A counter manifesto for the Creative Internet

Some time ago, I came across this article. An article about a bold new book, written by a being with a creditably left-handed style of thinking that ties language to color signalling by cephalopods; protocol-free computer science and what have you. A book, nay, a manifesto, to use the language of the author, that defines creativity in singularly individualistic terms, at the expense of the collective and its consciousness, the internet.

Disclaimer: The book is still in the mail.

The author, Jaron Lanier, posits that the web has not liberated creativity in the species, but has stifled it. That by making universal distribution and access of music (as a nameplate for creativity, one supposes from the set of the article) has made it well-nigh impossible for the artist to sustain himself (or herself) of his (or her) art. That the web, as a collective lacks the underlying design or purpose needed for such a system to foster complexity and ingenuity.

Disagree.

We can take immense pride in the fact that, as a species, creativity is a primal trait. It was born when ancient man looked at the thundercloud and heard the wind in the tree and made music. It was defined by fire and the wheel. It was and is not facilitated by the presence of the barter system, the monetary system, the music label system or any other system. As Alan Moore put in V for Vendetta:

We are told to remember the idea, not the man, because a man can fail. He can be caught, he can be killed and forgotten, but 400 years later, an idea can still change the world. I’ve witnessed first hand the power of ideas, I’ve seen people kill in the name of them, and die defending them… but you cannot kiss an idea, cannot touch it, or hold it… ideas do not bleed, they do not feel pain, they do not love…

The author (from my reading of the article) appears to misdiagnose the transition of the economics of creativity for the death of creativity itself. Yes, it has become a lot harder to become famous and financially solvent on the basis of one’s creative genius alone. But then again, I would posit that the last few decades have been an transitional anomaly as society shifted from mostly-isolated to mostly-connected to entirely-connected. As some may recall, the greatest artistic age on history was formed on the shoulders of penniless artists supported pro bono by money-laden noble houses. We owe the works of Michaelangelo and Da Vinci not just to these Titans, but to the Medici family as well.The world has moved back to a similar state, but for diametrically opposite reasons.

What has changed is the paradigm by which ‘creativity’ is defined. The quality of creativity is not strained, only its flavor. The internet does not foster creativity in the traditional arts, it fosters the creation of new forms of art itself. While traditional art has moved from penniless artists supported by patrons to super-rich artists supported by a pretentious neo-intellectual societal elite, the internet generation lives not for the fame or the money, but for the art. The internet has through universal and instant connectivity, done away with the need for economic sustenance –  patronage, art gallery, music label or otherwise. It is the purest form of a creative democracy, where circumstance of birth or location, networking or luck are zeroed out; where everyone is free to discover their own creativity, in whichever form they please and share it with the world. Instantly.

Mattepainting. Speedpainting. Dynamic typography. Virtual choirs. Microbloggging. Forget Impressionism and Realism. Forget Michael Jackson. This is the internet generation. This is art:

and this:

and this:

This is the internet. This is a wonderful place. Money? Fame? pfft. It’s on youtube.

(More once I read the book..including possible retractions with humility..)

Happy Earth Day!

It’s one of those day’s which ought to be a lot more important than it is, which we want to be a lot more important than it is, but get’s buried under then inanity of collective reality.

In the name of the Planet Earth, watch this video:

You might just feel a little more in love with our very own mudball. I certainly do.

A bookstore that’s a distraction from the Books

The Ateneo Grand Splendid.

It sounds like the name of a cruise ship. Or some pedigreed Emir-owned Arabian superstallion racehorse.

It’s a bookstore. This bookstore:

Ateneo Grand Splendid

The Ateneo Grand Splendid - Courtesy longhorndave on Flickr

Formerly a 1919-built theater and then cinema, it was turned into a bookstore. Good description from here:

The painted ceiling, detailed balconies, and stage are all intact. The private boxes are now small reading rooms. The stage is a café, where you can sit and peruse books you’re considering buying. And though it occupies three floors, there’s not an overwhelming selection — the shelves fit perfectly around the theater’s original shape, and comfortable chairs are scattered throughout.

Note to self: Visit Ateneo Grand Splendid before death.

More reading on reading vaults.

PS: More photos, including the ceiling and balconies: Continue reading

Polishing my Green Lantern Lantern

Am I the only one giddy with excitement about the coming Green Lantern movie?

I was initially skeptical of Ryan Reynolds (he was Van Wilder) playing Hal Jordan, since I didn’t think even he had enough California braggadacio to play Hal Jordan.

Now looking at this picture, I’ll say this. He looks the part. I’m quite pleased with the faithfulness of the uniform to the ’60s original. The film is stated to be an ‘origin’ film, and the uniform is quite faithful to Hal Jordan’s uniform in GL V2 from the 60s (albeit with a little Kyle Rayner GL Ion inspired ‘modernization’).

Hal Jordan, back in the Day:

GL Classic

In Brightest Day!

Hal Jordan, Live!:

Hal Jordan in the movie

The GL uniform is quite central to the entire mythos, and jazzing it up would have had some implications for future appearance of Rayner, Ion, Parallax and even Guy Gardner. I’m personally quite glad they haven’t messed around too much with it.

Other much-awaited names appearing in the movie:

  1. Abin Sur
  2. Carol Ferris (of course. Played by the lovely Blake Lively, of course)
  3. Tomar-Re (now this is going to be EPIC.)
  4. KILLLOOOOOWWWWWOOOOOOGGGGGG!!!!!!!!!
Poozer!!

Poozer!!

Schedule H Zombie

I am Legend. Will Smith plays a brilliant scientist who ‘cures’ the world. Only for everyone to degenerate into zombies. Or something.

Resident Evil. Umbrella Corporation and the t-virus. Zombies. First-person shooter.

You’ve heard all the cliches. Art imitates life. Fact is stranger than fiction.While we haven’t yet raised the dead or even killed people to raise them as zombies, we certainly are creating funky new ways to cure, well, everything.

zombie

To be used on prescription only

SEED Magazine has this cool article on the use of a relatively old medical technique to develop new cures for some very blue-chip diseases like malaria and anthrax.

Kary Mullis, a self-proclaimed non-specialist, won the Nobel Prize for developing the polymerase chain reaction (PCR), a technique that allows researchers to quickly and cheaply make many copies of single strands of DNA. For the past decade Mullis has been using PCR to create new types of drugs that could soon provide a cure for everything from malaria to anthrax.

What makes this technique so ‘special’ is the fact that it improves the ability of the body itself to ‘target’ infections. Basically giving the body an upgraded sniper scope:

My work with PCR allowed for the invention by Craig Tuerk of nucleic aptamers, which are tiny binding molecules that can be designed to attach themselves to harmful bacteria. However, instead of attaching a poison to the other end of the aptamer—as the silver-bullet strategy would call for—I put something on there that is a target for our immune system, a chemical compound with which the immune system is already familiar and to which it is very strongly immune. What you end up with is a drug that will drag this thing to which you are highly immune over to some bacteria you don’t want in your body. And your immune system will attack and kill it.

And, apparently, it works:

Yes, we cured anthrax in mice. If you infect a mouse with anthrax and then wait 24 hours and treat it with a penicillin-type drug, you get about a 40 percent survival rate. But using our drug you get a 100 percent survival rate. Of course, it is unlikely that you are going to get anthrax, but that is sort of a model system.

In mice at least.

Question!

This technique puts ‘something’ that the body’s immune system is already ‘very strongly immune’. While I am not normally one to frown on cutting-edge science, this particular case seems to have eaten at the ‘too good to be true’ buffet. What especially is eyebrow-raising is that the article claims this is a methodology that can be applied to ‘any infectious disease’.

If it as brilliantly successful at stopping diseases at it promises, and it garners the healthy media hype that will result, I fear for the corners that will be cut in its next ‘deployment’. Let’s hope it does not come to that, and it really is a panacea.

Panda Pando Pandora!!

Terminator. Judgement Day. Abyss. Titanic. Aliens.

Like him or hate him, i think its quite unarguable that pretty much every movie James Cameron makes merits the descriptive term EPIC.

The same goes for his latest EPIC epic – Avatar. I’m sure reams and e-tomes have been written about how awesome (or not) Avatar is, so I’m not going be excessively verbose. Suffice to say that I am a true believer (obscure literary reference – I wonder how many people would get that).

What I find much more interesting is what I presume to be a major inspiration for the movie.

***SPOILERS***

Continue reading