Invented in 1801, Jacquard looms are really an add-on to already existent mechanical loom systems, which allowed those looms to create patterns more complex and intricate than anything that had been done before. The difference: Punch cards.
When you weave, the pattern comes from changes in thread position — which threads were exposed on the surface of the cloth and which were not. But prior to the Jacquard loom, there were only so many threads that any weaver could control at one time, so patterns were simple and blocky. Essentially, the Jacquard system vastly increased the pixels available in any weaving pattern, by automatically controlling lots and lots of threads all at once. Punch cards told the machine which threads were in play at any given time.
It's a really cool process, and I wanted to share a couple of videos that give you a good idea of how these looms work and how they changed the textiles industry. You can watch them below. But probably the best example is the image above. It's a picture of Joseph-Marie Jacquard, woven in silk on the loom he invented — a fantastic demonstration of the design power that loom offered. In just a few years, people went from weaving simple stars and knots, to weaving patterns that almost look like they were spit out of a printer.
Read the rest
Lisa of PBS Off Book says:"We just released our first episode of 2013, 'The Art of Creative Coding.' This one was really interesting to work on, since I hadn't previously been aware of the platforms and libraries available to creative programmers. And the projects they create are beautiful."
Programming plays a huge role in the world that surrounds us, and though its uses are often purely functional, there is a growing community of artists who use the language of code as their medium. Their work includes everything from computer generated art to elaborate interactive installations, all with the goal of expanding our sense of what is possible with digital tools. To simplify the coding process, several platforms and libraries have been assembled to allow coders to cut through the nitty-gritty of programming and focus on the creative aspects of the project. These platforms all share a strong open source philosophy that encourages growth and experimentation, creating a rich community of artists that share their strategies and work with unprecedented openness.
My 9-year-old daughter Jane likes playing with Scratch, a kids' programming language developed at MIT. (I recently reviewed a great book called Super Scratch Programming Adventure.)
Python for Kids: A Playful Introduction to Programming is another programming book for kids. I've been going through it myself, and enjoying it. Unlike Scratch, which lets you write programs by dragging and dropping colored command blocks, Python is a traditional programming language that uses lines of code. I've played around with other languages a bit, but Python is the only language that seems to be as easy and intuitive as BASIC. I'm not sure if Jane is ready for Python -- she wouldn't have trouble learning it, but it's not as fun as Scratch (at least at first), but I think in a year or two she might be. And this is the book I'll give her when she's ready.
Python for Kids brings Python to life and brings you (and your parents) into the world of programming. The ever-patient Jason R. Briggs will guide you through the basics as you experiment with unique (and often hilarious) example programs that feature ravenous monsters, secret agents, thieving ravens, and more. New terms are defined; code is colored, dissected, and explained; and quirky, full-color illustrations keep things on the lighter side.
Chapters end with programming puzzles designed to stretch your brain and strengthen your understanding. By the end of the book you'll have programmed
two complete games: a clone of the famous Pong and "Mr. Stick Man Races for the Exit" -- a platform game with jumps, animation, and much more.
As you strike out on your programming adventure, you'll learn how to:
--Use fundamental data structures like lists, tuples, and maps
--Organize and reuse your code with functions and modules
--Use control structures like loops and conditional statements
--Draw shapes and patterns with Python's turtle module
--Create games, animations, and other graphical wonders with tkinter
Python for Kids: A Playful Introduction to Programming
TechCrunch is hosting a hackathon at its SF conference, with $500,000 in prizes. There are also unusual hats