Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘technology’

18 FEBRUARY, 2011

5 Must-See Talks from Google Zeitgeist

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What the resilience of books has to do with the media arts and recasting the political limelight.

It’s no secret that we’re big fans of meetings of the mind here at Brain Pickings. Not included in our two lists from last year of cross-disciplinary conferences, however, was Google’s Zeitgeist series. These invitation-only events gather global thought-leaders to describe the current moment — a kind of Weltanschauung according to Google — and now the online giant has created a deep library of talks from three years of its elite twice-annual get-togethers. Served by YouTube, natch, the Zeitgeist videos have been handily broken down into chapters so that viewers can drop in on specific sections.

Plenty of TEDsters are among the offerings, including Cameron Sinclair, Hans Rosling, and Rives; often the speakers share the stage in interview-style format and panel discussions. Since the conference is hosted by a NASDAQ behemoth, multinational CEOs and heads of state make up much of the list of 231 speakers to date. The result is a kind of behind-the-scenes view of the inner architectures of power — what author William Gibson termed the world’s “order flow” in his latest book.

Running from eight minutes to an hour in length, we’ve waded through the library to pick our five favorites. (In our number-one choice wait for the priceless story about Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin punking their current CEO Eric Schmidt.) We hope you enjoy these perspectives on how the zeitgeist looks from Mountain View.

ERIC SCHMIDT WITH LARRY PAGE

Perspective from Google 2009, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt in conversation with Google Co-Founder Larry Page:

So to give you all sense of how we work together. So Larry and Sergei called me into their office, they have one office together. And they said, we’re depressed And I said, like, why. They said, well, we’re bored. Well what do you want to do? They said, we want to get into the appliance business. And I said, oh, computer appliances, notebooks, that sort of stuff. And they said, no, no, no, no, refrigerators. And so we had this ten minute conversation about the economics and capital structure of managing refrigerators, which of course, as you know can be computer controlled and managed by Google for your benefit, before I realized that they were completely fooling me, and that we are NOT getting into the refrigerator business at the moment. Remember that? He won’t admit it. It’s true, trust me.”

THE GREGORY BROTHERS

Auto-Tune the News, The Gregory Brothers:

“We wanted to release shorter videos more frequently, and we wanted to shift the limelight from the already famous newscasters and politicians and sort of pick out everyday people who we thought had that amazing unintentional star singing quality that we’re sort of always on the hunt for.”

LEE CLOW & ALEX BOGUSKY

Advertising: Stories or Games, Lee Clow and Alex Bogusky:

I call what we do– I hate the word advertising, but unfortunately it is the name of my business. But I like to believe that we’re in the media arts business. We try and take every media that a brand uses, and try and make it artful, smart, and lovable.”

SEBASTIAN JUNGER

Human Connection, Sebastian Junger:

There are social and political factors that cause wars that can simmer for decades and be ignited literally in an afternoon. One of my jobs — one of the things I do in my job is to explain how that catalyst worked or try to predict when it’s going to happen again. It happens all the time.”

CRYSTIA FREELAND & SALMAN RUSHDIE

Literary Thought in the Information Age, Crystia Freeland and Salman Rushdie:

I don’t know, I think you know the death of the book has been forecast almost since the birth of the book. And it’s an oddly resilient technology.”

Kirstin Butler is writing an adaptation of Gogol for the Google era called Dead SULs. She currently lives in Cambridge, MA.

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31 JANUARY, 2011

Aaron Koblin on the Digital Renaissance

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We’re big fans of creative technology rock star Aaron Koblin, whose Sheep Market, Bicycle Built for 2,000 and Johnny Cash projects we’ve featured previously.

In this excellent interview, the fine folks of Emergence Collective track Aaron down at Sundance, where he’s working on Google’s Life in a Day crowdsourced film project, and ask him some compelling questions about computational aesthetics, the digital renaissance, and the future of creative technology:

  • Are there networked aesthetics which can be visually identified?
  • How will moving images change in the next 20–30 years?
  • What do you think about this word ‘user-generated content’?
  • Do you identify with the current artistic trend to shift away from product towards process?
  • What indicators are there of a digital renaissance?

We’re seeing what happens when you reach a point where computational resources are no longer the most significant factor in thinking, where we don’t have to bend our will to what we’re able to do. We’re really able to stop thinking about [computational resources] and bend them to our needs and our interests. It lends itself to a complete different type of a creative process, where you can really explore and experiment a lot more freely than one could before. [...] Perhaps most significantly, it lets us create our own limitations, and I think those generally can be a lot more meaningful than the ones arbitrarily put on by the media.” ~ Aaron Koblin

You can find Aaron’s work in a couple of our favorite books on the convergence of computational software and creativity, FORM+CODE and Data Flow 2: Visualizing Information in Graphic Design.

HT @edwardharran

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27 JANUARY, 2011

MoMA’s Paola Antonelli on Humanized Technology

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What augmented reality has to do with farm animals and talking sidewalks.

We’re big fans of Paola Antonelli, MoMA’s brilliant and eloquent curator of Architecture and Design, whose work continues to be a beacon of where design is headed both as a creative discipline and as cultural currency for making sense of the world. Under her tenure, MoMA has made such thought-provoking acquisions as early computing ephemera, the @ sign and, as of this week, 23 digital typefaces, challenging the notion of what a design “object” is and how it interlaces with everyday life.

In this excellent interview, she talks about the vision behind her latest MoMA show, Talk To Me, while in her signature fashion interjecting higher-order insights about the role of design that transcend the immediate context of the exhibition.

Many people think that technology is a problem in that it dehumanizes people. And, instead, I think it’s a great thing because it humanizes objects.” ~ Paola Antonelli

Technology would not become life without design and design would not function without technology, because design is a matter of translating technology into things that people can use.” ~ Paola Antonelli

Paola mentions several Brain Pickings favorites, including Jonathan Harris’ I Want You to Want Me project and Christien Meindertsma’s ingenious PIG 05049.

See all the ideas tickling the brains of Talk To Me‘s curators here and tip them off to something worthy of consideration.

via @juliaxgulia / Creators Project

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