Archives for category: photo

A few years ago while I was at the University of Chicago, I was walking home in Hyde Park when I saw a cat approaching me from an alley. At least I thought it was a cat. As it got bigger and bigger and bigger, I began to think “that’s a funny looking cat… wait a sec…??!!” And with that I got out of the way (and thankfully wasn’t shiv’d) by a huge South-Side raccoon.

Since I’ve been here at Cornell, I’ve run into lots of fauna — deer, rabbits, woodpeckers —but nothing to topped the raccoon-run in… until last night. So walking home from giving a final exam, I ran across another “funny looking cat…”

[Cornell Skunk 1][Cornell Skunk 2][Skunk 3]

I think we both were scared of each other. Luckily, Skunks reserve their spray for bigger threats than the likes of me.

Still realizing what was in front of me when I was less than four feet away from it caused me to jump out of the way and literally say “I’m sorry… I’m sorry” while it was hissing at me. Thankfully, it accepted my apology and let me snap these pictures.

[Sony Guy featured at Unplugged]Unplugged ran this photo yesterday with the following text:

One rad dude with his late 80’s tech toys. The only thing we’d imagine using amongst his array of electronics is the calculator; fascinating to note these all were ubiquitous items in households not too long ago, but have been mostly phased out with the march of time.

What the comment misses is that the vast majority of these devices (video cameras, video recorders, audio editing, calculators, portable audio, portable video, …) haven’t been phased out, just transformed. For example, VHS tapes are on the way out, but video recording and replay continues. What it also misses is that if the photo was taken today, it might look something like this:

The vast majority of those device functions (video recording, video replay, camera, video camera, portable audio, calculation) are available on most smart phones. This is one of the most revolutionary aspects of new digital technologies. Not only do they compress (and sometimes expand) time and space, but the move to digital allows devices to “fold” into each other.

Once information is reduced into 0’s and 1’s, as long as your device (phone, computer, tablet, you-name-it) can run a program that can manipulate those digits without destroying their relations (the overall structure of the file), then you can add on whatever playback and editing features you want.

(thanks to frankie14850 for this amazing photo of my talk)

Last night’s Ithaca Ignite was a great success. It was pretty much standing space only in Pixel. In no particular order, here are some things  I learned, in no order, from both giving my presentation and the other presenters:

  • 15 seconds is far longer than one might expect.
    I’m not sure if the deck that I was practicing with was set to transition too quickly, but when I started to present it felt like the transitions took forever. What made that a little rough was that I had really worked to cut any extraneous information out of the talk, so suddenly adding it back in on the fly was a little rough. It seemed like a bunch of the other presenters experienced this too.
  • “Mathematicians like work with the anti-matter balls, but jugglers don’t like juggling them.”
    That pearl of wisdom was part of a Allen Knutson‘s presentation on his research on mathematic formulations of juggling — a presentation he performed while juggling.
  • There are incredible swap & barter fairs that take place in Ithaca.
    Shira Golding presented the extremely cool Share Thompkins project.
  • The reason that a wine smells like a rose or tastes like lychee is because it has the exact same chemical properties as lychee and rose!
    Tom Mansell, who maintains the Ithacork blog, talked about what makes wine so good from a chemists point of view
  • The Fibonacci Sequence can be found in the layout of seeds in a sunflower.
    Matteo Wyllyamz completely blew my mind with that one.
  • Never be the presenter to following up someone talking about sandwiches!
    Though he said he’d never given a Powerpoint presentation, Dave Cameron kicked things off with an amazing presentation on his favorite topic: sandwiches (he runs the Eating Ithaca Blog).  He passionate, the presentation really funny, AND he a showed us how to make an OMFG! Grilled Cheese Sandwich (which included cooking it in bacon fat). And who had to follow that tough act? Me (of course).

And that’s just a sampling of the lessons from the event. I didn’t even touch on some of the other talks like 3D home printers, fusion of science and theatre, and Ithaca’s Tiny Town Times. You can see the full list of presenters here and the videos of the talks should be up soon.

The organizers, Cresten Mansfeldt (who did a fantastic slide karaoke on what happens when you return a Carshare Car late), Jonas Neubert, and Dave Cameron for pulling this all together. It was a great event. And they promised that there will be another Ignite in the fall.

If you’re interested in seeing what I presented in the meantime, here’s a copy of my presentation (PDF 2 Slide up Version)

Grand Theft FaustJoin us tonight at Pixel for the first ever Ithaca Ignite and see if I can only talk for five minutes about how the story of Faust fits into file sharing at the dawn of the print age.

Electronic Lecturing

On Thursday I was a presented on the future of eReaders (like the Kindle) at O’Rielly’s online Tools of Change conference. It was a bit of an odd experience. While the talk was to an audience of over 230 people, I never saw a single one of them (or heard them for that matter). I gave the talk from a study room in Cornell’s Mann library, using Webex software to show my slides and talking to the audience via a cell phone connection (and a bluetooth headset). The only reference to attendance was a participant counter in the Webex interface.

It’s more than a little jarring to have no immediate feedback (semiotic backchannels) like body language, facial expressions, or other forms of crowd engagement while speaking. I could have tried following the participant chat while I talked, but I worried that I’d get to distracted. On the plus side, I was able to play the “aging hipster”, presenting in jeans and representing RIT Taga with one of their awesome silkscreened shirts.

I did get a copy of the chat log (my favorite response was “Cultural Anthropology is the new Black.”) And there are a few summaries of my talk floating around. And for those in the audience who stumbled across this blog, over the next few days I’ll be posting short essays on what I discussed both here and at the OPL‘s site.