Usually I do not care much for books set in 19th century England. Somehow the period seems very dark to me, morally oppressive, slow and boring, and covered in the soot of burning coal and eternal fog. The literature of that time seems to ooze the same gloom. When I am in England however it seems that period is viewed there also in a different light. Viewed much more also as a golden age, when applied sciences propelled a steam powered British Empire to a position of global super power. Next to moral superiority and arrogance that must have also been a source of optimism, of belief in progress. That optimism is what is reflected in the Crystal Palace, I guess.
Over the holidays I read two books of fiction set in that period and enjoyed them both enormously. One was a gift by Elmine, a gift she made with some doubts as she knows my general dislike for the period. The other was a gift by my young niece and nephew for Christmas. I read both with a lot of pleasure. Both stories seem to tell of an age where much was in motion, and new insights were coupled and combined with old superstitions, or fought back by the overzealous. It reminds me both of the Monstertheory I blogged a good while back, as well as discussions that now rage through our newspapers and educational system as to the effects of having digital native younger generations.
The first book is 'Arthur and George', by Julian Barnes, combining the life story of Arthur Conan Doyle with that of George Edalji. I knew Julian Barnes from two other titles in our book case, A History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters and Something to Declare, which I fittingly bought and read while travelling through France.
The second book is The Darwin Conspiracy, which combines the story of Darwin's voyage on the Beagle, the journal of one of his daughters, and the Werdegang of an American researcher. For me the theory of evolution is essential to my thinking about complexity, culture, change and even free will. It is fun to read a work of fiction around the origin of a theory the consequences of which reach far further than the realm of natural selection in biological life forms. Consequences which are widely misunderstood or even unseen, most of us not looking any further than a gross misinterpretation of the term 'survival of the fittest'. You might guess I've been influenced by Daniel Dennett on this as well, having devoured his exploration of the true 'danger' of Darwin's idea.
Powered by Qumana2 Comments and 0 Trackbacks | Permalink
Tag, I'm it! Five things you're unlikely to know about me
Since I have been tagged both in the English language version as well as the Dutch version of one of those tagging games that seem to go around once or twice a year, I felt I could not ignore the requests and am posting this in both the Dutch and English blog. So in answer to both Johnnie Moore and Hans Mestrum here are five things you probably don't know about me:
1) I only once owned and wore a blue jeans, when I was 4. I ruined it the first day I wore it and neverd touched one after that. (But I now do own a blue jeans in Second Life)
2) On the internet no-one knows you're a dog. Next to my regular avatar, which links back to me, I also operate a female avatar in Second Life.
3) Over ten years ago I went through a deep depression that lasted several years. It could have been the end, almost was. Since it wasn't, I am now consistently optimistic.
4) Short wave radio held me in awe since I was a kid. That you could hear signals from around the world was simply magical. I obtained my ham radio license: PE1NOR. The internet and the large international network I find myself in as a blogger took away most of that original magic. I let my license lapse last year when I forgot to pay the yearly fee. Haven't come around to getting it renewed yet.
5) This year we bought our first Christmas tree for our own home. It felt like a whole new rite of passage into adulthood for me.
I am not tagging new people. All the names coming to mind seem to have expressed a dislike for this type of chain-blogging, as have I in the past.0 Comments and 0 Trackbacks | Permalink
Humanoid Shape Needed for Social Interaction?
Earlier this week in Second Life I acquired an avatar shape in the form of a glowing, flying orb. One of the intrigueing things I find myself doing when I am in a 3D environment with avatars is look them in the eye, to feel more connected to the interaction going on.
In DigitalSpace Traveler avatars are heads only, but I look them in the eye and accept them as beings
So I wanted to check out what happens when I leave the humanoid form, and turned myself into an orb.
I met up with a creative designer from New York yesterday evening who did not seem to care much about my shape, to be able to communicatie. But he treated the text window as a stand alone chat application, and the 3D backdrop as wall paper in a sense.
It did change the dynamics though of having a discussion with people who actually know me. In a conversation with Elmine Wijnia and Gerrit Eicker I changed into my fiery flying orb-self and continued to take part in the conversation. Both Elmine and Gerrit remarked that they treated the orb as an object in the room, not a living entity, and that my chat contributions seemed to come out of thin air.
For me it felt a bit strange as well, looking at the orb as 'me' but it did not change the experience of interaction. The form of avatar does change the way I navigate though. With a humanoid shape I tend to fly and walk in SL, but as an orb I only fly.2 Comments and 0 Trackbacks | Permalink
Presence Means Combining Cyberspace with Meatspace
In Ambient Findability, the author Peter Morville talks about how The Sea of bits is rolling onto the shores of the land of atoms. This to me is at this point one of the most interesting and promising areas of web development, and a logical next step of the direction webapps took with social software. Putting relationships first in your tools makes presence and location awareness suddenly worthwile, where it wasn't before when the web was filled with information, more a repository and less a meeting place. I have been playing with two applications exploring that interesting new place where the information landscape meets our geographical landscape, using our social landscape as an intermediary. And I am eagerly looking forward to getting my hands on the beta of a third. Those three applications are Plazes, Jaiku and Imity.
Plazes is already pretty old in internet terms. I first heard Felix Petersen about his Plazes tool in the spring of 2004, and joined their beta later that year. It allows you to share your geographic location with others, and see who is near you, or where interesting locations are around you. They have been building on the concept continuously. Recently they brought Plazes to your mobile phone, though for a limited number of models. And now SMS-features have been added opening up all mobile phones to Plazes. The mobile features allow for more granular location-resolution (based on cell tower triangulation) and getting information quickly on nearby free hotspots for instance, or contacts present in your area.
Jaiku takes presence a step further than Plazes. Where Plazes focusses on geographic location, and presenting information on net access, contacts, and photos around that, Jaiku aims to generate a continuous presence stream, or 'chatter'. It takes your different RSS feeds, accepts SMS messages, and blurbs you enter on the site, and combines them into one stream. This allows your contacts to be peripherally aware of what you are up to, and estimate the chance and desireability of hooking up. Perhaps not something to publicly share, but again a good example not of having mobile access to information on the web, but of bringing mobile information to the web around your person. The information you share can of course be accessed by others both on the web, as well as on a mobile client.
In the image above you see examples of delicious bookmarks, a Plazes Traze, an SMS text, a Flickr image and a text blurb entered on the site, being combined into my presence stream.
Imity is yet another angle on presence awareness. It builds on bluetooth signature detection. It allows for you to see who is in the area, or if a friend perhaps just passed through the same location. I first got a glimpse of Imity during this years Reboot conference (see their presentation), and they are now accepting e-mail addresses of those eager to beta test. The Pocket Radar, as Imity calls it, allows you also to see alerts that someone in your social network platforms (such as Xing, LinkedIn etc.) is near you, enabling chance meetings. It can also be used to 'log' who was on an event, and thus build a list of participants for later on-line interaction after the event took place. I am eager to try this out.
(Bluetooth map of Reboot conference rooms, picture uploaded by Pollas.)
Powered by Qumana3 Comments and 1 Trackbacks | Permalink