Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘technology’

21 JUNE, 2010

Information Pioneers: The Unsung Heroes of the Information Age


What striking down Hitler has to do with laying the groundwork for the iPhone.

Last week, we looked at a BBC retrospective of art history — something deeply ingrained in our cultural appreciation DNA, celebrated everywhere from liberal arts academia to the dinner party table. Today, we are looking at something far less widely acclaimed but no less important: Geek history.

Information Pioneers, a new series by BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT, spotlights five vastly different people whose legacy shaped the information society we live in today — Ada Lovelace, the ultimate “woman in tech” whose work sprouted the very first algorithm; Alan Turing, who laid the groundwork for computer science; Hedy Lamarr, actress-turned-wireless-communication-inventor; Sir Clive Sinclair, creator of the pocket calculator; and the great Sir Tim Berners-Lee, widely credited as the father of the World Wide Web.*

A short film portrays each of the pioneers, who were culled from a shortlist of 150, nominated by BCS members, and a different “celebrity advocate” — Ortis Deley, Kate Russell, Miranda Raison, Phil Tufnell, Dom Joly — narrates each story.

You can vote for one of the five — so far, Alan Turing has a staggering 40% lead — or rant about the non-inclusion of your favorite pioneer for a chance to win a well-curated pack of books, each inspired by the life and philosophy of one of the five pioneers.

Mostly, Information Pioneers is a refreshing effort to celebrate those whose legacy is infused in just about every aspect of modern life yet remains largely unknown outside the computer science world. Here’s to you, geek gods of yore and unsung heroes of the information age.


CORRECTION: Per Vint Cerf’s comment below, Vint being an actual “father of the Internet,” Tim Berners Lee is commonly considered the “father of the World Wide Web,” not of the Internet.

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24 MAY, 2010

The Creators Project


Brazilian digital graffiti, Korean engineering and the evolution of modern art.

Brain Pickings is all about providing a platform of visibility for the projects, ideas and creators moving the world forward. Unfortunately, we don’t (yet) have the bandwidth that today’s media titans do. So we’re always happy to see said titans pull their media prowess together to give a share of voice to these creators. This month, two of them — VICE and Intel — are doing just that in a new partnership dubbed The Creators Project: A new network celebrating global creativity and culture across media.

From French hipster music darlings Phoenix to Brazilian digital artist Muti Randolph to South Korean engineer Hojun Song, the multiyear project showcases over 80 of the world’s most compelling creators, spanning an incredibly wide spectrum of creativity — art, design, fashion, gaming , film, music and more — which we think is tremendously important in an age when creative storytelling and self-expression continue to take new forms, explore new media and create new vocabulary for what it means to be an “artist.”

At a time in the history of the arts where digital technologies have revolutionized distribution, democratized access, and completely re-imagined the scope and scale with which an artist can create a vision and reach an audience, The Creators Project is a completely new kind of arts and culture channel for a completely new kind of world.

The project has two key missions: One, to continually identify visionary artists and offer a platform for celebrating their work; two, to serve as a content creation studio (they’ve already created a video for Phoenix), allowing artist to collaborate, facilitating the production and distribution of their work, and helping them reach new audiences both via the site itself and through the multiple events The Creators Project is holding around the world. The event series includes collections of curated artworks and installations, screenings, panel discussions and dozens of performances by the featured creators, beginning next month in New York City, then moving to London, Sao Paulo, and Seoul to finally culminate in Beijing with a massive three-day Creators exposition in September.

Co-created by DJ extraordinaire Mark Ronson, the project holds riveting promise for the intersection of creativity and technology. More importantly, it reclaims this future-forward conception of art from the grip of today’s fluff-lined manifestos and creates a tangible, actionable, put-your-money-where-your-mouth-is platform for what is so often talked about and so rarely enacted.

You can follow The Creators Project on Twitter and show some love on Facebook. (While you’re at it, show some for us as well, eh?)

via Jawbone TV

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13 MAY, 2010

The Future of First-Response Environments


Displays for disasters, or what sensors have to do with survival.

In just a few short months this year, the world has seen more disasters than its fair share — devastating earthquakes, floods and a destructive oil spill, each requiring different strategies of emergency management. And this month, Organizing Armageddon, the excellent Wired article by Vince Beiser about lessons learned from the Haiti earthquake, exposed the many and worrisome shortcomings of disaster relief efforts. From infrastructure to technology to tactical coordination, today’s emergency management is in dire need of an upgrade.

Luckily, Precision Information, a division of Homeland Security’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, is developing ambitious new first-response cooperation environments that focus not on a single piece of technology but, rather, on a suite of interconnected tools that offer targeted access to information and sophisticated decision-making aid for emergency response.

From predictive modeling to automated recommendations to augmented reality, this concept video is designed to serve as a blueprint for research in the next decade, exploring some of the possibilities in addressing key research challenges.

For a closer look at the many emergining technologies and concepts alluded to in the video — including ubiquitous displays, crowdsourcing, pervasive sensor networks and adaptive user interfaces — be sure to see the annotated version.

via information aesthetics

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14 APRIL, 2010

The 2020 Project: Visions of the Connected Future


What Scandinavian luminaries have to do with LEGO and the future of humanity.

There’s no question we live in an age where the cultural landscape is moving more rapidly than many of us can process towards something few of us can foresee. But an unlikely contender is aiming to construct a sober and visionary portrait of our collective future: Telecom giant Ericsson has launched the 2020 Project — a peek inside the minds of twenty of today’s sharpest thinkers for a glimpse of tomorrow.

Ericsson is asking these twenty visionaries to paint a picture of what the world will look like in 2010 in a series of video interviews that explore how connectivity and mobility are changing the world.

Though contributions so far come strictly from the (mostly Scandinavian) academia circuit — professors, authors, researchers — they are intelligenty curated in a way that offers randge and breadth of perspectives, covering everything from access to knowledge to female empowerment to sustainability to human rights.

Still, we hope to see some more diverse luminaries from less academic disciplines and the fringes of culture. It would be particularly fascinating to hear how artists, not ordinarily associated with technology, are being affected by the digital revoluion and how they see the future of communication.

The projet is part BigThink, part Sputnik Observatory, part new breed of realistic optimism for the future.

We can be the generation to end extreme poverty on the planet. No other generation before us could make that claim. No other generation before us had that power in our hands. What a thrill that we can be the ones to do it.” ~ Jeffrey Sachs

Our favorite, which we already raved about on Twitter last week: Blockbuster TED talk machine Hans Rosling, who explains the future of humanity in LEGO and a charming Swedish accent.

The weakest point today is the lack of global governance. Nation states are still very strong. We talk about globalization, but the fact is that nations are very strong. But we do not have a very strong united nation. We do not have a mechanism for governance. West America and Eastern Europe have to accept the world of equal nations. They have to accept that they have no given advantage over the rest of the world. And that’s good for them.” ~ Hans Rosling

Keep an eye on the 2020 Project as more interviews are being continuously revealed this month.

via Open Culture

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