April 2003 Archives

I love the immersive qualities of 360-degree images. As a viewer, you have control of the Quicktime VR picture; you can pan and zoom and reframe the view, move slowly or quickly across the landscape, and that control makes your experience of place more vivid. In order to offer that experience, as a photographer I give up the ability to determine the edges of my frame exactly, and find myself thinking about choosing the unseen center point instead. It's a new kind of visual thinking for me.

I've already linked to the first panorama I made in Homewood Cemetery. And I made two others there when I accompanied a seventh grade field trip, one for myself, and one for the school. Thursday, when everything was at the peak of spring bloom on the Ellis campus, I made another panorama, my first with no mausoleums. If you look closely at the windows, you'll see goddesses and princesses instead.

(Actually, the posted version was a second attempt. Earlier in the day I had the tripod out and leveled and was six photos into a sequence when the school's automatic sprinkler system went off - 8 inches from my left foot. You've never seen anyone gather a tripod to herself and move so quickly. The camera never got wet.)

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I'm thinking - a lot - every day - too much! - about getting a new laptop, and so I've been visiting different sites and reading whatever I can about Apple's two new models. I even went to visit them in a store, where I found that the 17-in model is too heavy and too large for me, and that the 12-in model is not too small. I'm smitten. It's perfect. Tiny and powerful. One day soon...

(I'll try not to stalk the FedEx guy the way this new owner of the 17-in did.)

I am not necessarily nostalgic about the time I spent in graduate school and then as a Visiting Assistant Professor at a small liberal arts college in the midwest.

I loved (still love) teaching.

But I certainly don't miss grading papers. The anonymous Invisible Adjunct describes it well.

On long car trips Mark and I used to amuse ourselves by inventing new color names for clothing catalogs. (This was a separate endeavor from our development of "J. Crew, the movie," which I'll leave for another day.) The colors had to sound almost plausible, which wasn't hard, since names like "blueberry" and "toast" and "mediterranean" were common in late-eighties/early-nineties catalogs. "Mouse" and "Calamine" are two I remember.

Today I read that writer and artist Robin Strober has taken this fascination with color names a step further. She composes collections of paint chips as a poetic evocation of a particular subject, arranging the found language of names between layers of lucite.

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Dan Gillmor, who brought us journalism 101, and a discussion of the ways that journalism is moving from lecture to conversation, is working on a book to be called Making the News. He has posted the working outline of the project and invites readers to contribute, suggest, criticise. The outline itself is a summary of many recent moments in the rise of the new ways of sharing and distributing news and commentary. He's a good storyteller and his outline is a very readable survey. If you combine a reading of this with, say, the recent post on the social software neighborhood by Elizabeth Lane Lawley, you'll get a snapshot of this rapidly-changing field.

Weblogs are in the news and weblogs are shaping the news.

As old media concentrates itself in fewer and fewer hands, new media - sloppy, quick, careful, thorough - exchanges and accretes and builds our knowledge in very different ways. It's The Cathedral and the Bazaar again - or open source journalism, but it is happening more and more and faster and faster...

The house is quiet after a social weekend. Quiet and clean. Nothing like having company come to get the place picked up. And then when everyone's gone again, everything is still clean, with spaces and surfaces to delight the eye. Tabletops without mail. Flowers. Empty wastebaskets. A fridge full of leftovers. I love living in a big old house, but sometimes the number of projects in progress (art work, school work, science experiments, cooking, laundry, computer stuff) and all the related messes can be overwhelming.

Not that I'd trade away any of our projects, even the ones I don't quite understand.

Me: What are you doing?
Piper: I'm ripping.
So I gave her a wooden bowl for her many many tiny pieces of Sunday magazine, and went back to reading my book and we were both happy.

(Two days later, the bowl of shredded paper is still on a chair in the front hall.)

For the moment, we're ahead of the mess... but I notice that even as they encroach, I welcome each project back. Perhaps if I could think of clutter as tidal?

I have been making posts to this blog for a year. While I haven't written as much as I hoped (have I ever done that?) I figure I have written something here roughly one day in three, going by the hundred posts I have in my archive.

I am getting an increasing number of visitors, too. (Though these numbers are for my entire web site, which includes the well-used family newsletter blog.) Back in July, elizabethperry.com got an average of 5 visitors each day. Now the average is more like 135, and growing...

Weblogs are a wonderfully easy way to share writing and pictures, once you wrestle through the initial challenges. It has been my delight to set them up for other people and watch what happens.

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