Washington DC – the architecture

Posted by jerry on May 9th, 2007 — Posted in Journal, Travel

There are a number of iconic buildings in Washington DC. The Capitol features everywhere from teatowels to snow cones and there is no doubt about its classical proportions – it is an impressive building.

Capitol Washington DC

The Smithsonian Institution began as a private collection and its first building still houses part of the collection – mainly ethnographic material from the Africas. Known as ‘the castle’ this red-brick building still has a lovely proportion to it. And the flower garden is stunning in Spring.


The entrance – part medieval, part romanesque still bears the inscription of the institution’s name.

Sadly, my stated ‘one nice thing’ won’t happen as advertised – the National Museum of American History is closed for renovations and won’t re-open before 2008. So I’ll have to rethink this a bit.

Smithsonian closed

Perhaps I can console myself with some popcorn from one of these delightful stands along The Mall.

Other buildings include the impressive Jefferson Memorial overlooking the Potomac

Are we there yet?

And the quirky side might just emerge tomorrow 🙂


Washington DC and One Nice Thing

Posted by jerry on May 7th, 2007 — Posted in Journal, Travel

Somewhere over the Pacific at around 3.00AM body clock time and unable to sleep I went in search of coffee. I had watched two movies and despite the gentle rocking of the plane – like riding over the sand where the waves had left tiny ripples – I found myself with a mug of coffee and a conversation with a businesswoman who was also travelling to the US.

After a few inconsequential remarks she says “So, what is your ‘One Nice Thing’?” The way she said it I could hear the inverted commas and the capital letters.

She took my quizzical look as a prompt and said that every time she travels for business she tries to take time out for one nice thing – some way to treat yourself, whether going to a favourite restaurant or a show, or exploring a new musuem.

The reasoning was that when you are old you won’t remember this or that business trip – but you will always remember the one nice thing. It’s a way of building positive memories for the future. What a great concept!

For me it will be to visit the National Museum of American Culture – part of the Smithsonian I have never been to.

What have been your one nice things?

While this is about doing one nice thing for yourself to actively build positive memories, there are other memes along these lines. For example, there is one associated with the concept of doing one nice thing for someone else – working on the ‘pay it forward’ philosophy. This is the concept behind Do-One-Nice-Thing.com. And a version has appeared on 43 things where people aspire to do one nice thing per week/day for someone else. I think it’s a reallly positive meme.

The Classic American Diner
In the meantime, the classic American diner is alive and well and living in Washington DC. I often wondered about the distinctive styling of the diner – with the corrugated metal cladding surmounted by continuous windows and styled with seat booths.

Then I saw the picture on the wall of this particular one that showed the original ‘Dining Car’ – a converted railway carriage – that explains it all in a nutshell. Even though the original rail car has long since been scrapped, the new simulacrum (not fake in a simple way) still references the classic railway carriage of the 1930s.


First foray into SecondLife

Posted by jerry on May 1st, 2007 — Posted in Journal, New media, Technology

After reading quite a bit about the virtual world SecondLife, Sharon and I decided to check it out and see what all the fuss is about. And what a fascinating space it is. After some preliminaries downloading the software (64mb for a mac) – setting up a virtual body (known as an ‘avatar’) we were ready to check out this virtual world. There’s certainly a knack to it – even walking has its isues so one starts off in a ‘newby’ area where you can learn to walk and talk and fly and drive a strange assortment of vehicles from a virtual ‘segway’ scooter to a road roller or a car. We were both pretty dangerous – luckily these were only virtual vehicles and the squished rats were only virtual animals…

After completing some simple tasks we were off to explore the new world. Sharon’s first stop was a gallery, mine an Irish pub – it’s amazing how even online real life (rl) tastes prevail. The gallery was well constructed and quite surreal – it took a while to figure out how we could sit on a sofa – but that’s part of the fun.

There are several academic spaces in SecondLife (sl) and several ‘movie’ screens where you can watch machinimas or animations from streaming video. Same goes for music performances and several bands have performed in sl streaming their sound into a venue – like the Blarney Stone Irish pub – and these are scheduled events.


Conferences are held here and as a distance learning tool I think sl has a lot to offer in terms of getting away from the constraints of space.

And there is a range of ways to animate your avatar – including dance moves which synch to the streaming music – you can buy dance routines with virtual money (lindens) or you can go to a dance venue, as I did with new media theorist Angela Thomas aka Anya Ixchel who pointed out that like any community newbies are either taken under someone’s wing or ignored. You can always tell a newbie by their stock avatar – yes you can obtain clothes or buy them from a fashion store – but the most expensive part is new skin – because of the work that goes into tones and shadows.

So all up a fascinating experience and clearly there is a lot to explore – watch this space!


Thinking blogger award meme

Posted by jerry on April 29th, 2007 — Posted in Journal, New media, Technology, Theory

Many thanks to Linn Skinner of The Embroidress fame for tagging me with a ‘thinking blogger’ award 🙂

thinking blogger award

Here’s what she said:

Another blog that takes me to realms not always familiar to me is Jerry Everard’s Mindsigh Jerry has a way of making rather lofty academic approaches to philosophic thought within my grasp without “dumbing down” the concepts. It is his clarity of expression that does the trick.

So what’s this all about? The meme originated with The Thinking Blog and the idea is simple – you tag five blogs that make you think. The rules are:

1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think,
2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme,
3. Optional: Proudly display the ‘Thinking Blogger Award’ with a link to the post that you wrote (there is an alternative silver version if gold doesn’t fit your blog).

This is a great way to find out about other blogs that make you think – by getting others who people tag as ‘thinking’ to give their selections – making it a form of social bookmarking.

A meme is “n. A unit of cultural information, such as a cultural practice or idea, that is transmitted verbally or by repeated action from one mind to another (analogous to the transmission of biological information in a gene).” a term coined by British biologist Richard Dawkins. So the thinking blogger meme is a way of tagging someone and saying: “You’re it – pass it on”.

And so to my selections. The first goes to Sharonb – my inspiriation – what more can I say? for her blog Mindtracks which discusses new media and visual culture.

The second is Angela Thomas’ blog which explores issues of identity – particularly with respect to SecondLife, and the question of the new literacies required in the digital age.

The third is Colin Lankshear and Michele Knobel’s blog Everyday Literacies which is also a new media blog by a couple of wonderful educators on the subject.

The fourth is Writer Response Theory where there is always some innovative discussion on aspects of textual arts.

And the fifth… Makezine! These folks adapt/re-cut/re-mix technology to make it do stuff the designers never thought of – and the results are amazing. Build your own cloud chamber or turn your laser pointer into an optical communications device – you name it and it’s been done on Makezine.

The meme is out there – pass it on….


Bandwidth theft and constructed identity

Posted by jerry on April 27th, 2007 — Posted in Journal, New media

I was doing that rare thing this morning – checking my Technorati ranking when I noticed that some of the blogs that linked to me had links that just said [IMG] – so I clicked through and found images from my blog with neither attribution nor a link back to my blog – just when you load the image it is loading from my site – and using my bandwidth for no gain through attribution or link for people to click through!

I chose two strategies. The first was to go in and change the name of the image on m blog and then I edited the link in the post so that the bandwidth pirate’s blog simply shows no image, while mine remains unaffected. The second strategy, where the person is clearly and actively disregarding any netiquette through profligate bandwidth theft – is to out them.

I found a whole blog category devoted to purported travels of Christopher Clark – but not a single image was his – every one of them came from a different source – each drawing a little bandwidth from the other blogs or websites. The thing is, the photos were used and written up as though they were his! Was this a case of constructed identity? If so it seems a relatively rare occurrence. But for someone who purports to be something of an artist, he seems to have scant regard for intellectual property. Perhaps he – if it is a he – is simply a fraud. There is no email link from his blog so I couldn’t just write to him. So in my small way I’d like to draw attention to a bandwidth thief – one who parasitically draws on the resources of countless servers like a spammer.

Of course the proper way would be to seek permission to use the image and/or to upload a copy of the image on his own server and place a link with acknowledgment back to the source site. That way when his page loads it is only drawing on the resources of his own server/provider, while acknowledging that the intellectual property belongs elsewhere.

Did he really think that no-one would notice that he had linked to their images? Or that the little bit of bandwidth wouldn’t be missed? The thing is, if it were just one image, perhaps it wouldn’t matter too much. But imagine if his site were really popular – then every time his page loads, there is a download of the image too – each time gradually eroding the remaining bandwidth and forcing up the costs for the original host. A hundred images being hit a hundred times a day is a lot of hits for no gain for the original host. It is almost as bad as a spam attack.

So I have a little plea – by all means use my images – but if you do, please acknowledge and put a link back to my site – not just an [img] embed.

So endeth the rant