Bruce Sterling commented on this diagram on his blog:
*These icons represent user interactions associated with Layar augmented “Points of Interest,” or “floaties.” It’s a pretty good graphic-design job and I have no problem with that, but check out how many of these icons are archaic “skeuomorphs,” or references to archaic, no-longer-functional forms of analog media.
“Hey!” I said. I have many of these so-called skeuomorphs sitting in my living room. They would be littering my desk, if I had one. I use these things often, and not just for kitsch value, but for their intended and designed use, of all things.
I have a certain dislike of the term skeuomorph. It is a meaningful term, of course, defined like so on the helpful Tumblr-style site, Skeuomorphs.com:
Wikipedia defines a skeuomorph as “a derivative object which retains ornamental design cues to a structure that was necessary in the original.”
Skeuomorphs.com uses the following tests to determine if an object is a skeuomorph:
- the function of the design cue must be lost, otherwise it is an example of path dependence
- the design cue must be inherited from a predecessor, not copied from a similar object
- the object must be derivative. Functional objects do not become skeuomorphs when they are repurposed as decorations
Fair enough. You can see plenty of good examples on their site. But, I often see this term used (skeuomorphically repurposed?) to denote things called “obsolete”, or otherwise less fashionable than objects that perform a similar task more quickly/cheaper/alternatively/on the internet.
The point of the definition above is a sort of “empty design echo”. A form or aesthetic of a functional object is deliberately maintained, inherited from a completely different object that does not require that form or aesthetic to function. This is not the same as being a vinyl LP afficionado; this would be like making a tone arm to come down over top of an open CD player, the arm being non-functional because the sound data is read from the bottom. Why would you do that? Good question.
On the other hand, to actually listen to vinyl records has a distinct function. And it is not just to be “retro”. Vinyl has a distinctive sound. There are vast numbers of vinyl records and equipment for playing them out there and available, many of them inexpensive. Some people still have vinyl they bought when it was new, and would rather continue to listen to them just as before, rather than “upgrading” for the joy of being “current”. To call something obsolete just because it is “behind the times” is to almost make a reverse-skeuomorph: to select an object for a design that attempt to evoke modernity, futurity and State-of-the-Art-edness, thereby ignoring the function for the sake of the curve. Are stainless steel appliances and fixtures really better than those made from plastic? I don’t know, but I wouldn’t ask Kohler or Whirlpool for their reverse-skeuomorph marketing schtick.
Anyway: I decided to play a fun game. I went down the list of icons above to see which ones I could produce the symbolized object, not just its functional equivalent. I did this because I am unpacking from a move, and so for at least a week I know where everything is. The point isn’t to prove anything, just to see to what extent these symbolic skeuomorphs are or are not part of my everyday life.
Skeuomorphic Symbol Scavenger Hunt
Here are the rules:
I get one point if have the actual object.
I get half a point if have a very similar object, that actually has the same symbolized function without being a skeuomorph. Or in the case of those that are more of verbs than nouns, I have something pretty close.
I don’t get any points if I “recently had one”, or “I’ve got one in storage”, or if “I know where I can get one”. The implication from the full-point status is that I not only have this object as if I collected it, but I use it regularly as it was designed to be used, not just getting it out on weekends for fun, like my pinstriped sport suit I wear when I ride my penny-farthing down the promenade (I don’t actually do this).
So without further ado or theory, my results.
Info – One Point
You’re probably pretty skeptical that I’m giving myself a full point for this first one, but I consider this correct. The “i” stands for info, or alternately, a person, as in the “You Are Here” symbol on the map located at an information kiosk of some sort, because if you are looking at the map, you are at the kiosk. And, I have a travel map, of the kind that is the sort of info that is handed out at travel kiosks.
Audio – One Point
Say hello to my Grado Labs SR-60s! Some of the best headphones you can get in the price range. And would you look at that functionalist earphone profile? The icon is almost a silhouette of it.
Video – Half Point
Arguably, the icon is of a projector, not of a camera, because even film cameras utilize cartridges. I had a 8mm projector up until last week, and have a 8mm camera in storage, but neither of these count. However, I do have a video camera that uses tapes. Digital magnetic tapes, but they have the functional reels that make up the primary feature of the icon. “Rewind” is not a metaphor.
Phone – Zero Points
I got nothing. I had a plug-in handset up until I moved a week ago, but I hadn’t plugged it in in five years. And despite the urging of the Qwest salesperson who signed me up for Internet, I was not about to start. My phone looks like a pack of playing cards, and I can shout at whatever side I want.
Email – One Point
I send mail in envelopes all the time. I even have stamps too, though we used the last one this morning. Why do I send “snail mail”? I’ll tell you why. Because, if nothing else, the electricity company charges a surcharge for electronic payment!
Position – One Point
Because there ain’t no cellular network in the woods, fella. In fact, at the speed the network works sometimes, I’d take a quadrangle and compass over a crashing app. Interestingly enough, my cell phone uses this symbol for its location feature, even though it only has GPS and no compass.
Add/Remove – Half Point
These are verbs, so that’s a bit difficult to produce. But, I do have this awesome TI-2550. Check out the red display! It uses 4 AA batteries, and claims operating time of 6 hours on this charge. But, it’s sturdy as shit and doesn’t break the way that crappy credit card solar calculator did when I put it my bag. Plus, as a co-worker once remarked, “it works in the dark!” I give myself a half point for both of these combined.
Edit – One Point
Accept no substitutes.
Collect – One Point
Handmade by some hippie in the third-world ghettos of Portland, Oregon. Cost like $10, and holds more groceries than any other reusable bag we have. Also makes a bitchin’ picnic basket.
Play – Half Point
This is a verb, but the symbol shows up in black and silver on my tape recorder, though you can’t see it in the picture. And this is a functional usage, because it differentiates between tape direction, and the relative speed of rewind and fast-forward.
Play – One Point
You can’t hear it, but I’m singing the theme to Link right now. Dum, dum, da dadadadada! Dum dada, dum da dada! Probably best this way.
Share – Zero Points
Bruces is right, this is an interesting symbol. I thought for a long time about what retro-sharing might look like, but couldn’t come up with anything. Maybe hands exchanging something? I don’t know. I do have this cool folding ruler, but it’s not earning me any points.
Pin – One Point
This kills me, because just yesterday I was holding a box of honest-to-goodness map pins in my hand, that were used to pin locations on a paper map. I dug through a bunch of half-unpacked boxes, but couldn’t find them. Instead, I guiltily present these thumb tacks, and take my full point anyway.
Check In/Out – Zero Points
I don’t know about this one. I have some hotel room cards, of the swipe-in/out variety, but I don’t think that counts. It’s hard to tell exactly what that symbolizes, and it doesn’t make me think of checking in to anything. Not sure what would–a revolving door, maybe? Anyway, instead please see my awesome flight calculator, which CAN ALSO BE USED AS A SLIDE RULE, and will totally be helpful to me when the apocalypse hits and I’m stuck on a boat or a plane?
Log In/Out – One Point
I think the name of this one is the actual skeuomorph. Yeah, your sign-ins to a service may be logged, but so is just about everything. You are really unlocking a service, when something requires a “log-in”. And without the proper key, you do not have access. The log is just a record of that. I wonder, tangentially, when “log on” became uniformly “log in”?
Lock/Unlock – One Point
Keeping gym lockers secure. This one looks pretty flimsy, but I’d trust it more than certain web sites that don’t even run SSL.
List – One Point
How I GTD. I’ve never liked any GTD app as much as paper, and this floppy little book cost less than a buck and fits in my pocket. The list is part of the contents of my storage unit.
Money – One Point
Virtual currency, of the seemingly “real” variety. Interestingly, the “$” symbol does not appear anywhere on the bill.
Open/Close – Zero Points
Nothing for these verbs. And again, the nomenclature is the skeuomorph. “Open” and “close” are what the “windows” are animated to do. If anything, you are running and halting a program or process, conjuring or dispelling a dimension of the GUI.
Search – One Point
The best for last. I suppose I have never really “searched” for anything with my magnifying glass, but I have found things with it. Talk about your semantic search–with this search tool, context isn’t everything, it’s the only thing!
FINAL SCORE: Out of 22 items, 14.5 points.
Think you can do better, or would like to dispute my scoring? Take it to the comments, suckas.
Some of the most experienced members of the Anonymous and LulzSec hacker collectives are believed to have had “botnets” – hijacked networks of PCs – of more than 100,000 compromised computers.
If that many machines were set to work generating Bitcoins, they could create up to $7,500 worth a day at current trading levels – meaning members of the hacker collectives could be among the biggest losers if the value does not recover as and when MtGox reopens. In the hours before the hack the total value of Bitcoins in circulation was more than $150m.
IF some hackers have botnets, and IF those botnets are mining Bitcoin, and IF those Bitcoin were stolen, then OMG that sucks for them!!!
What is the deal? If your topic is slightly shady, any sort of journalistic research goes right out the window? I’ve seen articles about Lulzsec quoting anonymous Twitter accounts, and articles about Bitcoin citing claims made on anonymous forum threads as fact. I know that we’re all excited by this real-life-cyberpunk virtuality, but come on.
If I tried to combine every thought that came in my head while watching this video into a coherent essay, I would have something book length, so instead, I’m just going to spit it out.
Wow. Mind blown.
First of all, great job, Grand Rapids. Sincerely. The city put together a mammoth effort, even without the help of Kickstarter, and came up with an Internet video that was not only successful, but put others in the category to shame. I tend to think with art of a more casual sort, if you don’t have a concept that in itself is necessarily going to knock it out of the park, at least go big on the effort. Done and done.
And in throwing their hat into the meme, white America reminds the internet that it exists. The internet is not just pro-democracy fronts and third-world music blogs, folks! It is possible to have a good old fashioned Main Street parade online. No taco truck reviews, no workers’ rights, no sex, no militant screen printing hacker collectives. Football, American made cars, and, well, apple pie.
I don’t say this simply to be facetious. Main Street America does exist, and it would only be a publication as idiotically outdated as Newsweek, (see link for back story on that) who thinks that it is somehow more an arbiter of taste, more up with the times and pace of the internet than a city on a river in Michigan. All those “real Americans” you saw in the video have Internet connections, and you better believe they cancelled their subscriptions to Newsweek, if they even had any.
And isn’t it somewhat refreshing, to see the meme of America rescued from hate-filled invective, pulled out of the politics for one minute, to mug for the camera in a way that makes us seem welcome in “real America” once again; to make Chambers of Commerce look like nice community organizations, rather than the money behind union crushing, the propping up of corporate property rights, and anti-gay legislation? I mean, it is almost enough to make me forget the experiences I’ve had being called “fag” while crossing Main Street, USA, and make me think about living in the Midwest again. Almost.
Not that any of these nice folks in Grand Rapids would do something like that. They all look like nice people, with nice lives. And with the sort of effort necessary to put a project like this together, the goodwill and support for the community provided by local businesses, lawmakers, and everyday people alike, they might have a different sort of town that defies the norm, where people band together and form a community, indeed, the only thing that’s ever formed community, unlike many so-called defenses of “family, community, and small business”.
And so I wonder if, after raising $40,000 to make this video, the next weekend they all got together to put in bike lanes. Or to build low income housing. I just wonder, I don’t mean to imply that they should have done this instead. They can do whatever they like with their time, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with making a video, any more than there is anything wrong with putting in a statue of Robocop, as elsewhere in Michigan. But a community is defined by what they choose to do with their community. And a definition is not only what is said, but also what is not said. This might be the cornerstone of self-expression, whether you are a city or a person, or any other entity.
This juxtaposition between the little that is said and the lot that isn’t said is not an accusation in my mind, but when I watch two videos back to back (as the vicissitude of the Internet decided for me), the question is automatically posed. And what is the question, anyway? I’m not entirely sure. But when there’s a nice singalong going on in the streets of one town, when somewhere across the world there are beatings and worse going on in the streets of another town, there should be a question asked, shouldn’t there? Even if we can’t quite bring it to our lips.
I wonder if, maybe not unlike in the classic song Grand Rapids decided to sing, this video could be the moment that something died. Not in a fiery plane crash, of course. But in the sense that when something is memorialized, it in its reality is somewhat ceased. You don’t plant a gravestone for something that is still living. Don McLean reacting to the 60s with nostalgia for something that people wanted to believe still existed, even though that sort of Americana was now a ghost. The ghost of Main Street America, in a world of Tahrir squares. And yet they can still sing this song, with help from their platinum sponsors. That’s something, right? Isn’t it? To whom?
Lastly, in a fit of SF splendor, I imagine this clip resurfacing after a number of years, and discovered by some disaffected youth, longing for the way the continent “used to be”. In a saga reminiscent of Damnation Alley, they set off across whatever this terrain will look like then, attempting to find the promised land of Grand Rapids. What is it that they will find? Probably not radioactive, mutated cockroaches. But other than that, I can’t say that I know with certainly in any direction.
Videos of 3D weaving machines, which Lexus uses to build car components, among other things. Added strength, less material, and so forth. Via BLDGBLOG.
While once, extruded technologies (plastics) were all the rage of the future, the anality of the mechanisms of cutting-edge capitalistic production is now even more high-strung. Replace the urge to expel with a general increase in tension. The problems of infrastructural distribution that guided flows of solid material and waste, are swapped out for algorithmic Gordian knots. From muscular compression, and old-world-modernist strength, the present-day technologies have progresses towards stretching: no longer thinking bigger and better, pulling every last bit of surplus value out, pulling the thread as taught as it can get.
From many sources frequented by discerning viewers:
Many things to notice here, in addition to the straight awesomeness of what is embedded. Something about the cinematographic separation of white and black. Put next to this:
There is something in paint, and what we expect it to do, and why we use it, and what we think about what it might mean. Something about white suits, about dark skin. About black skull-art work, and about white bone. I don’t know what it is, or if I would get any closer to it by thinking about it in words.
Maybe what I should do is make a music video that is visually not-altogether-not-alike to another video by what might at one time been a diametric opposite artist, but do so by covering a song that might as well have been another diametric opposite in another dimension but is now an inspiration, and do so in a way that completely represents an entirely different culture and place, in symbols that are apparent to nearly anyone anywhere in the world with the technology to view the video in the way the video is presented. I would have to make a video, because just listing these characteristics and proposing the idea is not nearly the same as doing it, especially when someone has already done it. But I couldn’t do it, and not just because someone has already done it.
Something about opposites, in the way they are like echoes.
The B.s, who only came up to London a few weeks ago and have seen nothing of the blitz, say that they find Londoners very much changed, everyone very hysterical, talking in much louder tones, etc., etc. If this is so, it is something that happens gradually and that one does not notice while in the middle of it, as with the growth of a child. The only change I have definitely noticed since the air-raids began is that people are much more ready to speak to strangers in the street. . . . The Tube stations don’t now stink to any extent, the new metal bunks are quite good, and the people one sees there are reasonably well found as to bedding and seem contented and normal in all ways – but this just what disquiets me. What is one to think of people who go on living this subhuman life night after night for months, including periods of a week or more when no aeroplane has come near London? . . . It is appalling to see children still in all the Tube stations, taking it all for granted and having great fun riding round and round the Inner Circle. A little while back D. J. was coming to London from Cheltenham, and in the train was a young woman with her two children who had been evacuated to somewhere in the West Country and whom she was now bringing back. As the train neared London an air-raid began and the woman spent the rest of the journey in tears. What had decided her to come back was the fact that at that time there had been no raid on London for a week or more, and so she had concluded that “it was all right now”. What is one to think of the mentality of such people?
When one suggests that SF involving people living underground in tubes because they fear an unspecified danger above ground is unrealistic, I suppose that we should remember that of all the horrible things we could possibly think of to do to other people, someone has already thought of, and most likely, done so.
My first attempt at a Storify proceeds below. It still has a few UI snags that I think could be improved, but the entire thing is very promising. I really like being able to go back over a train of thought and annotate. I am all about the annotation.
How about a game of Global Atemporal Nuclear Cold War?
While watching this, you get the impression that the cold war wasn’t a cold war at all, because over fifty years, several countries routinely bombed themselves in the effort to posture a nuclear gangster stance. Especially the US, who bombed the crap out of the western United States, fulfilling the dreams of many a social conservative, albeit in atemporal slow-motion.
And what the hell is up with France? Over 300 nuclear tests? What are they trying to prove? That a Warsaw Pact land war in Europe would be a bad idea? Crazy.
Animation is by Isao Hashimoto, and this was scraped via Boingboing.
“The trouble with you, Ballantyne said, i that you have always had a hunger for stories. The life tragically cut short is a story, and the life satisfactorily completed is a story, as is the life of the insomniac who is lulled to sleep by sweet music. You have never been willing to face the fact that life is not a story, that the poets and novelists and playwrights have been lying to us since the dawn of creation and pandering to our fears and desires.”
These are excellent. They are artwork, and so I could show you a screen shot, and you could see what they looked like. But they are also websites, so it would be like looking at a photo of a sculpture.
I can’t find out very much about the artist, except that his name is Andrey Yazev.
These remind me of the Stainless Steel kinetic ball toys. Machines which we can clearly see how they function, and yet have no purpose but to entertain. These sites are kind of like that, but for the age of the cloud. We click and drag, re-size and select all day long, but this is sort of way of “getting it out”. Just play with it. Like the satisfaction of clicking a bunch of times on a blank screen. Nothing at all, just cliclickliklciklickcicklick. A basket woven from bands of ten-fingered catharsis.
Also interesting: having to have the right browser to view a piece of art.
And one more fact: by hitting CTRL-U, you can see how he made his artwork. Cool.
[This is how a materials list should read. "Other mixed media" is a total cop out.
Also: Marcel Duchamp wrote a manual on how to install the work, before it was moved. I can't embed it, but the Philadelphia Museum has a flash viewer to look at the manual here. Unfortunately you can't read the text at that level, and it is out of print. I'd like to get my hands on that document. Art that is instructions on how to make art.]
We’re getting reports from the gulf that BP is involved in another cover-up – in the literal meaning.
British Petroleum is trucking in sand to cover up the oil. Let me repeat that – instead of cleaning up the oil they are just bringing in sand from other beaches and covering it up. In the photos and the video you can see the layering of Grand Isle, LA sand, oil and then a sand of a different type. Photo-journalists have four independent confirmations by local Sheriff’s in Grand Isle, Louisiana.
CS Muncy, a freelance photo-journalist from New York has gone down to report the story on his own dime. He’s a friend of The Mudflats and has sent us these photos to get the word out.
I hate BP, and the pollution is horribly real, but this story is bunk. (This comment is stuck in moderation on the target site, so I’m posting it here for somewhere to direct to.)
Grand Isle is more than seven miles long. But to cover just ONE mile of beach, at a bare minimum width of 300 feet, with 6 inches of sand, you would need
5280 ft X 300 ft x 0.5 ft = 792,000 cubic ft of sand.
Divide by 9, and that is 88,000 cubic yards of sand.
So that is 4000 dump trucks to add 6 inches of sand to one mile of beach. And these are very conservative estimates of a beach’s volume, what with sand constantly washing and blowing away, and extending far out under the water.
4000 dump trucks x 20 ft length = a line of dump trucks almost 19 miles long.
Yeah, they probably just brought those in while everyone was watch the World Cup.
[Not that I don't support spreading negative rumors about BP, but this is just a little obvious, in my opinion. Kind of like using an MS Word font on a fake government record from the 60s.
If anything though, this should let us know how hard the clean up operation will be, and how ineffective BP's efforts are likely to be. You can't just replace the sand on a beach, or even wash it all. There is just so much of it, and it moves as the waves pound it. The phrase "like grains of sand on a beach" has real meaning here. There are hundreds of miles of oil soaked coastline. That oil is going to be there for a long time.]
“Horribly depressed by the way things are turning out. Went this morning for my medical board and was turned down, my grade being C., in which they aren’t at present taking any men in any corps…. what is appalling is the unimaginativeness of a system which can find no use for a man who is below the average level of fitness but at least is not an invalid. An army needs an immense amount of clerical work, most of which is done by people who are perfectly healthy and only half-literate… One could forgive the government for failing to employ the intelligentsia, who on the whole are politically unreliable, if they were making any attempt to mobilise the manpower of the nation and change people from the luxury trades to productive work. This simply isn’t happening, as one can see by looking down any street.”
“I saw in one of yesterday’s papers that gas masks are being issued in America, though people have to pay for them. Gas masks are probably useless to the civilian population in England and almost certainly in America. The issue of them is simply a symbol of national solidarity, the first step towards wearing a uniform. . . . As soon as war started the carrying or not carrying of a gas mask assumed social and political implications. In the first few days people like myself who refused to carry one were stared at and it was generally assumed that the non-carriers were “left”. Then the habit wore off, and the assumption was that a person who carried a gas mask was of the ultra-cautious type, the suburban rate-payer type. With the bad news the habit has revived and I should think 20 per cent now carry them. But you are still a little stared at if you carry one without being in uniform. Until the big raids have happened and it is grasped that the Germans don’t, in fact, use gas, the extent to which masks are carried will probably be a good index of the impression the war news is making on the public.”
[This was written in 1977. The article the authors quote (in the block quote) was written in 1971. The funny part is, they were thinking about PHYSICAL networks. They were actually thinking about a network of roads and paths leading to everyone's houses, upon which students could walk to and fro. As it turns out, Ethernet cable is the new asphalt.]
“Illich describes a style of learning that is quite the opposite from schools. It is geared especially to the rich opportunities for learning that are natural to every metropolitan area:
The alternative to social control through the schools is the voluntary participation in society through networks which provide access to all its resources for learning. In fact these networks now exist, but they are rarely used for educational purposes. The crisis of schooling, if it is to have any positive consequence, will inevitably lead to their incorporation into the educational process….
Schools are designed on the assumption that there is a secret to everything in life; that the quality of life depends on knowing that secret; that secrets can be known only in orderly successions; and that only teachers can properly reveal these secrets. An individual with a schooled mind conceives of the world as a pyramid of classified packages accessible only to those who carry the proper tags. New educational institutions would break apart this pyramid. Their purpose must be to facilitate access for the learner: to allow him to look into the windows of the control room or the parliament, if he cannot get in the door. Moreover, such new institutions should be channels to whic hthe learner would hae access without credentials or pedigree–public spaces in which peers and elders outside his immediate horizon now become available.
In short, the educational system so radically decentralized becomes congruent with the urban structure itself. People of all walkd of life come forth, and offer a class in the things they know and love: professionals and workgroups offer apprenticeships in their offices and workshops, old people offer to teach whatever their life work and interest has been, specialists offer tutoring in their special subjects. Living and learning are the same. It is not hard to imagine that eventually every third or fourth household with have at least one person in it who is offering a class or training of some kind.”