Summer reading tip: water, knifes, pistachio nuts and the tragedy of the commons

Here is a suggestion for a bit of summer reading: The first thing that you need to read (in order to polish up your knowledge of the water rights issues connected to the Colorado river, a.k.a the law of the river) is this New Yorker article from back in may: Where the River Runs Dry – The Colorado and America’s water crisis by David Owen. Once you are done with this you need to aquire a copy of Paulo Bacagalupi’s new novel The Water Knife and find yourself a place with a swimming pool full of cr…

The market's clock speed is laughable

Just finished reading ‘Red Plenty‘ by Francis Spufford which has replaced ‘Turing’s Cathedral‘ as my favourite book from this year. In fact the two books probably should be read together. Red Plenty picks up approximately where Turing’s Cathedral ends and offers a rather fascinating peek into how the invention of electronic computers interacted with the planned economy of the Soviet Union under Khrushchev and his immediate successors. Red plenty follows a community of scientists (economists, com…

The future of copyright will most likely not be determined by a cost benefit analysis

So i finally managed to start reading the ‘Future of Copyright‘ anthology that contains the winning essays from a contest organised by the Modern Poland Foundation. So far (i have not read them all) my favourite essay is ‘Give‘ by Togi, which i read as powerful argument that systemic change (and not just reform) is not only much needed but also possible. While his overall line of argument is pretty convincing (to me), i have a bit of trouble following one of his (her?) central arguments (Mike Li…

Seeing with more precision than a state

So i am finally finding the time to read James C. Scott’s Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed. At the end of chapter 2 he makes the observation that… …the modern state, through it’s officials, attempts with varying success to create a terrain and a population with precisely those standardized characteristics that will be easiest to monitor, count, asses, and manage. The utopian, immanent, and courteously frustrated goal of the modern state is to is…

The jetlag society [one possible future for the book]

The Jetlag Society is one of the projects that was on display at the graduation show of the Sandberg Institute last weekend. The Jetlag Society consists of a video installation (on display in the rather amazing vondelbunker) and an unbound book (above). “The Jetlag Society is an unbound book on how technology influences time, space and our synchronization with the world. While bound books have weight, smell and are above all tangible, it’s digital form can be quick changing and endlessly linked…

Required reading? de schijn-élite van de valse munters

Two days ago i finished reading ‘De Schijn-élite van de Valse Munters‘ the much-hyped book by Martin Bosma who is credited with being the strategic brain behind the rise of the populist/islamophobic PVV that is enabling the current right wing minority government in the Netherlands. I am not exactly sure why i started reading this book in the first place, but i guess it was because i wanted to get a better understanding some of the reasoning behind the (often extreme and seemingly irrational) pol…

Publishers are stupid

So imagine this scenario: you are on an isolated tropical island that does not have a bookstore, you are out of books, but you happen to have an electronic reading device with you that is wirelessly connected to the internet and that is tied to you credit card account (which is not maxed out). This should constitute one of the most ideal business cases for selling books to this particular individual, but for some reason the publishing industry does not seem to be willing to cater to this scenari…

The end is VERY near...

This is by far the most repulsive patent application i have ever seen. Apparently amazon.com has filed for a patent for showing contextual ads in the margins (also called white space for a good reason!) of e-books……

Digitofagia: net_cultura 1.0

Yesterday evening i found an envelope copy of the book Digitofagia – net_cultura1.0 by Ricardo Rosas and Giseli Vasconcelos on the stairs to my apartment (thanks for the relay Geert!). This book has been in the making for more than 4 years and i had more or less accepted that i would never see it in print). The idea for this book cam up in the context of the Waag-Sarai Exchange platform in late 2004/early 2005. The book collects a number of articles and assays that discuss the – very lively – ne…

Thinking in times of social hypochondria

Finally finished reading ‘Denken in een tijd van sociale hypochondrie‘ (‘thinking in times of social hypochondria’) by the Dutch sociologist Willem Schinkel a couple of weeks ago. By the standards of Dutch sociologists, Schinkel is fairly young (31) and relatively famous (he was one of the 6 summer guests appearing on VPRO’s zomergasten in 2008 [torrent-file here]) which however does not mean that there are any english language references or translations of his work or available on the net (henc…