Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Putting a price code on art

I came across this news story about an artist, Scott Blake, who composes portraits just using bar codes. I like the creative use of such a ubiquitous element of our lives but I wish he would do more with it than celebrity portraits (also Madonna, Oprah, Marilyn, Ozzy, etc.). I thought it was a statement about the commercialization of culture ("Ring up Bruce Lee in aisle 3") but the closest Blake alludes to it is this comment:

"One of the most interesting comments I got was from a Jehovah's Witness; they saw Bar code Jesus as representing 'The price He paid for our sins'."

But given his other comments it sounds like he was just looking for a tool to design with and bar codes served his purpose rather than him trying to make a larger point about commerce and art:

"I was looking for a black and white shape that could be repeated and modified to create grey tones in a digital mosaic.

Interesting idea and execution but a missed opportunity, I think.

Here is the Daily Mail article on Scott Blake's work

Monday, May 26, 2008

The Phoenix has landed!

I found out about the Mars Lander a little late but was completely absorbed by it last night, watching NASA TV as the first pictures were transmitted after a $420 million, 422-million-mile, 10 month journey. They were broadcasting from the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena and it was just as interesting to me to see the atmosphere there as to see the Mars photos (it's the sociologist in me).

The tension was very high as the engineers waited and waited for the first photos to be transmitted and when they came on screen, the room erupted like the end of a Super Bowl game. I never saw so many men hugging. But it was such an achievement and after preparing for every worst case scenario, the whole EDL sequence happened perfectly, without a hitch.

Mars looks kind of what I expected it to look like but it is cool that these are actually photos taken from the surface of the planet. It will be interesting to see what they find out during the Lander's time of operation. See New York Times story for more detailed information.

Photos courtesy of NASA,JPL, Caltech, University of Arizona/Reuters.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Internet Intervention

All that time spent surfing other people's blogs occasionally leads something really worthwhile! From Those Aren't Muskets via Cracked and YouTube:

An Internet Intervention

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Public face

Any visitors to this blog might have noticed that there are a lot more doodads and widgets cluttering up the page. I'm trying to bring this blog up-to-date by conforming with the more standard layout features which makes for a crowded blog but one that I hope will fit it more into the blogosphere.

Have any opinions? I will take your silence as license to experiment!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Creating, not consuming

I've been trying to get up-to-date on technology issues, specifically those involved with shared media and social networking. But it is just an enormous world out there! I have feeds and bookmarks for about two dozen blogs already so there is no way I can keep up with current developments without spending a couple of hours a day just reading other people's blogs.

Then I become merely a culture consumer instead of a culture creator. It's a little thrilling to be "in the know" and to have a grasp on the current wave of technology (as peripheral as it is to my life) but how does this knowledge help anyone, including myself? If I'm not creating something tangible, putting effort into content creation, then it is just ephemeral info that is immediately out-dated as soon as the next technological development or crisis appears.

I have to put more effort into creative efforts than just reading other people's thoughts, however interesting they might be.

My new mascot:

Sunday, May 18, 2008

5 Great Ways to Contribute to Social Media

Interesting article at Read Write Web: 5 Great Ways to Contribute to Social Media. I try to limit the number of blogs I read (I have to get SOME work done during the day) but I usually find something interesting on this one. As Corvida says, spread the link love!

P.S. This video on Facebook has been around for two months and viewed 3+ million times but I still think it is funny.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Assaulted in Second Life

I woke up in the middle of the night this morning and when I can't sleep, I usually end up wasting away hours on the Internet. Among other places I visited last night was Second Life, a virtual world on the Internet which gets millions of visitors every year.

I had already chosen my avatar/identity last month and so that was set, I just had to download the software and get started. The first thing a newcomer has to do is go through an orientation phase at "Orientation Island" where you learn how to navigate, move around, change your outfit, appearance, etc. It's like a sandbox where you can experience the world and get your bearings.

But almost from the outset, my avatar was pounced on by these male avatars hanging around the place. I understand a quick "Hi! How are you?" but I was actually pursued by one guy who kept spooning me and wouldn't move away. But at least this creep had clothes on. Other, naked guys would just come up to me and bump up against me and it was difficult to get away. Sometimes, I'd turn a corner and see a couple of male avatars and just backtrack to avoid having to even pass by them.

What sucks is that you have to go through this Orientation phase before you can go anywhere else in this virtual world. And to file an "incident" report, you have to provide the specific identity of these aggressive perverts. By then, I'd already checked out. And it wasn't just an individual, it seemed to be a hangout for some men to hassle new female avatars to don't know what they are doing in this unfamiliar world.

I hope that my experience was partially the result of my middle-of-the-night wanderings and this isn't business as usual at Second Life. I don't put up with this crap in real life, why should I have to deal with these hassles in a virtual world?

What is really weird is that these guys don't even know if I'm a dude or actually a woman. Hell, I could be their grandmother they are bumping their naked white butts with. All I know is that it was very creepy and the stink has stayed with me all morning long. I'm still undecided whether to ever go back again.

Alone again, naturally

It's hard to believe that I first started this blog in 2006 since it has been such an on and off thing. I see all of these visitors and I just wonder who on earth could have stumbled into this blog, out of the millions of blogs there are out there. I don't talk a lot about politics or celebrities or technology developments. My sense of humor is, well, let's generously call it dry. No videos or animations. Just my thoughts and an occasional photo or two.

When I think about this blog, I think of it as a journal not as a tool of self-promotion. I've only give one person a link to it and she was someone I met on the web, not a person in my daily life. I want to be able to say whatever I want without worrying what someone might think. Not that I'm outrageous or sacrilegious, I just have an internal censor in my head that keeps me from revealing too much about myself to people who will judge me. And my family and friends, God love 'em, can't help but judge. It's just human nature to have an opinion about things that concern those closest to you.

I wasn't sure what to expect by putting this all out on the Internet and so far, it's been a monologue. It creates the illusion for me that this is a very private forum when the fact is is that it is open to anyone to read and comment upon. So, I weave back and forth between intimacy and having my guard up, pouring my heart out and then worrying about it getting stomped on. Such is the arena of a personal blog. Maybe I'll make it less about "me" and more "other" focused, whatever that other might be.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Bad, BAD blogger

I haven't been blogging much lately...too busy trying to find a housemate and a new job (i.e., life). Best news is that my computer died which was agonizing (I loved my 7 year old laptop) but it forced me to get a new computer and, damn, a lot has changed since 2001. It's got some cool new features (webcam, DVD recorder) but I have almost gone mad trying to correct and "fix" a lot of glitches. Customer support? Hah! I think I know more about this computer at this point than the people who are hired to help me get it to work right.

I hope to return to blogging once I meet some ridiculous deadlines I committed myself to. Or I might come here to procrastinate, we'll see.