Global Village Basketball: June 10, 2009

GVB Logo We all wear various identities and masks every day. Since I was just a boy one of those identities has been that of "basketball player". And as someone who still plays the game years later, I have long wondered:

Does the Global Village proposed by Marshall McLuhan have a basketball court?

With the support and participation of basketball players around the world, I hope we begin to answer that question on June 10, 2009.

Introducing Global Village Basketball

People play pickup basketball all over the world every day. On June 10, 2009, the Global Village Basketball game will use the internet to attempt to link as many of these local games as possible together into one large meta-game.

How? Imagine millions of pickup basketball games occurring simultaneously around the world on June 10, 2009, with each identifying one team as Red and the other as Blue.

Each pickup game will able to upload the baskets scored at their game location (via laptop, cell phone, or handheld device) so that all of the Red scores are added together and all of the Blue scores are added together to form one aggregated score.

Photos may also be uploaded so that you can see all of the other people playing with you in the Global Village Basketball game that day. The idea is to create the biggest game of basketball possible, stretched around the world to touch everyone passionate about the game, and to encourage participation by every level of age, skill, fitness, personality, etc.

All are welcome to play — it is a totally inclusive game of basketball, and there is no cost to join but the desire to be a part of this unique event.

Get Involved

If you are interested in being a part of the Global Village Basketball game, you can help in the following four ways:

1. Tell every basketball fan you know. As you can imagine, it is word-of-mouth awareness that will make this type of networked basketball game a success. If you would like to forward this post to a friend, just click this link.

2. If you are on Facebook, please join the Global Village Basketball FB group (, and invite your friends that would be interested by clicking the "Invite People to Join" link on the right-hand side of the page.

3. Bookmark the Global Village Basketball web site ( and sign up for the mailing list to receive periodic updates in the countdown to the game.

4. Plan to play on June 10, 2009. Or, at the very least, open a gym space somewhere for a few kids to join the game. Playing matters.

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The Global Village Basketball game will constitute work towards my doctoral dissertation in the Media and Communications program at the European Graduate School on networked sport and community politics. I first had the idea for the game back in 2002, which I elaborated upon in an open letter to the NBA and WNBA on the popular sports community site SportsFilter. The game as it will be played on June 10, 2009 is fairly different from that original vision in structural terms, but the guiding spirit and philosophy for the project remains intact.

I will continue to document the more academic elements of the Global Village Basketball journey here at sportsBabel. A menu of relevant posts will be available in the sidebar.

Refragmentation. Hard. Drive.

Franz wept.

He sat there, devastated, as the closing credits to Fight Club scrolled up the screen. Was he upset by the realization that Tyler Durden was really a figment of Ed Norton's imagination? Or that the detonation of the truck bombs would only hasten the control of power by the banks through decentralized processes? Or was he upset that Norton only reconciled his relationship with Marla Singer (played by HeLena Bonham-Olin-Carter) after blowing off half his face with a gun?

right here is where the end gon' start at / conflict, contact, combat / fighters stand where the land is marked at / settle the dispute about who the livest / 3 word answer / whoever survive this

No. He wept with the realization that Tomas was his Brad Pitt — simply a figment of his imagination. In this case, however, his schizOther was born not of the consumer society or even the ills of socialism, but of homogenization and the presentation of false choices.

only one of us could ride forever / so you and i can't ride together / can't live or can't die together / all we can do is collide together / so i skillfully apply the pressure / won't stop until i'm forever… one!

Now Franz had a real choice to make.

Would he kill off Daniel Day-Lewis? Would he bite the black steel? Would he love? (Were these questions all asking the same thing?)

a door step where death never come / spread across time till my time never done / and i'm never done / walk tall, why ever run? / when they move if i ever come? / bad man never fret the war, tell 'em come / general never start the mad fire burn (mos def)

No. Yes. Fuck the binary of the i-against-i choice.


. . . : : . : . : : : . . . : : . . . : . : . : : . . : : . .

"Wow, that's never happened before," said the basketball player as he closed the file and launched the repair utility on the library's hard drive. "I was trying to show you the 'Hoops + Tears' video."

"Noise always creeps into a system," replied the Switch, swirling the tongue stud around the crevices of her mouth as if savouring each word. "And when it does, it always seems to create beautiful new possibilities."

Unforgettable Fire

"The overwhelming obliterative power of nuclear weapons turns them into a kind of ubiquitous anti-landscape, something that no geography, built or natural, can successfully resist. … If we're going to study cities, in other words, then we should also study that which is radically anti-city." — Geoff Manaugh, BLDGBLOG

* * *

Resample: "The Chicago Pile-1 was Enrico Fermi's first successful attempt to achieve a critical nuclear reaction, which occurred in 1942 in a squash court underneath the Stagg Stadium bleachers at the University of Chicago. The squash court was the only place on campus with thick enough walls and a sufficiently elevated ceiling to house the pile of graphite bricks and wooden timbers that constituted the first nuclear reactor. Thus, the nuclear bomb arguably owes its genesis to a sporting space."

Here is a map centred over the Stagg Stadium bleachers, using the Ground Zero mashup developed by CarlosLabs. Using Google Maps and nuclear explosion blast projection data, the application shows the thermal damage caused by a nuclear explosion.

Courtesy of CarlosLabs

One simply selects the nuclear weapon of choice and clicks "Nuke It". Below, we see the devastation caused by the 15-kiloton Little Boy uranium bomb (dropped by the United States on Hiroshima in 1945) as if it were detonated at the site of Chicago Pile-1:

Courtesy of CarlosLabs

The 50-megaton Tsar Bomba was detonated in a nuclear test by the USSR in 1961 as a means to demonstrate the power of the Soviet arsenal during the Cold War. Below, we witness the largest explosion ever produced in human history in a feedback loop to Stagg Stadium:

Courtesy of CarlosLabs

Before deciding to obliterate the site that first harnessed the power of the atom, I began by detonating a Little Boy uranium bomb over my home, and I notice that both of the sources I found this link from did the same thing. Why? Obviously it is about understanding the impact of the bomb through the experience of the familiar, but in my case it was a little more nuanced than that. The familiar in my case was synonymous with the walkable or had-walked: I perceived the damage done by the Little Boy by comparing it to my embodied understanding of those neighbourhoods I have walked so many times.

Courtesy of CarlosLabs

In her essay "The Indeterminate Mapping of the Common," Doina Petrescu notes the links between the nomadic subject and the beginning of architecture, which she locates in the work of Francesco Careri.

In his book Walkscapes, Francesco Careri suggests that the 'architectural' construction of space began with human beings wandering in the Palaeolithic landscape: following traces, leaving traces. The slow appropriation of the territory was the result of this incessant walking of the first humans.

By considering 'walking' as the beginning of architecture, Careri proposes another history of architecture – one which is not that of settlements, cities and buildings made of stones but of movements, displacements and flows …. It is an architecture which speaks about space not as being contained by walls but as made of routes, paths and relationships. Careri suggests that there is something common in the system of representation that we find in the plan of the Palaeolithic village, the walkabouts of the Australian aborigines and the psychogeographic maps of the Situationists. If for the settler, the space between settlements is empty, for the nomad, the errant, the walker – this space is full of traces: they inhabit space through the points, lines, stains and impressions, through the material and symbolic marks left in the landscape. These traces could be understood as a first grasping of what is common, as a first tool to size and constitute resources for a constantly moving and changing community.

In other words, returning to the above discussion of Ground Zero, while walking is another way of understanding the history of the city, is it perhaps also a way of understanding that which is "radically anti-city"?

* * *

"This 'silvery snow,' [Gary Snyder] suggests, is something geologically new – even outside biological experience altogether, something never before encountered by life on earth. But it is precisely this that makes radioactive fallout perhaps the only true, long-term marker of human presence on earth. It is our greatest fossil, so to speak. Even now, the globally nomadic residues of nuclear weapons tests form a ghostly stratigraphic marker that can be found literally around the world, something that has become an all but permanent part of the earth's sedimentary record. In other words, if there is anything on the planet that will announce to future species that humans were, in fact, once here, it will be this thin band of fallout that has drifted down through interconnected systems of biology to form a kind of strange and poisonous sugar – an anti-biotic dust whose shortest half-life is already far too long – in the rocks all around us." — Geoff Manaugh, BLDGBLOG

(via Wired Science)

Reconciling the European?

Courtesy of Benetton

Reconciling the European? Globalization and the National Basketball Association

(submitted by sean smith to the 2009 contesting "europe" conference at york university)

The contemporary era of globalization in the world of professional basketball was catalyzed in the late 1980s and early 1990s by two primary events. The first consisted of a perfect storm of sport-media-sponsor synergy in which the U.S.-based National Basketball Association (NBA), athletic footwear giant Nike, the National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC), and Michael Jordan of the Chicago Bulls assembled to form one of the initial success stories of post-Fordist production and consumption. The second was the decision of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to admit professional athletes for the first time at the 1992 Summer Olympic Games in Barcelona. The U.S. Olympic Men's Basketball team, led by Jordan and the celebrity spectacle that accompanied him and his teammates, proceeded to demolish all competition it faced in claiming the gold medal.

The young media audiences from around the world that consumed the spectacle of 1992 Olympic basketball have become part of an increasingly cosmopolitan player base in the NBA. This paper examines the case of the NBA and basketball talent migration from three perspectives: under the rubric of a homogenized (and tacitly "non-American") European identity that has been variously applied to athletes from different European countries, South America and even China; in the positive sense of Europe as a potential source of untapped athletic labour talent; and in exploring the seeds of a counter-migration that suggests a challenge to the hegemony of the traditional power structures in North American professional basketball.

Micropolitics at the Overexposed Stadium

10.208   A building is constructed to host the production of great sporting spectacles. Cathedrals of consumption to showcase the pursuits of some of the most finely-tuned athletes on the planet. Concrete, glass, wood, polymer and electronic circuitry wrap around a skeleton of girded steel. Surveillance and spectacle meet in a moebius strip of control at the nexus of security and entertainment. A shiny new stadium is born.

11.085   Initially, this building is a sterile space of potential: it has yet to host any events that showcase great and wonderful athletic pursuits, or yet to become a place of individual and communal experience fashioned with its own sense of history. But soon the games begin. And as the cheers and jeers weave a fabric of nostalgia over time, the body of the building begins to show its age. Decay creeps in. Efforts at structural buttressing or cosmetic rejuvenation may prolong the building's lifespan (for quite some time in certain cases), but eventually claims on behalf of its use-value cannot be sustained and the building is euthanized. Do not shed a tear in architectural mourning, however, for the largest and most famous of these sports stadia will have been replicated long before then.

* * *

from "micropolitics at the overexposed stadium," a companion essay written by sean smith for the homeshop series one: games 2008 project wii would like to play // we don't have tickets and published in the homeshop exhibition journal wear, december 2008.

though its shine within the grittiness of the hutong must be perceived in unique ways, the recently-born homeshop was named #4 on artforum china's best of 2008 top ten list for its "forward attempts to enter the public consciousness."

Orga/Mecha Vision

As Massumi points out in Parables for the Virtual: Movement, Affect, Sensation, there can be no vision without the faculties of tactility and movement. In this he is describing the organic vision of an individual human subject. Virilio makes a similar leap for the question of machinic vision in Open Sky with his recognition that technical optics have become kinematic and that the perception of touch has become integral to such a vision.

To put Virilio's observation in different words, and paralleling Massumi, we might suggest that the social abstraction, ordering, and processing demanded of a machinic visual faculty is not possible without the tactile enabling of the digital pulses of electricity/information that constitute its technical apparatus.

Further, while movement is required for this technical form of sensation to become possible, in this case the relation is inverted to the movement of the objects themselves, since the technical apparatus (photo finish, RFID timing system) is stationary. Which should serve as an adequate reminder that the technical apparatus superimposed upon the sprint and marathon sportscapes emerges due to the incapability of organic vision to administer bodies and preserve the integrity of the enclosure at high speeds or broad spatial scales.