Tag Archive: roundup

Writing Advice, Evolution, and Cheese

A round up of weird stuff this week. I highly recommend all of them but the writing advice is amazing. The cheese is so tasty.

Best Writing Advice

SF Signal Rounds up writing advice

The advice ranges wildly though my favorite?

“It’s okay to write in your underoos.”

Evolution, Reality, and Game Theory

Worth a read about perceptions and the accuracy and reality. Reality is kind of bullshit. Which I already knew but this is a good read. (long and interesting)

Motivational Quotes

Supporting your hopes and dreams. Though I do kind of want an “It’s ok to write in your underoos.” motivational poster now. That’s pretty serious motivation.

From Rolf Beeler a raw milk Vacherin Fribourgeois

Ancient Alpine Cheese

Through chemical analysis of pottery they discovered that alpine cheese has been around since at least Iron Age. Mm mountainey thousands of years old cheese.

Spring Roundup

Spring is here and so I’ve done a spring roundup. Well they are vaguely tied to spring in my head. Emotional intensity, sensory experience, creativity, and of course SMBHs. (What don’t you think of Super Massive Black Holes when you think of spring?)

Reading YA and introverts and emotions

Jocelyn at 52 Letters has a great post about seeing yourself in characters, about emotional reactions, and about the way we expect our characters to be. I highly recommend it.

I’m not sure I have all my thoughts wrangled together on this yet so I may end up looping back to it.

Senses

Computer Generated Logos not entirely a creative AI but similar I think. (There is also an Atlas of Potential Nations, which generates country names and flags.)

Listen – Table Top Audio is a cool audio tool for listening to audio with a specific ambience. Designed for tabletop gaming, but works incredibly well for writing too. (I’ve actually been loving Thunderspace an app for the iphone for rainstorm sounds as well.)

Taste and Smell? – The future of gardening? I really try to keep myself aware of the range of the future. I know I have talked excitedly about the future of ponytail holders. (Because yes, I am the dullest person ever…shut up.) There seems to be a tendency to focus on some of the big things with technology, but it pervades everything, including gardening. I know there are the fancy indoor gardens (which I’m not convinced I could keep alive) but these little pods seem like another step along the path to the future in another way.

Creativity, the brain, and practice

Creativity and the 10,000 hours thing

So in reading this I’m not entirely sure I understand it. I want to say I disagree but I don’t feel like that’s the right phrase, if this is what the science shows then …who am I to disagree. But it sort of doesn’t seem like what he’s saying is entirely backed up.

the techniques of deliberate practice are most applicable to “highly developed fields” such as chess, sports, and musical performance

But is snowboarding a much more highly developed field than civil engineers? Are musicians not creative?

Supermassives

Supermassive Black Holes are spinning the same way

This was a cool story about the possible reasons that supermassive black holes (SMBHs) at the center of the galaxies appear to all spin the same direction. Early fluctuations of the universe seem entirely reasonable for this, but hopefully this can also give us more insight in the long term into the early universe.

Creative AIs

I’ve been thinking about the new wave of creative AIs. When will AI be able to take over many of the jobs? It is coming, the question is when. How long until AIs go from iterating (which is primarily what they are doing now) to revolutionizing? That is the real trick with art and creativity in all things. Not just thinking about how to build a better mousetrap, but how to build a house that is mouse proof.

Part of that is you can try a thousand revolutionary things and you’ll be lucky if one of them takes off. Revolution is so much harder, and based on so many other components. But AI might be good at looking at the market trends, at taking in millions of factors, the change in weather, the downturn of the economy, the last revolutionary shift, etc. Take all that into account and it might be able to go, ok here are the 40 potentially revolutionary books that might shift everything. And yes, there might be hundreds of other books or movies or whatever like that, but you just need to be the right one at the right moment to create that entire shift in the way the market is, or to create and entirely new market.

Recently there was the Rembrandt thing, before that the Japanese novel, I was sure that some AI somewhere was creating music.

Emily Howell

This is from 2009 so yeah, that’s been a while. She’s gone on to release more records as well. And yes, Emily Howell is an AI. She builds compositions, takes in feedback and adjusts based on if people thought it was good or bad.

Also every article I read absolutely called this AI by the name the programmer (David Cope) had given her, and also calls this AI ‘her’. Which, yup! I am too.

I don’t think either the Rembrandt AI or the Japanese Novelist AI had gendered names. I hope somewhere out there someone is doing a study about what impact using people names for AI has on our brains and interactions with them. (Bonus Rap Bot)

New Rembrandt

New Rembrandt made by creative AIs and humans. Lots of humans.

MS AI makes a Rembrandt knock off

This doesn’t personify the AI at all, it talks a lot more about the team working with it than the actual AI. It sort of talks about how the team (of humans) uses the AI as a tool. Which is a very different take on the whole thing from Emily.

They really talk about it like they are doing this as an extension of Rembrandt. Would you be comfortable with someone taking what you do now and coming up with what happens next? It does happen plenty now.  (Wheel of Time anyone?)

Is it very different to have someone else finish a work rather than have an AI do it?

Japanese AI Novel

This is another instance of it really being about the human team working on the project.

Though people are calling for the end of authors because of this.

Do you welcome AI overlords?

The basics of this seem to be that the human team did an outline and some basic development and then the AI filled it in. This is sort of like the AI ghost wrote the novel. If you could get an AI to ghost write your idea would you? (Although I don’t think that it “almost” won an award. It got past round one, it was not the runner up.

Apple Watch Edition

Was the Apple Watch Edition a really thoughtful and deliberate example of anchoring?

So my (entirely lay) understanding of Anchoring is basically the first thing sets your perspective of the next thing. A tool used in negotiations very frequently.

Wikipedia says “ For example, the initial price offered for a used car sets the standard for the rest of the negotiations, so that prices lower than the initial price seem more reasonable even if they are still higher than what the car is really worth.”

So when Apple first came out with the Apple Watch there was a super expensive fancy version meant for super fancy people. ($10-15K) I know some people said this was in line with expensive watches. But for those of us who don’t regularly buy expensive watches it is a wow price point. Especially when there are other versions that do basically the same thing with a much lower price point.

Apple just came out with cheaper versions, and apparently (according to 9to5Mac) they’ve been hiding the information about the Edition version. (When I went out to find the link to the Apple page I searched Apple Watch Edition and the ad at the top was NOT the Edition page, though the first link was, which is also interesting.)

So did Apple’s marketing people specifically design this campaign this way? Anchor the price with the Apple Watch Edition versions over $10K and then bring it down and shift their campaign to say, hey, we are for everyone. And now people will look at it and go, oh well it’s WAY less than $10K I can totally afford that. Things like sales and mark-downs all play heavily on Anchoring.

I know this seems not-writing related but I think it is. The way our brains work, and how we understand them is critical. It is also a part of how the world around us is changing and projecting that into the sci-fi of the future. Sci-fi isn’t just about new watches, it is also about how we talk about, think about, and market those things. Consider a world where marketing classes are all taught by people like Dan Ariely. (I took his Coursera class a couple years ago and I don’t think it is out there anymore but it was fantastic and really educational, I highly recommend his book as well.) What does that look like? How does that shape what we do, what we buy, how we save, how we invest, what we decide to do? Do we go to Mars in that world? Do we shoot for something bigger? What are the other changes in a world that shifts that way? What other possibilities are there for it?

See, smell, hear

I love thinking, but most of these links are more tangible. How we see, smell, hear, and interact with the world around us. Or the world a forever ago. That one is pretty to look at too.

Yarnbombing!

Fantastically beautiful and cool projects. I’ve seen some of these in my city. I’ve never done one myself, but I have absolutely considered it.

Smell tourney

What smell would win in your world? I like the smell of thunderstorms and campfires a lot. Though enemy’s tears? Hm…I think maybe I haven’t smelled enough of those. Is that good or bad? What would win in your tournament of smells?

Nightmare Monster IRL

And it needed that weird-ass eye arrangement to see what it was doing at the end of its mouth proboscis. Once again, science has helped us understand the origins of nightmare fuel in evolutionary history.

I don’t think it is a monster. But it is super cool, and it is amazing that we still manage to continue to uncover new things about very…very old species.

From Nature

see, smell, hear ancient monsters

Cool and terrifying images

Australian Fairy Circles

Similar things in different areas, might have different reasons or similar ones. But the more fairy circles they can find and compare, the better. Off to google earth! (I would have sworn I saw about five since I read this article. Not really, but it is still very cool.)

Sleep tools

Each word or phrase is very different from the previous one. It might get you to imagine a pear, a lamp shade, a rock, fishing, trying on hats, skiing, whatever. This is meant to imitate and induce the first stage of sleep (“N1″), where your mind drifts from one “random” thing to another.

This is a fascinating tool. I’ve used it a few days and I’m not entirely sure how I feel about it. I love that there is science behind it. Worth trying if you have trouble falling asleep.

The Future Now

The world is a strange, wonderful, disturbing, and incredibly malleable place. Some random links I’ve run across about the future now. Some things that have a lot of potential, but potential can be for good or evil.

Bust Art Heist Bust

Cosmo Wenman, an artist who actually has done guerrilla 3D reproductions of classical art using high-quality digital photos, told Ars that he was immediately suspicious about the Nefertiti scan. Most likely, he said, the artists had been given a version of the Neues Museum’s own 3D scans, possibly by a museum worker or a third party who did the scans for the museum.

The ability to replicate incredible art, print it, interact with it, and have copies of it.

Self focusing glasses

The company initially hopes its technology can be useful for people with presbyopia, which is a very common inability to focus close up as people reach their 40s and older. Typically, this is solved by wearing glasses with progressive lenses, which have different degrees of focusing power in different areas.

We live in the future now.

Wolves and howls

Howling UK wolf

Howls from different parts of the world (a UK wolf from Wikipedia).

This is a story worth listening to. The howls are amazingly different. The Eastern European one they played didn’t sound anything like what I think of as a wolf howl. The Iberian was very different. They all are beautiful. I can absolutely see how you’d be able to identify them.

(I also love that Dr. Holly Root-Gutteridge was watching a horror movie when she went, hey, that’s an american wolf and it all went from there.)

Drugs and Morals

There seems to be a notion that our morals and ethics and what we believe is an innate part of who we are. Except it is incredibly changeable. From making the people more fair with lemons to using magnets to change your moral judgements. (These are both VERY simplistic explanations so please go read the details and remember nuance and further study is incredibly important.)

It can also be changed with (or by) drugs, and might be already altered by the ones you are already taking. There is so much potential for the future, but what do we do with it.

Oxytocin: Some new studies have seen sex-specific effects: oxytocin can promote self-interest in men but increase altruistic behavior in women.

Kate Rauner writes about robotics

Yup, sign me up for letting an AI drive me to a grocery store. (Well I can walk to mine, but yes, I would be absolutely on board with it.) I fully expect lots of flaws. But I think about people who can’t get around on their own now and giving them the freedom and ability to live on their own is a huge thing.

Scientists developing robots to lead people in high-rises to safety in case of a fire discovered people would follow the robot even when it made obviously dangerous and ridiculous errors. We seem all too ready to shift our brains into neutral and follow orders.

Outlines

I have no theme for today’s roundup of links. But I’m seriously excited about the Google Docs outlines thing. It is so nice. I

Writing Skills

Writing more is good. Whatever the words. Even “arse full of farts”. I’m all for fan fiction, writing back from a skeleton of something else, writing within another world (like for a tabletop game…not that I’d ever do that…). Write. Write. Write.

Though I do know someone who once copied the phone book, by hand…That kind of writing might not be super useful to developing writing skills. Though it does a great job of developing handwriting.

Flexible, electroluminescent skin

The first part of it is a little less than exciting visually, but keep watching, the end is mesmerizing.

The options for androids, cyborgs, and humans is incredible.

Perception and expertise

We don’t all see the same world. You and I can look at the exact same thing and see something radically different. Powerful, fascinating, worrisome. This also very much means that you shouldn’t assume just because someone else isn’t having the experience you are having that they are wrong. They have bring a different set of expertises and history to the situation.

Google Docs outlines

They now has baked in outlines. If you use the styles (Normal text/Heading 1/Heading 2) which of course you should because magic TOC and accessible, you now also get the amazing benefit of an outline automatically generated and navigable right from the left side of the screen. (Open it by going to Tools–>Document Outline (or CTRL+ALT+A). You can also navigate this way. So just click on the section you want to go to.

(This is a lot like the Navigation Pane in MS Word, though you can’t move the sections around.)

If you make all your parts H1s and chapters H2s and your scenes H3s and you can jump from spot to spot easily. I’m so excited about this. It’s about time but so nice.

SimpleOutline

Navigate scenes with the outline

PostOutline

A more complex outline (of this post!)

Memory Roundup

I’ve been thinking a lot about memory and the brain, again. I feel like I always loop back to stories about memory, the brain, and perception. They are the thing that interests me. That captures my imagination. I thought I would give a memory roundup of some of the things that have been rattling around in my brain the loudest and some of the very interesting stories I’ve re-dug up this week. (Many of them are older, but from what I can tell still relevant.)

Long Term

Long Term Memory Priorities

Because P. Sherman 42 Wallaby Way…

Spaced Repetition

It isn’t just about remembering something or repeating it often. It needs to be repeated in the right kinds of ways, as well as retrieved which is a huge part of things, if I say something to you a thousand times you won’t be nearly as likely to remember it as if I made you say it.

or Spaced Retrieval (which personally makes it easier to remember what we are talking about because words mean things…)

This technique is also called spaced retrieval, because you are retrieving the information from your memory over spaced intervals.

Memory and Forgetting

Memory is such a tricky thing, but it isn’t just what we remember that is important, what we forget can change our view of the world.

So, there we have it; it’s not just about how much information we can cram into our memories at once, it also about how much we can keep out.

Next time you find yourself having a hard time remembering a phone number or image, just blame your distracted brain.

Myth of the Neurotic Creative

It is entirely reasonable to be creative and be not be neurotic. And creativity is so much more than just making art.

One can be creative in any field. There are a lot of uncreative artists and a lot of creative accountants.

Perception vs Reality

Perception is strange. I’ve had a couple things come up this week that make me doubt my memory and my perception of the world, which quite frankly hangs by the thinnest of threads anyway. It helps to remind myself that others have gap filled, confusing, incoherent memories too. Just some people might have a better ability to smooth those gaps and cobble together a cohesive story out of it.

Memory itself is not like a video-recording, with a moment-by-moment sensory image. In fact, it’s more like a puzzle: we piece together our memories, based on both what we actually remember and what seems most likely given our knowledge of the world. Just as we make educated guesses in perception, our minds’ best educated guesses help “fill in the gaps” of memory, reconstructing the most plausible picture of what happened in our past.

Heuristic bonus

The Future – Roundup

Here is a roundup of some interesting links and resources I’ve come across recently:

In their natural environment

Wild Jaguar in the US (video)

A wild jaguar video from trail cams. Trail cams are amazing things, you can find a lot of them and snippets from them online. Interesting to see animals on their own in the wild. I also love things like the cams that have been put in nests and such. Pennsylvania Bald Eagles cam has 2 cameras and sound, which is amazing. Highly recommend.

Science and politics meet

Would you vote for a supercomputer for president?

Thanks Stefan for this link.

The future….oooOOooo

100,000,000 Years from now

What the world might look like to someone else (an entirely different someone else’s in the long distant future).

BACKUPS!

Free 2 GB of storage at google – BACK YO SHIT UP!

Back up your work! Do the security check up and get a bonus 2 GB of space, that’s enough space to back up a few novels and a bunch of shorts or flash fiction.

Get your 2 free bonus GB of space and back your stuff up!

Get your 2 free bonus GB of space and back your stuff up!

Word shaped things

Words to use

There are so many cool sites, I’m always a little surprised when I find one. So here’s another cool one I found this week. It gives words that are kind of related to things. I highly recommend going to take a look. This could be great for needing to find an alternate way to say something, especially an overused phrase.