February 2008 Archives

failed attempt

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Animals playing badminton. I'd spent a lot of time checking source materials for a few illustrations. Much of the material was from public domain sources, in particular The Outline of Science from 1922. Illustrations at that time were grayscale, with a lot of line drawings, steel engravings and lithographs. The illustration at hand was a classic portrayal of divergent evolution: the forelimb bones from four different species laid in similar positions so the similarity in bone structure could be seen.

After looking at the grayscale renderings, I got the idea that a sketch of the different animals interacting–using the illustrated forelimb–would be an interesting and effective way of labeling the species of each limb.

Pixola, 65000 colors. I did a quick sketch so I could see how it would work. I was actually picturing hand drawn limbs in the sky as well, but before I got that far I realized that it was too colorless, too antique in style, and too juvenile for the use at hand. What a waste of pixels. There are only so many in a box, and I'd used over 160,000. So I used it in my blog.

I read the word "unconference" in an email. As I typed a response, I thought perhaps it was something that could be a bit more public.

The term, and concept, strikes me as getting long in the tooth. I really think for a lot of the technologies that we're now advocating, the disruptive-innovator-rebel moment has passed. They're now just tools. So for me the idea of an "unconference" feels like it has lost it's innovative power. If conferences don't serve your needs, change them so they do. Big deal. What is it that they're about?

Too negative? Nah. Maybe just my mood, but I'm thinking that instead of pitching blogs or even twitter, we pitch the benefit of learning by writing and by peer review. Instead of pitching eportfolios, we pitch the idea of presenting evidence of learning. Instead of pitching the cast du jour we pitch the richness of learning with multimedia. Innovative no longer describes any of these things. If we overuse the gritty rebel image, it'll be meaningless when it describes us again.

illustration style

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Alien on a beach. I have a background as an illustrator, but rarely get to bring that skill set to the IT table. Recently, though, I was added to a project that's already in process and I was told that part of my contribution would be illustration. A class is using a visual timeline of the evolution of our universe. Notable events along the timeline are represented by whimsical cartoons. My job, in part, is to create new cartoons of the same events. This illustration of the rains that covered Earth over the course of 40 million years is representative of my starting point. I needed to portray the same event, and in the process, develop a suitable style for this and other illustrations.

Alien on golf vacation. The layout seemed obvious; a title was needed as a serious grounding for the drawing-something to clarify and remove any ambiguity caused by the intended humor. Inside the cartoon's boundary, though, humor could take over. Aliens seemed like a given; and I kept the original's lead. As part of the science in the timeline, there were no life forms present at the time; talking rocks was a possibility, but a comment on some of the universals of golf was hard to pass up.

Close-up of moire.For the style of the rendering I wanted to experiment. Students must be accustomed to seeing clipped Larson cartoons in class Powerpoints. If the toon looked like it was clipped from a newspaper, moiré and all, it might have a professional aura. Or maybe a bit more credibility than something that looked obviously slapped together.

I created a set of four layers in Photoshop, and filled each with rows of dots. Each of the four layers was a separate color-cyan, magenta, yellow, and black. Each, also was rotated to match the standard plate rotation used by printers- 15°, 45°, 75°, and 90°. When I used different combinations and "printing order", I could get nice, "newspapery" color, even including the typical little rosettes that form.

A giant egg cell hooker and sperm on Harleys. I used multiple combinations of the black layer to simulate grayscale printing, too. After all, everything wouldn't come from the Sunday funnies... I have to say simulate because, even though the entire scheme is a simulation, within this simulated reality grayscale variation would come from different sized dots on the same grid. Though this would be possible, it seemed unnecessary for this particular use. It is all just experimental, and the moiré may be a failure. I hope to have the time to find out, and eventually to try more realistic grayscale simulation. Meanwhile, I need to make it all dragable, dropable, and scrollable in a Flash interface with AS3. Yeesh.

meaningful quote

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I'm half way through Virginia Woolf's Orlando and a quote leapt out at me. It must have struck me as apropos of something current, but regardless the motivation, I wrote the thing down so that I could look up other references to it. No passion
is stronger in the breast of man than the desire to make others believe as he believes... It is not love of truth but desire to prevail that sets quarter against quarter.

I entered the final line of it into the search dialog and the first returned use was that of a gentleman on another blog who, last year had just finished Orlando and found this memorable quote. Tremendous food for thought, that.

This morning, I tried the entire line in the search field so I could locate the blog again for this post and, with the longer quote, the blog is the second entry-the first is a Google Books Result, an electronic copy of Orlando.

Penn State
April 18, Symposium 2009; reimagine.
New content. Symposium 2008.Digital Commons at Penn State. Improve the workplace; hire for variety.

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