Category Archives: metastuff

Paddy’s Day rumination

My interests, enthusiasms, and areas of expertise are errant: they persist in wandering off, but they eventually seem to come back from their assorted quests and reassert themselves in my consciousness and activities. So it has been with photography, as with music and woodworking and Information and Science Fiction and Literature and and and… When a particular fascination resurfaces, it has a whole new set of previously unrecognized (or imperfectly appreciated) facets that tempt me into a new Odyssey of exploration. This generally means the acquisition of new tools and resources, to carry out whatever new Grand Schemes assert themselves as necessities. Fortunately, the spouse is well acquainted with the pattern, and is skilled at eloquent rolling of the eyes.

Anniversary

Tomorrow is oook blog’s fifth anniversary, and what a long strange trip it’s been. Dunno how to assess the blog’s significance, since I have a constitutional aversion to conventional measures of “success” and I abhor counting hits or whatever. When you come right down to it, I’ve always thought of it primarily as a means to keep track of my changing attention (my magpie habits) for myself, and secondarily as a conduit for keeping informed of my doings the 20 or so people I think might be interested. Beyond that, I’m happy to occasionally discover that somebody has happened upon a posting via a search, or that some friend has pointed somebody to a posting.

I’m thinking about converting over to Word Press, but I don’t have sufficient faith in my own geek skills to start the process. I’ve also thought of making some sort of Fundamental Change in presentation style or content, but I don’t really have any positive reason to do that… so I think it’ll probably just limp along in its increasingly vieux jeu format.

and another

These things seem to keep happening, this time as I thought about where to begin in laying out a landscape of African musics that I’ve been accumulating in mp3 form since the spring.

Start anywhere
It all connects
and the trick is to choose
among branching paths
or perhaps it’s to
unwind the thread
as you sally forth
so as to be able
to reconstruct
your wanderings

That reconstruction is a tale
a narrative of Tolkien proportions
though without the necessity
of any end to the hero’s quest
and indeed with no heroes
or deus ex machina
just the progress of discovery

And what does the Argonaut seek?
Not fleeces or immured maidens
gloriously slain foes
or vanquished enemies

It’s the link, the nexus,
the skein of allusion
the journey and not
the destination
the joys of finding and telling

Infra

Funny how stuff comes up and then is echoed. At dinner tonight I was asked about how I happened to do dissertation research in Nova Scotia, and that led to the tale of how in the late 1960s I’d wanted to return to Sarawak to study the effects of infrastructure projects on communities and regions, but at that time there was no interest in and certainly no money to support such research. So here’s an interesting post from Doc Searls, Rethinking out loud about infrastructure:

I’m here to suggest that two overlapping subjects — infrastructure and internet — are not well understood, even though both are made by humans and can be studied within the human timescale. The term “infrastructure” has been in common use only since the 1970s. While widely used, there are relatively few books about the subject itself. I’d say, in fact, that is more a subject in many fields than a field in itself. And I think it needs to be. Same with the Internet. Look it up on Google and see how many different definitions you get. Yet nothing could be more infrastructural without being physical, which the Internet is not.

Doc links to Stephen Lewis on The Etymology of Infrastructure and the Infrastructure of the Internet which notes that

Infrastructure indeed entered the English language as a loan word from French in which it had been a railroad engineering term. A 1927 edition of the Oxford indeed mentioned the word in the context of “… the tunnels, bridges, culverts, and ‘infrastructure work’ of the French railroads.” After World War II, “infrastructure” reemerged as in-house jargon within NATO, this time referring to fixed installations necessary for the operations of armed forces and to capital investments considered necessary to secure the security of Europe.

My own use of the term had specifically to do with consequences of what the 1960s labelled as Development, essentially the first steps toward the social and economic transformations that were eventually labelled as Globalization. Much more to say about all of that…

You really want to read this

Bruce Sterling is always provocative, an interesting writer-thinker-talker. His Viridian Ave atque vale, The Last Viridian Note, will not disappoint you. Seven pages or so, lots of cunningly-worded and highly relevant bits of observation, analysis and advice. Here’s a sample:

You will need to divide your current possessions into four major categories.

  1. Beautiful things.
  2. Emotionally important things.
  3. Tools, devices, and appliances that efficiently perform a useful function.
  4. Everything else.

“Everything else” will be by far the largest category. Anything you have not touched, or seen, or thought about in a year — this very likely belongs in “everything else.”

You should document these things. Take their pictures, their identifying makers’ marks, barcodes, whatever, so that you can get them off eBay or Amazon if, for some weird reason, you ever need them again. Store those digital pictures somewhere safe — along with all your other increasingly valuable, life-central digital data. Back them up both onsite and offsite.

Then remove them from your time and space. “Everything else” should not be in your immediate environment, sucking up your energy and reducing your opportunities. It should become a fond memory, or become reduced to data.

It may belong *to* you, but it does not belong *with* you. You weren’t born with it. You won’t be buried with it. It needs to be out of the space-time vicinity. You are not its archivist or quartermaster. Stop serving that unpaid role.

Now, mind you, I can’t actually follow this advice myself, but I know GOOD advice when I see it, and it’s worth thinking about.

(via Cory Doctorow at BoingBoing –he quotes different bits, equally trenchant)

Prophetic or what?

Cleaning up the Desktop led me to this image
Harry Grant Dart 1911
(see larger)
a Harry Grant Dart cartoon snagged from Paleofuture (who got it from Life 1911). Note that the multimedia User is pointing with his left hand to “Son Willie” on the menu, and that a real-time image of Son Willie’s doings is projected (other choices are “The Office”, “Golf Matches”, “Aeroplane Races”, “Theatres”, “Tennis” and so on), and that the sign to the left says “International Wireless Home News Service Events As They Transpire Accurately Recorded”

RE: The Sin of Pride

It doesn’t surprise me that my son John sees the Tip of the Iceberg more clearly than I did myself:

And the timing is just right for the internet — just the sort of little pearl for the attention-deficit medium. I’ll bet you’ve got thousands more just like this lined up — and to watch them tumble forth to cause unknowable whorls and eddies in countless minds is certainly tantalizing.

Now there’s a challenge, and indeed I did awake this morning with about fifty-leven ideas for the next few YouTube nuggets. Flash video does seem like an especially effective means to spread the dandelion seeds of my various collections. Stay tuned.

snowball gathers mass and speed

Here’s what occurred as I unfroze pipes and washed dishes: cultivate the Art of Contextualizing Juxtaposition, spinning out the stories liberated by juxtapositions, and encouraging others to play at doing the same. In the context of teaching-learning, it’s encouraging students to MAKE things; whether they’re haiku or collage or mashup or essay matters less than the evolving taste for making and mooting own expression, in [semi-] public space. The essential is that the instructor be seen to be doing the very same thing.

Tim O’Reilly is right

He points to the Edge Foundation’s annual Question, this year’s being What Have You Changed Your Mind About?. Hmm, I thought… and I still don’t have anything coherent to say myself, but O’Reilly is right that it’s quite interesting to read what others have written. And it’s the extraordinarily broad compass of rethought things that’s the really interesting part. I’ve spent half an hour looking at various people’s takes on topics quite tangential to what I thought were my own concerns, and recommend the exercise most heartily, especially as a New Year’s calisthenic.