Riffing on Books and Life – Arts & Sciences Literary Blog by interactive new media author & artist Terry Bailey

30Jan/11

Have we side-tracked from the goal of everyman/woman computing?

Note: I have never done this before, but this is a shared post with my amybeachandme.com/blog as it covers information apropos of both blogs. I have edited it a bit for this blog.

Studio back together – ready to start creating again!

One of the down sides of working with art and technology is that technology has to be tended to a lot, and it is not all that fun. There are days when I just want to create my riffing blog, my Amy Beach book, compose music, make some digital art or a new media piece, but I can’t create because I have to tend to technology.

I am always grateful that I can take care of my own technology – that our digital world has evolved to the point that I can create independently in a technological world – but the technology itself is still an inhibiting feature of creativity. And I do have concern that current software and hardware creators are not keeping their eye on the goal of making technology easier over time, not more difficult.

That sometimes feels like the Lost Goal lately.

Let me give an example. I recently purchased a new computer. Way more powerful, lots of great features, but, as with every computer up-grade, there was a great deal of time consuming technical work involved before I could get back to creating. I had to transfer all my software, connect all my hardware peripherals, deal with items that were incompatible with the new system, on an on.

I discovered last week that my sound hardware was not talking to my music/sound software. I wasted a whole precious creative day in an attempt to fix this problem.

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15Jan/11

My TEDx Interlude

Terry attends Caltech TEDx in Pasadena January 2011

I mentioned I would be attending a conference this week. It was the TEDx conference at Pasadena's Caltech. The animation above explains, kind of, why I don't have a bunch of photos. I could leave it at that, but it is not really true. The fact is that in my haste to get ready for the event, I completely forgot to charge my phone battery - otherwise I certainly would have sneaked a few snapshots of the event. That won't ever happen again!

By the way, I am referring to my new Android phone (HTC EVO) I am waiting for a good Android tablet now, too. This is a big deal, actually. I have been an Apple brand loyal new media creator for twenty years - since I began doing new media and digital art. I have "crossed over" for the first time. All the newspaper journalists I read keep wondering if Android users will jump to the iPhone now that Verizon is going to host it; why isn't anyone talking about the Mac faithful who have left or ignored the iPhone and iPad platforms in favor of Android - since Jobs still refuses  to host Flash? The Flash animations in my Amy Beach book and in this blog work fine on my Android. As I have mentioned, those of you reading this blog on iPhones or iPads are missing all the Flash. I make little simple animations like the one above in gif - in deference to all of you, but, it sure would be nice if all platforms allowed Flash. It does way more than HTML 5 - though Jobs and others continue to deny it.

I will have a great deal to talk about the TEDx conference! There is no hurry, since most the scientists who spoke yesterday are so far ahead of their time that a couple weeks delay in my reporting about them will hardly make any big cosmic difference. Next post I will, therefore, continue on about neuroscience and creativity. And I will figure out how to sprinkle  TED comments as I go over the next weeks.

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9Jan/11

New book, but I am still obsessing about the brain, neuroscience and creativity

Cover of Proust was a Neuroscientist

Proust was a Neuroscientist by Jonah Lehrer

You know, Einstein didn't "discover" all his theories through laboratory experimentation. He thought. He used his imagination (what would I see if I rode a light beam?) to conjure them. Didn't Newton sit under an apple tree and ponder the falling fruit in order to have his gravity brainstorm? Well, truth be told, I don't know if that is a history myth or not, but my guess is Newton was using his imagination to create the idea of gravity, and only later proved it with experimentation. Or, he made observations through experimentation, but it was his imagination that brought on the aha moment of understanding. Planck did discover light quanta through experimentation and formula testing and searching, but he apparently missed the big picture largesse and real implications of it and quantum mechanics, because he stuck to experimentation and did not use the old imagination.

I am not surprised at Jonah Lehrer's proposal that artists, using their imaginations, have often foretold the factual "discoveries" of science. And Proust Was a Neuroscientist does a great job of illustrating this. But, one of the thoughts that nagged at me as I read it was the crazy social evolutionary split between the arts and science that have caused others to be surprised. It is my hope that this book, and my riffing about it over the next couple of weeks, rather than conveying a simple take away that some artists are really smart and make important discoveries using their imaginations, will encourage readers to realize that there is not naturally a big abyss between science and the arts, or between scientist and artist.

In a college freshman physics class, my professor explained that there are two types of physicists: those who work abstractly and come up with new ideas, theories and discoveries, and those who are more like the mechanics of physics - plodding along repetitively through experimentation to test theories proposed by the abstract thinking scientists. In art classes when I studied a great artist/scientist like Leonardo di Vinci, I was told that he was a Renaissance man, a rarity, an exception to what was ordinarily humanly possible.

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