photography and the metaverse

Fred Murrell sent me this link to a recent presentation at the TED conference. The presenter, Blaise Aguera y Arcas (genius), has developed a remarkable technology (acquired last year by Microsoft) that interconnects geospacial data and imagery, and allows them to be superimposed over one another without concern for the size of the files. In other words, this is really cool stuff.

The TED site was relaunched earlier this year. The interface was designed to incorporate dynamic navigation based on themes. Definitely worth checking out.

Art and Architecture

This afternoon, I was down at PlatteForum – the current installation, by one of Denver’s most original creative thinkers, Michael Ensminger, is really great fun.

A city of buildings, some ten feet tall, built out of lincoln logs. A miniature trip through the Chicago loop, but with a global range of styles (as long as the styles are available as part of the miniature log home industry). No glue, just gravity.

While I was there a train passed by, and we all heard something fall off the installation. It turns out one of the asian influenced buildings lost an adornment off its roof.

Part of the installation’s charm, besides the obvious connection to the nostalgia and americana, is the temporality of the experience. The truth is, all our constructions are temporal.

Stewart Brand wrote a book published in 1994 called “How Buildings Learn”; according to Publisher’s Weekly:

All buildings are forced to adapt over time because of physical deterioration, changing surroundings and the life within–yet very few buildings adapt gracefully, according to Brand.

Some years ago, Brand started a group called The Long Now Foundation; the term was actually coined by the musician, artist, and longnow co-founder Brian Eno. The Long Now Foundation was created by some serious minds. I like this detail; The Long Now Foundation uses five digit dates, the extra zero is to solve the deca-millennium bug which will come into effect in about 8,000 years. Here is the basis of their argument.

I’m a gardener by avocation; I think in terms of seasons, and (when I’m paying attention) years. Some artists have a vision that takes them across decades. In a rare case an architect thinks of centuries. But the fact is that our viewpoints are based on far too short a timeline.

One of the initiatives of The Long Now Foundation (and they are numerous) is The Clock of the Long Now. According to the project initiator Daniel Hillis:

“When I was a child, people used to talk about what would happen by the year 2000. For the next thirty years they kept talking about what would happen by the year 2000, and now no one mentions a future date at all. The future has been shrinking by one year per year for my entire life. I think it is time for us to start a long-term project that gets people thinking past the mental barrier of an ever-shortening future. I would like to propose a large (think Stonehenge) mechanical clock, powered by seasonal temperature changes. It ticks once a year, bongs once a century, and the cuckoo comes out every millennium.”

They are currently working on the second prototype. The first prototype was finished in 01999. I’ll be gone by the next time it ‘bongs’ in 02099.

The Dreaded Concept Album

This Saturday afternoon at 5:00pm the city is Denver will suffer an invasion. A small invasion, but one that should be watched closely for clues as to the future of our culture, our families, our very lives. This Saturday the Inactivists launch their third release, “The Dreaded Concept Album.”

The makeup of the band should give you some sense of the risk involved; any band with a clarinet, a theremin, and a ukulele is bound to be dangerous. And then there are the song titles. For instance, I’m oddly drawn to “Bearded Nuns in Bondage,” which I just gave a listen on their myspace page; I found it to be a pleasant uptempo ditty on a topic I’ve never spent a lot of time thinking about.

On the other hand, I have no idea what caused them to write “fuck you singer songwriter.” And today is Pete Seeger’s birthday. The shame. These may be the geekiest creatures on the planet. The show is at the Larimer Lounge. The Secret Service should be notified. More information and free tickets are available on the Inactivists website.

Words for Writers

I was talking to a couple of writer friends the other day, and they asked me about the value of blogging, and more specifically the value of blogging for writers. I mentioned that there had been an article on the subject on the visual thesaurus website.

It turns out that neither of my two writer friends had ever heard of the visual thesaurus. And that’s a shame. The visual thesaurus is one of the best websites in existence. It’s right up there with metacritic, which is high praise indeed. Though if you’re a writer, I’m not sure how valuable it is to know that Hot Fuzz got an 81 (personally, I thought it was pretty good but no “Shaun of the Dead”).

When thinkmap produced the first version of the visual thesaurus tool I thought it was cool, but a little toward the clever-but-not-so-useful end of the spectrum.

Since that time the site has expanded to include a rich and enjoyable set of regular features on writing, vocabulary, and the history of language. For instance, the word of the day theme for today is ‘big guns’, and the word is dreadnought. And there’s a great article in the language lounge on the be-words: Bewitched, Bedazzled, and Bewildered (and others).