Gentlemachines
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Gentlemachines
What's new at the crossroads of culture, technology and science
Curated by Artur Alves
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The history of Android

The history of Android | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
Follow the endless iterations from Android 0.5 to Android 4.4.
Artur Alves's insight:

«Android has been with us in one form or another for more than six years. During that time, we've seen an absolutely breathtaking rate of change unlike any other development cycle that has ever existed. When it came time for Google to dive in to the smartphone wars, the company took its rapid-iteration, Web-style update cycle and applied it to an operating system, and the result has been an onslaught of continual improvement. Lately, Android has even been running on a previously unheard of six-month development cycle, and that's slower than it used to be.«

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Five Great Works of Software (Medium)

Is it possible to propose a software canon? To enumerate great works of software that are deeply influential—that change…
Artur Alves's insight:
«I set myself the task of picking five great works of software. The criteria were simple: How long had it been around? Did people directly interact with it every day? Did people use it to do something meaningful? I came up with the office suite Microsoft Office, the image editor Photoshop, the videogame Pac-Man, the operating system Unix, and the text editor Emacs. I realized that each one of these technologies set out to help people do something but consequently grew and changed over time. Each ultimately provided a way for large groups of people to talk about and think about very difficult problems: Microsoft Office: How do we communicate about work? Photoshop: How do we create and manipulate images? Pac-Man: How do we play? Unix: How do we connect abstractions together to solve problems? Emacs: How do we write programs that control computers?«
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Not going to reach my telephone | Rationalist Association

Not going to reach my telephone | Rationalist Association | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
We worry that new technology is ruining our ability to think – in fact, such fears have been around since the very invention of writing
Artur Alves's insight:

"Could it be that many of the anxieties that are associated with smartphones, including their compulsive and addictive qualities, are in fact a by-product of late capitalist societies in which economic precarity has become a cultural norm, as opposed to being inherent to the devices themselves? Might we be able to invent different uses for smartphones, or revolutionise their design, if we came up with alternative and less profit-driven models of production? Would it be possible for us to de-monetise the word “social” without resorting to the reactionary and frankly unthinkable outright rejection of modern communication technologies?

These are political questions, even utopian ones, but educators all over the world are faced with similar ones every day as their classrooms shift from print to digital resources. The industry has no shortage of salespeople who, like the god Theuth, are willing to swear that their technologies will make the children wiser and improve their memory. The answer is not to reject that claim out of hand but to examine it critically. It’s the unique teaching moment of our time."

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The History of Early Computing Machines, from Ancient Times to 1981

The History of Early Computing Machines, from Ancient Times to 1981 | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
From the abacus to the IBM personal computer, calculating devices have come a long way. Let's take a look through the history of these machines and the remarkable progress that came with the 20th century.
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How France fell out of love with Minitel

How France fell out of love with Minitel | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
Long before the coming of the World Wide Web, the Minitel provided a sort of internet-in-one-country. Long before Facebook, Google or Twitter – millions of French people went "online" daily to search for information, to book their holidays, chat to strangers or seek cheap (or not so cheap) sexual thrills.
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Q&A: Hacker Historian George Dyson Sits Down With Wired’s Kevin Kelly

Q&A: Hacker Historian George Dyson Sits Down With Wired’s Kevin Kelly | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
The two most powerful technologies of the 20th century—the nuclear bomb and the computer—were invented at the same time and by the same group of young people. But while the history of the Manhattan Project has been well told, the origin of the computer is relatively unknown. In his new book, Turing’s Cathedral, historian George Dyson, who grew up among these proto- hackers in Princeton, New Jersey, tells the story of how Alan Turing, John von Neumann, and a small band of other geniuses not only built the computer but foresaw the world it would create. Dyson talked to wired about the big bang of the digital universe.
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The lost promise of the Internet: Meet the man who almost invented cyberspace

The lost promise of the Internet: Meet the man who almost invented cyberspace | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
In 1934, a little-known Belgian thinker published plans for a global network that could have changed everything
Artur Alves's insight:

«In 1934, a little-known Belgian bibliographer named Paul Otlet published his plans for the Mundaneum, a global network that would allow anyone in the world to tap into a vast repository of published information with a device that could send and receive text, display photographs, transcribe speech and auto-translate between languages. Otlet even imagined social networking-like features that would allow anyone to “participate, applaud, give ovations, sing in the chorus.”«

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The Motion Picture Camera: Past, Present and Future

For the Society of Camera Operators 2014 Lifetime Achievement Awards. Edited by Bob Joyce Music: "Sunshine (Adagio in D Minor)" by John Murphy soc.org
Artur Alves's insight:

A history of the motion picture camera, in four minutes.

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Preserving software for future historians: Emulators versus physical copies.

Preserving software for future historians: Emulators versus physical copies. | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
Visitors to Microsoft in Redmond, Wash., can avail themselves of free shuttle cars to help them make their way about the sprawling suburban campus.
Artur Alves's insight:

"For decades the library [of Congress] has also been receiving computer games, and in 2006 the games became part of the moving-image collections at the Packard campus. While the library registers the copyrights, what it means to preserve and restore vintage computer games—or any kind of computer software—is less clear. What kind of intervention is necessary to keep computer games from meeting the fate of the 80 percent of pre-1930 American films now lost forever thanks to their volatile nitrate film stock?

That question was recently explored at a two-day meeting dubbed “Preserving.exe” at the Library of Congress’ Madison building in Washington. A roomful of computer historians, technical experts, archivists, academics, and industry representatives discussed what role the nation’s cultural-heritage institutions, from the library and the Smithsonian to the Internet Archive, ought to play in gathering and maintaining collections of games and other software for posterity. While libraries, archives, and museums now routinely confront the challenges of massive quantities of files and records in digital format, actual software—“executable content” in the parlance of the meeting—raises some especially vexed problems for preservation."

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The culture of the copy by James Panero - The New Criterion

The culture of the copy by James Panero - The New Criterion | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
On the printing press, the Internet & the impact of duplication.
Artur Alves's insight:

"Yet while we appreciate the Internet’s technological wonders, the cultural landscape it leads to is less explored. We acknowledge the Internet’s effect on information but are less considering of its influence on us. Even as we use its resources, most of us have no understanding of its mechanics or any notion of the ideas, powers, and people that led to its creation.

One way to situate the Internet is to see it as inaugurating the next stage of copy culture—the way we duplicate, spread, and store information—and to compare it to the print era we are leaving behind. New technologies in their early development often mimic the obsolete systems they are replacing, and the Internet has been no different. Terms like “ebook” and “online publishing” offer up approximations of print technology while revealing little of the new technology’s intrinsic nature."

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Galileo's Credo | The Nation

"The specter of Galileo haunts conversations about science and religion to the present day. Two new biographies differ over the astronomer’s view of the relationship between science and faith."

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