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Technological Antiques

Ever since Paul Virilio coined the term ‘dromology’ (the study of speed) in the late 1970s, searching for the meaning of ever speedier change has become a respectable path of scholarship. “Everywhere life seems to speeding up: we talk of fast food and speed dating. But what does the phenomenon of social acceleration really entail?”, Hartmut Rosa asks in a collection of essays called High Speed Society.

Last year, French journalist Jean-Christophe Laurence took an interesting approach. He showed primary school kids old technology like floppy discs, a 1st generation Game Boy, a mouse from the 1980s or a telephone with dial plate and filmed their reactions. In the end he asks: “Not even 30 years old… And already antiques?”

In my opinion, the fact that mankind renews its tools within less than a generation should affect the way we teach and learn in schools. It becomes more and more important to teach our kids how to cope with change. Watching these kids discovering the meaning of stuff unknown to them, comparing it to things they know and finally giving it a meaning made me happy. Kids are explorers, and if school doesn’t destroy their curiosity and even helps them to develop such skills, “technological antiques” won’t be a problem at all.

(via rferl.org)

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W.

Welcome To The Moon!

Nasa Logo
The Apollo 11 space flight landed the first humans on Earth’s Moon on July 20 1969. The mission, carried out by the United States, is considered a major accomplishment in human history. Images of the first manned lunar landing were received and broadcast to 600 million people on Earth. Apollo 11 was a victory for the U.S. in the Cold War Space Race with the Soviet Union who, in 1961, had sent Yuri Gagarin to the Cosmos to become the first human in outer space and the first to orbit the Earth.

From time to time people complain about “the frustrating gap between NASA’s deeply inspirational work and the toothless official communication about it” as Maria Popova put it recently. Fortunately there are some people out there who come up with creative ideas to close the gap.

To celebrate the 40 year aniversary of the first moon landing Google released Google Moon. Now, a New Zealand based company came up with the idea to use these images to play around and land your own Eagle. This is especially exiting, as during the final landing phase of Apollo 11 it became apparent that the computer was steering directly towards a crater and big boulders. Neil Armstrong took manual control and landed the Eagle safely with only seconds of fuel to spare.

Now you can “Take control” and experience those final seconds of the landing phase. Land the Eagle vertically and softly on the target. Use arrow keys to tilt and spacebar to ignite the engine. Land on the target before you run out of fuel. An amazing game! Click on one of the images to start.

www.planetinaction.com
www.nasa.gov

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A.

Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World

Aldous Huxley, author of Brave New World, talks to Mike Wallace in an interview on May 18, 1958. His views on freedom, technology and bureaucracy provide some interesting parallels to our life in the era of the internet. Happy Birthday Mr Huxley and welcome to the Brave New World of Google, Facebook, Microsoft & Co.! Nowadays, hierarchies are called networks, subordinates have become users and the organizations are bigger than ever.

As technology becomes more and more complicated, it becomes necessary to have more and more elaborate organizations, more hierarchical organizations, and incidentally the advance of technology is being accompanied by an advance in the science of organization. It’s now possible to make organizations on a larger scale than it was ever possible before, and so that you have more and more people living their lives out as subordinates in these hierarchical systems controlled by bureaucracies, either the bureaucracies of big business or the bureaucracies of big government.

You can find a trancription of the interview here.

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N.

Nuclear weapons – Countdown to Zero

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n8H7Jibx-c0

In 1945, the U.S. government tested the first nuclear bomb ever. The first experiment in Los Alamos was led by J. Robert Oppenheimer, the “father” of the atomic bomb. As the blast went off, Oppenheimer became aware of the terrifying power of the nuclear bomb and of mankind’s inability to entirely comprehend the implications of this invention. In the above sequence Oppenheimer recalled the sacred Hindu scripture Bhagavad Gita: “Vishnu is trying to persuade the Prince that he should do his duty and to impress him takes on his multi-armed form and says, ‘Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.'”

Today, around the world there are more than 23000 nuclear weapons. Many people agree that there should be zero. The New START Treaty, a bilateral nuclear arms reduction treaty between the United States and the Russian Federation, was signed in Prague on April 8th, 2010.

A new feature length documentary film by Lucy Walker “Countdown to Zero” traces the history of the atomic bomb and makes the case for worldwide nuclear disarmament. It premiered at Sundance and screened in the Cannes Official Selection earlier this year. You can preview an excerpt with a quick introduction to Oppenheimer, the man behind the bomb, featuring interviews from the documentary film. Let’s count down to zero!

www.magpictures.com/countdowntozero
www.globalzero.org

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F.

Forget About Heavy Textbooks – Here Comes Smarthistory

Pictures of an exhibition. (c) www.smarthistory.org
Pictures of an exhibition. (c) www.smarthistory.org

Smarthistory.org is an incredible resource for all people interested in art history: museum visitors, travelers, informal learners, teachers and students. The website is more than a replacement of expensive and heavy textbooks. It uses multimedia to deliver a personal voice through unscripted conversations between art historians while looking at works of art. This is much more than a textbook or a usual audioguide can provide. Smarthistory makes information about art accessible, entertaining and engaging.

Beth Harris and Steven Zucker started Smarthistory as a blog in 2005, featuring podcasts that could be used as free audio guides. They later organized the podcasts stylistically and chronologically and began adding text and images.

In 2008, they received a grant to redesign the site from the Kress Foundation. Now the site itself is a masterpiece of usability. Last year Smarthistory won the renowned Webby Award, “the Internet’s highest (official) honor for excellence” as The New York Times put it, for the best education website.

Visitors can enter and explore smarthistory using several navigation paths, depending on their needs and interests: by timeline, style, artist, and theme, or by using a prominent visual navigation in the center of the homepage or at the bottom of post pages. It’s a a lively, entertaining and even playful approach to art history.

Start (re-)discovering art history with www.smarthistory.org

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