Personal Picks of 2022
Here are my personal picks for things that were new to me in 2022 that I decided to share here. I got the idea to do these pages from Michael Fogus. I enjoy looking through Fogus' page, and you can start with his The best things and stuff of 2022 if you want to do the same.
I build this page over the year as part of an effort to be more deliberate and mindful in the works I am engaging with. One feeling I had through the second half of the year could be summarized as "too much input, not enough output." We'll see if I manage to address that in the upcoming year.
Another feeling I had throughout the year that is not reflected in the contents of this page but was a constant companion regardless: precariousness. At all scales. From the large scale of the state of the world to the small scale of the state of my life. I am sure I am not alone in this, but I rarely find comfort in being part of an anonymous group. However, I hope sincerely, reader, that you are well.
A brief comment in resposne to all the machine learning generative nonsense (e.g. "AI art"). Technology is not inevitable. Individuals through their choice of efforts make technology happen. You do not get to avoid your responsibility when developing technology by arguing that "it will happen one way or another." The very people saying this are often the same people working very hard to make some sort of technology happen. If it's so inevitable, why do you have to work so hard or spend so much money? Some cool new thing (to you) or some new way to "extract value" from others' work is not necessarily "progress" for humanity. You are responsible for the consequence of your actions and the technology you help create.
One more thing before we get into the picks. I want to highlight Public Domain Day. If you haven't heard of it before, it's an (unofficial) day to celebrate works that have entered the public domain when their copyrights expires. With recent extensions to copyright, it wasn't until 2019 that works started to enter the public domain again. Here are some works entering the public domain in 2023 from the year 1927!
- Blog Posts and Articles
- Reverse Engineering
- Things I Learned
- Keep Going by Austin Kleon is a breezy, motivational book. It's not weighty and deep, but that's not what I was looking for. I was looking for encouragement, and this book has it. There's many little tips and thoughts to mull over as well.
- Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World by David Epstein is essentially a book length critique of the idea of head starts and single minded devotion to mastering a craft (e.g. to become a chess master or classical musician). He argues that approach, if it works at all, can only work in very specific fields (what he calls "kind domains" where rules are clear and don't change). Instead the world is filled with what he calls "wicked domains" (where rules are unclear and changing) and an approach of broad sampling and late specialization seems to be key to success.
- Every Tool's a Hammer by Adam Savage is another easy read where Adam Savage talks about his path to becoming a "maker" and his approach to shopcraft. If you've ever watched any of Savage's Tested videos, then it's kind of like that but in book form. However, he also has personal anecdotes that are best explored in text I think.
- How leaded fuel was sold for 100 years, despite knowing its health risks by Bill Kovarik. Another example of the consequences of designing and implementing businesses to place profit above other considerations. It's not just that the businesses will start to sell poisonous products. It's how much effort the business is willing to put into defending actions that are harmful to others but profitable to itself and how much more effort is required from the public to overcome these actions. Is it too wild a thought to design businesses to not be so adversarial to our values? We can't rely on the goodwill of people running a business because their actions are limited by the rules and logic of the business they work for. A business should not be designed to completely disregard public health.
- What's expected of us is a short story by Ted Chiang (who was also the writer on the excellent 2016 movie Arrival).
- Emile Leray Survived the Desert by Building a Motorcycle From His Broken Car is a story that's been widely reported (here for instance), but I just stumbled across it this year. Interesting example of ingenuity under extreme pressure. (I'll avoid asking too many questions as to the thought process that brought Leray to that point in the desert.) There's a short video on YouTube that adds a bit more color to the story.
EE380 Talk is a transcript of talk from David
Rosenthal about cryptocurrncies. It is apparently adapted from a talk he had recently given titled Can
we Mitigate Cryptocurrencies' Externalities? I'll let Cory Doctorow introduce the topic at hand by
quoting from his summary of the talk:
I've just read one of the most lucid, wide-ranging, cross-disciplinary critiques of cryptocurrency and blockchain I've yet to encounter...
... It is a bang-up-to-date synthesis of many of the critical writings on the subject, glued together with Rosenthal's own deep technical expertise.
The presence of "externalities" in Rosenthal's title is key. Rosenthal identifies blockchainism's core ideology as emerging from "the libertarian culture of Silicon Valley and the cypherpunks," and states that "libertarianism's attraction is based on ignoring externalities."
- Vertically Challenged is an opinion piece from Cory Doctorow about applying the antitrust idea of "structural separation" to big tech. But he also ends with a bit of a surprise suggestion as well.
- Situated Software is some observations by Clay Shirky about how not all software needs to "scale", especially when embedded in a community to serve that community's needs. The observations are from 2004, and if anything, we've doubled down on the emphasis on "scale" since Shirky originally wrote that piece. However, I still think there are valuable observations in there and perhaps something to aspire to.
- This is a news website article about a scientific paper is a template for articles about science that will probably seem very familiar to you if you read about science. If you're looking to write an article, this is a good start. (They could've even left off "website" in the title as I seem to recall articles seemed much like this in the before times.)
- Is Twitter TOO good? is an article by Kathy Sierra analyzing Twitter shortly after it was launched. I think Sierra gets many things right in her observations about Twitter, but more importantly the observations can be applied to other social media. Iincluding social media I actually use (Fediverse mostly through Mastodon). Just things to keep in mind as you use social media.
- ‘It was the poor man’s studio’: how Amiga computers reprogrammed modern music is a short article describing Amiga computer's impact in one corner of the music industry. I remember the first time my college roommate played some MOD files on his Amiga for me (I had PC compatibles cobbled together from used and occasional new parts), and I was just blown away with what the Amiga was producing. Good times.
- This is still a motherfucking website is an example of how even something as excellent as the original "fucking perfect" website can be improved with just a very small amount of CSS.
- The Cyberpunk Computer by Lee Felsenstein where he describes a vision of cyberpunk computing.
- Cold Starting the Titanic by Stephen Carey. It's basically what it says on the tin, and I had no idea what an involved process this process had been.
- Academic urban legends by Ole Bjørn Rekdal discusses how rumors spread, even in academic research settings, using the story about a misplaced decimal point in the measurement of iron content of Spinach. It's really a story about human fallibility and just how hard we have to work to get things right (and stay on guard for our mistakes).
- We used to get excited about technology. What happened? is an opinion piece by Shannon Vallor about how user manipulation and surveillance has killed off the joy people used to feel about tech. Maybe you disagree, but it resonated with me.
- The Airbnb (g)Host is a delightful short story by Lena Alison Knight. It's well worth the couple of minutes it takes to read.
- How the Consumer Computer is Consuming Computing is an article from David Schmudde discussing the history of the personal computing and talking about how most of today's computers are really "consumer computers" designed primarily to drive consumption and not empower people (something I feel keenly).
- How the Dutch got their cycling infrastructure is a brief summary of the history behind Netherland's cycling infrastructure. It didn't happen by accident. It was caused by deliberate, activist political action. I wish we could replicate this more in the US. But for most of the cities built out since WWII, it's an uphill battle now. We have nothing but sprawl, and all the existing zoning laws reproduce the sprawl. I know it's changing in places and in pieces, but it will be slow and painful. Yet another task piled on to future generations to deal with. I linked the article because I found it hopeful, so I will end this paragraph with a hopeful frame of mind. The US doesn't need to have cities full of noisy, polluted, dangerous, car filled roads. We can chose to make our cities better and more livable for everyone.
- What Twitter Does to Our Sense of Time by Jenny Odell is a meditation of the rhythms of our relationships with social media. I say "our relationships", but perhaps that is presumptive. Odell's description of how social media made her feel resonates with my own experience, and so I know I am not alone. Even social media that has had a healthier environment and incentives (e.g. Mastodon and the broader fediverse) still affects me in the ways described by Odell. (If you hit a paywall, try reader mode or this link.)
a chatbot: my life as a real estate AI’s human backup by Laura Preston. The more we let software
eat the world, the less humane the world seems to be, and "AI" is accelerating that trend.
Months of impersonating Brenda had depleted my emotional resources. I no longer delighted in those rambling, uninhibited messages, full of voice and human tragedy. All I wanted was to glide through my shifts in a stupor. It occurred to me that I wasn’t really training Brenda to think like a human, Brenda was training me to think like a bot, and perhaps that had been the point all along.
- -you-know- is a pictorial editorial by Veronika Kozlova on ML art generators. One of those rare cases of a picture really being worth a thousand words. (Maybe I should have a pictures category in my picks.)
- Lessons from science fiction on how to fight climate change is an episode of CBC's IDEAS that contains an interview with and speech from Kim Stanley Robinson following his attendance of COP26. Lot's of interesting observations and thoughts about the politics of the climate crisis.
- A Protocol for Dying is the Changelog episode where they interview Pieter Hintjens (who knew he was dying from bile duct cancer at the time). It is a thought provoking episode in many ways.
- If you're into stories about engineering disasters, Brady Heywood podcast is pretty good. In particular, I enjoyed the set of podcast episodes on the Apollo 13 mission. I say this as somebody who has seen the movie and read Jim Lovell's book. I'll link directly to the episodes in case you don't want to try to go through the RSS feed.
- After 1989: A Trip To Freedom is an album from Minutes to Midnight which is described as "A concept album about how a young man escaped Germany during World War II, while his grandson retraced his steps 30 years after the Berlin wall." It's the kind of work that really highlights the power an album can have when viewed as something more than a collection of singles. Exploring themes, ideas, and emotions that persists across tracks. It's heavy, but in a good way. There's a lot of interesting notes about the making of the album and the trips taken to retrace the grandfather's steps here.
- Electricity by Ibibio Sound Machine has a sound that is difficult to categorize, and so I won't bother. But it has an undeniable energy and heart that I greatly enjoy.
- Outrageous Fortune by Doctor Deathray is the grittiest, most head bobbing and foot stomping inducing reference to Shakespeare that I've heard.
- Feed the Machine by Poor Man's Poison. This song was recorded in one of the band member's garage and is "about the COVID situation in America."
- Money for Nothing covered on a barrel organ performed by Jonathan Mathis.
- We Don't Talk About Pluto is an Encanto parody by Jon Pumper about the tragic story of Pluto's demotion from a planet.
- Silver Surfer - Level 1 is an incredible chiptune composition by Tim Follin for the NES. The music feels almost like it is somehow bigger than the NES itself. Good stuff. Bonus link: Legend of Video Game Music - Tim Follin - Live Q&A.
- Paganini's Caprice no. 5 arranged and performed by Marcin. This is the first song I've ever heard from this performer, and it is just incredible.
- Himalaya Massive Ritual Recording by Igorrr. Bonus link: Something from Igorrr that somehow resonated with me very strongly even though I suspect it's not supposed to.
- It Fucking Hurts by Deep Dark Robot. The music in the song is deceptively simple, but it provides a solid, driving structure for Linda Perry's vocals and lyrics to just be raw and powerful. The song title is apt.
- Teeth of the Hydra by Steve Vai on a custom instrument dubbed Hydra. The song appears to have been written for the instrument. Honestly, this could've been posted in any number of categories, but the culmination of the Hydra is wonderful music. Bonus link: interview with Steve Vai.
- Composer Jeff Wayne made a musical version of The War of the Worlds, and I only discovered it this year. It is certainly of its time, but it is also an amazing piece of work. I went to eBay and found a CD copy, but at the time I am writing this, you can also listen to it here (but just the first hour and thirty-four minutes). Bonus link: TWRP covered the opening track.
- Don't Lose Sight (Acoustic) by Lawrence. Unfortunately their music isn't available anywhere that I'm able to buy it, but that performance is killer. Everybody involved is just spectacular.
- (I Don't Want to Be a) Billionaire by Theo Katzman painting a beautiful dream most of us can relate to with a fun song. You can find the track and the album it's from on bandcamp.
- National Geographic Sounds Of The Humpback Whale was a recording distributed as a flexi disc in the January 1979 of National Geographic Magazine. I have a memory of my mother playing this recording to us kids. I was reminded of this recording (and flexi discs) when somebody posted this image of a "floppy ROM" from the May 1977 issue of Interface Age.
- Line Goes Up - The Problem With NFTs from Dan Olson. I know it's a little long, but it's the appropriate length to really take on the mountain of speculative nonsense behind NFTs. Bonus link: on a completely different topic, I also enjoyed his history of Ralph Bakshi's Lord of the Rings.
Heroes (David Bowie cover) by the The Big Push.
This video is to say thank you to everyone who has chosen to stay at home, self isolate and stop the spread of COVID-19. By making this conscious decision, you are not only helping to keep yourself safe, but you are also protecting the vulnerable, old and sick in our community from the threat of this virus.
- Captain Yajima by Ian Worthington (aka Worthikids). It's an animation done in Blender made to look like old stop motion animation. Very well done. Bonus link: an interview with Ian Worthington.
- The Information Society is a film that aired on PBS back in 1979. Other than not predicting the problems with social media, the films seems to capture much of the modern consequences of our computerized society back before the majority of people had access to a computer of any kind.
- The Antique Toaster that's Better than Yours by Technology Connections is a great sort of "teardown" and explanation of a wonderfully designed and engineered toaster from the 40s (and not a microcontroller to be seen).
- How Star Wars was saved in the edit is a little exposition on how much Star Wars changed from the original rough cut to the final release version. It's very interesting just how much can be accomplished by adding off scene narration and rearranging certain shots. And yeah, it really does seem that Star Wars was saved in the edit.
1979: Will WORD PROCESSORS start a HOME WORKING
revolution? is a clip from the BBC archives. I believe the title
follows Betteridge's law of
headlines, but it was interesting to see example of how computer technology rolled out once
microprocessors were available and began to immediately have a positive effect in at least some people's
lives. And I appreciate the closing remark from Barrie Sherman1:
If we do it all wrong, then it could be an absolute disaster. It's the biggest aid to totalitarianism you could ever come across if you think about it, and that must be avoided at all costs. On the other hand it's the greatest boon to decentralization and people fulfilling themselves, and that is the sort of way we've got to go. But it's up to us.
- Segmented Displays is a video by Posy discussing segmented display and some of his ideas for alternate designs. I really enjoy Posy's production on this video and his thoughtful consideration of segmented display fonts. Bonus Link: Posy's album Segmented Segments.
- Music video for Orbital's The Box has a stop-motion animated Tilda Swinton exploring an urban environment. Is she an alien or maybe a time traveler from the future? I dunno, but the concept is great and really works with the music.2 Bonus link: an interview with co-directory Jes Benstock about the making of the video, where the "Monsters Exist" flashing on the screen is pointed out as a connection to the later Orbital album by the same name.
- Weird Part of the Night by Louis Cole with backup provided by Genevieve Artadi and Loren Battley. This song resonates with me greatly as I start my days in the "weird part of the night". (Cole and Artadi are also in another band together, and you can find Battley singing and performing in many other places. But I'll let you go down an internet rabbit hole on your own.)
- Climate Spiral is a visualization from NASA showing monthly global temperature anomalies between 1880 and 2021. Sobering.
- The Fairlight CMI is a mini documentary on the history and development of the The Fairlight CMI, the world's first commercially available digital sampler and sequencer synthesizer. Entertaining and interesting.
- The Cardboard Bernini is a documentary following James Grashow as he creates a fountain out of cardboard inspired by the Trevi Fountain, installs it outside, and deliberately lets it be destroyed by the elements. It's an interesting meditation on impermanence. I watched it on Hoopla, but it appears to be available on Kanopy and YouTube.
- Marvel's Defenders of The Status Quo is a video essay from Jonathan McIntosh about the nature of Marvel's super hero movies (and super hero stories in general really). It makes a nice introduction into critiques of the genre. At least the genre that is heavily promoted by certain companies who benefit greatly by the status quo.
- Charge is the latest open move from Blender Studio. The movie packs a punch in its few short minutes. There's a short making of video.
Projects that I found interesting or notable.
- NES-SY37 from Love Hultén is just a wonderful, NES inspired synth. Definitely check out the NES-SY37 video embedded on that page. And if you want more, don't forget to see Love Hultén's channel.
- Every morning, we ache is a meditation in the form of an "infinity zine" by Kori Michele. It manages to capture so much with so little. (A link directly to Twitter if the previous link isn't working.)
- GT40 replica started in 2017 and finished in 2021 by "Benjamin Workshop". Talk about setting goals and sticking with them. Bonus link: Ford GT40.
- Sabin Howard's WW I memorial is a massive undertaking years in the making. The article is well worth a read if you're the least bit interested in art and process.
- Yuki 7 is a concept and set of videos from Chromosphere Studio whose main purposes seems to have been showoff their abilities while having fun. I love the concept, aesthetic, and the music. It definitely left me wanting more. There's a additional info about the making of it on the Yuki 7 section of Chromosphere's site. Bonus link: an earlier incarnation of Yuki 7 by Kevin Dart and Stéphane Coëdel.
- GameTank is a DIY 8-bit game console based around a 6502. You can build one for yourself or run an emulated version in your browser. The developer ported "Bad Apple" to it, so I think it's proven itself.
- DIY 8-Bit Z80 Single Board Computer from Ivan Farafontov appears to be a very well designed and thought out retro computer. I'm really impressed he went to the trouble to add a keyboard to the design. It's a neat little design and looks great. He has a git repo for it too.
- Area 5150 is demo for an IBM PC using TTL CGA by CRTC and Hornet. These people have really given the original IBM some old school demo cred in recent years. You can see audience reaction, see it running on real hardware, and good capture from real hardware. Bonus link: 8088 MPH.
- Evaldas Virketis' home built velomobile is just a beautiful looking machine. Apparently he uses it too. I'd love to imagine a world filled with these instead of the multi-ton monsters we have menacing our roads in the US.
- Space Debris is a mod composed for an Amiga back in 1991 or so by Markus Kaarlonen. I enjoyed Kaarlonen's description of what a mod is along with how he approached the composition of Space Debris. I never had an Amiga (so sad), but my high school friend (and eventual roommate in college) had one. And he collected a wide variety of mods, so it's likely I would've heard this track some time back in the day. But even if I hadn't, even today the mod is a great track and worth revisiting.
- This solar smelter design by Jelle Seegers is impressive and thought provoking.
I don't do reverse engineering much, but I enjoy reading about what others get up to.
- Fabien Sanglard makes this list again with The Book of CP-System. This book provides some history and describes the arcade hardware behind a series of tremedously successful arcade games (e.g. Street Fighter II and Ghouls 'n Ghosts). Super fun and readable if you're into that kind of thing.
- As a result of reading The Book of CP-System I learned about the reverse engineering efforts that went into the Kabuki Z80 CPU used in some CP-System games for the sound controller and in many other games as the main CPU. The chip is a Z80 but has some battery backed RAM containing keys used in an algorithm for decrypting program and data. This allows you to create encrypted ROMs that can only be decoded by a Kabuki Z80 with the correct keys. Handy features if you're a company looking to thwart bootleggers. You can find a series of articles and videos starting here.
- Not necessarily reverse engineering, but Kenneth Finnegan provided an interesting teardown of the optical frontend of 100Gbps networking equipment. The world of where optics meets electronics is fascinating.
- Hang Sơn Đoòng in Vietnam is one of the world's largest natural caves. Take a gander at some of this wonderful footage of the cave.
- King's lomatia (Lomatia tasmanica) is a shrub native to Tasmania where all the remaining plants are clones. Apparently the species is now sterile and only reproduces "when a branch falls, that branch grows new roots, establishing a new plant that is genetically identical to its parent."
- A Pythagorean Cup is a practical joke device in a form of a drinking cup. Filled part way, it can be drank from normally. When it is filled beyond a certain point, a siphoning effect causes the cup to drain its entire contents through the base.
- Battery swapping for electric vehicles is an older concept than I thought. A video showing swapping of batteries for electric taxis in 1943.
- Colima dogs is a term to loosely refer figures of dogs found through Mesoamerica (but in particular Colima, Mexico). It was fascinating to learn about the many roles dogs played here in the western hemisphere prior to the arrival of Europeans.
- "The moon has long been recognized as a significant stabilizer of Earth's orbital axis. Without it, astronomers have predicted that Earth's tilt could vary as much as 85 degrees. In such a scenario, the sun would swing from being directly over the equator to directly over the poles over the course of a few million years, a change which could result in dramatic climatic shifts."
- The Empty Library is a memorial dedicated to the Nazi book burnings that took place in the Bebelplatz in Berlin. The memorial is set into the the plaza. There's a window where you can look down into a room of empty bookcases, enough to hold the 20,000 books that were burned.
- Earwigs have wings!
- Zitkala-Ša was a Yankton Dakota political activist, writer, and musician (and more). I find it difficult to summarize her life and work here, so I won't attempt it. But her life's story is moving and worth preserving.
- Eunice Newton Foote was a US scientist who published a paper in 1856 about the absorption of heat by CO2 and water vapor and hypothesized that changing amounts of CO2 in the atmosphere could alter climate. That's some pretty good forward thinking.
- ORBIS is "the Stanford geospatial network model of the Roman world". It's an interactive map that allows you model how long it would take to travel between various parts of the Roman empire (it looks like the model is for the period of the Roman empire's maximum extent). You can select time of year and other constraints like optimizing for speed or cost. Perfect for the time traveler planning a vacation or something.
Yeah, IPv4, I get you. I am also exhausted.
In software development, there's a saying:
Good, fast, or cheap.
It won't be those things. You don't get any of them.
Let me be smart enough to know how dumb I am and give me the courage to carry on anyway.
— Austin Kleon from page 134 of Keep Going.
Clever, but I think I would change it to:
"Let me be smart enough to know how dumb I am and give me the courage to carry on and the strength to reduce my ignorance."
But I'm probably taking it much too seriously, and despite the continuing risk of ruining the joke, I can't help but link to The Dunning-Kruger Effect is Probably Not Real from last year's picks.
In 1852, Henry David Thoreau complained in his diary that he had started reading a weekly newspaper and he felt that now he wasn't paying enough attention to his own life and work. "It takes more than a day's devotion to know and to posses the wealth of a day," he wrote. "To read of things distant and sounding betrays us into slighting these which are then apparently near and small." He decided his attention was too valuable, and gave up reading the weekly Tribune.
— Austin Kleon from page 46 of Keep Going.
Back in the mainframe days we tested Fortran compilers by feeding a random deck of punched cards into the tool. It's amazing how often crashes occurred, but this did lead to incremental improvements in the compilers. (The University of Maryland's Ralph compiler would abort after 50 compiletime errors and print out a picture of Alfred E. Neuman, with the caption "This man never worries, but from the look of your code, you should.")
— Jack Ganssle in issue 439 of The Embedded Muse
Not enough people realize what an algorithm purpose-built to cater to their worse impulses will do to their ability to learn anything true or valuable about the world.
When you don't create things, you become defined by your tastes rather than ability. Your tastes only narrow and exclude people. So create.
Jobs supposedly claimed that he intended his personal computer to be a "bicycle for the mind." But what he really sold us was a (fairly comfortable) train for the mind. A train which goes only where rails have been laid down, like any train, and can travel elsewhere only after rivers of sweat pour forth from armies of laborers. (Preferably in Cupertino.)
To the tune of Devo's "Whip It":
If the software mostly works
You must ship it
Bug reporter only lurks
You must ship it
Schedule made up by jerks
You must ship it
Now ship it
Check it out
Try to test it
It's not too bad
Now ship it
Ship it good
This is just to say
I have right-clicked
the plum JPEGs
that were on
you were probably
as an investment
they were stupid
and so worthless
Entrepreneurship is like one of those carnival games where you throw darts or something.
Middle class kids can afford one throw. Most miss. A few hit the target and get a small prize. A very few hit the center bullseye and get a bigger prize. Rags to riches! The American Dream lives on.
Rich kids can afford many throws. If they want to, they can try over and over and over again until they hit something and feel good about themselves. Some keep going until they hit the center bullseye, then they give speeches or write blog posts about "meritocracy" and the salutary effects of hard work.
Poor kids aren't visiting the carnival. They're the ones working it.
Electrons? Oh, you mean metal spirits?
We use metal strings to trap the metal spirits, and talismans of black sandstone engraved with tiny runic circles to harness their power.
Sometimes we replace the strings with totems made of layered metal, but those don't last very long on their own. We can also use light spirits to command the metal spirits at distance, but the metal spirits are the ones that do most of the work.
Before touching a powerful talisman, you must purify yourself, by touching a large piece of metal, so that any evil spirits present in your body do not destroy the talisman.
Many wizards possess special armbands that establish a direct connection to Mother Earth, to protect their bodies from such evil spirits.
if you want to keep the truth from people, the only surefire way to do it is to ensure the truth is really complicated and boring
Computer science is the study of a mathematical model which approximately describes the behavior of certain configurations of electrified sand.
Computer programming consists mainly of trying to get people to communicate successfully with each other, under conditions when at least one of them knows a little about the aforementioned sand math.
The easiest and most reliable strategy is to be ahead of all new technologies and champion them, because if you don't, you're a Luddite and you'll miss the wave.
Of course, every tool is permitted and AI is happening one way or another, but this species of it derives its entire value from the creative work of uncredited and unwilling participants. To highlight the obvious exchange going on; almost everyone who contributed to the value of AI image generation is now being exploited by it.
The most established will keep their jobs and status, and be hired by OpenAI, Adobe and Google to speak at big events about how empowered they now are by AI. PR campaigns will cynically tell us how AI helps historically disadvantaged groups. Everyone will clap, and more money will flow to these companies.
However, a theft has occurred.
Those now honing their craft will never have a chance to reach mastery, and will never get hired because a machine appears to do an equivalent job. "So let them use the machine", okay, now a generation is sold out to the benefit of a few corporations not because a - finer tool was invented, but because we found out how to make zombies of each other and charge money for it.
Creators will suffer in the long run, and instead of pointing this out, many leap to the defense of these companies and their practices. Few seem to question the cost of encouraging this scheme and who really benefits from it.
OpenAI's Dall-E touts "artistic styles" like hats to try on, a distinctly colonial attitude to the treasures of human creativity. If they had any respect for their sources they would credit them in proportion to their contribution, and would never declare ownership over the resulting works.
As long as their business model is selling tickets to take weird photos of big data, they are no better than grave robbers.
We make art for each other, not to enrich tech investors or to expand the repertoire of synthetic plagiarists.
we are truly in a golden age of large international corporations extracting maximum value from beloved properties created decades ago
You are a ghost driving a meat covered skeleton made from stardust riding a spinning rock hurtling through space.
Remember, in every tool, there is a hammer.
— Mark Buck
As quoted by Adam Savage on page 267 of his book Every Tool's a Hammer, where Savage further goes on to explain:
What [Mark Buck] meant was that every tool can be used for a purpose for which it wasn't intended... He also meant that until you learn to see what tools can do beyond their stated purpose, you can't quite be a maker.
I'm not comfortable with that minor gatekeeping at the end, but it is important to learn your tools well enough that you can be creative (but still safe) with them when the need arises.
A world where computers write and make art while human beings break their backs cleaning up toxic messes is the exact opposite of the world I thought I was signing up for when I got into programming
- Law of the panopticon
- The more connected a network gets, the more criticism everyone gets.3
I shall pass through this world but once. Any good therefore that I can do or any kindness that I can show to any human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.
There is a kind of love called maintenance,
Which stores the WD40 and knows when to use it;
Which checks the insurance, and doesn’t forget
The milkman; which remembers to plant bulbs;
Which answers letters; which knows the way
The money goes; which deals with dentists
And Road Fund Tax and meeting trains,
And postcards to the lonely; which upholds
The permanently rickety elaborate
Structures of living; which is Atlas.
And maintenance is the sensible side of love,
Which knows what time and weather are doing
To my brickwork; insulates my faulty wiring;
Laughs at my dryrotten jokes; remembers
My need for gloss and grouting; which keeps
My suspect edifice upright in air,
As Atlas did the sky.
I laid a humming bird to rest this morning.
We found it on the deck beneath the feeder.
Probably one of our regular visitors.
One broken wing the only clue.
Someone said to put it in the garbage.
That hurt my heart.
Humming birds demand so little in life and so much less in death.
I carried the little bird in my hands to a corner of our yard
and covered it in leaves,
trusting to nature the work that remained.
I said a little prayer that I hoped someone someday might say for me:
Thank you for the pleasure of your company.
The universe was better for having you in it.
I got up and spared a moment's thought
for all the humming birds that fall where I never see.
Teacher. Seventeen. Cosmo
Girl. Church lady, Bus-Stop
Auntie. No one
ever said explicitly
what to do with the keys
we should clutch
in our knuckles.
Between his eyes? In the dark
area of his impulse?
Do I kill him?
- A place to retreat to, alone, when ill-humoured.
- "Entrainment, a term that originated in biology and then spread to the social sciences, refers to the alignment of an organism’s physiology or behavior with a cycle; the most familiar example would be our circadian rhythm."
I actually saw this at the end of 2021, but I had already published my 2021 picks. Anyway, these are my picks. I do what I want.
Technically not a meme, but it has popped up occasionally on my social media. It's from the July 1997 Wired. It's a sidebar on an article about how great the future is going to be. Those were items that could spoil the future. It's an exercise for the reader how many of those spoilers may have happened already.
Oh that wolf is too on the nose.
Not really a meme, but definitely another one of those pictures worth a thousand words.
- Thanks to @EdS for determining the identity of Barrie Sherman, who is not introduced in that clip. I was able to confirm it is Barrie Sherman by looking at episode 6 of The Mighty Micro as seen here. ↩
- I have a feeling I have actually seen this video before, but I can't quite remember when. So watching it again in 2022 was like seeing it for the first time. ↩
- Not to imply that this increase in criticism is evenly distributed by any means. ↩