Polymer Vision Demos SVGA Rollable Screen

Posted by on May 30th, 2011

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From CrunchGear:

Designed and manufactured by Polymer Vision, the screen can be rolled and unrolled 25,000 times. The question, obviously, is why would you need a rollable display? Well, as ereaders become ubiquitous the need for them to be almost indestructible. I could see a day when kids get their own ereaders for the nursery a la the Diamond Age. Interestingly, Polymer Vision isn’t the company of note when you think of e-ink displays so either they will license this technology or they could start taking more and more market shares from leaders like Eink.


Defrag mag: Meet Your Planet

Posted by on April 25th, 2011

Today’s worthy Kickstarter project:

Defrag is an iPad magazine that features creative writing, music, visual art, multimedia and music videos from around the world, introducing you to the vibrant, multifaceted cultural life of your planet. No political soundbites, no celebrity profiles and no corporate propaganda.

In the first issue you’ll discover an indie rock scene in China, fine artists from India and a Heavy metal band from Iran. You’ll read poetry from Egypt, participatory fiction from California and see what club VJ’s are doing in Sweden. You’ll also hear experimental music from the UK, psychedelic blues from NYC, and experience multimedia hip-hop from the West Bank. Not the sort of content you’re likely to find on Fox News or in People Magazine.

It’s Cyberpunk Future Present, and full of There Is No They. And Phase 3 is to move it to Android tablets & PC. I like this a lot.


oh hai, you’re probably here about the Future

Posted by on December 4th, 2010

Here’s two pieces in two formats from two of the smartest people I know of. The subject: The Future. How it’s been shaped and will be continue to be shaped.

First we have Cory Doctorow, writing today on BoingBoing, riffing off an old clip of H.G. Wells predicting The Death of the Newspaper. What Cory’s delivered is Modern Futurism 101. I’m tempted to just blockquote the whole thing, but I’ll be a good blogger and just pull a few paragraphs:

..it’s wrong in a way that futurists are often wrong: it assumes a clean break with history and the positive extinction of the past. It predicts an information landscape that is reminiscent of the Radiant Garden Cities that Jane Jacobs railed against: a “modern” city that could only be built by bulldozing the entire city that stood before it and building something new on the clean field that remained. Every futuristic vision that starts with a clean slate has a genocide or an apocalypse lurking in it. Real new cities are build through, within, around, and alongside of the old cities. They evolve.

The experiment that we are presently conducting as a society is aimed at discovering what kind of information and transactions are really and truly “newspaper material” and not material that we stuffed into the margins of a newspaper because we needed it and newspapers were the only game in town. It may be that there’s nothing left when we’re done, that there’s a better way of delivering every word and every picture in the newspaper than to print it on broadsheet and fold it in eighths, in which case, newspapers may die, or they may end up being the territory of newspaper re-enactors, the equivalent of hobbyists who knap their own flint or re-enact the Battle of 1066.

Or it may be that newspapers do have a small and important and moving clutch of information and stories and images that really, really are better on paper. Maybe the audience for that will be too small and specialized to support a large business, and maybe the audience will club together and treat newspaper like a charity, the way that opera (another medium that lost a lot of its stories to more popular and hence cheaper successor media) functions today. Or maybe the cost of producing a paper will dip so low that we won’t particularly need a business to support it (Clay Shirky: “Will we still read the New York Times on paper in the future? Sure, if we print it out before reading it”).

Or maybe there is a large and substantial and popular insoluble lump of newspaperstuff that no successor medium is better at hosting, a critical mass of popular material that sustains newspapers in a diminished but substantial niche, perhaps like vinyl records.

Now, it’s worth getting meta here and pointing out that BoingBoing’s origin was as a zine. It migrated to the web and has grown so successfully it’s now known to some as the Great Big Blog.

As evidence as to what the ‘future of the newspaper’ is, we have this video from Activate 2010, where Jamais Cascio speaks about “the dynamics of internet evolution”, hosted by The Guardian.  (Gen Y kids mightn’t know this, but The Guardian started, and is still available, as a newspaper.)

How clever is Jamais?  In just fourteen minutes he takes a quick look back at how technology has been, and still is, marketed to us, and tells us what’s really happened and how it will look going forwards.

There you have it. Two general overviews of how society evolves. Read/watch them, study them.. understand them and you’re a Futurist too.


Network Realism – a new term for a new era

Posted by on October 27th, 2010

“We can only transform ourselves as fast as we can transform our language.” –Terrence McKenna

I have been processing this post by James BridleNetwork Realism: William Gibson and new forms of Fiction, since seeing it re-tweeted by Matt Jones of BERGLondon fame the other night.  Between this, and Paul Raven’s post yesterday on Futurismic on the same subject, I am glad to see I am far from the only person quite taken by Gibson’s latest.  It tickled my brain in a way I haven’t felt since first watching Richard Kelly’s Southland Tales.  (But that’s another story for a different blog.)  What these two share are reminders that is the twenty-first century and we do things differently here.

As Bridle says early on, what Gibson has been doing with the Bigend trilogy is “Just-in-time futurism.”:

Zero History is happening right now. It’s as if all of his writing has been concertinaed down into today. Liveblogging the present.

Given publishing’s long lead times, this is quite an achievement. But writing anything that feels so explicitly now, almost to the day, is an achievement in itself. I’d go as far as to say that you have to have been writing future Science Fiction for 25 years in order to write so convincingly about the present.

Some people have complained about the predominant use of iPhones in the novel, but I agree with Bridle where he says that what Gibson is doing is time-stamping the period.  In five, ten, twenty years iPhone will mean what horse-drawn carriage does today;  immediately establishing the context for the story taking place.

But it’s more than just that.  Everyone knows what an iPhone is.  Everyone.  But the smaller details Gibson includes changes the reading experience depending upon their knowledge of them.   Because Futurism is still expected.  For Bridle that’s the Festo, saying “their strangeness seemed something truly of the future, authentically Gibsonian—but only a couple of days later someone twittered a link to the manufacturer’s video.”

Now, as our long time readers know, that was posted here early last year.  But who bothers remembering things any more?  We export our memories online and need only recall the keywords we tagged them with.  Twitter and forget.  When in doubt, Google.  Via Paul’s Futurismic post, we get this quote from Alex Vagenas’s take on Zero History:

The amount of googlable details is actually staggering. It creates a vertiginous impression that the novel, in a more heightened sense than traditional realism, acquires and maintains a truly reciprocal relationship to the world as it is filtered through the web, in a Borgesian continuum of mediation. Zero History springs from and redirects to myriad cultural minutiae that Gibson has been assembling and which will take on their arbitrarily imposed narrative significance once again, when the reader looks them up.

A new Realism for a new age.  Bridle appears to agree, as he continues:

In “Zero History” we have an echo of “No Future”: everything compressed into the present. This idea is what Zero History is really about. (This is the Order Flow: the future is defined by the present; who pinpoints the present controls the future.)

…it’s undeniable that something is happening, a network effect produced by the sudden visibility of just how unevenly distributed those futures are.

I want to give it a name, and at this point I’m calling it Network Realism.

Continuing still; and this is the part that formed new connections in my brain, that felt so instantly true (and that all the above has really been to contextualize):

Network Realism is writing that is of and about the network. It’s realism because it’s so close to our present reality. A realism that posits an increasingly 1:1 relationship between Fiction and the World. A realtime link. And it’s networked because it lives in a place that’s that’s enabled by, and only recently made possible by, our technological connectedness.

Zero History is Network Realism because of the way that it talks about the world, and the way its knowledge of the world is gathered and disseminated. Gibson seems to be navigating the spider graph of current reality as wikiracing does human knowledge.

He goes on to name several works that also fit within this category, but the only one I am familiar with is Makers – except it was called Themepunks then, when it was serialised on Salon.

To bring this all back to the Terrence McKenna quote at the beginning – living, as we are,  in a time of ever increasing change necessitates that we modify our language through the invention of new words (neologisms) and re-appropriate existing ones to form new concepts – as fast as we can, really.  Grabbing onto whatever’s nearest and hacking it to fit, so that we have placeholders to tweet with and can start using them to discuss building whatever comes along next.

Language is Humanity’s oldest technology; it must be continually upgraded.  If our fiction doesn’t reflect and include that, then it’s useless.  And that’s why everyone is so excited about Zero History.

Or, as Bridle ends:

We live in strange, new times. New eras require new forms, as Sydney Harbour Bridge reminds us—in fact, they produce them, out of themselves, out of their conditions. Network Realism feels, to me, like something genuinely new in literature, and we’re only just seeing the edges of it.

Thank you James.

*

Hah!  You thought I’d talk about Zero History without mentioning Atemporality.  Well, instead, I’ll quote straight from Paul, who’s, as always, spot-on (speaking on SF by any other name):

If we ever manage to define sf in a way that everyone can agree on, it’ll probably ossify and die within months. And you might even argue that it follows logically (in a way that Darwin might recognise) that sf has become interested in atemporality because atemporality is the best survival strategy available to it.

(Also, Southland Tales really is a very good movie; ignore the reviews and see for yourself.)