Tuesday, April 04, 2006


I'd definitely want to update the multi user dungeon entry. I could add about the different complications that arise from too much use and from interacting with AI (bots.) There's literally nothing on there about that, just the basics about the dungeons themselves so I could add an entire section.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Turing Machine Revisited and Tokens

The Turing Machine, upon further review, is pretty amazing. It took me a while to conceptualize how incredible it is that Turing was able to fashion such a then-outlandish idea. Considering how I take for granted what I perceive to be the "basic" innerworkings of modern computers, it's no wonder some post-its, a marker, and toilet paper were what I needed to re-adjust my perspective. Binary code is difficult enough to understand once it is explained to you, yet Turing envisioned a system much like binary to perform any calculations imaginary. It's hard to grasp how long it must have taken him to understand this, or if it came to him in a dream. Once I got a hang of the instruction sets, I started to have fun with the machine and saw how it's purposes are very similar to the rudimentary parts of computers today. Pretty amazing.

I got pretty excited when I read the article on tokens and we discussed the article in class. The two classes I've had in anthropology and the history of science and technology helped me relate to this topic. To think about how many things, essentially, most all of the things man has invented (besides basic stone tools and the like), have come out of necessity to interact with one another on a civilized level is a pretty simple but mind-blowing concept. Also, that the discovery of all these tokens as a symbolistic counting system is pretty funny considering that the tokens were considered archaeological throw-aways at one point. I was hoping we'd get to talk about the question, "Is writing a technology?" in class, but since we didn't get around to it I'll post it here:

"Writing is a technology because it is something man invented in order to overcome an obstacle, particularly an obstacle that involves other humans. It arose out of a necessity to communicate with other humans and therefore it's a technology. It is something crafted by man in order to make something more facile, just like early stone tools, hydraulic engineering , and the automobile, for example."

It's hard for us, in the days of our extremely advanced technology, to consider something so basic as writing a technology. But I really believe it is.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Turing Machine and Machine's Augmenting Intellect

I spent some time fooling around with the Turing Machine yesterday, and from what I can tell it seems like an infinite playground with a way of creating your own language in order to perform different operations. I only had a short amount of time to look at it, but it seemed that the little "Turing" icon could be used to create an entire group of symbolic meanings, perhaps to represent numbers or an alphabet, and you could arrange the symbols in such a way that the little guy would perform calculations. Very primitive and slightly time consuming, but it certainly reminded me of an old video or even board game. I suppose it could be used either way.

I had a thought about yesterday's lecture as well. The machine's do augment our ability to reason and intellect. It seems to me after debating with myself for an amount of time that any way you can define intellect, a machine or a tool can augment it. Reading the first section of Englebart's article made him seem almost as an anthropologist, as he recalled humans adding to their abilities throughout time using machines. Ever since man became bipedal (which, as I learned in an anthropology class two semester's ago, is the main event that separated humans from the rest of the animals besides primates, which we are separated by in brain convolutions and the like), the tools, art, religion, you name it, he has been able to develop have only made him smarter.

Take for example an elderly person today. Many of them haven't used the technology I myself or my parents have used in recent times. Using personal computers throughout my life has helped me a develop to reason through not only the computer's operations but processes in life as well. An elderly person with very little experience finds it very difficult to tackle the machine that seems extremely foreign and terrifying to them. I've noticed my father marvelling about how much more I've learned in such less time than he has with regards to technology. I myself have noticed that my 12 year old cousin is on par with what I know (not that it's a great amount by any stretch of the imagination) if not greater, which is amazing to me. As technology progresses further, so does the human, based upon what I've witnessed.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

My Butterfly Ballot

I did a lot of cleaning up to simplify the blog and conform it more to Tufte's Standards. More explicit directions were given and the thick borders were removed. I shifted all the votes onto one side to make it easier on the eye and hopefully decrease the likelihood of choosing the wrong candidates. I added directions for a write in to the remaining white space on the right side since Tufte said a good deal of white should be encouraged.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Hockney's Detractors, Small Multiples, and Color and Information

The video of Hockney and the article in our course packet portrayed him as an energetic old man in pursuit of some answers. Yoder's article attacks him as an old fart with nothing better to do than to prove why he can't draw as well as others.
I have a problem with Yoder's article in that he opens with attacks on Hockney rather than simply stating his case. In my opinion there's no need to spread extravagant propaganda when you're trying to disprove someone, if your case is solid enough, it should do the talking.
That being said, Yoder does make some good points that bring down Hockney's theories. He never mentions Hockney's observation of the vivid imagery of some of Caravaggio's images, and most of the examples Yoder uses in his article are the ones that Hockney said were not created using a camera lucida or camera obscura (stiff facial expressions and body positions). Why are they not brought up? I found the points that the old master's methods are still used today and that Hockney hasn't painted using his proposed methods take away from Hockney's theory. However, I believe it still carries weight, and that with many arguments like this, there is no black or white, only gray area. Perhaps the methods were used to some extent but not as much as either of our combatants would have us believe.
I thought Tufte's analysis of small multiples was very interesting given that is an extremely ancient practice that still is practical today. The ancient glyphs that were examples of small multiples were used by our ancient ancestors, while finding the locations of poets on maps is a very efficient way of showing much information "contained within the eyespan," as Tufte says. The pattern of the eclipse was interesting as well, as was the necessity for different hand signs in American sign language. It's a simple practice that has evolved somewhat through the course of time, but for the most part remains unchanged. Interesting.
The use of color is something that I've never thought about. The idea of using colors in nature that the eye is accustomed to seeing is an interesting idea. The way color is used to bring out maps made me appreciate the detail that is put into cartography, and why mapmakers are extreme specialists trained and employed by the government. I became nostalgic of my father's old blue and gray GUI Goldstar laptop when Tufte contrasted the two interfaces, one with color and one without. It's amazing how abrasive the grainy black and white interface is compared to the one Tufte provides as a counter example or the one I'm viewing as I type this blog. The great thing about Tufte is that he provides counterexamples to his examples of bad information, further reinforcing his ideas and it definitely helps me understand his concepts further.

Monday, February 13, 2006

mySpace and Postsecret

Here's an interesting article on the popularity of mySpace:

And here's the link to an interesting website. The premise is that people mail in postcards created anonymously with pictures and magazine clippings that tell the world their secrets. No one knows who wrote the cards. It's interesting (and sometimes disturbing) to read what people have to say. It also plays into our studying of how people communicate information and another example of bottom up media.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Art's answer to the Illuminati

Wow! I have to begin by introducing the irony I found in Hockney's provocative thinking. He is yet another thinker with a radical idea that may change how we view history (the jury is still out on whether his concepts are vaild or not).
Immediately after I read the article I looked through Hockney's notes and Google imaged some of Caravaggio's work. The paintings produced by Durer in the notes pale in comparison to the amazingly lifelike stills Caravaggio was able to will onto canvas. The first painting that resulted from the search, "Judith," is almost effectively more detailed than a chemically produced picture.
The paintings produced before Hockney's proposed arrival of the lens into European painting appear almost cartoon-like to the near-living stills of Caravaggio.
Going back to the allusion of Hockney as a near-revolutionary thinker, it is funny to see how he is dismissed as a loon by some, but many intellectual thinkers, even those who follow the artists he's attempting to debunk, agree with him. Perhaps this is the weathering of blind support through the 3 major intellectual revolutions society has experienced so far.
I'm also brought to wonder how no person could have noticed the difference of these vivid paintings before. It seems amazing that before the controversy of lenses was introduced to Caravaggio's work that he wasn't viewed as one of the greatest renderers of images through paint to date!
I believe that provocative events such as these throughout history probably have a high likelihood of occuring. Perhaps it's the conspiracy theorist in me, but if these artists were brilliant enough to develop such an amazing facility with these apparatus, they would be able to rather easily cover their tracks, hence my reference to the illuminati in this blog's title.
It is also interesting to the view the charts of the progression of art throughout the years, and how the augmentation of chemical photography brought about a more abstract world of painting as the necessity for portraits and the like became (pardon the pun) a lost art. The advent of the computer, however, brought about a veritable labrynth of different paths art has taken on the chart. Think about what Caravaggio (assuming he did use artificial techniques) could do with todays technology in lenses and computers! The possibilities are beyond what my mind can comprehend. That's why the skeptical John Walsh's addition to the end of the article is a nice touch, "what fresh new art all this is going to provoke!"