Urbex Preservationism

I have a new name for my hobby…

Then there are the self-styled “guerilla preservationists”, deep into heritage theory, and genuinely committed to creating a coherent photographic and textual record of buildings that would otherwise crumble unnoticed until a developer arrived to raze all trace of them.

The strange world of urban exploration, Robert Macfarlane, September 2013.

Anyway, it’s a good article.

Shame Perth is so hell-bent on obliterating everything, whenever there’s development to be done. Fucking yellow sand and bulldozers!

Facebook is NOT the web

Facebook wants to get people into their clutches, and obscure the fact that there is a world-wide web of stuff out there. They will probably succeed, too; more’s the pity. Still, I’ll continue to avoid them, just in case they do require my participation to ensure full world-domination.

Facebook and Google spread ‘their’ net across the mobile world, by John Naughton in The Observer, Sunday 24 March 2013:

It’s a smart strategy, and it will have one predictable outcome, namely, that many new users of the internet from poor countries will think that Facebook (or Google) is the Internet. This would be a particularly pernicious outcome for those who find themselves inside Facebook’s walled garden, because it’s much more comprehensively fenced than anything yet constructed by Google.

Why does this matter? Well, in a way, it comes back to the guys who won the Queen Elizabeth prize. The network that Cerf and Kahn built was deliberately designed as an open, permissive system. Anyone could use it, and if you had an idea that could be realised in software, then the net would do it for you, with no questions asked. Tim Berners-Lee had such an idea – the web – and the internet enabled it to happen. And Berners-Lee made the web open in the same spirit, so Mark Zuckerberg was able to build Facebook on those open foundations.

But Zuckerberg has no intention of allowing anyone to use Facebook as the foundation for building anything that he doesn’t control. He’s kicking away the ladder up which he climbed, in other words.

George Steiner, a certain idea of knowledge

Trees have roots; I have legs. And believe me, that is a huge advantage. […] Is it possible to read Plato while wearing a Walkman? […] Books are a great bulwark for private life. […] Imagine a world where neuro-chemistry could explain Mozart… It is conceivable, and I find it frightening.

From Telerama, via Presseurop (local archive).

32GB of public domain Royal Society articles now available

18,592 public domain (i.e. pre-1923) scientific papers from the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society are now available for anyone to download.

An extract from the README:


Several years ago I came into possession, through rather boring and
lawful means, of a large collection of JSTOR documents.

These particular documents are the historic back archives of the
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society — a prestigious
scientific journal with a history extending back to the 1600s.

The portion of the collection included in this archive, ones published
prior to 1923 and therefore obviously in the public domain, total some
18,592 papers and 33 gigabytes of data.

The documents are part of the shared heritage of all mankind,
and are rightfully in the public domain, but they are not available
freely. Instead the articles are available at $19 each–for one month’s
viewing, by one person, on one computer. It’s a steal. From you.

When I received these documents I had grand plans of uploading them to
Wikipedia’s sister site for reference works, Wikisource — where they
could be tightly interlinked with Wikipedia, providing interesting
historical context to the encyclopedia articles. For example, Uranus
was discovered in 1781 by William Herschel; why not take a look at
the paper where he originally disclosed his discovery? (Or one of the
several follow on publications about its satellites, or the dozens of
other papers he authored?)

But I soon found the reality of the situation to be less than appealing:
publishing the documents freely was likely to bring frivolous litigation
from the publishers.


—Greg Maxwell, July 20th 2011.