Spending so much time on the Internet, there are certain phenomena I am most certainly aware on an unconscious level, but don’t seem to really register until someone points them out. Such is the case of the #shitpic, the subject of Brian Feldman’s great essay The Triumphant Rise of the Shitpic, which, unlike other -pics, I was relieved to find is a purely metaphoric descriptior of very lo-fi images, tipically of memes, that are usually produced when mobile users take screen captures or photograph screens in order to circunvent the lack of re-sharing or download functions in apps such as Instagram. Doing so adds layers of recompression and degradation that mimic analog properties and ‘age’ a meme as it spreads, up to the point the shittiest pic correlates with the funniest (or at least the most viral) meme.
Nick Douglas has a few more links and comments on the subject, including his contribution to a Journal of Visual Culture issue dedicated to memes, which is refreshingly free to read.
Going in the absolutely opposite direction (#tastypics?), I found these demos of the BPG image format absolutely jawdropping, and I hope BPGs start to replace JPEGs, like, yesterday. However, since BPG images are, very basically, still HEVC frames, I sincerely hope software patents won’t muck everything up and ensure JPEG reign well into the 2030s, allowing generations upon generations of #shitpics to overrun the Internet.
Tweets: December, 12th - December, 18th
Why has human progress ground to a halt? – Michael Hanlon – Aeon aeon.co/magazine/science/why-has-human-progress-ground-to-... @instapaper Dec 18th, 6pm
What Are MOOCs Good For? www.technologyreview.com/review/533406/what-are-moocs-good... @instapaper Dec 17th, 11pm
An age-old question — Charlie's Diary www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2014/11/symptoms-of-a... @instapaper Dec 16th, 10pm
Do Artifacts Have Ethics? thefrailestthing.com/2014/11/29/do-artifacts-have-ethics/ @instapaper Dec 16th, 8pm
The Utopian UI Architect — re:form — Medium https://medium.com/re-form/the-utopian-ui-architect-34dead42a28 @instapaper Dec 12th, 6pm
Paul Ford (again) with a story that is a veritable and emotional tour de force about the loss of an old friend, a friendship that had been cemented on a mutual interest in computing, weaving together personal memories, home computing history and some remarks about emulation.
It’s interesting the experience of an old OS can be as poignant as a personal memento as an old photograph or a personal artifact; nostalgia knows no medium, after all. Old software, though, is not commonly found in shoeboxes in the attic, nor do the platforms to run it. I believe this proves just how critical and thorny some issues of digital preservation are: for retro-computing, at least, does exist — software can be copied to newer media and circuits can be emulated —, but what about retro social networking? Retro-smartphones? We’re probably going to lose this present: in the age of Big Data there’ll be hardly any artifacts for nostagia.