Shanzhai (Chinese: 山寨; pinyin: shānzhài; alternatively spelt shanzai or shan zhai) refers to Chinese imitation and pirated brands and goods, particularly electronics. Literally “mountain village” or “mountain stronghold”, the term refers to the mountain stockades of regional warlords or bandits, far away from official control. “Shanzhai” can also be stretched to refer to people who are lookalikes, low-quality or improved goods, as well as things done in parody.
“Worthington’s Steve Jobs book, like many of the other apparent copycats that Fortune looked at, is oddly formatted. The text on the first few pages of the book, which is all that was available for preview on Amazon, is huge and is similar to the language on the Wikipedia page about Steve Jobs. The back cover of the book has the exact same text. There is no other book by Isaac Worthington for sale on Amazon, and neither the site nor the book has any information about the author.”
Amazon’s spam problems are well documented. The Kindle store is awash in books confusingly similar to bestsellers. Companies like Icon Group International offer highly specific books like The 2013 Import and Export Market for Sawn, Chipped, Sliced, or Peeled Non-Coniferous Wood over 6 Millimeters Thick in New Zealand. Icon’s books are created by a patented system. The system’s creator Philip M. Parker says he’s planning to go after romance novels next.
When heralding the age of mass customization and the rise of rapid prototyping it is easy to get enthusiastic. Even when talking about what could go wrong, people typically stop at “but a lot of amateurs will generate bad early attempts”. Talk about crapjects and strange shaper subcultures still gives the whole threat a kind of artisanal feel. The true scale of object spam will be much greater.
Yes, lowered barriers to entry mean more small scale making and writing. Yes, domestic rapid fabrication and print on demand services open the floodgates to amateur designers and authors. They open the floodgates to algorithms too.
Plagiarism is less meaningful as an economic concept today than it was 15 years ago, which is why, from a legal standpoint, at least if you follow Posner, it is connected to notions of detrimental reliance. When plagiarizing something adds to a work’s value, or increases the number of page hits, which is common when you take something in the poetry world and redistribute it, then notions of plagiarism don’t seem avant garde at all. Take a look at publishing ventures that use Tumblr as a platform, such as Troll Thread, sisteract, and Gauss PDF. Nor should 7CV or HEATH be construed as avant garde or difficult in that limited sense. With the migration to cloud-based computing and paywalls and unsearchable gardens, this is changing. Pretty soon, content will be tethered much more tightly, yoked to proprietary systems themselves like Facebook, and ideas of plagiarism as a strong concept will no doubt surface again.
From Rhizome’s interview with Tan Lin. The last sentence of the interview reads:
Maybe that’s the future of the book: to look like a licensing agreement regarding the future dissemination of its own information.
In 2000, a group of American entrepreneurs moved to a former World War II antiaircraft platform in the North Sea, seven miles off the British coast. There, they launched HavenCo, one of the strangest start-ups in Internet history. A former pirate radio broadcaster, Roy Bates, had occupied the platform in the 1960s, moved his family aboard, and declared it to be the sovereign Principality of Sealand. HavenCo’s founders were opposed to governmental censorship and control of the Internet; by putting computer servers on Sealand, they planned to create a “data haven” for unpopular speech, safely beyond the reach of any other country. This Article tells the full story of Sealand and HavenCo—and examines what they have to tell us about the nature of the rule of law in the age of the Internet. The story itself is fascinating enough: it includes pirate radio, shotguns, rampant copyright infringement, a Red Bull skateboarding special, perpetual motion machines, and the Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of State. But its implications for the rule of law are even more remarkable.
From James Grimmelmann’s University of Illinois Law Review article on Sealand and HavenCo. And here’s an article he wrote about the debacle, plus WikiLeaks’ brief dalliance with the idea of datahavens:
Sealand isn’t going to save WikiLeaks any more than putting the site’s servers in a former nuclear bunker would. The legal system figured out a long time ago that throwing the account owner in jail works just as well as seizing the server. Unless Julian Assange is willing to move to Sealand for the rest of his life, he’ll be somewhere the long arm of some country’s law can reach. The corollary is that if WikiLeaks thrives, it will be because some country—one the rest of the world respects more than Sealand—decides it sees nothing seriously wrong with what WikiLeaks has done.
Speaking of skeuomorphs, here is Olia Lialina’s blog on analogies and metaphors in discussions about the Web and computers.
I teach Interface Design and Digital Cultures at a design school. Its a great job. The only thing that poisons my professional life are the numerous analogies I read every day in articles on new media and computer related topics.
The most popular analogy contemporary authors use to explain the computer’s development and its role in our life is to cars. In this blog, the car and other metaphors and comparisons will be collected. The examples will be in Russian, English and German, annotated and commented on in English.
What’s wrong with car metaphors and analogies in general?
Many of them are evil by themselves. When you do not have weighty arguments, when you are are not able to explain or grasp something, you can use an analogy.
To compare computers with cars, in particular, is wrong because it’s a huge simplification, the role of of computers in society and individual life is more complex than the role of cars.
The notion that today everybody has a computer and a car and “once, cars were new as well” is not enough to put an equal sign in between two phenomena.
One of Marshal McLuhan’s most famous quotes is:
When faced with a totally new situation, we tend always to attach ourselves to the objects, to the flavor of the most recent past. We look at the present through a rear-view mirror. We march backwards into the future… – (The Medium is the Massage)
This insight from the late 1960s becomes more annoying each day. Maybe it would help to regard it as a neutrally observed fact instead of an instruction on how to deal with new situations.
Also, computers are not so new anymore. Most misunderstandings and clumsy metaphors about computers do not appear because the computer is an unknown thing, but because a lot of knowledge about it is not present and metaphors have become the main mode of interaction with a computer.
In 2004, in her introduction to the 2nd edition of “The Second Self”, Sherry Turkle made a wise remark about the popular cars/computers parallels:
It takes as a given that people once knew how their cars, televisions, or telephones worked and don’t know this any more, but that in the case of mechanical technology, such losses are acceptable. It insists however, that ignorance about the fundamentals of computation comes at too high a price.
The seeming lack of political positioning of these large corporate entities is something that benefits the approachability, the cleanliness of the image, emphasizes fake neutrality and the overall reputation that the companies build to gain the users’ trust . But this does not mean that very important political decisions aren’t being made by these commercially oriented multinational companies, involving everyone’s access to information. The interests of corporations supplying tools that are used by everyone like water, but are being designed to make a profit have fascinated me for a long time. And the politics behind it become even more clear through vaguely described Terms of Services open to legal interpretation.
I assume that the Voicemail icon is supposed to be evocative of reel to reel tapes but it always look like a container of 110 Film. I suspect my voicemail is no longer stored on spooled magnetic tape. No, you’ve never seen either of these before, young person. #getoffmylawn
Ruth and Marvin Sackner founded the Archive in Miami Beach, Florida in 1979, later moving it to Miami, Florida in 2005. Its initial mission was to establish a collection of books, critical texts, periodicals, ephemera, prints, drawings, collages, paintings, sculptures, objects, manuscripts, and correspondence dealing with precedent and contemporary, internationally produced, concrete and visual poetry.
We have retained copies of the correspondence to and from dealers, curators, artists, poets and critics since the collection was formed. None of this correspondence has yet been catalogued. Yes! The Sackners do all the cataloging of their collection. We chose to call our collection an ‘Archive’ because an Archive includes correspondence, documentation and ephemeral material as well as core items of the collection. With the growth of the collection, the Sackner Archive took on features of an Archive of Archives. This direction might have subconsciously originated from our attendance at the blockbuster exhibitions held at Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris: PARIS-NEW YORK (1977), PARIS-BERLIN 1900-1933 (1978), PARIS-MOSCOU, 1900-1930 (1979), and PARIS-PARIS 1937-1957 (1981). The wealth of background (archival) material was an eye-opener to us. It brought life to these inanimate works and put them into matters of the moment that often uncovered unforeseen links to others. We have enjoyed cultivating personal contacts with artists and poets or their relatives and friends whose works constitute an Archive beginning with the multi-dimensional artist, Tom Phillips, in 1975 and still ongoing today. Such documentation may be found in our catalogue (1986) published in an edition of 500 copies that unfortunately is long out of print and the movie ‘Concrete!’(2003) made by our daughter, Sara Sackner, that is available on DVD and on streaming video.
The documentary is here on UbuWeb. Selected categories of work in the Sackner Archive include: Concrete Poets, Visual Poetic Artist Books, Handwritten Artist Books, Anthologies, Typewriter Poets, Compilers of Assemblings, Archive of Correspondence, Micrography, Rubberstamping, Mail Art and Artist’s Stamps, and Performance Poetry. They have a huge amount of artists’ books. Their online database’s list of classification authorities is wonderful. There is no contact information on the site.