January 2007

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OmniShrine Wiki

Using the wonderful tools available over at WetPaint, I have now set up the OmniShrine Wiki
For years I’ve had a post here about Omni Magazine, something I used to love to read when I was growing up. Over those years, many people have added comments on that post, explaining particular stories or art they had enjoyed, asking if people remembered or had available particular issues or excerpts, and even offering back-issues for sale. Since then I nicknamed it the Omni Magazine Shrine.
But nobody ever answers those comments because it’s not set up for discussion or sharing, just commenting. So I figured I’d make a community spot for people to share. Who knows, it could turn into something?
Do you have a personal remembrance about the magazine in general? A question? A topic to discuss? Maybe you have a favorite story, article or illustration you want to share with others or ask about? Go for it.

The folks at Panic Software have a wonderful story up that, although it’s long, is really worth the read. It brings back memories of that heady period when everything seemed like a mystery over the horizon, when we felt like we could do *anything*. It has the “startup” story, the references to stuff that Mac users from the period will certainly remember and may have already forgotten, and some great insights about design.

Panic – Extras – The True Story of Audion

Audion, for Mac users of 1999-2001 or so, the MP3 player of choice. At least, among those of us who loved beautiful things on our desktops. It was Mac-like, through and through, with lovely attention to detail.

But when iTunes hit, it changed everything. As explained here:

iTunes was, of course, and I’ll say this now, brilliant. It single-handedly taught us an entirely new philosophy on software design. Do you really need that Preference that 1% of your users will use? Can you find a better way to design that interface than having each function in a separate window? Can you clean this up, even if it means it’s a little less flexible? iTunes blazed the trail for clean, efficient software design for a broad audience, a design philosophy we practice actively today. It was a way to take a complicated digital music collection, and make it easy. Sure, it was limited, but man was it easy.

I think we’re all still trying to learn this.

I love 5-string banjo. I wish I knew how to play it … maybe one day I’ll muster the patience and discipline to learn. But in the meantime, I can listen to unbelievably cool stuff like this. I can’t quite explain how happy I am to hear Steve Martin picking again … his albums where he did both the jokes and the banjo were always my favorite.

NPR : Tony Trischka Has More Than One Banjo on His Knee

Trischka’s new album, Double Banjo Bluegrass Spectacular, is billed as an “acoustic bluegrass homecoming.” Each song features a banjo duet. The list of guest musicians includes such banjo biggies as Earl Scruggs, Bela Fleck, Steve Martin (yes, the movie star) and Alison Brown.

In a study much like the famous Milgram experiments (where people administered shocks to others behind a partition, in accordance to an authoritative direction), they’re finding that people have high empathic response to avatars (like those in Second Life) even when they know they aren’t real.

Research findings:

Our results show that in spite of the fact that all participants knew for sure that neither the stranger nor the shocks were real, the participants who saw and heard her tended to respond to the situation at the subjective, behavioural and physiological levels as if it were real. This result reopens the door to direct empirical studies of obedience and related extreme social situations, an area of research that is otherwise not open to experimental study for ethical reasons, through the employment of virtual environments.