On Democracy by Saddam Hussein (2012)

31 July 2013, dusan

In 2003, after returning from a month-long stay in Baghdad, Paul Chan was given a gift from a colleague in the human-rights group Voices of the Wilderness: a copy of three speeches on democracy written by Saddam Hussein in the 1970s, before he became president of Iraq. The speeches, compiled here for the first time in English, are politically perverse, yet eerily familiar. The then vice president of Iraq characterizes social democracy as demanding authority, and defines free will as the patriotic duty to uphold the good of the state. This volume takes the speeches as an opportunity to ask what democracy means from the standpoint of a notorious political figure who was anything but democratic, and to reflect on how promises of freedom and security can mask the reality of repressive regimes.

With drawings by Paul Chan, including a new suite in its entirety, and essays by Bidoun’s Negar Azimi, philosopher and artist Nickolas Calabrese and journalist Jeff Severns Guntzel.

Edited, and with Artwork by Paul Chan
Publisher Badlands Unlimited, Brooklyn, New York, with Deste Foundation, Athens, 2012
ISBN 1936440326, 9781936440375
144 pages
via Badlands Unlimited

An interview with Paul Chan about the book (Paul Schmelzer, WalkerArt.org)



Note: Apple and Amazon ebook version includes original video clips.

Abdel Rahman Badawi: Nietzsche, 5th ed. (1939/1975) [Arabic]

31 July 2013, dusan

The first of nearly 200 books written by philosopher Abdel Rahman Badawi.

عبد_الرحمن بدوي: نيتشة
First published in 1939
This edition published by Agency Publications (وكالة المطبوعات), Kuwait, 1975
295 pages

Badawi at Wikipedia


Culture Machine journal, Vol. 14: Platform Politics (2013)

31 July 2013, dusan

This special issue explores how digital platforms can be understood, leveraged and contested in an age when the ‘platform’ is coming to supplant the open Web as the default digital environment.

Platforms can be characterized as resting on already existing networked communication systems, but also as developing discreet spaces and affordances, often using ‘apps’ to circumvent any need to access them via the Internet or Web. Papers in this issue explore the nature and distinctive aspects of the ‘platform’: as something that can be positioned as more than just a neutral space of communication; and as a complex technology with distinct affordances that have powerful political, economic and social interests at stake. In this respect the platform constitutes a zone of contestation between, for example, different formations and configurations of capital; social movements; new kinds of activist networks; open source and proprietary software design. Platforms also constitute spaces of struggle between mass movements and governments, users and the extractors of value, visibility and invisibility: witness the various debates over the role of ‘social media’ in the Arab Spring, anti-austerity, student and occupy movements. Such struggles entail a compelling intersection between technology and design, capital, multitude, the democratization of technology and ‘subversive rationalization’.

The platform represents not just a question of software and control, then; it also connects to wider social struggles in the sense that ‘platform’ can refer to a ‘political platform’, and can thus take on the agenda setting or framing role of political discourse more generally. Accordingly, this special issue looks to understand ‘platform politics’ as a broad social assemblage, complex or form of life. Linking particular platforms across the molecular and molar, it thinks about platform politics as a distinct new context of power operating at the intersection of technological development, software design, cognitive/communicative capitalism, new forms of social movement and resistance, and the attempts to contain them by the exiting democracies. (adapted from call for papers for this issue)

Edited by Joss Hands, Greg Elmer and Ganaele Langlois
Publisher Open Humanities Press
Open Access
ISSN 1465-4121

PDF (single PDF, added on 2013-8-1, via Marcell Mars)
PDF (PDF articles)

Christopher Alexander: Notes on the Synthesis of Form (1964)

31 July 2013, dusan

“These notes are about the process of design: the process of inventing things which display new physical order, organization, form, in response to function.” This book, opening with these words, presents an entirely new theory of the process of design.

In the first part of the book, Christopher Alexander discusses the process by which a form is adapted to the context of human needs and demands that has called it into being. He shows that such an adaptive process will be successful only if it proceeds piecemeal instead of all at once. It is for this reason that forms from traditional unselfconscious cultures, molded not by designers but by the slow pattern of changes within tradition, are so beautifully organized and adapted. When the designer, in our own self-conscious culture, is called on to create a form that is adapted to its context he is unsuccessful, because the preconceived categories out of which he builds his picture of the problem do not correspond to the inherent components of the problem, and therefore lead only to the arbitrariness, willfulness, and lack of understanding which plague the design of modern buildings and modern cities.

In the second part, Mr. Alexander presents a method by which the designer may bring his full creative imagination into play, and yet avoid the traps of irrelevant preconception. He shows that, whenever a problem is stated, it is possible to ignore existing concepts and to create new concepts, out of the structure of the problem itself, which do correspond correctly to what he calls the subsystems of the adaptive process. By treating each of these subsystems as a separate subproblem, the designer can translate the new concepts into form. The form, because of the process, will be well-adapted to its context, non-arbitrary, and correct.

The mathematics underlying this method, based mainly on set theory, is fully developed in a long appendix. Another appendix demonstrates the application of the method to the design of an Indian village.

Publisher Harvard University Press, 1964
Harvard Paperbacks, Volume 5
ISBN 0674627512, 9780674627512
216 pages

google books


MIT and the Prosecution of Aaron Swartz (2013)

31 July 2013, dusan

“In January 2013, MIT President L. Rafael Reif asked Professor Hal Abelson to lead a thorough analysis of MIT’s involvement in the Aaron Swartz matter, from the time that MIT first perceived unusual activity on its network in fall 2010 up to the time of Aaron Swartz’s suicide on January 11, 2013.

On July 26, 2013, Professor Abelson and his team submitted their report to President Reif.” (source)

“Abelson and his panel interviewed 50 people and reviewed 10,000 pages of documents to produce the report, about 3,000 of which were released in redacted form.” (source)

Publisher Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 26 July 2013
Review Panel: Harold Abelson, Peter A. Diamond, Andrew Grosso, Douglas W. Pfeiffer (support)
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License
182 pages
via Marcell Mars

“MIT Report is a Whitewash” (statement by Aaron Swartz’s partner Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman in response to MIT’s report, 30 July 2013)
“MIT Moves to Intervene in Release of Aaron Swartz’s Secret Service File” (Kevin Poulsen, Wired, 18 July 2013)

summary from the publisher


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