Visibly Bursting

As spring bursts around us, my dear friend Walter appears to have found his voice, and it is in Thousand Sketches. It’s a project to put a thousand sketches on the Web in one year. I love the sketches that are there already, and I love the blog where Walter is making his process as visible as the sketches, and where sketches of that process are born, too.

This project is of the Internet. Most of the works are sketched on a tablet PC using simple software. Many are of everyday things, flowers, people and animals. But they are also sketches of sketching, of sketching a thousand sketches. Every click that lands on a sketch will appear in a sketch somewhere. Every comment about the sketches, either on Walter’s blog or somewhere else on the Web will end up in a sketch. Every purchase of a “sponsored link” will change the project. The Internet is creating this project, as it affects and emerges from Walter.

Walter, I love seeing you burst like this into something so simple and beautiful that is flowing so freely. It seems right.

Snippet of Futurism

A few snippets of enjoyment and a foray into futurism, amidst my misery.

I have joined a team that is entering the 48 Hours film competition this year. Hanna and a bunch of the folks working on her movie are in it. At least one of the team was in the group that won the South Island section last year with Bruised Gold. It’s just one of the many excellent short films on Cactuslab‘s nzshortfilm.com.

Not a film but a (Flash) movie, this ragdoll model of Telecom CEO Theresa Gattung is virtual about as visceral as I’ve found – and a heap of fun.

But the thing I’ve rewatched the most in the last couple of days is this nicely made short movie of They’re Made out of Meat, a short story by Terry Bisson.

I’ve been experiencing a rejuvenation of my interest in the social forces that drove the development of the abnormal brain size that humans have among primates. It seems to me that the social patterns of our lifestyle in the Web world have more in common with those of hunting or raiding in bands than with furrow-poughing, and pyramid or ship-building. It’s just that the scale of the connections is expanding so rapidly that we can barely cope. It makes sense, therefore that we are building machines (Google, etc) that can aggregate the responses of hundreds of millions of people and make them discoverable.

The only catch is that even what is discoverable will soon (five decades?) overwhelm us. The accelerating edge of the rate of change will impinge more and more closely until these precocious jungle animal brains can no longer cope, even with abstractions. Just as well life, or at least something we’ll probably recognise as like it, as it whizzes by, is emerging in the mediated environment to surpass us in sentience and, probably observe us with incredulity and, we hope nostalgia, rather than detachment.

Email Free Days

Datamail has declared an
“Email Free Day”
in an attempt to reduce information overload?

To me, that is like declaring a “Traffic Free Day” to reduce congestion on the roads. That would certainly eliminate gridlock but at what cost? Don’t people actually use cars to get to places where they can relate with each other to achieve something useful? Aren’t car-pooling and public transport better solutions to this problem?

Information overload is not inherent in email itself but in the way it has been implemented as an individual communication medium. It is great for one-to-one, great for one-to-many but very poor for many-to-many communication. As it is usually implemented, email overloads people with content and isolates from each other and the ideas they use in their work.

What is required is for email to be implemented as a group communication medium.