late to the party

but I just got Google Wave, & was immediately thrilled by all the possibilities. After digging around to see what wonderful things people were doing with it so far, the thought that occurred to me was: what a spectacular way to read books with other people! like a book club, but so much more focused and specific, with so much potential to pursue lines of thought one wouldn’t reach even in the most intense group discussions — with an archive of notes, to boot. I need to think about this more (maybe see some examples? butwhere?) but I feel like it could be awesome, with the right sorts of participants.

Moon Museum Redux

A couple of years ago I briefly posted about the "Moon Museum" - a secret project where some people at NASA had incorporated some modern art into the Apollo 12 Moonlanding Unit.

A few weeks ago, whilst doing some blog maintenance, I noticed that there had been a lot of comments on this post. It turned out that some people who had worked on this project had both found my blog - and got in touch with each other through the comment postings. Worth having a read!

I wrote to Burt Unger and, he gave me a little history about the project, and his involvement, which I thought you'd like to see. Imagine being the person who broke that mold!

I've done some research on the Moon Museum, especially before I got involved in the project so I think I can cover most of the details.

The project was a brainchild of Forest Meyers who is a renowned sculptor and artist. He petitioned NASA to allow them to transport an example of modern pop art to the moon onboard one of the space moon landers. NASA did not respond to his request so he went ahead anyway hoping in one way or another to put some art on the moon. Forest contacted five top artists in the field and asked them for a sketch or a doodle that he hoped would be the first art on the moon. The six artists; Robert Rauschenberg, David Novros, Claes Oldenburg, Andy Warhol, John Chamberlain and Forest Meyers made sketches. Their drawings can be seen on the web by Googling Moon Museum.

Forest dubbed the collective art the Moon Museum. Forest Meyers knew two engineers/ scientists at Bell Labs, Fred Waldhauer and Bill Kluver. They had worked together in a group named Experiments in Art and Technology. The six sketches were given to Fred Waldhauer who worked at Bell Labs in Holmdel, NJ. He in turn gave them to Bob Merkle , an engineer at Holmdel who worked in a thin film processing laboratory. I was the supervisor of the laboratory.

In 1969 the Thin Film Lab was built in Holmdel to support circuit designers with microcircuits. The Lab was a large clean room with laminar flow hoods that had equipment for metal deposition, photolithography and etching, plating and bonding. The circuits were made on alumina (aluminum oxide) ceramic with thin film resistors and capacitors made from tantalum and conductors from gold. The resistors were adjusted to exacting tolerance by anodization. We bonded silicone chips to complete the circuits.

Bob had the six sketches photo-reduced and arranged in a three by two pattern on a glass mask that we used in our lithography process. The patterns were replicated in photo resist in tantalum that covered the ceramic surface and then etched to provide the sketches. Multiple patterns were made on three ceramics. They were then sawed apart and oxidized in a 500 degree centigrade oven for one hour. The patterns came out a vibrant purple color that is very hard and durable. I then broke the glass mask to prevent the wholesale processing of the Moon Museum.

Fred Waldhauer took most of the Museums and distributed them to the artists and I think he knew someone at the Cape that attached one to the lunar lander. I took some of the museums and gave them to my engineers as mementos. I don't know who the contacts at the Cape were and who attached it to the LEM.There will be a television program on the Moon Museum, called Histories Mysteries sometime next summer. I'm told they are video taping it now.

Episode 51 – The Inevitable iPad

Jennifer Howard of The Chronicle of Higher Education joins the podcast as the regulars give Dan a rest and Tom takes a turn at hosting for the first time. On the morrow of the big Apple announcement, the Digital Campus crew offers its thoughts on the possible impact of the iPad for teaching, publishing, and research. In other news, the Cornell library asks fellow institutions to pony up to help with costs of maintaining, Flickr Commons closes its doors to new members until 2011, and publishers make more money by dropping copy protection.

Also mentioned on the podcast:
Monty Python’s free web video increased DVD sales by 23,000 percent
The iPad shows up the Kindle; will Apple’s iBooks store challenge Amazon?
5 Ways the Apple iPad Could Change e-Books
The Public Domain Manifesto
Google Editions Embraces Universal E-book Format
Collections in the Cloud?
MuseumMobile Pocast

Running Time: 51:26
Download the .mp3

The ETCL Welcomes Hugh Craig

Hugh is from the University of Newcastle, Australia and is in Victoria on sabbatical leave until the end of June, attached to the ETCL. He works in computational stylistics, and with collaborators at UMass, Amherst he recently published Shakespeare, Computers, and the Mystery of Authorship (Cambridge, 2009).

While in Victoria he plans to do more work on authorship problems in Early Modern English drama, especially in the period 1580-99, and explore some other questions like linguistic drift and vocabulary richness using a broad-based corpus. He is especially interested in potential collaborations with the computing humanists at UVic in areas such as visualisation and distant reading.

We look forward to having Hugh in the ETCL!

Updated Books Home Page and My Library

I'm happy to announce a few fresh features for Google Books. We've updated the home page by adding the ability to scroll through categories of books and magazines.

We also integrated the My Library feature into the home page to enable you to create and then share collections of books by adding them to "bookshelves." This new version of My Library gives you control over your collections by enabling you to keep some bookshelves private--if, say, you want to organize your own personal reading lists--while sharing others.

Previously, all books in your My Library were part of a single collection, and you could tag books with labels to organize. Now, instead of tagging a book with a label, you can add it to one or more bookshelves. As part of this transition to bookshelves, we're migrating all the previously created labels to the new bookshelf system. For example, if you had tagged a book with a label called "favorite travel books," then you'll now see a custom bookshelf called "favorite travel books" that contains the same book.

As always, you have full control over your book collection data. We continue to offer the Book Search API as a way for you to extract and edit your data. Ultimately, we also hope that these open APIs will make it easier to build product integrations that synchronize reading lists across devices and applications.

You can search and discover millions of books on Google Books. Our hope is that these new tools will make it easier for you to find, organize and keep track of the books that you're interested in reading.

quotables, & contortions about racial thinking

When the archive seems easily to give access to what one expects of it, the work is all the more demanding. One has to patiently give up one’s natural ‘sympathy’ for it and consider it an adversary to fight, a piece of knowledge that isn’t to annex but to disrupt. It is not simply a matter of undoing something whose meaning is too easy to find; to be able to know it, you have to unlearn and not think you know it from a first reading.

– Arlette Farge, Le Gout de l’Archive

On first reading, I thought that “natural sympathy” in my own work meant the natural inclination to take colonial records at face value and think with the racial categories they created for Malaysia. It’s become commonplace to claim that the colonial state created Malays, Chinese and Indians out of Bataks, Bugis, Cantonese, Hokkiens, Tamils and Sikhs. But in truth, in the archive I’ve spent so much time resisting the colonial state’s Malays, Chinese and Indians that it’s possible I’ve replaced one natural sympathy for another. Colonial officials referred to the Malays without compunction. I can’t say ‘the Malays’ without adding, even if only in my mind, the scare quotes, and I can’t keep the twinge of mockery out of my voice — The Malays? The Chinese? What are these Malays, these Chinese, these constructed categories?

But I sometimes forget to remember these identities have become real to many people who are to themselves and each other uncomplicatedly ‘us Chinese’ or ‘we Malays’, and subscribe to every naturalized stereotype about them that I instinctively reject. Today, many Indians, Chinese and Malays self-identify as Indians, Chinese and Malays. Those categories, even if created, are largely true. Perhaps my own hesitancy is more academic than my natural sympathies allow me to understand. Are these, my now-natural sympathies, then something to fight against in the archive? When I read Cabinet papers from the 1950s that declare that “The Chinese, living mainly in the towns, are cleverer and more efficient than the Malays and outdistance them in most occupations”, and those scare quotes immediately leap up in my mind, is this resisting the natural inclination to take colonial categories at face value? Or is it simply another sort of sympathy which my immersion in academic history and present historiographical trends has inculcated, and is equally one to be resisted? argh