Mild science, tech news, stories, reviews, opinion, maps and humor

23 May 2012

Especially useful curation

A list of uncommonly useful links and news items by an uncommonly astute person, Greg Linden (formerly of Amazon search in the early days) follows below. This is the best of all worlds: Having access to someone who has superior insights due to field of expertise, is reasonably articulate, and is willing to share without ulterior motive or bias.

I first heard of Greg Linden back in my days of using Google Buzz. At first, I thought he was a Linden of Second Life's Linden Lab! This isn't to say that he is my online friend or contact or anything like that. I miss Google Buzz. It was my introduction to Web 2.0 type online interaction, and was very positive, genuine.

Okay, that's enough pre-ambling from me. Have a look at those links and annotations.

Geeking with Greg: More quick links:
What has caught my attention recently: $1B for Instagram was silly and caused by fear ( [1] [2] [3] [4] ), but it is impressive ...

This would be worth paying for, if Greg Linden were to want to sell a  subscription newsletter for technology investing. That does not seem likely.

I stopped wondering "Why does he do this?!" awhile ago. Now I am quietly appreciative. I often forget entirely about visiting his weblog, for months at a time, as it is such a low-key and pleasantly ad-free corner of the internet!

A New Hajj Exhibition

I read a review of the Hajj Exhibition which opened recently, on 12 April 2012, at the British Museum in London.

A Collective Undertaking?

The new Hajj exhibition has been praised for its profound cultural importance by some. Others were critical, considering it an obvious whitewash of political and social injustice in the geographic region.

The photography featured in the review are striking. Most are copyright protected, so I will reproduce the only one that was allowed here (under Creative Commons license). There is a link at the end, so you can view them in all their intricate splendor.


antique map of Mecca as the center of the world
Map of Mecca as the center of the world; Turkey, 1650
via Leiden University Library

I liked the final paragraph of the review:
The exhibition succeeds in providing an understanding and an appreciation of a centuries-old pilgrimage that involves millions of people, globally. It allows non-Muslims to participate in a cultural, intellectual and perhaps even spiritually moving way.
True cosmopolitanism entails an imaginative act of sympathy with others.

As promised, here is the link to the Hajj exhibition online gallery.

01 May 2012

Post future modern art mystery

QR code style artwork by Dali

Click on the image to view full-sized. It is necessary, to find the many layers of detail.

Puzzling provenance


Every time I edit this post, I notice additional bits and pieces that I  missed earlier. I am uncertain whether this is even the entire image. It may be a reproduction that was photocopied from an art book (just guessing), then uploaded to Picasa. Note the curved edge on the right. Was that intentional, or created after-the-fact, by a photocopier? 

I don't know the title of this image. I found it late one evening while browsing on Google+, surfing the image galleries of strangers from around the world. It was in a collection of Salvador Dali artworks. I recognized nearly all the others, thus presume this is too. I see Dali's distinctive cameo on the upper right. When rendered as it is here, it resembles the now-familiar mask of Anonymous, more than the also-familiar look of Dali-esque cameo imagery in Persistence of Memory, and elsewhere.

Coincidence or prescience?


What I found most striking about this piece is how it evokes, for me,  a QR code! Yes, I realize that Salvador Dali predated the creation of bar codes AND QR codes by at least 50 years. Well, Dali was in his last days when bar codes were just entering widespread use. 

There was a stylistic movement in art, commonly known as "Cubism", from approximately 1900 - 1930. This could merely be an instance of that. Yet Cubism preceded Dali, and I don't recall that he was a contemporary of Picasso, et. al. 

Salvador Dali was a surrealist, chronologically on the cusp of post-modernism, and almost contemporary. But was he sufficiently contemporary to be influenced by 8-bit art, or even pixelated images? I don't know. If he were not... then... this is all the more remarkable.

Antique maps

via Bobak Khomaan and Picasa Google Plus
Double Hemisphere Map by Petrus Planciusc, 1599
This is one of a series of 120 beautiful, historically significant antique maps of the world. I found the entire collection a few sleepless nights ago. Creation dates are from the 15th through 19th centuries.

*I just noticed the puzzling enclosure link below. It was supposed to be a link to the complete, publicly visible photo gallery of maps posted by a Picasa user over the past four years. I have no idea why  this URL was attached instead, and am eager to learn more about its intriguing subject matter!