The desert is all stretch marks

In the desert, beauty is the way a place has been tangled with: rock thrust upward through the crust of the earth, terrifying pours of water from a sudden-dark sky, tumbles of mud and rock racing downstream. The desert is all stretch marks, a shifting old skin, ugly and devastating in its resilience. And for every inch of it covered by detritus, another corner is exposed, glaring whitely under the full moon. Small white flowers erupt in last year’s wash.

Via Katherine E. Standefer in High Country News

re: why a high level of chaos is needed for consciousness to function

They go on to suggest that the emergence of consciousness itself may have a relatively simple physical explanation: our minds are the locations where matter has temporarily sorted itself into a sufficiently complex state on its way to maximally disorganized equilibrium. …Consciousness might arise when the largest amount of possible connections are achieved within a given set of restraints. In the harsh language of thermodynamics, “consciousness (like biochemistry) may represent thus an optimal channel for accessing sources of (free) energy.”…As the Internet becomes something approaching an infinitely interconnected library, there may come a time when the bits align themselves in such a way that they emerge as something we recognize as truth, beauty, and being.

Over at his blog Kevin Buist explored how Consciousness Emerges from the Archive; in a post that references Jorge Louis Borges, bots such as Metaphor-a-Minute or @horse_ebooks, the uncreativity of poet Kenneth Goldsmith, The Library of Babel and finally “a very bizarre and complex computer game called Dwarf Fortress”.

re: stack platforms aka “earth, cloud, city, address, interface, user”

Platforms offer a kind of generic universality, open to human and non-human users. They generate user identities whether the users want them or not. They link actors, information, events across times and spaces, across scales and temporalities. They also have a distinctive political economy: they exist to the extent that they generate a platform surplus, where the value of the user information for the platform is greater than the cost of providing the platform to those users

Via McKenzie Wark On Benjamin Bratton’s The Stack for Public Seminar

Academia.edu has a parasitical relationship to the public education system

Yet posting on Academia.edu is far from being ethically and politically equivalent to using an institutional open access repository….The key aspect of Academia.edu to be aware of in this respect is its business model. Unlike that of some for-profit publishers, this is not based on academic authors, their institutions, or their funders paying a fee for their research to be made available on a free and open basis: what’s known as author-pays, or an article processing charge (APC). Its financial rationale rests instead on the ability of the angel-investor and venture-capital-funded professional entrepreneurs who run Academia.edu to exploit the data flows generated by the academics who use the platform as an intermediary for sharing their research.

Professor Gary Hall, in Should This Be the Last Thing You Read on Academia.edu?