The software application as an artist, and an artist’s representative

Wednesday, 26 April, 2017

While artists’ representatives may fear for their jobs as digital technologies and artificial intelligence ascend, I’d have thought artists themselves would be quite safe.

It looks like I was wrong. Here’s news about a software application, a kind of robot I guess you could say, that creates an artwork, and then attempts to sell it.

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Giles Clarke, winner of the 2017 Mobile Photography Awards

Monday, 10 April, 2017

Photo by Giles Clarke

New York City based photojournalist Giles Clarke has taken first place in this year’s Mobile Photography Awards, with this image taken in Iraq, of a soldier with the Peshmerga, the Iraqi Kurdistan military.

The work of winners in the awards’ other categories can be seen here.

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Jon West, Vancouver based video producer and drone pilot

Thursday, 6 April, 2017

Photo by Jon West

Ever get the feeling you’re being watched? That’s the thought that keeps crossing my mind as I look at the work of East Vancouver video producer, Jon West.

I’ve seen a few photographers working with drones taking some great aerial images, but in these works there’s a certain darkness. The result? Photos that are alluring, captivating, and intriguing.

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Is the like button forcing bloggers to write content they dislike?

Wednesday, 5 April, 2017

Online publishers talk about engagement. They want to know how many people are reacting to the content they post. The option for readers to “interact” with content, be it an article, photo, or video, through simply clicking a like button, offers publishers such an insight.

But is clicking a button really engaging with the content, or the publisher? In the days before the like button, readers might have to make a comment, or start a discussion about something they’d seen in a forum, or even write a response on their own website, which was almost the only option in the late 1990s.

Has the ability to simply say you like something, before you hurry along to like something else, in fact reduced engagement? Is conversation no longer the preferred method of engagement? Further, is the desire to gain likes, influencing the sort of content people are producing?

Once other people start telling you what they like via Like buttons, you inevitably start hewing to their idea of what’s good. And since “people tend to be extremely similar in their vulgar and prurient and dumb interests and wildly different in their refined and aesthetic and noble interests,” the stuff you publish will start looking a lot like the stuff that everybody else publishes, because everybody sort of likes the same thing and everybody is fishing for Likes.

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Steve Whitaker, Halifax based landscape photographer

Monday, 3 April, 2017

Photo by Steve Whitaker

Steve Whitaker is a landscape photographer, based in Halifax, England. He is also a drone pilot, a handy skill for people in his line of work. For instance, this photo of the snow coated Yorkshire Dales may not have been quite so easy to take, had an aircraft of some sort been needed.

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Imagining if Snapchat had been an integral part of the early web

Monday, 3 April, 2017

If photo sharing app Snapchat had been around during the late 1990s, this is what it might have looked like, and how it might have worked. I’m certain if Snapchat had come along twenty years ago, we’d still be using it today.

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Litbaits, a clickbait like ploy to encourage people to read more books

Monday, 20 March, 2017

With online publishers playing a part in the demise of printed books, and bookshops, The Wild Detectives, an indie bookstore located in Dallas, Texas, is finding a way to fight back, by playing online publishers at their own game.

Enter Litbaits, a campaign designed to encourage people to read books, by enticing them with clickbait style copy. For instance, the title “Teenage girl tricked boyfriend into killing himself”, takes anyone clicking the link, to a webpage containing the full version of Romeo and Juliet.

So far only classic, out of copyright, books can be accessed, but it will be interesting to see how Litbaits plays out.

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Jamison Alexander Gish, art inspired by nature, and technology

Friday, 17 March, 2017

Artwork by Jamison Alexander Gish

The works of US visual artist Jamison Alexander Gish, are inspired by nature, and influenced by technology. He also draws on the words of Christopher Potter, a British writer and philosopher, who said, “Humans never were part of nature. We were always part of technology.”

How’s that for a thought?

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What is the most significant fad of all time? Or were there a few?

Friday, 17 March, 2017

What is the most significant fad, or craze, of all time? Or, more the point, fads, and crazes? The Atlantic invited a panel of those in the know to offer their ideas. Here are some suggestions:

  • Cigarettes
  • Rock and roll
  • The selfie
  • Demin
  • Miniskirts
  • Video games (of the 70s and 80s)

Some are still with us, decades after their arrival. Fad seems like a misnomer in that case.

Video games from the 70s may not be so popular today, though I’m sure a fair few people still partake of them, but they may have played a major part in the rise of computing, or at least getting more people interested in computers.

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Why did it take 250 years for washing machines to become popular?

Thursday, 2 March, 2017

Washing machine design, 1766. Image via ETH-Bibliothek

There’s nothing new about the washing machine. A patent for a device, or engine, for the “washing of cloathes”, and other purposes, such as “milling of sugar canes, pounding of minerals”, was issued in 1691.

The illustration above is taken from a book published in 1766, by Jacob Christian Schaeffer, a German pastor and professor. For their labour saving virtues, isn’t it strange then that washing machines didn’t come into wide use until almost two hundred and fifty years after their advent?

It’s not as if there was some other option hindering their uptake either. Like the humble washboard, for example. They were first patented in 1833, quite some time after the washer.

So what gives? I know there are people averse to things shiny and new, but isn’t holding off on adopting what will surely save much time and effort, taking matters a little too far? Of course, the earlier versions predated the supply of electricity, and required manual operation.

But that would only have been an imposition, if you allowed it to be. For instance, you could have recited some verse as you churned the machine through its cycle. Come on now, at least you weren’t getting your hands dirty.

Justin Fox – no, not that Justin Fox – writing for Bloomberg View, decided to investigate. He found people wanted their washing machines to be electrical, fully automatic – to hell with reciting verse – and reliable, and cheap. Then, and only then, would they ditch the washboard.

It was only with the invention of the electric washing machine by Alva Fisher in Chicago in 1907 that something dramatically better than the washboard came along, and even then it took decades more for the machines to become cheap and reliable enough to change how people cleaned their clothes (and of course in much of the world, washboards still rule). In the U.S., according to a 2013 paper by Benjamin Bridgman of the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the big gains in household productivity enabled by the washing machine, dishwasher and other such devices occurred between about 1948 and 1977.

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