Saturday, August 16, 2008

Famous for 15 Minutes

The declaration in 1968 by American pop artist Andy Warhol that, "in future everybody will be world famous for 15 minutes", anticipates the fleeting condition of celebrity where length of media attention is determined by the attention span of the audience.

Warhol's comment recognises the ability of the media to produce short term disposable celebrities where the otherwise ordinary and unspectacular are turned into transient "superstars".

A recent recontextualisation of Warhol's observation, reflecting the questionable achievments of online social networking such as blogging, asserts "On the Web, everyone will be famous to fifteen people".

Legend in your own lunchbox.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Why Gallileo is way cooler than Bill Gates

Astronomer with astrolabe 15th century woodcut

The astrolabe is an ancient astronomical computer used for solving problems relating to time and the position of the Sun and stars in the sky. To use an astrolabe an astronomer drew the sky on the face of the instrument and marked it so positions in the sky can be found. The moveable components of the astrolabe were then adjusted to the required date and time. Once set, the entire sky, both visible and invisible, was able to be represented allowing a number of astronomical problems such as the calculation of time during the day or night, the timing of celestial events like sunrise or sunset to be accurately figured in a very visual way.

And all in a world without Microsoft.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

That's One Small Step for Man, One Giant Leap in Libraryland

Giant steps are what you take
Walking on the moon
I hope my legs don't break
Walking on the moon
We could walk forever
Walking on the moon

from Regatta de Blanc by The Police, 1979

Forty years ago today, (well 39 to be precise, give or take a week) on 21 July 1969, watched by a global television audience of millions, Neil Armstrong stepped off the ladder of the lunar landing module, Eagle and bounced into the pages of world history. "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind", he said. Clear as anything I remember the black and white photograph of the surface of the moon imprinted with an astronaut's boot mark on the cover of National Geographic magazine which I read, unsupervised in the "Adult Area" at the Porirua Public Library. Fascinating. Walking on the moon. Imagine that. Having the ability to negotiate and then explore an unknown world.

The adventure in libraryland begins.