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Video feedback emulator generates gorgeous glitchy art

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Thea video feedback emulator offers a vague memory of fooling with video cameras and a strong flavor of crisp and fractal generative art, The results lurk somewhere between the decades. Click and drag your results for wild (and often brightly-flickering) variations. The creator explains how it works. [via Github]

What we’ve found most interesting about video feedback is: the sheer complexity of the images it produces through such simply-defined and implemented spacemaps that really only have to do with the relative positioning of two rectangles. It’s somewhat intuitive, but always surprising.

This is all just scratching the surface of the mathematics behind the patterns that video feedback is capable of, but hopefully it’s good enough for a start!

P.S. You’ll notice that many of the “interesting” patterns contain regions of diverse sizes. That is, they appear to have a broad range of spatial frequencies. What’s up with that?

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Beyond "solutionism": what role can technology play in solving deep social problems

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Ethan Zuckerman -- formerly of Global Voices, now at the MIT Center for Civic Media -- has spent his career trying to find thoughtful, effective ways to use technology as a lever to make positive social change (previously), but that means that he also spends a lot of time in the company of people making dumb, high-profile, destructive suggestions for using technology to "solve" problems in ways that make them much worse. Read the rest

Corbyn pledges to kill TTIP if elected

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TTIP is the farcically secretive, insanely corrupt trade agreement that the US and EU negotiated behind closed doors in parallel with the faltering Trans-Pacific Partnership. Read the rest

Generative, collaging architecture system designs impossible, Inception-like cities

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London's Daniel Brown created a generative design system that designs beautiful, brutalist cityscapes that are part Blade Runner Hong Kong, part Inception; he then manually sorts through the results, picks the best, and publishes them in a series called "Travelling by Numbers." Read the rest

The MPAA lobbyist who wrote SOPA will help draft the Democratic Party platform

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"Hollywood" Howard Berman, former-Congressman-turned-MPAA-lobbyist is one of the 15-member panel selected by the Democratic Party establishment to draft the party's platform for this summer's convention. Read the rest

Straddling buses would only work if they were made out of rubber

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Chinese engineer Song Youzhou has been trying to get traction for his straddling bus, a huge elevated bus that goes over, rather than through, traffic, since 2010. Read the rest

Patterns in Nature – The most magnificent designs come from math and nature, not human beings

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See sample pages from this book at Wink.

Step outside, look in any direction, and you’re sure to spot some exquisite designs in nature: the vivid jewel-like symmetry found on the wings of a butterfly, the fractal branching of trees, the pointillist patterns sported by a snake, or the hexagonal nest of a wasp, just to name a few. And science writer Philip Ball has captured some of this beauty with over 300 stunning photographs that he includes in his latest book, Patterns in Nature.

Categorized in chapters such as Symmetry, Fractals, Spirals, Cracks, and Flow and Chaos, Ball explains with both images and an accessible narrative how the most magnificent designs on the planet come from math, physics and chemistry, not human beings. He describes the various mathematics that create various patterns, and also points out parallels between similar patterns with seemingly unrelated sources. For example, the spots on a butterfly mimic the face of an owl. The “spots” on a giraffe look similar to cracked mud. Ball turns complex science into a fascinating read, and his gorgeous coffee table book is perfect for both the science and art minded alike.

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The story of Traceroute, about a Leitnerd's quest

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Johannes Grenzfurthner talks about Traceroute: On the Road with a Leitnerd(*)
(*) Leitnerd is a wordplay referring to the German term Leitkultur.

Echo Observatory: beautiful, tactile fractal explorer with knobs on

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Love Hulten writes, "The Echo Observatory is a handcrafted tribute to fractals and self-similar patterns. It's a mysterious artifact that both generates and visualizes complex mathematical formations, in real-time." Read the rest

Snow artist stomps awesome fractals with just his two snowshoes

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Skier and snow artist Simon Beck stomps around in the snow for 11 hours or more to make each of his beautiful fractal snow art masterpieces. He has to walk around 25 or 30 miles to stamp a design of about 100 meters square, using only his two snowshoes. It began as a form of exercise, and has become far more.

From The Finch and Pea:

For more than a decade, Beck has made elaborate designs in snow, mainly in the French Alps, using only snowshoes and a compass. He started out making mandala-like circular shapes, but moved on to much more complex designs over the years. Beck told Discovery News that he started incorporating fractal patterns into his work after reading James Gleick’s book “Chaos: Making a New Science.”

More images at the artist's website and on Facebook.

About the image below, he explains:

The first attempt to draw the dragon made for Baslev's movie DRAKONY, in Siberia (Yakutsk) in October 2015. This was rejected as I had used a bit too much artistic licence and not drawn accurately enough according to the sketch I had been given!

Mandelbrot Set in progress

[Via Smithsonian Magazine]

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Profile of James Love, "Big Pharma's worst nightmare"

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Jamie Love is one of the founders of Knowledge Ecology International (formerly the Consumer Project on Technology), a super-effective activist NGO that helped to establish low-cost, global access to HIV/AIDS drugs. Read the rest

Classic 16-bit Amiga artwork archived online

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The Amiga Graphics Archive is where you can find a growing collection of artwork distinctive of the legendary 16-bit home computer. (i.e. 320x200 in 32 colors (64 with half-brite mode (or 4096 with some nasty attribute clash)) from a palette of 4096)

Launched in 1985 the Commodore Amiga boasted graphics capabilities that were unsurpassed for it's time. It featured an intricate collection of custom chips that enabled it to do things that, until then, had been impossible to achieve with other personal computers. This site is dedicated to graphics made with or for the Commodore Amiga home computer.

Pictured above is "The Seeing Angel", by Louis Markoya. Read the rest

Professor Stewart's Incredible Numbers is a delightful book of recreational math

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When I was a kid one of my favorite books was George Gamow's One Two Three . . . Infinity: Facts and Speculations of Science. (It's a pity that the current edition has such a crappy cover. Here's the cover to the copy I own, which is much cooler looking). This book taught me about huge numbers, infinity, and the fourth dimension. I loved Gamow's hand-drawn illustrations, too. If you don't have this book, I suspect you will enjoy it.

Professor Stewart's Incredible Numbers, by Ian Stewart, reminds me of One Two Three . . . Infinity. It's missing the charming hand-drawn illustrations, but it has many of the same topics in Gamow's book (like the Towers of Hanoi, and the Four Color Map Theory), plus quite a few other fun number-related items that Gamow didn't cover, such as fractals, the Birthday Paradox, and the Sausage Conjecture.

When I told my 12-year-old about the Four Color Map Theory, she immediately went to work with colored pencils and paper to prove me wrong. I can't find the fantastically complex maps she came up with, but if I locate them, I'll post them here. She eventually came up with an intuitive understanding of why any map you draw only needs four colors to ensure no two bordering shapes have the same color.

UPDATE: I found Jane's maps:

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Real-time fractal zoomer on the web

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Following up on yesterday's fractal fun, here's a real-time fractal zoomer on the web.

Use the arrow keys to pan, A and Z keys to zoom, S and X keys to change the threshold.

It's by Jonathan Alpers, using WebGL and Three.js, and was featured on Chrome Experiments in November. Read the rest

Fractal fun on the web

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You like zoning out in front of fractals, right? Of course you do!

FractalJS is the easiest fractal zoomer yet: just pinch-zoom or scrollwheel and watch it go. There are several sets to choose from, a smoothing option, lots of color schemes, and it's all open-source.

Alternatives: Calvin Metcalf's Leaflet has Google Maps-style controls and Alson Kemp's WebFract3D renders sets in three dimensions for an especially bizarre experience.

Bonus: Here's a Mandelbrot set being generated on a 50-year-old IBM mainframe.

Found any cool fractal stuff on the web lately? Read the rest

Chelsea Manning reviews book of Aaron Swartz's writing

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Today is the third anniversary of Aaron Swartz's death, and it was marked by the publication of an anthology of Aaron's writing, The Boy Who Could Change the World: The Writings of Aaron Swartz with an introduction by Lawrence Lessig (I wrote an introduction to one of the sections). Read the rest

The beautiful geometric GIFs of Erik Söderberg

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Erik Söderberg, a multimedia artist based in Sweden, created this series of geometric GIFs: "Fractal Experience Part 2."

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