Greatest in amount of degree.
Causing someone to feel awkward, self-conscious, or ashamed.
A famous person.
A brief but intense infatuation for someone, esp. someone unattainable or inappropriate.
For this installment of the c74office journal, you can learn who matches this description for the people at Cycling ’74. Be sure to click on the heart to see the celebrity photo.
Not everyone at C74 is represented here. Those who didn’t participate probably either thought the exercise was stupid (and that is somewhat valid), or were too embarrassed to fess up, or are on vacation. Then there are those who couldn’t decide on just one.
Welcome to the second installment of Stupid JS Tricks. If you missed the previous installment, you can take trip back in time to see us resize our patcher’s interface. In this trick we will rise to a brave new challenge: to drag a window around on our screen without using the standard drag-able region provided on that window by the operating system.
As many of you know, the c74 headquarters is in San Francisco and we are, like many around here, utterly food-obsessed. It is a constant source of entertainment as well as an obvious source of fuel.
Everyone has their opinions on the best places to go — whether it’s a hole-in-the-wall or the ueber-pricey. We tend toward the former and dream of the latter. Our dreams are likely better than the actual experience anyway.
So we have put together a list in case you’re ever in the neighborhood. And if you don’t like our suggestions, don’t bother coming to our office. We have the ultimate weapon to keep angry people away.
- Sushi Zone (HITW)
- Azie (UP)
- The Tamale Lady (tamale delivery)
- Hotel Utah (go for the margaritas) (HITW)
- Tulan (HITW)
- Hunan Home’s (go for the General’s Chicken)
- The Tempest (HITW)
- Le Charm
- Jai Yun (Pricey HITW)
- Balompie Cafe (go for the Pupusas)
- Taqueria Vallarta (go for outdoor tacos after 10pm)
- Los Jarritos (go for the Mole)
- Cha Cha Cha
- Iroha (go for the Ramen)
- Zante’s Indian Pizza
- Brother-In-Law’s BBQ (go for the hot ribs, spaghetti, and wheat bread) (HITW)
- In N Out (go for the DoubleDouble, fries animal-style)
- Cafe Venue (go for the Thai Chicken Salad)
- Cordon Bleu (go for the #5) (HITW)
- Ritual Coffee (go for the Gibraltar)
- Thanh Tam (go for any of the Vietnamese rice plates)
- King of Thai Noodle House (best Pad-See-Ew and Papaya salad in town)
- Mi Lindo Peru (Bistec a lo Pobre or Lomo Saltado)
- Delfina Pizza
- Tartine Bakery (go for the croque monsieur)
- Don~a Tere’s tent (go for tostadas and elote)
Now back to making software.
More to come…
When a new shipment of Lemurs arrive from France, the excitement begins to grow at c74 headquarters. But it’s not what you think. Yes, we are happy to receive a new shipment because it means people like the Lemur and are buying it. And, yes, it’s always good to see that the big box of expensive hardware you just purchased arrived safely. Despite these good reasons, which occasionally lead to hugging the delivery driver, the best part is the BIG BOX.
The big box gives us a chance to blow off some steam at the end of the day. There are two big box options:
1) Get inside the box and attempt to run in circles (see below). It’s a wonderful workout and, frankly, quite difficult.
2) Get inside the box, allow your co-workers to seal the box, and then the same co-workers roll you down the hall while you tumble around inside. It makes one so happy after a day of sitting at the computer. Just look at that smile.
btw: It’s just a coincidence that Spongebob also likes to play in boxes.
If you find this crap interesting, check back again for more journal entries from the c74office.
…a rifle range? A battlefield after a Civil War Reenactment?
On my last night in San Francisco, I decided to check out the newly refurbished iMax theatre in the Metreon down the street from Cycling ’74 world HQ and catch Roving Mars.
For any space geek, it’s a cool, if short, ride. But I found myself tsk-tsking about the use of the mammoth iMax sound system to depict ass-rattling multistage rocket separations, retrorocket racket, and the chest-whacking thump of the Platonic Solid Beachball thingie that surrounded the rover payload (however satisfying a physical experience it might have been). Noise doesn’t work like that in a vacuum, and it would certainly work differently in a Martian atmosphere.
But this morning brought a new and interesting question: What does the Moon smell like? Hmmm…. Frying bacon?
My colleagues Andrew and Meg and I headed over to the new Recombinant Media Labs facility last week for a fun-filled week of Max workshoppery.
Of course, I was so busy pitching Max/MSP/Jitter patch projections around and ranting at the some 20-some brave souls gathered to attend that there aren’t any pictures of me, and probably fewer or Andrew and Meg in action dispelling the phantoms of fear and doubt. I apologize for this, but will share such as I have.
The site itself was wonderful, and their staff as decent and friendly as one could have wished for. This is particularly amazing, since they were spending long evening hours after we departed readying for a concent event on the Saturday when the workshop concluded. They remained conscious and helpful throughout an ordeal I can only imagine (sleep dep is not one of my things). Bravo, boys.
I was photographing during the lunch periods, however. They were generally a welcome event, enlivened by good weather and a roof garden…
…and, on one particularly special day, a lunch from the Tamale Lady, a famous local SF personage who makes spectacular tamales.
Joshua Clayton paid us a special visit and charmed the masses with an introduction to slabbery in his own inimitable style.
But it wasn’t all me ranting, nosirree. I was greatly assisted by my colleagues Andrew, who provided QuickTIme and OpenGL illumination to the assembled masses…
…and Meg who limned the subtle depths of scheduling and patch tracing, in addition to Lemur-wrangling.
Following the workshop, our “classroom” was transformed into what has now become my favorite listening room ever. Saturday evening featured performances in their extraordinary space from Trevor Wiahrt
and Richard Devine
…who turned in one of the most interesting performances I’ve ever heard from him. A great end to a wonderful (if exhausting week).
The Jamoma Project recently released version 0.2 of its modular framework for Max, MSP, and Jitter. Despite the low version number this software is actually quite mature, which years of development and experience forming the basis of the framework. Given that this is a significant release in Jamoma’s roadmap, I thought I would talk about both Jamoma and it’s development.
What is Jamoma?
So, the first thing you are probably wondering about is what Jamoma is all about. Jamoma is a structural framework for creating, composing, and performing interactive music with Max. It does this by providing a set of guidelines for the construction of interchangeable, reusable, functional blocks (patches), called modules. In addition to the guidelines, the Jamoma Project has also produced an implementation of those guidelines.
The promises of any object-oriented environment is that components can be created, and then freely re-used. This is certainly true of Max as well. However, when a user tries to substitute a component of their patch, there is generally no standard to which the components (patches) are structured. This is actually a strength of Max, as it doesn’t impose its vision of how one should work on you.
Unfortunately, it is rare that patches can actually be interchanged between users (and auditioned) without a significant amount of work – work both learning the ins and outs of the new patch, and configuring the patch to work in the user’s own system of patches. This is the first of Jamoma’s primary goals: to provide a standard to which patches/modules are structured to allow for easy interchange and integration.
A second goal of Jamoma is to provide standard tools – that are virtually always required – with a minimum of time needed to set them up. As an example, audio modules will almost always benefit from a mute button, a bypass button, a gain control, signal level meters, etc. Video modules will benefit similarly from bypass, mute, and freeze controls as well as a preview pane. Jamoma provides templates and tools that incorporate these features with a minimal amount of setup time.
The third goal of Jamoma is provide hierarchical organization of the parameter space. Every module maintains its state, and provides a mechanism for reading and writing preset files specific to that module. Furthermore, global snapshots or presets may be created and maintained that apply to all instantiated modules via the use of Max’s standard pattrstorage object. This also provides a means to interpolate smoothly between presets to simplify complex transitions.
Jamoma grew out of initial research and development that was conducted as part of the Jade interactive performance environment. Jade is an application that hosts modules, which allows for script-based automation of these modules. Initial development on Jade began in early 2001 as a means to aid my own compositional work. It was released to the public at the end of 2002, which was followed by a significant update to version 1.1 in mid-2003. It was at this time that the great benefit of having modules directly within Max was realized – and Jamoma was born.
The Jamoma project was started as an Open Source project hosted on SourceForge. After some initial work activity died off until it was revived in March 2005 by myself and Trond Lossius.
A Jamoma Module is a Max Patch which has been structured according to a set of guidelines known as the JIG (Jamoma Interface Guidelines). Modules may either be embedded in a Max patch using the popular bpatcher method, or they may be included as simple Max objects. The screenshot shown here is an example of the two methods side-by-side. The filter module is one of a number of example modules included with Jamoma.
Every module will have one or more inlets and one or more outlets. The first inlet is used for receiving all commands to the module. Likewise, the first outlet is used to report the state of the module and return parameter values when they change. Additional inlets and outlets are the inputs and outputs for data streams that are to be processed or synthesized by the module. This includes audio, midi, and video signals.
This screenshot shows the filter module in context. In this example it is being used to filter the signal from MSP’s standard soundfile playback mechanism. Note the presence of a “bang” button connected to a Max send object called jmod.init. This mechanism is required, and provides a universal means to reset all modules that are loaded to their respective initial state.
The JIG specifies a variety of essential elements to ensure that modules are both interchangeable and compatible with each other. This includes the size(s) of the user interface, standard features, and reserved messages and syntax.
For example, every audio module is expected to implement the ‘gain’ parameter, which attenuates or boosts the output signal, specified in decibels. Each audio module should also implement the mute and bypass messages. No module may implement a message called bang, it is considered a reserved name due to its special nature in the Max environment.
Further, for all module parameters where it is feasible, the parameter should be ‘ramp enabled’. This means that when a second value is given to messages for the parameter, it will smoothly slide from its current value to the new value. This is aided by a set of tools for building modules that we will described later. An example of a ramping parameter is demonstrated in this screenshot.
Hierarchical Parameter Space
One of the standard features of all modules is the ability to read and write presets in an XML file format. The facilities may be accessed as one of the standard Jamoma messages. Additionally, most Jamoma modules use standard facilities that provide a “module menu” in the upper left corner of the interface that include items for reading or writing a preset. (As a historical note, Jade was reading and writing presets in XML format prior to the release of pattrstorage, but it now uses pattrstorage to simplify and standardize the system).
The preset mechanism in these modules is built on the pattr system that was released as a part of Max version 4.5. This mechanism allows not only local preset reading and writing, as just demonstrated, but global access to the Jamoma parameter space through the standard pattrstorage object. This allows for the storage and recall of global presets and interpolation between those presets. The screenshot below shows an example of pattrstorage managing several modules.
Modules can be constructed from scratch following the guidelines published in the JIG, or they can use the extensive library of pre-made components that are a part of the standard Jamoma package.
Our screenshot shows the construction of a simple Jamoma module. This module consists of several key components:
- GUI Component: The black metal background, which includes built in signal meters, bypass and mute buttons, sample-rate reduction (for managing CPU load), gain control, and module menu. The standard Jamoma package includes a variety of these in different sizes. It is automatically configured (using Max’s scripting) for use in audio, video, or control contexts. It is also skinnable – meaning that the appearance can be customized for a look other than the brushed metal that is the default.
- jmod.hub: The core of the message handling, preset management, and additional functionality. This component shares an invisible connection to the Gui Component to link them. It is connected to a pattrstorage to provide a tie into Max’s pattr system.
- poly~: Most audio modules will use a patch (in this case degrade.lib) that is loaded in a poly~ object. This provides the mechanism for downsampling and muting. Additional options are available. For example, many Tap.Tools 2.0 externals have integrated mute, downsampling, and bypass capabilities. Video or control modules can use a simple patcher.
- jmod.parameter: this object creates a parameter and links it to the jmod.hub component. Various attributes can be established such as enabling automatic ramping capability (as seen in a previous section of this paper), decibel conversion, or the filtering of duplicate values.
Recapitulation in the Key of Licensing
When a user begins with Max/MSP, they are presented with the paradigm of a blank document (see David Zicarelli’s CMJ article “How I Learned to Love a Program that Does Nothing). This proves to offer the user the ability to work with the software in any way that they like, offering no preconceived notions about how a module should be structured. This is both a blessing and a curse. While not limiting the user, it also provides no guidelines to help the user get started. It is our hope that Jamoma will be helpful for both long time users and beginners alike.
By providing a mechanism by which a patch must be structured, interchangeability can also be guaranteed. Many new Max users can thus be re-assured that any patch they develop will be able to be re-used. They will also find that they can use a variety of patches developed by others that conform to the JIG. Jamoma also encourages good structure and form for students beginning to use Max.
Jamoma is licensed under the terms of the LGPL, thus making it freely available for use in both commercial and non-commercial applications. This licensing was chosen for the purpose of helping to establish and encourage adoption of the system.
When I started this series of short “advice” pieces to Max/MSP/Jitter beginners, I also decided to ask a number of my friends and colleagues about what their ideas of what good advice might be so that you won’t be left with just my admittedly biased advice set.
I wasn’t planning on googling drug-smuggling secrets.
A friend and I were talking about the Steven Soderbergh film Traffic. In addition to reportedly featuring our pluggo software in action, there was this bit in the film where Catherine Zeta-Jones inspects some kind of statue which turns out to be molded from cocaine.
I was wondering whether there was much in the way of fact about this detail, went a-googling, and stumbled upon this interesting online chronicle of drug smuggler stash secrets (although it appears not to have been updated recently). THC-laced suckers? Ink cartridges full of heroin? Hollowed-out Princess Di biographies stuffed with blow? Meth with the Ferrari logo? It’s all there.
Even though J. and I were trapped in The Storm of The Century down in southern Indiana on our way to see my mom in Kentucky for the holidays, we really hadn’t had any snow to speak of here in Madison. That’s odd because because this particular time of year is the period when you lock yourself indoors because it’s normally umptythree degrees below zero with a 20mph wind.
But not this year. It was a rainy (Dutch?) winter until night before last, when we had the first of two nights of a picturesque white fluffy blankety postcard snow. Not the towering grimy urban pyramids of plow-sculpted densepack or grey slurries of meltwater and salty post-snow, but the lovely cover of soft snow that gracefully starts by softening the edge where the lawn meets the walk, then ripens into a driveway and sidewalk-obliterating field of undulating and dazzling white
Of course, I now have to go out and shovel quite a few feet of sidewalk, but hey. I will officially enjoy this for a few more days, and think about great things to eat when it’s cold and you don’t mind staying in and doing a little work in a warm kitchen.
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
4 medium zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon turmeric (dried, ground)
1-1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1-1/2 cups chicken broth, homemade, or low-sodium canned broth
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk
2 teaspoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 teaspoons chopped fresh mint
1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest
1 teaspoon grated unsweetened coconut
Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 5 minutes. Add the zucchini and cook for 5 minutes more. Stir in the cumin, turmeric, cayenne, salt, and pepper. Stir in the broth and coconut milk. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the zucchini is soft, about 25 minutes.
Scrape the soup into a blender and process until smooth. Pour into a saucepan and heat over low heat until just hot.
Combine the cilantro, mint, and orange zest in a small bowl. Divide the soup among 4 soup bowls. Sprinkle with the grated coconut and then the herb mixture. Serve immediately and try to eat slowly.
An amazing part of my breakfast reading was provided by a fascinating article in the New York Times Science section consisting of a dozen or so answers to a single question:
“What do you believe even though you cannot prove it?”
You would think my weekly cruise by Boing Boing would have had me going on about how you can have Richard Stallman record telephone answering messages for you, but no.
This is the Arts and Crafts column, thank you very much. Or Kraffs, as we say here in Wuhscahns’n. A couple of Bristol University mathematicians have crocheted a festive version of the Lorenz equations. Their crochet pattern appears in the latest issue of the journal Mathematics Intelligence. There’s a PDF version of the article here. It’s worth it for the pictures alone.
Left to my own devices, I would simply assume that everyone in this portion of 3-space would have no illusions about my method of work being that I play music I like, music I respect a bit more than I like, and some things my listeners ask me to find for them (or recommend). There’s really no other method to it.
About a decade ago, listeners started asking me what a list of “you know… the best stuff” was for the whole year. I thought it was a little surprising, since it seemed to me that anyone who listened to my program would know immediately what would be on the list-the recordings they heard the most often. But no. So I elected to subvert the dominant paradigm (and give myself some um… wiggle room) by listing 15 of the top 10 recordings of the year, and dedicating the first two RTQE broadcasts of the new year to those recordings (done so that everything got its own fifteen minutes of fame, more or less.
After having done that for a few years, I started to get calls from long-time listeners in early December, politely inquiring as to whether I had already settled on my list; they were wondering about whether or not they might fill a portion of their gift list with things that they’d heard on my show. While this was flattering, moving the creation of the list forward meant that it was considerably more difficult to cast a sidelong glance at the work of other “critics”-something I found much more appealing as a possibility rather than as a reality. Since WORT is a community radio station, we’re really answerable to our listeners in a pariticular way, so I was committed.
You can find a copy of that list for this year here. In case you’re at all curious (and would like to view my dreary bias set in greater detail, here are the lists for 2001, 2000, 1999, 1998, 1997, 1996, and 1995 (there’s no 2002 list because I was living in the Netherlands and taking a hiatus from programming). It’s pretty obvious from looking back for a decade or so of this stuff that I might be biased toward the work of a few people-Autechre (whose collaboration with the Hafler Trio was on the short list this year), Monolake (Robert Henke’s absolutely wonderful 0bpm solo opus this year made the list with a bullet. By the way, it’s NOT true that Robert could record the sound of his kitchen sink runnning, process it, and make my best of list. He’s welcome to try.), Miles Davis’ post-quintet electric outings, and Tetsu Inoue. Unless the day comes when I suddenly decide that I have Critical Sensibilities rather than just being some guy who likes stuff, those commonalities of list are bound to emerge; they keep me honest, and potentially warn my listeners off (and you, too). Having put all those old “best of” pages back up in honor of this blog entry, I am somewhat comforted to discover that the older lists contain recordings that I think really have “stood the test of time,” or however I’d want to say that.
An unforeseen side-effect of doing two holiday gift shopping versions of RTQE in early December is that the programs pretty much organize themselves, and-from my point of view-they’re boffo shows with no filler or (required?) nods to new releases. Since I’m not slaving away on playlists, I thought I’d say a few things about some of the releases on this list, and beg your indulgence to do so.
There are a few things that aren’t here that maybe should be. Another way of saying this is that there are a few recordings that, in the course of the next year, may rise from the list of what I didn’t include to become things I return to again and again for pleasure. No, I don’t mean The Arcade Fire, Interpol, or the other critic’s darlings of the moment (although I find myself liking The Polyphonic Spree waaay more than I expected to). This list might include the deadbeat dub opus Something Borrowed on scape~ and Michael Gordon’s Light is Calling (I keep finding it in the CD player). You’ll notice that there’s already some bet-hedging on the list this year, owing to the fact that I can’t really listen to the Albert Ayler box in the background, can’t bear it in the foreground for more than a short while, and keep coming back to gaze into the blast furnace again and again. I did this with the Harry Smith collection of Americana years earlier, and am trying to develop and early warning system. If Avalon Sutra really is Harold Budd’s last recording, he at least warrants a shout-out for a lifetime of pleasure, but I think it was the Akira Rabelais remix/rework of the material that put it over the top for me. I’m not actually sure why I didn’t list the newly remastered and reissued Discreet Music, Ambient 1: Music for Airports, Ambient 2: The Plateaux of Mirror, and Ambient 4: On Land, considering how much of my life has been lived to Music for Airports. And finally, I am nurturing a small kernel of fear that I have become so old and jaded that I can be in the presence of strong and beautiful music from old, old friends such as The Blue Nile and The Finn Brothers and fret about listing them here.
Does this sound like I am still enormously ambivalent about this whole list and recommendation thing? Yep. I generally figure that having something like 100 hours of radio time per year means I can work around that in a way that a list just doesn’t allow.
Okay-a few comments about what’s on the list:
- The Gavin Bryars recording is a perfect example of a wrong corrected. All Ten of A Man in a Room, Gambling was originally a project sponsored by the British outfit Artangel that we ran on WORT years ago as a kind of mysterious event-it would simply appear at the same time, twice a week, for five minutes without comment… a kind of mysterious imaginary weather report (well, okay-a short description about ways to cheat at cards) with this lovely and restrained string quartet. People loved it, but Bryars’ record company at the time decided not to release the whole set. Bryars himself corrected the error on his own small label, and had done me (and you, maybe) a great favor in doing so. It’s also a kind of sad reminder that his collaborator, the Spanish sculptor and conceptualist Juan Mu&#ntilde;oz, left us entirely too early.
- I first encountered Helge Sten (Deathprod) as a remixer, redoing the work of Norwegian electronic composer and maverick Arne Nordheim. To be honest, I picked up the recording because it had a Biosphere piece on it. His participation in the improvising ensemble Supersilent further piqued my interest, but by that time all his earlier recordings were out of print. Morals and Dogma was released this year in two forms-the recording itself, and a 4-CD box that includes his earlier work. I went for the box.
- A friend of mine pointed out that there is a substantial amount of music by Cycling ’74 people on this list (from Huntley Miller’s EP Dowry, whose only shortcoming is that it is 1/4 as long as it should be, Zeena Parkins and Ikue Mori’s duet outing, Lawrence Casserley’ appearance with The Evan Parker Electroacoustic Ensemble, and the aforementioned Mr. Henke). I was completely blindsided by this, but admit that perhaps I am paying a bit more attention to what people do with our software than in previous years. I suppose that I’ll spend the next calendar year discovering that there is a good deal more Max/MSP in this list than I’m aware of….
- The 5-hour LaMonte Young release The Well-Tuned Piano in The Magenta Lightsain’t cheap, but it’s probably cheaper than the 5-CD Gramavision release of The Well Tuned Piano on eBay, and it plays all the way through.
- Have I managed to avoid blooging about Siniaalto? They’re probably my personal “obscure find” for the year-a modest little Finnish outfit who does 70s-style electronic music on pre-MIDI equipment. Think of them as an “Orchestra of the Enlightenment” for synth music (with perhaps a nod to some Deodatoesque electric piano). There are some free MP3s of the work here.
Man, I should just shut up. Caveat auditor, mes amis….
Here is a very brief outline on the Ukraine and its current situation. If you’re only starting to notice all those news items, this should help you get up to speed. It’s faster than going to the public library, anyway. Looks like a little background will come in handy while you’re following this in the papers in the coming days.
I’m reading at the moment, since there’s not a lot of listening I can do.
An ear infection I thought I’d whipped earlier returned in a pretty ferocious manner (it even set my ENT to clucking sympathetically and peering sympathetically), with the result being that my right ear is totally non-working (except for being a completely workable source of pain). My sensorium is panned hard left, I’m miserable, so guess what happens? I discover that having your ear vacuumed out sounds exactly like a Merzbow recording? Well, yeah, but the real annoyance is the music that keeps crossing the transom. My friend Jon loans me the recent Albert Ayler box to listen to, Kerry and John send me several tracks from their new recordings in progress, I get a great new disc from Robert Henke that I suspect I’ll really like a lot in stereo, and I have to put off critically listening to the live recordings from my last gig with my friend Tom. With luck, the internal and external antibiotics will do their job. Until then, I’ll read.
Since I finished Neal Stephenson’s Baroque Cycle (It was a very satisfying finish, by the way), I thought I’d stick to some music reading for a while. An acquaintance had suggested Audio Culture to me, saying that they were interested in using its collection of essays (or some of them, anyway) as a classroom text. Classroom text? Definitely? But something to have for oneself? You betcha.
If you’re at all familiar with Michael Bull’s “The Auditory Culture Reader,” you’ll probably recognize the basic approach-a collection of primary documents, essays, and excerpts from longer works that range widely across the intellectual terrain, connected by short explanatory/expository pieces by the authors.
Reading was a somewhat unexpected kind of pleasure-a chance to read again things that I’d not revisited in a long time, to actually go through pieces I’d only heard about but never actually read myself, and an arrangement that juxtaposed writings by lots of interesting people (Stockhausen, DJ Spooky, Ornette, Eno, Attali, Glenn Gould, and John Zorn, among others) that leaves you with the feeling that you’re eavesdropping on a large rambunctious conversation. Heck, even The Onion thinks it’s a great book-don’t take my word for it.
I think I’ve recovered enough from the ICMC (and the subsequent bout with an ear infection, replacing a wrecked car, and a few of the other shocks to which the mortal life is heir to say a few things about my trip to Miami….
For those of you who are acquainted with the ICMC, it’s an annual international conference, held in a different place each year, that lets you hear the latest technical papers, hang out and exchange recipes for sugar cookies, and generally sit through a whole lot of concerts of all kinds of music made using computers. As has been the case since the ICMC in Berlin several years ago, there’s also an off-ICMC (a kind of Salon des Refusées) just in case you need something to do during your evenings.
While I’d like to have just gone and watched and listened to everything, I was flying the Cycling ’74 flag. So this will, of necessity be fragmentary in nature; my apologies to anyone whose name I’ve butchered or omitted.
Practically speaking, I didn’t make it to all the concerts; someone with a question or suggestion would appear as I was preparing to pack up and go in, and politeness suggested that it’d be best to stay. I sure got to hear some interesting music, nonetheless.
The amount of music at these events is a bit daunting: three concerts per day. But my own impression is that this was a great ICMC in terms of the stylistic breadth of presented work, and that the concerts themselves were both well-ordered and varied in terms of content. As always, one did hear a bit of grousing here and there about “quality” (can’t you hear the quote marks there?), and in the midst of an election marked so strongly by “code language,” I confess that I may have heard that to mean “not enough wire whisk and breadboard music.” I could be wrong.
This time out, I heard pieces that were not afraid to sit still for an instant, pieces that were perfectly happy to straddle genre boundaries or to start their audible lives as one thing and joyously morph into something else (Jenny Bernard’s “Hallucination” and Jon Gibson’s “Detour” come to mind right away here). For the first few days, it seemed like this it was Flute Week at the ICMC-not that I minded the chance to hear some absolutely amazing performances of stunning pieces in a bewilderingly wide range of styles by wonderful performers (Margaret, Lancaster and Elizabeth McNutt? Yikes.) for a single instant either, either. It didn’t occur to me until later that I really wasn’t listening to pieces to spot Our Software in action at all, so my own set of surprises were more about individual listening experiences. Jesse Allison’s simple and well-conceived piece for harmonica and live processing, a really modest and stunning piece for bass clarinet by Jeff Herriot, some new video work from Christopher Penrose (who turned me onto a whole website chock full of cockamamie commercials done by big western movie stars for Japanese television-including the commercial that had Arnold Schwarzenegger pimping for some kind of nicotine-based energy drink that was used to generate his piece, “My First Electric Dragon.” Check out Japander.com. Really.), Timothy Polashek’s one-minute bit of candied ginger for the ear, and David Kim-Boyle’s piece for piano, resonant glasses (the piece involved having the miked glasses hover right at the edge of feedback all the way through the piece. Paul the sound guy gets oak-leaf clusters for that one), and video projection that seemed waay too short for me.
Looking at that quick listing from memory, it occurs to me that I really wasn’t listening to pieces to spot Our Software in action at all. But there was plenty of it-there’s not much I can really say about the ubiquity of Max/MSP/Jitter at festivals such as these. It cuts both ways-some part of you is always worried whenever you see those GUI objects on the glowing screen to the right of the mixing board, and then elated when it works well. I guess that beyond some statistical increase in Max use live, it’s hard not to notice the number of pieces that now include visual information this time out (I was particularly particularly taken by Michael Theodore’s “Sivel”).
Outside of the conferences, a sort of funny thing that happened with regard to Max/MSP/Jitter visibility-due, in part, to my own indolence. I decided that I didn’t want to drag two laptops to the festival every day, so I started alternating machines. No one noticed, which I thought was a little odd. My own personal experience is that I run Jitter on my Windows box, and stick to my old trusty Powerbook for noises, but it’s clearly not the case. And the relative ubuiquity at this point of third-party objects for both platforms has really contributed to the idea that, for some people, it’s not really a question of what machine you’re running on. It’s Max/MSP/Jitter either way.
There was more interest in pluggo for Windows at the ICMC than I might have expected, although it took a rather muted form; In the same way that some electroacoustic composers seemed to be sheepish about acknowledging their use of Metasynth several years ago, I think I detected a similar interest in using pluggo plug-ins; the question usually only appeared when I was alone with one other person. In one sort of funny situation, two people who were all in the same crowd came back separately and alone to inquire about pluggo for Windows. I dunno… maybe I’m hallucinating.
The off-ICMCs have really had a personality all their own over the last few years. This year’s off-ICMC was no exception, with a blistering election night Convolution Brothers fracas that featured Miller Puckette sitting in for the absent Zack Settle in Elvis wig and shades while Cort Lippe (in a fetching black balaklava that whispered “sonic terrorist”) streamed the election night returns with some ah… modification (metalflake, hydroflouric acid, and sprinkles). The next evening was my chance to catch Phonaecia live (they were wonderful), and sample the local Miami laptop scene. Friday evening was off-ICMC gig time for me, and an interesting and instructive experience. I completely sucked, rather than turning in either something that was good or even kind of pedestrian. On the good side, I went second and the evening concert ran a little late, which meant that not a lot of people were there. And Doug Geers (who preceded me) and Meg, Allison, and Charlie (who followed) were sufficiently interesting that everyone was distracted from my self-basting holiday Butterball turkey of a performance, I’m hoping. It’s an oddly liberating experience, I guess-if somewhat disappointing. I didn’t stay to the bitter end, but Eric Lyon reportedly tore the roof off the sucker rather late in the evening. Our hosts at the Titanic microbrewery were delightful. Great cheeseburgers, and my first introduction to the awesome Conch fritter (yummy), due to the encouragements of our hosts, Kristine Burns and Colby Leider. A superior bitter on tap, too. I hope we all drank enough to keep ‘em happy.
The ICMC banquet was positively stunning, complete with some kind of DEA black helicopter and interdiction boat chase thrown in. You can see some pictures of the excitement here (Choose Day 7 and head for photos 15-18). We all quickly recovered from looking out the big picture windows or from the deck and seeing the opening footage for many episodes of CSI: Miami. Man, whatta view! What an evening! At the banquet, we found out that Ajay Kapur’s paper on digitizing North Indian performance had won the “best paper” award. I was glad to get this news, since I might have missed the paper (as I did the paper on Audiosculpt 2). It didn’t disappoint, although I was in and out of the session much quicker than I would have liked (prior appointment). My own personal interest had something more to do with looking at the kinds of sensing and control they’d worked with in order to gather data without strait-jacketing performers. It was a pretty extraordinary presentation, in part because I’ve gone to ICMCs for years and wondered at what I thought was a dearth of interest in non-western musics and performance practice. This one more than made up for those years in the desert.
I’d first met Jason Freeman during our last Cycling ’74 booth time in Frankfurt; he’d taken the train up (or down) from his then working gig, and mentioned that he was working on something with Max Neuhaus. At the AES the week before, I’d run into Phil Burk, who’d also been on the project (and who was, apparently, surprised that anyone remembered that he’d done any recording at all). His presentation on the implementation of the Auracle project (particularly the kind of data capture it does, and how the data is analyzed and used over long spans of time) was fascinating. NOW I get it. Taken alongside another session paper looking at the use of spectral morphing in the film “Blackhawk Down” by Paul Rudy (it made me want to scamper off immediately, rent the film, and listen to it in the dark with the sound turned waaaaay up) it was time well spent.
But it wasn’t all sitting in the dark taking notes, nosirree. This time out, there was gear to fool around with! One of the interesting things about this particular ICMC for me was the chance to see a couple of new sensor interface products up close-Eric Singer’s Miditron, and the Electrotap Teabox. I’d spent a little time during the previous week at the AES with both the Kroonde Gamma wireless sensor interface and the Eobody, and the week gave me a chance to hear presentations by both Eric Singer (Mr. Miditron) and Tim Place and Jesse Allison (Tea importers to the Royal Family). The availability of all of these different products at different prices is great news-you’ve got a wide choice of possible solutions that work in different ways and all interface quite nicely with Max/MSP/Jitter. I even sweet-talked Tim and Jesse into spiriting a demo Teabox back to my hotel room on Tuesday evening. My pre-Cycling ’74 life is partially in the teledatacomm industry, so I tend to take things apart for amusement. The Teabox is beautifully engineered, I am happy to report. Works a treat, too.
Hmm. What might I have forgotten? Comments on the use of high-powered air conditioning units as the semiotic for success in Miami? Trying to explain the minutiae of the American political system through my tears to my European colleagues? Discovering that the Mochito does not in any way, shape, or form taste like the pondwater it resembles? Naaah. This is long enough already.
Well, I’m finally back home after having survived two major-league spanking machines–the annual AES convention, and the annual International Computer Music Association conference, hosted this year in sunny Miami. It was a wild, exhaustive and fun couple of weeks. Perhaps I should talk about them both. Let’s start with the AES….
It’s that time when Trade Show Fever grips the Cycling ’74 microculture. I know you must imagine it’s a gay mad whirl of demo-munging, new product polishing, and shopping for the perfect frock. But for those of us on the inside, it’s quite a different affair. Rather than throwing book titles or arcane facts about the annual Canary Harvest in Montenegro at you in the name of blogging, I thought I’d touch on a few of the exciting things you might miss, and touch on a few gear-ish things that I found to be of interest.
Secret Trade Show Rituals #1. The Zen of Getting to There From Here
The AES this year was in Cycling 74′s backyard-just about literally. It was held in the Moscone Center, just about a block or so from Cycling 74 World Headquarters, which means that you might imagine we’d be sneaking off to the local Giant Crab Supermarket to um, borrow some shopping carts to use as transporters of our booth stuff, swag, etc.
But that’s not how it works in the professional world of the Modern Trade Show. Instead, Joshua and I went and got a rental van that we took over to C74WH. The plan was to pull it into the deluxe parking garage, load it with our stuff, and then leave it overnight. Hélas! The van was sprung like a bunny on meth, and was, as a result, too tall to fit into the garage by a matter of several inches.
So we regrouped the next morning, loaded on the street, and set off for the marshalling yard, which was waaaaaaay out in China Basin (Joshua, ever the helpful tour guy, drove us by the Beta Lounge for a quick gape on my part) at Pier 80. The idea is that in order to move things a block we need to drive out to the edge of the Bay (with a lovely view of a smokestack/scrubber and the Bay Bridge in the distance, along with the filigree of Industrial metalwork), weigh our vehicle and get some papers, then drive all the way back to the Moscone Center, unload our stuff in a place where the electric-carted Teamsters can move it for us, then drive all the way back to Pier 80 and weigh the empty truck.
Waiting our turn at the scales was restful, and broken by Richard Dudas’ ad-hoc lesson in horticulture. As the line of semis interspersed with smaller vans advanced to the single open truck scale, Richard and I took a moment to take in the aforementioned view, and to take note of our surroundings. Apparently, balsamic vinegar or some kind of wine mysteriously bubbles up spontaneously from the landfill on which the marshalling yard is built. None of us were in any mood to inquire more seriously about just what the stuff was, or its origins. Mr. Dudas stunned me by pointing out the presence of a single actual Fennel plant, decorated around its base with empty plastic bottles and various forms of jetsam. I am somewhat partial to braised Fennel, but somehow the sight of this one has rather put me off the idea for a while.
Trade show setup is simply something that, although pleasant, is perhaps best witnessed or described as a stop-action film of workpersons swarming over a pile of stuff, and the booths magically emerging from the flurry of activity. I suppose that even the Cycling 74 booth might look like this with enough time-lapse between the frames, but I find myself reflecting on the process and remarking more on the calm and patience with which Mr. Zicarelli and my other co-boothists went about their work.
Secret Trade Show Rituals #2. I get to open for Double Dutchess and we throw a party
My personal Anxiety Top Ten for the week was dominated by my doing a set for the official Cycling 74 AES party at the end of the first day. Performing my patient and restrained one-trick-pony act for my friends is always nerve-wracking enough, but to be on the same bill as people like Double Dutchess/Les Stuck, Sue Costabile, Sutekh, and Laetitia Sonami should have had me racing for the Benedryl. I hope and believe that I acquitted myself well, avoided being some sort of Mediatic Incursion, and left a clean campsite. And since I went first in the proceedings, I could relax and enjoy everyone else after finishing. I think, too, that the party was precisely the sort of thing I enjoy. Rather than a brain-frying sequence of “gigs” separated by breathless product-placement announcements from the Marketing Department, this felt like a place for people to get together and meet and talk, gorge themselves on Cheese Nips (real ones. Not those Trader Joe’s knock-offs, either), let in a little (Anchor) Steam, and to hear some interesting things. And jhno’s loft was just about the perfect place for it, too.
One of the interesting things about doing things like this is that you get to actually meet the real people attached to the names in your email in box. I tend to enjoy that, since I create the people after a certain point as I read their email anyway. I suppose that this particular AES was my chance to hang out with Peter Nyboer a little bit, and to discover that he’s as nice a person in 3-space as he is in this space (he even gave me a lift back to my hotel after the Cycling 74 bash). And our friend Yuki Sakamoto from Cameo Interactive also honored us with his presence during my gig. My mom’s little hometown Kentucky paper always ends these sorts of reports with the sentence, “A good time was had by all.” I think that was the case here-was for me, anyway.
Secret Trade Show Rituals #3. The view from the floor
Talking about being at a trade show as a part of the dazzling caravan of Cycling 74 talent is quite different from actually visiting the trade show and walking about, of course. With a little luck-no, with a little planning, you get to do both. Happily, thanks to some wizardry with a schedule by my colleague Darwin, I did get to run around just a little (more on this anon) this time. The other nice bit of this is that the booth is staffed with my um… smarter colleagues. So when some low-level Java stuff came up in conversation with a visitor, I could simply direct them to the genial Josh and Topher duo, for whom Java arcana is as meat and drink. David Z. was around to greet and answer questions about the new multi-band dynamics processor plug-in for TDM systems we’ve developed with the folks from Octiv Systems (I’m not entirely helpful here, since I don’t have a surround system either in my modest little studio or in my living room.), and so on.
We had plenty to talk about and show this time out. I think that some of the biggest buzz for the most persons would have to be pluggo for Windows. But it’s an interesting situation, in that we’ve worked as hard as we can to make sure that It Just Works. This means that those few Windows-only types who have never beheld pluggo in any form are amazed and delighted by demonstrations that are old hat to Macintosh types eager to have their old favorites on the new machine. While it’s not necessarily the whizziest message, I find that telling a pluggo fan that there won’t be any surprises when they switch platforms to be a satisfying experience.
We also brought a Kroonde wireless sensor interface with us, which was fun. David and Dudas and Joshua quickly knocked together some nice things that yanked faders and distorted Jitter renderings using a wireless flex sensor. At some point, Dudas took the transmitter and the flex sensor and scampered off in an attempt to see precisely what the range on the little dude was. He was gone for a long time before things stopped jumping. The only difficulty was that trying to establish line of sight over a goodly distance at a Trade show chockablock with booths and milling crowds is a little problematic. So my answer for the next several days on range was “It’s pretty far.”
Doing the booth thing is a cocktail composed of equal parts exhiliaration (meeting lots of interesting people who are really interested in and happy about what you do) and exhaustion (meeting about 6 squillion of them at once). Our encounters with our customers and would-be customers was and is becoming increasingly varied in terms of the sorts of questions one is faced with; it’s just not like manning a guitar pick manufacturer’s booth and telling people that you have new titanium fuschia metalflake plectrums over and over and over. As you might imagine, this is a good thing in terms of staving off glassy-eyed boredom, but you have to be on your toes.
Secret Trade Show Rituals #4. Gregory cases the joint
For me, the most interesting thing about the AES as a whole would have to be what wasn’t there. Lots of us were wondering after the initial buzz about M-audio being acquired by Digi what changes might be afoot. This AES provided us with one answer: They moved all the M-audio stuff offsite to Digiworld, leaving a still nice-sized booth behind. But you have to imagine having all the stuff M-audio distributes suddenly vanishing from the face of the trade-show earth. As a personal matter, this meant that it simply wasn’t simple to go visit my Ableton, Audioease, and Tassman buddies during my floor-roaming “free” period. Additionally, there was quite a lot of Remix Hotel action, which further relocated some things. I found the Hotel a pretty interesting place, (although I did feel a trifle radiocarbon-datable while there) especially the Technics SL-DZ1200 digital turntable. While it’s a bit um… expensive for my tastes and my wallet, the thing feels just like the canonical Technics table, and their granular pitch-shifting sounds pretty cool (nice artifacts rather than crufty ones). It was a lovely piece of hardware, complete with gen-you-wine wheels of steel.
An interesting side effect of this was that the trade show floor seemed a bit well… quieter. At the end of the day, my larynx wasn’t sandpapered from bellowing at booth visitors all day long. Kind of a nice change from some previous Trade Show experiences.
Secret Trade Show Rituals #5. Won’t you be my neighbor?
Sometimes, we wind up in at trade shows in interesting booth configurations. The one that comes immediately to mind was an AES where we were across the aisle from the Gibson booth, where Slash showed up one day to sign autographs for his legion of fans. The non-surprise there was that he looked just like his pictures, and the surprise was this whole long queue of scary looking guys transformed in an instant into Wayne and Garth-style mugging for the camera (We are not worthy….). We had great neighbors. Our booth back was to the Apogee folks (whose mini-DAC positively rules both for sweet live performance and for days when you’re working long hours with headphones on), and next to the Gefen folks, who were as intrigued by us (and our visitors) as we were with their steady queue of extender/connector box customers. And we had this amazing woman, Vicki Genfan performing in a kind of hybrid Michael Hedges/Chapman Stick style tapping technique acoustic guitar gig kitty-corner from our booth in aisle 700 who turned in some amazing performances (sure beats the same old Salsa or Grindcore licks day in and day out).
Secret Trade Show Rituals #6. The intensely personal attack of gear lust
So I did run around a little bit. New stuff? Well, my old pals the Rocket Science bundle from Audioease are back, for starters-I’m as delighted to have Orbit back in my OSX life as I was with Periscope from their Nautilus bundle (it being one of the lowercase world’s great secret Swiss Army Knife plug-ins). I saw and fiddled with Arturia’s new virtual ARP 2600. Just what you’d expect, too-beautifully recreated (minus the dirty pots, shorted patch cords, and drifty oscillators) with some very nice little new additions (um… MIDI control? polyphony? Some interesting tracking generators? You betcha.) in the bargain. One of their guys came over and beheld the kind of Max/MSP control mayhem I’ve been doing by hosting their Moog Modular V using the vst~ object and then routing all kinds of control stuff to us, and he appeared somewhat interested (although I’m sure that the particular formant filter bank violence I was doing might not have been his personal choice), and he didn’t strike me or pelt me with empty coffee cups, so hey. I have officially begun a campaign of pesteration about what should be their next product-a virtual Synthi AKS 100! Am I shameless or what?
The Electro-Harmonix booth included a very quiet new addition in their display case (they were busy with their Bi-filter and tubes, but I was not distracted): a digital 16-second delay. Didn’t see it hooked up, and I’ll wager that those old Reticon 1024 analog bucket-brigade chips are looooong gone, but I looked at it and wondered quietly whether it would do as lovely a job at shaving high frequencies off of an input signal as my trusty old-school hardware box. Maybe I’ll find out next time.
Given that I am not working much with this and perhaps more seduced by the technology as an idea than with any personal projects at the moment, I spent some time checking out single-point surround microphones and found one company that was adding their product to little motorized radio-controlled bomb sniffers. So you can, presumably, hear the ticking in 5.1 surround, along with the lifelike hum of the servos.
Let’s see… what else? Oh, right: there was a some gear-lust buzz on two product fronts, one of which (the Smart Console, with its Jean-Luc Picard control broadband control panel vibe) remains a distant fantasy, and one of which-this really whizzy wireless Tranzport DAW controller (AA batteries not included) from Frontier Design is not.
People seemed interested in Nuendo 3, but I’m not in a position to say much about it. My colleague Ron (with whom I worked on the newest Cycles release and who has emerged in my estimation as the total audio monster that everyone else already knows he is) seems pretty impressed with it. Given his Surround mixing chops, I’m prepared to accept his verdict.
Since I had to be in Miami for the ICMC and since it appeared to be nearly impossible to get out of San Francisco on a Hallowe’en flight, I scampered off early Sunday morning for a lengthy set of flights to Miami, where I was destined to be the sole corporate standard bearer in the surround-sound hive of scum and villainy more commonly known as the International Computer Music Assocation’s annual conference. Well, there’s very little scum (unless you count the way that a Mochito looks. It’s a drink made with rum that tastes much better than it looks, trust me), and even less villainy. But a good writer creates mystery and interest by the clever use of language. So I’ll go sit quietly for a while and try to distill my week in Sunny Miami for the next outing.
I know you all probably read slashdot religiously. I should, probably. However, I happened to cruise by the mention of an interview with the same Mr. Stephenson, whose Baroque Cycle I was ranting semi-worshipfully about (and with another few hundred pages under my belt, I am still thinking that This Will All Be Worth It).
Just read it. Read it here
I do go on, sometimes. Okay, then–let’s all decompress by marvelling at this extensive collection of batmobile models.
Perhaps you’re of a different temperament than I am, and only start tasks that you fully expect you’ll finish, or your initial enthusiasms never flag in the course of some great undertaking.
While I may envy such persons, I think that the fully actualized may be denying themselves one of life’s surprising little pleasures: the recovery of pleasure and enthuasiasm (and the accompanying boost to your sense of dedication) in mid-task, with the additional available-to-all thrill of deferred gratification at the end.
If you’re imagining that I have a bookshelf full of thick books with discreetly placed bookmarks (I shall someday pick this up from where I dropped it, honest….), then you might be surprised. I’m sitting in my living room typing this, and looking at the bookshelf against the east wall, it appears that Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is the thickest work of fiction in this room–I promised the child of a friend that I’d read one of the books, and wound up liking the series (This, presumably, means that I am supposed to be very excited about Susanna Clarke’s adult fantasy “Pride and Prestidigitation” outing Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. Yeah, maybe later….).
So it’s with some surprise that I find myself reading the third novel in Neal Stephenson’s “Baroque Cycle” The System of the World, and feeling that little tickle that tells me that this may all prove to have been worth it.
Now don’t get me wrong–I’m not going to tell you to start making your own way through several thousand pages without some serious qualifications. It’s one thing to needle-drop (is it bit-dropping on an iPod or CD player?) through a disc on my recommendation, and quite another to kill a couple of humungous tomes.
So here are some interviews that have Stephenson talking about the book and its basic ideas with a couple of people–Laura Miller with my friend Paul Boutin that should give you a little background. Andrew Leonard has soldiered through the books (albeit more quickly than I, and has posted some reviews on Salon for all three volumes: Quicksilver, The Confusion, and The System of the World. Taken together, they might picque your interest. Or not.
Although I’ve read every single thing Stephenson has ever written, I wasn’t without my doubts on this kind of undertaking. At times, his writerly urgers mean that he spends way too much time describing the technology of rocket-propelled dogs, explicating Gödel’s theorem using chain links, spinning out extended pieces on using urine to make gunpowder, and how to manage the perfect bowl of Captain Crunch. As one friend puts it, “It’s the David Foster Wallace thing. You love it, hate it, or tune it out and tune in later.”
Watching these predilections play out over the course of a sequence of “historical” novels has moved in two ways for me: not only does the past “make more sense,” but I find myself seeing things about the conventions of Stephenson’s earlier genre works in a different light. I’m reminded that I find speculative fiction interesting for its occasional ability to imagine a world that extrapolates my own in ways I might not imagine; These novels live very much in my world, but they extrapolate forward from a time when quite a lot of what I take as “given” is still being formed. While I might have said whilst slogging through the first two books that the “ripping yarn” portions of the novel–hero bad-boy Jack and his galley slave band carjacking a ship full of gold, heroine Eliza (a great fictional creation she: a woman who instinctly understands and negotiates the rising currents and eddies of the emerging world, “hacking” her way past the obstacles imposed by her gender) negotiating the minefields of court intrigue–were what really entertained me, I’m beginning to see the shape of the story now. Instead of following old Daniel Waterhouse around and watching him try to arrange a little détente between Newton and Liebnitz, we’re going to see him as the “real” hero of the cycle: the man of reason that we all believe ourselves to be, attending the birth of a Present Age we take very much for granted.
And I think I can begin to see the writerly appeal of it, too. When it’s done well, you begin to see how revolutionary the rise of the scientific method really was. You begin to glimpse the absolutely earth-shattering consequences of the creation of credit and mechanisms of foreign exchange. And those things connect to the fabric of your day-to-day existence in ways that suddenly seem less obvious: the feeling for the observer is reminiscent of that scene in the Matrix where Neo gazes down the dingy corridor at his adversaries and we’re suddenly shown the same image revisualized as a kind of glittering data. I suppose that those social history books that my beloved reads achieve some of the same effects, but I’m a sucker for doing that while you tell a story.
On reflection, you can also see some of the ideas about mind and body and social networks that appear in his earlier more “explicitly” SF novels here, too–alchemy emerges as a kind of subplot in book 2 and appears prominently in book 3 as the way that Stephenson deals with the same questions of transcendance and the incorporeal. Rather than the pursuit of cranks, it becomes the way that thinkers of the time tried to imagine how one might escape the confines or discover what might be outside of the realm of What Science Explains. And I’m finding it an extremely interesting part of the book(s), as things develop.
If you’re enamored with the tech part of cyberpunk, then this will probably be one of the most prolonged snooze reads of your life in sections (or as a whole) unless you can wrap your head around the technologies of the past. Money is a network. Feuds are viruses that disrupt social networks. Pumping water out of Welsh mines is a form of hacking (An interesting how-to book on 17th century hacking techniques (sort of) is here, btw). If the prejudice towards seeing progress on your own terms only remains in place, well….