Links for 21st August 2009

Fresh from the clogged tubes of teh intarwubs…

  1. New Army Camera Promises Super-Wide Surveillance

    "The sensor is required to be lightweight with low power consumption and to have significantly lower operating costs compared to existing systems, and must be able to operate from small aircraft, either manned or unmanned. In terms of specifics, the Army is looking for 2.3 gigapixels running at two frames per second. By my reckoning, this suggests continuous coverage of area of around sixty-two square miles at 0.3m resolution with a single sensor. That’s quite a step up from Angel Fire, which covers a tenth of the area at much lower resolution. And the new camera will work in the near-infrared range as well. This is useful for analysis, as sometimes things that are invisible in the normal range can be picked out easily in infrared; it also means that people can be illuminated without being aware of it." Given they're looking for proposals, it should be "demands" rather than "promises" in the headline, but still.

    Tagged with: militaryaerialsurveillanceubiquitousrealtimehigh-resolutiontechnology

  2. A Short Manifesto on the Future of Attention

    "I imagine attention festivals: week-long multimedia, cross-industry carnivals of readings, installations, and performances, where you go from a tent with 30-second films, guitar solos, 10-minute video games, and haiku to the tent with only Andy Warhol movies, to a myriad of venues with other media forms and activities requiring other attention lengths. In the Nano Tent, you can hear ringtones and read tweets. A festival organized not by the forms of the commodities themselves but of the experience of interacting with them. […]

    I imagine a retail sector for cultural products that's organized around the attention span: not around "books" or "music" but around short stories and pop songs in one aisle, poems and arias in the other. In the long store: 5,000 piece jigsaw puzzles, big novels, beer brewing equipment, DVDs of The Wire. Clerks could suggest and build attentional menus. We would develop attentional connoisseurship: the right pairings of the short and long."

    Tagged with: culturemediainformationattentioneconomymanifestoartcurationbusinessretailcommerce

  3. Worldbuilding, Briefly

    "… for about 90% of your readers, that’s going to be sufficient rationale. For about 10% of your readers, it won’t be, but at some point, and simply as a practical matter, you realize that some folks aren’t going to be happy with your worldbuilding no matter how far you drill down, and that you can just sort of accept that as the cost of doing business in a geek-rich field like science fiction. To a very real extent, what you’re aiming for is sufficiency, not completeness."

    Tagged with: writingsciencefictionworldbuilding

  4. Making Music Hacks Your Hearing

    "Previous research on the effects of musical training on the brain suggest that studying music enhances regions of the brain responsible for encoding and processing sound, including areas of the cerebral cortex and the auditory brainstem. Training the brain to hear and understand music also improves the ability to hear and understand speech, Kraus said, and it makes sense that the effects are particularly pronounced under conditions of high background noise."

    Tagged with: musichearingperceptionneurosciencespeechnoiseratiocomprehensionmemory

  5. The Idea of Justice, By Amartya Sen

    "Thus justice is not a monolithic ideal but a pluralistic notion with many dimensions. Yet Western philosophers have seen justice largely in singular, utopian terms. Hobbes, Locke and Kant, for example, wove their notions of justice around an imaginary "social contract" between the citizens and the state. A "just society" is produced through perfectly just state institutions and social arrangements and the right behaviour of the citizens.

    Sen identifies two serious problems with this "arrangement focussed" approach. First, there is no reasoned agreement on the nature of a "just society". Second, how would we actually recognise a "just society" if we saw one? Without some framework of comparison it is not possible to identify the ideal we need to pursue."

    Tagged with: philosophyjusticesocietyculturepluralism

  6. Arrow of time no longer double-ended

    "… put simply, running time in one direction allows records to be kept and events to be observed. In the other direction, observation becomes impossible. Therefore, although time could be running in either direction (or, who knows, both directions simultaneously), it is only possible for any observer (not necessarily a human one) to experience time in the forward direction."

    Tagged with: physicsphilosophyrelativitytimeentropyobservation

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