Discover more from GOOD INTERNET
Frozen Werewolves and vintage Hummingbirds
Goodlinks 2023-10-28: Amiga ASCII / Open Bandcamp / Talking Robot Dogs / Lisa Frankenstein / Werewolf-Physics / The Paradox of Free Will / Range of Mental Imagery / Turn NFT into Vegetables and more
In this roundup, you'll find an interactive monograph of Humming-Birds, ASCII-art in the Amiga warez scene, Soundscapes of electromagnetic radiation, a poetry-mod for GTA, a talking robot tour guide by Boston Dynamics, NFT Refresh which turns worthless JPGs into vegetables, the threshold for unrecoverable network effects on X, the Paradox of Free Will, the true range of mental imagery, a paper asking if we crossed the solar power tipping point, why horror films are Hollywood's best investment, Trailers for Lisa Frankenstein, Fungi: Web of Life, Leave the World behind and more, the physics of werewolf-transformations, Open Bandcamp alternatives, and much much more.
Enjoy and have a nice weekend!
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I remember blogging about the dataviz-illustration of Nicholas Rougeux in the past, but i somehow lost track and just stumbled upon his wonderful new interactive website featuring a monograph of the Trochilidæ, or family of Humming-Birds, which is based on "a magnificent work of ornithological art and science that was published in six volumes between 1848 and 1887." Rougeux also made an interactive exploration of Goethes Color Theory, a visualization of prime numbers with basic geometric shapes and a brief visual exploration of a Dictionary of Typography.
On my old blog, years ago, i wrote about his Illustrations of the Natural Orders of Plants, the Shakespeare sonnet signatures and the fantastic reproduction of Euclid’s Elements by Oliver Byrne from 1847. Great stuff all around.
Great bachelor's thesis about ASCII-art in the Amiga warez scene in the late 80s and early 90s: "The Amiga scene is a subculture of computer enthusiasts that was popular in the 1990s. At its core are the logos and other visual materials created for BBS systems and the competitive rivalry among artists who create text art over their image-making prowess."
The New Yorker reviews Bill Watterson’s The Mysteries and it sounds pretty intriguing: "Enchantment! If disenchantment is the loss of myth and illusion in our lives, then what is the chant that calls those essentials back? An ongoing enchantment is at the heart of Calvin and Hobbes. It’s at the heart of Don Quixote and Peter Pan, too. These are stories about difficult and not infrequently destructive characters who are lost in their own worlds. At the same time, these characters embody most of what is good: the gifts of play, of the inner life, of imagining something other than what is there. If The Mysteries is a fable, then its moral might be that, when we believe we’ve understood the mysteries, we are misunderstanding; when we think we’ve solved them and have moved on, that error can be our dissolution."
RWM MK1 – Soundscapes of electromagnetic radiation: "the RWM MK1 (Radio Wave Modulator Mark 1) is an experimental electronic synthesizer that captures and transforms the constant stream of radio waves and transmissions passing through Earth’s atmosphere. This instrument interacts with terrestrial and cosmic electromagnetic radiation (visible and infrared light, x-rays), allowing for the listening of distant echoes from the edges of the universe." As a kid, i used to record the weird radio signals from FM-band on tape and tried to make some weird stuff with it. If i'd kept on this path, maybe i would've become an experimental sound artist like this guy:
The Black Gold Tapestry: "Sandra M Sawatzky has made a 21st century work of art relating the saga of oil, global societal change, and energy transition through the power and beauty of 67 metres of hand embroidery."
SanAndreas.txt is a GTA V-mod which allows players to write messages all over the map, a media-art-piece by 2girls1comp playing with collective poetry inside the game. 404 spoke to Marco De Mutiis and Alexandra Pfammatter who founded the modding-art-collective.
Boston Dynamics created a chatting robot tour guide with their Spot-robot, ChatGPT for text-generation and Elevenlabs for speech output, Blip for computer vision and Whisper for audio transcription to parse the speech of visitors. Here's a blog post with more technical details.
LLMs have no theory of mind, and i don't need a benchmark for this because an LLM has no idea what a mind is. Even producing a benchmark for that seems like anthropomorphizing to me.
The WaPo profiles ScaleAI, which "scored a $249 million contract last year to provide a range of AI tech to the Department of Defense". With all the hype surrounding generative AI, we shouldn't loose sight on AI-tech that will survive the bubble and keep on growing.
Cool idea by german supermarket Kaufland: NFT Refresh let's you exchange worthless JPGs of bored apes into coupons for fresh fruits and vegetables, turning the supposedly nonfungible database entries on their heads. I usually don't link to marketing stuff, but this is clever and flips the bird towards crypto crap, which is always a plus.
The finalists in RunwayMLs AI-cinema shortfilm competition have been announced and you can vote for them until monday. Here's Niceaunties How I Got Here:
In this WSJ piece on X’s Tumultuous First Year Under Elon Musk, you'll find the only chart you need to see regarding TwiX future.
I'm not sure where's the threshold for unrecoverable network effects, but near-20% for a large scale network like TwiX looks very damning to me, and i know that once a network crosses that threshold, it never comes back.
So here's my Mastodon: https://sigmoid.social/@rawx
and here's my Bluesky: https://bsky.app/profile/rawx.bsky.social.
A new report identifies 7 accounts, dubed the ‘new elites’ of X: Identifying the most influential accounts engaged in Hamas/Israel discourse, and "the report found these users racked up 1.6 billion views on the platform in the first three days of the conflict, making them far more influential than traditional news outlets including the New York Times, CNN, and the BBC. Many of the accounts have been promoted by Elon Musk in the past."
This report is not about desinformation but the structure of the new media environment, and while this does remind of the 2021 study which found that just 12 people were behind most caccine hoaxes during the corona pandemic, this more reminds me of the work of Jen Schradie who found that online discourse is everything but egalitarian, dominated by elite perspectives and strengthens existing hierarchies aswell as building up new ones.
I'd love to see such a report on the environment of news channels on Tiktok, because numbers show that younger people more and more get their news from influencers on that platform, and my bet is that this too is a pretty small circle of superspreaders with the power to set agendas.
The internet turns out not to be the egalitarian force for good envisioned by my generation of net activism, and the result of the inherent attention economic incentives on a global network seem to be even stronger hierarchies, fostering homogenic, partisan viewpoints. And that's bad.
Related: On social media, the ‘fog of war’ is a feature, not a bug: "it’s a symptom of large-scale social media, period."
Related: Posting About Israel and Palestine Is Not a Moral Obligation: "I Don’t Have to Post About My Outrage. Neither Do You."
This is right, but is it though? If you're very online and your feeds are full of opinions about all sorts of things, including events of world history and hot topics on which you always have an opinion, and the economic incentive of the media environment is attention from your peers, then maybe you "have to" post your opinion, including outrage, to be a part of the social network of your peers. Maybe you don't need to post about everything, but the incentives are clear that it's better when you do.
So, while this may be true and we should adapt to social media by "letting some things go without engaging", it's easier said than done.
And then partisans tell you that if you don't speak out about the Israel-Hamas conflict, on which i have a pretty partisan but underinformed opinion, you have "blood on your hands". Good luck not posting it.
The future of the web is open, modular, federated and community owned: POSSE: a better way to post on social networks: "POSSE: Publish (on your) Own Site, Syndicate Everywhere (...) In a POSSE world, everybody owns a domain name, and everybody has a blog (...) When you want to post something, you do it to your blog. Then, your long blog post might be broken into chunks and posted as a thread on X and Mastodon and Threads. The whole thing might go to your Medium page and your Tumblr and your LinkedIn profile, too. If you post a photo, it might go straight to Instagram, and a vertical video would whoosh straight to TikTok, Reels, and Shorts. Your post appears natively on all of those platforms, typically with some kind of link back to your blog. And your blog becomes the hub for everything, your main home on the internet."
The World’s Most Popular Painter Sent His Followers After Me Because He Didn’t Like a Review of His Work. Devon Rodriguez' is a mediocre artist drawing people on the subway. His technical style is good, but unremarkable, and his motifs are fluff. Ofcourse he is the most popular artist and ofcourse a bad review turns into a culture war, because this is the internet in which the loudest craphead wins.
The case for polycrisis as a keyword of our interconnected times and A case for the polycrisis, explained. The word polycrisis seems appropriate for the climate crisis which also has been termed a hyperobject, an entity which's complexity reaches beyond the limits of what a single human can grasp.
Though polycrisis seems to be used to describe more or less the shitty times we live in, with wars and mental health crisis and corona pandemics and me getting annoyed by the eating sounds of my roommate, i think all of these are short term lasting a few years or a decade at max. But climate is a different beast here and it will determine our politics for the next hundred years at least — the mother of all crisis', if you will.
But also, the world may have crossed solar power 'tipping point': "solar PV (photovoltaics) is likely to become the dominant power source before 2050 -- even without support from more ambitious climate policies. However, (the study) warns four 'barriers' could hamper this: creation of stable power grids, financing solar in developing economies, capacity of supply chains, and political resistance from regions that lose jobs." Here's the paper: The momentum of the solar energy transition.
I don't give two cents on the catholic church, but i respect and appreciate that the pope is pushing climate change on its agenda. Well... at least he tries: The Pope Leads 1.4 Billion Catholics. Getting Them to Care About the Climate Is Harder Than He Thought.
Robert Sapolsky has a new book on Free Will and is interviewed in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times and Michael Shermer on Youtube. More interesting maybe is this piece by Dan Shipper on Every: You Have No Choice But to Read This. The gist of all of these is that, yes, free will doesn't exist but the universe and everything you do is determined.
My take is that free will clearly does exist, and it is proven by every single decision you make, every day. It's not even an illusion, because illusions can be proven to not exist. But the determining algorithm driving the universe and our decisions is beyond our reach, can not be observed because of the limit of the planck length and the uncertainty principle of quantum physics. The determination of the universe and our decisions can only observed by the simulator, by god, by the higher dimensional beings, or whatever, but not by us.
And because free will is a psychological truth every human observes in their lives in every minute, it is 100% true, because we can't physically go beyond those limits of knowledge. This paradox in perception, that free will is true albeit scientifically disproven, while the absence of free will actually is a matter of belief because we can't observe the determination of our universe, is why this debate is so interesting and futile at the same time.
Fascinating article about the true range of mental imagery, from aphantasia (the absence of mental imagery) to hyperphantasia (photorealistic mental imagery).
I have a pretty vivid mental imagery which is somewhat clear, but the article also differentiates between projectors, who "perceive their mental image as somehow superimposed onto their visual experience" and associators, who "do not 'see' mental images" and "describe their mental image as being somewhere else, 'off-screen', 'inside', or even 'behind their head'".
It's not clear to me what it means when projectors "'see' mental images". If they can controll hallucinations then they see them, no quotes necessary — if you take out the photon-hit on the retina. If they can't control hallucinations, then the mental images are "somewhere else" and they are associators.
I think I'm an associator: I can clearly imagine a gnome sitting on my laptop while writing these lines walking along the screen, it's a nice miniature garden gnome with a red hat and a beard, but i can't see it — it’s somewhere else. But if i could see it, that'd be a hallucination. Are there people out there who can produce visual hallucinations at will? Because i want some of their drugs.
Terror Vision Records released the soundtrack for Toxic Avenger 2 & 3 on "colored vinyl with liner notes from composer Chris DeMarco, and adorned with original artwork and photographic stills from the Troma vault along with a booklet accommodating an in-depth Q&A session with Claire actress and musical artist Phoebe Legere".
The Beatles: ‘final’ song Now and Then to be released thanks to AI technology: "Now and Then, the long-awaited 'final' Beatles song featuring all four members, is to be released next week thanks to the same AI technology that was used to enhance the audio on Peter Jackson’s documentary Get Back."
This is just sweet: Kurt Cobain’s Daughter Marries Tony Hawk’s Son.
RIP Richard "Shaft" Roundtree. Haven’t seen the Shaft-trilogy in a long while now, time for a rewatch.
Red Letter Media released their annual Best of the Worst: Halloween 2023-edition: "This year, the gang has gathered their most pathetic line up of haunted items yet. It's Tim Ritter's Killing Spree, Night of the Demon, and Vampire Riders". I have not seen Killing Spree yet, and Night of the Demon is a real stinker, and i've never heard of Vampire Riderz.
Here's another segment of Fungi: Web of Life in which “Björk explains how a fungal spore becomes a mycelial network“, and here's Björk explaining how fungi are able to digest wood. Merlin Sheldrake btw is the son of Rupert Sheldrake, whom you might know from his theories about cosmopsychism and who published papers about the consciousness of the sun. Many think he's a quack but i find at least some bits of his theories, albeit being unprovable, pretty compelling, and if only for interesting scifi stuff. It makes sense to see Björk narrate a movie about shrooms by the son of a guy who thinks the sun is conscious.
Pretty good piece on Why Horror Films are Hollywood's Best Investment: A Statistical Analysis.
Lisa Frankenstein has some cool Rocky Horror-feel going on and i love what i see here:
Pitchfork writing about the Bandcamp situation: "a de facto monopoly, Bandcamp is too entrenched, too central to the business of independent music in the 2020s. For that very reason, we desperately need a host of competitors, a vibrant ecosystem to diversify the market and encourage innovations that will improve the current situation for artists, labels, and fans alike."
So, you want to make a Bandcamp. There's already a ton of open, decentralized alternatives like Funkwhale or Faircamp or blamscamp. These are, like a lot of fediverse stuff, clunky, unsexy and complicated, so they will not go anywhere in this iteration. But this doesn't mean this won't improve. Maybe, if Bandcamp goes down, it's a good thing to get more devs and designers involved to work and build the alternatives we want, so shitty marketing firms can't just buy the quasi monopolist for indie music and ruin everything you love.
RIP Bobi, the world's oldest dog ever. He was 31, which is an incredible 273 in dogyears, and i'm sure he was a good boy.
Collections of Sliding Rulers. I may have mentioned it before, i have a knack for units of measurement. And i have a knack for stationary and office supply. And i'm a nerd. So collections of sliding rulers are a thing i can stare at for extended amounts of time.
Nothing says more about the dawn of this new age than a rotting, abandoned giant offset printing machine at a dead newspaper.
Neal.funs Internet Artifacts, a museum of vintage internet tech and webcultural milestones.
A hilarious thread about what would actually happen if a human transformed into a werewolf:
our poor lycanthrope’s body would demand 119,477,094,400 joules over 3 minutes, or ≈ a billion joules per second. Importantly, this is an ENDOTHERMIC reaction, requiring external heat. David Naughton was pretty hot in 1981, but still only around 37°C using scientific measures. That’s not nearly enough to fuel his unholy metamorphosis. His body heat would run out pretty quickly and then the evil curse would demand an additional -527,727°C (...) his body would hit absolute zero at -273.15°C and begin to draw heat from the environment around him (...)
The transformation would immediately send a thermal shock wave of cold to the surrounding area. The air would liquefy, then solidify, and any nearby water or moisture would freeze. Materials would crack and shatter. The population of the city would of course freeze to death (...)
The shock wave would extend out 86 miles in diameter, subsuming a sphere that would enclose most of London. The dead zone would extend to the upper atmosphere. Surrounding air and the jetstream would be deeply disturbed, upsetting global weather patterns. The cold would turn the underlying landmass into permafrost, its radius reaching deep into the silicates of the earth’s crust, almost to the mantle (...)
The wolf at the center, meanwhile, would be frozen solid in place, unable to slake its horrible horrible bloodlust, or think, or even sense any of this for lack of molecular vibration. Heat dispersal from the areas outside the dead zone would take much, much longer than the 29.5 days of the lunar cycle to return any of it to its former livable temperature, so it would never warm back up again, refreshing its supernatural 'freon' every full moon."
Now you know.