Monday, 29 May 2023

hype cycle (10. 776)

Though never claiming to have the pulse on any trends, we’ve regularly pinned to formerly Twitter and now on Mastodon what we’ve posted one year, two and more years ago for comparison on what’s the latest obsession and really appreciated this thoroughgoing analysis—via the Verge—from the Columbia Journalism Review on how the breathless cheerleading of media coverage for ChatGPT and spin-offs has strong resonance with the valuation and enthusiasm and uncritical reporting that was accorded to the gig and sharing economy, cryptocurrencies and NFTs not so long ago. The coverage follows a particular pattern—promising redundancy and utopia, catastrophe and revolution, playing on the FOMO and belated adpotion principle—before rather than taking a more circumspect turn on the deliverables of said technology but go through a period of sober and rapid withdrawal, pushing instead a narrative of counterfactual bias (wokeism is not baked into to algorithmic suggestions and quite the opposite is the case) over unexamined efficacy.

Monday, 1 May 2023

8x8 (10. 711)

time in a bottle: individuals turning turning care and attention into currency  

composition as explanation: daily it’s harder to decide if AI is a collaborative tool or a time bomb  

zoonomia: researchers sequence the genome of sixty-five hundred species—plus Balto, the heroic sled dog of the 1925 Serum Run 

back to the drawing board: researchers at Linkรถping University have engineered a functional wooden resistor—see previously—via Damn Interesting’s Curated Links  

occupancy rate: a tour of the empty City of London  

so for you, it’s insects, tap-water and celibacy: examining how bad ousted Fox News host Tucker Carlson was for the environment and speculation on who might take up that mantle next 

deep dreaming: on chatbot hallucinations and the first usage of the sense in 1540 by the ryght rodolent & rotounde rethorician R Smyth  

worth1000: a time capsule camera that composes a detailed written description of ones photos with a ticketed invitation to revisit them at a future date

Sunday, 30 April 2023

www (10. 709)

On this day in 1993, the decision was made to release the hypertext markup language that underpins the world-wide web into the public domain, making it freely available for anyone to use for any purpose, and facilitating navigation on the developing internet—rejecting the option that inventor Tim Berners-Lee (see above) along with the research laboratory at CERN had to license the browser-based infrastructure, believing that keeping the platform as open and decentralised as possible was the only want to encourage growth and maximise participation. It’s a challenge to try to imagine how the world might look had this pivotal decision gone the other way, turning a public utility, a public good into a commodity. Much more at the links above.

trylon and perisphere (10. 708)

Opened with a simulcast that inaugurated regularly scheduled television programming in New York City by NBC by President Roosevelt, the World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, Queens welcomed a crowd of over two-hundred thousand spectators on its first day, an overcast Sunday this day in 1939. Originally conceived four years prior as make-work scheme during the height of the Great Depression to help improve the city’s economy and revitalise an ash dump that was to be the site of the fairgrounds, the chosen slogan was “Dawn of a New Day” and invited visitors to have a glimpse of the “world of tomorrow”—though the beginning of World War II four month before the starting ceremonies affected the participation of several countries and exhibitions and pavilions were scaled back. Under the direction of Edward Bernays (previously here and here), responsible for promotion and public relations and calling the event “democracity”, many leading scientists of the day, including Albert Einstein, were on the agenda giving presentations and lectures but many bemoaned the atmosphere for being bereft of actually science and more focused on

Friday, 28 April 2023

mikiphone (10. 702)

Via Strange Company, we are directed to the engineering, miniaturisation marvel of the early 1920s in the first pocket phonograph—long predating but seemingly not prefiguring other mobile players that came decades later. Designed by brothers Miklรณs and ร‰tienne Vadรกsz and licensed for production by Maison Paillard of St Croix, formerly of the music box industry, it required a bit of self-assembly and a some hand-cranking to get the turn-table to spin. More, including a demonstration at Danny Dutch’s Blog at the link above.

Wednesday, 19 April 2023

technological antisolutions (10. 683)

Albeit belatedly, enlightened to the fact that I worked in a quite well-connected metropolitan area and that taking public transportation was not merely an option but a generally more pleasant alternative than driving, I had had plenty of thoughts about how the train or bus was always going to be a better course of action that any ostensibly emission-free or driverless fetish that I might take on myself, and more so with the hindsight of leaving that environment to now mostly work remotely and not need to venture far from the home office—the mass-transit commute that wouldn’t allow me to dally being the only thing I sometimes miss of the city and work place, I was quite pleased—via JWZ—to have had that feeling validated and articulated by a short essay deriding the sexier innovations as a symptom of political and civic dereliction that lets infrastructure rot and replaces that onus with an unearned and blind faith in tech that’s inuring and leagues off with its last-mile problems from the sort of public engagement that really can save us. What do you think? Technology has a way of estranging societal problems by lulling us into a belief that we are making an active difference.

Sunday, 9 April 2023

benchmark (10. 664)

As image and sound formats have their standards and baselines, so too does model rendering with the 3DBenchy model, designed by Daniel Norรฉe on this day in 2005 as a “jolly 3D printing torture-test” to calibrate devices. The scalable little tugboat floats in water, if printed correctly in most media and is estimated to be the most printed object—like a “Hello World!” for the hobbyist and professional and an in-joke in the design community—like referencing the foundational Newell Teapot of computer-aided drafting or the Pixar lamp. There are annual challenges with designers putting the model through the paces for accuracy, agility and speed.

Thursday, 23 March 2023

cameo appearance (10. 629)

Having previously explored the advent and the economy of the medium, we enjoyed this profile of the work of the nineteenth century travelling portrait artist William Bache, whose extensive portfolio of commissioned and sampler silhouettes not only reveal celebrities in profile but reveal the stories of hitherto anonymous sitters. Moreover at a time when fear and risk of communicable disease was rampant in the Americas and Caribbean, which was inclusive of Bache’s territory, the entrepreneur in the undeveloped industry of keepsake avatars distinguished himself from the competition with a device—since defamed for its association with eugenics for its reputed ability for scientifically-sound racial profiling—the physiognotrace which could create a faithful silhouette contact free. More at Hyperallergic at the link above.

Sunday, 19 March 2023

cross-cut (10. 620)

Introduced with the invention of the process of paper recycling, pulping (plus the discussion of the printed page as the medium of record) in an exchange between Matthias Koops and King George III, Tedium presents an interesting historical survey of the development of paper shredding, destroying that record of information, promoting privacy and salvaging the base medium, the mechanism first patented in 1910 by Abbot Augustus Low, a serial tinkerer and possibly by modern reckoning “patent troll” now forgotten but contemporarily only surpassed Thomas Edison. The shredding strips, called fantastically paper excelsior, and how they were created were subject to a series of lawsuits beginning in the 1930s with the publisher of anti-Nazi material, Adolf Ehinger, adapting a pasta maker to destroy errant copies of his pamphlets with competitors suppressing the innovative process with legal wrangling and countersuits. While Ehinger may not have been the paper shredders first and only inventor, he was the first to recognise its practical use in the Information Age and informed (see also) the industry as it exists today. Much more at Tedium at the link above.

Sunday, 26 February 2023

radio detection and ranging (10. 574)

Already having pioneered and already discovered practical applications for radio direction finding in the 1920s for meteorology by using the signals given off by lightning to track thunderstorms—known as high-frequency direction finding or huff-duff, and then conscripted into service in tracing submarines, their bearings revealed by intercepted communications, on this day in 1935—after being asked by a reporter to comment on the possibility of a death ray that the Nazis were rumoured to be developing and assuring the public it was not feasible but sparked another idea—Robert Alexander Watson Watt and partner Arnold Wilkins made the first public demonstration of the technology that would become known as radar by bouncing a signal from a BBC short-wave transmitted off an aircraft, showing its location and velocity could be calculated by measuring the time it took for the object’s echo to return.

Saturday, 18 February 2023

solubility pump (10. 556)

Via Slashdot, we learn that a team of researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is championing an appeal for carbon capture not from the air but rather from seawater in order sequester the CO2 we’ve put into the atmosphere. Given the high price in terms of energy and will (no country save Uruguay has been to tax the tonnage of emissions at a rate approaching the true cost) the natural equilibrium that the oceans maintain, scientists believe that they can more efficiently extract the dissolved gas from beneath the waves and our allythe sea will happily suck in more from the air to keep that exchange constant.

Sunday, 12 February 2023

7x7 (10. 543)

epicentre: Tรผrkiye-Syrian earthquake opens a huge fissure over three hundred kilometres long—donate to help with recovery efforts here

down with gravity: legislation in Montana would restrict scientific instruction to “scientific fact”  

monocle: a compact Augmented Reality device that does not wholly remove one from the here and now  

ditchley park: secret bi-partisan talks on the failure of Brexit taking place 

radar anomaly: fighter jets down another unidentified flying object over Canada’s Yukon Province   

child-labour: Iowa state legislature abolishes most working-age restrictions, allowing fourteen-year-olds to do dangerous jobs at exploitative wages  

search and rescue: as the death toll climbs to thirty thousand with little hope of finding more survivors, a happy montage of a few saved from the rubble—more options for donations here

Monday, 16 January 2023

9x9 (10. 424)

j.t. iv: the compilation “Cosmic Lightning” of a tragically forgotten outsider rock artist  

tees valley: a dialect map of England from the University of Leeds  

bundesministerin der verteidigung: German defence secretary steps down  

courtlife: Queen Victoria’s illustrated journals—see also—via Messy Nessy Chic  

mlk: Stevie Wonder’s campaign to make Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday a national holiday  

wef: global leaders gather in Davos buona sera: actor, photojournalist and sex symbol Gina Lollobrigida passes away, aged 95 

scare-fox: accidentally Art Brรปt predator-deterrent  

atomic rooster: a classic from the spin-off band of Crazy World of Arthur Brown

Thursday, 12 January 2023

homeotherm (10. 411)

Declared legally dead on this day in 1967, University of California psychology professor and author of several influential works of occupational counselling, Dr James Hiram Bedford became the first individual whose body underwent cryopreservation. With the expectation of being revived and treated when medical science could cure a presently terminal illness, Evan Cooper’s Life Extension Society offered to treat and store a body in a state of suspended animation free of charge as a promotion to advance their line of research. Dying of kidney cancer that had metastasised and spread to his lungs, Bedford volunteered but not entirely taking up the foundation on its munificence but importantly providing in his will funding for his continued preservation. Though there is some debate on the efficacy of the methodology and whether through various transfers the vital temperature was maintained, a cryogenics lab is still Bedford’s caretaker to the present day.

Wednesday, 11 January 2023

zero-shot text to speech synthesis (10. 406)

Via Waxy, we are introduced frighteningly adept AI protocol from Microsoft called VALL·E that can extrapolate and convincingly simulate, imitate any voice with a sample of just a few seconds of audio. The underpinning code is not being published as an acknowledgement of its potential for misuse but there is a demonstration reel of its abilities that’s pretty amazing and are tuned for diversity, emotional maintenance and environment. Eleven benevolent elephants for your elocution.

Friday, 30 December 2022

krig, kriser och klimatdebatten (10. 372)

Annually Sprรฅktidningen magazine in collaboration with the Swedish Language Council publishes a list (previously) of a few dozen choice neologisms that help define the year informed by war, crises and climate debates. Among the new terms selected for inclusion for 2022 are jury favourite epadunk—a musical general that references the “epatractors” that rural youths are able to drive on public at age sixteen and the sound systems that they need to devise in order to hear over the loud tractor motors—matfattigdom—that is, food poverty, munkmodell, living an ascetic lifestyle for the sake of the planet, klickkemi or click-chemistry for constructing complex molecules and individualised drug treatments from modular building blocks and some more that have entered common-parlance through the news and current events, like kamikazedrรถnare, Putinprise, Permakris and smygflation (a portmanteau for stealth inflation).

Monday, 12 December 2022

³h (10. 380)

Via Slashdot, we learn that ahead of an expected official announcement reports are coming from three insiders at Lawrence Livermore National labs that researchers have attained a net positive energy gain using an experimental arrangement known as inertial confinement fusion (previously)—pelting a cloud of hydrogen plasma with a laser to trigger the reaction. In what may prove to be the first successful proof-of-concept demonstration, the prospect of limitless nuclear energy without hazardous byproducts—especially during a time of power poverty and when finding non-polluting sources are urgently needed—is a tantalising one, and the attendant caveats, seem to hardly dampen the excitement of this first step.

Tuesday, 6 December 2022

8x8 (10. 365)

synthetic cubism: an exhibition of the cut paper figures of Pablo Picasso, a medium rarely shown—via Messy Nessy Chic  

set in stone: a tutorial on reading ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs 

spa-day: new research suggests that Christian modesty (see previously) may not have been the cause in the decline of public bathing  

carbon capture: Microsoft-backed start-up is using limestone powder to pull CO2 (previously here, here and here) out of the atmosphere

illuminated addresses: a graphic design studio rediscovered in Manchester that pre-dates the traditional 1922 beginning of commercial arts 

ั‰ะตะดั€ะธะน ะฒะตั‡iั€: a Ukrainian choir performs Carol of the Bells (see previously) a century after it debuted at Carnegie Hall  

varly’s swiftwater cafรฉ: a fish and chips in operation for two decades in remote Whittier, Alaska—a small village in one building  

picassanta: annual tradition of giving a village phone kiosk a makeover, reminiscent of Guernica for this fractious year

Saturday, 26 November 2022

santa claus (10. 337)

First screened in September of 1898, we are directed towards the technical marvel by George Albert Smith considered the first short, silent film about Christmas—with pioneering examples of parallel action and double-exposure—making it one of the most sophisticated examples of filmmaking to date. After two young children are put to bed on Christmas Eve, St Nicholas enters the house through the chimney and start trimming the tree and filling the stockings hung by the fire. After surveying his work, he disappears the same way he came in. The latter innovation already demonstrated, superimposition in cinematography, in two of Smith’s earlier experiments—namely Photographing a Ghost (see also) and The Mesmerist—is a particular segue into the filmmaker’s life and career, chiefly billed as a magic lantern lecturer, hypnotist and psychic ahead of his extensive filmography of short subjects, which Smith turned to after being drummed out of the Society for Psychical Research (see above) over alleged fraud—and possibly contributing to the death of his accuser by overdosing on opium—turning his interest to the nascent movie industry run out of small studios in Brighton and Hove, specialising in special effects and colour processing.

Tuesday, 22 November 2022

solaris (10. 324)

We’ve previously looked at proposals for a broadcast energy transmitter (here and here) but feel that the technology and will have arrived for this monumental though practical, feasible project that the European Space Agency is presently considering. Space chiefs from member countries of the association are holding their triennial council to decide what programmes and initiatives will be funded and to budget their pooled resources for priorities. In circulation for several decades now but never seriously contemplated until recent years with the precipitous drop in the cost of launching payloads into space, increased efficiency and virtually autonomous construction, researchers believe that installing massive photovoltaic elements in geostationary orbit (as to always face the Sun) will prove cost-effective and might be nicely complementary endeavour to this hypothetical sunshade . The energy is converted into microwave radiation and beamed down to Earth where it is reconverted and put on the electrical grid. More at the links above.