Archives for Video of the Week

Breaking News: Jaron Lanier Called to the Witness Stand in London to Discuss the Future of Hip-Hop Music

Tomorrow, Google is sponsoring a debate in London called “Hip-Hop on Trial” to consider the proposition that “Hip-Hop Doesn’t Enhance Society, It Degrades It.” The event will be streaming live on YouTube from 7-830 pm GMT+1 (1-2:30 pm EST) on June 26th.

Why is the Prevail Project interested in what promises to be a loud-spoken affair? (Jesse Jackson + Touré + KRS-One = loud-spoken) Because Jaron Lanier will take the witness stand!

That’s right. Jaron Lanier, champion of the Prevail Scenario and owner-operator of one of the largest collections of ancient music instruments in the world, will be called to the stand – literally – as a witness. For the prosecution or the defense? The press releases do not say; we will have to watch and listen for ourselves. My guess is that Lanier will share many of the same sentiments as The Roots drummer ?uestlove, and legendary producer-lyricist Q-Tip: hip-hop is culture, this culture is complex and complicated, and hip-hop “mos-definitely” has a bright future.

The Google event was sparked, in part, by the role of hip-hop in spreading the protest sentiments of citizens in Egypt and Tunisia. In February 2011 when NPR covered “The Songs of the Egyptian Protests”, hip-hop was a prominent feature of the protest fuel.

In January 2012, the New York Times covered a wider swath of revolutionary hip-hop in a piece titled “The Mixtape of the Revolution.” Hip-hop’s influence in the Arab Spring extends from Libya to Algeria, “from Guinea to Djibouti.”

One of those rappers, El Général, will take the stand Tuesday in London.

Hip hop is often recognized in English departments as the embodiment and progression of the personal essay form, sharing affinities with the best of American poetry from Walt Whitman to Bob Dylan.
As an avid hip-hop fan, the idea that hip-hop in toto “degrades society” is the sort of patently absurd claim that only a lawyer’s guild would make. The question in my mind is not about which side of the isle will win the case, but rather which hip-hop artists Jaron Lanier finds inspirational.

In an age when hip-hop records tend to be tightly controlled by major record labels, perhaps Lanier appreciates the initiative shown by Ghana’s Blitz the Ambassador, who managed to reach the top 10 most downloaded list on iTunes, for a brief spell, without a record deal? Perhaps Lanier fancies the futuristic strain of hip-hop, exemplified by Deltron’s 3030, with Dan the Automator’s vintage lo-fidelity soundscapes?

Tune in to find out, and share in the discussion online at the Google+ YouTube site. Tell them the Prevail Project sent you!

Pilobolus’ Seraph: Dances with Robots

Robot choreography! Now we’re talkin.

From Consumerism to Makerism with Neil Gershenfeld

MIT professor Neil Gershenfeld talks about the future of digital fabrication technologies via global Fab Labs.

At the recent Emerge conference at Arizona State University, Neil’s brother Alan Gershenfeld coordinated a design workshop exploring the future of Conscious Makerism, a sustainability-infused version of the Fab Lab movement. Alan and 20 artists, designers, programmers, students, and faculty — including one Nobel Laureate — designed a walk-through ‘prototype’ of a gaming console that could function as a technical manual for future Fab Lab units. Basically, a user inputs some basic design parameters into the digital fabrication machine of the future, perhaps through a verbal conversation with the software, activating a gaming architecture that the user can explore as a deliberative design tool. Instead of buying your fiancee a pair of shoes, you spend a few hours, or days, making dozens or hundreds or thousands of design decisions. Instead of printing the shoes, you send the specs and a digital demo to your fiancee, who critiques your judgments or accepts. The process allows sustainability considerations to enter the design process. It also could turn consumers into makers.

The Most Astounding Fact (Neil deGrasse Tyson)

“The most astounding fact is that we are in this universe, we are part of the universe, and the universe is in us. My atoms came from those stars, and that makes me feel connected.”

Drone Swarm

They’re everywhere! Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have done some amazing work with formation flying drones (make sure to check out the obstacle avoidance at the end).

Smarter flying robots are going to be a vital part of the future. They’re getting cheaper and more capable every day, and not everybody needs a multi-million dollar intercontinental spy to take out terrorists. The founders of the Genocide Intervention Network suggest that drones could be used by activists to record and prevent crimes against humanity and the environment. The Guardian reports that the UK drone industry is lobbying for special airspaces and colors to designate drones serving in the public interest. And futurist and security expert John Robb has been running a great series on how swarming drones are unstoppable by any weapon other than more drone swarm,s and that drones represent a new tool for diplomatic policy, “comply or die.”

What’s in store for the future of drones? I don’t know, but for politicians, police, and the paparazzi, drones are just too useful to give up. Keep watching the skies!

Time-Lapse from the ISS

Time Lapse From Space – Literally. The Journey Home. from Fragile Oasis on Vimeo.

Via Wired Science, astronaut Ron Garan made an amazing 7 minute time lapse video of Earth from the ISS. The lights of cities, clouds, coastlines, the aura borealis. Sometimes, the sweep of our planet just leaves me in awe.

Pale Blue Dot

Embedly Powered

Carl Sagan would have been 77 today.  Sagan, better than anybody else, understood both the insignificance of <i>homo sapiens</i> in the cosmic scheme of things, and of the importance of our fragile humanity, and our ties to the earth. His wisdom, humility, and ability to evangelize the wonders of science are sorely missed. But his voice and his ideas live on forever, on our pale blue dot, and carried out into the universe on ever spreading radio waves. He would have liked that, I think.

Happy Birthday, Carl Sagan!


Murmuration from Sophie Windsor Clive on Vimeo.

When we say flock-like behavior, this is what we mean. The starlings don’t see the whole picture, they only see their neighbors. But together, their actions make a beautiful coordinated pattern.

The Beginning of Infinity

THE BEGINNING OF INFINITY from jason silva on Vimeo.

Consider. Consider the power of Mind to reshape Matter. Consider the notion that evolution has escape the biological to infect the ideological. Consider that our tools do ever more of ‘our’ thinking, and are even more powerful. Jason Silva is very, very excited about the possibilities of the future, and is a welcome antidote to cynicism and catastrophism.

Consider the wisdom we’ll need to use these powers for the betterment of all.

A Train Runs Through It

To these Thai fruit vendors, a train roaring through the middle of their makeshift market, coming inches away from their lychees — and their toes — is just another part of improvisational adaptation.


This kind of hyper-dense land-use is important in an over-populated world. While in the Western world we have laws describing how far away train tracks must be from buildings, in slums, people don’t have the luxury of laws and safety regulations.

Steward Brand, the founder of the Whole Earth catalog and early internet community The Well, is enthusiastic about the ability of dense cities such as this one to help the world: “That’s where vast numbers of humans—slum dwellers—are doing urban stuff in new and amazing ways. And hell’s bells, there are a billion of them! People are trying desperately to get out of poverty, so there’s a lot of creativity; they collaborate in ways that we’ve completely forgotten how to do in regular cities.”

And at that, it’s a perfect example of what Bruce Sterling calls Favela Chic: “Favela chic takes the logic of software and networks and applies them to institutions no matter what they are. It’s like taking a mac laptop and using it to hammer in nails. It represents the promise of change, instead of making do with overused stuff. It makes sense to young people and idealists. It’s consistent and easy to grasp. The problem is that over time, it tends to be squalid. It is user centric rather than planned. It’s made of small pieces joined: beta, open source rather than refined by competition. It pastes over institutional failngs with utopian rhetoric”

(with thanks to Michael Rule for the video)

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