Archive: November 4th, 2004

Photo journalism

When I wrote an article about my JavaScript Image Gallery and released the code into the wild, I allowed anyone to use the code freely without any attribution. I did ask, however, that anyone using the script drop me a line and point me to where I could see it in action.

Since then I’ve seen some wonderful implementations from pictures of flutes to a multi-page expansion of the script to the front page of the beautiful Twinsparc site.

This week I got an email from a web developer pointing me to what must be my favourite use of the script so far. The Guardian ran a detailed photo record of the lives of five American families in the run-up to the president elections:

"Five photographers from the Documentography collective are living for a week with five very different families in California, Florida, Georgia, Ohio and Texas. Each day we will publish 10 photographs of each family and brief audio clips documenting their daily lives."

The project has wrapped up now that the election is over. What’s left is a fascinating pictorial overview of the intersection between family life and politics.

It’s a great combination of images, words and the web. Needless to say, I’m completely chuffed that my humble script is being used for this project.

Schrodinger's election

Last night, I decided not to watch the all-night long election specials on television with their swingometers, pundits and talking heads. Instead, I went to bed to dream of the possibility of waking up to a different world.

I went to bed not knowing who had won the presidential election in the United States. When I woke up this morning, I still didn’t know the outcome.

As I lay in bed this morning, it struck me that the entire world had become a giant Schrodinger’s cat:

“The Psi function for the entire system would express this by having in it the living and the dead cat (pardon the expression) mixed or smeared out in equal parts.”

I couldn’t lie in bed forever. It would be irresponsible to let the world linger in live cat/dead cat state of flux (unless Einstein was more right than he realised when he said “there is no cat”).

I got up. I walked into the kitchen. I turned on the radio and tuned it to Radio 4. In doing so, I killed the cat. This cat is no more. It has ceased to be. It’s expired and gone to meet its maker. It’s a stiff. Bereft of life.

I’ve quoted Schrodinger. I’ve quoted Einstein. But the quote that is foremost in my mind comes not from a European scientist but from an American writer. I believe it was Mark Twain who first said:

“The people have spoken… the bastards.”