sneedle flipsock

10 september 2004: slow art, viral aesthetic

home page | blog

flipsockgrrl @ gmail .com

This week:

Permalink for this week's stuff


Web and 'net



The scholarly web:


  • The size of an organisation's user-centred design (UCD) investment is inversely proportional to the web site's actual usability. The best, most highly-usable products emerge from small, multidisciplinary teams that are allowed to practise user-centred design (UCD) and work across the whole organisation.

  • Using IT to create business value usually involves three steps: reassessing the information technology plan and approaches; investing carefully to support the IT plan; and mastering the capabilities needed to realise that plan.


9 September 2004 | top of page

How NASA dropped a Clanger

Photos purport to prove that the moon landings never happened. Says Flipsock friend Paul: "If there was an atmosphere you could hear the werid whisting sound..."

That Clanger reference above is to the lunar photos: I'm deliberately not mentioning how NASA dropped a spacecraft this week. Whoopsie. Instead of Genesis, they should've called it Icarus (though that may have caused confusion with the Icarus asteroid).

thanks, Paul | 9 September 2004 | top of page

Reverse-engineering the scientific method

Gordon Rugg cracked the 400-year-old mystery of the Voynich manuscript by reverse-engineering it: instead of trying to crack its code, he tried to produce an encoded text that would look equally mystifying. Along the way, he may have created a new scientific method, the verifier approach.

thanks to Truckle the Uncivil, via science-matters | 9 September 2004 | top of page

Viral aesthetic

"Don't you love art? Personally, I want to play the first person shooter/flight sim that lets you spread a virus across the globe," says Flipsock friend Jonathan.

A German exhibition, currently touring to USA and Denmark, examines the nature, culture, politics and meaning of computer viruses. At I love you [rev.eng], visitors can:

  • Force computers to crash with "Sasser“ or "Suicide“
  • Experience a global virus outbreak in real time via a 3D world
  • View security concepts and methods for preventing global network attacks
  • Witness computer viruses as works of art like ”“ and "The Lovers“
  • See films by hackers on their subculture
  • Learn about programming languages as the material for contemporary poetry
  • Juxtapose experimental literature and code poetry

thanks Jonathan | 9 September 2004 | top of page

Understanding health (a shameless plug)

My fabulous sister Helen co-edited "Understanding health: a determinants approach," an OUP book that just got a rave review in the emJA, the Electronic Medical Journal Australia:

"Gone is the stuffy epidemiology of defined disease, to be replaced by discussion (and analysis) of the social and health issues that trouble our community and give angst to politicians... The authors have done an excellent job of encapsulating these issues and more within contemporary Australian and international data... If this is the “new public health”, it makes a lot of sense to me."

Nice one, Hels :-)

8 September 2004 | top of page

Decidedly fishy

My desktop tropical aquarium is looking pretty good at the moment: lots of shrubbery (fake) and active fish (real). The guppies have been breeding like... um... guppies, and one of the 30-odd fry is now big enough to capture with a slowish digital camera.

Here's a full-frontal view of the tank (right). It's a 33 litre tank, about 40 cm high and 36 cm wide.

Below left, you can see (from left to right) a male guppy with fancy black tail; a black widow tetra with two vertical stripes on its body; a glolite tetra, at the bottom of the frame; and, towards the top, in front of the red foliage, a black neon tetra.

Below right are the three female guppies (with larger white/yellow bodies), a couple of the male guppies (with fancy tails), two black widow tetras, four black neon tetras and two green neon tetras.

The male guppy (right) is named Barry White: he's a very keen lad! (You can probably tell this yourself, by looking at the "Sheesh, not again!" expression on the female guppy--she's the one with the creamy yellow body, much larger than Barry.) The other three fish here are black neon tetras.

And finally, ta dah! Our first teenager! This young guppy is hard to see because she's only just reached 2 cm in length, and she moves very quickly--too fast for the digital camera to catch clearly. Her nose is pointing down to the left, and her tail is a yellow-orange color with two vertical black marks.

We named her Ooh Baby, because we're pretty sure Barry White must be her father.

8 September 2004 | top of page

Slow art

Some kinds of art can't be hurried: to appreciate a piece of music, a dance, a play or a walk-through gallery installation, you must spend time on it. Marko Ahtisaari gives examples of slow art works and explains how it's completely unrelated to slow food. (via 3 Quarks Daily)

8 September 2004 | top of page

Assaults on free thinking

Novelist Ngugi wa’ Thiongo and his wife NjeEri returned to Kenya recently, after 20 years in exile. They were violently assaulted and NjeEri was raped. "The fact that it happened is not so much an indicator of how crime-ridden Nairobi is, but how much the political problems and economic deprivations of the past two decades have destroyed social order... Societies where someone like Ngugi is attacked in the way that he and Njeeri were, begin to rot by tearing a page out of his book in the library - or not reading him altogether."

Scholarship and critical thinking are also under attack in India.

8 September 2004 | top of page


Listen online to BBC radio documentaries about five great scientific squabbles: Isaac Newton and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz; Joseph Priestley and Antoine Laurent Lavoisier; Henry Thomas De La Beche and Roderick Impey Murchison; Trofim Denisovitch Lysenko and Nikolai Ivanovitch Vavilov; Arthur Stanley Eddington and Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar. (Requires Real Player)

Neuromarketing: could brain-scanning technology provide an accurate way to assess the appeal of new products and the effectiveness of advertising?

From the cusp between Gen X and Gen Y, Troy surveys the generation gap as revealed in our technological toys:

"Today's 'millennial' teens have a world of rapidly evolving technology at their disposal -- technology that we could only dream of as kids... They also have a generation of parents who grew up with MTV... and at least half a chance of understanding the technology that their kids are using...

"Next time you see a gaggle of teens swarming on to public transport, don't hide in your newspaper... [H]ave a look at how they interact... Both boys and girls happily engage with technology such as phone cams, laptops and other media devices. They seem more comfortable communicating via these devices than we do, and have built language and conventions around using these tools, where we tend to attempt mapping their use back to the 'older' way of doing things. Today's youth are not so different to us, but you can sense the subtle shift in culture and values afforded by access to news ways of organising themselves, communicating and playing."

8 September 2004 | top of page


"Most people think that our self -knowledge exists only through the memories we have amassed of our selves. Am I a kind person? Am I gloomy?" In fact, your brain has two different systems for understanding your Self: the way you think about yourself in unfamiliar contexts is different from the way you understand more familiar concepts of self.

Near Melbourne's Victoria Markets there's a pub that hosts weekly Socratic dialogues over dinner. It's part of a new wave: pop philosophy.

7 September 2004 | top of page

Fire destroys lots of books

A fire in Weimar's Duchess Anna Amalia Library must have reached Fahrenheit 451 this week, because it destroyed lots of books. How many books, exactly, depends on which media outlet you trust: the BBC says up to 13,000 while the New York Times reckons up to 30,000. (username for the NYT link = flipsock, password = sneedle)

7 September 2004 | top of page

Oh, aaarrr, me hearties

Sunday 19 September is Talk Like A Pirate Day.

7 September 2004 | top of page

Human clock

The Human Clock tells you the time in digital or analogue format. It's awesome. Don't miss the descriptions of the Atari and Tandy webservers used to manage the site.

thanks, Trevor | 7 September 2004 | top of page

Name that feeling!

The email version of Sneedle Flipsock is now delivered via Gmail, Google's web-based email service.

To get a Gmail account, you have to be invited by someone else who's already using Gmail. (The lovely Janice Fraser from Adaptive Path invited me. Thanks, Janice!)

Once you have a Gmail account, you get to invite others to join. It's like being Santa.

It's all free, and it's been going on for quite a while now (in Internet terms, at least), so the Gmail network is today far from the exclusive little club that some people think it is.

For good reasons, some people get excited at the prospect of opening a Gmail account. (thanks to Peter Tonoli for this link)

Flipsock friend Paul remarked last week:

"There should be a word for the particular angst which is only experienced when thinking about setting up a new email identity. Not something which is readily sloughed off once it's been put out there."

Some other flipsock friends came up with several suggestions:

  • an e-dentity crisis as you handle a non-e-plume (thanks to Andrew Harris)

  • mailstrom: the particular angst which is only experienced when thinking about setting up a new email identity. (thanks to Max Sylvester and Andrew Scarlett)

  • e-piffany: coming up with an email name that is relevant, cool, funny, witty and not already taken. (thanks to Max Sylvester and Andrew Scarlett)

  • emailetic: vague email-related nausea (thanks to Teresa)

7 September 2004 | top of page


2004 flipsocks:

17 Dec: the sock has flipped
10 Dec: anything anywhere any time
3 Dec: instant flattery
26 Nov: the steamroller of branding
19 Nov: fried v rice
5 Nov: the page with no name
29 Oct: and then there were none
22 Oct: filled with naughty laughter
15 Oct: get souls and disconcert the public
8 Oct: ooh, aah, ooh
1 Oct: pinch and a punch
24 Sep: design is the new art
17 Sep: footsteps of Aeneas
10 Sep: slow art, viral aesthetic
3 Sep: I can see your house from here
27 Aug: forever blowing bubbles
20 Aug: jargon for the digital age
13 Aug: beautiful plumage, the Norwegian blue
6 Aug: brokenated terribility
23 Jul: Alice underground
16 Jul: color-coded
2 Jul: for so long treated as nouns
25 Jun: looking for love, echidna-style
18 Jun: joy-to-stuff ratio
11 Jun: fun's fun but a girl can't dance all night
4 Jun: pink dinosaur
28 May: two people every minute
21 May: incompitnce [sic]
14 May: zygomatic smile
5 May: mailbox
30 Apr: bananaguard
23 Apr: mmmmmWAH!
15 Apr: playtime
8 Apr: googlewhack
2 Apr: we wish to inform you...
18 Mar: daffy dills
12 Mar: echo chamber
9 Jan: refund profologies


Also on this site:

about this site
home page

who is geoffrey ebert?
testing for the fun factor
chicken at the (higher education) crossroads
crawford's theory of interactivity

home-page real-estate wars
the eagle has landed

must-reads for web people
recent reads

pop-culture quotes

they shoulda been words

lemon and rosemary risotto

Written In Blood by Chris Lawson
The Salmon of Doubt by Douglas Adams

Without whom (web):

frankenstein journal (Chris)
tbn97 (Troy)
webster's encyclopedia [sic]
science playwiths (Peter) (Neroli)
Maverick IT network consultants (Rick)
Look! There's a castle! (Brent)
Cairns Corporation (Gerald)
Homosapien Books (Julie and Bruce)
Southern Sky Watch (Ian)
Panda's Thumb (Ian again)
ABC Science-Matters (official)
science-matters (unofficial)
Bovios (Alex Burns)
Lee Battersby
Little Malop Gallery
Digest of Usability Resources and News (Dey)
WooWooWoo (Andrew)



Without whom (also):

Ramona P Lovechild
Katherine with a K
Katherine (no relation)
Claire (no relation)
Toby and Jann
Paul, Warren, Dr K and The New Reality


top of page

subscribe, contribute or comment by e-mailing flipsockgrrl @ gmail .com

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Licence. Site created 30 May 1999. Home page URL