The Alan Sondheim Mail Archive

May 30, 2010

virtual speech

earth talks, electrons listen
electrons talk, earth listens
one electron, many earths sewn together
many electrons sewn together, one earth
hello i am electron, unlike earth,
i have only one part, sob! hello, i am
earth, unlike electron, i have
many part, but wait say electron, i
have many part of you, i am electron say
earth, but wait, i am listen

Revised revisited notes on Second Life for ELO - speaking and speech and
language and talking and writing:

1 In Second Life there may be speaking. Speaking is too close for many
people who won't speak but will just use the text chat window. When you
hear a voice, you are in the presence of the voice, of the person
speaking. You're in the presence of the grain of the voice. You're there.

2 Chat is safer and cooler, and you can paste text in the chat window, you
can save the chat dialog. Pasting text allows you to work things out in
advance. You can think in advance, just as you do in literature. You can
think in advance and someone will read it later, just as if you were
speaking it then. Reading text brings the writer up to date for you. Chat
can be heterological, wandering, lost; chat is murmured, whispered. You
hear chat.

3 You can write interesting scripts that make objects and avatars do
things. Interesting scripts are invisible literature; they're under the
hood of the virtual world, and you sense them only by what they make
things do. You can write things accompanying invisible scripts, things
that only people who understand how things work, will be able to read.

4 Scripts are performative language, they carry out things, transform bits
and bites into the visible. You never see the skeleton of the virtual
world, you never read its literature, only its affect, its effect.

5 Objects may have signs above or below them, objects may be inscribed
with writing, and with writing, you can create narratives and literature
out of objects. You can have objects which are video-textured. In one user
interface, an entire region has a single object texture that can present
specific video; the video can have text, voices, anything. In the newer
interface, different objects can have different textures that can present
different videos, all competing for bandwidth; these videos likewise can
present both sight and sound, written words and spoken words. Your region
can swallow the world with enough bandwidth, and everything can be heard
or seen, one doesn't know where to turn.

6 Almost everything in the virtual and real world is always inscribed, and
even in physical reality, there are no "natural" organisms that are not
tended, are unintended, are not tended to.

7 In a virtual world, everything is inscribed and of the ontology and
epistemologies of inscriptions, codes protocols, and so forth. And this
inscription is dynamic, on the move, continually transformed by users and
corporate entities, by hackers and operating systems, and so forth. In
the physical world, the real is inert, obdurate. In the physical world,
organisms are inscribed, cultured, acculturated, all the way down; codes
exist within potential wells existing for relatively long periods of time.

8 In both worlds we inhabit spaces we do not fully understand - spaces,
ontologies, and epistemologies which are fundamentally alien - which are
always already inscribed elsewhere and elsewhen.

9 Every organism is a literature, its language the economy of the imagin-

From re my residency in Second Life:

"SL without language - that is to say, unspoken and unspeaking objects,
objects unspoken-for, these objects parallel the diegeses of silent cinema
- moving among them, but then what? what are the moments of narrative or
other devices conveying meaning, other than design, etc. So language is
critical, and there are signs/signboards everywhere, not to mention notes
handed (down) to one upon entering SL - all this. But if language inheres
to the object, if the object is always already inscribed, the
possibilities open up perhaps? So on one hand, there are speaking objects,
and on the other, objects with inscribed textures. The latter can be
stationary signs/signboards; they can also be (in SL 2 viewers) videos
separately assigned to separate surfaces, or objects in their entirety. In
both cases, it appears as if the objects were speaking, were in some sense
linguistic - as if language were in the world, not so much of, or beyond,

simple image of the New Man

of course iconic

for Lenny B. Riefenstahl


Ikonic texture-mapping which seems to shift from imaginary to real,
a condition of the imaginary. Influenced by stromatolites, formed
from shine/bump mapping onto altered three-dimensional mapping of
Azure, using the large laser at WVU's Virtual Environments Lab.

One organism lends itself to another, the fossil life of oil lends
itself to the blanketing of life-now, molecular turmoil bringing
everything down.

The moment of language/writing pasted on textures; the moment of
textures and objects signing in; the moment of reading dragged
text; the narratological moments of (diegetic) difference; the
moments of stumbling and surprise; the moment of aural understand-
ing; the moment of conflicting streams of symbols or sounds; the
moment of scraped meaning - moment of the gift or withdrawal -
moment of useless identities - moment of ontologies of coherent
structure -

or the beginnings of life, stromatolites near origins -

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sun, 30 May 2010 21:53:07
From: moderator@PORTSIDE.ORG
Subject: Do No Harm

Do No Harm
Yobie Benjamin
Yobie Benjamin:
Hacking Capitalism, Carbon, Politics & Food
May 29 2010

[moderator recommends you visit above link to view
related graphics]

Do no harm.

That is the mantra of the executives, engineers and
scientists at BP's command center in Houston. So when BP
tries to cap the oil gusher, it takes the steps in
serialized order and ranked by risk.

So it is clear that installing the LMRP cap is far
riskier than the top hat, top kill or junk shot. So why
is it risky?

As a scuba diver, I have never gone deeper than 100 feet
but one thing you'll notice as a diver is everything is
different underwater. Even with fairly dexterous hands
and fingers, everything is difficult under water. One
clearly cannot move as fast under water. A spear gun
fired underwater is going to be slower than if it was
fired above water. Even using a personal water
propeller, both machine and/or man cannot fully overcome
the water's mass, weight and pressure. It's physics and

Water is inherently dense. For every 33 feet of
seawater, the pressure exerted on an object increases by
the equivalent of what a human experiences at sea level
- 14.7 pounds per square inch. At the spewing wellhead,
that translates into a pressure of more than one ton per
square inch. Sunlight penetrates seawater to a depth of
only a few hundred feet.

Everything underwater is different.

The LMRP is a containment plan that uses a modified
containment dome / top hat approach. Even if it
successful, the LMRP will NOT fully stop the oil gusher.

Remember the containment dome? It was 5 stories high and
90 tons. The methane hydrate "ice crystals" buoyed it
and it started bobbing around. Further, the methane
hydrates clogged the receiving pipe/hose.

The LMRP cap effort is similar to a much larger 98-ton
containment dome placed at the end of the broken pipe in
early May. That dome also was connected to the ship by
pipe and was intended to corral and channel oil and gas
to the surface.

In the top hat and containment dome method, too much
seawater got inside, and mixed with natural gas at high
pressures and cold temperatures and formed ice-like
methane hydrates that blocked oil from flowing up the
pipe to the ship.

Again, the action is one mile deep under water and the
pressure is over 1 ton per square inch. It is pitch
black dark. The water turbidity is complicated by the
oil and gas.

Now lets' talk about the ROVs (Remotely Operated
Vehicles) which are submarines with lights, robotic arms
and hands. These ROVs are the only way to cut and
install the LMRP. The ROVs are made of titanium, thick
glass and other super strong materials designed to
withstand the crushing force. Seawater stops most radio
signals. Workers rely on cumbersome cables thick with
electrical and fiber-optic lines. ROVs working around
the wellhead need powerful lights. There is no other way
to work under water - end of story.

The flash animation and movie of the ROV you see is
likely to be the same as the ones used by BP. The ROV is
manufactured by the leading ROV company in the world, I-
Tech which I believe is from Norway. There is no doubt
BP is using one of the very best ROVs in the planet.
NOTE: You'll have to hit refresh to watch the ROV again
and somehow it's not running on Chrome.

First, the ROV has to cut or dismantle the 21-inch riser
pipe. The riser sits above the BOP (Blowout Preventor).
It will require a specialized ROV with a high speed
power cutter that will shear off the riser pipe.

Second, once the riser pipe is sheared off it will
unleash the full unabated force of the oil gusher. The
force is the same that pushed back 30,000 barrels of
mud. Remember the fire hose analogy in an earlier
posting? Toss that aside now. It's now a sheared off 21-
inch fire hydrant a mile under water spewing out oil and
methane hydrates. Notice the LMRP approach is the
similar as the top hat containment dome approach. It's
very risky because the engineers have to precisely
position the LMRP on top of a high pressure oil and gas

Notice the LMRP approach is the similar as the top hat
containment dome approach. It's very risky because the
engineers have to precisely position the LMRP on top of
a high pressure oil and gas gusher.

Third, ROVs have to position and couple a tapered end
hose/pipe with a modified dome to the sheared off riser
pipe. This makes me nervous because the ROVs have to
position the LMRP cap precisely while the cut riser is
spewing out oil and gas. The goal is to capture and
contain some of the oil and gas. Imagine doing the same
procedure on a gushing 21-inch fire hydrant to capture
some of the water (except it's spewing gas and oil)
gushing out? It's that hard times infinity.

It is curious to hear BP saying they are not worried
about unleashing more oil and gas if the LMRP fails.
What does that say? It implies the amount of oil and gas
spewing out now is the same as the amount of oil and gas
expected to spew out of an uncontrolled sheared off and
fully exposed riser pipe. It sounds like BP cannot screw
it up any more than it is now.

The point of failure seems to be the ROVs being unable
to control and properly position the LMRP cap to couple
it and seal the grommet.


Step 1 - Position the LRMP cap close to BOP.

Step 2 - Do another top kill to buy a few minutes of no
oil and gas spewing. At least try for a few moments of
reduced pressure.

While the top kill did not work, the mud did stop or
reduce the gusher for a few moments.

Step 3 - Using the few moments when the top kill stops
the oil and gas or reduce the pressure of the gusher,
position the LMRP very quickly.

Step 4 - Engage the sealing grommet around the sheared
off riser pipe.

Step 5 - Pray and hope.

Do no harm any more.

If you live in the Gulf Coast, please take pictures or
videos of the oil slicks. We just wrote some iPhone,
Android and Blackberry software that will help you
document the damage. It is specially useful if you're a
boat owner or clean-up volunteer to take pictures and
video. Please note time and place. Some smart phone
cameras' GPS chip will record location even when there
is no cell signal.

Documentation of the damages is going to be critical to
the people of the gulf coast. Before and after pictures
and videos will be particularly helpful.

Feel free to download the apps. They are free.

iPhone App -

Android App -

Blackberry App - Point your Blackberry web browser to:

If you have a regular digital video or still camera, up
load your images to:

Huge shout out to our developer friends at Intridea and
UK-based Heamish Graham from Swoosh Software!


We now have a special Twitter client to help organize
all the tweets and other social network information on
the spill. You can also try the special twitter app at Shout out to Invention Arts of San Francisco.

Share this article with your friends by sending this

The site is an all-volunteer effort and a work-in-
progress and we'll be installing search image
capabilities soon. DO NOT SEND US MONEY at the Gulf
Coast Spill Coalition! Donate to the Sierra Club,
Greenpeace, Mobile Bay Keeper or some other reputable
charity of your choice. We are archiving all the
pictures and video for full public use. We will soon
have full search capabilities on all relevant pictures
and video care of our friends at EdgeCase.


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the Base is the configuration that the camera enters, modified scripts
motivate, sounds and videos plaster, provides support for new construc-
tion, disentangles inscription, entering negotiates, holds meaning at bay,
and here are two Bases in various states, with large spherical surfaces,
rectangular platforms, internally- or region- activated media, stretching
bandwidth and the appearance of motion, through continuous rewrite, the
appearance of continuous redraw - in other words, here are the bases for
the series of recent video-works, the theater, staging, or launch-pad, or
matrix with links to specific coordinates, landmarkings, permissions, or
what passes for lifeworlds, the imaginary given a Base or Bases, a moment
we have shared continually in human history, in history human or otherwise

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