Sunday, July 31, 2011
Friday, July 29, 2011
Monday, July 25, 2011
Sunday, July 24, 2011
Recently, on an episode of HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher, Entrepreneur Mark Cuban started to mention Schumpeter's theories of innovation as a spur to economic growth. Unfortunately, that's only half of the discussion...
Schumpeter held that innovation did two things: created new wealth by increasing the types of goods in demand by consumers. But, it also made obsolete jobs by either minimizing labor required for manufacture, or making the products obsolete.
Obsolescence runs through the economy of the last fifty years. And it manifests in myriad ways. You used to develop exposed film by dropping it off at the drug store or camera shop, where it would be sent to a commercial developer and the prints would arrive a week later. Then, there was the Fotomat booth, with a rapid delivery service and 24 hour processing. The Polaroid SX 70 made instant photos widely popular. After that, the drug store or camera shop was able to buy and install automated developing machines that would provide finished prints within hours. After that came the digital cameras, making film processing unnecessary.
You have the results of the Visicalc revolution, with the development of spread sheets, word processor, and other office applications for the PC. Suddenly, the demand for management personnel trained in the new technology boomed. Then, that same management staff was incrementally decreasing. Accountants for book keeping or Intuit Quickbooks? Which would be cheaper? The major reveal that the IRS tax code was indistinct, with many possible outcomes, and that the IRS was only paying attention to 'red flag' items, made the use of Tax filing software more attractive. After a while, some States offered online tax filing sites, and free software from popular commercial vendors.
The drastic change in retail operations, from many brick and mortar department stores to only a handful of Big Box stores, has to do with changes in distribution methods and increased competition from catalog retailers with no overhead for store maintenance, changes in logistics, and the introduction of Amazon.com, EBay, and online sales. There are actually shady deals made by municipalities to attract stores, due to the tax benefits. Yet, these same deals often render the real estate useless for anything other than retail.
Public Libraries and bookstores both saw their attendance drop due to Amazon.com. Magazines and newspapers have seen subscription rates drop due to the Internet. And now, the E-Reader is putting the finishing touches on the drastic changes the computer has made to the publishing world.
Banking, with the introduction of the bank card, the ATM, and online banking services, has made "banker's hours" a quaint relic of a phrase, and reduced the need for tellers, and even loan officers...
All this innovation, and the economic upheaval in society it causes, is what Joseph Schumpeter called "Creative Destruction" , and is the major problem with Capitalism as he saw it. Innovation can create jobs and opportunities for growth. In doing so, however, it must also destroy the old order of the economy.
Saturday, July 23, 2011
Thursday, July 21, 2011
I generally do not feel much connection to those who were born after that date. They are of the generations who never knew what it was like to look upon the Moon, and wonder what was up there. To me, it is still the impossible made real.
Nor do I have much truck with those conspiracy theorists who insist the landing was faked. I suffer that kind of fool, not at all.. It was only the release of Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey (and the special effects of Douglas Trumball) before 1969 that made such accusations seem plausible..(something I'm discussing in current blogs)..
Sunday, July 17, 2011
Saturday, July 16, 2011
But, let's step back a bit, and talk about Art.
During the time that Hollywood lavished a great deal of money to recreate history, or create imaginary places, there were also the Saturday Matinee serials. These were inexpensively made films, a half hour segment of which was released each week. Mostly adventures, aimed at children and young adults, with obviously cheap production values. It was believed that children have a greater capacity for suspension of disbelief than adults. After all, children also watch puppet shows, and read fairy tales, right?
Well, maybe... And perhaps it's something else, something older, about Art that we overlook.
We move ahead to the Post World War 2 films, and we see a few changes in the nature of the Cinema. Melodramas give way to the more realistic Drama, fewer Big Budget spectacles are made, and the Horror and Scifi genres are orphaned by the Major studios. Soon, small producers and distributors are using these genres to break into the movie business, as the genres are guaranteed to appeal to teenagers with funds for impulse spending, and the desire to have something to do with themselves. These films tend to also have poorer production values, though some major studios did occasionally put out a Forbidden Planet, or The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms . And there's a lot of special effects and costumes that would strain suspension of disbelief involved. Paper Mache and rubber suits, Matte lines, and improperly matched Rear projected imagery or Front projection effects often made it obvious that it was all merely film effects. Yet, the films were popular enough to show it didn't matter all that much.
In Japan, 1954, Toho studios had to halt production on a WWII film, due to some reservations about the script. Yet the film had already gone into pre-production, and had military costumes and equipment ready. It was decided that a film duplicating The Beast from 20,00 Fathoms. Thus, they created Gojira. This film was a well written thriller, but had to use obvious special effects such as puppets, men in rubber suits, etc. It proved so popular, though, that Toho studios decided to make a sequel, as well as other Daikaiju films.
One thing that genre films, as opposed to realistic drama, have in common is that they tend to adhere to greater fidelity to Formalism . There's a certain repeated structure to plots, a repetition of themes and symbolism. Indeed, some fans of Daikaiju cinema liken them to Noh theater and Japanese puppetry, both of which rely on formalism to communicate ideas. Even Western culture, though it has overtly moved towards Realism, has it's roots in formal representationalism. Greek theater originally involved masks and puppetry, too, as well as the Chorus and Deus Ex Machina. So, the concept of a symbolic stand in for an object of the imagination, though distant in time, was not entirely implausible for audiences. Perhaps it was this ability of the mind and imagination, and not suspension of disbelief, that allowed audiences to enjoy these films?
Let us go back again, to the advent of photography in Western culture. While the art of painting has fluctuated between symbolism and realism since it's inception, the evolution of Realism flourished between the Renaissance and the time of Vermeer and Rembrandt (when the technology of Camera Obscura became such an aid to artists, they could literally trace their subject's image onto canvas). Then came the landscape artists, trying for verisimilitude in capturing wide vistas.
With the advent of the early photographic camera, and it's ability to literally capture the image of it's subject, the value of realism in painting was brought into question. Soon, photographers were discussing composition of image, shading... But, they could only capture sepia toned images.
Painters responded with the Impressionist school, built around speed of capturing the colors of an image, at the expense of sharp focus. Detail was being subtracted by artists such as Toulouse-Lautrec in favor of the Caricature of image. Formalism was being reintroduced into the definition of Art.
By the beginning of the 20th century, an art movement tried to move so far away from realism, that it attempted to communicate emotive symbols in new contexts. Thus, we have the birth of Dadaism & Surrealism . And the Modern school of Art is it's result.
Of course, artisans of the recording media were not far behind, trying to imitate the spirit of this movement by testing the bounds of their technologies.
In the next segment, I will discuss how this ability to shape recordings of events influences reporting. Clifford Irving, Stephen Glass, Orson Welles and F is for Fake , Michael Moore, Errol Morriss, Ken Burns and the entertainment value of documentaries..
Friday, July 15, 2011
Relentless digitization and the recession have combined to create an environment in which the value of much of what we have known is depreciating, and which increasingly requires a culture and a pace of innovation that is consistent with start-ups. Organizational value is shifting from protecting knowledge assets, to encouraging knowledge flow. In ‘We Think’, Charles Leadbetter said: “In the past you were what you owned. Now you are what you share”. New models are springing up that follow a philosophy where access trumps ownership. Assets are increasingly about relationships.
"And the first rude sketch that the world had seen was joy to his mighty heart, till the Devil whispered behind the leaves "It's pretty, but is it Art?""- Rudyard Kipling
I've begun to talk about the changes in the media over the last fifty years. And I intend to talk about advances in technology that improved and changed audio and visual recordings. But, first, I need to take a moment to ask you to consider a philosophical question: which is the event? That moment which you recorded, or that moment when you play the recording?
When Thomas Edison and his assistants first developed the phonograph, he originally intended it for either a doll's voice, or for a business dictaphone. The idea of selling recorded music did not occur until later. The original use of Edison's Kinescope films were as sideshow, penny arcade diversions. Marconi's first radios could only broadcast morse code messages.
The first recordings of music were done at live performances, using mechanical victrolas. No acoustic tiled sound studios existed. The first film stages were constructed outdoors, to take advantage of the sunlight. They recorded pantomine plays.
Now, in France, where the art world had been experimenting with Trompe d'Oeil imagery, there was also daguerrotype photography. And already, there were experiments with what could be done with "in the camera" & "in developing room" effects. Double exposures, matte paintings, etching negatives... All trying to manipulate the image that the lens of the camera had captured. So, a frenchman named George Melies decided to test what could be done with the moving picture equipment of his time.
Skip ahead in time, and the diaphragm microphone and speaker systems from the early telephone is connected to the radio. Now, sound can be transmitted. And radios can broadcast music or conversation. Also, spoken drama, with sound effects to communicate settings and action. Thus is born the Foley Artist . Movie theaters abound, but still show silent films. Newspapers, printed by steam presses, are the dominant medium for information. They keep costs down by selling advertising space. Now, Radio and movies decide to compete.. We have the birth of the news broadcasts (though, to be fair, radio stations were forced to adopt the practice due to the new FCC decrees about public service time) and of the movie newsreels. Moreover, the sound recording industry has formed a symbiotic relationship with the radio industry. Much of the technology is inter- compatible, and radio airtime can sell song recordings. This is the fledgling electronics industry.
At first, radio news consists of announcers just reading the newspapers on the air. They have no news desk of their own. Often, radio stations employ news columnists to host their own broadcast. This is where Walter Winchell, Louella Parsons, et al. came from. And we see this pattern repeat itself, where a noted newspaper reporter can gain celebrity by contributing to other media. News reels, however, are hampered by it's need for elaborate equipment, and slowness of developing the film. It could not compete with "breaking news" of the moment, but can capture scheduled events. Thus, a news reel may capture a parade, the arrival of dignitaries, sporting events, or trials of criminals. It's only luck if a calamity like a fire or weather disaster is captured. Often, they only report the aftermath of such events.
Because so much of the revenue depends on advertising, the news media must try for as large an audience as possible. But, it also must not dissuade advertisers by reporting anything that disturbs the advertisers. Thus, the concept of 'objective journalism' became the standard. But, the wider audience craved sensationalism, and the new celebrities of the media (movie and radio stars) attract attention because so much is otherwise unknown about them. So, 'muckraking journalism' also grows.
Let's skip ahead to a critical age of technology and media; Sound recording has finally combined with film. In 1931 "Frankenstein" is released, 1933 is the release of "King Kong" & "The Invisible Man", 1936 is the release of "San Francisco", 1939 is the release of "The Hunchback of Notre Dame", "The Wizard of Oz" & "Gone With the Wind" (the latter two adding the new technology of color cinematography). And, in 1938, Orson Welles' Mercury Radio Theater broadcast "The War of the Worlds".
Film media had long been trying to capture not only what was real, but also what was imagined. And yet, it wanted to capture imagination in the most realistic form possible. We've had this evolution of special effects in cinema to create these images, using expensive, time consuming means. They could recreate medieval settings, great disasters, imaginary lands and fantastic creatures. The cinema had surpassed the stage.
Yet, Orson Welles had done the same thing by metaphysical judo; He took the disadvantage of the radio to show you what he was creating, and used your assumptions about the medium to convince you that it was, in fact, happening. By imitating a regular radio program for his introduction, and sticking to that format without a third person narrative voice, he placed his audience into the event as it unfolded.
Next time, we will discuss the movie serials, the scifi films of the fifties, Godzilla films, Noh theater and it's relation to ancient theater, documentaries, and how media has this dynamic tension between representationalism, and expressionism.
Thursday, July 14, 2011
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Monday, July 11, 2011
Paywalls emerging as part of robust news websites: "The Times-Dispatch will now charge for some distinct online packages, including premier Civil War package."
This may be insidious... When you collect sources to cite for essays, will you have to pay for each article? Will the readers of your essay?
Received in my inbox:
Dear WyWatch Family and Friends,
We are forwarding along some important information that we feel our members should be aware of. The WyWatch Board of Directors would like to take the opportunity to encourage each of you to take the time to read the attachments and to take action. The WyWatch leadership understands full well the desire for Christians to want to support organizations that are researching a disease that kills thousands of loved ones… But in the name of LIFE we ask that you carefully examine the attached documents… We thank Margaret and Richard Wall for their… well written explanation of the facts. We felt no need to alter what they provided us to pass on to the pro-life community. We hope you will pass on this e-mail to those you know are like-minded.
So what’s so important? Watchdog group WyWatch Watchers has the scoop:
Sadly, it has come to our attention that Cheyenne Frontier Days has once again decided to associate itself with Susan G. Komen for the Cure. As you may know already, Komen publicly endorses embryonic stem cell research, denies prematurely any link between abortion and breast cancer (despite credible scientific evidence to the contrary), and will not stop its affiliates from donating funds to Planned Parenthood (America’s largest abortion and chemical contraceptive provider).
For these reasons, the Archdiocese of St. Louis released a statement concerning Komen, exhorting all Catholics to avoid any association with it lest they become the cause of scandal for the Church and the world around them. Indeed, this statement can be extended to the entire pro-life and Christian community… While the local Susan G. Komen of Wyoming affiliate reportedly does not partner with Planned Parenthood, 25% of the funds raised by Komen’s Wyoming affiliate at CFD are sent to the national organization. And the national organization has allowed Komen affiliates in other states to give money to Planned Parenthood, ostensibly for purposes related to breast cancer. If a Komen affiliate donates to Planned Parenthood for breast health programs, however, this frees up Planned Parenthood’s unrestricted funds so that they can pay for abortion-related services. So, while a person’s money may not directly pay for abortions here in Wyoming, there is still scandal involved because he or she is at some level enabling abortion elsewhere.
As fellow Catholics and members of the pro-life Christian community at large, we seek your support at this critical juncture in an effort to stop the loss of innocent human life due to the relationship between Komen and Planned Parenthood. Please contact CFD General Chairman Rod Hottle and CFD CEO Dan Cheney ASAP and ask them not to give financial support and publicity to Susan G. Komen at the 2011 CFD because of Susan G. Komen’s relationship with Planned Parenthood.
You can sign or adapt the model letter that we have attached to this email for your convenience. Then, please let us know that you have taken action by emailing or calling us (634-9771), so that we can keep track of the number of letters CFD is receiving. Your action today can make a difference for the unborn! Just a few hundred letters will send the message that there are people who care and who are aware of CFD’s association with Komen, thereby turning the tide away from abortion funding and toward authentic breast cancer research. God bless you for your commitment to the defenseless unborn whose voice you represent.
Margaret and Richard Wall
Emphasis mine. WyWatch is connected to several SPLC-listed hate groups like AFA and FRC. WyWatch Watchers sums it up nicely:
WyWatch would rather women not get mammograms and possibly have cancer go undetected than to think that money donated here might free up money elsewhere for abortion related services. What’s so pro-life about that? Planned Parenthood does not have an unrestricted money supply. If it did, states defunding it wouldn’t have a disasterous impact. Who the hell hates breast cancer charities?! Well, now we know.
WyWatch Watchers, we say we send letters of support to CFD stating we will support them if they give to Susan G. Komen. If you wish, give money as a WyWatch Watcher at their website: Susan G. Komen for the Cure
You can also text a donation as well by simply texting the word “KOMEN” to 90999. Each $10 donation will be added to your next mobile phone bill. Thanks WyWatch Watchers! Please share this with your friends!
Consider it shared. And I donated. Please reblog and spread the word.
When I was a freshman in college, the moments before the very first class of the day always confronted me with a blank chalkboard to look at. Invariably, I could not resist the impulse to write something on the board. This usually consisted of some philosophical question that had entered my mind. As this had nothing to do with the subject of the class, it was typically ignored by my classmates, though it often put a puzzled expression on the professor's face.
Where did my impulse come from? Is it the same motivation that led me to create an internet presence? Does that mean I share it with other bloggers and Facebook "friends"? In a recent sociological experiment, Xiaoquan Zhang and Feng Zhu inquired into the nature of incentives that drive the Open Source movement, where the monetary incentives that are implicit in patent and copyright protected work are removed. Their findings indicated a corollary between the size of the possible audiences and the desire to contribute to wiki projects....
The very first forums for discussion, for sharing ideas, may have been our ancestors conversing around a campfire. The very first message board that we know of might have been the walls of a cave in Chauvet, France . We don't know what the intention of that pre- written language art was for. We do know that block printing, centuries before Gutenberg created the movable type press, created posters that announced public events. We know that community institutions often created bulletin boards of some type to share and pool messages about common interests. Newspapers had letters to the editor, and sold advertising to finance publication. These advertising pages soon prompted the "personals", which allowed the readership to solicit sales for personal property, attention of prospective suitors, and possible homes for unwanted kittens.
Let's skip ahead to 1926 and a German emigre named Hugo Gernsback. Hugo was in the magazine business, publishing Modern Electrics & The Electrical Experimenter. He also started Amazing Stories , publishing the works of H.G. Wells & Jules Verne, as well as solicited pieces by new writers of what he termed "Scienti-fiction". Hugo also did something very important for science fiction of the time: he published letters from the readers, complete with addresses. Today, this concept of privacy intrusion might be viewed askance, as marketing research had been invented in the 1900's. But, this also gave readers their only method to reach out to one another. The result would be the creation of the "fanzine", which was a metaphysical concept; a magazine by and for fans, about the fans' subject . There would also be fanzines for movies and celebrities, jazz and popular music, comic books... Many of these were originally available by subscription only, and published by amateur means.
Science Fiction fandom also gave us the first SF convention in 1939, introducing many concepts I will discuss in future blogs. For this article, tho, the point is that a central message nexus provided the information to gather in physical locations.
Let's skip ahead a few decades more... The introduction of ARPANET in 1968 established the protocols by which computer to computer communications would be conducted. By the mid 1980s, with public access to the internet, along came CompuServe, Prodigy, and other dial-up online services. HTML and the World Wide Web is introduced in 1989, and the first web browser in 1993... During this time period, the people using the internet were mostly either college students ( a demographic I intend to blog about, later) or scientists. Forum sites for discussions were either work related, or about shared interests, and were very crude in appearance.
Skip ahead again, to 1999-2000, and the general public's introduction to e-mail and forums. At this time, the importance of "internet presence" was first becoming an issue for commerce, and for personal use. Yahoo!, the first profitable search engine, was adding monetary value by advertising, providing e-mail addresses, news, and server space for group web sites. Microsoft introduced it's MSN pages, doing much the same thing. Many web sites, either commercial or personal, often found that viewers desired a method to share commentary on content or interact with the creators. Some websites, such as Delphi, simply provided space to host other websites, and provided means to create forums.
Soon, the forums (sometimes referred to as Message Boards) became more sophisticated. The creation of forum managers to provide editorial control, as well as a "velvet rope" point of access control over exclusive membership of forums. Many added the ability to not only post messages, but allowed the forum members to augment their posts via HTML or BBC code, allowing changed fonts and colors, adding images, & separating quoted passages.
The major things that became clear about forums : a message "thread" about a particular topic could generate a discussion as long as the forum members wanted, could include as many forum members as wanted to participate, could lie dormant for stretches of time until a member revived it, and could generate digressions over minute details (or personal disputes, called "flaming"). Message threads could be "derailed" by "trolls", who delighted in rude behavior for various motives.
One particular early forum, 4Chan, was so notorious for it's disputes and abuses by and of message posters, that it composed a set of rules about internet usage..
The Message Board thread also became a place that stimulated debate, and excelled at criticism. If you made a statement that was questionable, hyperlinks allowed you to cite sources. If a response was an ad hominem attack, you could "pwn" your attacker with a "LOL catz" image. As a general rule, debating without knowledge of the subject was socially unacceptable.
Another frowned upon practice was "sock puppetry", where an alternate identity is created to appear as a separate, supportive entity on a message thread. Accusations of this practice being committed happens when a poster's support seems too good to be true..
By 2008, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and other social network sites utilized "status updates", or "tweets" on a "wall", which was another form of message board. Originally confined to written content, these walls became more sophisticated as well...
Let's compare mediums..
You have AM radio, with it's broadcasting quick, low content messages. It's conducive to the "sound bite" response, and not to long, thought out messages and response. Further, criticism and rebuttal during discussion is limited, at best. By it's nature , it is widely accessible to listeners, but has a limited number of callers. False statements cannot be easily questioned.
Then, you have the message board, which limits participation to invited members of a group. It is easily contributed to by any interested member, can continue for as long as there is interest by members & moderator. It is conducive to formal debate, so long as the social matrix of collaborators abide by manners established by mutual consent. Statements can be authenticated. Further, a certain level of technological access (the Digital Divide) is required for participation, meaning a monetary, educational and social status level is involved.
Which is best?
Thursday, July 7, 2011
Let's start with AM radio... While I'd like to give you a history of radio up to this point, I won't discuss that. I will point out, that during the 1960s, the AM radio format was the dominant medium for music, even though it was ill suited for it. Am signals dimmed and were cut off while driving under overpasses or in tunnels, picked up static near power lines, and only broadcast a monophonic signal. The quality of sound was poor, unless the station had a very powerful signal.
By the 70s, the FM stations that used to be reserved for college stations, civil band transceivers, television audio signals, became increasingly used for music stations. They could broadcast in stereo, had no problems with static interference, and could provide decent sound within the range of broadcast. The number of FM radios available to the public at a decent price also increased . Soon came the stereo boombox, a portable stereo radio/cassette tape player. Many featured the ability to record music directly from the radio, allowing owners to 'bootleg' songs (more about this in a future blog..).
By the 1980s, the ratings for music format AM stations decreased. Many stations were sold, becoming foreign language only stations to serve immigrant communities. Others converted to either news formats, or all talk formats. This is not to say that these formats did not exist, previously. They merely were not that numerous until the advent of FM stereo. At this time, the popularity of nationally syndicated radio talk show hosts began to escalate.
So, let's look at the radio talk show. One thing that helped it's popularity was the introduction of cell phones. Because the most highly rated shows were often at "drive time", during morning or evening commutes, we can assume that the most listeners are in the car at the time. And since many talk shows were using listener calls to drive the discussions of the hour, we have to assume that the drivers having a portable phone to contact the station played a part in the popularity. This made AM radio an interactive medium reliant on broadcasting a mass message, and receiving distinctly individual responses, which became part of the mass signal. So, another important element was the station switch board, which screened calls. Because the station often received so many calls at once, the telephone redial feature is also part of this equation. Callers, upon hearing a busy signal, could rapidly repeat call attempts until they got through.
Now, radio talk shows usually come in three sizes: 1 hour , 2 hours , or 4 hours long. In this time, the station must sell advertising blocks of about 10 minutes, have a station identification announcement, and some stations have news breaks that give local weather and traffic conditions. All these typically occur every hour, with two news breaks on the half hour, station identification at least once an hour, and ads running at least 4 times an hour. So, the actual time spent for the talk show is less than 15 minutes per segment, upon average, and will usually only talk about one topic of discussion per hour. Estimated guess: a total of 45 minutes per hour actually listening to the discussion.
This means talk shows favor listeners who are quick to speak, and have little to say. The host must move along as quickly as possible. This also means that a long debate will probably curtailed. This can be done subtly, in the radio station control room, by reducing volume on the caller's voice, and speaking over him in a way the listening audience doesn't perceive. Talk Show host Rush Limbaugh openly admits that this is a policy of his, claiming that it is his right, as it is his show, not the listener's. This lack of time also means that many radio talk shows only allow one call to go through per caller. If a caller has already spoken on the air once, he or she will probably not be allowed to speak again on that show. Thus, a caller can be remarked upon by later callers, including denigrating remarks, without hope of rebuttal..
Another interesting thing about callers; often, they sound as if they read from a script. If a talk show format is politics and /or news, it may be listened to by special interest parties, such as unions, or political campaigns, or government office employees. And, some may have had instructions to call in (often without disclosing their affiliations) if a topic pertaining to that group is discussed. They will often hastily try to make a statement that contains the salient points of the group's statement on the subject. This practice smacks of message board "sock puppets" (which we discuss in the next blog). But, it doesn't often become a subject of challenge on the air, by callers without such affiliations. One must assume that they either don't know, or don't care about the difference..
I think that will be all for now.. Next time: internet message boards.
Political soft balls in 140 words or less...
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
Michael Moore about Julian Assange
Tuesday, July 5, 2011
Monday, July 4, 2011
Sunday, July 3, 2011
Shirow Masamune. Imagine a world where you are linked in to the internet, constantly. The hardware is in your body. Or the hardware is your body, as you may be partially or fully cybernetic. You interface with translucent media player skins that appear before your eyes. A.I.s wonder if they can have souls or "ghosts" that survive beyond death...
The police and military have tanks with Artificial Intelligence, that sound like children when they speak. They have active camouflage body suits, rendering them near invisible. A Computer hacker can render himself invisible to you by hacking the processors in your cybernetic eyes...
That's the world of Ghost in the Shell. In the midst of the action adventure, you suddenly have characters dropping references to philosophers like Arthur Koestler or Frederick Jameson.
The character, "The laughing man" has a popularity among the Anonymous -sympathetic crowd only exceeded by their fondness for Alan Moore's "V". This is, no doubt, because both characters represent chaotic good while remaining faceless... Indeed, the laughing man can be interpreted as a wishful representation of what a hacker wants to be..
Masamune shows us a world of Virtual realities & Augmented realities, and dares us to determine which is more "real". His work is spiritually akin to Phillip K. Dick's "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep" & "A Scanner Darkly" in it's testing of phenomenology..
If Raymond Kurzweil is to be believed... Masamune's future is almost upon us...
vision of the future inspired many future engineers and scientists to create the reality of the technology his programs only played at.
At DC comics, he created the Challengers of the Unknown, Kamandi, the Demon, OMAC, and his Fourth World saga...
Speaking of which...
In his Fourth World saga, the characters are all supposedly the next generation of gods that survived after a Ragnarok type event, leaving two worlds; Apokolips and New Genesis. Unlike the gods of myth, these characters came from highly technologic societies that opposed each other for the fate of Earth..
Certain of these characters carried a device called "Mother Box".
As you can see, these were small, portable devices, often used as computers or communicators, as well as having multiple apps beyond...
One character, Scott Free, aka Mister Miracle ,
used a device called a "multi cube", which was a high tech multi tool in the same vein as a Leatherman or Swiss Army knife. You can thank Jack for the iPad...
Alvin Toffler is the writer and professional futurist who wrote Future Shock, which detailed how technology was progressing in such ways that humanity will suffer from too much change too soon.
He also wrote The Third Wave which was a synopsis of how civilization had progressed and predicted how it would continue to progress in the coming years.. The Third Wave supposedly was used by the Clinton administration to guide setting policies on emergent technologies...
Ian Fleming- Original Author of the James Bond thrillers, also author of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. In his novel Goldfinger, MI 5 Agent James Bond is issued two tracking devices, one the size of a packet of cigarettes, the other small enough to fit in his shoe heel... If you see the movie version of the story, the display of the location tracker looks eerily similar to a GPS map. Thank Ian for LoJack, and GPS tracing..
Lester Dent wrote the Doc Savage series under the nom de plume "Kenneth Robeson". In addition, Dent himself was an adventurer of sorts, being a sailor and world traveler. He also was a great reader and gadgeteer. Among the gadgets he thought up for his hero to use or oppose were: Telephone answering machines, heat seeking cruise missiles, Ultraviolet light projectors, stun grenades, radio controlled drone planes, zeppelins, autogyros & helicopters, an Artic exploration submarine designed to go under the ice pack, collapsible boats, automatic machine pistols, non-lethal ammunition...
All these men are personal heroes of mine, of one sort or another. They not only imagined great things, but lived extraordinary lives...
Saturday, July 2, 2011
I mentioned in a previous post, the incredible innovations that the 70's saw in consumer products, and how it possibly saved the economy at that time... This is also an example of that principle.
I have a different view... I think the last fifty years can be defined by the work of the Economist Joseph Schumpeter. Indeed, maybe the last hundred years, since the time of Marconi, Edison & Tesla..
My prime example would be the economic turn around of the 1970s.. We suffered massive unemployment, business shut downs, a world wide gas shortage (or embargo, if you consider O.P.E.C.s involvement) recession and "stagflation".. By the end of the decade, all this would be resolved..
Why? The dramatic amount of innovations that the decade had brought. My first example would be Bic. They didn't invent the ball point. They made a quality version that was cheaper. They didn't invent the butane cigarette lighter. They just made a disposable one priced less than a dollar. Felt markers had been around for a time. Bic gave it a finer point, called it the Flair tip. A shaving razor you could buy in any convenience store or pharmacy, and throw away when you were done. That changed travel toiletries at a time when travel was increasingly available for the middle class.
What made Bic an innovator wasn't creating new products, but by giving the world better quality products for a lower price. This helped drive the wave of consumerism better than govt. spending or tax relief. There are many examples of this happening during the same era, and I hope to show a few...