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February 29, 2008

web zen: architecture


Web Zen this week covers architecture. Eyesore of the month, pop-up architecture from students at the Shimizu Lab, not fooling anybody ("a chronicle of bad conversions and storefronts past"), more. Above is Massaharu Asano's Ise Shrine from Pop-Up Architecture.

February 26, 2008

Programmers at Work Update

Updating Susan Lammers' (1989) Programmers at Work [amazon], Leonard Richardson finds out where those 19 programmers went after 1989: John Warnock, Gary Kildall, Andy Hertzfield, Bill Gates, Dan Bricklin, Ray Ozzie, Jeff Raskin, and more (with links).

Programmers at Work was the first book I read about the practices and structures of work, toward the start of my graduate work. Given the fact that most of the interviewees in 1989 were already influential in the quickly exploding computer industry, it's not surprising that most of them are still somewhat familiar names. But still interesting (at least to me).

[via slashdot]

February 24, 2008

The Evolution of Nintendo's Superheroes

The evolution of Nintendo characters (an implied history of videogame graphics, aesthetics, and aggression--it's difficult to look aggressive at 8-bit).

[via Gizmodo]

February 22, 2008

The Ambient Sound of Commerce

About a month ago, I was in the drugstore (a large, upstate NY chain) and suddenly realized I was humming along to a track from Wilco's last album, which had apparently replaced the usual muzak playing over the store's PA system. Later that week, I was in the grocery store and a cut off Spoon's latest album was on. Earlier today, I was in the same grocery store and track from Sufjan Stevens' Illinois was playing.

As you age, the probability of your music coinciding with the ambient sounds of commerce approaches one.

Writers on Screenwriting

MeFi posts an index to links to YouTube segments from the 1980s Writers on Screenwriting series. William Goldman, Neil Simon, Robert Towne, and more.

[via metafilter.com]

February 21, 2008


lunar eclipse  031

February 20, 2008

How to Behave in an Internet Forum

This 8-bit video covers all the basics of how to behave in an Internet forum (mildly NSFW).

[via boing-boing]

February 18, 2008

Office Spaces

Lifehacker (they of the frequent, "Show us Your Office" competitions") asks readers to tell them what their dream office would look like. Readers' answers range from snarky:

The beach


A six figure paycheck and someone else to do the work

to the imaginative:

What I've always wanted is a wrist-mounted device which projects a holographic 20" screen into the air about three feet ahead of me and a holographic keyboard under my fingertips. Instant office, wherever (though preferably in a tree).

[via Lifehacker]

February 16, 2008

Architecture & Film: Eisenman and Haneke

ICONEYE transcribes a conversation between architect Peter Eisenman and filmmaker Michael Haneke:

Peter I’m interested in space without sound. In other words without meaning, without sound, just pure physical [makes a crunching noise]. Minimal, yeah, but it’s maximal minimal. My wife said that your interest in sound and my interest in space both deny the visual. That’s very good. We are both attempting to deny the visual. Because you’re not a visual person. Your films are filmic, but you don’t see anything happen. You don’t see anybody getting killed!

Michael To avoid the image of course means inciting your fantasy. Stimulating your fantasy.

Peter But you have to react. In an American horror film they go, “Boo!” and you go “Whoa!” But it’s stupid. I don’t think yours is horror, I think it’s terror. I felt terrorised by you. You’re using a visual medium to deny the visual – in an age when image is everything, where the eye is the dominant sense.

Michael It’s a result of the fact that I’m terrorised by the media. In a sort of way, it’s my defence.

[via serial consign - design / research]

February 13, 2008

Science Experiments

Admit it: You've always wondered what would happen if you suddenly found yourself in deep space with only a large blob of free-floating water and a tablet of Alka Seltzer. (Much technical talking up until about the 60 second mark, at which point all hell breaks loose.)

[via The Mediaburn Radio Weblog]

February 11, 2008

Documentary: The Return of a Clockwork Orange

A FilmFour documentary/retrospective about Clockwork Orange, primarily interviews + film footage). (NSWF if you're offended ... OK, probably just NSFW for most of you.)

February 09, 2008

Understanding "Begs the Question"

Eric Feezell, this week's Non-Expert at The Morning News, provides a rhetoric lesson on the phrase, "begs the question."

Because it’s been years since I’ve taken any sort of logic class, and since I wholeheartedly disagree with (read: do not understand) the tenets of prescriptive linguistics, I’m going to do some in-depth research on the subject and get back to you.

One Wikipedia… Two Wikipedia… Three Wikipedia…

On the way, Feezell also offers a diagram of the logic suggested by the phrase for those who are visual learners:


[via metafilter.com]

February 08, 2008

Database Writing


Philip M. Parker has, in theory, written more than 85,000 books. According to the Guardian UK, Parker, a professor international business in France, has patented a system for specifying a structure for a book, which is then fed a database of information about the book's topic. The book machine outputs a book, basically on demand. Apparently, many of the books offered on Amazon are not actually produced until (or unless) someone actually orders a copy.(This story, btw, is possibly apocryphal, but for several reasons discussed below, also seems perfectly plausible. In addition, a search on Parker's name at Amazon does indeed return more than 85,000 hits.)

Top selling titles by Parker include Webster's Albanian to English Crossword Puzzles, Level 1, The 2007 Import and Export Market for Seaweeds and Other Algae in France, and The 2007-2012 Outlook for Chinese Prawn Crackers in Japan.

What is interesting about this is not that Parker has published 85,000 books—these are not books in the traditional authorial sense. Instead, Parker is occupying and construct a type of book that exists in the margins between book and database. My guess is that these books are something more akin to catalogs, which are a category of the larger conceptual object of "book," but in our culture fly almost completely under the radar. Anyone who works in a technical industry—electronics, genetics, toy manufacturing, audio processing, etc.—is familiar with the huge catalogs common in those industries. About a month ago, for example, Mouser.com sent me a copy of their audio and electronics catalog, apparently because I'd ordered a hundred various, cheap resistors, capacitors, and transformers from them for a small project earlier. The catalog is a monster, thousands of phonebook-thin pages long, weighing several pounds. I have no actual use for the catalog, both because I order such parts only very occasionally and, more importantly, because I use Mouser's online database to place orders. But the existence of that information as simultaneously database and print text highlights the increasingly common collapse between the two conceptual objects.

(See the Metafilter post about Parker for additional links and some interesting discussion.)

[via metafilter.com]

February 06, 2008

Beyond Lorem Ipsum

The Dummy Text Generator spits out fake text, using ten different text bases, for use in design mockups. In addition to the standard lorem ipsum, you can get Cicero (in the original or in English translation), Kafka (below), and more. The DTG will also embed <p> tags and custom CSS for different fonts, weights, line heights, etc., Nice.

But I must explain to you how all this mistaken idea of denouncing pleasure and praising pain was born and I will give you a complete account of the system, and expound the actual teachings of the great explorer of the truth, the master-builder of human happiness. No one rejects, dislikes, or avoids pleasure itself, because it is pleasure, but because those who do not know how to pursue pleasure rationally encounter consequences that are extremely painful. Nor again is there anyone who loves or pursues or desires to obtain pain of itself, because it is pain, but because occasionally

[via etc.]

February 05, 2008

Andy Rooney's Workspace

[via Lifehacker]

Actually, this looks a lot like my workspace, but with fewer blinking lights and cables.

February 02, 2008

Ice Storm

ice (mono)