Other Ten Percent 4/16/12

Apr 16 2012

Man, I was not expecting to be writing up Monday’s OTP on Friday morning but I suddenly looked up from a Twitter binge and noticed 5 tabs that I was going to be living with until I wrote up OTP and I just thought “welp, might as well get this show on the road.” So a quick RSS feed check later we’ve got 10 links and it’s time to jump in.

‘Avengers’ Director Joss Whedon on His Creative Setbacks
Guys am writing this before I go to see it but let’s just assume from the INSANE critical consensus on the issue (I mean when a movie is loved by everybody but the Post and A.O. Scott at the height of his curmudgeondom I’m in even when it isn’t a Whedon jam) that I loved Cabin in the Woods and I’ll be spending the rest of the year mocking those of you that didn’t go see it. But, also, I kinda didn’t realize until the last few days how much I missed having Joss Whedon around saying Joss Whedon things and talking about storytelling and media and all the stuff he actually does and I just think about. Between this and the AMA he did over on Reddit I’m psyched to see a ton of stuff from him in the next months/years.

A Cultural History of Physics
I can’t seem to track down the tweet that made me open this up but here’s an entire book for you about physics from a cultural anthropology perspective.

Moleman 2- The Art of the Algorithms
And here’s an entire documentary about algorithms and art and the history of the tech demo scene. I’m keeping the commentary on these short because if you want to do more than browse them they’ll eat up a ton of your day.

A Win for the Robo-Readers
More on the future of education. This time it’s about the argument over bots programmed to grade english essays. I have absolutely no problem believing that an automated system can do as good a job at grading a huge mass of essays as a human because humans actually do a kind of shitty job at that task and tend to prize superficial features (length, regularity of structure) over the kind of deep thinking we like to pretend humans love so much anyway. I’m also not entirely bowled over be the counter argument that you can write rigorously structured gibberish that the machine interprets as a fantastic paper because, assuming their updating the system at all regularly, figuring out how to fool the GRE into thinking that your carefully structure gibberish is a really good paper is harder than just writing a really good paper. My problem with this instead is that computers suck at telling you why you suck. I totally believe that a TA and a computer would both grade an essay almost exactly the same but I’d still rather have a TA to talk to about the whole thing once I get my grade. Of course the actual practical implementation of this sort of thing is probably exactly that. Get graded by a robot and then go appeal to a TA who isn’t grumpy because he stayed up all night grading 300 shitty english comp essays. Everybody wins.

The Way They Weren’t
I can’t remember if I blogged about this the first time I found it…I think probably I didn’t. Anyway it’s an alternate history short story about Lester Bangs falling in love with underground cartoonist Dori Seda. It’s a love story about the nature of popular culture and it’s by Bruce Sterling and it’s pretty brilliant. Even if I did put it in here years ago I don’t mind telling you to read it again.

Downton Abbey Parody of the Day
Entirely worth your 8 minutes just for the visual joke with the daughters and the final punchline.

Looper
The Brick/Brother Bloom guy made another movie about time travel. It’s going to be awesome. What the hell is happening that I want to see movies all the time lately? After years of pretty much writing off the artform as an interesting place I don’t have the money or the patience to visit I’m sitting down and seeing a film at least once a month and it’s WEIRDING ME OUT.

Piccolo the tiny CNC bot
Sterling on the open source hardware scene, which, surprisingly, he quite likes. Much less surprisingly he can’t resist making a few (very accurate) swipes at the open source software scene in the process.

Student’s push to make Raleigh more walkable relies on homemade signs and QR codes
I like the physicality of this (though, UGH when somebody inevitably makes a “That Twenty Teens Show” QR Codes are going to be the New Coke that we’ll never be able to live down.)

The New Aesthetic Needs to Get Weirder
The Atlantic weighs in on all the New Aesthetic stuff and, espite a big flaw in this guys argument (he still sees computers as a fundamentally understandable intelligence that isn’t alien) he raises a really good direction for the New Aesthetic to explore and that’s panpsychism. We don’t just need to see like computers but as them and actually try and inhabit the worldview of that object as best we can. I think the call to do that with ALL objects is…kinda self serving on his part but that idea attached to computer vision has some interesting possibilities. His other suggestions are interesting as well.

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