ISSUE 02 | NOVEMBER 2022

Welcome to the second edition of The Miaaw Monthly which tells you what to expect in November, and provides a few pointers to things you might like to explore.

Last month, as promised, we relaunched the miaaw.net website with a new, shiny look, with drastically improved navigation including a new way to find all four years’ worth of podcasts by series.

As we said last month, in the next year we hope to expand our activities further to include a wider range of contributions from more people. If you have anything that you want to include in The Miaaw Monthly, or discuss in the podcasts, then please email us at monthly@miaaw.net and we will be happy to collaborate.

Our podcasts are a way to have (hopefully) interesting conversations about the things we care about. Please spread the word as widely as you can, and encourage people to subscribe to The Miaaw Monthly.


THIS MONTH’S PODCASTS

Every Friday a podcast appears at 12:34 UTC. Sometimes we get so eager that they appear an hour or two early to allow for any lag across the internet. Mostly they arrive on time. With that in mind, here are the podcasts that will drop in November.

Friday November 4: Meanwhile on an Abandoned Bookshelf

Angle of Vision: François Matarasso presents an audio essay about Orkney which begins by considering the poet Robert Rendall, and moves on to discuss wider aspects of Orcadian culture and the implications of Dunbar’s number.

Friday November 11: Genuine Inquiry

Owen Kelly looks at the continuing and contested influence of Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, who drafted large parts of the Indian constitution, and asks what relevance his fight against caste-ism, and his over-the-top solution, have for cultural democracy today.

Friday November 18: A Culture of Possibility

This month François Matarasso and Arlene Goldbard talk with Carol Bebelle, cofounder of Ashé Cultural Arts Center in New Orleans, about her decades of work for cultural democracy. It’s a vivid and uplifting conversation that touches on Hurricane Katrina, racial healing, the power of art and culture to root us in heritage and envision a future we want to help bring about. Listen and be inspired!

Friday November 25: Common Practice

Sophie Hope follows up her discussion with Ana Laura López de la Torre from the University of the Republic in Uraguay about democratic education by asking her about the specific role and function of ‘extensión’ at the university. All academic activity is organised there under three complementary and essential functions: teaching, research and extensión.


LISTENING

All our podcasts are available from Anchor.fm, Apple podcasts, Google podcasts, Overcast, RadioPublic, Soundcloud, Spotify, and Stitcher.

You can also listen to them at the miaaw.net website where you will find additional links, notes, and references accompanying each episode. You will also find a full archive of all the previous podcasts there.


OFF SITE

Experiencing

Imagine cities were car-free. There’d be less air pollution, less CO2 emissions, and more green spaces. And it would be a lot quieter, too. But how much noise does road traffic produce in megacities? Noisy Cities, an initiative by the climate charity Possible, lets us experience it first-hand.

Built upon the idea of Karim Douleb’s original Noisy City map of Brussels, Noisy Cities features noise maps for London, Paris, and New York. To explore the loudest and quietest spots in a city, turn on your speakers, and hover your mouse over the map. A decibel scale shows you the noise intensity, and, of course, you will hear the traffic noise changing as you move your mouse’s position. A thought-provoking experience.

We came across this in Smashing Magazine, number 374.

Finding

This month the Internet Archive officially announced a brand new initiative: Democracy’s Library, and posted a YouTube video explaining the idea.

The announcement said that “we believe that free and open access to public information is critical for any functioning democracy, and that every citizen should be able to seek knowledge in the public domain. That’s why we’re working to collect important government documents, so that citizens everywhere can be better informed.

“Our goal is to digitize, catalog, and make findable government materials, starting with the U.S. and Canada. This includes laws, scientific studies and reports, safety standards, patents, copyright records, and so much more. The Democracy’s Library project will allow scholars, journalists, educators, businesses, the general public, or anyone with a thirst for knowledge to easily find the information these governments have produced, much of it at taxpayer expense.”

Generating

Open AI has made a preview of DALL·E 2 available. In their words, this “is a new AI system that can create realistic images and art from a description in natural language”.

You can sign up, explore, watch a video, or view the research. You can also ponder about the chances that their “advanced techniques” to prevent misuse will actually, you know, prevent misuse.

Participating

The U.S. Department of Arts and Culture is a people-powered department — a grassroots action network inciting creativity to shape a culture of empathy, equity, and belonging. They have organised a free three-part training program starting today and continuing into November: Reimagining Labor and Building Cultural Power.

You can find out all the details and register for the events here.

Reading

When astronomers wanted a telescope that could capture X-rays from celestial bodies, they looked to the lobster. When doctors wanted a medication that could stabilize Type II diabetic patients, they found their muse in a lizard. When scientists wanted to drastically reduce emissions in cement manufacturing, they observed how corals construct their skeletons in the sea. This is biomimicry in action: taking inspiration from nature to tackle human challenges.

In Nature’s Wild Ideas, just-published by Greystone Books, Kristy Hamilton goes behind the scenes of some of our most unexpected innovations. She traverses frozen waterfalls, treks through cloudy forests, discovers nests in the Mojave desert, scours intertidal zones and takes us to the deepest oceans and near volcanoes to introduce us to the animals and plants that have inspired everything from cargo routing systems to non-toxic glues, and the men and women who followed that first spark of “I wonder” all the way to its conclusion, sometimes against all odds. While the joy of scientific discovery is front and center, Nature’s Wild Ideas is also a love letter to nature—complete with a deep message of conservation: If we are to continue learning from the creatures around us, we must protect their untamed homelands.

This excerpt comes from the Caught By The River newsletter which you can subscribe to at https://caughtbytheriver.net.


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