Category Archives: nrrrd

The first step is admitting you have a problem.

For proof that these bundled minor virtues don’t amount to freedom but are, instead, a formula for a period of mounting frenzy climaxing with a lapse into fatigue, consider that “Where do you want to go today?” was really manipulative advice, not an open question. “Go somewhere now,” it strongly recommended, then go somewhere else tomorrow, but always go, go, go—and with our help. But did any rebel reply, “Nowhere. I like it fine right here”? Did anyone boldly ask, “What business is it of yours?” Was anyone brave enough to say, “Frankly, I want to go back to bed”?

Maybe a few of us. Not enough of us. Everyone else was going places, it seemed, and either we started going places, too—especially to those places that weren’t places (another word they’d redefined) but were just pictures or documents or videos or boxes on screens where strangers conversed by typing—or else we’d be nowhere (a location once known as “here”) doing nothing (an activity formerly labeled “living”). What a waste this would be. What a waste of our new freedom.

The Autumn of the Multitaskers

[via Dad]

It took me ~4 hours to read this article because I was simultaneously working, chatting, listening to & downloading music, sorting through 50+ firefox tabs, emailing, eating. I multitask compulsively, and I’ve been doing it since at least middle school, when my brain was particularly vulnerable. These days I have to remind myself to go to bed and to eat breakfast (not that I was ever particularly good at those things), as checking email (which of course leads to web surfage) is so much more natural for me.

The only good news is that last paragraph is that a) I finally recognize that as a human (as opposed to a brain in cyberspace) being I need sleep and food and b) at least one of those 4 hours this morning was spent getting brunch with friends, eating outside, delighting in real human contact.

How pathetic is it that I can get cheap thrills just by leaving the house without my cell phone, no credit card, just a couple dollars in my pocket. How daring, to slip my hand into my pocket and not be greeted by my trusty time piece and communication device! It actually feels like I’m doing something vaguely dangerous. What if someone tries rapes me and I can’t call the police? What if someone tries to mug me but I have no wallet so they decide to rape me instead? What if I get lost and can’t call a friend to google map it, or pay a cab to take me home? What if I engage in conversation with someone attractive but can’t check my text messages, thus proving I have friends, during the awkward pauses? What if if the trees and the clouds get boring?

But I could easily give up the phone, on an emotional if not practical level. I hate phones, their intrusion on the outdoors and public spaces, their closed networks and the big corporations who run them. I resisted the phone as long as possible, until more than halfway through high school, when my mind was a little more durable. I’m a social phone user, I do it so I can interact with my peers, I can stop when I want.

Its the Internet I abuse: Email, IM, Web. Such delicious freedom, the ultimate home for my nocturnal, curious, cowardly mind. She’s given me so much that I didn’t realize what I’ve been missing. My only hope is for my laptop to get destroyed, and to not have enough money to replace it.

multitask

Its not the computer’s fault though. Its the culture. Recently I’ve had these moments where I have some revelation about life that seems so fucking profound. Then a couple days later I’ll realize that to most anyone in the past my brilliant thought would have been so obvious as to not even warrant a mention. This phenomena is perfectly captured by a review of Michael Pollan’s new book:

Do we really need such elementary advice? Well, two-thirds of the way through his argument Pollan points out something irrefutable. “You would not have bought this book and read this far into it if your food culture was intact and healthy,” he says.

[via Jono]

Its not just our food culture thats fucked beyond belief. We interact with each other through screens, even when we share a physical space, selecting from a menu of avatars and then dueling with each other in our living room. We are surrounded by lies, both factual– the US government– and emotional– the airbrushed images of pseudo-happy pseudo-people trying to sell us shit. We probably spend more time looking at pseudo-people than at actual people. Food is something with a cartoon character logo that you buy in the store and marriage is about being a princess for a day and smiles are for selling toothpaste.

So look, until all this is fixed, I’m gonna have a hard time abandoning the seedy but sincere streets of craigslist and youtube. It takes about 50 tabs (of firefox, silly), some music, a couple IM windows, and an email client to keep me my mind simultaneously stimulated enough to not be bored and distracted enough to not feel lonely, aimless, or anything else. Totally stimulated, totally numb.

Anyway, read that article about multitasking. Really well written, almost like turning on the webcam in your computer and just watching yourself, except ocassionally the cam slips into xray vision mode.

Sharing Creative Works

Last week Creative Commons published Sharing Creative Works, the comic I’ve been working on for the past month or so.

Sharing Creative Works Banner

Originally intended as documentation for our OLPC collaboration, we settled for trying to come up with something American kids (and adults) would understand, as we realized we were pretty unqualified to educate children in the developing world. So in true collaborative form, the comic is on the wiki (admittedly, a poor presentation format) and all the SVG artwork is online, in the hopes that people who have a stronger knowledge of the different cultures the laptops are going to will give us feedback or make improvements.

Sharing Creative Works Storyboard

I wrote the bulk of the script (with lots of help from Jon, Alex, and Asheesh). This is the product of 4ish years of trying to explain CC to friends, family, and whoever else would listen. I’m really curious about how successful it is. Its definitely the approach I’ve found work best in conversation, but this is a comic. Of course I’ve been working on it for too long to have any sense if it works or not (but Valleywag twice blogged us).

As far as the artwork goes, I storyboarded it and then passed it on to our awesome graphic designer, Alex Roberts. He did most of the panels in Inkscape until he got bored of it, and threw it back to me. The art is kinda tricky because of how abstract the ideas are, leading to an over reliance on arrows and such. I had fun with the facial expressions towards the end though.

Sharing Creative Works 17

This is my first real project using vector graphics and its made me a lot more savvy with Inkscape, which is great. I definitely miss ink & bristol, and hopefully will have something new in that medium up here soon. On the other hand, SVG makes it so easy to revise and mess around, like with this final panel that didn’t make the cut:

Sharing Creative Works cut panel

rolfcon!!1!

Tim, Christina & co are up to some craziness back in Cambridge. On April 25-27, they will attempt to open the hellmouth:

This is the ongoing record of an effort to assemble every famous internet meme or celebrity to come to Harvard in the spring of 2008 to attend a conference.

Presumably, they’re going to talk about fame online.

:::ROFLCon:::

So far the guest list includes xkcd, dinosaur comics, the oneredpaperclip guy, and others. They get goatse and I’m buying a plane ticket.

To get you psyched:

Internet People


Internet People

Animation by Dan Meth
Music by Dan Meth & Micah Frank
From MethMinute39, CC-BY-NC-SA

Suggested Reading: The Secret Strategies Behind Many “Viral” Videos

October Update: California, Lampoon, Creative Commons…

Its been a while since my last post, but not for lack of things to say. Instead, my bandwidth for online activity has been consumed by two other endeavors. First, I gave the Harvard Lampoon website a complete redesign using Drupal. Its still very much a work in progress, and considering my attention span, it may stay as such for a while. But check it out, as we plan to update the content quite frequently (including comics illustrated by yours truly).

However, despite what my recent contributions to the Lampoon may seem, I am not back in Cambridge. My love affair with California is still going strong and I’ve decided to stay in Berkeley for the semester. Peace out, Puritans. Hello, beautiful hippie people.

And what have I been doing out here? Besides making lots of friends, art, and sourdough, I’m pleased to announce that I’ve been hired as a Business Development Assistant for Creative Commons, the awesome organization I interned with over the summer. I blog for them a couple times a week, so that’s definitely been eating into the energy I have for this site. More to come on what else I’ve been working on there, but for now I should mention that we just launched our Annual Fall Fundraising Campaign, and along with it, a slick site redesign. Those of you already familiar with the great work CC is doing, consider making a donation!

Support CC - 2007

For the uninitiated, this video is a pretty good introduction to what Creative Commons is all about:

yasns

Do we really need yet another social networking site? Of course not. (Do we even need any?) But do we want one? Maybe.

Lets review the current options:

  • Myspace
    • Pros: Band profiles & page customization
    • Cons: Broken, ugly, sketchy
  • Facebook
    • Pros: Great UI, web2.0 tricked out
    • Cons: Online identity defined by your workplace or college (not hip)
  • Tribe
    • Pros: Based around communities instead of individuals
    • Cons: Only worthwhile if the bulk of your friends attend burningman

Enter Virb. Dripping with slick & hip. Profiles for bands, artists, and non-profits. Hooks right in with flickr. Easy to customize, with a built in css editor. Best part? One click and you can remove the customization of any page.

virb

friend me?

[via cameron]

My Dad is a Mad Scientist

bookworm

For years, whenever someone asked me what my father did, I would answer “computer scientist.” If pressed for more information, I would sheepishly mumble “I don’t really understand it” and something about a non-disclosure agreement.

But now, for the highly curious (and patient), the answer is now publically available. If you have any interest in comp sci, linguistics, or how to make del.icio.us more intelligent, you may wanna check it out. For the less curious, the press release below is worth reading if only for the entertainment value of my middle-aged father pretending to write as me, his college-aged daughter.

My highly obscure dad, Alan S. Rojer, has spent recent years wandering in the wilderness of computer science and linguistics. He begs me for online promotion to help rehabilitate his status as a citizen of the infoverse.

One of his patent applications, Web Bookmark Manager (App. no. 20070043745), was recently published by the PTO and he wants the world to know. Less for the particularities of the bookmark manager than for the implicit demonstration of methodologies he’ll be hawking eventually. So anyone interested in programming methods, knowledge engineering, or bookmark management, have a look:

Even better, grab the pdf.

Truly masochistic geeks could also try his older published applications, but don’t blame me if your eyes glaze over. Mine do. But if you’re so inclined, go here, and search for rojer in inventor name:

http://appft1.uspto.gov/netahtml/PTO/search-bool.html

He claims, not very convincingly, that products will be released this year. He has said that every year since 2002 or so.


Adventure Time!

Awesome animation featuring wonderful motion, trippy yet innocent imagery, believable (if not entirely original) characters, and math-inspired exclamations like “algebraic!” Reminds me a bunch of a certain pair of brothers from back home…

This actually aired on Nickelodeon in January, as a short in a show called Random! Cartoons, a revival of Oh Yeah! Cartoons. Oh Yea! featured 3 animations each episode and by the end of its run had produced 99 different 7-minute cartoon shorts by a variety of animators. If Adventure Time is any guide, this present incarnation is something to be excited about. Maybe even a reason to start watching TV again.

But perhaps even more exciting, especially for those of us who would prefer to keep the tv off, is that the same producer, Frederator Studios, does a weekly internet cartoon show/podcast called Channel Frederator. The cartoons are submitted by animators from all over the world and each week they choose the ones they like the most. The downloads are high-quality, free (as in beer), and have no commercials (at least the few episodes I’ve watched). You can watch it in iTunes, but I prefer DemocracyTV. So far, I haven’t seen anything as rad as Adventure Time, but I’ve only watched maybe 4 of the 72 and counting episodes. 72 episodes! That’s a whole lot of animation. So ditch your homework, watch some cartoons, and let me know if you find anything good!

cute way to learn to code

Why’s (Poignant) Guide to Ruby

Why’s (Poignant) Guide to Ruby

Why’s (Poignant?) Guide uses cartoon foxes and pure silliness to teach (hipsters and pre-teen girls?) how to program in Ruby— the sleek, simple, and much hyped about scripting language from Japan. Perhaps not the best choice if you’re used to O’Reilly, but for those more familiar with Achewood and Cat and Girl, the Poignant Guide could be a fun way to pick up some skillz.