Sunday, 14 February 2016

sweded or my angel is a centerfold

Reminding me of the story about how Tom’s Diner by Susanne Vega became the first .mp3, I enjoyed reading this essay in The Atlantic about the unwitting and for quite a long time unknown contribution and legacy of a Miss Lena Sjööblom (all very safe-for-work) of Sweden, the Playmate of the Month for November 1972 toward the .jpeg digital photographic processing and compression format.
Researchers working on the project to create portable images of manageable sizes yet without perceptible loss in visual quality for the agency that would become DARPA, the team grabbed the first clipping handy that might fit on the small surface of their drum-scanner and began trying different techniques on the cropped centerfold. Not to dismiss the objectifying nature of the team’s subject which speaks of the barriers to entry for women in computer-sciences, I suppose having a test-pattern such as this helped them monitor when different mathematical models degraded the image’s quality beyond an acceptable threshold, not wanting it to get too pixilated. Although the standard is usually something taken for granted now, it allows for quick transfer through the æther (even telemetry from space) and across devices and the ability to store massive amounts of images—and not only the kind these researchers might have kept under their mattresses.