Fun with Mozilla

I’ve recently been playing with Mozilla plug-ins on my eMac. Googlebar emulates the popular IE searchbar, and Composite lets you do WYSIWYG HTML (sorta) in text areas such as form submissions. The Mac OS X version of Composite has no Save button and the OS X version of Googlebar has to be re-selected to show up.

The PDPal Art Project

Years ago, when I was reading up on the Situationist International (a loose confederation of brilliant, pretentious, cranky European avant garde artists/radical-types from the ’60s), I was fascinated by their ideas about urbanism, antic architecture and “psycho-geography” (the personal, emotional, libidinous sides of living space). They were fascinated by maps and the ability to use them to re-map a route (what they called the “Northwest Passage”) to a possible city: a better city, an ideal city. They would cut up maps, creating collages of psycho-geographic landscapes (usually mappings of their drunken wanderings through French cafes and bistros). Years ago, when I ran a culture club in DC, called Cafe Gaga, we experimented with some of these ideas (including the stumbling drunk part) in new urbanism and it was extremely fun and enlightening.

Now a group of artists has combined some of these ideas of emotional urbanism/the “poetry of place” into a PDA-based public art project. Participants download the PDPal software and then use it to create and annotate maps of their experiences of and ideas arising from their urban wanderings. An “urban park ranger” an avatar within the program, prompts you and encourages you to share your maps with others. You can beam to other PDPal users or upload to a “Beaming Box” at kiosks (as shown in the pic). The idea is to remap a “city of grids” into a “city of experiences.” The project will launch at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis in summer ’03 and then in NYC where they’ll be ten beaming stations available.

It’s a really cool idea. The website content has that sludgey pomo artspeak I have little patience for these days, but hopefully, one can cut through it to get to the idea, which sounds like fun.

[Thanks to Jim Leftwich]

Amazon Does Togs

Amazon started with books, moved into electronics and videos, and then into everything else. The name has been associated with every possible retail item…except clothes. Until now. “Jeff” wrote me an email this morning to tell me that Amazon has started a new project, still in “beta” (that’s probably just a gimmick) to retail clothing of every sort, from Old Navy to New Balance, from Kate Spade to Jack Spade. The new collection of stores is code-named “ruby” (more gimmickry) and can be accessed at Here’s one bit that’s not gimmick; spend $50 in the clothing section, and you’ll get $30 gift certificate for anything at Amazon, even books, if Amazon still sells those…

Shameless Promotionals

Our “MCI Network” (i.e. familiy and friends) have been hard at work crankin’ out the media recently. First up is TechTV’s Catalog of Tomorrow, a sorta Whole Earth-styled survey of up-and-coming science and technology. I contributed a bunch of pieces to this, along with other pals of Street Tech like Cory Doctorow, Mark Frauenfelder, Tiffany Lee Brown and Howard Rheingold.

Speaking of Cory and Mark, they’ve got new books of their own. Cory’s first sci-fi novel, Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, has generated quite a buzz. I can’t wait to read it. Mark’s book, called Mad Professor, is a guide to weird and wacky kitchen experiments for kids. He wrote AND illustrated it. If you’re a fan of Mark’s happy mutant retro-futuristic humor and drawing style, you’ll love this book.

And last, but certainly not least, my wife Pam’s band, Thievery Corporation, has released their third recording, The Richest Man in Babylon. It’s their most ambitious project to date, with a planetful of different sonic moods and textures. Pam plays on two tunes, the delirious Arab/India-inspired “Far East” and the shagadelic “All That We Perceive.” Other stand out tracks include the beautiful Lamb-like “Heaven’s Gonna to Burn Your Eyes,” with Icelandic singer Emiliana Torrini, and “Meu Destino,” a Brazillian number with the highly underrated DC-area jazz great Patrik De Santos.

P2P is Thievery

The New York Times has an interesting story about how the P2P (including Morpheus, LimeWire and Kazaa) or other shareware that you downloaded may be hijacking the affiliate payments from nice sites like Street Tech to pay someone else. This has got to be illegal, and if it’s not, something really ought to be done. The article in the times has the steps needed to remove the stealware like LimeShop, SaveNow and BuyerSport from your computer.