Planets, sweet.

Steve Bowbrick ruminates on the pace of unmanned planetary exploration, and if I read between the lines a little; the torrents of telemetric information and simulation that the next generation have access to (cf. access to the Maestro simulations of Mars rover data, and more way-out “Why Starfleet”)

“My kids – before they’re my age – will know Mars better than I know, say, Tasmania or Patagonia. They won’t have been there but they’ll feel like they have. If they’re paying attention (unlikely), they’ll also have a pretty detailed mental image of two or three of our Sun’s other planets, submarine images from Europa’s salty ocean and – maybe – reasonable pictures of half a dozen small-ish, blue-ish planets orbiting other stars. I suspect they’ll also know that the solar system – and the universe beyond it – are greener and more hospitable to life than we could ever have imagined and that there’s as much water (liquid and otherwise) on distant planets as there is here on earth. They’ll also have a pretty good idea how it got there.”

Landmarks, wayfinding and the 3-ring binder

Abstract Dynamics:

“What happens to landmarks when every store is a chain? When we live life at 70 miles an hour we hand our navigation skills over to the government and place our trust in freeway signage. But what about when slow down to 35, stop and go, through the infinite “strip” feeds Americans and their cars?

The preferred navigation is landmark. Follow the river, keep the mountain on your left, turn right at the large oak, veer left at the rabbit rock. Walk towards the walls, through the iron gates, left at inn, right at the bank. Towards the capital, left at the Starbucks, right at the Jamba Juice, you’ll see it right before the B of A… All of a sudden our landmarks are multiplying. And make no mistake plenty of effort goes into making sure those marks are memorable. But anyone who turns at a Starbucks is going nowhere but in circles…”

Puts me in mind of the franchised-landscape spread by the DNA of the 3-ring binders as described in Snowcrash.

Hypercard RIP

Ben Hyde on the magic of hypercard:

“It never competed with the installed base of developers. Instead it generated this amazing bloom of new tiny little applications. Instead it illustrated what happens when you manage to hand a useful tool over to a large unserved population of amateurs. The tail of the power-law curve.

I wonder, if flash is the closest modern equivalent; maybe so.”

I really regret never playing with Hypercard that much. Back in around 1987 I suppose, I nagged for a copy back at the print shop I used to work at after school, but I never really had the time or the persistence to get into it. And now it’s gone… sniff

My old school

My old school Porthcawl Comprehensive, in South Wales has introduced a SMS-surveillance system to stop truancy, with the delightfully honest name of “Informer”, that enables the school to text parents if kids are not present at class:

“Porthcawl Comprehensive School has had an Informer system for over a year.

Head teacher Kenneth Dykes found that while not all parents were enthusiastic, the system has helped improve communication between school and home. He said, “Being able to communicate with parents to let them know that their child has not attended registration has helped us increase attendance and keep in touch with parents more often.”

I look forward to reading how the kids in Porthcawl Comp inevitably hack their way around this…

» icWales: Text messaging helps schools beat truancy