So Alpha is live and I tried to ask the obvious question about the meaning of the universe. I guess not bad, I asked it for rule 30 (cellular automaton speak from Wolfram’s book) and got something pretty, but then I asked it about form versus function and love versus hate and the wheels fell off.
Asides aside. I’ve always been a fan of Wolfram and his quirky plans and yes, you should watch this demo of alpha no matter who you are (though its more about the promise than the actuality unless you’re interested in exactly what he demos). One step closer to turning everyone into a visualization and information geek.
Now think about how this could be used as raw material for a richer experience. This is one way we can start to flatten that exponential curve that we’ve started to see in the amount of information (and noise) in the world. Of course it might just be another example of an math weenie trying to make a product that normal people will not use…. But the core idea of weaving information together that is “computable” and helping you see it is a good one. Somehow this whole ramble also reminds me of a wonderful documentary I saw recently on WQED about inner-city kids learning how math could be a gateway to understanding our world, it was called “It All Adds Up” and I can’t for the life of me find anything but this passing reference to it online. Maybe Alpha will tell me Monday.
I remember how my sister had a really hard time growing up with math until she decided it was bullshit that she didn’t know how we as a society could be so bad at teaching it and learning it. She went back to school and learned math through the joys of a graphing calculator. It let her see how things worked and she experimented and tinkered and played and suddenly a whole world opened up to her. She now teaches math and science to grammar school kids.
1. Just love Imogene Heap, even when she’s just experimenting. Hint? Just start it going in another tab of your browser and move on.
3. NYT’s does photos proud with their new photo site. In fact, if you followed my earlier advice (never a good sign) you’ll have Imogene playing in the background as you let the photographs wash over your visual cortex.
5. The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet by Reif Larsen really kills me. The story of a 12 year old Montana boy who draws and maps everything (from real world places to ways things work) in the margins of his travelogue as he runs away from home to find his fame as the invited guest of the Smithsonian. Buy it. Related.
Brands that will disappear in the next year…
Swine flu hype visualization… Although I’m glad he did this little hypecast to take advantage of the hype to say something important, I’m bummed out that it was so basic and sorta lame. I alpha’d it and got different results too (mostly because the stats on tuberculosis in alpha are from 2004). Makes me think there should be a more programmatic way to divert hype into useful conversations. By the way “Alpha’d it?” Not gonna work I don’t think. Do people think of verbing when they come up with these names? “I wolframed it?”, “I gapmindered it?” Come on boys get with the program! I propose squint. “I squinted at it and saw more details.” See how I did that? You thought this was an item about swine flu but its really about the much more important topic of verbing.
Sorry I’m late. I think the making of stuff may be more interesting than the actual film.
Luckily snark has finally found its calling… though I’m waiting for four wolves.
We’re kinda a gang… if you’ve got an iPhone and like clever quotes from artists, engineers, scientists, thinkers, and doers… you might like the MAYA Card deck… now as an iPhone application. This is just V1.0 as an experiment so please excuse the crunchiness.
Plus… A few months ago we entered a few items in 365: AIGA’s annual design competition. This year AIGA received more than 3,800 entries; of the entries jurors selected only 182 examples of outstanding design produced in 2008. I’m pleased to announce that MAYA Design’s Information Architecture Video Series was selected.
The jury’s selections will be on public exhibition at the AIGA National Design Center in New York in 2009, will be added to the AIGA Design Archives at the Denver Art Museum, published in AIGA’s annual 365 publication and on display at http://designarchives.aiga.org.