Filtered for art and other intangibles

18.03, Monday 8 Dec 2014


Algorithmically extended art.

Always wanted to see more of the night sky in Van Gogh’s Starry Night? Well now you can.

My. Mind. Is. Blown.

This is now a built-in function in the Wolfram Language so you can try it yourself.

See also Shapeme which can evolve images e.g. the Mona Lisa out of overlapping triangles, using a technique called simulated annealing.

I don’t know what this means. It feels like all these new image-manipulation techniques and tools - Microsoft Hyperlapse which reconstructs 3D scenes from photographs then flies through them, seam carving, Kinect - will one day be bound together in a new kind of Photoshop, a realtime reality manipulator. We have all the bits.


In the UK, government websites are gradually being taken over by the Government Digital Service. The Design Principles are a work of art; the department has so far saved the taxpayer about a half a billion quid, and it won Designs of the Year in 2013.

The guide to Plain English is worth a read. Avoid using metaphors! For example

  • going forward (unlikely we are giving travel directions)
  • one-stop shop (we are government, not a retail outlet)


The Internet Engineering Task Force is the group of people that makes the Internet work. I ran across this quote in The Tao of the IETF, one of their “founding beliefs”:

We reject kings, presidents and voting. We believe in rough consensus and running code.

Which reminds me of do-ocracy as an way to run an organisation: Doing a task is in itself justification for you being the person who does that job.

Which reminds me of the San Francisco hackerspace Noisebridge - which is do-ocratic to the extreme - and what happened when a monk moved in and erected a shrine With Hilarious Consequences:

5) The shrine was erected and re-activated, and I believe Church cleared once again, before Tuesday meeting. Crutcher, as the minutes show, said that if it remained so prominent, ‘it is my personal plan to do-acrat that shrine to pieces with powertools tonight.’


Once a year, UNESCO adds nominated practices and expressions to the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Some examples from the 300-or-so entries…

  • Tsiattista poetic duelling
  • Mongolian knuckle-bone shooting
  • Practices and expressions of joking relationships in Niger
  • Mediterranean diet
  • Shrimp fishing on horseback in Oostduinkerke
  • Turkish coffee culture and tradition

When the aliens land and set up shop and they’re like, Guys, so what have you got? And we’re all… Uh, lasers? We’ll trade you lasers for a starship drive. And the aliens will be: Nope, what else?

Then we’ll say: Tsiattista poetic duelling. Turkish coffee. Jazz.


Kudos to UNESCO for prepping our inventory ahead of time.

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