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September 27 2014

October 14 2013

Four short links: 15 October 2013

  1. BF Skinner’s Baby Make Project (BoingBoing) — I got to read some of Skinner’s original writing on the Air-Crib recently and couple of things stuck out to me. First, it cracked me up. The article, published in 1959 in Cumulative Record, is written in the kind of extra-enthusiastic voice you’re used to hearing Makers use to describe particularly exciting DIY projects.
  2. Wikiseat — awesome Maker education project. (via Claire Amos)
  3. Redecentralize — project highlighting developers and software that disintermediates the ad-serving parasites preying on our human communication.
  4. The Internet Will Suck All Creative Content Out of the World (David Byrne) — persuasively argued that labels are making all the money from streaming services like Spotify, et al. Musicians are increasingly suspicious of the money and equity changing hands between these services and record labels – both money and equity has been exchanged based on content and assets that artists produced but seem to have no say over. Spotify gave $500m in advances to major labels in the US for the right to license their catalogues.
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May 29 2013

Four short links: 29 May 2013

  1. Quick Reads of Notable New Zealanders — notable for two reasons: (a) CC-NC-BY licensed, and (b) gorgeous gorgeous web design. Not what one normally associates with Government web sites!
  2. svg.js — Javascript library for making and munging SVG images. (via Nelson Minar)
  3. Linkbot: Create with Robots (Kickstarter) — accessible and expandable modular robot. Loaded w/ absolute encoding, accelerometer, rechargeable lithium ion battery and ZigBee. (via IEEE Spectrum)
  4. The Promise and Peril of Real-Time Corrections to Political Misperceptions (PDF) — paper presenting results of an experiment comparing the effects of real-time corrections to corrections that are presented after a short distractor task. Although real-time corrections are modestly more effective than delayed corrections overall, closer inspection reveals that this is only true among individuals predisposed to reject the false claim. In contrast, individuals whose attitudes are supported by the inaccurate information distrust the source more when corrections are presented in real time, yielding beliefs comparable to those never exposed to a correction. We find no evidence of realtime corrections encouraging counterargument. Strategies for reducing these biases are discussed. So much for the Google Glass bullshit detector transforming politics. (via Vaughan Bell)

March 27 2013

Four short links: 27 March 2013

  1. The Effect of Group Attachment and Social Position on Prosocial Behavior (PLoSone) — notable, in my mind, for We conducted lab-in-the-field experiments involving 2,597 members of producer organizations in rural Uganda. cf the recently reported “rich are more selfish than poor” findings, which (like a lot of behavioural economics research) studies Berkeley undergrads who weren’t smart enough to figure out what was being studied.
  2. elephanta HTTP key/value store with full-text search and fast queries. Still a work in progress.
  3. geary (IndieGoGo) — a beautiful modern open-source email client. Found this roughly the same time as elasticinbox open source, reliable, distributed, scalable email store. Open source email action starting?
  4. The Faraday Copter (YouTube) — Tesla coil and quadrocopter madness. (via Jeff Jonas)

March 26 2013

Four short links: 26 March 2013

  1. Patent on Medical Trial Design to Reduce Placebo Effectdrug companies say these failures are happening not because their drugs are ineffective, but because placebos have recently become more effective in clinical trials. [...] The whole idea that placebo effect is getting in the way of producing meaningful results is repugnant, I think, to anyone with scientific training. What’s even more repugnant, however, is that Fava’s group didn’t stop with a mere paper in Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics. They went on to apply for, and obtain, U.S. patents on SPCD. (via Ben Goldacre)
  2. OpenMalaria (Google Code) — an open source C++ program for simulating malaria epidemiology and the impacts on that epidemiology of interventions against malaria. It is based on microsimulations of Plasmodium falciparum malaria in humans, originally developed for simulating malaria vaccines. (via Victoria Stodden)
  3. Pricing Experiments You Might Not Know But Can Learn From — compendium of ideas and experiments for pricing.
  4. Retrominer — mining Bitcoins on a NES. I’m delighted by the conceit, and noticing that Bitcoin is now sufficiently part of the zeitgeist as to feature in playful hacks.

December 06 2012

Four short links: 6 December 2012

  1. You’re Saving Time — can you explain what you do, as well as this? Love the clarity of thought, as well as elegance of expression.
  2. Related Content, by Wordnik — branching out by offering a widget for websites which recommends other content on your site which is related to the current page. I’ve been keen to see what Wordnik do with their text knowledge.
  3. How to Run a 5 Whys with Humans, Not Robots (Slideshare) — gold Gold GOLD! (via Hacker News)
  4. Open Computer Project Hackathon — have never heard of a hardware hackathon before, keen to see how it works out. (via Jim Stogdill)

November 05 2012

Four short links: 5 November 2012

  1. The Psychology of Everything (YouTube) — illustrating some of the most fundamental elements of human nature through case studies about compassion, racism, and sex. (via Mind Hacks)
  2. Reports of Exempt Organizations (Public Resource) — This service provides bulk access to 6,461,326 filings of exempt organizations to the Internal Revenue Service. Each month, we process DVDs from the IRS for Private Foundations (Type PF), Exempt Organizations (Type EO), and filings by both of those kinds of organizations detailing unrelated business income (Type T). The IRS should be making this publicly available on the Internet, but instead it has fallen to Carl Malamud to make it happen. (via BoingBoing)
  3. Chris Anderson Leaves for Drone Co (Venturebeat) — Editor-in-chief of Wired leaves to run his UAV/robotics company 3D Robotics.
  4. pysqli (GitHub) — Python SQL injection framework; it provides dedicated bricks that can be used to build advanced exploits or easily extended/improved to fit the case.

October 29 2012

Four short links: 29 October 2012

  1. Inside BJ Fogg’s Behavior Design Bootcamp — see also Day 2 and Day 3.
  2. Recollect — archive your social media existence. Very easy to use and I wish I’d been using it longer. (via Tom Cotes)
  3. Duplicating House Keys on a 3D Printer — never did a title say so precisely what the post was about. (via Jim Stogdill)
  4. Teleduplication via Optical Decoding (PDF) — duplicating a key via a photograph.

July 17 2012

Four short links: 17 July 2012

  1. What’s Next for Newspapers?three approaches: Farm it [...] Milk it [...] Feed it. (via Stijn Debrouwere)
  2. Why The Fundamental Attribution Error Exists (MindHacks) — assuming causation, rather than luck or invisible effects, is how we learn.
  3. Stuff Makes Us Sad ( — The scientists working with UCLA’s Center on Everyday Lives of Families studied the dual-income families the same way they would animal subjects. They videotaped the activities of family members, tracked their moves with position-locating devices, and documented their homes, yards, and activities with thousands of photographs. They even took saliva samples to measure stress hormones. Studying our lives with an eye to understanding and improving it: the qualified self. (Long story short, as Cory Doctorow summarized: Stuff makes us sad)
  4. chibi (GitHub) — A tiny JavaScript micro-framework.

June 25 2012

The Shard is the perfect metaphor for modern London | Aditya Chakraborrty

Expensive, off-limits and owned by foreign investors – the Shard extends the ways in which London is becoming more unequal

Next Thursday, a giant metaphor will be launched in London. The prime minister of Qatar will fly over especially; his supporting act will be Prince Andrew. Foreign dignitaries will be treated to a lavish dinner; lowly residents of the capital can gawk at a free laser show that threatens to out-do George Lucas.

This is how developers plan to "inaugurate" the Shard, the 72-storey skyscraper that already stalks Londoners everywhere they go. It glowers over your conversations in Peckham; it skulks in your eyeline as you amble along Hampstead Heath. Get up close to Europe's tallest tower, and its 1,017 feet (getting on for twice the height of the Gherkin) render everything around it toylike, laughable.

The money men behind the Shard would like the rest of us to treat it merely as a building. Ideally, you'd marvel at its jutting architecture (the work of Renzo Piano, don't you know); failing that, they'd take you castigating its arrogant flashiness.

But before falling for the predictable Shard-en freude, we should think again. Because what is approaching completion over on London's South Bank is almost the perfect metaphor for how the capital is being transformed – for the worse. The skyscraper both encapsulates and extends the ways in which London is becoming more unequal and dangerously dependent on hot money.

Consider again the story of the Shard. This is a high-rise that has been imposed on London Bridge despite protests from residents, conservation groups and a warning from Unesco that it may compromise the world-heritage status of the nearby Tower of London. What's more, its owners and occupiers will have very little to do with the area, which for all its centrality is also home to some of the worst deprivation and unemployment in the entire city. The building is 95% owned by the government of Qatar and its developer, Irvine Sellar, talks of it as a "virtual town", comprising a five-star hotel and Michelin-starred restaurants.

It will also have 10 flats that are on sale for between £30m to £50m, and from where on a clear day it will be easier to gaze out on to the North Sea, 44 miles away, than at the beetle-sized locals 65 floors down below. "We won't really market these apartments," the PR man cheerily told me. "At this level of the market, there are probably only 25 to 50 possible buyers in the world. The agents will simply phone them up."

So one of London's most identifiable buildings will have almost nothing to do with the city itself. Even the office space rented out at the bottom is intended for hedge funds and financiers wanting more elbow room than they can afford in the City or Mayfair. The only working-class Londoners will presumably bus in at night from the outskirts to clean the bins. Otherwise, to all intents and purposes, this will be the Tower of the 1%.

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about the Shard is that it simply exemplifies a number of trends. First, it merely confirms how far the core of London is becoming, in industrial terms, a one-horse town. Finance, which began in the Square Mile, has now spread to Docklands to the east, to Mayfair in the west and now to the South Bank.

Second, it proves that buildings are no longer merely premises owned by businesses, but are now chips for investment. What's more those chips are increasingly owned by people who barely ever set foot in the country. A study from Cambridge University last year, Who Owns the City?, found that 52% of the City's offices are now in the hands of foreign investors – up from just 8% in 1980. What's more, foreigners are piling into London property at an ever-increasing rate, as they look for relatively safe havens from the global financial turmoil. And yet, as the Cambridge team point out, the giddy combination of overseas cash and heavy borrowing leaves London in a very precarious position. Another credit crunch, or a meltdown elsewhere in the world, would now almost certainly have big knock-on effects in the capital.

The same story applies to London's housing market, too. Earlier this year, the upmarket estate agent's Savills noted that Britons now made just over one in every three property purchases in the posh parts of central London. "The more central the market and the more expensive the property, the more likely it is to be purchased by an overseas buyer or foreign national," their report noted.

London has historically always been the point at which foreign money enters Britain, and disperses in search of a place to invest. But, as Louis Moreno of University College London points out, what's happened over the past 15 years is that an unprecedented amount of foreign money has come into London – and lodged there, in its property. The cash hasn't gone into productive enterprises that will benefit or employ ordinary Londoners. It has sat in plush new flats or office blocks. And now it's setting up its biggest home yet, on the South Bank.

So, the Shard: it's expensive. It's off-limits. It's largely owned by people who don't live here. And it is the perfect metaphor for what our capital is becoming. © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

April 06 2012

Analysing Louise Bourgeois: art, therapy and Freud

Louise Bourgeois was in therapy for more than 30 years and wrote an essay on 'Freud's Toys'. The Freud museum in London has a display of her work and recently unearthed writings about her analysis

Above Freud's bulbous, oriental carpet-draped couch in 20 Maresfield Gardens, Hampstead, hangs a shrivelled, double-headed bronze penis by Louise Bourgeois. In an essay on "Freud's Toys" (1990), as Bourgeois dismissed the ancient artefacts that swarm over his desk and shelves (including numerous phallic amulets), she described Freud's cluttered office, with its "half-dead hysterics", as "a pitiful place". She also referred to Freud's patients as "maggots", which gives additional resonance to the placing of her suspended larval form. Analysis was, in her view, a form of metamorphosis, promising the transformation of seething misery into what Freud described as "common unhappiness". "A maggot," Bourgeois wrote, "is actually a symbol of resurrection."

Though she doesn't acknowledge it in her essay, Bourgeois had been in analysis herself for more than 30 years. In 1951, suffering from depression after her father's death, she entered therapy with Dr Leonard Cammer. The following year she switched to Dr Henry Lowenfeld, a second-generation Freudian who had emigrated to New York in 1938, the same year she did. Lowenfeld had been trained by the Marxist analyst Otto Fenichel in Berlin, where he was also a part of Wilhelm Reich's radical group, Sex-Pol. However, in New York, keen to assimilate to American culture and disenchanted with communism, Lowenfeld became part of the psychoanalytic mainstream and hid his radical past. At the height of the cold war he stole the incriminating Rundbriefe – letters written by Fenichel in the 1930s and circulated among their group of dissident analysts – from his colleague Annie Reich in an attempt to erase that history.

In 2007, just before Bourgeois's retrospective at Tate Modern, two boxes of discarded writings that refer to her analysis, which she underwent four times a week, were found in her Chelsea home; after her death in 2010 (aged 98), her assistant unearthed two more. Selections of these have been exhibited in the Freud museum alongside two dozen of her bulging and sinister patchwork sculptures and installations. These jottings, on random pads, letterheads, even playing cards, offer a glimpse into Bourgeois's psychological states. According to these notes, Lowenfeld considered the artist's inability to accept her aggression as the central problem to be worked through in analysis. "Aggression is used by guilt and turned against myself instead of being sublimated into useful channels," she wrote.

To art historians her free associations and doodles not only suggest clues as to the personal relationships and conflicts that inform all her work, but seem to offer direct links to her creative process (one Isis-like sketch is displayed here next to a similar multi-breasted sculpture, as fecund as the Venus of Willendorf). In an aborted letter to "Mon cher Papa", Bourgeois wrote: "In the 20th century the best work has been produced by those people whose exclusive concern was themselves." Her father was a tyrannical philanderer who had a 10-year affair with a live-in English governess, the discovery of which was the central trauma to which Bourgeois endlessly returned in her confessional work.

The recently discovered archive reveals the artist to have been an enthusiastic list-maker. In 1958, aged 47, Bourgeois compiled a melancholy account of her failures: "I have failed as a wife / as a woman / as a mother / as a hostess / as an artist / as a business woman", and so on. She made a suicidal list of "seven easy ways to end it all" (and throws in another for good measure). She listed her fears: "I am afraid of silence / I am afraid of the dark / I am afraid to fall down/ I am afraid of insomnia / I am afraid of emptiness …" And her feelings about analysis: "The analysis is a job / is a trap / is a privilege / is a luxury / is a duty … is a joke / makes me powerless / makes me into a cop / is a bad dream …"

Many of her automatic writings resemble concrete poetry, such as one arranged as a spiral of injunctions: "Do not risk too much / Do not hide too much / Do not neglect too much …" Others, written in cramped lines, are reminiscent of the webs of psychic "tangles, fankles, impasses, disjunctions, whirligogs, [and] binds" that RD Laing formulates in Knots (1970). Bourgeois asked: "What is it that you want / do you know what it is / is it possible? no, why not / are you looking for a substitute. why? / which one?" On another loose leaf she wrote: "To be hurt / fear to be hurt / to hurt before you are hurt / what hurts?" (She answered her question by reverting to more list making: "to be abandoned / to be criticised / to be attached / to be asked too much / used / to be refused …")

These emotional inventories, with all their tangled logic, were Bourgeois's way of thinking, of working through. It was the art critic Peter Frank who encouraged her to jot down these free associations, not Lowenfeld: "It is not either my medicine nor my duty," she wrote in reference to Frank's suggestion; "I write because I have always felt that if people knew me really, they could not fail to like me. I write or make sculpture to be loved (for what I am)." Bourgeois admitted that this was a lost cause and was dismissive of their worth, suggesting that their meaning immediately evaporated, like Chinese calligraphy brushed on to stone with water: "Tout de mes notes seems remote + foreign except when in the process of being written, they communicate nothing not even to me."

Bourgeois considered art as her parallel "form of psychoanalysis", offering privileged and unique access to the unconscious, as well as a form of psychological release. On a piece of pink paper she scratched the slogan, "Art is a guarantee of sanity." Her artwork was reparative, a form of mental mending. Bourgeois's mother had been a tapestry restorer and Bourgeois often compared her to a spider spinning a fragile web; Maman (1999), Bourgeois's massive arachnid guarding an egg, is on display in the garden of the Freud museum (where Anna Freud's sizeable loom sits upstairs). In her textile pieces, the artist follows in her mother's footsteps by weaving, a craft that Freud, in one of his wilder hypotheses, thought had been invented by women as an unconscious product of "penis envy" (because the results imitate the hair that hides the genitals).

Bourgeois identified herself as a hysteric and made sculptures, like Arch of Hysteria (1993), that made reference to the "whirlpool of histeria" (sic) in which she often found herself consumed. In the Freud museum exhibition, the engraving that usually hangs above the famous couch – depicting Freud's mentor, Jean-Martin Charcot, the "Napoleon of the neurosis", demonstrating hypnosis on a swooning hysterical patient – has been moved to an adjacent room, where it serves to introduce works by Bourgeois. In that context, the accompanying vitrines contain what looks like outsider art by an inmate of the Salpêtrière Hospital: magical objects with multiple faces; patchwork dolls with amputated limbs over which knives hover threateningly.

The artist was well-versed in psychoanalytic concepts, which informed and have often been used to help understand her work. She frequently annotated the psychoanalytic writings she read; on display here is her summary of a case history recounted in Werner Muensterberger's "The Creative Process: Its Relation to Object Loss and Fetishism" (1963). Muensterberger tells the story of a grieving woman who made a doll out of her late husband's dirty underclothes, a mannequin she tucked up next to her in bed, which evidently fascinated Bourgeois. Her husband, the art historian Robert Goldwater, to whom many of Bourgeois's notes refer (did he desire her anymore?), was the director of the Museum of Primitive Art in New York and would have shared her interest in such fetish objects. Her own work was a similarly magical act aimed at exorcising trauma.

But, ultimately, Bourgeois felt that analysis had little to offer the artist. "The truth is that Freud did nothing for artists, or for the artist's problem, the artist's torment," Bourgeois wrote in "Freud's Toys", as if in frustration with the process to which she submitted for so many years, "to be an artist involves some suffering. That's why artists repeat themselves – because they have no access to a cure." Lowenfeld had died four years earlier, ending her analysis but evidently not her pain, which continued to fuel her work. In his essay "Dostoevesky and Parricide" (1926), Freud himself admitted: "Before the problem of the creative artist, psychoanalysis must lay down its arms." © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

February 05 2012

Langage et analogie. Figement. Argumentation |

Colloque international organisé par : Mohamed Bouattour (Université de Sfax), Salah Mejri (Université de Paris XIII et Université de Manouba) et Philippe Monneret (Université de Bourgogne)


Parmi les questions sur lesquelles l'humanité se penche depuis qu'elle a appris à penser, l'analogie se distingue par une série de thématisations explicites, récurrentes au cours des siècles, dans des champs aussi divers que le droit, la médecine (en particulier orientale), les mathématiques, la théologie, la psychologie, la philosophie, la littérature ou encore la linguistique, sans compter toutes les sciences qui recourent à une forme ou une autre de modélisation, ni le rôle de l'analogie dans la découverte scientifique ou dans l’évolution des techniques. Reprendre cette question au XXIe siècle, c'est d'abord prendre acte du fait qu'en dépit de multiples tentatives, elle n'a toujours pas fait l'objet d'une unification cohérente, qui permette de relier la capacité cognitive dont dérive l'aisance extraordinaire qu'ont les hommes (ainsi que d'autres espèces animales) de produire des analogies, à l'ensemble des représentations, mentales ou publiques, qui en découlent.


// oAnth - original URL --




La définition large de l'analogie, qui servira de point de départ à cette recherche, est la suivante : on appellera analogique tout processus qui implique une forme de similarité. Classiquement, on peut en premier lieu distinguer l'analogie binaire, qui repose sur la similarité de deux entités, de l'analogie proportionnelle, qui repose sur une similarité relationnelle entre des éléments composant une entité complexe. Quant à la notion de similarité, elle s'oppose non seulement, du point vue logique, à la différence et à l'identité, qui en sont les deux négations, mais aussi, et sur un autre plan, à une seconde relation fondamentale, la relation de contiguïté. En outre la similarité implique ce que l'on peut simplement (et provisoirement) nommer un "point de vue" : deux entités ne sont jamais similaires que selon une certaine perspective.



February 01 2012

Schundkampf 1 | differentia.wordpress - 2012-01-31

Aus der Neuen Hamburger Zeitung vom 24. November 1906:

In der letzten Zeit haben grauenvolle Raubmorde in der Eisenbahn, in der Stille des Zimmers, Kinderentführungen und andere schwere Delikte die Frage aufgeworfen, welche Ursachen haben diese, trotzdem ein Wohlstand und eine Beschäftigung … herrscht, wie nie zuvor? … Ich glaube schlechte Beispiel verderben auch hierin die Sitten, denn die Theater lebender Phtotografien, die Bioskopbilder usw. verführen direkt dazu, diese Untaten nach den gebotenen … Vorbildern zu vollbringen. Manch schwacher resp. halbstarker Charakter sieht in diesem sogenannten lebenden Photographien und aus dem Kitzel und Sensationslust berechneten Vorführungen das Vorbild zur schreckensvollen Tat.

Reposted from02myhumsci-01 02myhumsci-01

November 12 2011

Play fullscreen
RSA Animate - The Divided Brain

Uploaded by theRSAorg on Oct 21, 2011 In this new RSAnimate, renowned psychiatrist and writer Iain McGilchrist explains how our 'divided brain' has profoundly altered human behaviour, culture and society. Taken from a lecture given by Iain McGilchrist as part of the RSA's free public events programme. To view the full lecture, go to
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October 03 2011

Eyetracking technology reveals how viewers look at a damaged John Martin painting - video

'Scanpaths' were created with eyetracking technology as viewers looked at two versions of John Martin's The Destruction of Pompeii and Herculaneum

Vision science helps to rescue John Martin's vision of destruction | Tim Smith

Psychologist Tim Smith describes how a painting was saved by a combination of eye-tracking technology, Photoshop and conservation expertise

When TATE Britain decided to organise a major exhibition of British artist John Martin's work they faced a difficult decision: should they try to restore his lost masterpiece, Destruction of Pompeii and Herculaneum? This work was the centrepiece of Martin's 1822 solo exhibition at the Egyptian Hall in Piccadilly, where advertisements described it as "the most extraordinary production of the pencil that has ever appeared in this or any other country". But in 1928 the painting was declared damaged beyond repair when the Thames broke its banks and flooded the basement of the gallery. It suffered severe water damage and one fifth of the canvas – the section depicting the erupting Vesuvius – was lost.

In 2010 the TATE decided to attempt a restoration. Advances in conservation techniques meant that the existing painting could be cleaned and stabilised, but this left the major question of what to do with the lossed section. As part of its research, the TATE decided to consult me – a vision scientist – and together we devised an experiment to help inform the restoration process.

My research involves investigating how we attend to visual scenes and how this influences what we see. The same features that may attract our attention in the real world, such as people's faces, points of high contrast, and violent imagery also guide our attention when looking at a painting. Classic theories of conservation such as Cesare Brandi's theory of restoration in the early 1960s referred to contemporary psychological theories of vision, but our understanding of the human visual system has advanced inordinately since then.

The decisions made by conservators when restoring important works of art have a direct influence on how the final painting will be perceived and there is a lot of psychological insight that can inform this process. For example, computational models of visual attention can tell a conservator whether a crack or the loss of a segment is likely to capture the viewer's attention and how this will change depending on the context in which the painting is viewed.

For the damaged John Martin we decided to compare how viewers attended to and made sense of different digital reconstructions of the painting by recording viewer eye movements. An eyetracker uses high-speed infrared cameras to record where a person looks on a screen. This allowed the TATE to foresee how viewers might attend to the final product before embarking on costly and time-consuming work on the painting itself.

TATE conservator Sarah Maisey created four digital versions of the painting. Taking details from an intact smaller copy of the painting made by Martin, Sarah created a digital image of the existing painting, digitally retouching the smaller losses and inserting a modified version from the smaller copy into the large loss. These images were then presented to 20 viewers (who had never seen the painting before) on a large computer screen in my lab, as part of a longer sequence of paintings. Each viewer either saw the fully restored version, a similar version but with less detail in the filled section, a restored version with muted colour in the filled section, or a neutrally coloured infill without any details.

Immediately apparent from the gaze locations on the fully reconstructed version was that the painting contained only a few strong focal points, such as the heart of the volcano, the city in the midground and foreground figures. When the gaze pattern of a viewer is replayed as a video it is clear how the mouth of the volcano is one of the first areas fixated and the viewer then follows the diagonal sightlines laid out by Martin down through the city to the foreground figures.

In the neutral version of the painting the mouth of the volcano and part of the city is lost and instead the viewer dwells on the edges of the loss, spending significantly less time on the foreground figures. The consequence of the different gaze pattern is that when asked to describe the content of the painting, viewers of the unreconstructed version did not realise it was a painting of an erupting volcano. The painting had lost its meaning and viewers could not view it as originally intended by Martin.

The difference in gaze behaviour between the completely restored and unrestored (neutrally filled) versions confirmed our intuitions about how destructive the loss was. As well as this evidence, the TATE team also considered the history and context of the painting, with careful consideration of the ethical issues posed. One proposed option for restoration was to omit some detail in the reconstructed section, allowing viewers to see all the main content of the painting while spending most of their time viewing the original sections. This would preserve Martin's intended viewing pattern without distracting from the original content. Our study demonstrated that such a viewing pattern could be created by filling the lost section with an abstracted version of the original content with less distinct details.

Our findings were used by the TATE to inform the (fully reversible) reconstruction of the lost section. Given the scale of the loss this was a major undertaking, but having now viewed the final result at the exhibition I can confidently say that it is an exceptional accomplishment. The painting has been saved from destruction by a combination of vision science, Photoshop and Maisey's conservation skill and expertise.

Martin's vision of destruction has been given a new lease of life and can now be appreciated by future generations, rather than lying abandoned in the TATE stores. Let's hope that this proves to be the first of many collaborations between vision science and art conservation.

Tim Smith is a psychologist at Birkbeck, University of London

John Martin: Apocalypse is at TATE Britain until 15 January 2012

Maisey, S, Smithen, P, Vilaro-Soler, A, and Smith, TJ (in press) Recovering from destruction: the conservation, reintegration and perceptual analysis of a flood-damaged painting by John Martin. International Council of Museums: Committee for Conservation. Published Proceedings. Lisbon, Portugal, September 19-23, 2011. © 2011 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

via Huxley Vs. Orwell: Infinite Distraction Or Government Oppression? | Prose Before Hos 2011-08-24

// Originally from Recombinant Records: Amusing Ourselves to Death, adapted from Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business by Neil Postman.

When I read this comic, I am reminded of one of my favorite quotes from Brave New World:

“It’s curious,” he went on after a little pause, “to read what people in the time of Our Ford used to write about scientific progress. They seemed to have imagined that it could be allowed to go on indefinitely, regardless of everything else. Knowledge was the highest good, truth the supreme value; all the rest was secondary and subordinate. True, ideas were beginning to change even then. Our Ford himself did a great deal to shift the emphasis from truth and beauty to comfort and happiness. Mass production demanded the shift. Universal happiness keeps the wheels steadily turning; truth and beauty can’t. And, of course, whenever the masses seized political power, then it was happiness rather than truth and beauty that mattered. Still, in spite of everything, unrestricted scientific research was still permitted. People still went on talking about truth and beauty as though they were the sovereign goods. Right up to the time of the Nine Years’ War. That made them change their tune all right. What’s the point of truth or beauty or knowledge when the anthrax bombs are popping all around you? That was when science first began to be controlled–after the Nine Years’ War. People were ready to have even their appetites controlled then. Anything for a quiet life. We’ve gone on controlling ever since. It hasn’t been very good for truth, of course. But it’s been very good for happiness. One can’t have something for nothing. Happiness has got to be paid for. You’re paying for it, Mr. Watson–paying because you happen to be too much interested in beauty. I was too much interested in truth; I paid too.”


There was something called liberalism. Parliament, if you know what that was, passed a law against it. The records survive. Speeches about liberty of the subject. Liberty to be inefficient and miserable. Freedom to be a round peg in a square hole. //



this entry is part of the OccupyWallStreet compilation 2011-09/10, here.

Reposted byJasiuuuJaanis93zycienakrawedziBIERFICKlmnWiesengrundNehalenia

September 26 2011

Four short links: 26 September 2011

  1. BERG London Week 328 -- we're a design company, with a design culture built over 6 years, yet we're having to cultivate a new engineering culture that sits within it and alongside it, and the two have different crystal grains. It's good that they do—engineering through a design process can feel harried and for some projects that does not lead to good outcomes. And vice versa. But it throws up all kinds of questions for me: do we really want two domains of engineering and design; what is the common protocol—the common language—of engineering culture, and indeed of our design culture; how do these lattices touch and interact where they meet; how do we go from an unthought process to one chosen deliberately; how is change (the group understanding of, and agreement with a common language) to be brought about, and what will it feel like as it happens. I think more and more businesses will have to explicitly confront the challenge of reconciling design with engineering, novelty with constancy, innovation with repetition. Science is doing something once in a way that others might able to reproduce, however long it takes. Business is doing it the same way a million times, as fast as possible.
  2. Why We Love The Things We Build -- psychological research to look at people valuing the things they build. Lots of interesting findings: participants thought others would value their origami creations highly, despite assigning little value to the amateur creations of others and incomplete items were not valued as highly as completed items. (via BoingBoing)
  3. Gut Flora Social Network (New Scientist) -- although there's real science behind it, I think it's mostly a callous play to get web journalists to say "this social network is a bit shit". (via Dave Moskowitz)
  4. The Unintended Consequences of Cyberbullying Rhetoric (danah boyd) -- actual research on bullying and cyberbullying, indicating that those involved in cyberbullying don't think of what they're involved in as bullying, because that implies power relationships they don't want to acknowledge. Instead it's all part of the "drama" of high-school.

September 09 2011



(T)hese companies build the appearance of a “social network” to serve as the means by which all contexts and competencies of a social network may be controlled for profit and, whenever there is conflict between sociability and profit, sociability loses.

Ordinarily, this would not constitute a threat to sociability itself; after all, traditionally, this scheme of effort has been known by many names: country club, member-only society, etc; the places that striated a culture or society, mandate and maintain concepts such as “class” while working in opposition to concepts like “class mobility”. (This, mind, is a classic dynamic within humanity.)

However, for the first time in our history, we have companies whose technological presence and degree of proprietary involvement in our primary vehicle of global sociability combines with their fundamentally anti-social motivations result in “social networks” that appear to promote decimation of traditional modes and models of exclusion and the anti-social, and appear to support promotion of “social networks” as the means to do so but, in actuality, are promoting an entirely new era of classism by reshaping the criteria not only for admission to the social arena, but for consideration as being worthy of involvement in the social discourse at large.


On the nature of “social” and the reality of anti-social networks | BonnieNadri.Com - 2011-09-09

September 01 2011


The Illusion of Asymmetric Insight « | You Are Not So Smart - 2011-08-21


(Y)ou are succumbing to the illusion of asymmetric insight, and as part of a flatter, more-connected, always-on world, you will be tasked with seeing through this illusion more and more often as you are presented with more opportunities than ever to confront and define those who you feel are not in your tribe.


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