Things to read

A selection of somewhat longer posts I’ve enjoyed or suspect I’ll enjoy when I get the time.

Genomicon: The Sword of the Enlightenment

Nick Taylor has a considered and passionate rant about Julian Assange and the Wikileaks War Logs issue. Hits a number of good points, such as asking the military “What is the fucking point of you?” Here’s a more theoretical one:

While all this was breaking, various people from Boing Boing or Wired or whatever were opining that Wikileaks needs to be invisible… that this material should just “appear”.

I disagree entirely – they’re misunderestimating the power of narrative, and narrative needs people. As Julian says, “bravery is contagious” – and it is. He has also protected himself (and his organisation) on a number of different levels by making himself famous. If nobody knew who he was, it would mean nothing if he were to just disappear.

If Martin Luther had nailed his thesis to the cathedral door and then snuck away in the dead of night, it would have meant nothing.

Sorry – we need people.

Pandas and Lobsters: Why Google Cannot Build Social Applications…

Remember the excellent Panda post from last week? This is from the same person and has a load of great metaphors for social applications. Facebook is a lobster trap, Twitter is a giant blue ball machine and so on.

Alejandro Jodorowsky: Interview with a Metabaron

A few years ago Tom Lennon had the honour of interviewing the great man. He’s put the copy on his blog. It’s a bit bitty and Jodo’s English isn’t great but even so.

“What idea is this, wanting to adapt one art into another form of art? Comics are comics and they are doing perfectly well in continuing to be comics.”

10 Reasons to Stop Apologizing for Your Online Life

I also hate the term “real life”. It’s a bit clunky to say “offline” when I mean face to face but that’s because the distinction is false and maintained by scared people.

Charlie Brooker – The News

Brooker’s dissection of the news coverage of Raoul Moat’s final hours is worth re-reading.

An Analysis of Lightroom JPEG Export Quality Settings

Only really of interest if you use Lightroom to export large JPEGs that keep hitting the upload limits for Flickr and Photobox. Or maybe if you’re just interested in JPEG compression. Or you’re terminally bored. Anyway, this is more in depth than you’d ever imagine possible but brings up a couple of useful things.

  1. “0 quality” is not zero — With some photos, you get pretty good results even at Lightroom quality 0, more than good enough for web thumbnail use, for example, where the substantial savings in size (often more than a 90% savings!) make the slight tradeoff worth it. “Quality 0” in Lightroom might be roughly comparable to “Quality 50” in many non-Adobe apps.
  2. “0-100” is really “0-12” — Lightroom maps the 101 points in its 0-100 quality scale to only 13 different quality outputs. Setting the Lightroom quality to 70, for example, results in the exact same output as setting it to 76, or anything in between. 7 is the same as zero, and 93 is the same as 100. The full mappings are shown in the examples below.

‘Yes’ to Catastrophe: Roger Dean, Prog and SF

Finally, one of the posts that really shouldn’t be interesting but held me all the way through. I’m not a prog aficionado and I’ve never been a fan of Roger Dean’s style of art but there’s something wonderful about reading prose by an obsessive who can communicate their passion.

A number of factors mitigate against Dean’s visuals being given credit for such a role in pop culture. First, as we have seen, as an artist working with Prog Rockers like Yes and Asia, his work is deeply unfashionable, and fronts products that relatively few people these days are interested in buying.

Second, Dean works in a similarly unfashionable SF / Fantasy idiom. A thought experiment. You announce at a fashionable party that you really, really like Yes. This is perhaps a slightly dangerous eccentricity, but not, forty years after the fact, a cause of social death. Telling all present, however, that you have a love for SF or fantasy art (particularly those featuring castles and dragons) becomes a little stickier, denoting a fanciful imagination and bad taste to boot. Yet admitting at a fashionable party that you really like Yes and love SF art would be akin to boasting to the room that you clean your teeth with your socks. It just won’t do.

Next week, something else.