Dan Phiffer Dan Phiffer builds websites, makes art, and teaches in NYC

Stephen Hawking on climate

The video Pink Terror by Mike Barzman includes a short excerpt from a 2008 Charlie Rose interview with Stephen Hawking.

I like how straightforward Hawking is about climate change (about 48 minutes in).

Charlie Rose: What worries you most about the future of the universe?

Stephen Hawking: I am not worried about the future of the universe. The universe will continue whatever happens. But the future of the human race, and of life on earth, is much less certain. We are in danger of destroying ourselves by our great insensitivity.

CR: What are we not doing to prevent these disasters that we absolutely should be doing?

SH: Not acting with sufficient urgency about climate change.

CR: Do you think we will survive?

SH: Maybe. (smiles)

I went to a public lecture by Hawking at CalTech a few years ago and was blown away by the experience. The first 10-15 minutes I was keeping up, but then suddenly I realized I wasn’t getting the math. The Q & A period was also well over my head, but I was struck by Hawking’s humor and stage presence.

Link via Jason Kottke and Beautiful Decay is one year old (or fifteen)

Oh man, I can’t believe it’s been a whole year!

It was one year ago tomorrow that we launched the latest redesign of (March 6 is a day that will be forever ingrained in the Digital Media team’s memory!) But MoMA has had an online presence for fifteen years now, since 1995, when an exhibition site for the design show Mutant Materials in Contemporary Design was developed. The following year, the Museum’s website,, officially launched, and we’ve been doing exhibition feature sites ever since.

One year ago I was working remotely from Groningen, NL where Ellie was doing a study abroad program. The weeks leading up to launch day were pretty brutal, probably my most intense working process since college. It seems so absurd, in retrospect, that most of it went down for me in that sleepy Dutch college town. Happy birthday! It was worth it.


The Ebert

I just got my first email from The Ebert Club and realized I forgot to link to it here. Roger Ebert says:

I want to make some money from the web. It may appear that I have an enormously successful web site here. I do. But I’m not making any money. In the years since the site began, my share of the profits has come to a pauper’s penny. The Far-Flung Correspondents aren’t the only ones here working for free. To be sure, the Sun-Times pays me handsomely, although less handsomely since we all went through a “belt-tightening,” so as not to lose our pants.

He goes on to discuss Negroponte’s micropayment future that never came to pass. It’s a simple problem that has evaded that particular simple solution:

The web that we surf every day is not paying for itself, and we sure as hell aren’t paying for it. You read me for free, and I read everybody else for free. This is not news.

If you like Ebert’s writing, or even if you’re not very familiar with it, read more about The Ebert Club and consider sending him five bucks.

Link (See also)

Haliburton patents frivolous patenting?

Filed in 2007, Patent Acquisition and Assertion by a (Non-Inventor) First Party Against a Second Party:

Methods for a first party to acquire and assert a patent property against a second party are disclosed. The methods include obtaining an equity interest in the patent property. The methods further include writing a claim within the scope of the patent property. The claim is written to cover a product of the second party where the product includes a secret aspect. The methods further include filing the claim with a patent office.

Alas, my prior art has been one-upped by a comically evil corporation.

Link via Doron

OK Go’s This Too Shall

After watching this (unsurprisingly) spectacular OK Go video I was struggling to remember the name of a similar contrivance in Vik Muniz’s Rebus exhibition. I found it, along with lots of helpful commentary over at Chris Devers’s blog.

A few things that struck me:

  • This is not your typical Rube Goldberg machine — it’s messy, destructive and the band members stand in as “props that can reposition themselves” (as Chris nicely puts it).
  • The open letter seems to have worked. Even recording industry lawyers are apparently powerless to this kind of strategic bad publicity.
  • On the other hand, the last few seconds of this video indicate some kind of compromise on the part of the band. It pushes this music video into the direction of “novelty viral advertising.”

All that said, I’m happy this exists. I’m also happy the marching band version exists and glad the video embedding issue has been set aside for now.


Events for March 5-7 2010

In addition to the other things I mentioned earlier there is also this:

Update: I had the wrong day for IgniteNYC. It’s tomorrow night!