Melting! We’re Melting!

Let’s see:

Using “badge politics”, censoring those who don’t worship twitter’s liberal dictator, & implementing procedures to annihilate conservatives from the Internet?

Sounds like twitter is carrying out its own “final solution” for conservatives.

And so it begins. Twitter is quick to call me and others Nazis, but they are literally trying to eradicate my presence. Just like Hitler.

Twitter is uh, cracking down on hateful tweeters (not the Tiny Tyrant, natch), by removing their little checkmark. Yeah, that will show them. While I can’t say I think much of this ‘action’, it’s certainly upsetting the conservanazi crowd. Laura Loomer says Using “badge politics”. If that little checkmark didn’t mean anything to you Ms. Loomer, why on earth did you pursue it so hard? You claim Twitter is ‘annihilating’ conservatives, literally trying to eradicate your presence. Going by your checkmark free tweets, that has not been accomplished in the slightest. Perhaps you should save your hyperbole for a time when Twitter actually does something, like ban your account.

All the checkmarkless nazirati are having fits, as if this truly impacts their ability to spread their bigotry, hate, and fear. Perhaps it does, and if so, good. You can read many of the linked tweets of the nazirati at RWW.

Digital Humanities.

,

First, What Is Digital Humanities?

Humanity (and not just the humanities) mediated through the largest extant body politic. A global vehicle (and personal prosthetic) for containing what it is to be human and humanist–within and without the academy.Robert Long.

Digital Humanities: the creation and preservation of extensible digital archives to document, and tools to interact with, material culture.Robert Whalen, Northern Michigan University.

A fluid term to describe a variety of practices applying and theorizing the intersection of technology and humanities questions.Amy Earheart.

There’s more. Much more.

Introduction: In the decades following the onset of the Index Thomisticus project, medievalists were often early adopters of the digital, and continue to play an important role in the development of a broader field, which came to be called digital humanities. This field took other forms and names during its emergence and subsequent development: humanities computing, humanist informatics, literary and linguistic computing, digital resources in the humanities, eHumanities, and others.

These competing alternatives, among which “humanities computing” had long been dominant, have only recently made place for the newly canonical term “digital humanities,” which today is rarely contested. “Digital humanities” is generally meant to refer to a broader field than “humanities computing.” Whereas the latter is restricted to the application of computers in humanities scholarship and had narrower technical goals, the former also incorporates a “humanities of the digital,” including the study (potentially via traditional means) of digitally created sources, such as art and literature.

DH is therefore profoundly multidisciplinary and attracts contributions from scholars and scientists both within and outside the humanities and the humanistic social sciences. Digital humanists have taken care to define themselves in an inclusive rather than exclusive manner. As a result, the term “digital humanities” connotes a greater sense of integration than the diversity of approaches that are sheltered within the “big tent” of DH and that are also reflected in the contents of this supplement.

You can read more at Medievalists, and that article led me to a full open access issue of Speculum! Some very good reading there, including The Digital Middle Ages: An Introduction.

White Spots App.

Visualization of networks in Brooklyn, and a map to escape them, on the White Spots app (screenshots by the author for Hyperallergic).

White Spots: A Journey to the Edge of the Internet was launched last year as an app for iPhone and Google Play. It visualizes the digital networks around us, mapping those “white spots” where there is no network connection.

[…]

The multimedia project involves a VR experience where you can use Google Cardboard to scan local digital signals in real-time, as well as a smartphone world map pinned with short documentaries on living with and without the internet. If you visit a white spot, you can add a pin with the story of your experience.

On launching White Spots, my screen was immediately swarmed with cellphone networks and a jarring digital noise. You can click the text “get me out!” to map directions to the nearest white spot. From my apartment in Brooklyn, I am 156 km (97 miles) to the nearest one, a quiet corner of Lake Waramaug State Park in Connecticut. However, for me, and potentially most White Spots users, disconnecting would be a choice. The app’s world map shows much of North America and Europe in the black, while large sections of South America and Africa are white voids.

Documentary stories on the White Spots app (screenshots by the author for Hyperallergic).

White Spots is free to download for iPhone and Google Play.

You can read and see much more about this app at Hyperallergic.

Social Foretelling.

IV. – Development of Wireless Telegraphy. Scene in Hyde Park. [These two figures are not communicating with one another. The lady is receiving an amatory message, and the gentleman some racing results.]

This is from Punch magazine, in 1906. They didn’t quite get to cellphones, but they weren’t completely off the mark, either. The Punch Almanack, in 1879, also speculated on the possibility of a telephonoscope:

(Every evening, before going to bed, Pater and Materfamilias set up an electric camera obscura over their bedroom mantel-piece, and gladden their eyes with the sight of their Children at the Antipodes, and converse gaily with them through the wire.)
Paterfamilias (in Willow Place): “Beatrice, come closer, I want to whisper.”
Beatrice (from Ceylon): “Yes, Papa dear.”
Paterfamilias: Who is that charming young lady playing on Charlie’s side!
Beatrix: “She’s just come over from England, Papa. I’ll introduce you as soon as the game’s over!”

A version of Skype was foretold, too, by a number of people. You can see more here.

All The Witch Hunts…

It’s seems that whole clumps of bitter techbros are fleeing to the MGTOW life (that’s Men Going Their Own Way, if you didn’t know), and advocating a life of male separatism. Just a thought, but if you avoid women at all costs, it might not be a surprise that your viewpoints are more suited to a cave than a nice high tech office somewhere. Naturally, this is an evil witch hunt, with the intent to subjugate men (and make them do what? Scrub out the toilet?) and other nefarious things. As always, the irony of men screeching “witch hunt!” escapes them entirely.

One of those who said there had been a change is James Altizer, an engineer at the chip maker Nvidia. Mr. Altizer, 52, said he had realized a few years ago that feminists in Silicon Valley had formed a cabal whose goal was to subjugate men. At the time, he said, he was one of the few with that view.
Continue reading the main story

Now Mr. Altizer said he was less alone. “There’s quite a few people going through that in Silicon Valley right now,” he said. “It’s exploding. It’s mostly young men, younger than me.”

Mr. Altizer said that a gathering he hosts in person and online to discuss men’s issues had grown by a few dozen members this year to more than 200, that the private Facebook pages he frequents on men’s rights were gaining new members and that a radical subculture calling for total male separatism was emerging.

“It’s a witch hunt,” he said in a phone interview, contending men are being fired by “dangerous” human resources departments. “I’m sitting in a soundproof booth right now because I’m afraid someone will hear me. When you’re discussing gender issues, it’s almost religious, the response. It’s almost zealotry.”

Unsurprisingly, Mr. Altizer, when you decide to pontificate about how women should not be in a workplace, and they should be quiet about slaps on the ass, if they don’t want to deal, they should stay home and do what they were ‘made’ for and all that, it will elicit a response. Women have been responding to misogynistic attitudes for thousands of years now. If we, from time to time, snap or yell, well, I’m sure you’ll understand the frustration of having one generation after another having to repeat themselves.

I do love the touch of the soundproof booth, though. For unknown reasons, the NYT has decided to give these sad separatists a full work up, because life is so gosh darn hard for men, especially those of the white variety. I’ll wish them fun in their cones of silence, and continue to pay attention to those men who have happily figured out that yes, women are human beings too.

Full story here.

Attack of the 50 Foot Blockchain.

A while back, Rick asked me about Bitcoin. Along with the rather alarmed look on my face, I shook my head and said “stay the fuck away from it.” That said, I wasn’t in a position to explain all the reasons why, or the history of it and all that. I just muttered “stay the fuck away” again. Conveniently, David Gerard has a book all about that! Many of you are familiar with Mr. Gerard from Rational Wiki. I got this for Rick, but of course, I had to read it too, because book.

It’s excellent, covers what you need to know, and is informative, entertaining, and sometimes, horrifying. So if you’ve been curious, or thinking maybe you ought to “get in on that”, read first. You can read select excerpts from the book here.

The Intertwining of Trees and Crime.

Screencapture.

There’s been some very interesting research happening in Chicago, and it turns out that trees reduce crime. I don’t find this surprising at all, but I’m a “must be attached to the land” person. When your environment is bleak and desolate, you end up with bleak, desolate, desperate people. We need to be aware of our earth, we need to be connected to our planet. In urban environments, the best way to restore that connection is with trees. Yes, they are a long-term investment, but that’s good, because it means people are thinking the right way, generations ahead of themselves.

In June, the Chicago Regional Tree Initiative and Morton Arboretum released what they say is the most comprehensive tree canopy data set of any region in the U.S., covering 284 municipalities in the Chicago area. Now, that data is helping neighborhoods improve their environments and assist their communities.

“When we go to talk to communities,” says Lydia Scott, director of the CRTI, “We say ‘trees reduce crime.’ And then they go, ‘Explain to me how that could possibly be, because that’s the most bizarre thing I’ve ever heard.’”

In Chicago, where more than 2,000 people have been shot this year, scientists are looking at physical features of neighborhoods for solutions. “We started to look at where we have heavy crime, and whether there was a correlation with tree canopy, and often, there is,” says Scott. “Communities that have higher tree population have lower crime. Areas where trees are prevalent, people tend to be outside, mingling, enjoying their community.”

The map revealed that poorer neighborhoods are often “tree deserts,” areas with little or no tree canopy. Trees reduce flooding, improve property values, prevent heat islands, promote feelings of safety, reduce mortality, and provide other significant social and health benefits. This means that when you live in, for example, the South Side, where trees are scarcer, you lose more than just green leaves overhead.

Never before have researchers been able to look so widely and deeply at this sort of data. The map is huge—it covers seven counties—and extremely detailed. That has allowed Scott and her colleagues to notice some startling patterns. For example, in the North Shore community—an affluent, lakeside, suburban area—canopy cover tends to be 40 percent or higher. On the economically depressed South Side, canopy can be as low as 7 percent.

That last is no surprise, either. As it goes with people, the poorer you are, the less of everything you get, including trees. There’s much more to the article, all the research, how it was conducted, and information about Blacks in Green, who are doing stellar work. Click on over to Atlas Obscura for the full story. Then see if you could help plant a tree. Or just hug one.

The First Photographs of a Solar Eclipse.

William and Frederick Langenheim, “Eclipse of the Sun” (1854), daguerreotype (courtesy Metropolitan Museum of Art).

On this August 21, a total solar eclipse will be viewable across North America, a rare occurrence that will likely be greeted by a wave of iPhones and digital cameras raised to the sky. Although photographing an eclipse relies a bit on luck, timing, and preparation, our ability to document the celestial event is more accessible than ever. In the 19th century, it took years of experimentation with the newly invented photographic medium to successfully capture a fleeting eclipse.

Attempts at solar eclipse photography are recorded going back to 1842, including Gian Alessandro Majocchi’s photograph of a partial eclipse taken on July 8 in Milan (an image which has not survived). Stefan Hughes, author of Catchers of the Light on the history of astrophotography, writes on his blog that Majocchi’s daguerreotypes only caught the before and after of the totality (or total obscuring of the sun), with the ultimate eclipse just a big blank. It wasn’t until the eclipse of July 28, 1851 that the moment of eclipse was successfully photographed. At the Royal Prussian Observatory in Königsberg (today’s Kaliningrad in Russia), a daguerreotypist named Johann Julius Friedrich Berkowski carefully exposed a plate through a small refracting telescope attached to a heliometer. The daguerreotype revealed the moon perfectly positioned over the sun, exposing the solar corona for the first time in photography, hovering like a halo around the darkness.

You can read and see more about these fascinating ventures in astrophotography at Hyperallergic.

Amazon Doesn’t Care About Your Eyes, So…

A total solar eclipse in Norway in 2015. Nesvold, Jon Olav / Reuters.

Eclipse fever has hit, hard, and a whole lot of areas are bracing themselves, hoping for the best. It’s all well and good to want to see an eclipse, it’s exciting, lots to ooh and aaah over, but it’s not worth permanently damaging your eyes, and there’s been an unprecedented demand for eclipse glasses, and a great many people are heading straight to Amazon for them, and Amazon has no oversight when it comes to properly rated specs. There’s a wealth of counterfeit specs on the market.

[…] APO itself has done the same. Jason Lewin, the company’s director of marketing, says APO started to notice the counterfeits showing up on Amazon about a month ago. Since then, they’ve ordered some of the products, tested them, and sent Amazon photos and documentation of the counterfeits. Both Lewin and APO president John Jerit have been frustrated by the lack of response. They’re late to the game with this,” says Jerit. “Some of the legitimate resellers we’ve got, they’ve been complaining and complaining about this.

“[Counterfeiting] isn’t new to Amazon but this isn’t fidget spinners,” adds Lewin. “These are supposed to be things to keep you safe.”

All this has made me suspicious about my own glasses. The ones I bought have all the right words printed on them: “meets the Transmission Requirements of ISO 12312-2” they say, before going on to list a slew of other standards allegedly met. Then at the end: “Mfg. by: American Paper Optics.”

But the Amazon listing didn’t actually say American Paper Optics manufactured the lenses; it just showed up with the Tennessee-based company’s stamp on it. I ask Lunt how I could tell if what I had was the real deal or a knock-off, and he tells me to look at the earpieces. There’s a design element that’s been generic among all of cardboard glasses for years (remember those red-and-blue lensed 3D glasses?): the part of the cardboard frame that hooks over the ears has a rounded end. APO recently changed their design to have a more squared-off earpiece.

No surprise, my 10-pack all have rounded ears, the scarlet letter of phoniness.

Top: the real American Paper Optics glasses; Bottom: a photo of counterfeit glasses sold as “American Paper Optics” on Amazon.

As you can see, a bit of care is needed to make sure you aren’t endangering your eyes if you’re going to be an eclipse hunter this month. Quartz has an in-depth article about this, and NASA has guidelines available, too.

Be sure you’re safe, check and doublecheck those specs!

The Cultural Force of Science Fiction.

“L’an 2000” (“The year 2000,” 1901), print on cardboard; a collection of uncut sheets for confectionery cards showing life imagined in the future (photo by the author for Hyperallergic). Click for full size.

LONDON — The 1982 film Blade Runner imagined 2019 Los Angeles as a dystopia of noirish neon and replicants, robots sent to do hard labor on off-world colonies. It’s a future in which engineered beings are so close to humans as to make the characters question the very nature of life. We’re now just a couple of years from this movie’s timeline, and although our robots are still far from mirroring humanity, our science fiction continues to envision giant leaps in technology that are often rooted in contemporary concerns of where our innovations are taking us.

Patrick Gyger, curator of Into the Unknown: A Journey through Science Fiction at the Barbican Centre, told Hyperallergic that, for him, science fiction “allows creators to look beyond the horizon of knowledge and play with concepts and situations.” The exhibition is a sprawling examination of the genre of science fiction going back to the 19th century, with over 800 works. These include film memorabilia, vintage books, original art, and even a kinetic sculpture in a lower-level space by Conrad Shawcross. “In Light of The Machine” has a huge, robotic arm twisting within a henge-like circle of perforated walls, so visitors can only glimpse its strange dance at first, before moving to the center and seeing that it holds one bright light at the end of its body.

[…]

The exhibition shows, but does not dwell on, who has been left out of a history mostly shaped by white men (there are rare exceptions on view, like the “Astro Black” video installation by Soda_Jerk that muses on Sun Ra’s theories of Afrofuturism). It would be worthwhile to spend more time on figures who broke through these barriers, such as author Octavia Butler. As discussed on a recent podcast from Imaginary Worlds, her black characters were sometimes portrayed as white on her book covers to make them more appealing to science fiction readers. The exhibition could also have a deeper context for why certain veins of science fiction are prominent in particular eras, and perhaps question why we don’t have a lot of science fiction narratives on current crises like climate change. For instance, the much smaller 2016 exhibition Fantastic Worlds: Science and Fiction 1780–1910 from the Smithsonian Libraries compared milestones like Mary Shelley’s 1818 Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus with physician Luigi Galvani’s “animal electricity” experiments on animating dead frog legs, and highlighted how Jules Verne channeled the doomed Franklin expedition in his 1864 book The Adventures of Captain Hatteras.

Nevertheless, having an exhibition like Into the Unknown at a mainstream space like the Barbican is significant, showing the art world appreciates science fiction beyond kitsch. And science fiction continues to be one of our important portals for thinking about the ramifications of our technological choices, and where they might take us.

You can read and see much, much more at Hyperallergic. Fascinating!

Adobe Researches Digital Colour Mixing.

Researchers at software brand Adobe have developed a prototype tool that allows users to mix colours on screen as if they were working in real paint.

Playful Palette offers artists and illustrators an alternative to the standard colour picker that most graphics software, such as Adobe Photoshop, relies on. Users would be able to blend colours more easily and compare different shades.

The tool is based on research into the ways artists work in traditional media – and the shortcomings they experience with digital counterparts.

The Adobe Research team set out to create a user interface that could replicate the variations of a physical palette, with the ability to mix colours and compare combinations of shades.

“Choosing and composing colours is a critical part of any painting process,” the Adobe Research team of Maria Shugrina, Jingwan Lu and Stephen Diverdi wrote in a paper on the subject.

“We conducted a pilot study that found artists interact with their palette several times a minute, and many of the interactions, such as exploring harmonising colours, are not well supported by digital colour pickers.”

Playful Palette is designed in contrast to the usual sliders or swatches that many apps rely on. Instead, it allows dabs of colour to be added, moved, blended with other colours or completely deleted. Blobs are moved by touching and dragging, to recall the tangibility of real paint and paper.

A ring surrounds the palette and records a history of shades used – allowing the user to easily return to them. Entire colours can also be selected and swapped out for new ones, allowing the details of an image to be updated all at once. Playful Palette can also record an infinite number of “dishes”.

Dezeen has the full story.  One of the commenters linked a petition to Adobe to place a reasonable price on their products for students. I’d say how about a reasonable price for everyone? There’s a reason I still run pshop 6. The amount of money adobe wants for pshop is piracy, especially when you consider how many people buy at least one or more programs from them. I would love a current edition of pshop, but there are a lot of people who are not walking around with a spare $400 to $800 bucks in their pocket. It’s not like Adobe really cuts the price all that much for upgrades, either. I think they have enough money that they could easily pull the price into a much more reasonable range for all people. That said, playful palette sounds great!