Thursday, May 26, 2011

A Mix of Art and Technology

What do you get when you mashup art, technology, and a room full of geeks? Some mind-boggling eye-candy for starters. Participants in these visual and musical flights of fancy come from the computer art subculture. They spend their days producing demos, writing CGI scripts, laying out design; and generally playing with sound, image and page layout.  When they get really creative, at all-night parties on the fifth floor of the annual Notacon show, this is the result.

Critical Glitch Artware Category .doc[umentary] from Nick Briz on Vimeo.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

AfroPop is Awesome

I'm going to plug my personal YouTube Channel, also called Pop Impulse, with this AfroPop Playlist. It's one of my biggest, and I'm proud of the variety I've been able to uncover and collect. This is why I love YouTube. The Pop Impulse channel has 16 playlists, and about 450 videos. That number changes as I remove vids that are taken down by DMCA notices and add new favorites. I try to change the "featured" video that graces the channel homepage a couple of times a week, so there's always some variety for users. If you head on by and like what you see & hear, please subscribe and leave me a comment.  A couple of years ago, I wrote an extensive post on African music, tracing the origins of my interest. It's here.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Raising A Yurt

We recently raised a Yurt on our property to house my youngest daughter and her new family. The work was largely carried out by her SO, his family, a few volunteers, and a few paid tradespersons. The Yurt itself was produced by the country's leading manufacturer of these age-old structures: Pacific Yurts of Cottage Grove, Oregon. It's a peach, a totally wonderful space that shows off the fine materials and construction of the product. Here's what "Campground Management" magazine had to say about the manufacturer.

"In the nearly 30 years since Bair founded his company, Pacific Yurts has maintained its status as the world's leading yurt manufacturing company by continuously implementing technical and structural advancements, adding innovative options and remaining committed to unrivaled customer service." 

 Technically, a Yurt is a temporary, above-ground recreational structure. As such, they are normally afforded special treatment by county permitting and assessing professionals. That can be important. The structures have a history dating back to the Mongolian steppes. Due to their creative design, refined over the years, they can withstand virtually any weather short of exceptional storms like tornadoes and hurricanes. They are relatively easy to raise, and can be dismantled when no longer needed.

There are several notable characteristics of our Yurt. The lattice-like framing that adds so much strength. Augmented by high-tech fabrics and highly refined design. We opted for the heavy weather kit, which added some upright 2X4 supports reinforced with a clever cabling scheme and stout fitting.
The windows are zipped up, the top piece of the dome can be raised from inside to facilitate ventilation. The front door is framed and features a quality lock. We highly recommend Yurts to our friends and families. So far, the structure has proved to be even better than anticipated. Yeah. And it looks so cool.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Does Twitter Make Better Writers?

As anyone who reads my blog already understands, I'm in a long-term love relationship with words. So I tend to be a bit self-indulgent and verbose. I struggle daily with my ongoing weaknesses in that regard. As a mind-worker and wordsmith by trade, I even confess to an affection for semi-colons and proper grammar. Old school? Perhaps, but as I tell my daughters: If you know how to write clearly and compellingly you'll never want for a job.

A Twitter power-user (@DonCarlitos), I'm struck with the potential the micro-blogging service has for improving writing skills in general. Twitter requires users to cram meaning into 140 characters. A good thing, and a lesson in concise language and brevity. 

In 1918, William Strunk, a Cornell University English professor, wrote "The Elements of Style." It has become the definitive book on clear and concise writing, used by schools at all levels especially university journalism programs. In 1959, New Yorker Magazine writer E.B. White - a former student of Strunk's - was asked to update "The Little Book" by publishers Macmillian and Company. According to Wikipedia, "Since 1959 the total sales of three editions of the book, in four decades, exceeded ten million copies."  In the book, Strunk provides a number of rules for writers. The most important, by general consensus, being: "Omit needless words."

I'm sure you can see where I'm going with this. Twitter enforces brevity, and rewards the concise.  It makes us "omit needless words." In doing so, the popular social networking tool makes an important, new contribution to producing good writers. Now I'm the first to admit that creative contractions, numbers substituted for words, and too many acronyms are also hallmarks of Twitter. But I chose to overlook those and focus on Twitter's positive contributions to written language. Let me know in the comment section if you agree. (Good Writer's Tip Sheet).