Steve J. Moore

Archive for the ‘The Web’ Category

The Purpose, Power, and Presence of Design

In collaboration, Design, The Web on March 11, 2009 at 12:41 pm

Ryan Burrell

“This is part of a conversational series shared between multiple writers. As each new article is written, they will be displayed on the sites of all participating authors.”

To say that “design” is all around us would be a supreme understatement. It impacts the very nature of our perceptions, and does so most of the time without our conscious thought or notice. It is a subtle tool, often altering our opinions in ways we can’t really explain or quantify, yet will strongly defend if pressed. Design is a sword with many edges – it can cut deeply, deflect blows, or lead a charge. But, to ask the obvious lead-in question: What is design? Is it art, theory, math, philosophy, or some unholy combination of these areas and more? Is design purely visual, or does it hide a much deeper algorithmic structure?

An Underlying Order

The common view of design, in generalized terms, is to make “something” look “nice”, or “better”, or “pretty”, or [insert ambiguous subjective visual terminology here]. A designer makes shirts, or business cards, or websites, or… branded coffee mugs or something. Newsletters and brochures – that type of thing comes to mind immediately. Yet this is a very narrow viewpoint of what design is and of what the duties of a designer are. While design’s final products typically inhabit the visual world, a designer is not by nature possessed of a purely aesthetic skill set. The title Designer can better be equated with Problem Solver, specifically within the realm of how information is presented. Design strives to be as much an analytical set of tasks as an encompassing set of visual trends. A graphic designer does not simply make a t-shirt “look nice.” Instead, they deal with a complex set of mental algorithms and practices to determine the best placement of their visual components on the palette, taking advantage of the use of space, color, line, shape, and form to produce the most effective visual result. What the end result appears as is simply a piece of clothing, but to the designer it is a set of guidelines, wrapped in equations, coated in emotions, and finally covered in their own creative spin. Art and design are similar, yet fundamentally different, areas of expression. Art relies heavily on emotion, highly abstract ideas, and an intense desire to reflect the world around you from an individual viewpoint. Design, while using aspects that make up the nature of pure art, merges these with analytical ideals more in line with science or math. The foundation of all design relies on standards, conformity, rules, grids, and numbers. Margins, measurements, columns, padding, spacing, clearance; these are the elements that make up the essence of design.

An Overarching Chaos

Yet, while the foundations for design are firmly entrenched in the realm of numbers and grids, it is the more ethereal aspects that make it so unique. An intimate understanding of spacing will only work so far; a designer must also understand their audience, the goals of their project, and emotive methods to achieve their intended results. Once the framework of a task has been determined, a designer develops his or her “in the box” thinking. The borders and restrictions have been defined, and this can open up as much or more creative potential than having a boundless field to work in. A designer’s task is to use the guidelines that have been set and take them to the limits of creativity, while still keeping a sharp eye on how the final result will be usable. It is a frenetic juggling act of limitless creativity within a walled garden. The more artistic core of the designer emerges, yet must be restrained by the warden of practicality that remains in the back of their mind at all times. Visual appeal means nothing without functionality, but usefulness can be dulled if aesthetics are ignored. A designer must be mad – a Jekyll & Hyde combination of control and raw potential.

A Wider Path

Practically, there are many names and titles for designers. Commonly, we think of those that practice design as the people who create calendars, cards, and promotional products. But design is so vast and applicable to so many fields, that the job descriptions are almost as limitless. Interior designers deal with the feel of three dimensional space in architecture – with lighting, mood, and balance. Industrial designers concern themselves with the visual appeal of products as well as their functionality, ergonomics, and practicality. Web designers and interaction designers focus on creating visually appealing Internet interfaces, but all under the aegis of superb usability, accessibility, and optimization. Database designers work only in charts and arrows, but are responsible for laying out the interaction between the vast methods of storage that are now so commonplace. Nearly any sort of planning that concerns not only the visual output, but how that output is best presented and used involves design. It is a constant and integral part of our lives, evidenced by the fact that we don’t even notice it most of the time. The hallmark of good design is when it slips beneath our conscious radar, instead allowing the user of its final product to easily adapt to its requirements and efficiently bend them to their needs. Poor design is easily noticeable, taking the form of unreadable text, confusing interfaces, uncomfortable chairs, breakable parts, and unexpected reactions. Few professions require such a variety of skills, interests, knowledge, and the drive to use them effectively. Because of this, design is not typically thought of as a job by those who do it. A job is something you do to pay the bills – design is a way of life, a way of quantifying what we see around us, and still allowing for the vast creative potential that fuels the human spirit.

Collaborative Conversations

In collaboration, The Web, Writing on March 11, 2009 at 11:03 am

Ryan Burrell

The idea that anything written and presented on the Web is of a static nature and lacking malleability is a false one.  Likewise, the idea that articles or topics presented in format for consumption over the Internet are closed to observer modification and addition is also false.  The Web allows for an extremely unique interchange of thought, be it an initial article writing, subsequent discussion or comments, or responsive posts created on other sites.  It encourages viewers and readers to have an opinion or viewpoint, and to share that with anyone else who may be interested.

To that end, the idea of a “collaborative conversation” has been applied to writing for the Web.  Myself and several other individuals have taken up this notion (originally a teaching method) to try and spur ourselves onward in our writing, for several reasons.  We wanted something that gave us a focus for our writing, even if it was an arbitrary idea or topic.  Being able to dance around an issue and comment from multiple viewpoints was appealing; not arguing or making a case for anything (per se), just observations and discussion.

The rules we follow are minimal:

  • Someone picks a topic, and we try and tie in whatever we write with that topic. Think of it as more of a theme than a thesis statement.
  • Everyone participating must post each article that is written.  For larger numbers of people writing, we may dispense with this and simply include links to each part of the series on our own posts.
  • Don’t pander to the audience. Part of this type of conversation is to think on the topic, and come up with a unique viewpoint or observation on it.  Just as in real life, we want the conversation to be interesting.

The first experiment in this followed the the idea of the Internet being a product of humanity that has also changed it irrevocably.  Future topics have been selected and we will hopefully continue what has been (for me at least) a very nice exercise in both writing and observing.

The Constant Conference: Building a PLN with Twitter, Blogs, and Plurk

In Education, The Web on March 4, 2009 at 10:10 am

I don’t want to mix amongst my personal and education blogs too much, but I’m really overdue for a post on here and I’ve been thinking about this topic for a while. Rather than re-rewriting my ideas about this subject, I think it’s okay (considering my only slightly overlapping audiences) to re-post. “Repost”, by the way, should totally be a legal Scrabble word. I’m just sayin’.

Below is an entry from my Education blog “teachersaid” posted on February 12, 2009.

The long-term subbing job I have has allowed me some great opportunities so far. I’ve got my foot a little farther in the door at this school, for one thing. I know about job openings before they happen and I can speak easily to other teachers and administrators. Since I work at a computer all day (I’m a computer aide sub), I’m able to spend a great deal of time reading and completing my homework. I don’t think I would have attempted going to grad school full time right away if I had a teaching job right now. This way, I’ve been able to ease into my program and give it great attention.

rss-coffeecup

Furthermore, and perhaps most beneficial so far, I have been able to build and maintain a powerful personal learning network (PLN) online. I started using Twitter (@stevejmoore), Plurk (stevejmoore), and GoogleReader (Steve) to connect with teachers and administrators across the country and beyond. I’ve been able to find blogs, ask burning questions, and ultimately make significant connections with people whom I would have otherwise never met.

You’re obviously here, so I have either asked you to visit this page or you’re already hip to the benefits of reading Education blogs (maybe you’ve built a PLN of your own too). In case you’re with the former, I’ll explain each service that I use as a teacher, a grad student in Administration, and as a writer.

I’ll use a macroanalogy that most everyone should be able to grasp: the conference. When you go to a conference of any kind there is a similar format. Why do we go to conferences? To learn new information about our profession and to build relationships with other professionals. In my experiences, there are three basic environments at conferences: the keynote speech, focus groups (workshops), and mingling (unstructured). I use a digital counterpart that meets each of those networking criteria.

Blogs

These are the keynote speeches, the main events of conferences and PLNs. All social media networks lead to blogs at some point. This is where authors, the pros pen their prose. Like at conferences, there is usually one big headliner who sets the tone for the whole, and several more mini-keynotes that function as bullet points to the larger headline. This is a good way to stucture your blog reading. Have fewer big blogs you read and focus your attention on. These are bloggers whom you may not ever personally contact or meet like LeVar Burton or Erin O’Connor, but whose material is widely read and considered a part of many larger conversations. Then, there are a myriad other bloggers that you can find whom are more specific in their situation and whom you may come to know personally due to their smaller readership.

For example, I’ve come to know Scott Elias, a principal in Colorado through my spiderweb-like PLN. I live in Springfield so I started searching Twitter for teachers using the service nearby through a service call Twello. I found Melinda Miller, an elementary principal in nearby Willard, MO. I started following her and checking her blog regularly. Through her, I found Scott. He and Miller run a blog and a podcast together called The Practical Principals. I’ll write more about them in the Twitter section.

Twittertwitter

If blogs are the main event, then Twitter is the exact opposite. When you’re at a conference, you spend most of your time socializing and browsing: snacking on Chex Mix, drinking mysterious hotel punch, and browsing tables of displays that other people like you have set up. Maybe you’ll exchange emails, web addresses, and chat about your classroom practices. Maybe you’ll end up collaborating on a project together in the future.

This casual open forum is like Twitter. This service is like walking into a giant ballroom full of people and eavesdropping on conversations as you walk through. When you someone posts a link, it is like one of those displays leading to more information you may or may not be interested in. The bottom line is that you are exposed to a great deal of people and materials very quickly in little snippets. Twitter is a social gateway for building longer conversations, it’s like browsing the internet and making bookmarks of people rather than sites.

I mentioned Scott and Melinda before in blogs. Twitter is different than a blog because of the length. Twitter is often referred to as “microblogging.” There you are limited to 140 characters to express your opinion, state your question, or reach out to someone. At the risk of sounding very 1996, I’ll liken Twitter to a chatroom, one that never ends though. The more you use it and the more people you follow, the larger and more powerful your PLN can become.

Plurk

icones_plurk

Lastly, I discovered Plurk through Paul Bogush. His blog was nearly named the “Best Education Blog of 2008” by the Weblog Awards. I found him on the awards page and started reading his work. I started following him on Twitter and saw that he linked to something called “Plurk” on his blog page as well. Being the curious person I am, I decided to check it out. At first, I thought that this service was a lot like Twitter, only newer and more strange. I started following Paul and his “plurkers,” as they’re called.

You see, Plurk isn’t open and microcosmic like Twitter, nor is it as large in structure and as singular as a blog. Plurk is like the part of a conference inbetween the casual browsing and the big group keynote speeches. The small groups or workshops on specific topics, that is what it is. You can participate in whichever ones you want and the people running the groups are usually very casual about it. Plurk has a character length like Twitter and resembles another form of the chatroom. The difference with Plurk is that conversations are grouped by the person publishing each comment.

Just like at a conference, with Plurk, your reputation counts for something. You earn Karma through your volume, regularity, and quality of comments. Plurk is a great place to go with a question for other teachers.

The Ghost in the Machine: Dialogue on the Influence of the Internet, Part 4

In Comedy, Nature, Philosophy, The Web on February 10, 2009 at 9:48 am

Posted by kylebaxter on February 9, 2009

I know you’ve waited on the edge of your seat, biting your nails, kicking yourself in the lower back, and slamming your head on a copy of the Encyclopedia Britannica (Volume Ca-De) in anticipation of this post!  It’s finally here!  Many thanks to Steve J. Moore for getting me involved in this.  If you have not already, go back and read parts 1-3.  You can find them on my blog by scrolling down on the main page.  Or, if you would like to see them in their original context, you can find:

Part 1, by Nathaniel Carroll, author of NonDeScript, by clicking HERE

Part 2, by Steve J. Moore, author of theSpigot, by clicking HERE

Part 3, by Ryan Burrell, author of In All Reality, by clicking HERE

Again, the question that started this discussion is , “Does the Internet reflect Humanity, or vice versa?”

There are many coherent arguments that support both sides.  I intend to examine them, and give you my final opinion, which is binding in a court of law in rural Mississippi.  I will break it down very easily for you, by noting whether the argument following is “Internet reflects Humanity” or “Humanity reflects Internet”.

Internet reflects Humanity–Everything I see on the Internet was once just a thought in some acne-scarred guy’s face.  For instance, one guy (Barry) wanted to find a way to communicate with a girl that doesn’t require face-to-face interaction, use of the phone, or stalking her like wild game.  He said to himself (speaking in DnD), “Overlord, it would be so much easier to tell a mortal girl you like her with words written in electronic rose petals, so they can be perfect.  Perhaps a sonnet for my elven queen.”  This has nothing to do with anything, but I imagine it goes something like this:

Ode to My Elven Queen

When I am in Chemistry class,
I think only of you, my lass.
Hair flowing gold like the rivers of Falcoren,
Your features glow, carefully elven.

Snow princesses may desire me,
But only your beauty inspires me.
I turn them away with my blade, hurriedly,
A sword cast from fine Dwarf metallurgy.

You’ve scorned Sir Jared from second period,
I’m spilling my emotions for you, a myriad.
No one else could show you how much you mean,
But to me, you’re at least a Level 17.

And this is how (and why) e-mail was invented.  This was a time-saver, because any girl could reply to (reject) Barry instantaneously, and print out the sonnets to make sure he was mocked all through high school.  The fact that it caught on was really a huge fluke.  This is simply another way of saying “the Internet is an expression of thoughts and information originally birthed inside a human brain”.  Therefore, the Internet reflects Reality.

Humanity reflects Internet–Even before the Internet, many writers and philosophers wondered if they were part of someone else’s outside program.  For instance, The Bard (I think I sound a lot more cultured when I refer to him by the vernacular) himself once wrote, “Dost mine existence weather verily to a computational regard?”  Given this, the Internet could very well have existed before mankind.  We just never thought to plug into it until the last 40 years, when Billy Mays was born.  Those may or may not be related.  However, therefore, Humanity reflects the Internet.

Internet reflects Humanity–Everything that is good or evil in the world is displayed on the Internet, without any stone unturned.  The depravity, sickness, and loneliness of man is apparent throughout the Internet (mostly on CNN.com), as well as man’s ingenuity, love, and creativity.  It’s all there for the world to see.  To prove my theory that every imaginable horrible thing is on the Internet, I threw random words together in my head, Googled it, and (first try) there it was . . . “Dawson’s Creek fanfiction”.  Certainly, my finding it was not a reflection of the Internet having it.  The Internet cannot create such things, nor would it want to if it had any sense.  You never know, though.  Maybe the Internet is still wanting to see Joey and Pacey back together after all these years.  I am glad I’m not the only one.  I digress.  Someone wrote that awful fanfiction (for the sake of my soul, I dared not read it, and I suggest you do the same) and placed it on the Internet to display his or her ideas to the world.  What I see on the Internet is a reflection of someone else–that is to say–Humanity.

Humanity reflects Internet–I am sure of this, if for no other reason than the sheer number of “Chocolate Rain” knock-offs.  When people saw something original on the Internet, their actions were a reflection of what they saw, ghastly as they may be.  I’ll give you the point that the Internet probably didn’t exist before mankind.  Since the year 15 A.B. (After Billy), Humanity has begun to mirror the Internet in every way.  It is commonplace to find people these days whose sole source of facts and information come from news websites, blogs, online tarot cards, etc.  Therefore, Humanity reflects the Internet.

In order to get a truly neutral opinion, I asked a good friend of mine.  His name is Louie, and of course, he is my cat.  I looked him square in the eye and asked him, “Louie, do you think the Internet reflects Humanity, or the other way around?”  He stood up, walked over to me, and proceeded to lick his posterior like it was Cheetos.  Animals communicate in primitive ways, you see.  As a trained and board certified “Cat Whisperer”, I will now translate:

“Why worry yourself with such a question?  Enjoy the simpler things in life, like opposable thumbs.  If I had such comforts, I would use toilet paper instead of my mouth.  I’ve been meaning to get that off my chest for some time now.  But because you are pure of heart and because you feed me, I will give you the answer to your question . . . in the form of a riddle.”

Always with the riddles, that cat.

I gave up on him and came upstairs to finish this post.  I’ll leave you with my final thoughts below.

Who knows?  Perhaps if man dies off some day, leaving only the Internet, it will achieve perpetuity.  *Cue “Twilight Zone” theme* Maybe it will begin to reflect itself (most likely through Dawson’s Creek fanfiction).

It seems like everyone else made a fancy graph.  I’m jealous.  If you turn your head sideways, squint really hard, cross your eyes, and pretend, then this looks just like a graph!

Oops, I forgot to tell you my final opinion (those of you in rural Mississippi, pay particularly close attention).  I don’t want to rehash it.  It’s the only statement in this entire post in Bold and Italics.

The Ghost in the Machine: Part 3

In Nature, Science Fiction, The Web on February 9, 2009 at 1:41 pm

by Ryan Burrell

This post is part of an ongoing collaborative conversation.  You can view Part 1 here, and Part 2 here.

Part 3

This discussion has so far covered some mathematic theory, and a histoy of life before the web.  Now, let’s examine the future in pursuit of our original line of inquiry: Does the Internet reflect Humanity or vice versa?

We’ve given our conversation the title of “The Ghost in the Machine“, because the subject matter deals with the duality of human experience – the mind reflecting the body, or the body reflecting the mind.   A series of anime movies based on the questions involved in the original thesis, entitled The Ghost in the Shell, were produced in 1995 and 2004. The series focuses on the question of delineation between man and machine (the films are quite excellent on a number of levels and I highly recommend renting them and experiencing their intellectual pathways firsthand).  In the movies, consciousness has expanded to encompass all information, begging the question: How do you define the difference between software and biology – thought and algorithm?

Such questions are highly appropriate for our lines of reasoning.  In The Ghost in the Shell, it was extremely common for people to have cyborg implants, called e-brains, as well as external memory devices where they could offload their thoughts, memories, and other information..  A physical body was no longer a necessary requirement for “life”, and one’s stored thoughts, ideas, and memories could be shuffled around from location to location, easily merging with other data types and being shared across networks…for good or evil.

An Extension of Humanity

In an extremely short time relative to the whole of human history, the Internet has impacted us all in ways we don’t even realize.  A completely new method of communication and interaction has been opened to us, and we’re just beginning to understand its potential.  Like the e-brains, wetware upgrades, and external storage units of The Ghost in the Shell, we have used the Internet to extend ourselves beyond our normal capacity, both literally and figuratively.

In a very real sense, the Internet has allowed us to extend our capacity to store our thoughts, memories, and even feelings.  Services like Evernote or Remember The Milk replace the string around the finger of past days, but bring also the capability of being accessed anytime from nearly any location.  Xanga, Blogger, WordPress, and any of the other myriad web logging services allow us to store snippets of time and ideas in a centralized location – yet still accessible freely by all.  Even applications like Twitter, that thrive on an endless stream of output about things as trivial as our moods, store all of their data as external records of our feelings at any given point in time.

We no longer have to rely on our long-term memory capabilities, but instead store them externally – outside of our physical selves.  These items of data, units of thought, and cubits of thinking have gained a permanence beyond what previous media (such as books and recordings) can offer. A book must be reprinted on physical materials, but a database can be duplicated a multitude of times and its information dispersed in the blink of an eye.  This metadata serves to make up a vast amount of what we’ve lovingly termed The Web, and obviously points to the Internet being a product of humanity’s contributions.

An Advancement of Humanity

But what about the idea of reciprocal change?  We have created a complex network of thoughts and ideas – a network rapidly becoming accessible to more and more of the world’s populace.  The data we contribute to it isn’t locked away, to be perused only when the fancy strikes us.  No, instead the vast majority of information stored on the open Web can be accessed by anyone…and that information can be a powerful force of change.  The Internet exists as an extension of our humanity, but it also serves as an agent of adaptation and movement.

Every conversation we have with another person, every book we read, every song we hear, every new idea we encounter, changes us in some way.  In daily life without the Web, a thousand new experiences may cross our path, both large and small.  Add in the ability of the Internet to spread information at an exponential rate, and its ability to change us is obvious.  We have created a perpetual motion device; we have created an engine that publishes our ideas and feeds new ones to us in one swift movement.

With the ease with which we can access such information, we change more rapidly.  New ideas can be traded more easily, and refinements made more quickly.  Trends can be communicated instantly, future predictions more readily available.  Our societal ideals and cultural influences, the very things that we feel make up each of our unique viewpoints…all of these can now feed off each other and adapt beyond any previously known speed or capability.

A Paradox

It is not the first time in human history that such a situation as what we are observing with the Internet has existed.  The construction of Roman roads led to an unprecedented spread of commerce and communication.  The printing press made efficient mass reproduction of thoughts a reality.  Television allowed not only a lightning-fast transference of ideas, but also the subtle visual cues that went along with them.

But at no other point in our history have we had the ability to communicate so openly, to save our ideas so easily, and to share information so quickly.  Ideas abound about the creation of a “global consciousness”, an interlinking of thoughts and ideas occurring at such a rate that a whole greater than the sum of its parts is created.  Perhaps this is a good thing, or perhaps it is not.  Yet, confusing though it may be, one thing is clear:  The Internet exists because we created it, but the Internet is creating the next great chapter of humanity.

Diana Saw Dr. Awkward Was an Aid.

In Comedy, Film, poem, poetry, Radio, The Web, TV on February 8, 2009 at 6:50 pm

So I’ve spent much of this weekend doing several things while my wife was out of town: finding new blogs and people to follow on twitter, watching TV, putting off writing assignments, and watching as much Demetri Martin as I could find on YouTube. If you are following me on Twitter (@stevejmoore), then you probably saw me sharing my excitement at Mr. Martin’s videos as I discovered them.

I had seen his work on Comedy Central, knew he wrote for Conan O’Brien for a while, and was a big fan of his flip-chart bit because of the part where he draws an empty circle and says, “this is a pie chart about procrastination.” That killed me.

I highly suggest that you check out his DVD, Demetri Martin, Person and his new show coming up this Wed. on Comedy Central as well. If Bill Gates was successful because he dropped out of Harvard, then Demetri is so because he dropped out of law school.

What stuck out to me most in his routine was the over 200-word palindrome

img_0310

Yes, I drew these all by myself

“Dammit I’m Mad”

by

Demetri Martin

Dammit I’m mad.
Evil is a deed as I live.
God, am I reviled? I rise, my bed on a sun, I melt.
To be not one man emanating is sad. I piss.
Alas, it is so late. Who stops to help?
Man, it is hot. I’m in it. I tell.
I am not a devil. I level “Mad Dog”.
Ah, say burning is, as a deified gulp,
In my halo of a mired rum tin.
I erase many men. Oh, to be man, a sin.
Is evil in a clam? In a trap?
No. It is open. On it I was stuck.
Rats peed on hope. Elsewhere dips a web.
Be still if I fill its ebb.
Ew, a spider… eh?
We sleep. Oh no!
Deep, stark cuts saw it in one position.
Part animal, can I live? Sin is a name.
Both, one… my names are in it.
Murder? I’m a fool.
A hymn I plug, deified as a sign in ruby ash,
A Goddam level I lived at.
On mail let it in. I’m it.
Oh, sit in ample hot spots. Oh wet!
A loss it is alas (sip). I’d assign it a name.
Name not one bottle minus an ode by me:
“Sir, I deliver. I’m a dog”
Evil is a deed as I live.
Dammit I’m mad.

Truly the work of a solitary genius. Off the top of my head, I only know a few palindromes beyond the title of this post (ah, did you catch it?), “madam, I’m adam,” and “racecar.” I certainly can’t imagine spending time trying to create an entire poem out of nothing but these reflexive devices; simply astonishing and awesome. I think his act, if you take a bit of time to watch it, says a lot about art. Martin was interviewed this week on NPR, which is what prompted me to find more of his material. He has a great narrative and is now an artist I respect very much. His stand-up explores more than jokes; he gets in so many digs about humanity, philosophy, and social idiosyncrasies, but does so with such loveable sophomoric snark, that you have to digest it all with a hearty chuckle.

Very funny, and I hope his new show will be too.

The Ghost in the Machine: Part 2

In Philosophy, The Web on February 4, 2009 at 11:26 pm

Part 1 was posted over on NonDeScript first,  Nathaniel Carroll’s budding blog based in Springfield (like me!). I suggest that you click on over there first to prime the conversational pump for this seemingly simple discussion. Below is my reflection.

  • What is then Internet?
  • How do we relate to it?
  • How does it relate to us?
  • Is the Internet “art”?

The Internet is a function of art and life times expression.

I=ƒ(a,l)e

So, if we look at the events that are taking place in people’s lives around the globe each day, they exist either as art or not based on opinions, evaluations, and judgments. If we decide that “life” is a general term for every event that takes place in or outside of our awareness, then it operates as a separate coefficient from “art.”

Am I starting to bore you yet? Maths and art? There will be graphs soon, I promise.

Expression can give either negative or positive effect upon the function as a whole, but in order for the identity to be defined, it is required. The Internet cannot exist without “expression” in some form.

I won’t even attempt to ask why “we” exist, but I’d like to know how we exist and function in relation to “I”, the internet. If “P” stands for people, then people are a function of their experiences and other people.

P=ƒ(x, p2)

So, if we examine a person or a group of people’s experiences, then it goes without saying that people besides the said person or group will have an influence upon him or her (notwithstanding the desert island scenario).

Graph Time!

maths2

As the above graph illustrates, the functions I and P are integrated, highlighting the importance and interrelatedness of the identities. Ok, so maybe it’s just a nonsense graph I drew on some newspaper, but as Carroll pointed out in his post, the Internet is inextricably connected to our lives today.

Maybe I’ll follow this mathematical tangent a while longer (oh, the puns, they hurt me). If you’ve ever been in the 4th grade, then there’s a good chance that your teacher read to you, as mine did to me, Madeline L’Enengle’s masterpiece A Wrinkle In Time. If not, head to your local library, check it out, and spend a few hours in a coffee shop alone with it.

A “tesseract” is what the characters in the book use to travel through dimensions and time. In math a tesseract is, basically, a cube inside another cube that is also connected. It is  a shape that represents another direction, another dimension of existence. That sounds very philosophical, but it just means lines that extend from the same points into different places.

Before I continue–rather, before I can continue letting you suffer through this math read, I need to make a qualification.

“For me, math is like this: An attractive lady that I never have a chance of actually dating, but with whom I enjoy flirting very much.

Ok, thanks. Now I’ll go on. So if the Internet (which I have to keep reminding myself is a capitalized proper noun) is a function connected to people, then it is like a tesseract; the Internet is a cube inside of another cube that is not floating, but is connected.

Here’s where things get interesting. You can tell from the picture below that this tesseract shape is fairly easy to conceive. It kinda looks like a sugar cube or, if you’re a chemist, maybe some compound’s crystalline structure.

tesseract

With the exception of all the little greek symbols which I know nothing about, the sape is not a strange escher-esque, floating, mobiüs strip type thing. It’s just a cube inside another cube. Maybe the internet is like this…Maybe the cyberworld, which obviously exists within the human world is just a reflection of the human world.

Math people, you know what’s coming most likely, but regular folks (myself included) prepare to change your pants.

how does it do that?!!?

how does it do that?!!?

Which cube is which? What is the cyber world and what is human? Is the Governor of California going to come out of this cube like a Magic Eye picture if I stare too long?!

The tesseract changes when it is rotated; both cubes stay completely intact, but their positions become interchageable. This is the conclusion that I draw about the relationship of people to the Internet; they are reflexive of one another. They are coefficients of the same variable.

The Ghost in the Machine: Dialogue on the Influence of the Internet

In Nature, Philosophy, The Web on February 4, 2009 at 3:14 pm

This post is from Nathaniel Carroll’s blog “NonDeScript” and is a collaborative conversation. If you have another blog and would like to join in let us know!

“Life imitates art far more than art imitates Life.” – Oscar Wilde

This week, an e-friend of mine, Steve J. Moore, proposed an interesting question: Does the Internet reflect Humanity or vice versa? To start the discussion, we will take a look at life before Internet. Then, we will examine the life after Internet and its impact on the individual.

Information is power
Nikola Tesla began tinkering with the wireless transmission of information in 1891. The first television broadcasts were transmitted in 1928 to mechanical tv sets with horrible picture quality. In the mid thirties to the beginning of the forties, mechanical sets were commercially available for home use, but production soon stopped as manufacturing efforts became focused on World War II. After the war, the technological boom began to pick up speed again. The first full-color set came in 1954 and cost $1,000.  Today, one thousand bucks buys you a 50″ flat screen tv like this.

Figure 1.1

Figure 1.1

There seems to be an inverse correlation between the availability of information and its value (see Figure 1.1).  In other words, the easier accessing information becomes, the less we are willing to pay for it.  To learn more about this correlation, read Thomas L. Friedman’s book, The World is Flat.  The expansive virtual bank of knowledge has made the world seem much smaller.  Thanks to Mobile 2.0, we expect information to be readily available to us at all times, to the extent that even email is considered an inferior form of communication.  I drew Figure 1.1, photographed it with my phone, sent it to my email address, and uploaded it to the blog in less than one minute.  We want information now, and we want it to be free.

The Shape of (Human) Things
I am twenty three years old.  My first vivid memory involves my father busily working on a thesis under the blue glow of a Tandy 1000 computer screen, my curious finger, and a large red reset button (I’ll post the whole story sometime).  The internet, in a relatively archaic form, already existed.  But even in my youth, when I wanted information for an Earth Science research paper on volcanoes I made photocopies of encyclopedia entries in the school library.  The card catalog was not computerized until I was in high school.  Back in my day, you had to be patient – you had to wait for information to come to you.  Back in my day, you had to be dilligent – you had to spend countless hours scouring tiny print and irrelevant factoids in search of answers.  Back in my day, you had to respect the information you sought.

Today, the quality of content published on the internet spreads from precise, powerful information to pure unsolicited crap.  Because the good stuff can be accessed through the same medium as the bad, it has to be free and effortless.

With regard to the value we assign information, I say that Internet reflects Humanity.  Internet – 1, Humanity – 0.