The internet is just a big computer

…or a big book, and websites just add more pages to the book, they aren’t separate or distinct.

Download parameter file diagram2.xpf

Well, that’s how I think the internet works or functions. To the user, it’s just an extension to their hard drive.

Technically speaking, the medium of the internet is much more complicated: backbones, protocols, domain name servers, IP addresses…

But then, technically speaking, books are much more complicated than just a collection of pages. Take a close look at an expensively bound book. There’s more to it than meets the eye.

Which is my point: It’s what we see, what our perception is, that defines the medium.

The internet is an international network of servers, but in the end it amounts to just a big computer.

Consider your own little computer. The internet is just more of it.

Download parameter file diagram.xpf

When you “use” the internet, do you feel a little like you’re in space? Do you “sense” a great world wide web of computers?

That’s your imagination freakified by the hyped-up, Star Trek terminology of marketing campaigns and the over excited news media. The reality is just more content to display on your monitor: An enlarged computer, a bigger book.

But the dispersion and exchange of ideas which in turn leads to their development, refinement and the creation of more, is the only thing about the internet which hasn’t been exaggerated.

A Critical Mass of minds.

The growth of human thought and technology, which Gutenberg greatly facilitated with the movable type printing press, has now been intensified and accelerated by the internet.

It’s the only significant achievement of the internet. Everything else is just mere entertainment and convenience.

Like fractals and banking.

December 30, 2005

Achtung! Christmas is over

But since the holidays have just started and the evening of another year is spread out against the sky…

Download parameter file redsky.xpf

Let’s consider the topic of Medium vs Genre.

For example: The written or printed word. The medium is uh, the printed word. Words printed on paper. But the genre of the printed words could be poetry, prose, a play, etc…

If you want to write something it doesn’t have to be poetry, in verses or whatever, it could be fiction, prose, words in sentences and stuff like that, or something else.

My point is: the medium of the printed word supports many types of genres. A genre is a style of printed words.

That’s enough, let’s jump to the more interesting stuff: Blogs.

Is a blog a medium or genre?

Ha, ha! Wrong, you morons! It’s a medium, not a genre.

And you can’t argue with me because this is a blog and it’s not the usual bloggish genre of the Online Diary. Ergo, the blog medium can have more than one style or genre. I’ve proved it. I’m proving it right now.

So, moving right along before I lose your attention, let’s ask the question: What is a blog for?

Answer: Anything you can get away with.

That is, within the restrictions of the medium: words, pictures, comments, counter-comments, hyperlinks, serialized content.

So what’s a website for? Same thing, anything website-able, which is to say any contruction consisting of the parts the medium supports: text; graphics; midi music; flash; animated gifs; streaming media; scrolling, blinking, flaming text; etc…

Books are a medium, genres would include: fiction; non-fiction; coffee table books; self-help; text-books. The book medium only supports words and pictures (unless you want to include scratch ‘n sniff ink which would be smells).

What can you do with books? Well, obviously quite a lot. Think of all the great books you’ve read, or go to a library and look at all the great books you could read.

Blogs go further, they can contain instant reviews (ie comments); links to other stuff; fresh daily, hourly or whatever content.

So forget all the stuff that everyone else has done. Take the less traveled path. Hey, don’t take any path at all. Head off into the trees at full throttle, go over a cliff with your eyes closed, let ‘er rip man!

December 26, 2005

Fractal home of Santa

Polar Adobe

Download parameter file polarhome.xpf

Like all fairy tales I guess Santa is the product of many minds and a collective creation.

JRR Tolkien wrote a letter to his children from Santa every Christmas. Later they were made into a book called The Father Christmas Letters.

Tolkein had no trouble making up stories and he easily created a whole world around Santa, or Father Christmas as he called him.

Santa is a character with all sorts of possibilities, mostly because the popular legends have so many blanks in them that are just begging to be filled.

Culture is a funny thing. If you go travelling, you soon notice the differences amongst people. Behaviour that seems peculiar to you is perfectly normal and natural to the country you’re in.

You come home and for the first time become aware of the culture you are a part of. That’s the great thing about travelling, you get to know your own home better.

I wonder what Santa thinks about the world. Will he one day just decide to stay home permanently in his peaceful winter palace and hope he’ll forget all the misery and indifference he’s seen?

Or will he come down to earth and do something meaningful instead of dressing up once a year and giving out toys to the rich kids when the poor ones don’t even have clean water to drink?

Tradition is just the wheel ruts of our ancestors. Let’s do something better and while we’re at it give the next generation better wheel ruts to drive in.

December 25, 2005

Cult of the Coca-Cola King

He sees you when you’re sleeping,
He knows when you’re awake,
He’s off his medication,
So be good for goodness sake.

Download parameter file particle.xpf

It’s all stuff you’ve heard before. Traditionally, Saint Nicholas and Father Christmas had a slim build and dressed more like normal people of their historical period.

Then came the Coca-Cola coup d’etat. Big and fat (but apparently healthy), red and white, naughty and nice.

What could have become another transient ad campaign, instead transformed the popular image of Santa.

What else? The attribution of divine qualities and a growing cult of zombie followers.

Since when did Saint Nicholas, an actual person, come to be all-knowing and capable of the omnipotent act of passing righteous judgement on all children, in the form of gifts, in a single night?

Well, things change, new “traditions” start and old traditions grow and develop as they are influenced by the trends of the people who practise them.

What are the current trends? Where is Santa going?

Pagan idolatry and human sacrifice, of course. The Oracle of the North Pole.

They bring their children to sit on his lap and make supplication of him while he sits on his throne in the Great Temple of Mammon, the shopping mall.

Whoa, far out. What else?

The Trojan horse of modern times. He brings about the fall of a whole civilization, not just a single city as with Troy.

Look, see him carried into the city, the round, plump, jolly old fellow. Past the city gates, into the town square. The merchants love him and exhort the people to step forward and touch the foreign construction and join in its adoration.

A helicopter descends. Lowered by a rope and bathed in spotlights, the CEO of that great multinational bestows on the head of Santa, his Coca-Cola crown.

Then at night, the bloated body splits and from every crack and orifice pours a thousand thieves.

December 23, 2005

Song of the Machine

Who has ever raised a toast,
to the lifeless apparatus?
Yet so many have warmed their ears and minds,
from the sounds of Spratta-tatus.


Download parameter file ship.loo

What if machines were intended to be sculptures, and their productive functions were just part of the show?

What if the purpose of a car was to produce the painstaking artwork of used tires?

The Chinese never developed firearms, but they invented gunpowder. What if gunpowder was never designed to do anything other than make loud noises at parties?

Have you seen the movie, Robots? I haven’t, but I’ve seen the bubblegum cards and the advertisements.

What if the purpose of movies was to make beautiful logos and awesome advertising?

The most appealing things I’ve seen lately are the wrappers around Japanese rice crackers. What if the purpose of a rice cracker was to give form to an elegant wrapper?

In the book, Mosquito Coast, by Paul Theroux, or somebody, the inventor character says something to the effect, “We eat garbage and throw the best part away.”

December 22, 2005

Behold, the Fractal Camel

You never know what your feet will pick up when you’re exploring the beanstalk.

Download parameter file camel.loo

It’s kinda wierd isn’t it? The combination of Middle Eastern culture with a Northern European, mid-winter celebration: Camels and Christmas trees.

Good King Wenceslas never rode a camel, or probably even saw one.

Holly and Frankencense: A very unlikely romance.

The wise men showed up late. Actually, there’s something that fits with Christmas. It’s always difficult making travel plans when a snow storm can close the caravan routes for weeks.

Mary and Joseph had to stay with the camels in the camel-garage. Well, that fits too. Everyone comes to visit for Christmas, I slept on the floor once myself.

Maybe there’s a few parallels. But here’s something really strange.

The pagan symbols we still retain as part of Christmas: candles; yule logs; evergreen trees; are in fact perfect symbols of the Jewish Messiah.

Candles: Light in the darkness of winter. Yule logs: Heat in the cold of winter Evergreens: Life in the dead of winter.

December 21, 2005

The Gorgon heads of Christmas

It’s not enough to chop one off, you’ve got to burn the stump too.

Download parameter file square04.loo

Consider the approach of King Ghidorah, the three-headed monster, enemy of Godzilla. See if you can hear, ever so faintly, “Ho, ho, ho.”

His triple heads twisting senselessly, they rake the houses with electric bolts. Returning, without method or reason, he obliterates one house and leaves another.

Ploughing the cities, turning their gold back into straw.

Yes, amidst the crackle of the flames and the screeching of his reptilian cries… sleigh bells.

The brimstone nose of Rudolf announces the monster’s return. The people come forward, bent, slaves to the seasonal spasm of the gaping gut: consumerism incarnate.

Bloated but not full, the monster moves through the city, gleaning the streets. He drinks Coca Cola and sings of giving, but he moves the hands that take.

“I love the smell of gift-wrap in the morning” he says, sinking into his chair by the fire. “Smells like… Christmas.”

December 20, 2005

The fractals of Solomon

The eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear its fill of hearing

Download parameter file mesh4.loo

One of the few books I read when I was younger, that I really liked, was Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles.

I even read the introduction and a prologue or something where Ray Bradbury explains that he never actually intended to write a book, he just wrote a bunch of short stories.

The writer was never inspired to write a novel, but he was inspired to write about a place. The fragments of that place became a book.

Recently I read a book about the oil industry in Canada called Roughnecks and Wildcatters by Alan somebody. It was just a collection of anectdotes taken from interviews of people who had worked in every part of the oil industry.

I had trouble putting the book down. Each anectdote was a little magnet holding my attention and pulling me to the next one. I couldn’t find a place to stop reading.

The semi-literate oil workers wrote this marvelous book. Their anecdotes were all that composed it except for a very short introduction by the compiling editor at the start of each chapter.

Anyhow, Bradbury went on to write the short story collection, Illustrated Man. In one story, books are banned and so a library is made up of individuals who have chosen to memorized their favourite book and thereby preserve it for others.

The main character, who I thought was Bradbury writing about himself, memorized the biblical book of Ecclesiastes, popularly thought to be written by King Solomon.

I always think of the above quote when it’s late at night and I should be going to bed instead of working on more fractals. It’s just too captivating and the eye never has enough of seeing.

December 19, 2005

Chicken wire Christmas

Ever tried pulling chicken wire out of the frozen ground?

Download parameter file tree.loo

It’s my turn. What is Christmas all about?

Christmas is a snowball.

Somewhere back in something-something B.C. northern european people made the winter solstice (Dec 21st or so) a special day. That was just the start of the snowball.

Later on in southern europe, a church official got the idea to reform the annual holiday with the title Christmas. Much of the pagan traditions stayed, like Christmas trees, mistletoe, holly, candles, lots of food, drinking, sweet foods, burning logs, and not working.

Later on the snowball was rolled around some more, and just like it would be if you were making a snowman, it picked up all sorts of leaves and twigs and other stuff.

There are a number of Christmas traditions. Some involve palm trees and going to the beach. Drinking is almost universal, in fact “Merry” used to mean “Drunken.”

And so it’s been over the years, the Christmas ball has been picking up and adding more folklore than Grimm’s Fairy Tales.

Just like a big snowball, the last thing it has picked up is all you see on the outside. The original ball is deep inside and doesn’t resemble what the snowball has become.

The last thing Christmas rolled over was a thick layer of 20th century consumerism. And really, isn’t that what Christmas is for most people now? Mammonfest.

But the ball is still rolling. Who knows what the next layer might be. On the other hand, with that thick layer of Mammonfest, maybe the ball is too big to move.

December 18, 2005

Go forth and fly in the kingdom of light

Shoovaloon! Great golden flash of… flashy golden… flash thing…

Download parameter file pastel01.loo

When I first started making fractals with Sterlingware, I used the default image size of 160×120 pixels. I thought the ideal image file size was 5k, but sometimes I would go as big as 10k if the image had a lot of detail and was pretty good.

Later I moved up to 160×160 and then 200×150. I still tried to keep to the 10k maximum.

I noticed that everyone else’s fractals were huge and had file sizes of a couple hundred kilobytes. I thought that was just too big, unneccesary too.

But I then moved up to 300×300 and 300×400 and moved the max file size limit to 50k. Occasionally a really good one would step over that limit and hit 60 or 70k.

This week I stepped up to 500×375, which is also the default size for Xaos, and posted some images that were over 100k.

The longer I do this, the larger the images get and the fewer I make. At this rate I’ll be up to 1000×750 in a year’s time and be quite satisfied if I can make a jpg or png that is under a megabyte.

So how big is too big?

Monitors get bigger, bandwidth gets wider.

One thing will never change: If it looks like garbage, even a filesize of 1k is too much. But a good image is worth a several MB download, on dialup too.

December 17, 2005