Really quick read since there's lots of action and the main character doesn't speak. There seems to be a lot of intravillage politics going on which i...moreReally quick read since there's lots of action and the main character doesn't speak. There seems to be a lot of intravillage politics going on which isn't particularly my thing. I'd be a bit more interested in the mechanics of how the robo-samurai works. The style of faces is pretty similar across characters, but otherwise I appreciate the artwork.(less)
**spoiler alert** Nice little read that will make you want to dig out the spray painting stencils.
I have a couple minor complaints: Science Jayne is...more**spoiler alert** Nice little read that will make you want to dig out the spray painting stencils.
I have a couple minor complaints: Science Jayne is clearly not written by a scientist, the main theme ("Art as salvation") gets pounded in on every single page (it's a great theme!... Let it breathe like a fine wine you can savour, don't keep slamming down shots. :P)
But overall it's fun, well drawn, and has a hopefulness for humanity, albeit a kinda emo one.
Things I especially enjoyed: [SPOILERS] * Hey look it's a slightly diverse set of main characters! * Although this is called "Janes in Love" there's much less focus on romance than I was expecting. Especially: * I very much liked how Main Jane and Damon's relationship is portrayed. They're never explicitly more than friends. Though Jane seems to want more, she also seems to make a confused peace with not getting it. Later, a different subtext is hinted at, but we do not get a big kiss scene or any dramatic confession. It's left open for interpretation and everyone seems okay with that! WHAT CRAZINESS! * Main Jane's parents relationship is a very interesting, and human, side plot(less)
There was a lot more history, and putting of things in historical context than I expected, and since so much of it is unfamiliar and doesn't apply to...moreThere was a lot more history, and putting of things in historical context than I expected, and since so much of it is unfamiliar and doesn't apply to me, I wasn't particularly interested in it. I was hoping for a bit more of an exploration of the principles and consequences of a Communist government/society.(less)
Sweet, just odd enough, hopeful. Not all of the ideas were the most original, and the dialogue was realistically simplistic - not a bad thing but not...moreSweet, just odd enough, hopeful. Not all of the ideas were the most original, and the dialogue was realistically simplistic - not a bad thing but not entrancing. Makes you want to appreciate the small things and cause just a little beautiful chaos. (less)
Very basic introductions to concepts introduced by His Dark Materials. Unfortunately the oversimplifications and analogies were frustrating (and somet...moreVery basic introductions to concepts introduced by His Dark Materials. Unfortunately the oversimplifications and analogies were frustrating (and sometimes misleading) for those interested in an in depth analysis. (less)
I read this book through Dailylit.com, and it was fairly well suited to the instalment format. Came across as a series of small essays, instead of a c...moreI read this book through Dailylit.com, and it was fairly well suited to the instalment format. Came across as a series of small essays, instead of a continuous thought.
Lessig was a decently pleasant narrator, although he relied a little too heavily on case studies and analogies for my preferences. I'd prefer broader descriptions of ideas and ideals, followed by case studies instead of introduced by them.
Near the end was a paragraph which crystallized my understanding of why I think the free culture movement might be a better idea than not. Creative and scientific works are an attempt at describing realities, even imaginary realities, and through utilizing, modifying, and expanding upon these things, reality is better and more richly defined, understood, and puzzled at. While this certainly isn't a sufficient argument, it is, to me, a compelling one. (less)
**spoiler alert** (Editorial note: When doing a bit of googling research on Mr. Grand for this review, it came to my attention that he lists his occup...more**spoiler alert** (Editorial note: When doing a bit of googling research on Mr. Grand for this review, it came to my attention that he lists his occupation as "Digital God" on his Cyberlife Research Profile page. While this hubris is initially prickly, it's, well, it's not far off kids.)
Back in the day when I was a young sprout, instead of a green branch, I found a game called Creatures which was OMG available for the mac. My sister and I scrimped and saved, and together with a donation from my mother (in money as well as computer timespace) we got to play it. It was groundbreaking, in ways I was too young to understand, though as I grew up with the game a bit, I came to be more and more dazzled by it. Drawn into it.
Creatures is an Artificial Life game. There's a world, Albia, 2 dimensional, with plants both dangerous and helpful, buildings, toys, underground tunnels, learning machines, and of course, creatures. Fuzzy lil' rabbit/squirrel/primate looking things are norns, the main species of the game. Can they be called a species? Oh wow, the implications! Grendels, big scaly green guys are the other species, though they are much rarer. Only one exists in the world at any time. New species were introduced in later versions, but, I'm only familiar with the first. And it's impressive enough.
Norns can be male or female. They age, eat, they get sick, they can breed, they "learn a language" (not true learning) but actually learn how to behave through positive and negative reinforcement (tickling and spanking, XD), and concept, and verb neurons in an artificial neural network. But really cool thing? They have genes coding for all this stuff (as well as mundane things like physical appearance). Ones and zeros like so many nucleotides coding for behaviours, immune systems, aging rates, and, if you're charitable, intelligence. These genes get passed onto their offspring. Just to make it even more fun, the genes can mutate. Just to make it even more cool, you can open up the digital DNA of a norn, and edit it. My 12 year old self was opening up hexadecimal files, to create norns that would be effectively immortal (remove aging sequence here!) or really dark blue (paste in 000080 there) or super-fertile, though I don't think I ever neutered one. I was a pre-pubescent genetic engineer.
Another electronic community rose up around the one of Norns and Grendels. The users. People playing around on the computer were suddenly inspired to be hackers, graphic artists, breeders, and world-creators. Each Creature is exported to a file which can then be traded. People started doing interesting things. Genetically engineer norns to avoid incest. Make zombie norns with a constant "life force" of 0% but still be quite alive. Breed for backwards walking norns. Create masochistic norns, who would feel rewarded when spanked, and punished when tickled. "Wolfling runs" were popular. Start a new world, throw a mish-mash of norns in and leave it without human interference for an epoch or three. See what evolves.
Steve Grand was the lead programmer of Creatures, and the latter half of Creation is a generalized description of how he did it. The first half of the book is an introduction to the concepts he considered and used in doing it. Interestingly, he did not take a reductionistic approach to creating artificial life. Instead he worked from the bottom up, creating simulations of smaller structures, then throwing them together. They worked almost "like magic" because the higher-level processes he was trying to simulate were emergent phenomena. He does a decent job of outlining his use of such topics as
* emergent phenomena * consciousness as such * feedback systems * ways of playing with information: transducers, differentiators, integrators, etc. in biology (or simulations of biology)
His explanations are nice, in that they build in complexity. Starting off easy enough for the layman to understand, and become more and more layered. He makes ample use of easy to understand analogies but do to the pop-nature of the book, he doesn't have much room to expand upon the implications of the subjects he touches on. But it is enough to intrigue.
The second fraction of the book is a more concrete description of the step-by-step processes involved in actually creating the creatures for the game. There is not much in the way of hard how to computer programming instructions, though I expect that if one were a good programmer, the general description would be easily converted to code behind their purple pupils, and for the non-techno-whiz, it's accessible. We just get to understand that the mysterious code monkeys will somehow translate. We suspect magic, or perhaps cocaine, but they'll do it and make it show up on our screens, god love 'em.
This combined with peeking over the shoulder of a programmer, having a small amount of knowledge myself, and the obvious occupational benefits has convinced me that I really must learn to seriously program.
One stylistic note: Steve Grand apparently lives in some beautiful section of England. This is great, and all Steve-o, but starting every third paragraph with describing what you see out your front door, and then turning it into an analogy or example is not a fantastic writing device. The seventh time.(less)