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From the Ballardosphere: Why Academics Should Blog

As Simon Sellars of Ballardian wraps up his PhD, he reminds us of the positive nature of academic blogging, and the ways in which engagement in cyberspace can be a rewarding and integral part of intellectual enquiry.

Click to read more ...



The Blizzards - The Reason from Wyld Stallyons on Vimeo.

Alright, this is cool. The tune is a new release from the Irish indie band The Blizzards called "The Reason" (no, not an exercise in meteorology, as far as I can tell). The video, produced by Wyld Stallyons, is a sardonic riot - check out the military urbanism theme at work.

H/t Digital Urban.


Reinvigorating Humanitarian Intervention

Or at least the debate over it. Scott Malcomson, a former advisor to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, has a review essay on two new books on humanitarian intervention. Remember that phrase? Speak the words, and they shall become real again; and after the last 8 years of silence, a relief to see more of this in print. Malcomson piece reviews Conor Foley's The Thin Blue Line: How Humanitarianism Went to War (Verso), and Gareth Evans' The Responsibility to Protect: Ending Mass Atrocity Crimes Once and For All (Brookings Institution Press).

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Fine Tuning

We've been fine tuning a few things around the CTlab site recently, basically doing some house cleaning, restacking the shelves, and generally trying to impose a bit of common sense ordering to the architecture and content.

You'll notice a brand new layout (yes, that makes this about the fourth or fifth since we started in Dec 2007), including separate sections for symposia, a support page where CTlab fans and readers, if they're

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Cyber-Porcine Urban Sprawl

Alternate title: On the True Nature of Feral Cities.

Another one for the serious news category, this one from The Economist, which apparently has a sense of humor (or its layout editors are smoking crack, you pick). On the Brussels-London Eurostar, I was thumbing through the 6-12 December issue, when I almost fell out of my seat. On the same two pages, 56 and 57, I found the following three articles, all lined up like daffy ducks in a psychotropic row:

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Crysis "Mass Physics Engine"

Crysis Mass Physics HD By ÂLÐÒ•Ó from Ald0o0 on Vimeo.

Gaming. It subverts serious, sober scholarship and makes it hip by tapping into my backbrain with good tunes and wild interactive graphics, bypassing my conscious, professional concerns about ethics in research: I don't want to like it; I just do.

I've been flipping through some of the latest entries at Andrew Hudson-Smith's Digital Urban, and pasting some of the video here at CTlab. The interest, as always, is in the applied spatial research. In this case, the thread is based on the Crysis gaming engine:

The Crysis engine has an inbuilt physics system that supports vehicles, rigid bodies, liquid, rag doll, cloth and soft body effects. The movies in this post provide a glimpse of the physics engine in action, the first clip above demonstrates the 'Lego' modification running in real-time.

Andrew's pulled all sorts of video demos of the system, which are pretty slick, from a Vimeo series. An online tutorial entitled "How to Render High Quality Videos of Destruction" explains it all; catchy digital hellfire and brimstone, that.


The Things I Had To Do Without

Crysis LEGO map from Robert on Vimeo.

Something very insidious about this... yet strangely satisfying. When I was a kid, I had to content myself with being able to make an Uzi (non-functioning) out of Lego. Now, you can destroy entire Lego worlds!

H/T Digital Urban


Why Urban Planning is Cool

Urban Engine - live demo of 3D real-time in action from Urban Circus on Vimeo.

Because its visual models are accompanied by great techno soundtracks. Let that be a lesson for unhip political scientists everywhere.

Open query: what soundtrack would you use for a visual of Sageman's social network analysis of the global salafi jihadist movement?

H/T Digital Urban



Ines and Eyal Weizman have a fascinating new web installation entitled "CELLTEXTS":

The installation is dedicated to prisoners engaged in writing. The work is organized around a collection of hundreds of books and other texts from across the world written under conditions of enforced incarceration. The collection includes the work of writers who have been sent to prison for the contents of their writing, for their political involvement, as well as of prisoners convicted of other crimes who have used the time and seclusion of their incarceration to become writers. Through the collection of texts an archipelago of prison cells emerges. The cells are thus revealed as sites of intellectual production, marking the limit condition of writing. The collection is assembled in recognition that spatial confinement and isolation may induce a process of creative, imaginative, sometimes spiritual, cultural production.

The website is elegant in its austerity and beautifully spare, which is, of course, appropriate to its subject. The index of authors, is impressive; each is represented by an interactive bar in the graphic. Interesting how we forget some of these facts of books we take for granted in our reading of them.


Feedback City

Seedmagazine.com The Seed Salon

While we're entertaining city tropes, this recent interview at Seed Magazine, between Steve Strogatz and Carlo Ratti of MIT's SENSEable City Lab, is worth reading and watching. Urban feedback loops. Feedback city. Negentropolis. Chaoplexic space.

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