Emojibot uses deep learning to synthesize expressive new nonverbal communications

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Dango is a personal assistant that feeds its users' messages into a deep-learning neural net to discover new expressive possibilities for emojis, GIFs and stickers, and then suggests never-seen combinations of graphic elements to your text messages that add striking nuances to them. Read the rest

Mocap is magic

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This 2:47 showreel from Method Studios was produced for the Association of Independent Commercial Producers Awards, as an exuberant celebration of the many possibilities of motion-capture: simply combine talented dancers, pingpong balls, and computer graphics artists, shake and strain, and voila, the impossible is real. (via Kottke) Read the rest

Creeping Death from Neptune – An illustrated bio of one the most peculiar Golden Age comic book artists

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Creeping Death from Neptune: The Life And Comics Of Basil Wolverton Vol. 1 by Basil Wolverton (author) and Greg Sadowski (editor) Fantagraphics 2012, 304 pages, 8.4 x 1.2 x 10.8 inches $29 Buy one on Amazon

Cartoonist Basil Wolverton (1909-1978) is best known for his drawings of monstrously ugly people that ran in early issues of MAD, back when it was a comic book. But before that, Wolverton wrote and illustrated bizarre and compelling science fiction comic book stories that pitted square-jawed, steely eyed spacemen with hideous aliens and evil geniuses.

Creeping Death from Neptune contains a wealth of early Wolverton comics, including work he did as a teenager, sketches, unpublished art, and rejection letters he received from publishers and animation studios. Edited by Greg Sadowski, this book is a labor of love and a treasure for anyone interested in the history of comic books.

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Award-winning short sf film written by an AI is pretty good

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Director Oscar Sharp and AI researcher Ross Goodwin trained a machine-learning system with a huge pile of classic science fiction screenplays and turned it loose to write a short film. What emerged was an enigmatic 9-minute movie called Sunspring, which has just won Sci-Fi London's 48-hour challenge. Read the rest

Science fiction's Radium Age: prewar stories of postscarcity, peace and justice

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For nearly a decade, science fiction historian Joshua Glenn has waged a campaign to resurrect the "Radium Age" of science fiction: the period from 1904-1933 when writers turned their pens to "Air Battles, Antigravity, Interplanetary Voyages, Lost Worlds, Mad Scientists, Time Travel, and Utopias," before writers like Andre Norton and Arthur C Clarke and Isaac Asimov began their careers. Read the rest

30 years on, Roz Kaveney's "Tiny Pieces of Skull, or a Lesson in Manners" is finally in print and winning prizes

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More than 30 years ago, Roz Kaveney showed a draft of her novel Tiny Pieces of Skull to Neil Gaiman, who was "saddened and horrified" that publishers wouldn't put her story of "trans street life and bar life in London and Chicago in the late 1970s" into print. Read the rest

How we will keep the Decentralized Web decentralized: my talk from the Decentralized Web Summit

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At yesterday's Internet Archive Decentralized Web Summit, the afternoon was given over to questions of security and policy. Read the rest

Internet greybeards and upstarts gather to redecentralize the Internet

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This week, the Internet Archive is hosting a three-day event (which finishes today) called The Decentralized Web Summit, whose goal is to figure out how to build a new Internet that is "locked open," an idea that emerged from Internet Archive founder Brewster Kahle's 2015 series of talks and articles about how technologists can build networks and protocols that are resistant to attempt to capture, monopolize and control them. Read the rest

Do Robot Fireflies Dream of Electric Lights?

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Rick Lieder's astounding backyard photography has inducted us into the worlds of bees, birds, and bugs, but his firefly photos (captured in his book Among a Thousand Fireflies, with a poem by Helen Frost) were astounding, even by his own high standards. In this piece, Lieder explains how he captured the intimate lives of the fireflies in his backyard to create a remarkable book.

The amazing, shitty robots of Simone Giertz

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Simone Giertz's oeuvre of "shitty robots" doesn't end with her marvellous slap-in-the-face alarm clock: her Youtube channel is full of examples of her work, each better than the last, from arms on her phone that let it commando-crawl along the sidewalk to the world's greatest hair-washing bot and the world's most alarming chopping bot. Read the rest

Password hashing demystified

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The password breaches are getting stronger and worser, and hardly a week goes by without a dump that's a couple zeroes bigger than the biggest to date -- but not all password breaches are created equal, and a lot depends on whether and how the passwords were hashed. Read the rest

Weaponized shirt for demoralizing designers

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Zoe Quinn's awesome $21 "I'm the best graphic designer" tee has it all: linebreaks, Comic Sans, all caps, weird kerning... Just the thing to break the hearts of your designer pals! Read the rest

Citizen Maths: free, open mathematical literacy for everyone

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Britain faces a major maths challenge. The challenge involves a stock of people and a flow of learners. Read the rest

Night Vale shorts that say "Creepy" on the butt

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Available as shorts ($25) or pants ($42), and they say "Creepy" on the butt, because they come from Night Vale, where "creepy" is a superlative. Read the rest

Canada Post drops legal claim over crowdsourced postal code database

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Canada Post claimed a "crown copyright" over the postal codes assigned to Canadian homes, meaning that Canadian organisations and businesses could only use this vital information if they paid -- that is, they'd have to pay to access something their taxes already paid for, and the richer you were, the more access you could afford. Read the rest

Neil Gaiman on Douglas Adams

Neil Gaiman's third book was a history of the Hitchhikers Guide the Galaxy called Don't Panic, which Adams described as "devastatingly true - except the bits that are lies." Read the rest

The Armchair Detective Company makes immersive puzzles and tactile 3D objects

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If you’re fascinated by paper art and pop-up books, then the name of 51-year old Robert Sabuda will resonate like that of a Zen master. He’s a legend in the world of children’s books, paper design, and engineering, with many famous books to his credit (my favorites are The Wizard of Oz and Alice in Wonderland).

Photo of Robert Sabuda by Zymeet

Kind of like a pop-up book equivalent of The Avengers, Sabuda has embarked on a new adventure in collaboration with Shelby Arnold and Simon Arizpe called The Armchair Detective Company. You can also follow them on Facebook. Read the rest

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