A single-celled slime mold (physarum polycephalum) can solve mazes, mimic the layout of man-made transportation networks and choose the healthiest food from a diverse menu – and all this without a brain or nervous system:
Lesson: deploy resources efficiently – really smart solutions often arise naturally, yet knowing what’s best still requires lots of prior research. But hey, if a slime mold can do it…
Scientists have created an artificial jellyfish using silicone and muscle cells from a rat’s heart. The synthetic creature, dubbed a medusoid, looks like a flower with eight petals. When placed in an electric field, it pulses and swims exactly like its living counterpart:
Lesson: even the most difficult concept can be somehow ‘brought to life’ – be it in a new context, through the addition of a couple of key ingredients, or sheer appliance of science!
Airborne, a potentially disruptive start-up in the music sector, hopes to “cure the music industry of its sickness” with their upcoming launch.
Their cloud-based music sharing platform places fans and artists in direct symbiosis. It’s an interesting model, so take a look:
Beyond all the virus metaphors (they even go so far as to call songs ‘strains’) the core idea is quite simple:
Cut out traditional distributors
Enable artists to monetise via a system of micropayments
Give fans distribution rights instead, and empower them to share as much as possible, thus helping to secure further micropayments
It’s a model that I think could work particularly well for electronic music, whose artists tend to release one track or remix at a time, as opposed to a band who might release one album a year. Airborne will work best when artists can trickle content to their audience to keep them subscribed.
Looking on SoundCloud, my current favourite producer/DJ has 3,934 followers, which would net $3,934 per month on Airborne. Give those early adopting, high-class listeners some viral functionality and the impetus to share with friends and that figure could easily grow to $10,000/month – a healthy supplement to any unsigned musician, I’m sure you’ll agree.
New ideas can come from anywhere, but are often hardest to find when you’re actually looking for them. However, I believe it’s possible to jumpstart your brain, even under pressure, by applying yourself to a bit of divergent thinking:
Divergent thinking typically occurs in a spontaneous, free-flowing manner, such that many ideas are generated in an emergent cognitive fashion. Many possible solutions are explored in a short amount of time, and unexpected connections are drawn. After the process of divergent thinking has been completed, ideas and information are organized and structured using convergent thinking.
Finally, and it may take more time for ideas to emerge this way, but TED really is an amazing resource for this kind of thing. I recently attended TEDxObserver, after which my head was swimming with ideas.
How to Build a Memory Palace – wikiHow –
Instructions to create your own memory palace: a useful and widely used mnemonic system. Use this to build a place or series of places in your mind where you can store information that you need to remember.
I’ve been in touch with a really interesting bloke called Richard Altman. He’s what I’d call a Digital Activist – in that his strongly opinionated views challenge normative behaviour, and have the potential to cause others to reconsider that which we take for granted. His area of interest: the Web and it’s governance.
I’ll be sharing some of his thoughts in an upcoming post, but for today, we’ll be exploring some of his filmmaking work. Altman and I share a passion for the work of Marshall McLuhan, and he’s made a short series of thought-provoking films that assess many of his ideas: a perfect jumping off point for those not yet acquainted with the great man.
Be forewarned: these videos aren’t exactly lean-back viewing. Altman has developed a unique presentation style that fuses blazing imagery, dubbed-audio and staccato editing into what would be described as an audiovisual bricolage.
The effect of watching each video is quite close to McLuhan’s own ‘braindump’ writing style, in which he didn’t expound mere theories, but developed probes – aphorisms designed to to stimulate curiosity about one’s subject or environment. This allowed McLuhan, as it does for Altman, to be far less committal in the work presented, yet to encourage the reader/viewer to make up their own mind about what they’ve just experienced.
Try these out, and let me know what you think:
Part 1 – Acoustically Visual
Part 2 – Linear Tactility (nsfw)
Part 3 – Painting the Invisible
I have an interview with Richard scheduled for publication, so check back in the next few days to read an explanation of the themes and ideas herein, that is, if you’re still left scratching your head!