May 28, 2008

Stencil Patterns, Sachio Yoshioka

This is one of a series of image books taken, I think, from the family business archives of a traditional Japanese textile firm. The printed book shows its images in several versions each, recolored or slightly altered; historical reproductions to current mainstream fashion to current youth fashion. Changes are often explained in terms of the digital processing used to make them -- the book has an appendix on how to alter the images yourself, either at a copy-shop or in software. The charm of the whole thing is that it is a long-lived tradition and not dead yet; of course a modern textile artist would consider modern tools. The author is an expert and artist in traditional colors and methods, so one can see how good the new tools have to be to surpass the old ones in anything but ease.

A few images are available free through the Shikosha Design Library, with a reasonable some-commercial-use license; and I think you can buy much higher quality digital images for professional use. (The rights discussion in the book seems even more open than the rights at the download site I've linked to, which may be publisher-specific.)

Find in a Library: Stencil Patterns

Posted by clew at 02:04 PM

May 24, 2008

The Canon, Natalie Angier

'A Whirligig Tour of the Beautiful Basics of Science'

This seemed like a useful (maintain background generalist knowledge) but un-stressful (at a nonscientists' level) evening's book; it probably was useful, and it was eventually enjoyable, but very odd to read. Angier makes a point of not writing in the dry, cagey, impersonal pitch of Real Science. I follow that far easily. But the whirligig, bubbly style she does use kept me off my balance; I had to cautiously interpret each non-literal statement to see if it was meaningful for the science, inaccurate with respect to the science; most of it was neutral decoration on the content, playing with the sound of sound words. I don't think she ever misleads a reader, not one who doesn't believe in the Doctrine of Signatures anyway. People who can handle the dry style are well-enough served by pop science publishing as it is. So this ought to be a useful and enjoyable book for some people now ill-served.

A sample sentence: "Like bones, structural proteins give the cell its shape and integrity, and like bone tissue they are not at all inert, are in fact so feisty and eager to flaunt their powers that one might think they belonged to the metaphoric skeletons that one tries to keep in one's closet."

The cover art on the paperback has the effect on me that I think the prose has on its intended audience; I don't need to interpret every step, I just like looking at it. The artist, Marian Bantjes, has a lovely website, including startling amounts of what I can't help but see as Pee-Chee doodles, immanent with talent; and other techniques, more or less formal. I particularly liked Sugar.

Find in a Library: The Canon, ISBN-13 978-0-547-05346-2

Posted by clew at 09:07 PM

May 21, 2008

Visualization for Information Retrieval, Jin Zhang

I was looking for examples of scientific visualization, which is a completely different thing. Information visualization is mind-maps, or nested folders (and how is that tree displayed?), or the 'volcano' desktop, or a fisheye, or a lot of other thing discussed here. Of course, all of those are 'really' algorithmic; weighted graphs or probability distributions... There are more equations and matrices here than visualizations.

The chapters on ambiguity and the meaning of metaphor were interesting as abstractions of what I had been thinking of as the human tendency to error. This is an overlap between CSci and CogSci, so citing Lakoff makes sense.

Find in a Library: Visualization for Information Retrieval

Posted by clew at 12:10 PM

May 18, 2008

Cartoon

undrawn bow.png

About Python, of course, and a response to xkcd's Lisp Cycles and Python, q.v.

Posted by clew at 03:55 PM
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