.
When an aim has been fulfilled you can show others with what way you managed. Maybe one day I’ll manage to manage my management tasks.

43 things is a site that is built on the principles of tagging, rather than creating explicit interpersonal links (as seen in Hyves and Friendster). 43 Things was launched on January first 2005, by the Robot-co-op, a small company based in Seattle founded by prominent blogger Erik Benson, Daniel Spils, and former and Microsoft executive Josh Petersen. The site was developed using the Ruby programming language and the Ruby on Rails framework.

My list of 43 things

‘Twas only a matter of time ‘fore we addressed the issue of censorship, methinks. Here’s a fairly amusing video (song) about it. Apparently there are quite a few sites who don’t like the FCC:

National Coalition Against Censorship
Fire the FCC

The latter site links to sites such as SaveTheInternet and Stop Big Media. Hooray for internet revolutionaries!

Although blogs do provide coverage of the struggle of the SGP youth (the most conversative Dutch Christian party), this seems to be a one-sided debate.

The news is clearly stated on the (static) website of the SGP youth (except on sundays), but on the majority of the Dutch blogs there doesn’t seem to a be a single good word for the actions of the Conservative Christian youth of the SGP just a couple of days before her concert in the Amsterdam Arena. Their actions include the sueing of Madonna for the part of the show in which she is hanging on the cross. (Rest of the post in Dutch)