Arkwright’s textile machines

Posted by jerry on June 20th, 2007 — Posted in History, Journal, Technology

They may look basic, but these machines helped bring about a revolution – the Industrial Revolution no less! These were the machines that Ned Ludd – founder of the Luddites movement protested so violently against. He realised that by mechanising certain processes, there would be massive social upheaval as people were replaced by machines. You can see these examples for yourself at London’s Science Museum in South Kensington.

Arkwright spinning machine

Richard Arkwright developed these innovations (not inventions – they had precursors) into a system between 1765 and 1775 – about the time Capt James Cook was checking out the transit of venus and checking out the east coast of Australia. The system came to be known as the textile mill or factory.

This concept arose from his appreciation that the manufacture of cotton yarn was a series of discrete operations that could be carried out by special purpose machines, brought together in one place and driven from a single power source, such as a water mill, or later, a steam engine. Before this time, most textiles were produced individually in cottage industries by spinners and weavers. The production of cotton lagged way behind that of wool or linen.

But there were impacts. The factory system brought England to the forefront of textile manufacturing in the nineteenth century, but it also brought about the collapse of the of the Indian cotton industry – while demand for raw cotton sustained the slave economy in the USA.

Carding machine
According to the museum info cards the carding machine disentangles, loosens and straightens the cotton fibres. The fibres are fed between two drums which are covered with leather ‘cards’ embedded with bent wire teeth. A third drum strips off the fibres in a continuous sheet which is then lifted off to form a ‘sliver’.

carding machine

Lantern drawing frame
The sliver is then passed to the lantern frame where it is elongated and narrowed, while being twisted to that it becomes strong enough to handle. The sliver is then called a ‘roving’ or ‘slubbing’ (hence the term ‘slub linen’).

Lantern drawing frame

Four spool and eight spool spinning machines
The four spool machine closely resembles the design Arkwright patented in 1769. Both machines spin yarnfrom teh cotton rovings produced by the drawing frame.

The later eight-spooled machine effectively doubled output. Both were powered by water wheels.
spinning machine

The eight-spool machine was effectively two four-spool machines joined together.

Arkwright spinning machine


SecondLife – Navigating realities

Posted by jerry on May 31st, 2007 — Posted in Journal, New media, Technology, Theory

What do we think of when we encounter the concept of ‘Virtual Reality’? Perhaps we have visions of people like myself staggering around the padded podia of the VR Cafe, or perhaps we have visions of sending our avatar out into SecondLife for another kind of immersive social experience.

Secondlife - Blarney Pub

Such immersive experiences position the user/reader in an artificial world comprised of computer-generated graphics. These greet us, perhaps at one end of what Ruthrof (1981) termed the ‘ladder of fictionality’. Ruthrof here depicts the distinction between invented and non-invented narrative as a ladder of varying degrees of fabrication. The steps of this ladder are bounded within authorial structuring of narrative and set in contra-distinction to what Edmund Husserl terms the ‘world-out-there’. I want to argue throughout this chapter that there are strong parallels to be drawn between the reality/virtuality debate, and the figurative/non-figurative debate in contemporary literary theory.

Read more of this paper on the page to the right, or click here:-)


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….


New Zealand – Day 2 – Ergonomic desk

Posted by jerry on March 31st, 2007 — Posted in Journal, Technology, Travel

Picture if you will, a badly-designed ironing board. It has a non-removable iron holder at the wide end…

ironing board

Now, don’t get me wrong – it’s better than trying to iron a shirt on a table with a towel draped over, but it’s like they put the iron stand on the wrong end. So the shirt bunches up and you can’t get the whole shirt back or a whole shoulder on the board without creasing.

ironing board

But not all was lost – Ironing boards are perfect for improving the ergonomics of the desk when the chair is too low 🙂

ironing board

And yes, that’s a moleskine pocket cahier – perfect for short trips. It is leaning against the portable printer – canon bjc50 which has an IR connection so I can print direct from the iPaq2750. And that is an iPaq bluetooth keyboard which makes typing sooo much easier!