30 March 2006

Daniel Edwards' new fertility goddess

the most memorable comment i heard
during the Serrano "Piss Christ" controversy
was Frank Moore's
noting that the image itself was
beautiful (end of argument)

so the current "Britney Spears Pro-life"
hullabaloo [GoogleNews]
first makes me study the work itself
[flickr, 3pix]

and while i regret not yet finding
an unembarrassed photo
of the action end

i have to say
as art
i think it may be
the most powerful fertility image
of the last 20,000 years

the sculptor is evidently
school of Koons

playing the media
with serious intent
[2005 NYT] [mp3 interview]
but that won't matter
ten years from now

29 March 2006

Once the light was let in

"Buchenwald, according to Freud, once the light was let in, would become a soccer field, fat children would learn flower-arranging and solfeggio in the strangling rooms. At Auschwitz the ovens would be converted over to petit fours and wedding cakes, and the V-2 missiles to public housing for the elves."
--Thomas Pynchon, The Crying of Lot 49

if part
of our self-knowledge
is blocked
by intimidation

there can be no
but withstanding that intimidation
and dissolving that block

and any attempt
to help

to help even
one other

is doomed to fail

27 March 2006

Reading on the Web (on the Tree of Life)

light every human branch
over just those spans
when the human was
surfing the Web

the last ten years
show an exponential growth
of who's surfing, where
and how long they surf each day

now place a red star
at each point where the surfer
reads a word

so some surfers
minimise red
while others
maximise it

spans of red
when the costs of continuing reading
outweigh the benefits

each new red star
each additional word read
requires an effort

and those who flee reading
do so because
their costs would be too great

so the first goal of webpage design
should be readability

no flashing ads in the margin
no oversized or undersized print

lines of text neither too wide
nor too narrow
spaced neither too close
nor too far apart

and if the page designer
betrays these rules
the browser should step in
and painlessly reformat

understanding what does and doesn't work
for that individual surfer
in their current state

(i can't tolerate columns at all
and i prefer some margins, to none
but i have no control over this!)

26 March 2006

When your rss-feed needs an rss-feed

content is signal
advertising is noise

S/N is the ratio between these two

and the history of the web
is the battle between them

most webpages offer a tiny amount of S
in a sea of N
(and not just ad N
but also garbage links
and decoration)

websites with good content attract eyeballs

but eyeballs use bandwidth
which costs money

advertising tries to pay for bandwidth
by decreasing the S/N

Google's empire was built entirely
on minimizing the N-cost of text-ads
(but there's still vast room for improvement
in matching text-ads to page-content)

before the bubble burst
there was an insane competition for
eyeballs at any cost

(YouTube is repeating this gamble)

rss paradoxically tries to strip the N
to attract eyeballs
sacrificing the decoration
and the garbage links
(so that all rss feeds look alike
and you can no longer tell
what site you're visiting
without doublechecking the titlebar)

but inevitably the N creeps back in

as images and media and ads in rss
(i deleted the Huffington Post
because their rss feed included
an embedded sound file!)

until your rss feed needs an rss feed
of its own

but if we'd just
we could create simple clean
high S/N pages
that served as their own feeds...

24 March 2006

Voice on the Tree of Life

way back when, we painted
a white stripe on each human branch
each time its human
spoke a word

and we saw those stripes
in small groups
when people chanted or sang together

or alternate, in batches
when they conversed

and we saw poetry
badly recited
forming uniform stripes

as the rhythms of network newsreaders
follow a limited set of patterns

or someone reading aloud

or the inner voice
of the narrator
as we silently read a novel

but when a good novelist writes dialog
a much broader set of rhythms can be used
to capture their mood
and reveal their character

(Joyce is the champ for this

George V Higgins gets an honorable mention)

now if we consider the cylinder
(or cone)
traced by a branch's radial ontology

with lit stars
when ontology-categories
are being actively
as lifestories

we may view that life
as a novel
with stars implying
an almost-infinite
cascade of words

out of which
the novelist/biographer
chooses a finite subset

that can represent
all the important themes

not omitting, one hopes
words in rhythmic patterns

capturing the character's voice

19 March 2006

Most innovative game platform

i have almost no interest
in playing games
but i'm fascinated by their potential

so many recent games
have sounded interesting
that i'd lost track of their compatibility
with various platforms

so this little table
is meant to remedy that:
      Animal Crossing DS
Electroplankton DS
Nintendogs DS
Warioware DS
Katamari PS2 PSP
Guitar Hero PS2
Taiko Drum Master PS2
DanceDance Revolution PS2 Xbox
Simpsons: Hit and Run PS2 Xbox PC
Psychonauts PS2 Xbox PC
Sims2 DS PS2 Xbox PC PSP
The Movies PC
Second Life PC
Lumines PSP

PS2 is the clear winner, but the DS gets extra credit for lo-tech creativity.

EveryObject and the Tree of Life

if you take two specific things

and generalise what they have in common

the generalisation will have
far fewer features
than either specific

so when you generalise all humans
into Everyman

Everyman will be vague and blurry
(PKDick's "A Scanner Darkly"
objectifies this into a camouflage-suit)

and creation-myths often reverse this
with structure emerging out of a chaotic void

the a.i. project 'Cyc' attempts
to build a universal ontology
where the highest
are abstract
blurry and vague

and Ning.com incarnates this paradox
in its universal 'Content Store'
where all content-types are equal
and relations between content-types
are wholly user-defined

but the world is structured
in familiar and reliable ways

we deal with people, places and things

people and things tracing worldlines
thru places and times

so a universal content-store
could embed these reliable structures

'knowing' that all data
can be viewed on the Tree of Life

18 March 2006

Does deodorant cause divorce?

recent research suggests that scent
helps us choose mates

so might deodorant
misdirect those choices?

16 March 2006

Visualising geologic layering

consider a random Earth atom
tracing a local worldline
across the last five billion years

over spans where the atom
was exposed to sunlight
let its worldline shine

where it was buried
or in shadow
leave it black

(atoms that have never
broken Earth's surface
we can ignore
in this visualisation)

now colorize those 5B years
of shining spans
with a full spectrum
so recent spans shine red
and the most ancient spans

individual atoms
may have longer or shorter spans
of mostly shining
or mostly not

shorter spans of a single hue
longer spans crossing multicolored stripes

now consider the surface of Earth
at any given moment
with all exposed atoms
colored by that moment's hue

currently red
but if we roll back the clock
shifting thru orange yellow green
to blue and finally violet

now since each atom
'remembers' its colors
for each moment the Sun shone

we can command
that only atoms that are
currently lit red

but that also
in the far distant past
were lit, at some points

now light, say
in a pattern
of yellow and red

so that geological layers
laid down in the yellow era
but exposed again now
are selectively lit

and geologists' maps
can and do show
where those yellow-red patterned
layers lie

08 March 2006

Illuminati on the Tree of Life

the blue stars
of facts denied
often trace unbroken
lifelong lines

for our culture
in the realm of sexual curiosity
the original sin of Eve & Adam

with a mysterious historical shift
introducing this inauthenticity
some time since the bonobos

and with each newborn human
trained anew
to restrain their sexuality

Freud's unconscious
or Jung's shadow (see esp Bly)

while the rare battles of artists
to free themselves
normally end in poverty
and persecution

with persecution-events
escalating in intensity
exactly as efforts to become free

persecutions uncaused
or self-caused

or indeed perhaps
caused by a
conspiracy of initiates
who have wilfully
desecrated those taboos
to win
occult power
over men

(Joyce on Gogarty: "he seems
to have little hesitation
in condemning generations
to servitude")

05 March 2006

Autobiography on the Tree of Life

picture your life-so-far
as a line running from left to right
of your current browser window

picture the top of the window
as the east/west longitude
of the easternmost place you've lived
(for more than a year, say
for now)
and the bottom, the westernmost

start with the place you lived the longest
(call it 'Main')

move your lifeline
up or down, to the level
between east (top)
and west (bottom)
of that place (Main)

trim the start and the end of
your horizontal lifeline
to match the relative
start and end
of your time at Main

picture the emotional tones
of your time in Main

the highs and lows

and the inflection points
where everything changed

assign colors
to each span of tone

remember why you moved to Main
and where you moved from

why you left
and where you went next

what attracted you to the new
repelled you from the old?

when did the attraction
or repulsion
(picture its startingpoint
and its endingpoint)


04 March 2006

GoogleParse metadata

i predict
that sooner rather than later
google will have to create
(and will choose to publish)
a metadocument
for every webpage it indexes

that expands on the traditional semantics
of META headers
identifying author, date, topic, etc

by condensing
the most useful results
of a thorough ai-parsing
of the page

breaking out its subsections:
author info
host info
site news
recommended followup readings
etc etc etc

providing guideposts
that will allow the page
to be re-parsed
as efficiently as possible

(eg if a small edit
changes the position
of previously parsed data)

perhaps gradually lengthening
as new categories of semantics
are added

and encouraging web publishers
to post their own version
of these metadocuments
that google can spider
to doublecheck their own parser

with site metadata
as well
that summarizes

which tags-n-attributes are most used
how section-divisions are marked

maybe even a vocabulary of regexps
optimised for that site's style

the xml/sgml people used to argue that
this metadata should be
in the document

under the illusion that
each semantic category
could indulge in its own stylesheet style

but i don't even think the
page-creation tools
support this yet

where it's probably already begun
is with Google News
and Google Blog Search

which need to know
how different news sites
and blog hosts
mark up their dates
and titles
and links