Tag Archives: creative

Science and fiction – The Human Genre Project

The Human Genre Project

is a collection of new writing in very short forms — short stories, flash fictions, reflections, poems — inspired by genes and genomics.

Starting with just a few pieces at its launch in July 2009, the collection will grow and develop over time.

The Human Genre Project is an initiative of the ESRC Genomics Policy and Research Forum, part of the ESRC Genomics Network, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and based at The University of Edinburgh.

Wow. Creative writing inspired by science. I love the overlap in disciplines; it would be good to enable more of this at school, where subjects seem to live in separate worlds, as if life were cut up into mutually exclusive areas.

genome

The main page shows 24 different chromosomes: 22 autosomes, which are numbered, and two sex chromosomes, labelled as X and Y.

Here’s the unusual part – when you click on a chromosome, you get the title which takes you to the creative writing piece. This example links from chromosome #8:

The WRN gene on chromosome 8 is responsible for Werner syndrome, which causes premature ageing.

My hair goes grey and falls out, my teeth yellow and decay, brown spots bloom on my skin. I’m thirty-six years old. My world is a room, and a view of the sea beyond it.

I’ve been told that there’s something wrong with me. But I know my physics. I know that in this universe there has to be decay and disorder. I’m normal. I’m entropy.

I try to sip tea but my clawed fingers let the cup fall to the floor. Liquid spills out from its shattered remains and soaks into the carpet.

What I don’t understand is why the rest of them never change. My twin brother could be my son. His teeth are white and even, his hair is as glossy as ever. His skin always has a rosy blush. He comes here regularly to tell me about life outside my room. Life with other people, other women. There seem to be many women. Or perhaps it’s just tales.

But as I sit listening to him and his stories, I realise how they do it. While I stay here, they’re all travelling around. Einstein had a theory about twins; one sits in his small room, watching the sea, and the other zooms to the stars. As he accelerates to the speed of light, time slows down for him, so when he gets back he’s younger than his stay-at-home brother.

I ask my brother, “Where did you park your rocket ship?” I look outside, “I can’t see it.”

The rocket ship looked like a bicycle, but apparently it worked very well, and my brother frequently made trips to the centre of our galaxy.

“I got rid of it,” he replies, “I replaced it with a quantum teleporter. They’re all the rage now.”

All I can see out of the window is a little red car. “That’s it,” he says. “The women like it.” And sure enough a woman gets out of the car and waves at us.

This was written by Pippa Goldschmidt inspired by chromosome 8.

The WRN gene on chromosome 8 is responsible for Werner syndrome, which causes premature ageing.

My hair goes grey and falls out, my teeth yellow and decay, brown spots bloom on my skin. I’m thirty-six years old. My world is a room, and a view of the sea beyond it.

I’ve been told that there’s something wrong with me. But I know my physics. I know that in this universe there has to be decay and disorder. I’m normal. I’m entropy.

I try to sip tea but my clawed fingers let the cup fall to the floor. Liquid spills out from its shattered remains and soaks into the carpet.

What I don’t understand is why the rest of them never change. My twin brother could be my son. His teeth are white and even, his hair is as glossy as ever. His skin always has a rosy blush. He comes here regularly to tell me about life outside my room. Life with other people, other women. There seem to be many women. Or perhaps it’s just tales.

But as I sit listening to him and his stories, I realise how they do it. While I stay here, they’re all travelling around. Einstein had a theory about twins; one sits in his small room, watching the sea, and the other zooms to the stars. As he accelerates to the speed of light, time slows down for him, so when he gets back he’s younger than his stay-at-home brother.

I ask my brother, “Where did you park your rocket ship?” I look outside, “I can’t see it.”

The rocket ship looked like a bicycle, but apparently it worked very well, and my brother frequently made trips to the centre of our galaxy.

“I got rid of it,” he replies, “I replaced it with a quantum teleporter. They’re all the rage now.”

All I can see out of the window is a little red car. “That’s it,” he says. “The women like it.” And sure enough a woman gets out of the car and waves at us.

Pippa Goldschmidt is Writer in Residence at the Genomics Forum. I’ve mentioned Pippa in an earlier post; her writing is often inspired by science.

Chromosome 11 leads to a piece called Photophobia,

an eye disorder in which the iris is partially or completely missing. A person with aniridia frequently has photophobia (sensitivity to light). The mutation is in the PAX6 gene on chromosome 11.

The telomeric tale of the mouse’s tail (chromosome X) is a shape poem.

chromosome

You can find the original painting/collage here and it looks like this:

mousetale

Still in progress, this is a fascinating project, demonstrating the possibilities in the union between science and art.

If you like this, have a look at what inspired it: Michael Swanwick’s Periodic Table of Science Fiction.

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Filed under 21st century learning, creativity, Interesting, poetry

Flickr – take a closer look

I use Flickr to upload my photos, when I need images, and to share photos and the stories behind these photos in groups.

Today I went for a walk around other parts of Flickr. Here’s what I saw.

I scrolled down to the bottom of the Flickr homepage and clicked on ‘Explore’. Here’s what I found.

This photo is from M_Jose’s photostream, and comes with a caption:

Sometimes (always), we “need” (no must) to stop and look inside (it is an option not an obligation)

Flickr explains the ‘explore’ option:

Flickr labs have been hard at work creating a way to show you some of the most awesome content on Flickr.

We like to call it interestingness.

What’s ‘interestingness’?

There are lots of elements that make something ‘interesting’ (or not) on Flickr. Where the clickthroughs are coming from; who comments on it and when; who marks it as a favorite; its tags and many more things which are constantly changing. Interestingness changes over time, as more and more fantastic content and stories are added to Flickr.

To explore, you can choose a month of selected flickr photos; here’s an example:

calendarflickr

When you click on one of these photos, you get to see more interesting photos for this day

jan1calendar2

 

You can also explore many geo-tagged photos, for example, I chose Manchu Pichu, Peru

geotagged

I picked Machu Picchu terraces from Stut’s photostream

An amazing photo of extraordinary detail. The rest of the photostream turned out to be just as impressive. Some people are very talented, not to mention lucky to be able to travel.

There are tutorials on how to explore, how to geotag your own photostream, or you can do a location search on geotagged photos.

Why not explore the map of the world? I entered ‘mosaic’ in the search box of the map of the world and got this

mosaicworldmap1

Great find for art classes! There were so many interesting results. Here’s one of them:

It’s from Nir Toba’s photostream. Fascinating to read about the photo.

All the photos in one layout.
It took about 15 hours, in 2 sessions, and every letter had about
30-50 takes until i got i right (and lot’s of gasoline!).

This is a part of my portfolio for graphic design school,
& if you we’re wondering: yes, these are real photos, not photoshop… 🙂

I also looked at the church of St George, Oplenac, Serbia by Katarina 2353

Interesting to note that the photo belongs to several photo sets that are also worth exploring (it never stops!): Serbia(Belgrade), religion and mythology, Balkans, and architecture. I love the information that’s included with the photo:

The church of St. George and the mausoleum of the Karađorđević dynasty was built at the top of Mali Oplenac (Little Oplenac). King Petar I decided to build a church and a mausoleum for both his ancestors and descendants to fulfil a wish of his parents buried in Vienna.
The church is covered with white marble from nearby Venčac mine. Interior is covered in mosaics, with more than 6 million pieces.

What’s also interesting is the interpretation of ‘mosaic’. This lends itself easily to various possibilities in art or English lessons. Compare the previous images for ‘mosaic’ to this one by Lucy Nieto

This belongs to a set ‘mosaicos de fotos’ which is an amazing page of colour and design

mosaicosdefotos

Here’s yet another interpretation of ‘mosaic’ by Katarina 2353

I could go on forever, but the trouble with that would be that forever is a very long time. And the Flickr site is always changing. Every time I reload a page, a different photo is showing. I think the post is getting too long, so I’ll hurry up my last observations. Other ways of exploring include popular tags, flickr blog, most recent uploads, and more. The camera finder  page checks out the most popular brands of cameras used.

camerafinder1

Why not look at the sitemap to get a comprehensive view of what’s out there. I know that I haven’t explored every aspect of Flickr, but I’m tired now, so I’ll leave the rest of the exploration to you.

Don’t forget to let me know what you find.

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Filed under art, creativity, flickr, photos, teaching, Web 2.0

PicLits

piclit-1

I thought I’d try out PicLits: inspired picture writing.

PicLits.com is a creative writing site that matches beautiful images with carefully selected keywords in order to inspire you. The object is to put the right words in the right place and the right order to capture the essence, story, and meaning of the picture.

I wasn’t that pleased with my first effort, so I tried another one.

piclit2

Well, unless I’ve missed something, the list of words is limited. Then again, I haven’t read the instructions, just had a go.  I think there’s something to be said for adding text to a picture from a limited supply. The challenge is to work with what you’ve got, thinking about the position of the words, whether you want a sparse message or story, or whether you want a more crowded and descriptive text. 

Definitely much to play with either in English, foreign language or English as a Second Language classes.

I almost forgot to thank Tom Barrett for this application, and if you go to this post you’ll find 9 other digital writing opportunities.

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Filed under art, creativity, language, photos, play, technology, Web 2.0, writing

Confessions of an online junkie

In leaving a comment in a discussion about the balancing act between actual life and online life, I quoted Lauren O’Grady in her blogpost “Hyperconnection!! Arggh this changes everything.. for me anyway” where she talks about a time when a friend made her realise how much her hyperconnectedness was affecting her relationships with family and friends. She also talks about Ariel Meadow Stallings whose addiction to the internet you can read about in her blog. After going to a workshop about finding balance between technology and soul, Ariel decided to unplug one night a week for a year – and then blogged about it (as one does). Her blog includes a video of her 52 nights unplugged on the Today Show. Kind of ironic. Like compensating for internet abstinence by embedding the experience online. Online therapy, if you will.

I have to admit that, since plugging in, my life has also been undeniably affected. I go to bed later, am less fastidious about housework, rarely bake, read less fiction, and never answer the phone! And I’ve started to develop some disturbing habits; I find myself scuttling furtively from blog to Twitter to Facebook to gmail to internet, and so on. And at the end of the day (well, yes, it’s already the next day by then) I find it almost impossible to disconnect cleanly, at least not without a final few rounds of furtive scuttling. Now I ask you – should I be looking at therapy?

I could justify my dependence on being online by saying that there is so much online that is interesting and important for my professional and personal development, but then I would only be saying a half-truth. Not everything I read online is absolutely essential; there are too many tempting forks in the road, and not so much forks as capillaries branching out like fractals. That’s why the question of balance is, for me, an important one while I still have my husband with me, and while I can still get out of the chair. I know I have to do something about it, but I don’t know what. And if anyone says moderation, let me say that I know that I should only eat chocolate in moderation, but how??

Stephen Downes, in his Seven habits of highly connected people, suggests that we should stop wasting time in order to make way for meaningful online time. Surprisingly, he includes in his definition of time-wasting such things as reading and telephone conversations. I had to re-read the paragraph about ‘connection’ a few times to make sure he wasn’t being facetious. I don’t think he was. We should be careful with our definition of what is a waste of time. There are always unproductive periods or times that could be labelled as time-wasting. But these times are hardly insidious. They might be essential for germinating ideas. Creative people – artists, musicians and writers – are not being productive all the time. We all have our ‘down time’, and I’m certain that this is some sort of ‘pause’ mechanism which gives us the break we all need. A reflecting time, a processing time, a human time….

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Filed under internet, Web 2.0

Starry starry night

Skoolaborate put me onto this video by a young film maker, Robbie Dingo. The author of this blog uses this example to illustrate the learning potential of virtual worlds. He lists learning areas, such as maths, geography and problem solving that are demonstrated in the creation of this short and creative film.

Still browsing in my search for clarity and understanding of the purpose and potential of virtual worlds. What do you think?

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Filed under Web 2.0