- Revealing letters in rolled Herculaneum papyri by X-ray phase-contrast imaging : Nature Communications : Nature Publishing Group 012015
Hundreds of papyrus rolls, buried by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD and belonging to the only library passed on from Antiquity, were discovered 260 years ago at Herculaneum. These carbonized papyri are extremely fragile and are inevitably damaged or destroyed in the process of trying to open them to read their contents. In recent years, new imaging techniques have been developed to read the texts without unwrapping the rolls. Until now, specialists have been unable to view the carbon-based ink of these papyri, even when they could penetrate the different layers of their spiral structure. Here for the first time, we show that X-ray phase-contrast tomography can reveal various letters hidden inside the precious papyri without unrolling them. This attempt opens up new opportunities to read many Herculaneum papyri, which are still rolled up, thus enhancing our knowledge of ancient Greek literature and philosophy.
- Charlie Brooker: the dark side of our gadget addiction | Technology | The Guardian 120111
“Today it’s Siri. Tomorrow it’ll be a talking car. The day after that I’ll be trading banter with a wisecracking smoothie carton. By the time I’m 70 I’ll be holding heartbreaking conversations with synthesised imitations of people I once knew who have subsequently died. Maybe I’ll hear their voices in my head. Maybe that’s how it’ll be. | The present day is no less crazy. We routinely do things that just five years ago would scarcely have made sense to us. We tweet along to reality shows; we share videos of strangers dropping cats in bins; we dance in front of Xboxes that can see us, and judge us, and find us sorely lacking. It’s hard to think of a single human function that technology hasn’t somehow altered, apart perhaps from burping. That’s pretty much all we have left. Just yesterday I read a news story about a new video game installed above urinals to stop patrons getting bored: you control it by sloshing your urine stream left and right. Read that back to yourself and ask if you live in a sane society.”
- A Paranoid Reflection Of Our Digital Age – On The Media 011615
The British TV show “Black Mirror” is a sort of modern “Twilight Zone,” pondering the dark future, and present, of our relationship with technology over a series of unnerving episodes. Brooke talks to creator, Charlie Brooker, about his vision for the program and what it says about our relationship with our gadgets, our media, and our selves.
Disability at MiT
Disabled Americans today have to negotiate for the kinds of accommodations made for FDR, and the caveat “reasonable accommodation” is built into the law. President Franklin Roosevelt did not have to negotiate. He could summon vast resources of the federal government – money as well as brains – to accomplish the work of disability. And it was accomplished with such thoroughness and efficiency that its scale could be called the Accessibility-Industrial Complex had it been directed toward public accommodations and not solely the needs of a single man. Read FDR and the Hidden Work of Disability [MiT8 2013]
Shepard Fairey claimed that his posterization of a copyrighted AP news photo of Barack Obama was a transformative work protected by the fair use doctrine. In other words, it was a shape-shifter. I claim fair use, too, when I reproduce and transform copyrighted works into media formats that are accessible to me as a blind reader. Read Shape-Shifters in the Fair Use Lab [MiT6 2009]
The social engineers who created a system for licensing beggars in New York never imagined that a blind woman had culture or could make culture. She herself may not have imagined it, either. In the moment when Paul Strand photographed her surreptitiously on the street in 1916, he could not have expected that one day blind photographers would reverse the camera’s gaze. Read Curiosity & The Blind Photographer. [MiT5 2007]
Remix: Danger MouseWill DJ Danger Mouse become the Che Guevara of digital sampling? Consider the case for fair use made by The Grey Album.
Disability As PraxisI am a parent, homeowner, knowledge worker, and person with disabilities. Oppression is not my true word, but praxis is. In Paulo Freire’s transformative work, I find an affirmation deeper than ideology or political activism -- an affirmation of the dynamic role of disability in culture. I believe the daily praxis of making adaptations and negotiating accommodations represents a significant form of cultural production. Read Disability As Praxis.
ADA 20th AnniversaryOn its 20th anniversary, pundits will debate what the Americans with Disabilities Act has accomplished. I still believe what I said in a TV interview after the ADA signing ceremony in 1990. “The ADA will not end disability discrimination overnight. But in a nation governed by the rule of law, getting it in writing is the place to start.” So what is the ADA's legacy? A Generation of Problem-Solvers.