5 Intriguing Things: Monday, 2/3

Spies in Copenhagen, generative art, can-do American attitudes, streaming data, and The Showmen's League of America.


1. The NSA was working the Copenhagen climate talks, says yet another Snowden document.

"It remains unclear precisely when the NSA began to target the summit specifically. However, the NSA document about the agency’s COP15 efforts reveals that, ahead of the summit, the agency was already collecting information about other countries’ preparation for the Copenhagen negotiations. The document refers to a report from the end of November in which the intelligence agency 'detailed China's efforts to coordinate its position with India and ensure that the two leaders of the developing world are working towards the same outcome.'

The document then goes on: 'Another report provided advance details of the Danish proposal and their efforts to launch a 'rescue plan' to save COP-15.'

In other words, it appears that the Danish COP15 chair was one of the NSA targets before the climate summit."


2. Artist Sonia Sheridan put together a cool looking forthcoming book, Art at the Dawning of the Electronic Era

"Generative Systems, 1970s visionary art program, is revealed through colorful images showing how youthful, imaginative artists created images and sounds with electronic equipment originally intended for business. Four insightful articles set the context.

'Sonia Sheridan broadened our vision to include 3M’s Color-in-Color use as a new art medium.'—Douglas Dybvig, 3M developer of the world’s first color copier"

+ Sheridan's portfolio of generative art


3. The can-do American attitude versus the Sacramento River.

"We will observe the people of the Valley, therefore, making mistake after mistake, and yet continuing to make decisions about the river for all the world as if they knew what they were doing. In truth, given their nature, given the inner state of American political culture-which had now been transported bodily across thousands of miles and planted firmly in California-nothing else was actually possible. Mid-nineteenth century Americans were shaped in their most basic outlooks by the ebullient, burstingly expansive years from the 1820s through the 1840s, the already mythical Age of Jackson, which they had just passed through. They were confident, impatient, entrepreneurial, defiant of life's limitations, and determined actively to possess and develop the enormous continental expanse that had now opened before them.

Those who had arrived in California were people who had been sufficiently courageous and risk-taking abruptly to leave their homes in the Eastern states and stream westward through a host of dangers to reach their goal. Their instinctively activist impulse was to solve (as they believed they were doing) such difficulties as they now faced in the flood-endangered city of Sacramento by some simple practical step that would force nature to behave as they wished it to. Rather than making an adjustment to the environment and its realities, they resolved to transform it by pushing the river back, hardly entertaining the thought that they might fail."


4. A streaming platform for open-data projects of all kinds

"Plotly provides a free platform for makers to stream data to the cloud, where they can graph and analyze their data, discover other makers, and share and comment on these data streams. The data is always owned by you, the maker, so you can download, share, or remove it as you like... 

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