Trust No One,The People Own Ideas! – The People Own Ideas!
By Lawrence Lessig June 2005

We entered the youth camp that morning by passing down a long, white gravel road and under a wooden gate. Spread to one side, and for as far as you could see, were rows and rows of tents. In front were scores of showers, with hundreds of kids in swimsuits milling about, waiting to rinse. It felt like a refugee camp.

In a sense, it was. More than a hundred thousand had descended upon Porto Alegre, Brazil, to attend the World Social Forum, a conference intended to offer a progressive alternative to the much smaller, and much more famous, World Economic Forum meeting at Davos, Switzerland (see “Letter from Davos,” April 2005).

Just past the showers was a sprawling collection of wooden huts, connected by a canvas spread across their roofs. This was the free-software lab. To the right, there was a training room, with more than 50 PCs arranged along long tables. At the far end was a large screen, where 20 to 30 kids were watching an instructor explain the workings of some video-editing software. Every machine was running free software only–GNU/Linux as the operating system, Mozilla as the browser, and a suite of media production software, most of which I had never seen on any machine anywhere.


Car Pipe Organs

For the last couple of days, I have been thinking about car pipe organs again. This is an idea from some years back. The basics are fairly simple, you have a number of cars driving along a freeway side by side. On the top of the cars are long metal tubes of various lengths and diameters and as the car hits the right speed the velocity of the air travelling through the pipe will resonate and a note will sound. So the theory is that if the cars drive along speeding up and slowing down they will be able to play a tune. Now there are a number of things that need to be worked out I agree, but in principle, it should work.

The reason that this is back in the front of my consciousness as opposed to hiding down the back with all the other scary thoughts is that I saw a show on the Crucible ( a blacksmiths shop in San Francisco, not the play) and they were playing with flame throwers mounted on the top of their trucks and it got me to thinking (hey you down the back there… yes you the car pipe organ thought. Come up the front here for a minute) that maybe by squirting flame down the pipes you would lower the density of the air in the pipe and get a bit better control over the pitch.

Anyway, that’s as far as the thought has got at the moment (OK thought, back into storage.). I need to find a pyromaniac and see what they think. Don’t you just love it when art, physics and madness all intersect?