Posts

Please take a moment to appreciate the stunning interactive essay from The New York Times, which uses the medieval manuscript Les Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry as a reference to explore how time is perceived through the utilization of time-keeping devices, like calendars.

Have a look at this Medium blog post by Azadeh Akbari regarding Automated License Plate Recognition systems. The post discusses how these systems have become a commonplace form of surveillance that often goes unnoticed.

How do you see “banal surveillance” in your everyday life? Think about the streets in your neighbourhood. Are there speed cameras, CCTV, “smart lamp posts”, or other forms of surveillance that you’ve grown accustomed to ignoring? How could you determine what these cameras do, who installed them, and on what legal basis? Can you find out who owns the data and how and where it is processed? We promise you, find out, and you will be surprised.

For instance, I have not yet seen the cameras near the towers in Bologna, even though I am aware of their existence.

Cornelia Mayr explains in a blog post at Everyday Sociology how the concept of home is created through “home-making practices,” such as organizing a space. She uses the insights from anthropologist Mary Douglas, who explained how keeping things in their proper place contributes to a sense of domestic order:

For the anthropologist Mary Douglas (1991, p. 289), the home is a “localizable idea” that “starts by bringing some space under control.” In this sense, a place like home acquires its meaning through home-making practices; and as such, it becomes part of processes of the creation of domestic order. Put differently, order is sustained and things go smoothly so long as they are being kept in the proper place within the home.

The NO TECH MAGAZINE reader shared some intriguing links worth checking out:

  • Slate published an article comparing button and touchscreen use in cars.
  • Alex Murrell wrote an essay about how visual culture all looks the same. However, the essay should have mentioned the potential impact of generative artificial intelligence on the uniformity of visual, textual, and other media.

The documentary “The secrets of civilization” gave fascinating insights into how Romans changed their environment. First, there is an artificial mound in Rome known as Monte Testaccio, a big ancient waste heap which is nearly entirely made of broken pieces from discarded containers (amphora) used for, for example, storing olive oil. Here are two videos about the site:

Second, the documentary mentioned how a landscape in Spain, Las Médulas is the result of a Roman gold-mining technique called Ruina Montium (“wrecking of mountains”). Here is a video describing the process from IMAGEEN.

Finally, it’s interesting to know that it seems that a period of unusually warm weather, called the Roman Climactic Optimum, may have benefitted the Romans.

This article from the Financial Times provides some funny criticisms on the “invention” of Italian food traditions based on the work of Alberto Grandi. The article also points out a link with food and nationalistic politics:

Today, Italian food is as much a leitmotif for rightwing politicians as beautiful young women and football were in the Berlusconi era. As part of her election campaign in 2022, prime minister Giorgia Meloni posted a TikTok video in which an old lady taught her how to seal tortellini parcels by hand. This month, Meloni’s minister of agriculture, Francesco Lollobrigida, suggested establishing a task force to monitor quality standards in Italian restaurants around the world. He fears that chefs may get recipes wrong, or use ingredients that aren’t Italian. (Officially listed “traditional food products” now number a staggering 4,820.)

Article on ChatGTP that is worth reading, but is likely flawed. The fact that Noam Chomsky contributed and included his own theory of language is noteworthy.

In short, ChatGPT and its brethren are constitutionally unable to balance creativity with constraint. They either overgenerate (producing both truths and falsehoods, endorsing ethical and unethical decisions alike) or undergenerate (exhibiting noncommitment to any decisions and indifference to consequences). Given the amorality, faux science and linguistic incompetence of these systems, we can only laugh or cry at their popularity.

The following video provides a fascinating look into the gradual demise and transformation of the electronics giant Philips. Since I’ve seen the brand so much throughout my entire life, the video had a different impact on me even though the story is probably similar to that of many other older tech companies:

Interestingly, recent events have sparked attention in global politics to ASML, a major player in the microchip industry and one of the companies connected to Philips. See this article on policito.eu for information on the government’s announcement to impose new export restrictions on AML’s products to China.

After the acquisition of Twitter by Elon Musk the whole platform seems to be in disarray and to have an uncertain future. Ian Bogost writing at The Atlantic provides some perspectives on the rise of Twitter and change from social networking to social media:

The terms social network and social media are used interchangeably now, but they shouldn’t be. A social network is an idle, inactive system—a Rolodex of contacts, a notebook of sales targets, a yearbook of possible soul mates. But social media is active—hyperactive, really—spewing material across those networks instead of leaving them alone until needed.

Twitter, which launched in 2006, was probably the first true social-media site, even if nobody called it that at the time. Instead of focusing on connecting people, the site amounted to a giant, asynchronous chat room for the world.

Read the full article here.

This article from The New York Times discusses a controversy about the restitution of prehistoric objects by Indonesian government against a Dutch Naturalis museum.

While art museums have been grappling since the 1990s with claims that they hold or display looted Nazi art, and ethnographic museums have faced repatriation claims from African nations and Indigenous people worldwide, the Java Man case pushes restitution into the realm of the natural history museum — where it hasn’t been much of an issue until now.