Monday, June 23, 2008

Spore Creature Creation

Wow. As I write, there are almost one million Spore creatures that people have created and uploaded (the Sporeopedia is actually a little slow). 918, 631. The game isn't even out yet, just the creature creator. You can't actually do anything with these creatures, you can only make them and have them dance (there's a freeware version for Mac and PC, so go get it already). 

The range of creatures is amazing. All this from a selection of adaptable parts! The software is good in a variety of ways, especially the interface, and there are many different sections to the interface (different modes, essentially). But people have made creatures that look like real-world beasts, there are cars and trains, creatures that have a whip-thing between their legs and have probably been banned to youtube, everything. There is a Charles Darwin, a Maxis creature, a strawberry, a Chinook helicopter, a guy on a motorcycle (yes, it's one creature). When you give people tools, they will play with them.

One thing I liked about the range of creatures is that there are different inspirations for creatures. Maybe it's a real-world beast, maybe it's a car, maybe you just played around, but there are creatures based on a wide range of culture, which is great (granted it is all stuff that Sporriors would like -- oh I think I just coined a term -- I'm sure someone else has used it though). There are...

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Chumby, Must Have!

The NYT has a bog entry about the Chumby, a little open source Internet device. Besides the lame blog posting that doesn't actually link to the Chumby site (I mean seriously, no link?), the business model is what I want to you pay attention to (no not the advertising part, which I don't know enough about to comment on, but I know most people most of the time don't like advertising, but if their only revenue stream is on the sale of the hardware, that is not as good as having a continual revenue stream from the ads). From what I've read, Chumby runs widgets, and the OS is Linux (yay open source!). People who can code (the geeky early adoptors) can make widgets for it. That is the genius of it, which honestly is rather old hat at this point but not enough companies understand that. Here is the bull's eye sentence:

Chumby Industries is betting that those early, tinker-mad consumers will transform its product into something more compelling to the rest of us.
They get it. Beautiful. I think I want one in my kitchen. Why? I don't know. I must have one. (My American sense of instant gratification will calm down eventually.)

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Okami Art

I've talked about it previously -- the beautiful video game Okami (but with the cutscenes it was so annoying). Apparently there is an Okami Art site, that is also just as beautiful (and you don't need the game now to see the art!). Also thankfully on the Wii version you can skip the cutscenes (another reason to get a Wii besides Mario games).

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Brooklyn Botanical Garden

Wow. C/o BB. The movement of the shadows is incredible, like flowing water. (The BBG is only about a 10 minute walk from where I live.)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

17 and 39!

39 points! Insane! (We're talking basketball.)

Photo: Elsa/Getty Images

From the NYT:
But the Celtics were persistent, and unified, staying true to the South African theme of "ubuntu" that they established last fall. The word, introduced to the team by Rivers, literally means "I am because we are" and was invoked when the Celtics opened training camp, with the newcomers Garnett and Allen joining Pierce.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Size Matters

I just downloaded a PDF (20.4MB) that is bigger than the first hard drive I had (20MB, on my Mac Plus, external, footprint -- a vast improvement over booting from floppy!). Amazing. My current Mac, 20 years later, has half a terabyte (0.5TB!) and runs at 3.06GHz instead of 8MHz (and has 2GB of RAM instead of 1MB, which I later upped to 4 -- I still have the Mac case cracking tools). I wonder if I get more or less done. Work differently. If I didn't spend all this time blog writing...

Otlet and the Historical Web

Amazing article about a very early embodiment of the information society, from 1934. Amazing. Not as early as the telegraph, as detailed in Standage's The Victorian Internet, but a must-read. 

In 1934, Otlet sketched out plans for a global network of computers (or “electric telescopes,” as he called them) that would allow people to search and browse through millions of interlinked documents, images, audio and video files. He described how people would use the devices to send messages to one another, share files and even congregate in online social networks.
Very cool. The last sentence of the article is also amazing.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Purity of Academic Endeavors, by Discipline

I am loving this XKCD comic, about academic disciplines (well it uses the word fields, but same thing). I often feel this was about communications: it's just psychology, which is really biology.

Friday, June 13, 2008


Here are three links to work by two artists (in this one post).

C/o BB.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Meat is Murder!

(Starting off with a little reference to The Smiths, fyi.)

Last night I caught the end of Fast Food Nation. Horrifying! Today we have two articles in the NYT, one from The Minimalist (yes, food), "Putting Meat Back in Its Place," a sane look at the amount of meat we eat and how most people don't eat as much and how they do it. (Combine with recent books by Michael Pollan for even more knowledge.) 

But there is also a much more disturbing article about America's beef production, with the writing in part motivated by the recent and massive South Korean anti-US beef import protests. Two highlights are, one, keeping in mind you are what you eat:
And in early 2004, the Food and Drug Administration announced plans to ban feeding cow blood, waste from chicken coop floors and plate waste from restaurants to cattle. Blood had been in formula fed to calves as a substitute for milk, chicken feed could contain rendered beef protein, and restaurant waste, of course, included beef.

But some Agriculture Department decisions were not reassuring.

Under political pressure, the F.D.A. bans on cow blood, chicken dung and plate waste were never implemented.
And, two:
Then, in mid-2005, when the second case of mad cow disease was confirmed in the U.S., it was revealed that the Agriculture Department had concealed for seven months the fact that one of the tests it had performed on the sample had been positive. The test similar to one used in other countries had been ruled “experimental” and not reported.
Nice! Doing the job, but not doing the job. Highly reassuring.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

When Is News News?

So apparently Dennis Kucinich pushing for the impeachment of George Bush yesterday, but you wouldn't know it from reading the NYT since they don't have it (meaning if right now as I type you do an NYT search on "kucinich impeach" you get a lot of impeach Cheney stories but nothing from today or yesterday). It's on the Huffington Post and a few other spots like Michael Moore's site, but not many. Thank goodness for alternative media and alternative gatekeepers, otherwise our reality would be totally skewed.

Science Artifact Auction

Difficult to summarize the article in question, since it starts of with scientific artifacts then slides over into considerations and other thoughts, but it's fun with good wow! factor. Here is one of my favorite parts:

In fact this book, published in 1543, was the revolution. It was here that the Polish astronomer [Copernicus] laid out his theory that the Earth and other planets go around the Sun, contravening a millennium of church dogma that the Earth was the center of the universe and launching a frenzy of free thought and scientific inquiry.

The party, known as the Enlightenment, is still going strong.
... Galileo, who was tried for heresy in 1633 and sentenced to house arrest for his admiration of Copernicus...
Mmm, the lovely days when saying that the Earth goes around the Sun was enough to have you burned at the stake!

Monday, June 9, 2008


Here is a iPhoto of a detail from one of the main doors at the New York Public Library (no, I didn't take a photo of the lions). (NYPL@Wikipedia)

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Interface Advice from IBM

I came across a nice IBM page about interface design which reminded me of Donald Norman's The Design of Everyday Things, which I have written about before, so, here I am linking to IBM for you. I am motivated to mention Edward Tufte, I think I should re-read his main book (ha I don't have the time currently).

Joi Ito and Bamboo

So I got around to viewing a BBtv episode from a while ago, with Japan's mythical Internet guru Joi Ito, where he cooks up some bamboo shoots. I will link to the episode so you can go and read the text, which is informative and interesting. I also think Ito looks like Sulu from Star Trek (George Takei), which only adds to his mystique. (Yes I know they are both Japanese, I am not saying all Japanese people look alike -- I've been to Japan, I know this isn't true. Judge for yourself.)

Hack Ur iPhone

I have never been moved to watch an entire episode of boinboingtv before, but, safely unlocking your iPhone and you can undo it if need be.... Intriguing.