“The team must consist of three sorts of specialists, he says. Otherwise the revolution, whether in politics or the arts or the sciences or whatever, is sure to fail.
The rarest of these specialists, he says, is an authentic genius – a person capable of having seemingly good ideas not in in general circulation.
“A genius working alone,” he says, “is invariably ignored as a lunatic.”
The second sort of specialist is a lot easier to find; a highly intelligent citizen in good standing in his or her community, who understands and admires the fresh ideas of the genius, and who testifies that the genius is far from mad.
“A person like this working alone,” says Slazinger, “can only yearn loud for changes, but fail to say what their shaped should be.”
The third sort of specialist is a person who can explain everything, no matter how complicated, to the satisfaction of most people, no matter how stupid or pigheaded they may be. “He will say almost anything in order to be interesting and exciting,” says Slazinger.
“Working alone, depending solely on his own shallow ideas, he would be regarded as being as full of shit as a Christmas turkey.”
From Chapter 14, “Beethoven Was Wrong”, on Steve Reich’s accidental composition of ‘It’s Gonna Rain’
“In one sense, all he done was to isolate a technological quirk: the machines essentially wrote It’s Gonna Rain by themselves and he was simply smart enough not to stop them.”
from later on in that chapter – less profound perhaps, but no less wonderful:
That would have been one for http://awesomepeoplehangingouttogether.tumblr.com/
Brian Eno & Peter Chilvers at The Apple Store, Regent Street, originally uploaded by moleitau.
I’m looking forward to it immensely, but not without trepidation…
“what Pickering really does is put forward that these cyberneticians (in particular, as opposed to American crowd more occupied with control systems) saw “intelligence” as something not representational (ie, the brain encodes or contains knowledge) but essentially performative. He opens with Walter’s Tortoise, a toy robot that can avoid obstacles, and is attracted by moderate light (and repelled by bright light). A community of Tortoises would have unexpected emergent behaviour. Pickering: The tortoise is our first instantiation of the performative perspective on the brain … the view of the brain as an ‘acting machine’ rather than a ‘thinking machine.’
Pickering comes to present cybernetics as holding a view of intelligence as something that only thinks by doing; something that, even when it follows rules, is not unpredictable so much but can only be calculated or predicted by actually doing its thing. It’s a wonderfully optimistic, re-humanising, uncontrolled, lively, meaty way of seeing and being, which runs so counter to the statistical, predictable, crowd behaviour, goal directed, success/failure and “psychohistorical” perspective we usually take on the world.”
“Hold your hand in front of your eye,” she said, “and look at those strange and clever animals with love and gratitude, and tell them out loud: ‘Thank you, Meat.’”
I’ve started watching “The Day The Universe Changed” in 10 minute bites on youtube.
I love this contemporary review from the Sydney Morning Herald:
This series, in which he verbally dances through the earth-shattering events in history is, quite simply, exciting. Like an intravenous slug of ice-cold Akvavit, he provokes shivers of shock and pleasure. His mix of cleverness, egotism, fun, imagination and accessibility is similar to the television styles of Robert Hughes or J.K.Galbraith, except that Burke is also naughty — like a mischievous elf.
Mind-Gangster # 1.
“‘Beauty pierces through like that ray through the clouds,” Orolo continued. “Your eye is drawn to where it touches something that is capable of reflecting it. But your mind knows that the light does not originate from the mountains and the towers. You mind knows that something is shining in from another world. Don’t listen to those who say it’s in the eye of the beholder.’”
“In our buildings and music, beauty was always present even if I didn’t notice. Orolo was onto something; when I saw any of those kinds of beauty I knew I was alive, and not just in the sense that when I hit my thumb with a hammer I knew I was alive, but rather in the sense that I was partaking of something – something was passing through me that it was in my nature to be a part of.”
Anathem, Neal Stephenson, p 114
“beware of the professional or specialist who when confronted with a problem having to do with design — seems suddenly to abandon the disciplines of his own profession and put on his art hat — this can happen to those who are otherwise most rational — doctors, engineers, politicians, philosophers.”
Opt for “King’s Lead Hat” instead?
Recently, I wrote a guest post for the science-fiction blog io9.com, for their feature on “Future Metro”, entitled “The city is a battlesuit for surviving the future”.
It referred to a talk I’d given at Webstock covering similar territory – and both the talk and the post featured images from the Usbourne book “The World of the Future: Future Cities” by Kenneth Gatland and David Jefferis.
Tom Coates shared those images with me as we reminisced about the book – and the influence it had on us during our formative years.
Many other people of my generation have remarked on it and other books in the series looking at future engineering and technology as being early inspirations.
Imagine my surprise when one of the authors of this ur-object showed up in the comments of my io9 piece – and my dismay as he – very politely – complained about a lack of credit.
David – my apologies.
It was remiss of me not to credit the image, and also not to fully acknowledge the impact your book had on me when I was young. Thank you very much for your work, and thank you for taking the time to comment on my writing. I hope posting this helps make up for that.
David is still writing on science, engineering and technology – and running a couple of sites that are still right up my street: Starcruzer and Scale Model News – the latter with childhood hero and total mind-gangster Mat Irvine!
Irvine used to create special effects for Dr Who and Blakes’ 7, then come on Saturday morning kids tv shows to tell you how you could do exactly the same with your pocket money that afternoon.
He was an early DIY/Maker culture hero – but that’s for another blog post…
“In the next report I submitted, I suggested that the term ‘logogram’ was a misnomer because it implied that each graph represented a spoken word, when in fact the graphs didn’t correspond to our notion of spoken words at all. I didn’t want to use the term ‘ideogram’ either because of how it had been used in the past; I suggested the term ‘semagram’ instead.
It appeared that a semagram corresponded roughly to a written word in human languages: it was meaningful on its own, and in combination with other semagrams could form endless statements. We couldn’t define it precisely, but then no one had ever satisfactorily defined ‘word’ for human languages either. When it came to sentences in Heptapod B, though, things became much more confusing. The language had no written punctuation: it’s syntax was indicated in the way the semagrams were combined, and there was no need to indicate the cadence of speech. There was certainly no way to slice out subject-predicate pairings neatly to make sentences. A ‘sentence’ seemed to be whatever number of semagrams a heptapod wanted to join together; the only difference between a sentence and a paragraph, or a page, was size.
When a Heptapod B sentence grew fairly sizeable, its visual impact was remarkable. If I wasn’t trying to decipher it, the writing looked like fanciful praying mantids drawn in a cursive style, all clinging to each other to form an Escheresque lattice, each slightly different in its stance. And the biggest sentences had an effect similar to that of psychedelic posters: sometimes eye-watering, sometimes hypnotic.”
- “Story of your life“, Ted Chiang
This week we became BERG.
This is BERG.
Passed away recently. Very sad news, and a real shock.
I met Martin a few years ago when I was working at Nokia, and after some initial crossing of swords (who was this marketing dude, and what did he want with design?) we found ourselves getting on famously.
Martin was always ready for an unscheduled adventure. The picture above is from a business trip to New York when we snuck away from day-long meetings to go and face 75mph baseballs from the batting net machines on Chelsea Piers.
Instead of the ‘traditional’ dinner after a long marketing board meeting, he took a bunch of (fairly-traditional) Nokia marketing people to the BFI screening room to watch a documentary (“Dark Days”) about people living in tunnels beneath Manhattan.
Martin was a man in love with human culture – all of it, and he loved being involved in making it – advertising and marketing being the vehicle he used to do so (mostly).
I wish I’d had longer to enjoy watching him do it.
He will be sorely missed.