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Posts Tagged ‘Gutenberg

“Every day sees humanity more victorious in the struggle with space and time”*…

 

Contact: A hundred years before iconic figures like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs permeated our lives, 60 years before Marshall McLuhan proclaimed media to be “the extensions of man,” an Irish-Italian inventor laid the foundation of the communication explosion of the 21st century. Guglielmo Marconi was arguably the first truly global figure in modern communication. Not only was he the first to communicate globally, he was the first to think globally about communication. Marconi may not have been the greatest inventor of his time, but more than anyone else, he brought about a fundamental shift in the way we communicate.

Today’s globally networked media and communication system has its origins in the 19th century, when, for the first time, messages were sent electronically across great distances. The telegraph, the telephone, and radio were the obvious precursors of the Internet, iPods, and mobile phones. What made the link from then to now was the development of wireless communication. Marconi was the first to develop and perfect a practical system for wireless, using the recently-discovered “air waves” that make up the electromagnetic spectrum…

An excerpt from Marconi: The Man Who Networked the World by Marc Raboy. Oxford University Press.  Via “How Marconi Gave Us the Wireless World.”

* Guglielmo Marconi

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As we tweak the dial, we might recall that, thanks to a handwritten note by illustrator Heinrich Cremer, we know that the final binding of the Gutenberg Bible took place on this date in 1456.

 source

 

Written by LW

August 24, 2016 at 1:01 am

“Some people have a way with words, and other people…oh, uh, not have way”*…

 

A few times each decade, the number of acceptable Scrabble words grows. Some sixty-five hundred new words—“lolz,” “shizzle,” and “blech” among them—will officially enter one of the two major competitive Scrabble lexicons on September 1st of this year. The grumbling that results when a word list lengthens is not so much about the inclusion of obscene or offensive words—though a cleaned-up list was controversially published in 1996, after someone protested the inclusion of “jew” as a verb. Instead, it is more about the growing divide between two Scrabble communities: North America and everywhere else…

The history of everyone’s favorite word game– and an explanation of the controversy roiling it today– at “The battle over Scrabble’s dictionaries.”

* Steve Martin

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As we reach for a triple-letter double-word combo, we might recall that, while February 23rd, 1455 is the traditionally-given date of the publication of the Gutenberg Bible, the first Western book printed from movable type, the first evidence-based date is this date in 1456: the copy in the Bibliothèque nationale de France contains a note from the binder establishing the time of its publication.

(The Jikji— the world’s oldest known extant movable metal type printed book– was published in Korea in 1377.  Bi Sheng created the first known moveable type– out of wood– in China in 1040.)

 source

 

Written by LW

August 24, 2015 at 1:01 am

“The real questions are: Does it solve a problem? Is it serviceable? How is it going to look in ten years?”*…

 

Ziba, a Portland-based design firm, asked each staff member to submit his/her “top five” list of designs that have changed the way we think about the world over the organization’s 29-year history– back to 1983.  They clustered the submissions around thematic statements that characterize the innovations, e.g. “The mundane shall be celebrated,” or “Connectivity is like oxygen.”  Then, they captured the results in an infographic (a detail of which is above).

Explore a larger version here, and note that there are a number of things that didn’t make the cut: Napster? the GIF? Yelp?… but then, that’s the fun– and the useful provocation– of lists like this, encouraging us to make our own nominations.

A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.
– Douglas Adams

* Charles Eames

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As we noodle on the new new thing, we might celebrate the emergence of a design, an innovation, a technology that took on a life of its own and changed… well, everything:  this date in 1455 is the traditionally-given date of the publication of the Gutenberg Bible, the first Western book printed from movable type.

(Lest we think that there’s actually anything new under the sun, we might recall that The Jikji— the world’s oldest known extant movable metal type printed book– was published in Korea in 1377; and that Bi Sheng created the first known moveable type– out of wood– in China in 1040.)

The Library of Congress’ copy

Written by LW

February 23, 2014 at 1:01 am

“I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time…”*

 

 click here for larger version of full infographic

From our old friend David McCandless and his ever-illuminating Information is Beautiful, a look at length… The image above is the beginning of a fascinating infographic in which he compares the relative length (code base size) of applications, devices, and (considering DNA to be “code”) organisms.  There are some surprises (Mac OSX 10.4 is bigger than the U.S. Army’s Future Combat System; the software in a modern high-end car is bigger than both); and– as one sees when one scrolls all the way to the bottom, a poignant relevancy:  the Healthcare.gov website (according to most-recently released figures) is much, much bigger still– over 8 times the size of Facebook’s code base, almost 4 times as large as the genome of a mouse.

*Blaise Pascal (often attributed to Mark Twain, who did also say it)

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As we contemplate complexity, we might send efficiently-printed birthday greetings to Johann Alois Senefelder; he was born on this date in 1771.  A playwright and actor who’d fallen into debt over printing problems with one of his plays, Senefelder began to experiment with cheaper ways of bringing his works to market– a less expensive and more efficient printing alternative to relief printed hand set type or etched plates.  His invention, lithography, was the biggest revolution in the printing industry since Johannes Gutenberg’s movable type.

The principle is simple: an image is drawn with greasy crayon (traditionally, on Bavarian limestone) and chemically treated/fixed; the image areas of the stone accept oil-based ink and undrawn areas reject it. Today, photo lithography is the primary technique used to print magazines and books; but Senefelder’s original process of drawing by hand on litho stones is still in use in the fine arts.

 source

 

Emergent-cy…

Scripps Research Institute biologist Gerald Joyce (pictured above) and his colleague Tracey Lincoln have built an “immortal molecule.”  They have synthesized RNA enzymes – ribonucleic acid enzymes also known as ribozymes – that replicate themselves without the help of any proteins or other cellular components.  And since these simple nucleic acids can act as catalysts, the process can continue indefinitely.

As Cosmos reports,

The ultimate goal is to create genetic systems that behave like life, and are for all intents “life” as we know it, but arose without using biological systems.

“The aim is to create systems that have inventive capabilities, that can develop novel solutions to challenges posed by the environment. But that we don’t have yet,” [Joyce] said.

“What we do have is a self-sustained chemical system that undergoes Darwinian evolution. They are synthetic genetic systems, and they are evolving. But they’re not living because they don’t yet show the capacity to invent a whole cloth of functions. The idea is to give them enough information wherewithal [genetic building blocks] so they can start inventing their own solutions rather than just optimizing existing solutions,” he added.

Joyce said it was not practical to synthesize the more complex DNA-based life we know from scratch; it’s too complex and probably beyond today’s science. But it is conceivable to start with a much more basic form of life-like molecules based on RNA, and use evolution to build on them.

Many scientists believe that early life was based on RNA and predated the arrival of life based on deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and proteins. RNA, which can both store information like DNA as well as act as an enzyme like proteins, may have supported pre-cellular life.

A leading proponent of this so-called “RNA world” hypothesis, Joyce believes that RNA-based catalysis and information storage may have been the first step in the evolution of cellular life.

Read the whole story here.

As we search our closets for those chemistry sets, we might celebrate the emergence of a technology that took on a life of its own and changed… well, everything:  this date in 1455 is the traditionally-given date of the publication of the Gutenberg Bible, the first Western book printed from movable type.  The Jikji— the world’s oldest known extant movable metal type printed book– was published in Korea in 1377.  Bi Sheng created the first known moveable type– out of wood– in China in 1040.

The Library of Congress’ copy

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