The Maker Faire festival is a mecca for inventions, arts and crafts in a kind-of re-imagined county fair. Organized by the staff of the magazines Make and Craft, the Faire tries to inspire attendees to roll up their sleeves and become makers themselves. I traveled to the recent Faire that took place in San Mateo, California. There I found that nothing is too sacred that it can’t be tinkered with, hacked or modified by the many inventors there.
The Gamelatron at the Maker Faire
Take for example, the Gamelatron: the world’s first fully robotic gamelan orchestra. In a radio piece produced for KUSP, I interview the invention’s creator, Taylor Kufner.
I used to hate beer. Most Americans experience beer and alcoholic beverages as a rite of passage into adulthood, but I refused to follow the crowd. Despite their fowl taste, most of us are introduced to beer through the cheapest, most processed versions available. I remember someone once explaining to me a kind of golden rule to appreciating (bad) beer, in an attempt to get me started: after ten cans the foul taste will go away! Even hardcore vegetarians and vegans can be found making exceptions for these beers, many of which contain animal products like bone, bladder, and dried blood. But I wanted nothing to do with them.
Then I moved to Portland, Oregon.
The wet city in the Pacific Northwest contains more brewpubs per-capita than anywhere else in the world, even Germany. I was surrounded by exotic Scotch Ales and fruity Lamics. It wasn’t long until I was trying beers left and right and attending such world-class beer events as the Oregon Brewers Festival and the Holiday Ale Festival. So then with so many great beers out there, why did it take me so long to find them?
Last year’s documentary film, Beer Wars, answers my question with a sobering story. Through an inside glimpse into the beer industry, the film illuminates how the giants of the market reinforce their dominance and squelch micro brewers using every tactic available. Distribution companies and grocery stores are manipulated to ensure that the smaller companies have little to no room in the trucks or on the shelves. We watch as the humble brewmaster of microbrewery Dogfish Head is served with litigation from Anheuser-Busch. Even though the suit is bogus, it is obvious that the corporation is aiming to simply bankrupt the little guys in legal fees. Why? Because they can. Continue reading →
Is Wikipedia using this seal to impersonate the FBI?
As reported in the New York Times, the widely popular collaborative information website known as Wikipedia has been threatened with prosecution if it does not remove the FBI seal from the site’s pages. The Wikimedia Foundation – the nonprofit charitable organization that runs Wikipedia – wrote back that the FBI’s was “incorrect” in interpreting its use as an effort to impersonate the agency:
Our inclusion of an image of the FBI Seal is in no way evidence of any “intent to deceive,” nor is it an “assertion of authority,” recognizable or otherwise.
Over the years, Wikipedia has enacted new standards for ensuring the legal validity of the content on its site. Users must now provide detailed information on how uploaded images meet permission and licensing standards for approval. Ironically, the credits for the FBI image file on Wikipedia include a warning to users about the same law now being used against the website:
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Public domain from a copyright standpoint, but other restrictions apply. In the US, unauthorized use of the FBI seal, name, and initials are subject to prosecution under Federal Criminal law, including 18 U.S.C § 701, § 709, and § 712.
Wikimedia’s author of the response, their general counsel Michael Godwin, took it a step further in his letter and called out the FBI for selectively removing statute language in their notice. He begins by asking, “May we talk a little bit further about ejusdem generis and your creative editing of the statute?” before ripping into the agency’s gross interpretation in a humorously cordial fashion.
Read the full letter as a .pdf courtesy of the New York Times.