Reflections on Trusting Trust

The more nerdy among you will probably find Reflections on Trusting Trust by Ken Thompson an interesting read.

I stumbled across it while reading up on the the first Underhanded C Contest featured both on Slashdot and LtU.

From the article:
The moral is obvious. You can't trust code that you did not totally create yourself. (Especially code from companies that employ people like me.) No amount of source-level verification or scrutiny will protect you from using untrusted code. In demonstrating the possibility of this kind of attack, I picked on the C compiler. I could have picked on any program-handling program such as an assembler, a loader, or even hardware microcode. As the level of program gets lower, these bugs will be harder and harder to detect. A well installed microcode bug will be almost impossible to detect.


urban mountaineering


manipulating etoy.CARGO-TANK doors requires mountaineering skills:
etoy's agent.SILVAN during an abseiling action in Berlin.


Berlin operation launched

together with our investors, etoy.AGENTS officially launched etoy's summer 2005 residency in Berlin - plug-and-play on top of the PLATOON camp at Weinmeisterstrasse in downtown Berlin (Mitte).


the PLATOON premises offer outstanding working and recreational facilities: network access, bar, lawn, sandbox, and pool. more than 20 new etoy.MICROINVESTORS climbed into the etoy.CARGO-TANK on Saturday night and learned first-hand about our upcoming operations.



information & invitation for etoy.INVESTORS


the adventurous landing of one etoy.STUDIO&LIVING-TANK on top of PLATOON-CAMP No1 in berlin mitte (weinmeisterstrasse 3 / 2 min. from alexanderplatz) marks a breakthrough in real-life standard technology and interactive urban art.

the temporary etoy.HQ in the berlin sky serves as a base for business on a higher level of human intelligence: etoy.AGENTS are currently immersed in a pursuit of eternal dimensions ->MISSION ETERNITY / PREVIEW SEPTEMBER 2005 IN A CEMETERY NEAR YOU.


8.6.2005 14:35 CET: international ISO standards the mobile etoy.CARGO-TANK plugged seamlessly on PLATOON's working and recreation containers (including coding, administration, management and swimming pool tanks). special thanks to our plug&pray partners from PLATOON)

18.6.2005: a 5 months berlin residency & etoy.PRODUCTION-PERIOD will be kicked off with the participation of two etoy.ARCHITECTS in "Worlds out of Containers / Workshop on the Power of Containerisation", Volksbühne, Berlin. etoy.GRAMAZIO & etoy.MIR

18.6.2005 21.00 - 00.00 CET: CONTAINER SIGHTSEEING: etoy.TANK meets PLATOON container system. Drinks and tours for workshop participants and etoy.SHAREHOLDERS (etoy.CARD required). Special guests: FUR (the creators of the PAIN STATION)

3.7.2005 17.00 CET: public podium by PRODUKT & VISION at Kunstfabrik: social responsibility as survival strategy? etoy.AGENT present.

23.7.2005 18.00 – open end CET: etoy and platoon FRIENDLY FIRE party. details to be announced.

9.9. - 9.10.2005: exhibition PRODUKT & VISION with participation of etoy.

strategic partners: PLATOON - cultural development / Produkt & Vision / LISTA - making workspace work / Pro Helvetia / Sitemapping / City of Zug / Kanton Zurich / Migros / TEC-IT / Celebration Hotels / EUnet / La Claustra


knowledge management at etoy

etoy.INTERNAL-AFFAIRS handles all knowledge management functions for etoy.CORPORATION without being visible publicly. 85% of operations in research, development, and implementation take place in the virtual space and across time zones. This system has been responsible for a unique logic and aesthetic within etoy.CORPORATION since 1994. Globally distributed etoy.AGENTS (currently in Zurich, Lausanne, Vienna, Berlin, St.Gallen, Los Angeles, Boston, and New Delhi) meet rarely in physical space and count on a reliable information infrastructure to produce. etoy.INTERNAL-AFFAIRS administers all ideas, working drafts, construction plans, budgets, software components, style guides, corporate identity standards, manuals, business documents, contracts, communication, and more. The system features an integrated discussion forum and voting mechanisms and acts not only as the administrative backbone but also as the power apparatus of etoy.CORPORATION.

The conceptional and technical basis for etoy's online collaboration tool was initiated in 1997 in order to coordinate the planning and construction of the first etoy.CARGO-TANKS. While the planning was centered at the ETH in Zurich, the construction was carried out by four agents at the University of California at San Diego. Today's version of the system is built on an open source application by Bitflux. The complex and costly process of building a workable content management system does not create art market impact directly, but it allows etoy to stay one step ahead and think about collaboration strategies before they invade the shelfs in office and consumption software. Toywar was based directly on these internet collaboration technologies.


Landing in Berlin

the etoy.TANK has landed in Berlin!

visit our plug-and-play partners PLATOON for pictures of the landing.


etoys Aussichten auf den Kunstmarkt - 2005-06-09


No Title


Interview by

Methoden und Grenzen des Lernens
Methods and Limitations of Learning

1) Wie lernst Du? How do you learn?

Constant process improvement is prerogative for every etoy.AGENT. My learning strategy follows the logic of absorbtive capacity: the more contexts I constantly browse, the higher my basic understanding of technological advances in various fields including social engineering, the higher the probability that I can build on the upcoming, previously unknown, crucial element that enables the next leap forward.

2) Welche Strategien, Tricks oder Vorgehensweisen hast Du zur Bewältigung von Lernaufgaben im Kontext der Vorbereitung von Kunstprojekten entwickelt? What strategies, tricks or approaches have you developed for learning tasks you have to deal while preparing an art project?

Information technology has come a long way to providing not only access but also filtering tools to skim relevant knowledge from various domains quickly and deeply: specific tools include high quality publications (The Economist, Academy of Management Journal, Journal of Economic Literature), group knowledge management (weblogs, social networks), and psychoanalysis (managing mental transaction costs)

3) Stößt Du an Grenzen beim Lernen? Woraus bestehen sie? Do you reach any limits when learning? What are they?

Mental models and time constraints tend to impose additional costs. The advantages of multidisciplinary teams kick in.

4) Begrenzt Du das Spektrum Deines Lernens bzw. machst Du irgendwo bewusst 'zu'? Wenn ja: Was versprichst Du Dir davon? Do you limit your scope of learning? Do you consciously close up yourself? If yes: Why? What are the benefits?

Herbert Simon's seminal concept of bounded rationality fully applies here: when search costs for new knowledge outweigh potential additional benefits, that's where I stop.

5) Stehst du unter Lernzwang? Are you under learning pressure?

Yes, and pressure can be applied productively: creative distruction liberates.

Formen künstlerischen Lernens
Forms of artistic Learning

6) Gibt es ein spezifisches künstlerisches Lernen, das sich von anderen Formen des Lernens unterscheidet? Is there a specific artistic learning that is different from other forms of learning?

Unlikely. Learning is fraught with uncertainty and ambiguity. Ex ante, I cannot know whether new knowledge will lead to triumph or trash. Both might be artistically relevant, but it's the implementation that frames and selects, not the knowledge creation itself.

7) Unterscheidet sich die Informationsaufnahme durch Kunstprojekte bzw. Kunstwerke von anderen Medien? Does the reception of information through art projects/art works differ from other media?

Art is a social construction and an attitude, hence no.

8) Hat die Kunst bzw. die Kunstgeschichte spezielle Lern- oder Arbeitswerkzeuge bzw. Lern- oder Arbeitsmethoden entwickelt die heute als Learning-Tools in anderen Bereichen verwendet werden oder werden könnten? Has art/art history developed special learning or working tools or methods that are or could be applied as learning tools in different fields?

Knowledge creation in art resembles basic research in science: it's highly serendipitous and unpredictable because it is new. Innovative firms structure creative processes in much the same way as artists do.

9) Welchen Stellenwert haben Lernen und Innovation in der zeitgenössischen Kunst? Ist Lernen eine Voraussetzung für Innovation? What importance do learning and innovation have in contemporary art? Is learning a precondition for innovation?

Innovation implies utility for a user and is the prerequisite for market success: this is true for biochemical components as much as for contemporary art. Learning and innovation are tightly coupled, but only applied learning may lead to innovation. Remember that serious learning may still lead to boring outcomes.

10) Haben Künstler allgemein oder Du als Künstler im Besonderen bisher etwas Wichtiges versäumt zu lernen? Have artists in general or you in particular missed to learn anything so far?

These types of insights occur in fits and starts, and I cannot talk about what I don't know.

Künstlerisches und unternehmerisches Lernen
Artistic and corporate Learning

Über den Markt und die Situation von Unternehmen wird heute gesagt, dass stark veränderte Bedingungen weltweit die Unternehmen zu erhöhter Flexibilität, Wissensmanagement und Lernbereitschaft zwingen, wenn sie den sich ständig veränderten Anforderungen gerecht werden und konkurrenzfähig bleiben wollen. Diese Veränderungen sind u.a. Globalisierung der Finanzflüsse und Märkte, Entkoppelung von Produktion und Standort, Individualisierung der Kundenansprüche und damit Individualisierung der Anforderungen an die Produkte/Produktion usw. „Was langfristig zählt ist die eigene Schnelligkeit und Innovationskraft. […] Damit kann das zukunftsichernde Erfolgsrezept nur lauten: Schneller lernen als die anderen. Das einzig Stabile, was uns bleibt, ist die Gewissheit des permanenten Wandels.“ (R. Wimmer)

It is said nowadays about the market place and the situation of businesses that business are globally forced to increasing flexibility, knowledge management and willingness to learn if they want to meet the permanently changing demands and keep up with their competitors. Those changes are, for instance, globalization of financial flows and markets, the isolation of production and company head quarter, the individualization of customer demands and, hence, the changing requirements concerning products/production etc. “Quickness and innovative power is what counts in the long run…The future-proof recipe of success can only be: Learning quicker than the others. The certainty of permanent change is the only thing what remains stable to us.” (R. Wimmer)

11) Schneller Lernen als die anderen, um sich am Markt zu erhalten – Stimmt es Deiner Meinung nach, dass diese Strategien von Unternehmen heutzutage verfolgt wird? Learning quicker than the others in order to survive at the market – Do you agree that this strategies is pursued by businesses nowadays?

In theory, this has always been true: only market inefficiencies such as monopolies or unnatural market segmentation created rents for the non-innovating firm. In a market where resources, including information, flow freely only the marginal firm can generate benefits. Only the supplier of innovative goods and services, that provide utility above the norm, can operate profitably. But, again, learning is not necessarily tied to innovation. Consider learning alliances among competitors. IBM and a consortium of software and hardware vendors builds the open source development platform Eclipse, a platform which enables sustainable and cooperative learning across competitors. Still, all firms need to innovate to stay on the market, but the market-relevant innovation happens on the application market, not on the platform. Similar examples exist in the automotive industry and, yes, in contemporary art.

12) Gibt es eine parallele Entwicklung im Betriebssystem Kunst? Is there a parallel development in the “operating system” art?

Shared paradigms, or fashion trends, allow me-too-strategies in art. In order to stay on top of the art market, artists need to innovate incrementally, that is on the edge. The edge may look fuzzy from afar, but from close-up the consumer and investor distinguishes subtle differences between the me-too-net-artist (who shares similar information technology platforms!) and the cutting-edge innovator who delivers radical solutions. It is correct, that a global art market enforces these tendencies.

13) Gibt es Parallelen in den Anforderung, die heute an den Künstler gestellt werden bzw. die du an dich stellst? Are there parallels in what is demanded of artists nowadays or what do you demand of yourself?

Often, the difficulties lie in the segmented audiences. The cutting-edge consumer needs to see her needs fulfilled, and at the same time, the average pseudo-art-afficionado wants to get what he expects. To stay in the market, the artist has to deliver radical solutions that build on existing technology without neglecting slower consumers.

1-9/9 twisting values since 1994