Wear that Millennial Stamp with Pride

I want you to stop and consider something for a moment. Our generation is in a truly unique position in the history of the world. We are the first to have not only grown up with the Internet, but grown up on the Internet. This is the critical difference between us and everyone gone before us.

Call us the Millennials. Call us the next Lost Generation. But there is something more to us.

Ok, screw that headline.

After all, it is they that come up with the terms: we surf the Net. We cruise the Web. We are lost in Virtual Space, careening through the system of Tubes that constitute what is, to them, nothing more than an overly addictive game.

But it is not a game. One plays a game. We don’t “play” the Internet. It is as critical and ever-present in our modern environment as the grass beneath our toes or the atmosphere that holds us to it. It is not external—it is connected. It is not alternate reality, but another layer of reality itself.

Which is to say, the Internet is not something we use. It’s something we live—on it, inside it, alongside it, frolicking with it down memory lane, what have you—but it is an inescapable facet of our existence. We use the Internet to keep in touch with those both near and far, to organize, to research, to prepare. We plan with it, chart calendars on it, study, and dream through the wondrous expanse of its pages. Friends and enemies rise and fall online. Love and hate flourishes and dies in its expanse. Some of the greatest debates (and the tackiest) in the history of mankind are no doubt, out there, in the expanse of the Internet…Online, eternal, waiting.

For us, the Internet has never been something we needed to “learn.” It is an evolution—another entity, sitting alongside us in the classroom, aging and lengthening before our eyes. It is continuous. In it, we grow, and through us, it grows. It is. It simply is.

What more need I say? The Net is a part of us. It’s not tacky sci-fi, not some Utopian paradise—it is, at its simplest, the collection of thoughts, ambitions, emotions, which embody Us. It is us. Let the history of mankind be writ large upon it.

And let the folks on it learn to start treating one another as equals. But hey, that’s just commonsense in facet of life, isn’t it?

…isn’t it?

Desexualization

Youth Culture - Hippies 1960s

Youth Culture – Hippies 1960s (Photo credit: brizzle born and bred)

For a sexual revolution

it’s remarkably like sitting.

Don’t get me wrong,

there’s some fine monitors out there

but they hold no tongue

to the grace of touch

pirouetted down a glance’s flare

heating the muddy pools of Woodstock;

it’s held now, at the push of a button

agonizing seconds of cyberspace

as to whether winky face

implies a wink or sillier drink

while pictures, trailing a thousand lols

peel off the layers between

expediency and self-preservation

disillusioned lies of privacy

undermining the intimacy

of human artistry.

Google+ For Photographers

Yes, bow before me, for I was one of those rare, select, elite few to receive Google +!—by which I mean, oh boy, one of my media friends shot me an invite to the latest social network everybody.

If you want to read up more on the basics of Google+ and its “circles” of influence—ah, you see what I did there?—follow that link to learn more about the network. For me, however, the immediate question was how Google+ might appeal itself to photographers, while crossing my fingers and hoping against hope it wouldn’t have the save decidedly unsettling service agreements as Facebook.

So far, I’ve not been disappointed. While lacking the Facebook “like” pages, that allow you to essentially build up your studio, image, what-have-you, Google+ does have its own worthwhile contributions:

  • Circles. Yes, it all comes back to circles. Not only do they allow for quick organization of your photo-related contacts, they essentially allow you to set up a group for your photography information, and to quickly locate those contacts you may wish to check up on, communicate with, etc.
  • Picasa! Remember Picasa? Yes, well, it actually has purpose now. Long oppressed by flickr, photobucket, webshots and the like, Google+ has now revitalized Picasa to store its images, for all intents and purposes remodeling it into Google+ Photos. Nice, easy storage system, with largely unlimited album capability, and the potential for videos up to 15 minutes long.
  • Lightbox. Keeping in the Picasa vein, when you enter an album, Picasa reconstitutes the images on the page to be more visually pleasing, and clicking on one opens it in lightbox, giving you a nice viewing space—and full details on the photo, too.
  • Lack of Facebook licensing woes. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Google’s classic slogan “Don’t be evil” works its way into the distinctly mundane terms of service versus Facebook’s “gotcha” politics. Still – take care, because they do reserve the right to modify your images as they please…
  • “Scrapbook.” It’s essentially a nice mini-portfolio that opens your main page. You can upload up to 5 images here to go right alongside your profile, to be displayed right under your name. Good for highlighting your work if you want people to link off a certain website…
  • No apps! Sure, it’s not photo related, but bloody hell—no more getting bogged down with Farmville and Mafia Wars invitations!

In short, it’s sleek, it’s efficient, and it’s got potential. Check it out, if you grab an invite, and feel free to add me to your circle, if you feel I’m worthy!

Bringing Art to New Generations

Once again it seems Google is leading the charge to a more collaborative universe, and this time it’s taking an aim at art fans around the world.

Google, whose name has long since been synonymous with web innovation, has now extended its cameras from the streets to museums the world over. From the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam, to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, Google’s latest program, Art Project, allows users to view hundreds of pieces of classic and modern art without ever having to leave their desk.

The program actually launched last week, for those of you that may not have heard of it, but I myself only discovered this gem a few days ago. I’m already in love. For the art fan like myself, this program opens the doors to 17 museums across the United States and Europe and hundreds of artistic treasures I otherwise likely never would have gotten to see in person.

Yet as interesting as this new realm of possibilities is, Art Project is, at the moment, more intriguing for its potential than for its actual capabilities at the moment. The system is a bugged one in places, and you get the feeling Google’s still finding its ground to stand on with this program. Some locales are higher quality than others; some are fairly blurred and abstract, while with others you can zoom right into high-resolution images such that you can almost feel as though you’re running your hands along treasures like Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus,” or Byzantine iconography It’s just you and a magnifying glass for these images, so you can pour over every succulent inch.

The museum tours themselves are simply Google’s street view brought indoors, and you can use arrows to tour the facilities at your leisure. In several locales you even get the full 360-degree treatment, so as to lose nothing of the world’s most stunning galleries – like, for example, the beautiful murals in Versailles. Not all rooms in these places are in the boundaries yet, but there’s still enough of a journey that you can busy yourself for several satisfying hours.

Though many museums have already allowed virtual journeys like this, Art Project is still a major leap forward in the interaction of the web and the arts community. It provides easy travel across continents and years of artistic splendor, all gathered nice-and-tidy under one accessible roof. Best of all: it’s an art journey that’s completely free.

With luck and time, hopefully more museums and galleries will sign on to the project. Google itself noted that thus far, while many have been approached, these 17 museums were the only ones to sign on to the idea. If people start devouring this new internet gem, though, it could spark something of a revitalized art craze – and that could stir more of these places to action.

In this day and age, anything that keeps the art scene alive is a good way to go; the old generation needs to get with the program, and this is a nice start on that road. Reconciling the classics to modern technology only helps to further preserve these beauties for the generations to come, and it preserves, above all, the knowledge and culture we should all cherish.

So my review? Good program. Great potential. Definitely worth a look – just be prepared for some bugs, and don’t go in expecting the world. As they say: Rome wasn’t built in a day, and Google’s opening its doors to more art than Rome ever saw.

Epitaphs and Soundslides

So I learned something valuable yesterday: WordPress does not like Soundslides – no, no it does not.

Attempting to upload the photo essay I made of the Snowpocalypse met with less than desirable success, but I shall see if I can’t work my way around it in the days to come. Where there’s a problem, there’s generally a solution – especially with technology. Might just take a bit of finaygling…

That said, today in honor of that and other frustrations, I give unto you a quick two-liner for all those struggling through the mundane toils of the world. Let’s call it…Epitaph:

Just the tip, said I,

and the world shafted me by and by.

Meanwhile, in the wake of the great snow showers, my friends have taken liberties with the snowy plains of my house and seem to have turned them into a mural. Also started into an underground cave network. Yes, pictures shall follow. Soon, if not today. Perhaps Monday, after tomorrow’s quotes and One Shoot Sunday fun…

Everyone ready for the next photo prompt? We’re engaging a wonderful nature photographer this week named Sean McCormick. I think you’ll enjoy his work very much. Long interview too. We’re thinking of making it a two-parter…extending the One Stop love out for all you happy readers out there. Be sure to check it out.

And to my American friends out there…so, about that Superbowl. All ready for the game?

Technological Wisdom

Been on a bit of a sci-fi bent lately. Don’t know where it came from exactly, but so it goes, and as a result, the quotes of the week this week are technology themed…though none-too-optimistic and happy on the subject. Something that tends to occur in my own writing with the sci-fi. Nonetheless, enjoy! And later today, my pictures from Saturday’s adventures into the snow:

“Inventor:  A person who makes an ingenious arrangement of wheels, levers and springs, and believes it civilization.”  ~Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary

“It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.”  ~Albert Einstein

“Technological progress has merely provided us with more efficient means for going backwards.”  ~Aldous Huxley

Space

Image care of Photobucket.

Nothing looms as nothing,

Ever blazing in the all-celestial plain

These firewrought havens stretched

Unbidden and unknown

Timeless destiny manifest

Such limitless bounty

Bears more than all the stars

In heaven’s listless choir—

No man might yet know life

That could ever see its end.

These torches light the path

Unto technological

Ascension.

E-Readers

The Kindle

The Kindle. The I-pad.  The more time comes and goes, the more of these electronic goodies come prancing onto the market place. Book sales are at a terrible low, profits made only worse by the war raging between the motley crew of national bookstores left and the online sellers like Amazon.com.

So the question I ponder today is: what is the future of literature? The Kindle costs over $200, but if you are a voracious reader, you’re easily paying more than that for your hard copies every year. Books themselves can be cheap, but no book (outside of a penny and dollar shop) are going to top the stories on Kindle. Kindle’s prices are on the rise, but as a whole, its prices remain incredibly cheap compared to its hard-copy competitors. Plus, as long as you don’t drop your Kindle in water, your collection is going to last forever. Wear and tear’s not an issue there.

Another advantage of E-readers? Many books in one. You have a portable little friend that has your whole collection right at your disposal. It’s far easier to keep track of than a stack of bulky books. If you are like me, though, you have a thing for aesthetics. I love the smell of old books. I love the feeling of the paper between my fingers, nor can I focus so clearly on a screen as I can upon a book. Plus, there is nothing quite like the weight of a hard cover well-in-hand.

Still, for those well-suited to the screens, these electronic readers have adjustable fonts, to accommodate aging eyes. They can easily combat the glare of the sun, as well. There are no pages to turn, nor tear, and you can proceed at just the touch of a hand.

Speaking as a college student myself, though, the benefits to us students should be obvious. Supposing the book stores all turned to Kindles with their stocks? Hundreds of dollars are wasted on textbooks every semester. With the Kindle’s prices, imagine how much money we younglings could save?

Yet what do these electronics mean for libraries? Could the future be shelves lined with blank readers, waiting to be checked out? Maybe you would have to bring your own and set to browsing their selection. Perhaps a display—pick your program, what’s your pleasure? Just click a button and download your choice! When the due date’s come and gone, the program/book of your choice will simply disappear again, and you will be ready for another check-out. It’s less personal, but the ease is undeniable. I would be interested to see how they charge you fines, though. Perhaps it would simply do away with them all-together, if the program simply disappears after a time anyhow.

But as an author, I implore you one and all to think on what the e-reader will mean for the writer. We labor over every script, but it is we that are always the first screwed over by the companies, the publishers, etc. When the market suffers, rarely is it the companies that feel the hurt—always the writer. Money is rough to come by in the profession, unless you are one of the lucky ones like George R.R. Martin or J.K. Rowling. So when we turn to the even cheaper markets of e-books, how much additional hurt will it put on writers? Are the royalties on a $1 book sale going to keep a writer going? The companies still have to pay everyone that works for them, and at a buck a pop, do you really think they are going to be kind to the authors? That nice little copyright only means so much.

As a practical son of the times, I see the advantage of the e-readers. I see the advancement they embody for society. As a writer, however, I have to side against them. Convenient, yes, but the negatives for authors far outweigh the good. Plus, for me, it all comes back to those aesthetics. I am picky where many others aren’t, I know, but it is simply how I feel.

Think about it. Draw your own conclusions. One thing is for certain, though: the literary world is at a crossroads. One can only guess what might yet come after.