More about me.

whydidimakethis

 

Hello. 

I’ve tried to hint at who I am etc, but now I think it’s time to be more open.

My name’s Chris. I am a student. I’m going to university next year. I’m hoping to study English. I’m working on opening a publication. I haven’t posted about it for a while – let me assure you, it’s going very well.

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August Music

I’ve been far too structured these past couple of posts. Let’s go wild. Screw article plans for once, consistent   spacing and proper

line breaks. Today, I’m going to just post up the music I’ve been listening to this month. If you enjoy European music, you’ll probably enjoy these songs. I’m also hoping this helps reveal some stuff about myself and open up the reader-writer dynamic some more.

Know any similar music? Then please comment below – I always need new tunes!

A history of reality, featuring Google Glass.

This is an old article I wrote for an online magazine’s technology section. After I finished it, the editor of the publication decided that he no longer wanted a technology section as he felt like it was off brand. I don’t hate this, so I’ll post it up. Don’t worry, the next thing won’t be technology related!

Google Glass promo video.

It’s true: Wayfarers are officially obsolete.

The next big pair of glasses isn’t coming from a known design house, but instead from Google. The “Google Glass” are a super-futuristic strip that extends around your head in a surprisingly fashionable way. As you may have picked up though, the big ticket feature is not the style. The Glass is all about the technology within – a tiny screen and input devices are included. Want to carry out popular tasks such as making a film? Say: “OK glass, record a movie”. Want to meet up with your friends on a dead social network? Speak: “OK glass, begin a Google+ hangout with my Mum”. There’s no phone to find and no Siri to trigger. Just speak a command, and the results are literally shown in front of your face.

This is a concept that has been alive in the pages of sci-fi for years. Now, Google has the resources to bring such a device into the real world. Google’s latest Android software found on phones such as the Nexus 4 has a great tool called “Google Now”. The programme allows you to speak commands resulting in the phone carrying out the tasks, but it also pre-empts required data: use your Google Now equipped device to travel the same commute each day, and the phone will learn your route. In the morning it will serve up an estimated time of travel. Glass’s cornerstones lie in technology like this – features that can be found already. It’s a feasible conciliation of multiple ideas into one sleek, paradigm changing product. It’s even available today: select developers and “creative individuals” can get Glass. While it’s probably not as elegant as the indie music backed promos present, Google’s crazy invention works and real people are using it now.

Wow.

A guide on how Glass works.

While I am absolutely dying to get my hands on a tangerine pair, we must actually think what Glass represents. It’s no small step, but indeed a giant leap furthering ourselves into a combined world with technology.

Since the mass adoption of the Internet, our existence has been divided up into to distinct segments: “reality” and “hyperreality”. Reality is meatspace; the physical world that we touch and breathe. Hyperreality refers to cyberspace; a world that we do not physically inhabit, but yet we still generate content for and spend much of our lives in. The modern day citizen will live in both and therefore has a presence in both. For a long time, these worlds seemed separate. However, recently, through Facebook, Foursquare and the iPhone these two places seem to touch and interconnect more than ever. Our real world lives our now dependant on virtual world lives – where would your social life be without Facebook?

Technology and culture website The Verge ran an amazing article not too long back about transhumanists. These are people that are fundamentally changing what it means to be human. The piece followed the writer’s journey deeper and deeper into the dark world of bio hacking, until the point of finding himself under-the-knife for the cause. Gruesomely filmed, the author gets a magnet implanted into his finger. With this “upgrade”, the man can sense magnetic fields by using his fingers to caress their shapes and chart their strength. He’s given himself a new ability – or more scarily what could be considered a sixth sense.

A documentary by The Verge on biohackers.

Smartphones have transformed our lives in the past five years. While The Verge’s story featured a new human ability that seems literal, the addition of magnetic sensing to the human feature set is really just providing another avenue for our brain to receive information. Using this logic, the iPhone adds features to humans too: perhaps some kind of sense to find the best restaurant to eat at that night using Urbanspoon or something. It is now a proven fact that search engines have changed human brain pattern activity – the Internet has changed humanity. Author of 512pixels.net marks the point that “The idea of having an ever-connected device seeing what you see is about as from-the-future as you can get, but I’m not sure I’d want Google being in between me and what I’m seeing. The beauty of the iPhone is that you can leave it in your pocket.”

He’s right. Current mass technology allows the Internet and traditional real world realm to be separate. You have to stop what you’re doing in one world to access the other. Glass though, with its always-there, always-ready, just-say-the-word attitude is something different. It allows cohabitation.

This leads us to the big question: if there’s a tiny Google filled square in our field of vision constantly, does that make the Internet truly part of meatspace? I think, and I’m sure many others would agree, the answer is a blurred but true “yes”. The Glass then is the ultimate fusion of data aggregation, algorithms and (strangely) life. Google has achieved something Doctor Who has tried to prove impossible: they’ve combined two realities.

Fundamentally, the magnet implant and Google Glass are achieving the same thing: the first steps of become less like animals, the opening chapters of cyborgism.

An Odd Project: “Viaduct View”

viaductview

I live in a really small city. I’m not sure whether I like it here or not. There are many times of this kind of self-doubt. Pivotal moments of development of myself. I’d like to write about this and turn it into a multimedia journey of a character. I’m going to create a collage. Little thoughts I like too much to discard. I’m going to try and create a fictional world within a website (A Tumblr. WordPress is the bee’s knees, but Tumblr works best for this project) that feels living and breathing. This website is called Viaduct View.

Here’s the first:

My sister got out of the car in such a decisive way. She began by pushing up with her knees as if she were about to springboard. Face first into the clean air she lets out a rough note of exhaustion, pain, suffering. Elbows angled in a harsh fashion, cutting through the air with no consideration. Once standing, she’ll turn back and look at the evil she just conquered. Audi’s chairs weren’t a match for her. With one final hunter-look, she’d turn in an inelegant yet fluid way. Slam the door. The task was complete.

Meanwhile I would remain sitting. Having witnessing this display of individualism, I’d question myself and my choices. My sister is older than me. Inside, I know that only with time is a character and personality consolidated. This didn’t stop me from trying. With trepidation, I lifted my feet first. I slowly elevated to full flight, before slowing closing the door. I then raised my arm to hook onto my hip, tilting my elbow joint into the direction of travel. It was a statement of intent. A statement of my adored Euro-elegance way of living. A statement of how this was naturally the way I was supposed to be.

It’s rough. It’s not really self-standing. I just wanted to put it out there.

iOS 7 & Twentieth Century Graphic Design. (A short design post written by an interested amateur)

design

Today, I’m going to write about design. In spite of my limited experience, I’m going to begin with a big topic: Apple’s iOS 7 is perhaps going to be the most controversial and most talked about “design change” to happen this year. Though it has been talked to death, I’d like to offer my input on this subject – I think I have an idea that hasn’t been explored yet (or at least, I haven’t seen anyone write about it).

It’s not daring to say that Sir Jonathan Ive (Apple’s head design man) gathers inspiration from revered industrial designer Dieter Rams. There’s no offence being seeded here – Rams has spoken well of Sir Ive’s work, and personally, I think that Sir Ive adds his own flair that shows his own expertise that in some ways counteract Ram’s philosophies (e.g. the stainless steel back on the iPod). Sir Ive adds little nods to Rams within his work. The current iOS calculator originated as a digital rendition of one of Rams most famous designs, and I believe that the new iTunes Radio logo references Ram’s iconic usage of machined holes in a circular fashion as speaker grilles.

Apple’s iOS 7 introduction video.

I believe that Sir Ive has once again seeked inspiration from design and art from the mid twentieth century. To me, iOS 7 seems to be derived from International Swiss Style – a type of graphic design. This style emphasises use of Helvetica, grid systems, block colours and symbols. Some of the new stock apps – in particular the aforementioned iTunes Radio and definitely the calendar program – seem to have been created by following the Swiss playbook down to the ground. The result is an absolutely gorgeous experience when tied with the Rams-like hardware; both the hardware and software designs find themselves rooted in twentieth century Europe – so they complement each other magnificently. It’s a rare combination, but one that when considered, looks so elegant and smooth in the promo films.

However, in iOS 7, I find there are some quizling elements. The use of gradients, dynamic backgrounds and transparencies go completely against traditional Swiss style. The icons and the colour palette don’t fit either. Some of the design elements even go against the respected rules that Rams wrote: Apple’s webpage for iOS 7 shows Reminders using a paper texture – an example of skeuomorphic design, something that does against “Good design is honest”. These of course could be Sir Ive implementing some of his own ideas; he has spoken about how the transparencies on some features add “context” to a situation. This is a very valid point. I find the gradients mocked by blogs such as “Jony Ives Redesigns Things” to be out of place. They promote a different message: one of trading visual simplicity for an appealing layer of gloss.

To conclude, I think it’s interesting to compare iOS 7 with older design movements. Personally, I think there’s still some work to be done on iOS 7, and I personally would argue that more adoption of Swiss style would be no bad thing. “Flat design” that is common in UI design today has been described by many as nothing more than a passing fad and that iOS 7 is merely being fashionable. Apple could refute this claim (and seems to be doing so) by rooting their software designs in such a timeless and classic design movement. Of course, one cannot say that Sir Ive should just cut and copy from other graphic designer’s work and be deprived of his own creative freedom. iOS is of course digital, whereas the ideas I have discussed really have their bases in traditional print design, so it is logical to add new flavour and abilities that are impossible to replicate with paper and ink (such as dynamic backgrounds and parallax). Do I like iOS 7? Yes, I think so. I am yet to see it being used in the flesh, but there are some elements that are so well considered and thought through that shows Sir Ive is a master of his craft. However, I find the use of gradients and then also block colour to be an uncomfortable tension, and I think that Ive should chose which route to take and stick with it. Many have commented that there’s something ‘not quite right’ with the new system, and I think it’s the adoption of two contradicting philosophies.

Using Writing Challenge as a Launchpad

“IS IT TIME FOR AN INFORMALITY BACKCLASH?” asks WordPress’s ‘Daily Post’ blog. As a newbie here, I figured I better participate in the community rather than performing my standard real-life routine of awkwardly standing in the corner (there’s only so many times I can pretend to wipe my nose, only so many itches I can invent).

To answer the post’s question directly, I do alter my email salutations according to my subject matter. I believe that in most situations it’s better to be too formal. If I were applying for a job or whatnot, I’d prefer them to see my flowered prose as endearing – opposed to seeing informality and broken grammar as being disrespectful. If I’m writing from a place of authority, I’ll normally begin with ‘Hi’ etc. Why? I’m not sure. I guess I’m playing “cool boss”. It’s annoying though to have to consider which forms to use. When I was looking to interview YouTubers for an old website, I came into confusion. These are people who begin their videos with sayings such as ‘what’s up guys?’ – and yet I felt compelled to begin emails formally.

If I may though, I’d like to drill down a little here. The loss of formality and, to an extension, correct syntax is something that is very quickly being championed. I help with a little English magazine at school and in the last issue we had a writer who explored “alt lit” – a new genre of poetry that fully embraces grammatical practises that would normally see you be rejected from any literature journal. Whether this is due to the self publishing mechanic Tumblr and the likes allow (or perhaps a slightly more dishier rebellion against the “expected” expression and rigid English lessons) isn’t necessarily too important. What’s important is that this poetry functions as art – which seems to suggest that formality and the grammar rules some cherish aren’t relevant.

A friend can often cause a teeny part of rage to be created within me for correcting my English. The thing that gets me is that they have completely understood what I am trying to convey. This is interesting. Linguistically speaking, a mistake is a mistake. However, if the role of language is to ease communications – what happens when the language itself gets in the way of the communications? (You may need to read that a couple of times, sorry)

Salutations (and one could argue the same point for many grammar constructions etc) seem to be an over engineered part of our language. The idea of formal writing and informal writing also seems to be odd. Though English isn’t as marked out as say German (“du”, “Sie” forms), there seems to be an illogical/unnecessary construct going here. What if we just had one? We could communicate without getting panicked about “dear”s and “to”s? Well, with archaic social constructs rapidly disappearing, this seems to be happening. An informality backlash? Nah. I think we’ll all welcome it. One way of talking to everyone – one that disregards awkward, years old and out-of-date rules, and one that seems friendlier and is easier? Sounds pretty good to me.

Today has been a thinking day.

I haven’t really achieved much today. My online-magazine-in-progress has been at the forefront of my mind. I’m chewing over the whole concept. I’ve been sketching out this super-dynamic, “edgy” (gah) and “urban” (double gah) concept. There’s a problem here: I’m not really a reflection of this image, and therefore not really the best person to take it into fruition. I’m swinging much more towards a more “mature” angle. Visually: more minimalism and greys rather than lucid greens and neon pinks. The concept of the magazine has been this incredibly convoluted description thus far:

“Digital culture – an exploration into the internet-born fringes and the arising. We will cover new technologies that will be as revolutionary as the internet”

After some chewing it over, I quite like this:

“An arts magazine for people who care about science too.”

I started listening to Mountain Man today on Spotify. They’re brilliant. I began my morning getting ready by streaming some of their music and have just finished my afternoon ordering their album on Amazon. Here’s a revelation I had today: I originally wanted to pitch the magazine’s music section towards the electronic scene. I’ve spent the whole day listening to Cat Power and Bon Iver. No electro today – in fact, I haven’t really listened to any this month.

That’s been today.

Hello.

My name’s Chris.

I’m 17.

I’m a student (just finished my AS year).

I’m starting this blog today because I want somewhere I can write. I will be posting thoughts, short stories, all kinds of things. (Hopefully fiction. I’ve always wanted to write longform fiction and perhaps here I will) Most networks seem like a competition for popularity, whereas WordPress.com seems more relaxed. I’ll dump my stuff here for a while then. I’m not going to tell my friends about this – it’s going to be a segregated thinking space.

The major rift in my life at the moment is picking a university course. I’m currently studying a 50:50 split of humanities and sciences – now, it appears I have to pick which side of the fence I’m on.

Feel free to comment etc.

Thanks for stopping by.