futuristic user interfaces

An interface from ‘Prometheus’ (Scott 2012) The head-up display (↑HUD) of ‘The Terminator’ (Cameron 1984) VisualPunker has amassed a ↑nice collection [containing a lot of animated gifs] of futuristic and retrofuturistic interfaces and HUDs from anime, other motion pictures, and computer games. In this respect I fullheartedly recommend ‘↑Make it so: Interaction design lessons from science fiction‘ (Shedroff & Noessel 2012): Many designers enjoy the interfaces seen in science fiction films and television shows. Freed from the rigorous constraints of designing for real users, sci-fi production designers develop blue-sky interfaces that are inspiring, humorous, and even instructive. By carefully studying … Continue reading

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the differential gear

  The above is the most clear-cut explanation of ‘how a ↑differential gear works’ I’ve ever seen. The video below is complementary—↑Richard Feynman explains why a train car stays on its tracks when ‘going around the corner,’ although no differential gears are involved:  ↑differential gear and ↑feynman on trains via entries at boingboing … Continue reading

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vintage tomorrows

  There’s a fine new book: ‘Vintage Tomorrows’ (Carrott & Johnson 2013). Here’s the official description: What would today’s technology look like with Victorian-era design and materials? That’s the world steampunk envisions: a mad-inventor collection of 21st century-inspired contraptions powered by steam and driven by gears. In this book, futurist Brian David Johnson and cultural historian James Carrott explore steampunk, a cultural movement that’s captivated thousands of artists, designers, makers, hackers, and writers throughout the world.     Just like today, the late 19th century was an age of rapid technological change, and writers such as Jules Verne and H.G. … Continue reading

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frankenrifle in mali

The above screencap from a BBC report on the conflict in Mali was made by @ByronDoerfer and sent to ↑C. J. Chivers, who gave a ↑first diagnosis: This gentleman, reportedly a Chadian soldier in Mali, is holding what appears to be a well-worn ↑AKM variant with a host of after-market add-ons, creating a cosmetic hybrid between the globally established Kalashnikov operating system and the modern Western military obsession with rails, sights, tactical grips and collapsing stocks. [italics emphasis mine]     [...] I haven’t had time to review the kit of Chadian soldiers generally. So I can’t say whether this … Continue reading

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wireless devices 1906

Kip W ↑unearthed the above wonderful, stunningly up-to-date ↑Punch cartoon (Williams 1955: 164) by artist ↑Lewis Baumer (1870-1963), which first was published in 1906! It’s great historical evidence for how early in the development of a given technology people not only speculate about the future trajectory of said development, but also think about possible social consequences of it. WILLIAMS, RONALD EARNEST. 1955. A century of Punch cartoons. New York: Simon and Schuster. via ↑entry at ↑boingboing … Continue reading

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who is calling?

zeph’s pop culture quiz #57 The public phone is ringing. Who is calling? And a scene from which book is cited thereby?     Simply leave a comment with your educated guess—you can ask for additional hints, too. [Leaving a comment is easy; just click the 'Leave a comment' at the end of the post and fill in the form. If it's the first time you post a comment, it will be held for moderation. But I am constantly checking, and once I've approved a comment, your next ones won't be held, but published immediately by the system.] UPDATE and … Continue reading

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the coming war on general computation

The copyright war was just the beginning  The last 20 years of Internet policy have been dominated by the copyright war, but the war turns out only to have been a skirmish. The coming century will be dominated by war against the general purpose computer, and the stakes are the freedom, fortune and privacy of the entire human race.     The problem is twofold: first, there is no known general-purpose computer that can execute all the programs we can think of except the naughty ones; second, general-purpose computers have replaced every other device in our world. There are no … Continue reading

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war as text

Currently I am bit by bit re-reading Latour’s ‘We have never been modern’ (1993 [1991]). In one of the classes I am holding this term I am coercing the students to do this reading, and loyally I am joining in. Latour’s criticism of postmodernism induced an association inside me. Especially this paragraph: When we are dealing with science and technology it is hard to imagine for long that we are a text that is writing itself, a discourse that is speaking all by itself, a play of signifiers without signifieds. It is hard to reduce the entire cosmos to a … Continue reading

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the witch reboot

  Last Tuesday the ↑Wolverhampton Instrument for Teaching Computing from Harwell (WITCH) was rebooted for the first time since the 1970s. For two and a half years volunteers had restaurated the machine, which was built in 1951, at Great Britain’s ↑National Museum of Computing at Bletchley Park. via ↑article at ↑wired … Continue reading

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