Thursday, June 29, 2006

parents: raise a book lover

At WebMDBlog, Dr Steven Parker shares some thoughts on raising kids who love to read. He says, in part:

"First, let me state that I'm not at all a TV, media, computer opponent (for example, I thought the Academy of Pediatrics was ill-advised to forbid TV for kids under 24 months), as long as they are used in moderation and with close parental attention to the content. The electronic media will certainly be a fact of life for your kids and, hopefully, a positive one.

Having said that, these omnipresent 21st century TV and computer-based experiences have three qualities that worry me:

  1. Everything moves at a fast pace. Even the great Sesame Street has taken some heat for promoting short attention spans as their lessons fly by at a dizzying pace (and they are the good guys). Most TV images are fleeting: BIF! BAM! BOOM! Process it quick and move on to the next image.
  2. These experiences are essentially passive ones. Everything is laid out for the watcher, unlike books or even radio. We don't have much work to do; mostly we're along for the ride. (I love Harry Potter, but I was sorry they made the movies. It was heartwarming to see children so excited about reading, each with his/her own image of Hogwarts and Harry, fueled by imagination. Now the need for that creative leap is gone - the movies have done all the work for us and it's hard to imagine Harry as anything other than the actor who plays him.)
  3. There are no long, complicated stories, no slowly developing narrative flow, no time or need to anticipate and guess what is coming next. Our kids are being raised on a diet of short stories instead of novels.

Could such experiences have unintended long-term consequences?"

He goes on to encourage us to give kids books very early, and suggests that the earlier a child forms relationships with books (instead of e-media) the better chance they'll have to see books as fun, and to build positive associations with reading.

Found via Parent Hacks.

net neutrality

Here are some arguments for "network neutrality" from:

Tim Berners-Lee (link)

(pic links to .ram video)

Vint Cerf

and a Ninja.

comics 11 (just a note)

In case you don't know, I'm a big fan of Planetary. I like the story so much I wrote a review of the last volume. It's one of those things that just keeps getting better -- doesn't loose anything with age, either. Fine, fine stuff.


Reading: not Black Hole for a few days. Jeezus. That's depressing stuff.
Weather: a little too ironicaloristic

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

info viz 9: dotplots

Here's your Shakespeare. All of it.

"The concatenation order of Shakespeare's works was determined by a combinatorial optimization algorithm that attempts to position dark grid boxes near the main diagonal, emphasizing cluster of similar documents. Without automatic reordering it would be impossible to see the large dark cluster in the upper left formed by the European Histories. The tokens matching the most in this cluster (the dominant vocabulary in the European Histories after term weighting) include Richard, God, Duke, John, Lord, Henry, Sir, death, Queen, York, France, hand, and blood."

More: "Dotplots were first used in Biology to study homology (self-similarity) in genetic sequences. These diagonals indicate an almost-perfect match between two DNA sequences. Unlike the early dotplots used in Biology, we have generalized the technique to allow arbitrary weighting functions and the plotting of much larger amounts of data."

A sort of, in this case, visual expression of bibliometric data...

Build your own here (link). "This version uses character tokenization with no weighting, reconstruction, or approximation, so every pair of matching characters is plotted."


Reading: Black Hole by Charles Burns

info viz 8: visual search engines

Two to explore:

info viz 7: this is your desktop

If you're at all interested in organizing information, please watch this prototype demonstration of BumpTop Desktop:

(found via InfoAesthetics)

Monday, June 26, 2006

comics 10

Reading Transmet again. I'm surprised to find it more mature than I remember. All the fixation on excrement and gorging on monkey meat reads as a kind of ruse. The pomp and self-righteous tirades of Spider Jerusalem are fun, as they always were, but also sadder this time around -- like the antics come from anger that's been mellowed for a long time in Spider's loneliness (or Warren Ellis's). If that makes sense. I'm really enjoying them this time, though the transhumanism stuff is passe now -- and that's scary on its own, as its only been a few years since I read them for the first time, and since they've only been around for, what, nine years now? I guess the ideas are starting to show their age. But that's the thing. Transmet jump-started alot of the popular notions of transhumanism a long time before anybody but the scientists and sociologists were thinking about this stuff at all. It's still good to revisit the story.

(pic links to Amazon: Transmet)