topic: digital

digital versus analog photography

I was talking to a photographer friend about the post production he was carrying out on his “digital negatives”. It had not occurred to me that something similar goes on, with the application of Photoshop to a raw digital image, as with the chemical processing in a dark room of a traditional ‘chemical’ photograph. Thinking about this, I was surprised by how profoundly different these forms of photography are from each other. The image on […]

LEGO and the digital mind

In a previous post, I argued that LEGO, when it consisted mostly of simple bricks, was a superior creative tool for a child than more modern LEGO with its complex pieces. I have come to a more nuanced conclusion: that though classical LEGO promotes one kind of creativity, it may do so at the expense of other kinds. I still believe that simple, classical LEGO is an instantiation in the physical world of an aspect […]

when LEGO lost faith

I believe that LEGO is a toy/tool that once allowed children to build models at a sweet spot intermediate between thought and physical reality, and that, by losing faith in that breakthrough, the company has lost its way. LEGO as I knew it as a child consisted of simple bricks. Complexity was achieved by assembling bricks, rather than being inherent in individual bricks. (Admittedly, the purity of this abstraction was somewhat broken by angled ‘roof […]

digital makeup

Dramatic performances ask of their audience that they suspend their disbelief. An aspect of this can be that we are asked to believe that actors, mostly unrelated, are actually blood relations. Film and TV close ups make this more of an issue. How long will it be before computer post production allows actors, that are supposed to be blood relatives, to have their faces digitally modified by means of an inbetweening algorithm so that they […]

the trouble with skeuomorphs

Apple's skeuomorphic calendar design

“Skeumorph” is a term I only came across recently – and like many such terms, once you learn of its existence, it ties up a set of things you already knew about, in a bundle that gives you a better grasp on that issue than you had before. Once aware of it, you start to see it everywhere. Skeumorph is defined by the online Oxford Dictionary as: an object or feature which imitates the design […]

digital texts: a return to aspects of an oral tradition?

storyteller...

Ebooks are the latest stage of a process that began with the invention of writing. The ability to write thoughts and stories down allowed their distribution across space and time: a storyteller no longer needed to be present for his message to be communicated. These advantages are obvious, but there is also a profound disadvantage: that a text is a fossil of the author’s message, and that, disconnected from its living source, it can no […]

art by committee

A friend of mine sent me this article and asked me what I thought about it… Well, I champion all kinds of advances in technology – not least the advent of the ebook – however there is the ever present temptation that because we can do something that we should do it. The creeping digitisation of everything – from music to video, and now books – makes all of these media infinitely malleable to anyone […]

steve jobs…

I was literally woken this morning by the radio coming on announcing the death of Steve Jobs. I was shocked. Of course we all knew that he was ill, but I didn’t imagine that he would die so soon. I came across my first mac in 1984 (all these ancient recollections are a bit imprecise when it comes to dates etc) when I worked for British Telecom as a development manager in their computer games […]

hiding in the shoal…

shoaling fish

I have a friend who is most concerned about what he perceives to be his growing vulnerability to having his online activity spied on. He feels that increasingly his privacy is being compromised. His proposed solution is either to drop out or else to beef up his security somehow. I said to him that to put up a wall around you is, ironically, to draw the attention of the very forces you fear – for […]

harpsichord

Charle Babbage's difference engine

I find the sound of a harpsichord (cravo in Portuguese – a word that is also used for the carnation flower and cloves – perhaps some kind Portuguese speaker could explain this), and other related instruments such as spinets and virginals, exquisite – though prolonged listening to it can become a tad wearing. Recently, at night in a tent on the shoulder of a mountain beside a ruined Roman fort (nothing wrong with setting the […]