Facts and machines have no inertia of their own; like kings or armies they cannot travel without their retinues or impedimenta.
Writing on the New Yorker’s new literary blog, Page-Turner, Adam Gopnik picks apart several of the central claims in Johnathan Gottschall’s new book, The Storytelling Animal. Gottschall’s text attempts to answer an intriguing question: Do entertaining stories make us more ethical?
I found Gopnik’s objections more or less compelling, but this paragraph managed to bring a wry smile of recognition to my face:
“And if these claims seem almost too large to argue, the more central claim—that stories increase our empathy, and “make societies work better by encouraging us to behave ethically”—seems too absurd even to argue with. Surely if there were any truth in the notion that reading fiction greatly increased our capacity for empathy then college English departments, which have by far the densest concentration of fiction readers in human history, would be legendary for their absence of back-stabbing, competitive ill-will, factional rage, and egocentric self-promoters; they’d be the one place where disputes are most often quickly and amiably resolved by mutual empathetic engagement. It is rare to see a thesis actually falsified as it is being articulated.”
From It’s Okay to Be Smart:
Interactive light sculpture, combining human movement with responsive illumination. Man can finally dance with machine, in a striking way.
Is the sculpture’s algorithm studying us, or are we studying the sculpture?”
From Blind Giant:
“This is the ZeroN.
It’s a prototype. It wobbles a bit. But if you don’t find it amazing, you need to step back and refresh your sense of wonder.
Done that? Okay.
Floating ball. Gravity nullified by electromagnetism. You are living in the future now, yes?”
Fast Company article on it here: http://www.fastcodesign.com/1669799/mit-creates-amazing-ui-from-levitating-orbs
Wired has a great feature article on the work of Phil Tippett. Tippett was the effects guru responsible for much of the original Star Wars trilogy (you can thank him for giving the world AT-ATs), as well as the original Jurassic Park film (for which he won an Oscar). Tippett has been working for a number of years on a project that loobks absolutely amazing and is doing a funding drive on Kickstarter to raise funds to complete it. He’s calling it Mad God and it looks absolutely disturbing in the best possible sense of that word. I highly recommend reading the article and then checking out the Kickstarter page where you can see some sample shots that he and his team have put together. It’s the creepiest looking stop-motion SF I’ve seen in a long while. I really hope this project sees the light of day.
“Tippett has been funding the film himself with some of the money he’s raised selling his “junk.” He doesn’t want to be beholden to anyone else and is pretty certain no studio would ever want the film. (Or, in his words, “Oh, hell no.”) Ultimately, he’d like to spend 18 months with his rag-tag group of Tippett filmmakers completing a 12-minute chapter of Mad God to distribute to his Kickstarter benefactors.
When the prospect of using Kickstarter to fund Mad God comes up in conversation — it reached its$40,000 goal Tuesday, with weeks left to raise even more — the look of a smart-ass creature creator comes back over Tippett’s face. It’s easy to see the guy who built monsters in his garage and found a way to make a career out of his creative tinkering.
“It’s the perfect scam for a crook,” he said, a slight smile filling his bearded face. “All filmmakers are pirates anyway — it’s in the blood.””
Kickstarter page: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/madgod/phil-tippetts-mad-god
Bonus XKCD cartoon on crowdsourcing: http://www.xkcd.com/1060/
The surface of the sun like you’ve never seen it before.
Pen & Ink is a website devoted to the stories behind tattoos. In and of itself, this could be a fairly banal topic (looking at you Kat Von D); however, Isaac Fitzgerald and Wendy MacNaughton have managed to collect some fairly entertaining stories to go with some really bad tattoo art.