Our Lady of St. Algorithm

  • Ian Bogost wrote a really interesting article in The Atlantic which raises some very good points about the automation of data and our near-religious beliefs in computers and algorithms:The world is more a hastily stitched patchwork and far less seamlessly constructed than we might believe, then it really shows the value of librarians and the value that they add to information by the organization that they impose on it.

    Many of us would like to believe that the Internet is entirely organized, and this organization happens in an automated system in an organic fashion, but neither is true. Recalling the images that photographer Michael Wolf  took depicting factory work in China often being low-tech and manual, Bogost sums it up:

  • Just as it’s not really accurate to call the plastic toy manufacture “automated,” it’s not quite right to call Netflix recommendations or Google Maps “algorithmic.” Yes, true, there are algorithms involved, insofar as computers are involved, and computers run software that processes information. But that’s just a part of the story, a theologized version of the diverse, varied array of people, processes, materials, and machines that really carry out the work we shorthand as “technology.” The truth is as simple as it is uninteresting: The world has a lot of stuff in it, all bumping and grinding against one another.
  • The point is repeatedly made in the article that there is chaos lurking beneath the surface of most systems. Years ago I worked for a temporary staffing agency, taking short term assignments in a variety of industries.  One thing I found they had in common was a a lack of organizational ability. Often they were experiencing exponential growth, and they couldn’t keep up with demand. Sometimes they were dealing with a crisis and needed extra hands on deck. One trait they all seemed to share was a culture that required its workers to perpetually hit the ground running. Instead of implementing a system to reduce work, the least amount of effort was expended to just produce the work. I felt uncomfortable with this for a while, but I eventually realized that the purpose was just to make money and tomorrow’s profitable initiatives might just require you to scrap the whole system anyway. Being nimble was key.While many commercial systems have grown with this practice, what if your industry is information?
    It is said that data moves up the food chain to become information before it can be considered knowledge or wisdom (Rubin). While the ever available and often correct Google gives us the sense that everything is known and organized, the majority of the searches that we do are not unique and there are often highly motivated people who want us to find what we seek. The more successful among them will even know what to suggest we might like. It’s those people, whether they are the people Netflix uses to watch movies and assign metadata terms, leaders of focus groups or collectors of mouse clicks, who are doing the organizing for us and computers are just another one of their tools.

    Another excellent point from the article:

  • Unfortunately, most computing systems don’t want to admit that they are burlesques. They want to be innovators, disruptors, world-changers, and such zeal requires sectarian blindness. The exception is games, which willingly admit that they are caricatures—and which suffer the consequences of this admission in the court of public opinion. Games know that they are faking it, which makes them less susceptible to theologization. SimCityisn’t an urban planning tool, it’s  a cartoon of urban planning. Imagine the folly of thinking otherwise! Yet, that’s precisely the belief we allow ourselves to hold of Google and Facebook and the like.
  • More….
  • Algorithm named to Board of Directors
  • http://www.businessinsider.com/vital-named-to-board-2014-5

Canvas

I am providing a link to the screen shot I wish to share with my class, because Canvas doesn’t provide a way to insert a link into a post from your computer. Seriously. I can look for one on flickr that has a Creative Commons license, or use my web cam, because???  Anywaaaaay, here’s the screenshot:

Canvas Screenshot.

Canvas discussions not updating.

This is what happens when you enlarge text in Canvas using Safari:

Canvas LMS in normal view.

Canvas LMS in normal view.

Canvas LMS Zoomed in one time.

Zoomed in one time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is canvas zoomed into twice the normal view.

This is canvas zoomed into twice the normal view.

Canvas LMS zoomed into a size that is comfortable for me.

Reading yes, scrolling no.

 

Advanced Google Image Searching

brassdog Searched for images that are similar to this brass dog in Google Images by uploading the file directly from my computer. The first five results were links to my own web page, indexed under each one of the tags I gave it. The rest were similar in color and material, but none of them were dogs.

GoogImgSrch

Page two of my results were links to other posts i had written that shared the same tags as the brass dog image.

When I clicked on Visually Similar Images at the top of the results shown above, I had even more options to choose from:

GoogOptions

Qua Posterus Suscipio

The PTA is having a silent auction next month, so I’m making a few things to donate to it. The school’s mascot is a cheetah and paws are everywhere. I decided to etch some copper with scaled-down versions of the school’s iconic paw print sticker.

I like to use wax sheets that were originally designed for investment casting. Wax makes a great resist for the etchant. I put the design right under the translucent wax sheet and cut it out with an exacto knife.

This is what the wax looks like after it’s been applied to the copper:

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A Little Closure

To me, the clasp is one of the most important details on a piece of jewelry. I only use handmade clasps, it seems antithetical to the essence of  handmade to use anything but. Today I finished a round box clasp.

In a way I kind of cheated since I used pre-made bezels. I attached it to the parallel link chain I made and tossed it in the tumbler with a bunch of other stuff- I’ll post more pictures once it’s done polishing.