Archive for January, 2012

Yale Art History Professor reduces class size because of WiFi

January 31, 2012

Normally, Professor Alexander Nemerov’s popular course “Introduction to the History of Art: Renaissance to the Present” attracts crowds of 500 students. Now, his classes are capped at 270. Why? Nemerov wanted a classroom where students don’t have access to WiFi and can’t surf the internet. “In the past many students in the lecture were doing Facebook or email or all kinds of things on their computers,” Nemerov said. “So for me it’s better if there’s a room where that is not possible, and one of the unfortunate effects of that is that I have to limit the enrollment of the class to the capacity of the auditorium.”

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Eastman Kodak files for bankruptcy

January 31, 2012

Eastman Kodak, the company that invented the hand-held camera, filed for bankruptcy on January 19. The Chapter 11 filing provides Kodak with an opportunity to restructure its operation and maximize the value of its digital patents (1,100 in all) which are used in virtually every modern digital camera, smartphone and tablet. The company said that it had about $5.1 billion in assets and nearly $6.8 billion in debts.
This is also another huge hit for the town of Rochester where Kodak has been based for most of its 132 years and has been central to the city’s economy.
To read more: “Eastman Kodak Files for Bankruptcy,” New York Times; “Eastman Kodak’s bancruptcy filing gives workers, retirees and investors the jitters,” Washington Post; “Eastman Kodak files for bankruptcy,” Christian Science Monitor, and the Eastman Kodak’s press release

NYPL’s new Stereogranimator

January 31, 2012

The New York Public Library has just released a new tool — the Stereogranimatorthat can transform historical stereographs into shareable 3D web formats. Stereoscopic photography recreates the illusion of depth by presenting two offset images separately to the left and right eye of the viewer. The 2D images are merged in the brain, creating the perception of 3D depth. The Stereogranimator allows users to select a stereoscope from the 40,000+ stereographs from NYPL’s archive and produce an anaglyph or animated gif that combines the two images into one.
For more on the stereographs and how they work, check out the Getty’s simulation.

Wikipedia to go dark in protest

January 18, 2012

Wikipedia will black out its English-version site today in protest of  two anti-piracy bills, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the ProtectIP Act (PIPA), now under review in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate respectively.  SOPA and PIPA are directed at websites involved in copyright infringement but they also include anti-circumvention provisions that will allow the government to target sites provide information that could assist users’ trying to circumvent these bills’ censorship mechanisms. Trevor Timm, writing for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, argues that this provision “would not only amount to an unconstitutional prior restraint against protected speech, but would severely damage online innovation. And contrary to claims by SOPA’s supporters, this provision—at least what’s been proposed so far—applies to all websites, even those in the U.S.”

In addition to Wikipedia, Google, Yahoo and Facebook have expressed their opposition to SOPA and PIPA.  In contrast, organizations and companies such as the Museum Picture Association of America (MPAA) to Pfizer Inc. and Harley-Davidson Motor Company defend the bills as a much needed attempt to control rogue websites trafficking in everything from stolen movies to prescription drugs.

To read more:
Wikipedia’s Press Release and their administrative statement — “SOPA initiative/Action”
H.R. 3261 – Stop Online Piracy Act
S. 968 – Protect IP Act
PCWorld, “SOPA and PIPA: Just the Facts”
Trevor Timm (Electronic Frontier Foundation), “How PIPA and SOPA Violate White House Principles Supporting Free Speech and Innovation”