November 29, 2005

The Big Picture: Extreme Education Reform

"... It's hard to imagine a school with no tests, no grades and no classes. But those familiar elements of education are missing at two dozen Big Picture schools in six states, each with no more than 120 students. They emphasize work in the real world, portfolios, oral presentations and intense relationships between students and advisers...."

NPR program on one of the schools

Years ago I was able to meet a principle attempting to launch Chicago's first "Big Picture"school. Then, it was just referred to as a "Met School," and there was not the unified front of Big Picture institutions with success statistics to back themselves up. The faith in passion and specificity is the most exciting part of Big Picture schools. Personally I believe that our confidence in learning has become lost in the breadth of the general curriculum. One interesting subject can be worth 20 boring ones in the eyes of students and educators. When you really press a student or educator about what the most important aspects of high school are... You rarely end up with the questions asked on standardized tests. Big Pictures seems to orient students around the actual answers... Responsibility and self/social awareness. Not to mention a welcome retreat back to pre-industrial age "apprentice" kinds of learning.

November 22, 2005

As We May Think

The hidden manifesto behind the scenes of all the major information movements of the past years (wikipedia, google's digital library, and apparently Squid Labs)

There is this tremendous essay by Vannaver Bush. Published in the Atlantic Monthly in 1945, it's difficult the understate the essay's importance. Bush essentially outlines many of the functions of today's PC with suprising accuracy. Bush bases his "Memex" around extra tiny microfilm. It is especially noted as being one of the first documents theorizing of a hypertext system. At one point he nearly perfectly describes a typical web forum. One about Turkish longbows... Bush's connections between politics and computing were revolutionary . Bush imagined information design as a factor for succesful democracy. For this alone, the man is an icon.

To me, the great thing about an essay like this is the way it poses the question... Can we simply look at the world like a scale and predict a logical progression? Or is it that because Bush imagined these things we found ways to engineer them. It makes for a great case point for such a fundamental question.

November 21, 2005

Hell's Furnishings: Furniture Aesthetics after September 11

Momus's article for Metropolis where he responds to finding "A Clockwork Orange" in the "Good Furniture" section of a Japanese video store.

"...You wonder why so many films have used immaculate Modernist design as a symbol of fascism, an enemy of human agency: Welles's The Trial, Tati's Playtime, Truffaut's Fahrenheit 451, Woody Allen's Sleeper. It's as if--for screenwriters, for literary people, for humanists--the achievement of a beautiful environment represents the end of all human struggle, and the termination of both their own utility and that of language. ..."

"...Japan takes the threat out of Western cultural products by stripping them of their transcendental values at the border. You could almost say that gays and Japanese prefer fetish (secretive, personal, deviant, diffuse, libertarian) to sexual intercourse (dutiful, social, normative, convergent, hegemonic). Intercourse is, finally, duty. Fetish is, in the end, glamour. ..."

via Marxy

November 20, 2005

Artist Larry Kagan and art of "Shadowing"

Larry Kagan pratices the art of sculpture "Shadowing" Its is a really entertaining form of optical art.

Most of his work is more far more complex than just the "number 3" but this article explains it best.

Lengths of curving, rusted metal cover a low worktable. A tangled twist of steel mounted on the wall reaches out in branches, its shadow forming a solid and unmistakable number “3.”

"There is nothing resembling a “3” in the object casting the shadow, nor anywhere else in Larry Kagan's downtown Troy studio. “There's no reason the thing that casts the shadow has to look like the shadow,” the artist says, sensibly.

Yet at first glance, it's hard to believe his work isn't an illusion, a deception, some kind of fraud."

November 14, 2005

Colour (Advertising doesn't.get.better)

Great fun to watch.

Sheer appreciation of the research put into this project. Sony really has pinpointed the best way to get their product seen by the people that they want to see it. Thanks to searchers like JRS.


November 13, 2005


" is an experiment in channeling new work and voices to public radio through the Internet, for discussing that work, and encouraging more." The site is open submission, and encourages amatuer reporters to submit work.

There are some really amazing pieces on the site. The very first piece I checked out "Craziest" introduced me to a whole new medium I never even knew existed: Vidlit.

Also check out Sweet Phil From Sugar Hill, which is one of the best radio essays I have ever heard.

The thing I like best about Transom are the articulate discussions. They make something I am only partially interested seem far more fascinating.

The site hosts Ira Glass's Manifesto, which when combined with the piles of questions and comments from readers, makes for a highly detailed analysis of both the business and style of public radio.

Animation Gold (UPDATEED)

An entire Gorillaz Show's animation. There are a few very beautiful parts. Their whole show is way ahead of our time.

3D MTV Europe Gorillaz show


John and Faith Hubley clips Not only were they innovative and talented animators! They are also the parents of Georgia Hubley of the band Yo La Tengo.

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