It's bullshit and it's bad for ya!

Or: it's bad for ya and it's bullshit! Thus the Class Clown's regular refrain during his performance here in Tallahassee at Ruby Diamond back in January, which I got to see thanks to a Christmas present from my wife, Nancy.

And now he's gone. The Hippy Dippy Weatherman, the evil Cardinal, the Fillmore bus--is now finding out for sure when and if Jesus will bring the pork chops.

In the 70s I loved his iconoclasm, his potty and drug humor (which was a cut above his closest competitors Cheech y Chong), his clever wordplay. The quintessential hippie smartass. He was such a close observer of the little, strange things we do. And never afraid to call bullshit on our most hallowed, but empty, cultural practices.

RIP, George. Thanks for all of it.

(And is it not a somewhat obscene sign of our times to see all those Parental Advisory Stickers on his album covers? Not so in my day, Kimosabe!)


Undercephalopods and Anthropohubris

The talks and videos from TED are almost always astonishing, revelatory, entertaining, and thought-provoking. So far most of the ones I've seen related to technological developments, but now there's this video sent to me by my dear friend and fellow oceanophile Kari Foster. Don't miss the end!

Several things come to mind upon viewing this. First, as the speaker points out, our knowledge of this earth is still quite limited. And yet our hubris is such that we continue to destroy things we're not even aware of--and believe that humanity is the pinnacle of evolution and is thus justified in doing so. We're often quite like apes in the Louvre, aren't we?

Second, what awesome complexities and adaptations arise over time! And how odd that people seem to need to invent a supernatural explanation for something so simple as spontaneous mutation going through the filter of survivability. Again it seems an example of human hubris; it's just not easy to imagine millions upon millions of years shaping short-lived organisms, so a deity must be invented. The Anthropocentric Fallacy strikes again (this time, in the form of a god in whose image we must have been created).


Pointy-Headed Intellectuals

Judith Shapiro posts a good essay on the sad state of intellectual life in America, based in part on a recent book by Susan Jacoby called The Age of American Unreason. (If you get bored in mid-read, well, Q.E.D.)

The reader comments are equally enlightening. I especially liked the one that calls for more emphasis on outreach by academics.

And now, back to American Idol.


Is Web.3D Here?

Project4Well I'll be. Those Six Dollar Burgers must've been put to good use. There's a new plugin called ExitReality that turns *any* web site into a customizable 3-d social space. Pilot websites include Hardee's and Carl's Jr., as described here.

Before you get all snooty about burger joints and cheesy avatars, think about it. All websites can now be VR grids with this tool. We've smelled this coming for some time, eh?

If you have the plugin installed and click the "Launch in 3D" button on this page, you'll see a view much like this screenshot. Default page extrusions include a scrolling window, images and hyperlinks floating above the floor, and a glossy grey studio look. I modified mine with different textures and of course added a few animated fish.

MySpace users get a default template that looks a lot like a hip club, with the user's profile pic prominently displayed and doors leading to their friends' spaces. Profile owners can change the whole building theme, swap out a different sky, and insert/edit objects like sofas and photo frames.

What's more, it looks like they've created a default view for Flickr sets that resembles an art gallery, as shown in this screenshot.

As of now this thing only runs in Windows, but think of it as a proof of concept. It's based on VRML, the virtual reality modeling language that has been around for over a decade (I initiated the "virtual prison cell" VRML page at Fla. Department of Corrections when I was their webmaster circa 1996).

This is surely the first of many web.3d tools.....



Well, this is an interesting phenom, and the fact that it's got a wikipedia page and has been written up in the Chronicle may mean it's already been coopted, but I like the concept. Basically reacting to the corporatization and cooptation of Web2.0 tech by companies like Blackboard; reminds me of the way I felt when Microsoft finally "got" the web and then killed half its promise by burying Netscape with MS Aieee.

There are already plenty of counterrevolutionary commentators, some of whom make the good point that Edupunk is not for everyone and will not really appeal to the folks who want a simple package of solutions. And there will no doubt be overextension of the metaphor, along with orthodoxy battles. Brings to mind the value of Queer Theory, which I posted about earlier.

I was not an original punk (though I just saw X play last Friday night and loved them :) but I think I'll be edupunkish, for a while anyway. Fits.

Tag Galaxy

tag galaxy 5.pngFirst there were tag clouds, then the Flickr Related Tag browser, now this: 3-D concept mapping. It's not a sophisticated implementation and it only works with Flickr tags--but consider the possibilities.

Here, browsing a few eco-tags shows an expected visual and anthropocentric bias. Wouldn't it be great to get this kind of output from a tool like Crawdad?