Uncle Sam Wants You

>  11 September 2002 | LINK | Filed in , , ,


This shared web-gallery of radical arts exists to document, develop and promote the artform of the post-corporate millennium - subvertising.

Subvertising is the Art of Cultural resistance. It is the ‘writing on the wall’, the sticker on the lamppost, the corrected rewording of Billboards, the spoof T-shirt; but it is also the mass act of defiance of a street party. The key process involves redefining or even reclaiming our environment from the corporate beast. Subvertising is allot like good modern art - they both involve finding idiots with too much power and wealth, and taxing them.”

A mixed collection of images from corporate logos to propaganda posters on issues from Animal Rights to War & Peace. Most of the images are “CopyLeft” or “Anti-Copyrighted.”

“CopyLeft means copyright except for non-profit making initiatives/organizations where the it is used to positively portray what it set out to do. If you are not sure what it originally set out to do you must ask its creator. This means that you can use the (graphics, article etc.) If you are not making money out or it and do not have the intention of doing go. If you are you must get permission from the creator to use it. This is a slightly reduced form of anti-copywrite.”

The concept resembles the more developed idea of Copyleft put forward by the Free Software Foundation. On the other hand:

“Anti-Copyright means use freely for whatever you want, and comes from the perspective that copyright should not exist at all or that there is no need to copyright the information/image as you wish it to be distributed freely and reused.”

Got any images to contribute?

>  6 September 2002 | LINK | Filed in , , , ,

Smokey, the Forest Fire Bear

“Created in 1944, the Smokey Bear campaign is the longest running public service campaign in US History. Smokey’s forest fire prevention message remained unchanged for 50 years until April 2001, when the Ad Council updated his message to address the increasing number of wildfires in the nation’s wildlands. As one of the world’s most recognizable fictional characters, Smokey’s image is protected by US Federal Law and is administered by the USDA Forest Service, the National Association of State Foresters and the Ad Council.”

The site features notes on the history and real-life inspiration for the character as well as vintage audio and imagery from the campaign. Yet, despite public education to prevent forest fires, fires have become more frequent and more severe. In fact, because of U.S. forest policy. From the U.S. Bureau of Land Management:

“Fire suppression had been the general Government policy for most of this century. A series of very destructive fires from 1871 until about 1945 had a powerful impact on the public, which was alarmed by the destruction of human life, property, and resources (like forest products and livestock food) caused by the conflagrations. The fact that loggers carelessly ignited most of these fires had little sway on public opinion. The Government policy, then, generally called for fires to be suppressed, despite the fact that as early as 1933 research was showing the absolute necessity of periodic fire for ecosystem health. This policy was effectively reinforced by the familiar icon of Smokey the Bear admonishing that ‘only you can prevent forest fires’, and by such potent images as Bambi fleeing from fire.

Yet despite determined efforts over the years to suppress naturally ignited fires, wildfires have become more numerous, severe and difficult to control. Wildland fire experts contend that this is the inevitable result of well-intended but misguided fire suppression efforts, which consequently have created vast tinderboxes in many parts of the West.

Fire ecologists say they expect many more seasons of severe wildfires because there are millions of acres that have been affected by our management actions that have not yet burned. Managers can intervene and begin restoring the natural fire regime. They have two principle tools: letting naturally-caused fires burn, and deliberately setting ‘prescribed’ fires.”

Prevention, of course, is the reason George W. Bush is easing restrictions on logging to “give loggers greater leeway to cut larger, more commercially valuable trees... and deny environmentalists legal tools they have used to block such logging.”

Smokey site found via MetaFilter.

>  3 September 2002 | LINK | Filed in , ,

Burn All GIFs

“CompuServe released [image file format format] GIF as a free and open specification in 1987. GIF soon became a world standard, and also played an important role in the internet community. It was well supported by CompuServe’s Information Service, but many developers wrote (or acquired under license) software supporting GIF without even needing to know that a company named CompuServe existed. GIF was relatively simple, and very well documented in books, articles and text files.

GIF images are compressed to reduce the file size. The technique used to compress the image data is called LZW (after Lempel-Ziv-Welch) and was first described by Terry A. Welch in the June 1984 issue of IEEE’s Computer magazine. Unisys [once a well-known computer company with a long history] holds a patent on the procedure described in the article, but the article describing the algorithm had no mention of this. The LZW procedure was simple and very well described, and it soon became a very popular technique for data compression (just as GIF would become a standard in its own field). It appears that neither CompuServe, nor the CompuServe Associate who designed GIF, nor the computer world in general were aware of the patent....

At the end of December 1994, CompuServe Inc. and Unisys Corporation announced to the public that developers would have to pay a license fee in order to continue to use technology patented by Unisys in certain categories of software supporting the GIF format. These first statements caused immediate reactions and some confusion.” From The GIF Controversy: A Software Developer’s Perspective.

“[Currently,] Unisys is charging web sites $5000 or more... if the software originally used to create the GIFs was not covered by a Unisys license.... The catch is that it appears to be difficult or impossible to get a Unisys license to use LZW in free software that complies with the Open Source Definition or in low-volume proprietary software. [Instead, Unysis requires a yearly license fee directly from Web site operators.] The fact that Unisys was able to patent LZW is due to a flaw in the US patent system that makes even pencil-and-paper calculations patentable.... However, Unisys’s actions are legal under US law, so the only reasonable alternative to paying the ‘Unisys tax’ on the web is to upgrade graphics from GIF to PNG format, or MNG format for animations.” From Burn All GIFs.

Burn All GIFs is a campaign encouraging Web developers to stop using the GIF format. Burn All GIFs also promotes Burn All GIFs Day to both further the campaign and to protest Unisys’s licensing practices. Burn All GIFs is a project of the League for Programming Freedom, an organization that opposes software patents and user interface copyrights.

PNG is a lossless image compression format that is free from patents and royalties. It also compresses better than GIF, supports interlacing, and true alpha transparency. It became a W3C standard in 1996 and is supported by most browsers (though some have not implemented full alpha transparency.) You can convert your GIFs to PNGs with some of the tools listed here.

>  31 August 2002 | LINK | Filed in , ,

A Full Tank of Terrorism?

Stop your engine.
No smoking.
Return nozzle to pump when finished fueling.
Pre-pay after dark.
Thank you for financing global terror.

Post these official looking ‘Thank You’ stickers at a gas station near you. The stickers (and T-shirts) are being sold at cost directly from Subvert. Over 1200 stickers have been ordered so far.

Google has refused run ads for the project. Google’s letter states: “At this time, Google policy does not permit the advertisement of ‘Hate/anti’ on our website. We also do not permit sites that sell these products to advertise on Google.”

Found via kottke.org

>  30 August 2002 | LINK | Filed in , , , ,

Mapping Manhattan Surveillance

For the exhibition “We Love New York: Mapping Manhattan with Artists and Activists,” the Institute for Applied Autonomy and the Surveillance Camera Players led workshops on surveillance cameras, public space, and civil liberties. Participants then took to the streets to document the city’s surveillance cameras. The findings were mapped onto an 80 foot map of Manhattan. The group also led walking tours of the City. “Participants [moved] through the city in small groups, using handheld devices to document surveillance camera locations. The cameras will be added to the iSEE community database that allows pedestrians to track the ‘path of least surveillance’ between any two points in Manhattan.”

>  29 August 2002 | LINK | Filed in , , , ,


I’ve spent the last few days upgrading this site to valid XHTML 1.0 transitional. Molly Holzschlag gives a good overview and background of XHTML in this interview. The benefits of XHTML include increased interoperability and greater accessibility. Though some older browsers do not fully support XHTML, the text of this site is still accessible. See J. Zeldman’s “Why Don’t You Code for Netscape?” and “To Hell with Bad Browsers,” two good rants on standards from a designer’s point of view.

>  28 August 2002 | LINK | Filed in

Wheatpaste for Global Justice

Check out Mike Flugennock’s anarchist and anti-globalization posters. Print ‘em out, plaster the streets - they’re free to use and download as EPS or PDF. Also lots of video of the pasters being hassled by The Man in Washington, DC.

>  19 August 2002 | LINK | Filed in , , ,

Paper without Wood

“There does not exist enough wood fiber to supply the ever growing appetite of the global pulp and paper industry. The industry itself no longer debates this issue with environmentalists; even they accept that we all face a looming wood fiber shortage. Pulp and paper is a 107 billion dollar industry, which accounts for about 85% of nationwide revenues for wood products, making it one of the nations top income generating industries. This ostensibly indestructible industry cannot be ignored; our global economy revolves around it and is reliant upon it.”

The crisis thus made plain, the ReThink Paper Web site presents strategies for paper reduction, a ranked list and searchable database of papers that contain no virgin wood, a host of non-wood alternatives for paper (such as kenaf, hemp, and agricultural residues,) a directory of non-wood paper friendly printers and designers, even a cooperative buying guide. The site is a project of the Earth Island Institute. (Free registration required.)

>  18 August 2002 | LINK | Filed in , , ,

Beer Tax Battle Online

Says the Washington Post:

“The use of the Web has given rise to two contradictory trends. It has provided improved access to the political system for outsiders and mechanisms for spontaneous expression of public attitudes. But there also are more opportunities for finely tuned manipulation by politicians and special interests willing to pay the costs.... In a lobbying drive now underway, brewer Anheuser-Busch Inc. is using advertising on the Web to bolster a traditional lobbying drive to win House sponsors for legislation that would kill a 1990 tax on beer. The ads, which appear on sites run by such publications at Congressional Quarterly and National Journal, drive traffic to a beertax.org site, run by Anheuser-Busch. That site — expressly designed for ‘government officials and staff, journalists and other opinion leaders on public policies that impact the brewing industry’ — tells visitors: ‘Every time you buy a beer, an incredible 44% of the price you pay comes from taxes.... While excise taxes collected from wealthy Americans have been eliminated, working Americans continue to pay the beer tax at the rate of $65 million a week.’ So far, 224 House members, more than a majority, have joined on as co-sponsors.”

The Post article does not mention the nonprofit Web site and grassroots network or the dramatic poll numbers opposing the beer tax rollback.

Found via VoxPolitics.

>  12 August 2002 | LINK | Filed in

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