Notes about internet

June 27, 2012 permalink

Google X Cat Image Recognition

The Internet has become self-aware, but thankfully it just wants to spend some time scrolling Tumblr for cat videos. From the NY Times, How Many Computers to Identify a Cat? 16,000:

[At the Google X lab] scientists created one of the largest neural networks for machine learning by connecting 16,000 computer processors, which they turned loose on the Internet to learn on its own.

Presented with 10 million digital images found in YouTube videos, what did Google’s brain do? What millions of humans do with YouTube: looked for cats. The neural network taught itself to recognize cats, which is actually no frivolous activity.

(Photo credit: Jim Wilson/The New York Times)

May 26, 2012 permalink

Brian Moriarty Listen

Game designer Brian Moriarty delivered quite a talk at the 1997 Game Developers Conference, touching on everything from interaction design, emergent play, community-created art, creativity, self expression, and even an unexpected but interesting tangent about 101 Dalmatians. In hindsight, many of subjects he talks about would become evident over the next decade, from the Sims to Etsy to Minecraft to social networking. From Listen! The Potential of Shared Hallucinations:

Before we can learn, before we can grow, we have to be prepared to listen.

What does it mean, to listen?

The word is commonly understood to mean “attentive hearing.”

It has its etymological origin in the archaic verb, list.

“List!” they used to say. “Ssh! List! The wild boar is outside!”

But the verb “list” also means to tilt something to one side.

When a sea vessel leans to starboard or port, it is said to be listing.

So how did the word “list” turn into the verb “listen?”

Because when we try to hear something, we sometimes cock our heads in the direction of the sound.

So to listen means more than to hear attentively.

The word also implies a change of inclination.

A new slant.

To listen is to put ourselves into a receptive attitude.

A position to be re-aligned.

Also worth reading (the talk is also available for watching as a video in the GDC Vault) if you fondly remember the days of Hypercard, MUDs, and when text adventures reigned supreme on AOL, or if you like crazy 1990s Photoshop anaglyphs…

March 8, 2012 permalink

Boston News on the Morris Worm

[Video no longer available]

A fun Boston nightly news clip from 1988 on the outbreak of the Morris worm, one of the first Internet-spreading infections that caught mainstream attention. There’s much to love about this clip: the “part-time virus hunter”, the scenes of MIT’s computer labs, the bizarre (but maybe slyly satirical?) footage of the infamous Atari 2600 ET game inserted, um, I guess to, uh, illustrate something computer-y?

(Via Dangerous Minds)

October 16, 2011 permalink

Earliest Web Browsers

Ars Technica has up a history article on the early web browsers, a rare glimpse into the largely-forgotten software that beat NCSA Mosaic to the punch but didn’t quite make it into pop culture consciousness (seen above is ViolaWWW, notable for early stabs at browsing history, bookmarks, styles, and even embedded scripting — probably also the first web browser I remember using on my Slackware copy of X Windows circa 1994! </old>).

For all of the developments in web technology since 1991, it’s remarkable to see how many UI features and browsing concepts emerged almost immediately and are still with us today.

June 15, 2011 permalink Brings Back Usenet from 30 Years Ago

Screenshot from an interesting project, ― Usenet posts reappearing in realtime as they did exactly 30 years ago, a new way of experiencing the history of the early Net. See how things were mere months before the launch of B-News, long before the Great Renaming and the creation of the alt.* hierarchy, and best of all, the introduction of spam is more than a decade away still!

You can use either the browser-based client to poke through the messages, or point your favorite NNTP client to the site and experience it as you would the real Usenet. Nice!

Also, I like this answer from the FAQ:

Can I post to
Your posts will be accepted, but will not show up for at least 30 years. 🙂

(Via Waxy Links)

December 11, 2009 permalink

Hito Steyerl: In Defense of the Poor Image

Still from Ghosts Before Breakfast

The poor image is a copy in motion. Its quality is bad, its resolution substandard. As it accelerates, it deteriorates. It is a ghost of an image, a preview, a thumbnail, an errant idea, an itinerant image distributed for free, squeezed through slow digital connections, compressed, reproduced, ripped, remixed, as well as copied and pasted into other channels of distribution.


At present, there are at least twenty torrents of Chris Marker’s film essays available online. If you want a retrospective, you can have it. But the economy of poor images is about more than just downloads: you can keep the files, watch them again, even reedit or improve them if you think it necessary. And the results circulate. Blurred AVI files of half-forgotten masterpieces are exchanged on semi-secret P2P platforms. Clandestine cell-phone videos smuggled out of museums are broadcast on YouTube. DVDs of artists’ viewing copies are bartered.3 Many works of avant-garde, essayistic, and non-commercial cinema have been resurrected as poor images. Whether they like it or not.

– Excerpted from Hito Steyerl’s piece in e-flux journal #10

(Via Rhizome)

December 7, 2009 permalink

This Creative Destruction Began in the 60s As

This “creative destruction” began in the ’60s, as did many things that we now both love and regret, and it was initially a spinoff of a project funded by US military agencies. […] Mephistopheles came to Faust in the form of a poodle. After all…in some versions of the story, he cannot enter your house unbidden — you have to invite him in, like a vampire.

From Internet Antichrist, a thoughtful piece by David Byrne on the the development of the ARPANET, psychoacoustics research at Bell Labs leading to vocoders and Kraftwerk, the rise of digital recording and transmission, and the possibility of the near-future demise of physical media and risks to personal privacy. The market forces of creative destruction.

August 9, 2009 permalink

The So Called Mother of All Demos the

The so-called “Mother of All Demos”, the technology presentation given by Doug Engelbart of the Stanford Research Institute, which introduced to the world a number of useful developments: hypertext, the computer mouse, timesharing, email, video conferencing… And this was a bit over forty years ago, just before the ARPANET went online. Pretty amazing times.

The videos are available in more digestible chunks over on Stanford’s MouseSite.

July 21, 2009 permalink

ANSI Art Generator from Drastic

Rad, there’s an online ANSI art generator! Relive the glory days of BBSes and dodgy w4r3z nfo files right in your browser. I remember wasting a lot of time back in junior high making colorful DOS menus using ansi.sys and batch files. Better than launching Windows 3.1!

Check it out, make some art: (The drawing program seems to be broken for me under Firefox 3.5.1, but your mileage may vary)

(Via Waxy)

April 26, 2009 permalink

Db We Used to Say Pirating I Mean the Term

DB: We used to say “pirating.” I mean, the term pirating was used for my early work.

CA: Was it really?

DB: Yeah. For example, when I started, there were no home-recording units. There was no TiVo. There was nothing like that.

CA: I must have been very difficult for you to get that footage.

DB: It was. There was no way to get the footage I needed directly. I had to find people inside the industry who believed in my artwork and were willing to get images out to me. So they called me a “pirateer” of imagery. That had a very romantic sound to it: “Oh, she’s the one who pirated imagery from television.”

Maybe this is the real difference between our generations. In pirating, originally, there was no way to talk back to the media. That’s why I did it. The stuff was coming one way at you, and there was no way to arrest it, stop the action, divert it, alter the vocabulary, or change the syntax.

From Do It 2, a conversation between Dara Birnbaum and Cory Arcangel. Artforum International XLVII, No. 7, p198

January 10, 2009 permalink

Slot Machines Are Indeed a Software Chimera the

[Slot machines] are indeed a software chimera, the tail of a serpent attached to the head of a lion. It combines business graphics with the Internet, cinematic memory, remote-control systems – and banking, franchise capitalism at your fingertips.

Norman M. Klein, in The Electronic Baroque: 1955-2050. From The Vatican to Vegas, 2004 p341.