We need your help to come up with the name for an exciting new gadget that has been designed by the boffins at the BBC and the University of Southampton! The gadget is a remote control plane with a camera attached, which will be used to film large events from the sky. It may even be used to film parts of the Olympic Torch Relay this summer.” —
Yeah, That’s Blue Peter getting kids involved in designing a drone.
For those lacking the rich British cultural heritage, here’s Wikipedia’s page on the venerable BBC show.
Marius is into coding “generative art.” Generative art is particularly “eruptive,” in the New Aesthetic eruptive sense. It looks “eruptive” because, although it isn’t new, the world has never yet come to terms with art generated by algorithms. We lack a sensibility that is cozy and urbane about that. So we have pretend that it’s amazingly new, all the time.
This response is pig-headed of us. Generative art has many analog precursors, as Marius himself has pointed out, in illuminating detail, on several occasions. Generative software code is code, and a printout sheet of it looks pretty intimidating to the non-coder. But it really is art code. It is not hidden from view by patents, trade secrets and commercial manufacturers. By the standards of New Media art, it’s compact, purpose-built, open to inspection, and, with sufficient investment of effort, comprehensible.” —Bruce Sterling in Generation Generator, his latest missive on the New Aesthetic.
On Wednesday, Tumblr announced in an apparent about-face that it would be allowing paid advertisement on the popular blogging platform. David Kamp, Tumblr CEO and founder, made the announcement at Ad Age’s Digital Conference today in New York.
As recently as April 12, Kamp toldAd Age that advertising was “a complete last resort.” In 2010, the CEO famously said, in an interview with the Los Angeles Times,that the company was “pretty opposed to advertising. It really turns our stomachs.”
Yesterday, however, 25-year-old CEO added that putting ads on Tumblr Radar would get an advertiser 120 million impressions per day and will be available as of May 2.
I can’t say I’m surprised or overly disappointed by the announcement - for a free service it is more of an inevitability.
I’ve noticed a few posts recently in Tumblr Radar that, if not paid, felt as if they weren’t quite arising from sheer popularity- there were some related to the Hunger Games film, and another for the new John Cusack Edgar Allan Poe movie. Perhaps these weren’t actually paid for, but were testing the waters.
The fact that I wasn’t sure if they were paid or not seems to show that the Radar slot feels ripe for advertiisng. It’s small, but well-seen (I’m sure plenty of people check their dashboard multiple times a day, if not hour) but it’s also not too large or garish. If the paid ads aren’t too jarring or obtrusive, I can see it working fairly well for everyone.
I also suspect that any Radar items have to be on Tumblr itself, so that you can like or reblog them. That’s also smart for getting brands on the site, much as I prefer my social networks filled with people, not businesses. (I’ve been musing a post about why I like Flickr for this reason: there are unusually popular accounts around, but if they’re not photographers, they tend to either be states or government departments, like the various NASA institutions, the President, or Downing Street.)
Today is the one hundred and sixth anniversary of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, which “ranks as one of the most significant earthquakes of all time”. One of the iconic images of the city is this:
Taken in May 1906 by George R. Lawrence, the photograph is from a large celluloid-plate film camera, which itself was suspended from a train of kites stabilised by a set of booms- what Lawrence called a “captive airship”.
Lawrence sold prints of this photograph for $125- not less than $3000* in 2010 dollars. He made “at least $15,000” from this one photograph. If you want a closer look, the USGS has a zoomable, reduced-contrast version.
Unsurprisingly, as the centenary came around six years ago, there were attempts to reproduce the iconic shot; two, in fact. The Drachen Foundation, which works with kite photographers, enlisted Scott Haefner and the USGS to take a panorama, flown with a similar kite airship method to Lawrence’s image:
Another group, led by Ron Klein, used a replica camera of the same size and type, but mounted in a helicopter. (As the kite group notes, FAA regulations limit their altitude to 500 feet, while Lawrence’s original was taken from somewhere around 1000 feet, although some sources say it was even higher).
Unsurprisingly, a great deal has changed in the hundred years between the two- the sksyscrapers, the bridges, and Sutro Tower being obvious. On the other hand, while the harbour has changed, the feel of the Embarcadero is remarkably similar.
In any case, these are all fascinating, not just for the depiction of the city, but for the technology - both in terms of aviation and of cameras - involved.
* in purchasing power- more on comparing old currency values at Measuring Worth.