step aside mills

“Sorry Millennials, your time in the limelight is over.”

That’s the conclusion of a new report from Barclays analyst Hiral Patel, who writes that it’s time for the Millennials to make way for the new kids on the block – Generation Z – a generational cohort born between 1995 and 2009, and already larger in size than the Millennials (1980-1994).

According to Barclays, the current fixation with Millennials makes them the most studied generation, which in turn has caused the use of this term to simplify to a label for anyone that may be young today; however the irony here is that Millennials are not necessarily young anymore and we run the risk of overlooking the next cohort – Generation Z – who are now coming of age.

Citing survey-based research from a range of sources, Barclays suggests that there are fundamental differences separating Generation Z from the Millennials (Figure 1), material enough for marketplaces to take note today.


The reason for the Barclays report is to assert that this “coming of age” is worth capitalising on now, with Generation Z in the US already having $200bn in direct buying power and $1tn in indirect spending power as they command significantly more influence on household purchases than prior generations.

Furthermore, by 2020, Generation Z is expected to be the largest group of consumers worldwide, making up 40% of the market in the US, Europe and BRIC countries and 10% in the rest of the world (Booz Co).


Defining Generation Z – anyone born between 1995-2009

We define Generation Z as anyone born during 1995-2009 (age 9-23) and thus the demographic cohort following the Millennials (age 24-38) […] At c. 2bn individuals, Generation Z is the most populous cohort of all time. Generation Z represents 25% of the global population (vs. 24% Millennials) and have a particular weighting in areas such as the United States, India, China, South East Asia and Africa. Generation Z is also known as post-millennials, centennials and the iGeneration, with the ‘i’ in the latter emphasising the level of technological immersion across Apple products (iPhone – 2007, iPad – 2010).

—in Zero Hedge
by Tyler Durden
Tue, 07/03/2018 – 21:11

Google Lexus autonomous vehicle

Exponential technologies

As posted by Udo Gollub on Facebook on April 22nd, 2016

I just went to the Singularity University summit and here are the key learnings.

In 1998, Kodak had 170,000 employees and sold 85% of all photo paper worldwide.
Within just a few years, their business model disappeared and they [go] bankrupt.
What happened to Kodak will happen in a lot of industries in the next 10 year[s] – and most people don’t see it coming. Did you think in 1998 that 3 years later you would never take pictures on paper film again?
Yet digital cameras were invented in 1975. The first ones only had 10,000 pixels but followed Moore’s law. So as with all exponential technologies, it was a disappointment for a long time, before it became way [superior] and got mainstream in only a few short years. It will now happen with Artificial Intelligence, health, autonomous and electric cars, education, 3D printing, agriculture, and jobs. Welcome to the 4th Industrial Revolution.
Welcome to the Exponential Age.

[The] software will disrupt most traditional industries in the next 5-10 years.
Uber is just a software tool, they don’t own any cars, and are now the biggest taxi company in the world. Airbnb is now the biggest hotel company in the world, although they don’t own any properties.

Artificial Intelligence: Computers become exponentially better in understanding the world. This year, a computer beat the best Go player in the world, 10 years earlier than expected. In the US, young lawyers already don’t get jobs. Because of IBM Watson, you can get legal advice (so far for more or less basic stuff) within seconds, with 90% accuracy compared with 70% accuracy when done by humans. So if you study law, stop immediately. There will be 90% [fewer lawyers] in the future, only specialists will remain.
Watson already helps nurses diagnosing cancer, 4 [times] more accurate than human nurses. Facebook now has a pattern recognition software that can recognize faces better than humans. In 2030, computers will become more intelligent than humans.

Autonomous cars: In 2018 the first self-driving cars will appear to the public. Around 2020, the complete industry will start to be disrupted. You don’t want to own a car anymore. You will call a car with your phone, it will show up at your location and drive you to your destination. You will not need to park it, you only pay for the driven distance and can be productive while driving. Our kids will never get a driver’s [license] and will never own a car. It will change the cities because we will need 90-95% [fewer] cars for that. We can transform former parking space into parks. 1,2 million people die each year in car accidents worldwide. We now have one accident every 100,000km, with autonomous driving that will drop to one accident in 10 million km. That will save a million [lives] each year.

Most car companies might become bankrupt. Traditional car companies try the evolutionary approach and just build a better car, while tech companies (Tesla, Apple, Google) will do the revolutionary approach and build a computer on wheels. I spoke to a lot of engineers from Volkswagen and Audi; they are completely terrified of Tesla.

Insurance companies will have massive trouble because, without accidents, the insurance will become 100x cheaper. Their car insurance business model will disappear.
Real estate will change. Because if you can work while you commute, people will move further away to live in a more beautiful neighborhood.
Electric cars will become mainstream until 2020. Cities will be less noisy because all cars will run on electric. Electricity will become incredibly cheap and clean: Solar production has been on an exponential curve for 30 years, but you can only now see the impact. Last year, more solar energy was installed worldwide than fossil. The price for solar will drop so much that all coal companies will be out of business by 2025.
With cheap electricity comes cheap and abundant water. Desalination now only needs 2kWh per cubic meter. We don’t have scarce water in most places, we only have scarce drinking water. Imagine what will be possible if anyone can have as much clean water as he wants, for nearly no cost.

Health: The Tricorder X price will be announced this year. There will be companies who will build a medical device (called the “Tricorder” from Star Trek) that works with [your] phone, which takes your retina scan, [your] blood sample and [your] breath into it. It then analyses 54 biomarkers that will identify nearly any disease. It will be cheap, so in a few years, everyone on this planet will have access to [world-class] medicine, nearly for free.

3D printing: The price of the cheapest 3D printer came down from 18,000$ to 400$ within 10 years. In the same time, it became 100 times faster. All major shoe companies started 3D printing shoes. Spare airplane parts are already 3D printed in remote airports. The space station now has a printer that eliminates the need for the large amou[n]t of spare parts they used to have in the past.
At the end of this year, new smartphones will have 3D scanning possibilities. You can then 3D scan your feet and print your perfect shoe at home. In China, they already 3D printed a complete [6-story] office building. By 2027, 10% of everything that’s being produced will be 3D printed.

Business opportunities: If you think of a niche you want to go in, ask yourself: “in the future, do you think we will have that?” and if the answer is yes, how can you make that happen sooner? If it doesn’t work with your phone, forget the idea. And any idea designed for success in the 20th century is doomed [into] failure in the 21st century.

Work: 70-80% of jobs will disappear in the next 20 years. There will be a lot of new jobs, but it is not clear if there will be enough new jobs in such a small time.

Agriculture: There will be a 100$ agricultural robot in the future. Farmers in [the] 3rd world [countries] can then become managers of their field instead of working all [day on in] their fields. Aeroponics will need much less water. The first petri dish produced veal is now available and will be cheaper than cow produced veal in 2018. Right now, 30% of all agricultural surfaces is used for cows. Imagine if we don’t need that space anymore. There are several startups who will bring insect protein to the market shortly. It contains more protein than meat. It will be labeled as “alternative protein source” (because most people still reject the idea of eating insects).

There is an app called “moodies” which can already tell in which mood you are. Until 2020 there will be apps that can tell by your facial expressions if you are lying. Imagine a political debate where it’s being displayed when they are telling the truth and when not.

Bitcoin will become mainstream this year and might even become the default reserve currency.

Longevity: Right now, the average [lifespan] increases by 3 months per year. Four years ago, the [lifespan] used to be 79 years, now it’s 80 years. The increase itself is increasing and by 2036, there will be more that one year increase per year. So we all might live for a long long time, probably way more than 100.

Education: The cheapest smartphones are already at 10$ in Africa and Asia. Until 2020, 70% of all humans will own a smartphone. That means, everyone has the same access to [world-class] education. Every child can use Khan [Academy] for everything a child learns at school in First World countries. We have already released our software in Indonesia and will release it in Arabic, Suaheli, and Chinese this Summer, because I see an enormous potential. We will give the English app for free so that children in Africa can become fluent in English within half a year.

See also SingularityU Germany Summit

And Singular University

[…] — copy edited.


About Electronic Disturbance Theatre 2.0

Artists Confront Govt. Surveillance with Covert Ops Exhibit
Electronic Disturbance Theater 2.0’s artistic and political statement
recalls the independent burn of Founding Fathers
Metroactive, July 2, 2015, by Gary Singh

The artist collective Electronic Disturbance Theater 2.0 can’t seem to do anything without causing problems.

Nearly 20 years ago, EDT member Brett Stalbaum was finishing his master’s in the CADRE Lab for New Media at San Jose State University. We were in the same classes together and have been friends since. At that time, EDT was version 1.0 and Stalbaum set up shop in room 233 of the Art Department. It was in that room that he coded in part the FloodNet Java applet, “a conceptual artwork of the net,” which, designed in solidarity with the Zapatistas, helped briefly bring down the Mexican government’s website.Subcomandante Marcos, the performance-artist-spokesman for the Zapatistas, was calling for new independent media to join the revolution. The World Wide Web was only a few years old, so terms like ‘cyber attack’ and ‘electronic civil disobedience’ were not household concepts yet. In SJSU’s Art Room 233, surrounded by SGI machines intended for computer animation classes, Stalbaum designed FloodNet, a fantastically low-tech art project built to replicate civil disobedience by enabling thousands of people to intentionally flood a website, a DoS attack that acted as a virtual sit-in.FloodNet caused international controversy, as the web, being so new, had not yet been used for mass political protest. Of course, as this was all going down, predictably, no one else in San Jose seemed to have any idea it was even happening. Everyone was too busy watering their lawns and watching Seinfeld.

Nowadays, EDT is “version 2.0” and the artists involved—Micha Cardenas, Amy Sara Carroll, Ricardo Dominguez, Elle Mehrmand and Stalbaum—have company in practicing the most American of ideals: civil disobedience. And just in time for the nation’s birthday, a new exhibit at the San Jose Museum of Art brings together a generation of artists who, through their work, address such travesties of justice—and express independence.

Art Attacks
The first phase of Covert Operations: Investigating the Known Unknowns came above ground June 30, including works by EDT 2.0, Harun Farocki, and collaborators Anne-Marie Schleiner and Luis Hernandez Galvan. The second phase goes public in August.

Claire Carter curated the show’s debut at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art in Arizona, just last year, and when sitting down with the participants she realized they weren’t just a bunch of bohemians irritated by the bumbling government and its failed policies. They were actually functioning like journalists.

“One of the reasons I found them so compelling is that they were digging for information that was demonstrable in this world of doublespeak and hidden agendas and security decisions that are hidden from the United States public,” Carter says. “These artists were using democratic means to get at information that we should all be addressing publicly. And I just found that extraordinarily compelling. On the surface, they’re all dealing with different issues in our post-9/11 world.”

Ricardo Dominguez, a professor at the University of California, San Diego, was nearly stripped of his tenure and fired for his participation in the EDT 2.0 conceptual art project. Luis Hernandez Galvan, a Mexican citizen, was booted out of the US for developing an interactive video game. Other artists in the show Covert Operations have had their mail opened or been targeted by the FBI. As a homecoming of sorts, some of the artists involved can trace their academic trajectories right back to Silicon Valley.

EDT 2.0’s project, Transborder Immigrant Tool (2010), repurposes archaic cellphones as physical aids for those crossing the border into the United States. Each phone has been uploaded with EDT’s proprietary software, enabling the user to locate water caches, highways or the border patrol in case of emergencies. The user cannot call out from the phone, thus announcing his or her location, but instead, the phone equips the user with tools to survive as he or she continues the journey. The phone software even projects desert survival poetry about the landscape written and recorded by the artists, thereby welcoming migrants into Arizona or California.

In a decidedly indigenous sense, the migrants can then view the desert as a sublime poetic object, with poetry becoming as much a part of the journey as water or location data.

EDT began conceptualizing the project in 2008, back when Apple was first pretending the iPhone was revolutionizing GPS technology. EDT found a bunch of old cell phones that already had GPS, but were otherwise “unsmart.” Those devices became the core physical component of EDT’s new conceptual art project.

Stalbaum says Transborder Immigrant Tool was influenced by nongovernmental humanitarian organizations like Border Angels, which helped maintain water caches in case immigrants ran into trouble in the high desert. The conceptual goal was to similarly aid the migrants, just as the NGOs had done. As a conceptual art project, however, they weren’t sure if it the theory behind Transborder Immigrant Tool could actually be implemented in practice.

“The biggest challenge was getting the software into people’s’ hands since organized crime basically controls the border crossing,” Stalbaum said. “One of the first things the coyotes (human smugglers) often did was take peoples’ mobile phones away if they had them because they wanted to be completely in control of the immigrants they were guiding into the country.”

That was 2009 and the racket has changed quite a bit since then. Many migrants leaving Mexico now have mobile phones. The process of helping immigrants cross over into the country now actually involves text messaging, smartphones and many familiar technologies. Unfortunately, it was only a matter of time before the right-wing echo chamber began to misinterpret EDT’s art project—one designed to help people find water—as something intended for foul play. Editorials appeared in the Orange County Register and the San Diego Union-Tribune. Conservative carnival barkers like Glenn Beck began to hyperventilate over the project, attacking EDT as if they were aiding and abetting terrorists.

No one in the echo chamber seemed to have art school experience, so they didn’t understand that EDT was implementing what French groups like the Lettrists and the Situationist International referred to 60 years ago as detournement—that is, the intentional rerouting, distortion, misuse, misappropriation, hijacking or other methods of turning a capitalist system against itself in order to produce new hysterical constructs. And, forget that the phones were never actually given to any migrants. That didn’t matter to the critics.

Stalbaum reiterated that the phones were conceptualized for short-term navigation purposes so that migrants could find water, experience poetry and survive in desert conditions. None of the hysterics seemed to understand that this was an art project designed to highlight failed policies on both sides of the border.

“There are GPS devices—you can go to the Best Buy in Tijuana if you want one—that are actually designed for long-distance, over-land navigation,” Stalbaum said. “Whereas our platform is designed to help you find a water station. So if you live in a fact-based reality, your concern should be with Best Buy, not the Transborder Immigrant Tool.”

The trouble didn’t end there. Aside from the FBI investigating the project, on the local front, University of California bureaucrats were likewise confused, so UCSD went after Ricardo Dominguez’ tenure over the whole thing. After all, the project was conceived with the help of university research funds. But after the subsequent media firestorm, as well as the negative publicity UCSD, began to receive by trying to censor Dominguez, the university eventually decided not to strip him of his tenure.

DIY Surveillance
Covert Operations artists question the ways in which the government monitors people’s behavior around the clock. Hasan Elahi’s work is the direct result of his experience with the FBI after they erroneously placed him on their terrorist watch list in June of 2002.

During the vast expansion of federal power immediately following the attacks, Elahi was stopped at the airport and interrogated about his activities on or around September 11. Despite handing over his electronic appointment books, itineraries, and phone calls, Elahi spent six months under investigation and sat through dozens of interviews and polygraph charades. This experience drove him to thoroughly document his entire life and activities via his website, basically preempting government surveillance by doing it for them.

In the exhibit, multiple-channel video-projections and/or installations will include live feeds from his website, documenting his whereabouts in obsessive detail, just so the regulatory bureaucrats can sit there and monitor his everyday activities. Now based at the University of Maryland, Elahi used to teach in the Art Department at SJSU. In still other cases, the works of artists like David Taylor and Jenny Perlin address specific examples of US government spying on American citizens. Harun Farocki and Taryn Simon likewise pry into the dysfunctional US intelligence bureaucracies and their botched handling of specific black sites.

All in all, when Covert Operations debuted at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, nothing in the show really shook the political landscape of Arizona that much at all. No one interpreted the show as a bunch of left-wing crackpot artists. Carter says everyone seemed surprised that no media firestorm erupted in what is generally referred to as the most conservative city in that state.

“What I’ve had to point out to people constantly, is that there’s a kind of libertarian bent to the artworks,” Carter said. “People were really shocked that it didn’t cause controversy in Scottsdale because, ‘Oh, Arizona’s so conservative.’ A lot of reporters from New York were just completely baffled as to why this wasn’t hugely controversial. I just had to explain to people that this is really about transparency and government accountability. And that those are all pretty libertarian positions in a lot of ways.”

Original publication here

Wikipedia/ Electronic Disturbance Theatre

Brett Stalbaum—Checking topographic maps and preparing to locate sites with GPS

Walking art and a short introduction – Brett Stalbaum for C5

October 27, 2010 / in 2009 Residency, SCANZ 2009: Raranga Tangata / by Trudy Lane
Originally published at

Walking has a long history;-) But its role and history in the arts and humanities are a bit more obscure than it is in the social sciences where the cultural/historical role of walking is better studied. (For example In philosophy, there were the peripatetics such as Aristotle, who taught philosophy while strolling in the Lyceum of ancient Athens. Others such as Immanuel Kant, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Søren Kierkegaard and Walter Benjamin are also known to have done a lot of their thinking while taking walks. Artists too have been interested in walking and quite a number have based their work in and around on the creation of walks. This is a terrain I have worked as well, and one that I’m looking forward to traversing with you on the Pukekura Park Demonstration/Environment and Sustainability GPS Tours project. Trudy lane suggested that I give you at least a coarse mini-history of the kind of artists and artworks for context. Of course, it is very much off the top of my head as I sit in the airport in San Diego waiting to board. But here it is.

As someone who identifies myself as an artist of the American West, I first note that my cultural inheritance is unavoidably linked to the European colonization of the North American continent, much of which was very unpleasant, and some of which was shamefully genocidal. A familiar story around the world I suppose. My wife Paula Poole and I are avocational archeology nerds who spend a lot of time in remote regions of the Great Basin desert ( visiting Native American petroglyph sites created by people who were among the first groups of people to walk into North America. We do feel an affinity for these special but now unpopulated sites, which are often difficult to visit, and which can be aesthetically breathtaking and intriguingly abstract. But it is an affinity that is also much removed from us, and we are aware of our inability understand these cultural treasures in any other context than that of archeology. In most cases, the people who created them no longer exist to explain them, and their ancestors too are often left to guess.

Another influence is romantic American landscape painting of the American West. Artists such as Albert Bierstadt ( had to walk a great deal in their relatively difficult travels across the continent in order to pursue their romantic goal of capturing the sublime in their pictorial representations, and of course, we recognize that the national expansionism of the time is unavoidably embedded in the ideology of these representations. This work is of course not “walking art” per se. The point is that the intersection of walking and art still has a number of under-explored relationships, some that map to quite contemporary issues. Explorers such John C Fremont ( were trained in both cartography and art, the latter order to perform field sketches of plants and landscape along their journeys. (1) Much of the exploration of the American west thus produced geo-referenced representations of the landscape, similar in concept to geotagged images you can find in Google maps and Flikr today. Of course, this kind of relationship between cartography and hand-drawn pictorial representation of the landscape is a much older story, indeed as old as cartography itself. There are also some connections between work I have been involved with and the notion of the sublime pursued by romantic era artists and explorers, but that would be an unnecessarily tumid topic for the Pukekura project. (If you want, have a look at this:

The above is what I perceive as my more obscure, or more personal/national influences on the kinds of walking works that interest me today. There are many current and relatively recent artists whose work more directly engages with walking as art, and art and cartography.

It is impossible to ignore the influence of Guy Debord and the Situationist movement on the current imaginary around GPS and mobile phone art practices; to a degree that I am getting a little sleepy just writing a single sentence about it. In the coarsest summary, psychogeographers like Debord were interested in the concepts of “derive” (drifting) and “detournement” (to make the normal appear strange), in order to promote greater consciousness of class and economic relations, and of course to produce new, experimental art practices. For example, ad nauseam, exploring Paris with a map of London, or walking a city in a pattern of some kind: walk two blocks, walk left one block, right one more block, turn around 180 degrees and repeat. It is actually a very nice way to explore a city, and to the degree that the knowledge gained might actually impinge on social relations, so goes the use value of psychogeography. The project we will be working on, creating GPS/mobile phone guided tours of Pukekura Park, will no doubt inherit something from psychogeography’s example. But from inside of this world of artists doing this general kind of thing, Situationism’s legacy may have been claimed once too often by now, and sometimes to purposes quite different from (or even contradictory to) the radical situationist agenda.

So where I will go from here is to present a series of examples and why I think they are important. With not so much humility, I will mention some of the work I have done with C5 and in the context of these influential examples. Much of the work I will discuss operates in the art world under the sign of “locative media”. You can look at locative media’s entry in Wikipedia for more information, and you might notice that the “definition” has taken on not so subtle expressions of a desire to be seen as operative within the realm of the social and political. ( And I suppose we could talk about panopticism and surveillance while we are on the topic of mobiles and GPS (often worried over as technologies of social control), or on flash mobs and activist uses of phones (where the social control aspects of new technology are inverted, facilitating democratic or sometimes mob action.) But this little note is already getting a little long, and these issues also are well worn as topics for mobile projects, no matter how important they are.

The Pukekura Park project too, in that it is intended to create an interpretive educational layer for sustainability issues in the park, is unavoidably situated under some sign of “the social”. But when it goes to the definition of locative media, at least qua the art world, I prefer to think in more general terms so as not to disclude any locative practices merely because they don’t adhere to art world fashionability surrounding issues of urbanity, socially engaged art practices, heroic environmentalist statements, and so forth. (Not that there is an inherent flaw in these, just that definitions should not be so exclusive as to favor particular practices when other obviously similar ones are left out.) So I normally propose something like this: locative media is computational media (often wireless, networked) that processes dynamic location data and presents the user with an interface (information, feedback, and control) intended to mediate the user’s spatial behavior or experience. This definition, which is similar to the current Wikipedia definition of “location-aware media”, adds to the former the focus on spacial behavior. The definition has the advantage of being precise enough to give a relevant description, but abstract enough to be inclusive of more diverse practices. For example, among my interests are the cognitive consequences of locative media, its impact on human spatial reasoning, and a range of ideas from the cognitive science discipline (and computer science) regarding cognitive maps, landmarks, topological networks and path integration. A particular interest of mine related to artificial intelligence is artificial walking. More on that soon, after I present a necessarily short (and unfairly incomplete) list of artists and works that I think are useful for us to think about.

Outside of the computing in the arts sub-genre of the art world that I work in, artists who matter a lot to me are Richard Long and Dominique Mazeaud. Long is one of the innovators of a certain kind of conceptual walking practice in which he walks the landscape and creates a subtle work out of found materials which are then photographed, and after which the site is returned to its natural state. ( Mazeaud is best known for a related kind of environmental artwork in which she performed ritual walks wherein she cleaned up the Rio Grande river in New Mexico, USA. (The Great Cleansing of the Rio Grande River, 1988.) Another related work that I really like is Ruth Wallen’s “Children’s Forest Nature Walk”, which involved working with children to produce interpretative etched trail panels for a nature trail in the San Bernardino national forest in California. ( In every sense, what we are going to work on is the same general kind of thing as my colleague Wallen’s work, except the topic, the ages of the creative young people participating, the way navigation is performed, and the manner of distributing the information in the landscape are quite different. But at some level, all stories in space are spatialized narrative, and the history of this kind of work precedes locative media.

A well-known computer artist who I perceive as very important but perhaps under-appreciated in terms of his contributions to locative media is Masaki Fujihata; particularly his seminal work Impressing Velocity (1994). Created quite early for a GPS based art project, research for the project included assembling a GPS receiver, a notebook computer, and transmission network into a large backpack. The system allowed the computer to keep track of and record/report the user’s location, and also for the tracklog of the user’s travels to be superimposed on maps and satellite images. Is anyone thinking Google Earth 1994? The performance art part of the project was the artist climbing Mount Fuji with the system, from which impressions of his velocity at various times in his long ascent were convolved onto digital elevation model data of Fuji, creating a data representation of the two realities.

Steve Wilson created another project very much ahead of its time in 1997. The Telepresent was a suitcase that contained a digital camera, computer, GPS receiver and a wireless internet connection using an early regional wireless data network in the San Francisco Bay Area. The Telepresent came with instructions for those who possessed it: they were to spend a day with the suitcase pointing it at whatever they wanted, documenting aspects of their day. The pictures and coordinates were sent back to a server to be displayed/mapped on the web, and each user was responsible to pass the Telepresent on as a gift to someone else. This early geo-referenced image project is very much the predecessor to a common activity of today: taking geotagged photos with mobile phones and uploading them to websites such as Flickr. (

Teri Rueb has produced a large body of work using GPS and mobile media for narrative, poetic, interpretive and installation art purposes. 1999’s Trace project situated sound art pieces dealing with memory and loss along trails in a Canadian national park. Now in a daypack smaller than Fujihata’s, the user would walk the trails, and the sound pieces would be triggered at various locations. (

Jeremy Hight, Jeff Knowlton, and Naomi Spellman carried the locative narrative theme established by Rueb (and differently mediated projects by very many artists, such as Wallen’s narrative trail-sign project) a few steps further down the road of the creative, expressive possibilities of mobile media. Using a tablet computer, they created a navigational visual interface and sonic narrative triggered by location, that was by 2001 capable of resting comfortably in the user’s hands as they walked. 34 North 118 West explored the layers of history in downtown Los Angeles in what Hight calls a “Narrative Archeology.” (

Worthy of note here are some stories of technology that we are all, of course, familiar with. On the one hand, we have the continual miniaturization of components, and on the other the consequence of miniaturization: convergence. Fujihata’s custom backpack becomes Reub’s daypack running more ubiquitous components. Wilson adds camera and wireless network, down to suitcase size. Knowlton’s 34 North platform is for yet smaller tablet computer and small external GPS dongle. The situation today is that many of the least expensive mobiles contain real GPS devices, media playing capabilities, cameras and network connections; from backpack to the handset, from expensive to $25-50 dollars. As you can see, artists have for a long time dreamed of, and actually built out this convergence in order to realize their artistic visions.The kinds of storytelling or other locative hot-spot triggered media practices pioneered by many of the above – requiring tremendous amounts of work, self-teaching, planning and often large grants or other deep pockets – should by now be cheap and easy things to do with our mobiles. Why isn’t it? Secondary and even primary age students should be able to create at least simple narrative based locative media. Organizations should be able to create guided tours that the public can run on their own mobile handsets just by pointing their mobile browsers at a URL. It should cost next to nothing, at least from the perspective of anyone who has access to an old PC and a few other resources like web hosting. In other words, it should work with relatively modest technological resources, of the type that many organizations around the world take for granted, or could possibly muster up. (And should it someday allow the OLPC xo platform to be used as a production studio for similar mobile phone content? Most certainly.)

In any case, this is a thought that I had while working with my old friend and colleague Ricardo Dominguez on a project intended to facilitate the navigational applications of cheap mobile phones. (The Transborder Immigrant tool project, still under development.) Working on mobile phone user interface elements for land navigation and basic GPS data types for this project, it occurred to me that some of the software I was developing may be of more general use, and this is essentially where the idea of a platform consisting of both APIs and production tools for this and other kinds of work more or less emerged.

The “Pukekura Park Demonstration/Environment and Sustainability Tours” project will present state of the nascent walking tools JavaMe APIs and production tools. Walking Tools currently includes 35 JavaMe classes and interfaces, fewer server-side classes, and proof of concept applications for deploying particular features of the Walking Tools JavaMe code by adding user-provided content. Supported by the Scanz Residency program and 60 Spring project, I am leading a demonstration or proof-of-concept that will include working with the three 60 Springs students, who will work to produce experimental content on the theme of environment and sustainability in Pukekura Park and botanical gardens in New Plymouth, New Zealand. It is an exciting thing to be involved with and I look forward to learning a lot about the prospects of such a platform and its applications in teaching and the authorship of locative interpretative environments in the process. I’m grateful for the opportunity!

There is more going on with Walking Tools than stated above. For example, I am working with Cicero Silva of Sao Paulo and Geri Wittig and Steve Durie of San Jose on some related things.. And I have been talking with a lot of artists about the potential of standards that would let the same content packs work on many different kinds of devices. But those will have to be better revealed in due time, as is the case with the Transborder Immigrant Tool project.

I promised Trudy that by way of introduction I would write a little about some of my other work and collaborations in the location-aware media area. But now it is late, the 747 is over the Pacific with bearings toward Fiji for my connecting flight to Auckland, so I will keep it short. In 1997 I was in graduate school at CADRE and fellow C5er Bruce Gardner was showing me his GPS device and some C software that visualized the tracklog of his bicycle routes. C5 would from time to time theorize about GPS, but with interests in AI, robotics, database and the emerging contours of what today is sometimes called the Big Data problem, we had plenty to occupy us. That is, until around 2001 when it became clear to us that GIS data sets were among the largest and most interesting of data sets, and that GPS could become a way of interacting with large data in a performative, generative manner in natural environments. So C5’s engagement with locative media began in a very different way than many other projects; the big data problem was the attractor. That led to, among other projects in what is called the C5 Landscape Initiative, Geri Wittig walking and recording the GPS tracks of iconic sections of the Great Wall of China, the development of statistical methods for finding the most similar terrain in a large database of California topographical data (myself and Amul Goswamy), and the application Artificial Intelligence techniques(2) to identify paths through those California environments where the Great Wall of China would most likely fit best in a topographical sense if it were actually moved to or recreated in California. Needless to say, a lot of backpacking was involved in finding some of those places. Strangely to C5, many took this project (cleverly titled “The Other Path”) as a kind of data-absurdist or even psychogeographic gesture; letting voluminous GIS data and some algorithms we wrote tell us where to go. But it was anything but ironic or absurd to C5! We were and are still quite sincere about what we see as the possibilities of generative, algorithmic relations between big data and human movement across the landscape. In any case, generative walking is still a relatively underexplored territory for new work, even as generative design and architecture have become standard concerns for new media artists.

Finally, after C5s 10+ year main phase burn of productivity began to slow as members were hired into new academic positions, and/or moved around the country, or took on new responsibilities like directing the 01SJ festival in San Jose, I kept developing and utilizing much of the code work I did for C5. With the blessings of my dear comrades, my wife and life partner Paula Poole and I began to ask what else can we do with ideas like data mining the landscape for locations, and following even better artificially intelligent virtual hikers, all the while taking in to consideration their possible intersections with the pictorial arts as well. A good general idea of what some of those things are can be found here: Sometimes we are following game bots through the wilderness. Enough said about that.

So there, I’m done. Sorry about the tome, but New Zealand is far from my home in Eastern San Diego County, California. My little note to a few students turned in to five pages. Occupational hazard I suppose. So let me just say I look forward to meeting you all! (And I’m sorry I did not write or post this sooner, I found no useful internet connection in Fiji or I’d have had it up before you meet me!)

Thanks again Ian and Trudy and all for the invite:-)

Brett Stalbaum

(1) Fremont was also a poet, abolitionist, and a politician who tragically lost the presidential election of 1856 to James Buchanan, a president who is nominally thought of as one of our worst. Fremont was the first Republican presidential candidate, Abraham Lincoln the second. As you may have heard, our list of potentially most disastrous presidents has grown a bit recently, and our new president is left to try to clean up the mess.

(2) The AI approach was inspired, perhaps not surprisingly, by a pair of archeologists: Ralph Hartley and Anne Wolly-Vaswar. They were researching the relationships between likely walking trails and native American petroglyph art in the American West. So the connection with native Great Basin rock art with virtual hiking and artificial walking is actually rather direct, though through archeology.

A link to a video of Brett’s project:

Brett Stalbaum

Brett Stalbaum is a full-time faculty member in the Department of Visual Arts at the University of California, San Diego, where he coordinates the Interdisciplinary Computing in the Arts Major. He is a founding member of Electronic Disturbance Theater, C5, and Current research involves generative locative algorithms, the development of mobile software platforms for walking, and their applications in art, activism, and education. He lives with his partner Paula Poole in an unincorporated area of Eastern San Diego County, USA.Read more about Brett Stalbaum.

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