Wednesday, March 21st, 2018
Friday, March 9th, 2018
I think our destination is neither utopia nor dystopia nor status quo, but protopia. Protopia is a state that is better than today than yesterday, although it might be only a little better. Protopia is much much harder to visualize. Because a protopia contains as many new problems as new benefits, this complex interaction of working and broken is very hard to predict.
Kevin Kelly’s thoughts at the time of coining of this term seven years ago:
No one wants to move to the future today. We are avoiding it. We don’t have much desire for life one hundred years from now. Many dread it. That makes it hard to take the future seriously. So we don’t take a generational perspective. We’re stuck in the short now. We also adopt the Singularity perspective: that imagining the future in 100 years is technically impossible. So there is no protopia we are reaching for.
Sunday, March 4th, 2018
Cameron contrasts Syd Mead with Frank Lloyd Wright.
Mastery of materials is a valuable thing to have. It will help you build what’s needed now and forge ahead into the near future. But vision is also valuable – it helps inspire and drive teams, and lays out a longer term future that can alter the path of humanity. What I take from the futurists and the realists is that there’s a place for every person and every process; what you need to do is find your own place, get comfortable, and own it.
Saturday, January 13th, 2018
From the proceedings of the Electronic Computer Symposium in 1952, the remarkable Ida Rhodes describes a vision of the future…
My crystal ball reveals Mrs. Mary Jones in the living room of her home, most of the walls doubling as screens for projected art or information. She has just dialed her visiophone. On the wall panel facing her, the full colored image of a rare orchid fades, to be replaced by the figure of Mr. Brown seated at his desk. Mrs. Jones states her business: she wishes her valuable collection of orchid plants insured. Mr. Brown consults a small code book and dials a string of figures. A green light appears on his wall. He asks Mrs. Jones a few pertinent questions and types out her replies. He then pushes the start button. Mr. Brown fades from view. Instead, Mrs. Jones has now in front of her a set of figures relating to the policy in which she is interested. The premium rate and benefits are acceptable and she agrees to take out the policy. Here is Brown again. From a pocket in his wall emerges a sealed, addressed, and postage-metered envelope which drops into the mailing chute. It contains, says Brown, an application form completely filled out by the automatic computer and ready for her signature.
Tuesday, January 9th, 2018
Peter looks into his crystal ball for 2018 and sees computers with eyes, computers with ears, and computers with brains.
Wednesday, November 8th, 2017
A profile of Clearleft from the nice people at InVision.
Although there is this:
Saturday, September 23rd, 2017
This forthcoming sci-fi quarterly publication looks intriguing:
Each issue contains a part of a previously untranslated novel as well as essays looking at the world through the lens of different writers.
I’m loving their typeface. It’s called Marvin. It was specially made for the magazine, and available to download and use for personal use for free.
Marvin gets its distinctive voice not only from its Art Nouveau vibe but also from its almost geometrically perfect construction. Its roundness and familiarity with Bauhaus typefaces shows its roots in geometric sans serifs at the same time.
Wednesday, May 3rd, 2017
There are three parts to digital preservation: format, medium, and licensing. Film and television archives are struggling with all three.
Codecs—the software used to compress and decompress digital video files—keep changing, as do the hardware and software for playback.
As each new generation of LTO comes to market, an older generation of LTO becomes obsolete. LTO manufacturers guarantee at most two generations of backward compatibility. What that means for film archivists with perhaps tens of thousands of LTO tapes on hand is that every few years they must invest millions of dollars in the latest format of tapes and drives and then migrate all the data on their older tapes—or risk losing access to the information altogether.
Studios didn’t see any revenue potential in their past work. They made money by selling movie tickets; absent the kind of follow-on markets that exist today, long-term archiving didn’t make sense economically.
It adds up to a potential cultural disaster:
If technology companies don’t come through with a long-term solution, it’s possible that humanity could lose a generation’s worth of filmmaking, or more.
Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017
Cancelling the future.
The future lives and dies by the state of the archives. To look hard at this world and honestly, diligently articulate what happened and what it was like in the present is a sort of promise to the future, a new layer to the palimpsest of history that can become someone else’s foundation.
Thursday, March 30th, 2017
This is wonderful meditation on the history of older technologies that degrade in varied conditions versus newer formats that fall of a “digital cliff”, all tied in to working on the web.
When digital TV fails, it fails completely. Analog TV, to use parlance of the web, degrades gracefully. The web could be similar, if we choose to make it so. It could be “the analog” web in contrast to “the digital” platforms. Perhaps in our hurry to replicate and mirror native platforms, we’re forgetting the killer strength of the web: universal accessibility.
Monday, January 16th, 2017
Most of these dystopian scenarios are, after all, post-apocalyptic: the bad thing happened, the tension broke, and now so much less is at stake. The anxiety and ambivalence we feel toward late-stage capitalism, income inequality, political corruption, and environmental degradation—acute psychological pandemics in the here and now—are utterly dissolved. In a strange, wicked way, the aftermath feels fine.
Sunday, May 8th, 2016
Monday, March 2nd, 2015
Any sufficiently advanced vision piece is indistinguishable from Black Mirror.
Thursday, September 25th, 2014
I really like Phil’s braindump of conference ideas. Frankly, many of these ideas work just as well as watchwords for building on the web:
- Different models for start-ups. Co-operatives. Employee ownership. Normal, slowly-growing, profit-making businesses.
- Technology for people who don’t live in the first world. (There’s a lot of them and they have a lot of technology, but most of us know nothing about it.)
- Websites that make the whole Web better.
- New services that work fine on technology that’s been around for years.
- Services designed for people who have little money.
- Services designed for people who aren’t fully able.
- Models for keeping services running over the long-term. (What happens when your company closes, or to your personal projects when you die?)
Tuesday, July 15th, 2014
Here’s a dystopian vision of the web in ten years time, where professional developers are the only people able to publish on the web.
Saturday, May 31st, 2014
Alan Kay’s written remarks to a Joint Hearing of the Science Committee and the Economic and Educational and Opportunites Committee in October 1995.
Thursday, May 29th, 2014
Steven Johnson’s new television series will be shown on BBC in a few months time. Looks like it’s going to be good Burkian fun.
Friday, January 3rd, 2014
There’s something very satisfying about this televisual sleuthing:
Images of the computer code appearing in TV and films and what they really are.
Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013
Coming from anyone else, this glorious vision might seem far-fetched, but Anne is working to make it a reality.
Tuesday, August 6th, 2013
This sounds like it’s a going to be a good: a new TV series by Steven Johnson on the history of technology and innovation. Sounds very Burkian, which is a very good thing.