Joe Fletcher … we are not worthy

“Once the [wikileaks] distribution is underway, the only way to shut it down will be to shut down the internet itself.”

The Great Game: Wikileaks.

Raise the Village Blurs Line Between Games, Real Life

We Farm, Tap Zoo and countless other similar apps have made tons of money by asking you to spend yours on virtual goods. A brand new iPhone app called Raise the Village wants to use the same model to benefit a charitable cause. And in an odd twist, virtual goods you purchase in Raise the Village actually end up paying for their real-world counterparts.

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The Noble Savage

Although I like to think of myself as a bona fide member of the middle classes, I know that my RP accent, well-chosen wines and tasteful watercolours are a smokescreen. Deep down, I belong to the respectable working class – an extinct species who regularly went to church, didn’t drink alcohol and owned the complete works of Shakespeare.

I thought I’d successfully expunged the shackles of my background, but there are still a few vices that remain, including a fondness for net curtains (plain, I hasten to add), a sentimental attachment to the Royal Family and a weakness for crysanthemums.

When I discover photos like these, from a collection that turned up last week, it is as if I have found a lost album from my own family’s past:

If you were a member of the respectable working classes, then you had standards to maintain. It didn’t matter whether you were in your back garden or on a beach; you didn’t dress like the ruffians who frequented the local social club .

There was a good reason for this. My mother’s grandfathers spent their leisure time drinking, gambling and siring illegitimate children. If their wives complained, they were beaten. The generation that followed took their revenge by signing the Pledge, going to chapel and assuming the trappings of respectability.

My maternal grandparents died long before I was born, but their photograph albums feature people who look exactly like this:

As you can see, there is a slightly punk rock gesture from the man on the left, but overall, with their waistcoats and watch chains, these gentlemen are the epitome of respectability. Indeed, the man with the large head even went bathing in a full suit:

However, when posing with a loaf of bread, he always wore his best flatcap:

Here is a rare colour shot. The woman in white’s skirt features a pattern that reminds me of a pair of curtains from 1990:

This album stopped somewhere in the early to mid 1950s, but in the same box, there was a single, loose photo from more recent times:

They look as if they’re having a good time, but now that I’m middle class, I would naturally insist on bringing my own supply of St Peter’s Organic Ale and locally-sourced sausages.

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Book Review: “Aircraft” by Le Corbusier

Atavistic Archetypes of Beauty [Flickr]

jurvetson posted a photo:

Atavistic Archetypes of Beauty

Humans are hard-wired to seek beauty argues philosopher Denis Dutton in his TED Talk:

“These Acheulian hand axes have been unearthed in the thousands, scattered across Asia, Europe and Africa, almost everywhere Homo erectus and Homo ergaster roamed.

They were literally the earliest known works of art, practical tools transformed into captivating aesthetic objects, contemplated both for their elegant shape and their virtuoso craftsmanship.

Competently made hand axes indicated desirable personal qualities — intelligence, fine motor control, planning ability, conscientiousness and sometimes access to rare materials. Over tens of thousands of generations, such skills increased the status of those who displayed them and gained a reproductive advantage over the less capable. You know, it's an old line, but it has been shown to work — "Why don't you come up to my cave, so I can show you my hand axes."

So the next time you pass a jewelry shop window displaying a beautifully cut teardrop-shaped stone, don’t be so sure it’s just your culture telling you that that sparkling jewel is beautiful. Your distant ancestors loved that shape and found beauty in the skill needed to make it, even before they could put their love into words. Is beauty in the eye of the beholder? No, it’s deep in our minds. It’s a gift, handed down from the intelligent skills and rich emotional lives of our most ancient ancestors.”

From a photography perspective, my favorite passage describes what I remember as the archetypal landscape:

“Consider briefly and important source of aesthetic pleasure, the magnetic pull of beautiful landscapes. People in very different cultures all over the world tend to like a particular kind of landscape, a landscape that just happens to be similar to the Pleistocene savannas where we evolved. This landscape shows up today on calendars, on postcards, in the design of golf courses and public parks and in gold-framed pictures that hang in living rooms from New York to New Zealand. It’s a kind of Hudson River school landscape featuring open spaces of low grasses interspersed with copses of trees. The trees, by the way, are often preferred if they fork near the ground, that is to say, if they’re trees you could scramble up if you were in a tight fix. The landscape shows the presence of water directly in view, or evidence of water in a bluish distance, indications of animal or bird life as well as diverse greenery and finally — get this — a path or a road, perhaps a riverbank or a shoreline, that extends into the distance, almost inviting you to follow it. This landscape type is regarded as beautiful, even by people in countries that don’t have it. The ideal savanna landscape is one of the clearest examples where human beings everywhere find beauty in similar visual experience.”

His description of embedded constructs of beauty reminded me of my distant ancestors who bred the Samoyed to herd reindeer. Before I learned this peculiar past from my genetic archaeology, the big white fluffy Samoyed was the only breed of dog that I have chosen as the most beautiful. And I did that twice, adopting them from shelters, without consideration for any other breed.

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Author Apology

I found this last week in a box of books:

Henrietta who? I need to know.

The Incredible Shrinking Man

3D Projections for Airplane Learning

Winner of the 2011 Gold Design Award of Germany (aka the country’s highest distinction for design, aka the “Design Oscar”) is the following project: Lufthansa Brand Academy 360degree Tower project. This architectural masterpiece was designed by Dan Pearlman, Berlin brand and experience group, and consists of a 360° projection in the tower of Brand Academy. That’s right, a spacial experience consisting of three hundred and sixty degrees of digital projection magic.

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