Obsolescence

As you’ve likely noticed, this blog is now largely abandoned.

There are lots of reasons for this, technical and otherwise.

Over the past 18 months or so I simply haven’t had the time for long-form posting, nor have I had the time to do the technical upkeep on code and plugins that a WordPress installation requires these days. So I migrated to a Tumblr-based blog last year and that’s where I’ve been posting. It’s mostly short-form stuff, and miscellaneous nonsense and meme-ery targeted towards my core audience and other friends. Which is to say, it’s likely indecipherable to (and occasionally not safe for) family, editors, current and potential clients, and others.

At some point this summer, this version of the blog will go away entirely and be replaced by a portal page that links to all of my various online presences.

In the meantime, feel free to enjoy my silliness over at DANGERPANTS! (the current incarnation of the blog), or visit the new home for my short fiction bits at The Ministry of Apostrophes.

posted 3/8/11 by Tony at 8:37am to Site stuff · 0 replies · »

Utopia

1748 plan of New Haven, via the Beinecke Library @ Yale

The Beinecke Library has an interesting web exhibition about the American history of the Utopian dream, from the establishment of New Haven in 1638 to modern sustainable communes like Twin Oaks.

The exhibit has a comprehensive list of the most important “utopian” communities in the US1, with manuscripts and documents from the library’s collections.

Also included are short lists of Utopian and Dystopian literature from the collection2.  It’s a neat set of images and facts, if you’re interested in the subject and haven’t seen an overview of it presented in such a way.

Two nitpicks that I have, though: 1) The sentence “the goal of removal from the heart of civilization to the wilderness” in the intro text is misleading as a blanket statement – More’s original Utopia was one of social and political perfection, rather than one based on any pastoral or nature-based ideals; and 2) it would be nice if all the manuscript/ephemera page images enlarged into higher-res versions.

  1. The most well-known being, arguably, the PA Germans and the New Harmony colony.
  2. I think two titles that should have been on the Dystopian list are Lewis’ “It Can’t Happen Here” (1935) and Heinlein’s “If This Goes On-” (1940). I have to believe their exclusion is only because Beinecke does not have 1st edition copies of these books in their collection.
posted 2/10/10 by Tony at 1:58pm to Books, History · 0 replies · »

Augmented reality and the “Barely Game”

I’ve been thinking a lot about the concept of play lately. Nothing linear or even cohesive; just ponderings and lots of what-ifery. Yet I took a couple of my thoughts and sent them off to a developer friend of mine, suggesting that we even consider building an augmented reality game for the iPhone platform.

We quickly realized we had neither the time nor the resources such an effort would require, but it created a good thought exercise for me in terms of play via the iPhone. That is, we touch things and take actions through such games—rolling balls, landing planes, etc.—but as adults, we rarely actively pretend. And pretending is crucial to immersive gameplay in any sort of augmented reality situation.

So then. How can AR be used through devices like the iPhone to create situations that require pretending as an active component of gameplay? How must good narratives and solid storytelling be constructed for such games? I have lots of questions in my mind about these things. Of course I have no answers, but I think Russell Davies has some great ideas—notably that of the Barely Game—from his recent talk at Playful.

posted 11/30/09 by Tony at 2:30pm to Uncategorized · 1 reply · »

Project Diana

diana_sm

What would you shoot if I asked you to take a photograph of “summer”?

That’s a question I posed last June, when I solicited 12 random Twitter followers to participate in a photography assignment called “Project Diana”1

The premise was simple enough: I would load a plastic “toy” camera with a roll of color 120 film (12 exposures), put it in a box with simple camera instructions, a Field Notes pad and pen, and prepaid pre-addressed labels. I’d send the camera off to the first contributor, they would shoot their photo, write a description of it in the notebook, and then re-box the camera and mail it off to the next participant. By the end of summer, I’d have the camera back, process the photos, and see what came out.

I chose a toy camera for a lot of reasons, primarily because there was no way I was going to put anything more expensive in the mail, lest it get lost or accidentally broken. But mostly I picked it for ease of use, and also because I love the lo-fi look it produces. I figured that over the 12 exposures, the quality of the photos would average out; no matter how carefully (or poorly) framed or lit each shot was, they would all produce the consistently hazy and dreamy look that is the signature of Lomography.

The Holga camera used is particularly known for its quirks — light leaks, poor film transport, etc. And though all of the people involved were nervous to some degree about “getting it right”, I was in fact hoping to get some strange results and mistakes. Sure enough, two of the photos taken resulted in a double-exposure. The two folks who shot those frames might not be tickled with the result, but I am giddy about it. The resulting photo shows both a carnival ferris wheel and a summer-sized serving of gelato. Outstanding. Lomography at its best.

When I finally got the box back from the last participant a couple of weeks ago2 and processed the film and read all of the notes, I expected to have something profound come out of it. Something that would generate a larger story and a poignant message. But I didn’t find such a thing. What I found was that the project itself was the point. It started out simply for fun, and that’s how it ended. A tiny creative effort between twelve people around the United States who had mostly never met. They all had fun doing it, and I had a blast as well. I was thrilled just getting the box back in the mail—to have put a camera in a pristine box in June, and have it come back to me on a cold November day, banged and dented and enlarged by obscene amounts of packing tape and layers of labels—and seeing that inside the little box was the same camera I’d sent away, only now it was full of the analog creativity of people I knew only digitally. That in and of itself was the biggest joy for me. To be able to share the results now is simply the proverbial cherry on top.

So, having said all of that, please take some time to go look at the photographs on Flickr. These shots show the summer of 2009, from the viewpoints of twelve great people all over the country, shot on one continuous piece of film.

  1. I originally planned to use a Diana F+ camera for the project, but at the last moment I realized I had a valuable and unfinished roll of film inside of it. I substituted a Holga 120CFN camera instead, yet the name of the project remained the same.
  2. The project took much longer to complete than I’d hoped—I wanted to get the camera back sometime in August, but looking at it now, November is a good time to look back at photos of summer. There is enough distance from the shots themselves to make them interesting on their own, and as a set.
posted 11/24/09 by Tony at 1:28pm to Photography · 7 replies · »

Recommendation

amazon screenshot

Really, Amazon? Really?

posted 11/13/09 by Tony at 10:28am to WTF? · 1 reply · »