How Manga conquered America

Posted by jerry on October 23rd, 2007 — Posted in Journal, Writing

Wired magazine online has a manga-format brief history of how that popular culture art-form went from being a marginal specialist import to a publishing phenomenon the likes of which would make Astro-boy (Tetsuwan Atom) proud. Wired has a download in PDF format. But there is a twist – the pdf is in traditional Japanese manga style so you read from back to front and right to left. Considering Manga’s influence on the early cyberpunk science fiction movement this is certainly a cultural form to take seriously. But you knew that already from the way manga is gradually creeping down the central aisles of most contemporary bookshops.

manga history

I suspect that the manga explosion is also in part a function of a growing sophisticated visual literacy – bourne of the web and fed by new media of all formats. But I like too the uncompromising aspect of the back-to front binding (great for left handed reading!).


Newseums – museum in Second Life

Posted by jerry on October 22nd, 2007 — Posted in Journal, New media, Technology, Writing

What does the Newseum, Sistine Chapel and the Sydney Harbour Bridge have in common? They have simulacra in virtual world Second Life. For some the build raises the question of whether real life (RL) museums are a thing of the past. a Washington Post article poses the question:

Are museums in the bone-and-pigment business, reliquaries of the past? Are they in the theater business, telling stories through sensational lighting, presentations like stage sets and costumed interpretive actors? Are museums in the experience business, forced to reach for ever fancier gizmos and blockbusters to compete with the sports world and Disney for family time and money?

Perhaps they are all of these things and more. But then even the RL artworks within medieval or Renaissance religious architecture were about experiencing the virtual. Consider the perspective studies that appear to continue RL architecture into a fresco. Perhaps SL is a little bit like that.

Is it as good as the real thing? It depends on what the real thing is. The lovingly detailed Michaelangelo fresco copy in the virtual Sistine Chapel can be viewed as a real lovingly detailed Michaelangelo fresco copy in a virtual Sistine Chapel, while the one in the RL Sistine chapel is also real – yet partially virtual in virtue of its function as art, and overlaid with centuries of interpretation so that before you see the real one your concept of it is preconfigured before you get there. The difference being that in SL you can fly up to the ceiling for a closer look! The SL one is built here at vassar/165/91/24 (slurl).

The Newseum museum of news offers a parallel build in SL of the one currently being completed in Washington DC USA – or it will if they release it to the public (something they haven’t yet decided upon). So it is a virtual museum in several planes – in RL (still being built); in virtual form (as a build in SL) and in further virtual form (it doesn’t exist yet).

This is precisely the discussion evoked by Magritte’s famous painting: “Ceci n’est pas une pipe” (This is not a pipe) – because of course it is not a pipe, but a representation of one.

magritte pipe

After that the distinctions just get a bit academic.

Thanks to Archinect for the link.

Little known steam bike

Posted by jerry on October 21st, 2007 — Posted in Motorcycling, Steam

In 1917 William Taylor built a steam motorbike based on an F-N. The bike used a two-cylinder double acting steam engine. But there is little other information on this bike.

Taylor steam bike
Taylor steam bike

But there may be some hints in that at one point in the 1890s William Taylor apparently worked with Wachs – a company that produced steam engines ranging from 1HP-50HP – mainly for the small engine market to power workshop tools and small generators. Such engines might well be ideal for adaptation to motorcycle use. The wachs engines were also double-acting and likely came in a twin cylinder model.

Wachs steam engine
Wachs steam engine

Taylor steam bike

Interestingly, the bike used shaft drive – so there would have been little to wear out.

If anyone has any more information on this unusual bike I’d love to hear from you


Second Life Link – and Facebook

Posted by jerry on October 18th, 2007 — Posted in Journal, New media, Technology

There must be new FaceBook applications coming out by the hour, but on a rare occasion something special emerges. This time it’s not a new way to poke someone or throw things at them, but a bridge between two worlds.

SecondLife Link is a facebook application that links two of the web’s most popular social software forms – social networking site FaceBook and virtual world Second Life. This is one of those “why didn’t anyone think of this before?” moments – well they have now and it’s been developed by Fire Preibisch and Jared Mitchell – a couple of expats living in South Korea.

secondlife link

It’s deceptively simple – its a Facebook app that lets you see the online status of your friends in Second Life – so you can know better when to meet up. You can also let people know where your second life home is, or let people know your favourite spot in Second Life so they can go check out your place, and you can match up people with their secondlife avatar (you can also search facebook for their avatar name too). I think this is only the beginning for this app – and it’s so far the only one that links the two in this way.


Students today – dare I compare?

Posted by jerry on October 16th, 2007 — Posted in Journal, New media, Writing

New media analyst Alja Sulcic pointed to a video on her Facebook produced by a group of cultural anthropology students, surveying their own tribal group. And the results are fascinating – and look set to challenge many of the pedagogical assumptions we have. The biggest challenge is whether today’s university is relevant – and what place might they hold in the future?

Students today – when they graduate they will probably have a job… that doesn’t exist today.

Average class size = 115
18 percent of teachers know a student’s name

Read 8 books a year, 2300 web pages, 1289 Facebook profiles

Write 42 pages for class per semester, over 500 pages of emails

Hours in the day
7.0 sleeping
1.5 watching TV
3.5 online
2.5 listening to music
2.0 on mobile phone
3.0 in class
2.0 eating
2.0 working
3.0 studying
TOTAL = 26.5 hours

They multi-task. They have to.

Many students are so engaged by their classes that they Facebook right through them or do other stuff on their laptop or text their friends. Many don’t read their $100 textbooks.

Much of what they get at university is irrelevant to them or out of date before the textbook is published – at least that is their perception.

So in my middle aged mid-career life, how do I compare?
I sleep 7.0 hours a night
I have a job that didn’t exist three years ago.
I recently sold some writing to an online journal that is in a virtual world that didn’t exist three years ago (okay the world did, but only just – the journal is less than one year old)
I work 8-9 hours a day – I don’t do personal stuff at work
I watch less than 1.0 hour of TV per day
I spend about 2-3 hours a day online
I play fiddle about 1.0 hour a day
I do email/check online news and weather over breakfast
I listen to 20 minutes of music per day – driving to/from work
I multi-task – often playing tunes while waiting for pages to load

So I guess the age group is irrelevant – the fact is that life today is very different from what it was even just ten years ago when I started writing my book about the internet. I wrote my first email in June 1989. I guess that makes me a relatively early adopter. I first surfed the internet using Mosaic and Gopher. I built my first website in 1996 – entirely hand-coded.

Here is the video that started this post

How do you compare?