Posts Tagged ‘Tech’

Carrot Weather

Years and years ago I designer a weather app called Skyline. Little of it exists on the internet anymore, but the core idea of the app was to present an hourly forecast as a series of icons which would rise and fall with the temperature, giving you an easy-to-read graph of the day ahead. I don’t believe we were the first to ever present a daily forecast this way, we were the first I know of to package a whole app around it.

App developer Carrot recently launched a new version of their Carrot Weather app, which has what I consider the best version of this concept yet, and the best overall weather app I know of for iPhone or iPad (it also runs on newer Macs, though it’s a bit less good there). It’s got good data, presented well, and it looks pretty.

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Jenny Holzer's Lightline

I make a point on this blog of never worrying about my posts being ‘timely’. I post whenever I find something, and don’t much care if something is 2 days or 2 decades old (I also don’t track visits or incoming links in any way, but that’s another story). Sometimes, though, I luck into something relatively current, like my visiting artist Jenny Holzer‘s Lightline show at the Guggenheim on its 4th day.

The main attraction was the immense video screen that sent scraps of words flowing up the helix of the Guggenheim’s inner hall, in a reworking of the artist’s own 1989 show in the same space.

Skywriting was done outside the show, though I don’t know if it was related to the words inside. The shape echoes the work, though I don’t know who Alejandro is, and couldn’t angle myself to read more than this small excerpt.

And lastly, a bit of a spoiler, the very final words at the top of the Guggenheim:

Apple Jonathan

Photo via

My day job as a designer of Mac apps gives me a special fondness for computer concepts. This is a little-known Apple prototype from the 80’s which was a candidate to be a new platform alongside, or instead of, the Mac. Inspired by a bookshelf, “This concept envisioned a computer that would expand with the needs of the user, through the use of modular components”.

The user would add modules depending on what they needed to do, like disk, drives, storage, video cards, or specialized components. Modular designs often work out better in theory than in practice, and it’s likely that in this case getting all the pieces to work with each other would have been a technical nightmare.

Read more at 512px →

Via Daring Fireball

Taking 'Green' Out of the 'Green Screen'

Until the age of about 14 I was certain I wanted to do movie special effects when I got old enough. Plans changed, but I still enjoy watching how special effects are done. In this case, a small studio resurrected a decades-old technique for making a “green screen” effect using sodium vapour lighting and prisms. Neat!

Technological Mandalas

Italian artist Leonardo Ulian makes some delightful mandalas out of electronics and other symbols of our digital world. Beautiful.

Visit the artist’s site for more →

Why The Internet Isn't Fun Anymore

Illustration by Nicholas Konrad

The New Yorker has a piece about how much worse the internet has gotten. It’s not exactly a secret, but this article sums up a lot of the current state of things online:

Elsewhere online, things are similarly bleak. Instagram’s feed pushes months-old posts and product ads instead of photos from friends. Google search is cluttered with junky results, and S.E.O. hackers have ruined the trick of adding “Reddit” to searches to find human-generated answers.

Later it hits on what I think is one of the key issues at play:

According to Eleanor Stern, a TikTok video essayist with nearly a hundred thousand followers, part of the problem is that social media is more hierarchical than it used to be. “There’s this divide that wasn’t there before, between audiences and creators,” Stern said. The platforms that have the most traction with young users today—YouTube, TikTok, and Twitch—function like broadcast stations, with one creator posting a video for her millions of followers; what the followers have to say to one another doesn’t matter the way it did on the old Facebook or Twitter.

Read the Article →

Thanks Rafa

Do You Remember Being Born?

The first time I heard about language-based AIs, I was sitting in a beautiful Montréal park, and friend of Elsewhat Sean started talking about what AI could do with language. This was years before GPT got its “chat” prefix and became the sensation it has since become. I remember being baffled by hearing about GPT could take long strings of text and near-instantly rewrite them in a different style, or summarized shorter, or expanded, or just write from scratch. I felt somewhat in awe of the description of this technology, which took a few more years to go mainstream, but the impression he gave was that this was going to have a big impact on society.

Sean was then, and continues to be, way in advance of other artists in his understanding, and use of AI. This novel, years and years in the making, is testament to that. It feels like it could not be timed any better—Right as people are discussing what AI will do to art, here comes a beautiful book about, and partially written by AI.

The book follows a successful poet in her mid-seventies, Marian Ffarmer, as she’s commissioned by a California big-tech company to collaboratively write a piece of poetry with the company’s cutting edge language-based AI, Charlotte. Marian is a beautifully rendered character, and her eccentric, mischievous manner makes her a perfect foil to the polished technocrats at the big California computer company.

This book is excellent, and a very timely contribution to the debate on how AI impacts art. The New York Times gave a glowing review, and I agree. This is a thoughtful work, which simultaneously looks back at the long life of an artist as she navigates a new technology, created in a few short years, which will forever change the craft she’s taken her lifetime to master.

It’s also, importantly, not a work that tries to predict the long arc of where the technology will go, or the possible impacts it might have on society. It’s foremost about the artist, and her act of using tech in creating something which was, until now, quintessentially human.

Buy the Book (Canada) →
Buy the Book (US) →

Daring Fireball on Microsoft's New Fonts

John Gruber of tech/Apple blog Daring Fireball has a nice rundown of Aptos, Microsoft’s upcoming default font for its Office apps.

What I find weird about the whole thing is that Microsoft still hasn’t really shown any of these new fonts. They’ve provided glimpses of them, but mostly at large display sizes, not text sizes, which is where they really matter in the context of Office documents. I’m not the only one to find this curious.

So I took matters into my own hands, and created rudimentary specimens for each of Microsoft’s five new typefaces

All are better than Arial. I don’t use office, but as Gruber says:

it’s impossible not to encounter documents created with Office, whether you personally use it or not. Thus, Microsoft’s typographic choices affect us all.

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What to Do About Fake Drake

Friend of Elsewhat Sean Michaels has a piece up in The New Yorker this week about the intersection of AI and the music industry. It touches on tech, music sharing, sampling, and lots more.

Meanwhile, the pace of A.I. research has recalled the work of West Yorkshire rhubarb farmers, whose stalks grow so fast that they can hear the sound of them stretching. Tools with names like So-Vits-SVC, which has been used to generate A.I. facsimiles of Drake’s, Eminem’s, and Jay-Z’s voices, are introducing a new set of challenges to an industry that has barely recovered from covid-era concert restrictions. Musical artists, confronted by Big Tech’s tempo, influence, and affluence, have shown an understandable willingness to line up behind Big Media. Given a very real fear that generative tools will further erode, or permanently cripple, the already precarious economics of artists’ lives, why not allow globe-straddling labels, studios, and publishers to stand on their behalf?

Read it here →

The Worst Chess Game Possible

A recap of a chess game that used the most powerful chess engine available to always play the worst move it possibly could.

Watch Here →