The PR Connection podcast – Preparing for the 9th episode

I was talking to Alan, only a few days ago, for our infrequent conversations that get upgraded as episodes of our podcast The Puerto Rico Connection. In this case our conversation took longer than usual, and I was pleasantly immersed in something I don’t usually do on the phone–at least, not since I was in my twenties–talking. The conversation was nice and as you can expect, very friendly. Alan was recording most of it, so he will have to cut the tape short if we want to stay within our self-imposed (but hardly enforced) rule of the twenty-minute episodes (and avoid some idiocy I said for sure).

We were talking first about a scheme to share and store some links that each of us deemed appropriate for episode discussion. He says potahtoes, I say potatoes, you know. We both love social bookmarking (we are archetypes from the long-gone Web era–before people called the Web, Internet) and Alan uses Pinboard while I shifted from del.icio.us to diigo when the need, unfortunately, arose. How to share socially links commonly tagged with the two platforms? [Simple solution, I could switch to pinboard or viceversa, but we don’t like simple solutions]. Well, Alan pushes his own links automagically to diigo with a simple IFTTT recipe (read: algorithm, program). So, we have a number of links on diigo, but we knew diigo would not allow to search for global tags, so the only option seemed to form a group, which would be cumbersome and not really open. Now, for an assignment at a class I teach (New Media, inf115), my students are building a distributed and shared DB and we just discovered that diigo actually supports global shared tags, even though it does not advertise it. So, a link does the trick:

`http://diigo.com/tag/prcon` gives all the links we both publish on diigo. But this is not all: diigo also (again, without advertising it) publishes an RSS feed out of the global tags’ view. Ipso facto, Alan posted a widget with those links on the podcast’s blog prconnection.cogdog.casa. He surely used a widget (or shortcode) to push the links onto the page. But the links carry no description. After trying oput a couple of iterations with IFTTT and other semi-autometed machinery, we sort of settled to simply copy & paste the diigo links with the descriptions. Have to say that with the right add-on in the browser (in this case I used Want My Rss, since  it conserves the links’ descriptions) it works well enough. See the next post for a proof of concept.

Alan also suggested we add annotations (provided by the wonderful Hypothes.is) to the links page, so we (and others) may add feedback and ideas directly connected to a link or text passage. Grand ambitions, aren’t they. But it’s nice to think this way. See the proof of concept in next post for this.

Once this was settled, instead of talking about links that none of us had read beforehand, Alan sort of began talking about the first black hole image that originated from a concerted effort of some 200 scientists from all over the world.

And I got hooked on a quest for singularities. I’m spoiling a little from the episode, but suffice it to say we talked about the black hole:

Image from NASA

The singular question: is this a photo of a black hole? Because in my vocabulary, it ain’t, given the level of information processing from pure data reversed onto pixels. Still, a great image about one of the most unknown object in the world-wide universe. Hahaha, love  silly jokes.

A couple of days earlier I saw an Alan-made animated GIF that is so genius you have to see it now,

So I got an idea: what if we push to the limit our constraint of 20-minute episodes? We’d certainly be able (albeit with some difficulty) to begin and close a 2-minute episode, and (with more difficulty) a 0.2-minute one, or a 0.02 episode. But, could we even think about a 0-total-time episode??

It won’t be a singularity, but a simple zero point. Like a line collapsing, to the limit, to just one point. Some starting point, isn’t it? And, talking about zero, nothing, nada, look at Heidegger:

[Featured image: Sucking Eric Cartman GIF by South Park. Giphy.com]

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Springtime Questions?

I have been working pretty hard these weeks on my classes. Almost all feature a syndication hub built within a WordPress-based  Web portal. I’m talking inf103.com (Computing fundamentals) and inf115.com (New Media and social networks) [both in Spanish]. Plus I’m doing a Web Content Management course where, you guessed it, my students opted to create accounts with our friendly reclaimers at Reclaim Hosting and start building web portals quickly. By the way, the constant thinking on those courses has me by the jugular and I loose appetite about blogging… but here I am.

Now, sooner or later a number of questions and issues come to mind. Lately, I have forced me to put down such questions of paper (in a list, of course). I love lists (Umberto Eco said lists protect us from death.) Whom am I going to pose such questions to?

Well, a certain friend who’s been living in the northern lands has the habit of conversing with me periodically and record such mundane exchanges through the podcast technology. Now, he even set up our own podcast to have its own Puerto Rico Connection casa and its presence in the iTunes store. Problem is, I am lazy and haven’t even talked about setting up a date for our next episode (the latest being from January).

So, dear Alan, shall we? Fact is that I still have a problem with the comments here, and haven’t worked it out yet, so you won’t be probably able to respond here. But nevertheless, I have a series of questions that claim a conversation. And, like you say, we have this podcast as an excuse to talk together.

The questions I’d like to discuss, on or off the air, are–and here cometh a full-fledged numbered list:

  1. Should we increase a bit the frequency of our episodes? And stick to the famed, no-rational-given 20-minute rule?
  2. Would you do a little presentation of SPLOTs for my inf115 class?
  3. We just begun the Una foto cada día fest. Want to participate?
  4. Want to talk regarding the class’s official Instagram account being wiped out because it didn’t follow regulations?
  5. I am eager to read on occasion Medium publications and articles. Is it worth the price? I mean, if we go on this way, navigating the Web will resemble supermarket browsing.

This questions are meant to be pondered about, no matter how naive they may be, by me and my aliases and friends. Who dares?

[Featured image: Springtime in Saskatchewan, Flickr photo by Alan Levine, published in the Public Domain.]

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Posting from Evernote [via Zapier] & some a-maze-ing women painted by Sofia Bonati

[This is a post that originates from Evernote. I take note of something, then push it to an Evernote notebook. Later, an engine by Zapier [sort of like IfTTT] pushes the new stuff to this blog as a draft. Finally, I edit the resulting masterpiece. I love automated soulless machinery.]

Mazes, who doesn’t love them? Here are a few of Sofia Bonati’s amazing ladies-with mazes and other patterns.

For the past couple of years, Sofia Bonati has been drawing intricate portraits of women against a backdrop of mazes and floral patterns. […] “There are definitely elements in my work that naturally relate to feminism. The portraits I draw reflect the complexity and power of women.”

From The Guardian, Sat 30 Dec 2017

 

So this is an interesting things that’s happening with artists and photographers everywhere, who are using digital tech to make new forms of art (or of their art). Many also use Instagram and the Web to showcase and share their work.

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Love in the time of human networks

This story has had some impact on me, both because of its grand love and its humility. It is a grand love story since it is the story of the love affaire  of a past president of France, François Mitterrand, a very formidable, powerful politician and married man. The affaire happens with a 20-year-old girl, Anne Pingeot, an art history student 27 years his junior. Nothing new under the sky, one would say. But the fact is that this story would stop only many years later, at Mitterrand’s death. I was instantly touched by the long-lasting, secret relationship, and by the possible silent “complicity” of his own wife. Woman in the shadow for long, Anne gave also birth to a daughter who just recently came to bear her father’s last name. Mitterrand saw Anne often, and they were in love until his last days, for 40 years. “Anne, mon amour”, he wrote at the beginning. And later, “Anne chérie”,  “Nannour”, “Animour”, “Nannon aimée”.

“Journal pour Anne” by François Mitterrand (Gallimard)

They lived almost together for a while, in Paris and the South of France. Strange thing, to maintain secret a story under the nose of everybody, including the press and the political enemies. That was, in France, a private matter of the heart between two persons, lies and secrets notwithstanding, and so be it. And sure, there were no CNN nor social networks then! One could think of John Kennedy, but he was nowhere close to have had a full, secret and long love story like his French counterpart. In other places such a thing would perhaps have triggered a puritan reaction of questions, eye rolling and more lies and an impeachment request. Nor the time is anything like the present, when a woman in Anne’s position would not stay silent and possibly see the whole story with very different eyes.

I like the humility of Anne, and the utmost fidelity of this man who was a womanizer. Why did she never claim anything? How did she come to accept the whole situation? I am enthralled by her silence, without knowing anything else–I am surely elaborating from my own imagination, here.) What were they quarreling about when they did so?

How do I know this? The letters between Mitterrand and Anne have been published in France and I read an article on such a publication. Plus, there is a “Diary for Anne {Amazon link]” from the very Mitterrand, which contained poems (“Why Anne is to be loved”) and collages from newspapers, in addition to diary entries. “I met you and at once I knew I’d be leaving for a long voyage.”

While Anne, once curator for sculpture at the Louvre, still lives in the shadow. She gave the materials to the editor, but wanted nor sought book presentations or conferences. She who was a second wife, practically. Chapeau, Anne!

 

 

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The hard Puerto Rican winter, a Podcast, the Web’s alchemy and some Italian Cinema

A new year is on and my new semester has already begun. Actually, I have already two posts to show for 2019. My school-is-finished laziness comes after many classes and seminars and meetings around the semester, plus a lot that I demand of myself, like writing, keeping track of things, publishing, and so on. Well, this winter –brrr, the hard Puerto Rican winter has arrived– I have felt a lot more like letting go of everything, except of course, being with my two daughters (actually, taxiing them all around!) and Hilda at home. Making pizza was a great threshold passed. I always suffered the make-pizza-with-recipe-at-hand syndrome, and I always felt like I wasn’t up to the task. I let go and began feeling the flour and water, and kneading and everything. I got actually a couple of good white pizze bianche with just rosemary and oil.

Welcome 2019: I want to take this space now to talk about two things, one from the recent past of 2018 and another from a few days ago. I’m referring to

  1. The “special” course of “Italian culture and cinema” I offered this past semester; and
  2. The podcast Alan Levine and I are doing (The Puerto Rico Connection, albeit without Gene Hackman).

The second item goes first, because Alan surprised me (as he often does) with his post of the latest episode (#8, Baby, It’s Cold!) While I was meditating in the warm and cozy San Juan area, he was (in t-shirt) composing the most creative and generous compilation of the things we talked about in the episode. Previously, he had found and set up an AWS space to host the episodes, a WordPress plugin to post each episode natively in WP generating an RSS feed and then he accommodated everything under the roof he set as prconnection.cogdog.casa. Love how he acquires internet domains and makes of them his own home. Digital identity, anyone?

Alan wrote at length about my keynote of November 30th, and he managed kindly to publish the presentation before I did it myself (which is–hmm not yet!) Well, I felt so grateful and he did it so elegantly. Look at his elaboration of Sagrado’s main building under the polar cold striking my office there! Wunderbar!

[Image by Alan Levine @cogdog. Elaboration: “a cover image from the The Day After Tomorrow with images of the classic building at Universidad Sagrado Corázon and the campus gates found on their YouTube Channel.”]

Now, check his t-shirt, like he wasn’t living in the freezing North!

And also, notice the symbolic nuanced quasi-Cartesian motto on his shirt,

Annoto, Ergo Sum

pointing to his and my own interest for open Web annotations (and the best tool to do and share that, Hypothes.is). Well, this reminds me a dear friend who, changed the original refrain by Descartes into Cogito, Ergo Zoom.

How great it was to share with Alan the moment when we discovered the Web, and raised our eys from Gopher up to Mosaic. I felt a new world upon me, I was ecstatic (without the drug), and it was 1991-92 and I know his experience exactly matched mine. He wrote…

Discovering the NCSA;s Beginners Guide To HTML (which sadly you cannot even find from NCSA anymore, try http://obswww.unige.ch/~blecha/doc/primer.html) launched me on the path I am still on.

Which reminds me of all the legacy sites and documents developed over decades which now are lost or –sometimes– rescued at the Internet Archive.

Alan tells that I like to show

the legal document in April 1993 when CERN put the web technologies in the public domain, “a mind blowing moment in internet history” at the same time when the US released the internet IP protocols into the public domain.

BTW, he researched and joined the two events together, IP and Web techs, and the date of the two being released in the public domain is the same!! I say often to my students: No way corporate entities would ever do this, and the Web and IP protocols were the effect of public expenditures, in America and Europe. Amen. And this brings me to the magic the Web creates and shares, if one embraces it. That’s the wondrous alchemy, so much in decadence in these times and which we ought to defend and protect like Sir Lancelot and his Knights did with the Grail. Or like Alan is doing with his digital alchemy course project named Arganee World (suggestively housed at arganee.world and the Alchemy Lab, where

the twitter bots our NetNarr students created in 2017 that are still chattering away.

Magic!

No doubt our latest was a great episode and a great conversation. I do invite all to go and listen to the full podcast, at The Puerto Rico Connection: Episode 8: Baby, It’s Cold!

And thanks, Alan!!

Of course, I will write about the keynote itself, which I enjoyed so much at UPR Aguadilla and about it I only have to say I’m sorry not to post it sooner. My mom would say, please don’t shed any crocodile’s tears.

The second thing I’d love to write here, now, is about my Italian culture and cinema course that so pleasure has given me (and my students, excuse the modesty).

I set up a little hub for this, and instead of syndication, I opened an account for each of the students (some 15, not too many). The hub is at cineitalia.netedu.info, and you can see how much fun I had when setting it up.

The beauty though, comes from all the small pieces loosely joined the students produced: presentation-reviews of each movie, plus GIF’s. The GIF showcases as the perfect medium for this sort of endeavor, where you want students to feel inspired and express their impression from a film. Well, here they are, a little  from each movie. But first, one note: Many watched a foreign-language feature for the first time and all they were very impressed and happy with that!! Awesome for me, who had not anticipated this kind of effect beforehand. Some comments were also quite exceptional. I’ll never forget the guy who said to me, after watching, Rome Open City: “This is the saddest film I have ever seen”. True, definitively, for many, including me. Also, it gives a real sense of what a military occupation actually feels like, which comes as an added bonus for these times.

L'Avventura

L’Avventura

L'Avventura

L’Avventura

L’Avventura is probably my favorite of the series, if you ask.

Roma Città Aperta

Roma Città Aperta

Ladri di biciclette

Ladri di biciclette

Then came Halloween

Profondo Rosso

Profondo Rosso

Profondo Rosso

Profondo Rosso

Gomorra

Gomorra

La Grande Bellezza

La Grande Bellezza

 

Pane e cioccolata

Pane e cioccolata

 

Nuovo Cinema Paradiso

Nuovo Cinema Paradiso

And a few others. It was an amazing experience, both because it was completely new to me and I felt like giving a tribute to my beloved cinema. We talked a lot about Italy and her food, geography, the cities and places to go to, the particular features of the culture, arts, and idiosyncrasies. Go see the site to enjoy all the rest the students produced!

I enjoyed so much sharing these films with my students, that I will repeat the course in August.

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