Category Archives: praise

In praise of Gardner

I’m ALWAYS interested in what Gardner Campbell has to say, even when it’s in a realm of which I’m largely ignorant (e.g., Miltonics) or one where I have a different and possibly complementary take on the subject (viz musics). Gardner has a way of putting things that piques and niggles and provokes hmmmmmm, and my chief regret is that my responses don’t see the light of blogging day more often. Today’s case in point is his post on the origins and prospective utility of the RFC. Vintage Gardner, riffing like the bass player he [also] is:

  • begin with a pointer to something one might could have already known about but, well, didn’t (in this case, John Naughton’s A Brief History of the Future: From Radio Days to Internet Years in a Lifetime),
  • extract an essential nubbin of metastuff (here it’s the tale of the origin of the Request For Comment, an essential integral to the evolution of ARPANET, instantiated by Steve Crocker) and labelling it memorably (“a new genre of professional writing”),
  • summarize the intellectual linkages and broader significance in a few trenchant phrases (“a praxis of intellectual discourse”) and offer cogent linkages to familiar domains

    You can see the similarity to blogging right away. At least two primary Network Working Groups are involved: that of all the other people in the world (let’s call that civilization), and that of the network that constitutes one’s own cognition and the resulting “strange loop,” to use Douglas Hofstadter’s language…

  • and then challenge, in the nicest way possible, all of us to rethink what we do and how we’re doing it:

    Why would we not want to produce such a record within the academy and share it with the public? Or are we content with the ordinary, forgotten, and non-riveting so long as the business model holds up?

  • and then close with a rumination on self:

    I yearn for documentation conventions that will produce an extraordinary record of thought in action, with the production shared by all who work within a community of learning. And I wonder if I’m capable of Crocker’s humility or wisdom, and answerable to his invitation. I want to be.

My admiration for Gardner’s Way is unbounded and perpetually renewed with each post at Gardner Writes. AND the bookshelves chez my splendid otium are incremented when the Brown Trucks roll to bring me the volume he’s mentioned…

Introducing Congersman Putto, and all what he implies

Congersman Putto
This gruesome little creature was the first of series done by our dear friend Karen Truesdell, at the time of the Clinton Impeachment Hearings, as anodyne for the anger she felt at Congressional pettifoggery and hypocrisy. He’s magnificent in every part and detail, and an eloquent expression of what ‘artistic vision’ is all about. You can see a larger clutch of Karen’s work, and I have other as-yet-unscanned negatives from 35+ years ago, which I’ll get to digitizing Real Soon Now.

A series of encounters and juxtapositions seems to be projecting me in an unanticipated direction, and bids fair to eat up lots of time in the next while. Probably the first impetus was Philip Scott Johnson’s Women in Art

which I first saw about 6 months ago (see boni’s decoding of dramatis personae) –and Women in Film, from July:

and another vector was seeing a video that one of my sisters in law was working on, using iMovie to create a presentation of videos and stills from a visit to Barcelona. And the visit to Karen’s house and studio also contributed to the stew of graphical ideas.

In the last week I’ve had several bouts of “what if…” mostly having to do with rethinking my Nova Scotia Faces project. The pbwiki version doesn’t please me (many of the images don’t load, and it’s altogether too Web 1.0 in its approach), and I’m seeking a more dynamic presentation mode. A couple of days ago I woke up thinking about a morphing approach, creating short video segments which could be distributed to vast potential audiences via YouTube. It seems that Philip Scott Johnson uses FantaMorph, which offers a generous 30 day trial with all the features, and is less than $100 for the SuperDuper version… so I’m playing with it, and with Adobe Premiere Elements, and thinking of many possible applications and projects.

See, this feels sort of like 20-some years ago when the Penny Dropped about hypertext, and I saw the dawning of a new personal future… Multimedia presentation and distribution at my fingertips, and an endless series of little briquets of narrative.

A specific project (getting back to the Congersman): Karen’s remarkable sculptures really should be better known, and it would be fun to work on that project with her (though she’s in California and I’m in Maine… still, it’s basically digital stuff). I’m imagining her voiceover with a swooping sequence of visual details of a lot of different pieces (gotta avoid the Ken Burns clichées, though…). Another: chronological sequences of pictures of people… and presentations of any number of subsets of my Nova Scotia Faces holdings. And so on.