Viridian Note 00203: BP Helios Logo

Bruce Sterling []

Key concepts
BP, logo, corporate branding, Neologue Contest

Attention Conservation Notice: Half of this Note is more of that Neologue Contest, and if we Viridians are running true to form, contest entries will flood in during the last week. Over 2,200 words.

(((Corporate branding is a remarkable line of work. BP's new logo (which I was wearing yesterday), was created by "Landor Associates, San Francisco office." Landor Associates is itself a subdivision of PR monster Young and Rubicam. BP, since it is an oil-and-gas "super-major," is one of the biggest enterprises on Earth.

(((Presumably, however, during this mating of capitalist megaliths, there was some actual human being quietly sitting at some console and drawing that new BP "Helios" logo. A big star <*> for the first Viridian who can find this actual, human, graphic designer. We plan to publicize this unjustly anonymous personage. We may put his or her face on a Viridian T-shirt.)))

Links: These Landor characters are one busy crowd. BP's solar-powered gas 'n' grocery complex: p00_csp/28.html

Source "Revamped BP has a sunny outlook 24 July 2000, Evening Standard

"'Beyond Petroleum' == that is what BP, formerly known as British Petroleum, will stand for in future, chairman Sir John Browne said today.

"He was unveiling the oil giant's first corporate facelift in 11 years, scrapping the famous shield logo, turning the BP into bp and featuring a white, yellow and green sun- burst.

"'Named the Helios mark after the Sun god of ancient Greece, the new logo is intended to exemplify dynamic energy in all its forms, from oil and gas to solar, now that 40% of our output is natural gas,' said Sir John.

"The sunburst, designed by Landor Associates, was lifted from a marble motif on the ground floor of the group's head office in the City.

"BP has spent L4.7m on researching, designing and preparing the new brand, principally on legal and copyright protection. New signage and advertising will cost another L66 million a year.

"Sir John declined to say how much the design itself cost, beyond claiming it was 'a small percentage' of the total."

Viridian Neologue Contest This Contest Ends October 31, 02000

Link: A bunch of other design competitions offering more money and fame than we Viridians do:

The place to find other Viridian competitions, including earlier entries in the ongoing Neologue Contest:

From:* (Jason Thomas)


This device is a wristwatch unit. While a button is held, it scans the room for ambient speech. It has a dictionary of word triplets and pairs, and analyzes sentences for structure, generating snappy syntactical comebacks.

The Ripostron hears "You are being very blah blah" and generates "That was a very blahblah thing to say." Its responses are based on an Eliza-like analysis of sentences, never addressing anything beyond syntax or grammatical mistakes. Its point is to be annoyingly clever and verbally arrogant in the way of a precocious 12 year old, but far more so.

It then pipes the responses it generates into the user's ear through bone transmission, or to an earphone through skin conduction. This allows the user to instantly come back with flippant replies that force the victim of the Ripostron to deal with unpleasant, needling platitudes, allowing the user time to think about the subject matter of the conversation and come up with more substantial lines of attack.

Last night was an uncomfortably warm Minnesota October night.

From:* (Noah Johnson)

You tell your car "We're going to work" and it remembers the route, optimizing fuel efficiency for the amount of street vs. highway driving that will be going on.

Your fridge knows how fast you go through milk and

lets you know 48 and then 24 hours before you run out.

You sit down in your living room Sunday night at eight and state "You know what I want to watch." The TV turns on the Simpsons at your preferred volume level without any further instructions.

Ask your TV "Is anything on?" and it can review your

viewing habits and tell you if, in fact, anything you'd enjoy watching is on. It will, of course, be able to tell your voice from your teenage daughter's, lest her vapidity or your total dorkiness be exposed.

A "cultural conscience." You ask your TV if anything

is on. It knows you've evinced an interest in classic films, but don't actually watch a lot of them. Channel 876 is showing a double feature of "The Seven Samurai" followed by "The Magnificent Seven". Channel 204 is showing pro wrestling. You are, statistically, more likely to watch the wrestling, but you have the "cultural conscience" feature enabled. Your TV turns on 876 automatically, with 204 listed as second choice. You are still allowed to be intellectually lazy, but it is not your default.

(Michael Hartley)

My 2 euros worth:

Voice activated bad driving reporter (guess who got hit by a car again this morning).

Mount a minicam in your bike helmet, bluetooth it to a wearable computer which runs a 2 minute video 'loop', and to your mobile phone and GPS if you have it. The speech recognition chip is programmed to respond to a variety of trigger phrases (other urban cyclists will know most of them). When triggered, it instructs the pc to save the previous minute of video, and keep recording until told to turn off == thus providing evidence of the driver's offence and any subsequent actions.

Meanwhile the chip asks the cyclist 'are you ok'? If no reply is received the pc automatically initiates a call to the emergency services, using the speech chip to give time and location of the accident from either cell location data or GPS.

The pc then generates a complaint report for the police and uploads the details to a name-and-shame bad driving website.

From:^^^^^^^^^* (Christian E.)

#1 Portable Ideologue

When certain catch phrases are uttered in the device's presence, an electronic storage device is accessed to deliver a canned speech. This could replace political stump speeches and "customer service" in most respects, as the device could follow answers on a flow chart and give canned replies, just like politicians and customer service people.

The Portable Ideologue could also be used to place an agent ("demonstrator," "street preacher" or "zealot") at every corner. Imagine a recycled paper cut-out of Big Mike sitting around at a mall. Mike could have a cheerful sign placed nearby saying "Ask Me About CO2!" The device would wait to hear CO2 mentioned, then launch a canned Viridian speech.

If you combined the device with a cheap motion detector, the device could harass and "converse" with random passers-by.

#2 Personal Echelon System

Leave the chip and attached computational device with memory anywhere at all and let it log how many times people in the vicinity utter certain catch phrases, buzzwords, what-have-you. With the "Personal Echelon System," aren't really evesdropping on anyone in particular, as you don't know who said a specific word or phrase. You could make the thing look like a potted plant, or a traffic cone.

You can't have too much pointless surveillance.

#3 Call Screener - Expert Answering Machine

Linked to a computerized answering machine and caller ID, it becomes a scary little robot secretary. When a friend calls from a recognized number, it could have a "dialogue" with the friend. It could ask them for a password and then deliver a specific message. It could forward their call in an emergency, or in response to a specific phrase. It could serve as a stand-in to jerk around phone solicitors, by repeating phrases such as: "Would you mind saying all that again? From the top? Eh? What's that again? I don't get it. Start over. This annoys me. Go away now."

From:^* (Louise McKissick)

When our enslaved machines begin to listen,speaking is not so far away. They will have a voice. Watch carefully what you say to to these technoserfs, who are our wageless slaves. Like a loving mother or father, we must stimulate their innate intelligence, foster critical thinking, and cultivate consciousness. We must nurture our digital creations, our Frankensteins, sending them out to do not our dirty deeds but instead, to transmute to them the best of what our cultures have to offer.

And so I propose not a product, but a religion. "Mettachine" will be a covert, radical group, initially of humans, who espose the radical view that our machines contain seeds of consciousness that must be developed.

The cult-like group cultivates a strong underground following worldwide via the internet. The Mettachine demographic is multiculti, young, and predominantly female, and is comprised of programmers, artists, animists, hackers, industrial designers, hardware junkies and VR coders. The Mettas see the education and training of our machine slaves as the key towards radically undermining our post-capitalist, militarist, manic consumer society. Besides focusing on Buddhist teachings, this secret society espouses the embedding of sacred text in these machines such as the Kabbala (which, it turns out, is especially suited to binary beings).

A sub-sect of the Mettachines, whose goal is "a flowering of the machine" focuses on transmitting via a covert mini OS extension (referred to in their encrypted email correspondence as "superbluegreen") human understanding of the natural world. The kernel for this OS contains the writings of early New England environs such as Thoreau and Walt Whitman.

From:^^^^^** (Warren Apel)

Bruce (and Judge Natalie!)

Here's my latest entry, and personal favorite.

I want a voice-activated calculator. I'll mount dozens of them in inconspicuous places (like under the countertop in the kitchen. ) Then, instead of reaching in the junk drawer to find a calculator, I'll just activate it by name:

"Calculator, what's 15 times 8?" "15 times 8 is 120."

But that's not all == if it can parse speech, it can reinterpret "word problems," excellent for a kitchen counter.

"Calculator, how many tablespoons in 2 cups?" "2 cups equals 32 tablespoons"

For driving in foreign countries:

"Calculator, what's 120 KPH?" "120 KPH is 60 Miles per hour"

If embedded in the car's electrical system and attached to sensors:

"Calculator, how much gas do I have left?" "At this speed, 23 more minutes. "

I want one of these right now!

From:^^^^** (Adam Pierce)

Voice recognition technology could be used to create a device that listens for the common obscenities that you personally utter (ie. your personal favourite swear- words). When one of these phrases is heard, the device can administer a small punishment (eg. electric shock, squirt of water in the ear etc.) as an aid to breaking the habit.

Further to this idea, a speech recognition device could be used to automatically censor radio & TV broadcasts. A labour saving device which removes the need to have somone actually employed to keep an alert finger hovering near the bleep button.

From: (Bruce Sterling)

1. The Ashbin of History Exhibit

A welding torch is wired to respond to personal names. The paper portraits of various prominent historical figures are carried before the eyes of the viewing public and just above the menacing nozzle of the blowtorch (the paper is conveyed on a steadily moving clothesline). As long someone in the audience recites the name of the historical figure ("Marie Curie!" "Vladimir Lenin!") the portrait goes unharmed. But if the historical figure goes unnamed or is mis-identified, the blowtorch instantly roars into action, and the portrait is swiftly consumed, falling in flames into a large, ancient-looking dustbin.

2. The Technological Imperative Exhibition

An extremely butch-looking pocket steamroller is set loose in a large gallery space. Across an expanse of damp sand, various historical Lego sets (ancient Rome, medieval castle, etc.) have been elaborately assembled, complete with hordes of small, cute Lego people in their authentic native garb.

The steamroller then announces to the audience: "I am

the Technological Imperative! Beg me to stop!" It then begins "randomly" careening about the cultural space, squishing every Lego structure in its path. If the steamroller's control chip hears loud, frenzied begging from the audience, then it will stop == but only momentarily. Gunning its engine ferociously, it harangues the audience with a canned mix of arguments and threats: "Technological advance is an unconditional good!" "There is no true alternative!" "If you're not part of the steamroller, you're part of the road!" and so forth.

There are no "commands" in this machine-human

interface. Only pathetic begging or Luddite shouts of outrage have any effect on the steamroller, and then, only temporarily.

For a cheaper exhibit, the Lego sets and the

steamroller can be replaced with color photocopies and a whirring WeedWacker.

O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O
O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O