Turning pens

Posted by jerry on April 27th, 2008 — Posted in Journal, Woodwork

I’ve been turning more pens today – I shall be visiting some special friends next week and wanted to bring them something connected with Australia. What better gift, then, than a pen hand turned from Western Australian jarrah.

The timber is hard and brittle, but takes a wonderful finish when turned, burnished and polished. I cracked three of the blanks during the turning process and one during the assembly process – so I had to remake the blanks.

I wanted to achieve a design that would sit nicely in the hand – a shape that that would mold itself to the hand. And this is what I came up with – what do you think?

hand turned pens


Medieval crane – walking and lifting weights at the same time

Posted by jerry on April 23rd, 2008 — Posted in Journal

Even a 50kg weakling can lift 500kg with this device – a new fitness craze? No, more a 14th Century crane for lifting building materials up the wall of a cathedral or castle.

In Prague, a team of fifteen have come together and built a replica 14th century tread-mill crane using traditional techniques and tools. And they are using it to reconstruct a real castle – Tocnik Castle.

 Photo: Martin Dostoupil, www.estav.cz
Photo: Martin Dostoupil, www.estav.cz

While it looks cumbersome the whole thing can be dismantled and rebuilt – like a Lego construction – and in this way it can be moved from one location to another around the building site. This one is actually a double treadmill version capable of lifting one tonne of material at a time. That’s pretty impressive for a wooden structure.

You can read the whole story or listen to the radio broadcast at the link above.


Deconstructing wikis – The Heavy Metal Umlaut

Posted by jerry on April 19th, 2008 — Posted in New media, Technology, Theory

The wikipedia phenomenon has been with us for a while – but aside from the occasional press article, scholarly treatments of wikis are few and far between.

Here is one exception – a serious look at the evolution and development of a wikipedia entry on heavy metal music – and the introduction and use of the umlaut in the names of heavy metal bands. John Udell’s video examines several aspects of the wiki through this example. One of the more interesting aspects is the ‘wisdom of crowds’ – the self-correction of wiki entries. At one point the wiki entry was vandalised, and within a minute it was restored by someone else. This phenomenon has been observed elsewhere. I recall reading that the ABC TV Australia did a short documentary on wikipedia and deliberately put in wrong information on some prominent entries, and the longest it took before the entry was corrected was four hours. That’s pretty impressive for a global free gafitti wall!

Thanks to Beth Kanter for bringing this to my attention.


Virtual Shakespeare Consortium

Posted by jerry on April 11th, 2008 — Posted in Journal, New media, Technology, Writing

The Virtual Shakespeare Consortium is a consortium of individuals and organizations dedicated to bringing Shakespeare and his culture to the Internet and beyond.

View my page on vShakespeare

Partly it’s about bringing together people from all over the world – virtually – to perform his plays in virtual worlds, like SecondLife.

Shakespeare’s sonnets are often forgotten in such ventures, but I think the richness of their imagery and of their conceits would lend themselves to creative treatment in SL, along with sonnet readings in-world.

This venture will celebrate the polyglot nature of Shakespeare’s language – he emerged after all, at a pivotal point in the development of the English language, benefiting from the three major language groups that made up English, in a context in which new words were being coined daily and entered the language with the kind of speed not seen again until the birth of the internet.

I look forward to see how this develops