Geist #57 has several lesser-known editing and proofreading marks. Here's a brief snip:
Other marks include "remove permanently from your lexicon," "you wish," and "pls paraphrase--obviously stolen from the web."
Martin Leith has constructed an big list of methods for generating new ideas (things like synonym generation, Google Advanced Image Search (damn, I thought I invented that one), etc. (Check out Country Music.) As with many methods for breaking writer's block or similar problems, some may seem a little wonky at first, but many are worth a shot.
[via 43 Folders]
Oldversion.com has previous releases of popular software for people who aren't happy with their upgrades: Winamp, Yahoo! Messenger, etc. (This should get really popular once all those DRM-equipped "upgrades" prevent people from copying or using their own files on new computers and displays.)
From Overheard in New York:
Preppy guy: I'm hardcore into the drug underground. Drugs and me, we're like this.
Preppy chick: Drugs and I.
[via Overheard in New York]
Four hours, a couple of dozen evolving error messages, lots of tweaks, a chicken sacrifice, and several errors that went away on their own without any intervention on my part (I hate those), we're back online. Maybe.
I'm going to be upgrading the weblog server software this afternoon (to MovableType 3.2). We've been experiencing high server load (mostly due to comment spam, coupled with the extremely slow BerkeleyDB I'm saddled with on this system). The upgrade is supposed to be a ten-minute deal; I'm hoping it solves the load problem. (If experience is any indicator, there's about an 50% chance that I'll skip some crucial step in the install process and everything's going to just go black for several days....)
TechDirt provides some responses to the popular claim that text messaging ruins writing ability, including this Guardian report about a small study on the code-switching abilities of kids with extensive SMS experience conducted by Veenal Raval at thee City University in Londona.
Mr Raval said: "The fear that has been put across in the media is that children don't understand the need to code switch - that is, switch between standard English grammar for an exam or essay and what is acceptable when you are communicating on a social level. In fact, they are capable of that switch, just as bi- or tri-lingual children might speak English at school and a mother or father tongue at home."
While the text-experienced children wrote much less than those without mobiles, concision was not necessarily a bad thing, he argued. "Whether that is a positive or negative effect is up for debate. It depends on the situation or the subject studied. A science exam might require brief answers which might not be appropriate in a literature exam."
Seth Carey's mom posted a short comment (reproduced below) on the short piece I ran about Seth Carey a little under a year ago. Seth, who suffered from ALS, used a computer and voice synthesis to communicate, and authored an excellent piece on NPR about his experiences, by turns tragic and extremely funny. Seth died last weekend.
Seth was certain of the words he wished to use, determined enough to use the letter-by-letter approach to achieve his ends.
I'm his mother, and worked with him on the editing of his piece. I would change a word at my peril--it was either HIS words or NO words.
Seth died Friday evening, August 19, 2005, his computer propped up in front of him, communicating until the end.
Terry Gilliam was the guest this week on Kurt Anderson's NPR series, Studio 360. (Streaming audio available at that link.)
Hunter S. Thompson's remains were launched today from a 15-story tower. The cannon was shaped after Thompson's logo: a dagger, topped by a two-thumbed, clenched fist on the upraised hilt. Live music from Lyle Lovett & the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, funded largely by Johnny Depp. (Note to Underdog: This is what I want, too.)
NYT has a cool pic [reg. req'd, yadda yadda yadda], plus a good bio, book reviews, historical photos, etc.
Res Ipsa Loquitor.
Gamasutra this week asked designers to tell them how they got their starts in the videogame industry.
At Avant Game, Jane McGonigal provides instructions (and resource materials) for moving Orwell's 1984 from the Literature section to the Current Events section in bookstores. The page also links to a Flickr photoset on the project, among other things (including an interesting followup discussion).
[via Boing Boing]
John Loder, owner of Southern Records (Fugazi, Jesus and Mary Chain, Karate, etc.) died last Saturday. A note from the family at John's weblog adds,
Please avoid funeral attire. Jeans, t-shirt and sneakers would be ideal. Thanks.
Some additional links at MeFi.
Dan Bricklin posts an interesting narrative and analysis about his experiences moving into podcasting. Interesting primarily because Bricklin is one of the rare people who understand that there are differences among media, and even within various formats of the same media (one-minute sound bite versus thirty-minute interview). More important, he's put a lot of time and effort into re-learning how to communicate as he moves into audio, getting audio professionals to help him learn, and thinking a lot about what he's doing. Useful things to think about for anyone who moves across media, whether it's from text to graphics or audio to video.
This switch to audio will be tough for some people trained only in writing. With writing you needed to know how to type (a skill) and manipulate a word processor and email and maybe part of a content management system. Nothing that hard for regular people, and most stuff is taught in grade school now. So, the main unusual skills are writing ability and "journalism" training. With audio, most of the reporters who are doing new podcasts need to have and be proficient with lots of expensive fussy equipment, do a new type of editing they don't teach in most schools (for making editorial changes as well as sound changes, compression changes, etc., etc.), speak fluently and clearly (or know how to fit it with editing, just as they often do with print), and more -- lots of geeky skills and a bit of how to "act naturally" on top of it. On the flip side, reporters are finding whole new ways to do their craft of "reporting". They may need additional skills but they have more outlets for their work. Of course for the techies at heart, it gives you a great excuse to learn about a whole new area and get lots of new toys.
[via Dan Bricklin's Log]
Stranger Song [direct link to zip file of mp3s] is a multi-artist compilation of Leonard Cohen covers by Israeli alternative musicians, sung in Hebrew. Cool. And free, to boot. See the Free Albums Galore post for links to cover art and more background info.
[via Free Albums Galore]
Apparently spurred by Wired's recent article on the evolution of the "more cowbell" meme, CreateDigitalMusic has a bunch of cowbell links, including a link to an archived video of the original SNL skit.
If you do creative work and use a Mac, you should install Brian Eno's "Oblique Strategies" widget. Based on a cardset he developed, the widget suggests strategies for breaking creative impasses. None of them are earth-shattering, just simple reminders of ways to turn a context on its head to help you see things in new ways. Here are a couple:
Change specifics to ambiguities.
Try faking it.
Use 'unqualified' people.
It's a wonky (and useful) version of a magic 8-ball.
[via Cool Tools]
At The Morning News, Lauren Fry offers a wry list of ways in which plagiarism is a good thing, on the whole. Under the item "Downloading Papers Keeps Professors Computer Savvy," she observes,
Most tenured professors didn’t grow up with computers, so they’re not always that sharp when it comes to zeroes and ones. I used to work as an administrative assistant at a very reputable college. It is no exaggeration to say that many of the professors couldn’t handle making microwave popcorn, much less checking their email.
But since students started downloading papers, professors have been forced to catch up with technology. Skipping past the skills needed to operate a microwave, they now have to search the internet looking for proof that the papers are “plagiarized.” Professors have had to learn software such as the “Glatt Plagiarism Screening Program,” which blanks out every fifth word of a student’s paper and then tests how long it takes the student to fill them all back in. Also, many colleges maintain online anti-plagiarism databases that allow professors to type in any eyebrow-raising turn of phrase from a student’s paper to see if it was copied from another source.
This may sound like simple stuff to you and me, but keep in mind that about half of currently tenured professors were born before TV sets became common in American homes.
Mark Gimein has a guest commentary on Gizmodo on different sorts of logic in system design:
It sounds great, but there's a problem here: it's that, in fact, lots of gadgets are designed with elegance and logic in mind. It's just that people aren't. People work in funny ways, and some of the ways of doing things that they like most are exactly the ones that don't make sense.
Take the ubiquitous hierarchical menus of the digital camera world. God knows how much effort has been devoted to putting together just the right sequence of menu presses, organized with Dewey decimal clarity and maximum button placement economy.
Gimein separates "logical" design from "intuitive" design, using a Pentax ZX-5n film camera that combine autofocus features with a design drawn directly from older manual-focus cameras. He then contrasts the features of that camera, which include dedicated dials for aperature, shutter speed, and exposure compensation, to modern cameras that bury such features in hierarchical menus. In modern cameras, the result is a clean and simple physical exterior with relatively non-intuitive workings. (A similar trend has afflicted video cameras, with many functions that used to be controlled by exterior dials and buttons now migrated into the flip-out lcd viewers. I can tell you from experience that in terms of usability, that migration was a big step backward.)
I'd argue those are simply different sorts of logic and simplicity. The "one-feature = one control" logic of older cameras probably works better for most users (especially those familiar with manual focus cameras) because it centers on specific activities at the surface level. Modern cameras (and hierarchical interfaces) are driven by a logic that attempts to combine all features into a more flexible software interface that can handle everything. But as most users have found out, a hierarchical interface ends up being overloaded.
One notable benefit of the hierarchical, software interface is primarily in terms of product development lifecycles: It's cheaper to upgrade software to add new features than it is to retool the physical production of the camera housing to add new buttons or dials. So even if that economy comes at the cost of usability, manufacturers are going to continue working in that direction. User/activity logic and simplicity competes with system logic and simplicity (and production cost). Like most tech trends, there's often a long shift toward lower quality and usability that's supposedly compensated for by lower price. The trick is for designers to aggressively begin re-integrating older, highly usable features (and increased quality, such as resolution) into successive iterations of the new design.
Free Albums Galore is a weblog providing links to (and reviews of) album-length free music. Covers an extremely wide range of genres--Zloty Dawai's experimental improv, Daniel-Ben Pienaar's recording of The Well-Tempered Calvier, restored versions of Al Jolsen's collected works, and more. Cool.
As project for her graphic design degree, Claire Mills has published a prototype of Syn, a magazine for people with synesthesia, the tendency or ability to experience crossover in sensations (e.g., hearing musical notes as distinct colors). (The Boing-Boing post on Syn includes links to several other stories on the condition.)
[via Boing Boing]
Historians.org has text and images from several dozen pamphlets produced by the War Department to cope with post-war social issues, including the (unintentionally self-reflexive) "What is Propaganda?", "Canada: Our Oldest Good Neighbor", and "Do You Want Your Wife To Work After The War?"
It Figures provides examples and explanations of rhetorical figures using contemporary examples. Like this one on expexegesis:
Quote: ‘Well, he’s kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace 'accidentally' with 'repeatedly,' and replace 'dog' with 'son.' Lionel Hutz, a character in 'The Simpsons'
Figure of Speech: Epexegesis (ee pex uh GEE sis), the figure of elaboration
As an amateur classicist, we’re dedicated to Homer. We love his epic tales of wandering, of larger than life characters, storied battles, heroic drunkenness, and donuts (mmmmm…donuts).
We especially love Homer—well, all of Springfield—for the rich and tasty figures of speech. Take Lionel Hutz, the lawyer who occasionally represents Homer and Marge Simpson. Hutz invariably tells the truth, the whole truth, through sheer incompetence: ‘ I’ve argued in front of every judge in this state—often as a lawyer.’
Hutz endearingly addends himself with the figure of speech called epexegesis (‘explanation’ in Greek). The epexegesis adds material to clarify a statement. In Hutz’s case, it clarifies to the point of disaster. ‘Mr. Simpson, don’t you worry,’ he once told Homer. ‘I watched Matlock in a bar last night. The sound wasn’t on, but I think I got the gist of it.’
If only every lawyer were so honest—accidentally honest, to be sure, and Hutz is only a cartoon character, and you wouldn’t want him representing you, but anyway…
What's In It For You: Use an epexegesis for emphasis (I’m a soldier—an American soldier) or humor (He knew her, in the Biblical sense). Usually, though, when you see a phrase that clarifies what you’ve already written, it’s time to edit. The most infamous epexegesis clogs the opening line of Edward Bulwer-Lytton’s 1830 novel, Paul Clifford:
‘It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents—except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.’
The line inspired an annual contestto come up with the worst opening lines to novels. The winners provide a rich source of figures, as you’ll see in the days to come.
[via It Figures]
An amazingly extensive guide to shooting rubber bands. Features history, rules (there are rules?), delivery methods, physics, and more. Here's a bit from the section on the Sniper Rifle Method (I've omitted the pictorial illustration):
This method is a sister to the Sawed-Off Shotgun method. Instead of using a normal-sized rubber band, you will need one with a much larger diameter. I'd suggest something twice the diameter of a normal band but no thicker.
To start, you need a pen. Pencils' tips can break off. Hold your oversized rubber band by a side, letting the other side fall to rest on the ground. Place your pen atop the section on the ground, then pull the band taut. Lift the pen and band (now mounted on the tip of the pen), holding the band between your thumb and index fingers. Stretch the band very tight. Aim and fire. Deadly accurate!
Like Gibson said, "The street finds its own uses for things.
More free stuff: PBWiki is offering hosting free wikis ("as easy as a peanut butter sandwich"). Provide them with a username and your email address and they'll set you up with free, simple, password-protected Wiki you can share with friends (like the datacloud wiki I just created--password: ibuprofen) (I've been moving firewood all afternoon, so that's what's on my mind right now).
The site also supports making your Wiki public (so anyone can read it, but only make changes if you provide them with the password), email notification when pages change, and downloadable (zip file) backups of information.
For the next five weeks, MacJams and AMG are giving away a different twenty meg collection of loops each week. (Apple Loop format; not sure if these will work in apps besides GarageBand.)
From Overheard in New York's Back to School, Wednesday One-liners edition, a quote from Columbia U:
Sociology professor: No one knows what the hell Derrida is talking about, but we all pretend we do anyway.
[via Overheard in New York]
Wired offers six reasons why the quality of recorded music is on the downhill side (at least temporarily), from the rise of mp3s to the decline of good recording studios:
Legendary rooms like NYC's Hit Factory, Los Angeles' Cello, and Sheffield, Alabama's Muscle Shoals all went out of business this year. The reason? Home studio software has democratized the recording process - low-end versions of Cubase and Pro Tools retail for less than $350. Sure, these apps offer great sound if used properly, but most musicians are no match for a seasoned engineer who understands why things like mike placement matter.
As I've said before, I have a thing for lo-fi. A couple of years ago, I was working with my guitar teacher to figure out the chords to a Sparklehorse song (a one-man band famous for its/his broken-music aesthetic). As we listened to the recording, he got a funny look on his face and said, "The guitar on this ... it sounds ... broken." I said, "Yeah, it probably is."
But lo-fi only makes sense if it exists in the context of hi-fi (that is, if it's postmodernist-ironic), and good hi-fi is more difficult to do than most people realize. Like nearly every other aspect of the digital revolution, affordability and ease of use open up the gates to a flood of mediocre, poorly planned and executed crap. And eventually the crap becomes the norm, the good-enough, and the public's ability to discern subtle differences that make a difference fades--they no longer make a difference.
Damn, I must be getting old. Next up: I rant about poor grammar in Instant Messenger conversations.
[via Beyond the Beyond]
The SF Chronicle has an article on using MMORPGs as spaces for economic and social science research.
"I think there's an incredible opportunity here to run controlled experiments on economic questions," said Edward Castronova, an economist at Indiana University at Bloomington.[...]
Dimitri Williams, a communications professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and fellow Terra Nova contributor, said scientists could subtly alter the software that governs these worlds, tweaking the rules of the games, then measuring how these changes affect behavior.
Apparently comment spam, although I was touched by the urgency of the post, so I'll repeat it here (sans URL about sofa beds):
I ask you, support your resource always in the Internet so it is done with we with the site about contemporary sofa and bed. At you very well it turns out.