Steve Jobs, Shakespeare and a few Cats

Steve Jobs, Shakespeare, and Cat Videos

Not too much longer to go before I step foot on-board the cruise ship and head off into the sunset. Down through the Bay of Biscay (sometimes it can be a little rough), and then into the Atlantic and down towards the Canary Islands. I really cannot wait.

The only downside will be the lack of connectivity along the route. Thankfully I have a great data package on my cell phone so you will occasionally hear from me, but on the upside I will be able to spend early mornings sipping coffee on the balcony, looking out to sea, writing some new pieces, and creating some new art.

Every week I generally bring some new offers on some of my latest artworks, and this week is no exception. There will be no new offers after next week for a couple of weeks, so this week’s piece is especially exciting because it is one of my most recent works, Cry Me A River.

You can buy this piece at a specially reduced price, but the offer is only available for a limited time. Only 10 works will be offered at this price, and this particular piece is unlikely to be offered on promotion again this year. Limited stock, limited time and you can buy it here.

Cry Me A River
M.As most recent work. Cry Me A River

 

GOOGLE

A,B,C,D,E,F,G.. or Alphabet; Google’s new parent company seems to make so much sense, and it also appears that Google are indeed ahead of the game. It may have confused some when Google made the announcement, but if you look deeper into the reorganisation of Google, Alphabet actually makes sense.

Google’s Co-Founder, Larry Page described Alphabet as ‘mainly a collection of companies’, leaving Google to do what Google does best. Search, apps, ads, YouTube, and Android, and every other off shoot who are not part of this such as Google Fiber, Calico, Google X, Google Capital, Google Ventures, and Nest, can ultimately thrive as separate entities with each having their own distinct leadership.

Google
Google now has a parent!

 

This essentially means that the newly subsidiaries Google included, focus on faster development cycles as a cluster of smaller companies, and most with their own CEO. Of course this could also give Google the opportunity to distance themselves if something doesn’t take off. Anyone thinking Google Glass here?

STEVE JOBS

Known for his genius around technology innovation than his singing, Steve Jobs (February 24, 1955 – October 5, 2011) is about to become an opera star. A new opera tentatively called The (R)evolution is due to premiere at the Santa Fe Opera in 2017.

A recent press release stated that composes Mason Bates will be writing the music, with lyrics from Pulitzer-Prize-winning librettist Mark Campbell. Jobs who died in 2011 of pancreatic cancer, will feature in the opera that takes a look back at his life. It will cover his tumultuous personal life and, according to the press release, capture the buzzing creative realm of Silicon Valley with a kinetic electro-acoustic musical score.

Will it have non-opera goers queuing up for tickets? That’s certainly a possibility. There will at least be an interest in just how this could be pulled off, and for those of us who have read the book, watched the film, it will once again give us some more insight to Steve Job’s life.

SHAKESPEARE

William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare AKA The Bard

 

I am a writer, and an artist, and they say that every writer has their strange quirks. Mine is to sip artisan coffee pretty much all day, whether I am writing or not. But some are suggesting that the Bard, William Shakespeare had a penchant of the herbal variety.

Living around 75-minutes away from his birthplace, I have visited it many times, and I must confess, not once have I even considered that the Bard himself was a pot smoker.

Back in 2001, a South African anthropologist by the name of Francis Thackeray used technology from a narcotics crime lab to see what kind of substances might have been smoked in 400-year-old pipe fragments which had been unearthed in Stratford-Upon-Avon. There was some evidence of cocaine and nicotine residue, which likely came from Peruvian coca leaves.

Four pipes found at an excavation site in the Bard’s back garden found traces of a signature reminiscent of cannabis. However, the results were inconclusive, and there was no evidence to suggest that Shakespeare liked the odd toot. So did the Bard like the bud? Scholars may never know whether Shakespeare lived next to a 17th-century version of Harold and Kumar or enjoyed the herb himself.

Halls Croft
Stratford-Upon-Avon

 

NEW YORK

There’s some great thinking happening in the Big Apple, a New York City arts group is launching social media and artist-in-residence programs aimed at helping disadvantaged youth’s chance of reaching their potential. Anyone who knows me, will know that I am all for this kind of work.

The program, Art-Start will also have two portrait installations, one that focuses on homeless youth, and another that profiles homeless families. The first work opens on 24th August, and the second installation opens in October. Both are sponsored by the Howard Hughes Corporation, and will be at the new Seaport Culture District.

There is also on online campaign inviting dialogue, using the hashtag #SeeMeBecause which certainly carries a thought provoking message. Don’t just look, really see me.

#SeeMeBecause
#SeeMeBecause

 

The six-month artist in residency program for homeless artists between the ages of 17 and 20, is to be supported by monthly donors. The program will offer art classes, paid internships, exhibition opportunities, and career counselling and other services. This has clearly been well thought through, and to me it seems that the organisers are taking a much more holistic approach than many of the programs I have seen in recent years.

You can find more details using the hashtag #ArtStartOrg or by visiting www.Art-Start.org

UI AND THE INTERNET OF THINGS

UI or User Interfaces are generally be default, visual. So where does that leave the internet of things and the UI’s needed to successfully operate them? Since the most interactive products that we currently use all tend to have screens, the internet of things needs to adopt a much more subtle UI experience for consumers.

Devices connected to the internet of things will need to become even more intuitive to use, hearing our words, anticipate our needs, and sense our gestures. Screens will eventually go away, and that is a huge obstacle to overcome and get the user experience just as it is needed.

The Internet of Things
The Internet of Things

 

Haptic, automated, and ambient interfaces are the latest technologies being discussed, and they’re being discussed along with the phrase ‘Zero UI’. But what is Zero UI? Well, actually it’s not all that new. If you have ever used Amazon’s Echo, or waved frantically at Microsoft Kinect, you have already experienced Zero UI.

The way we interact with machines has changed significantly over the years, computer interaction was once by means of feeding in punch cards, which then gave way to machine code, then we had the command line, and this then transposed to the GUI, or graphical user interface. This is where we think we are, but take a look around, I bet even today you are starting to interact differently. But the next step is that machines and the interfaces they offer to users, needs to become even more complex, yet still retain the simplicity, and in fact, make machines even easier to use.

In the next few years, the internet of things will provide unique challenges to designers. Instead of just designing for two-dimensions, i.e. what a user is trying to do right now in a linear, predictable workflow, designers will need to think about what a user is trying to do right now in any possible workflow.

Voice commands and input is relatively simple when it is used in things like Siri, and Microsoft’s Cortana. The user asks a question, and the device responds with sometimes the right answer, and sometimes the wrong answer. The next step on the technical chain of evolution is to look at ways of building services and devices that translate a stream of conscious commands, capable of adjusting on the fly.

We often hear the words ‘Big Data’, and this is essentially what will need to be incorporated by the designers. But this won’t simply be a case of reading the data, devices will need to explain the data. When something is contained on a screen, the display of the data is apparent, when there is no screen, whatever should be there has to be concisely communicated.

But there are other issues, how do you ensure that behaviour is captured from the user? If you’re anything near my age, you will have grown up twisting the volume control on the TV or stereo, but if you are now only in your teens, then you’re more likely to have grown up by carrying out what essentially the same action is using only your thumb, or finger. So devices will not only need to recognise who is suing them, but also understand the different ways in which they would historically interact. This takes a whole heap of power in terms of processing and storage, but more importantly, to pull this off well, the devices have to be fast.

But what happens when we fully achieve Zero UI? Will the next step then be that the technology is embedded within us? It would be great to hear your views on how far you think we are away from not just being embedded with tech implants, but also how far we are away from accepting it.

SOCIAL MEDIA & THE BEECHHOUSE MEDIA CHALLENGE

Apparently it pays to have a social media presence, it pays much more if you have a great social media presence. By great I do not mean that you have tens of thousands of followers, I mean that a great social media presence is one where companies actually pay you to tweet, post, or pin. Companies do this frequently, Kim Kardashian can earn $20,000 per promotional tweet. But short of responding to those tweets that promise a bazillion followers for $50, how can you get into the big league, organically. By organically, I mean by not buying followers.

This is one of the things I will be working on later this year, increasing my organic reach. But my guess is that as a relatively late entrant to the social media scene, it’s not going to be all that easy to achieve. So I am setting myself a challenge to double my social media followers before Christmas 2015. How will I do it? That’s the question I am currently pondering. I have a few ideas, but I am certain about one thing, I am setting a budget of zero to achieve it!

You can help me in the meantime by checking out some of my social media channels. You can follow me on:

Twitter - @beechhouseart

Facebook – https://facebook.com/beechhousemedia

Pinterest - @beechhousemedia

Google+ https://Google.com/+MATaylorBeechhousemedia

CATS

Talking about social media, every time I sit down for five minutes, another 200 cat videos fill my news feed. Don’t get me wrong, I own a cat, she’s nearly 18-years old, and probably the most chilled out cat you will ever meet. Nothing phases her, she would purr through an alien invasion. But being a cat owner, or rather my cat’s favourite member of staff, doesn’t actually mean I want to see other less cute cats every time I fire up the feed.

But in New York, there’s a new exhibition called ‘How Cats Took Over The Internet’ and you can actually go and see the exhibition at the Museum of Moving Images. My problem is that cats haven’t taken over the internet, but cat posting people. Maybe they want to rephrase the title. However you frame it, there is no denying that cats are popular, and on the odd occasion I have found something that is more funny than cute, when I post it, low and behold I get a bazillion views. The exhibition looks at how the cats found fame, and why people like them so much.

It is alleged that half of all original videos on YouTube are of people’s pets, and some 26 billion views are of cats. This makes them the single most popular category. Some cats however have made millions of pounds after owners posted their feline friends online. The first person to ever post a cat video on the platform was from Steven Chen, one of YouTube’s co-founders back in 2005. The cat names Pyjamas, played with a rope. Then in 2006, the cat video went viral. Users from all over the world started to upload multiple videos of cats.

A scientific study earlier in 2015 found that looking at cats can improve your mood. This might be true of videos, but one thing I can say is that when you are fast asleep at 3am and your cat decides she wants to start nudging you, purring loudly in your ear, and meowing to be fed, I can tell you that this actually does little to improve my mood.

‘Puppy vs Cat’ is one of the most watched videos on YouTube, uploaded by YouTube user ‘Sanchey’. Many of the felines are becoming increasingly famous and have even appeared on TV shows, adverts and at film festivals. Some even have their own brand of merchandise, and Lil’ Bub even has her own charity, raising around £130,000 for pets with special needs. So, just like everyone else, today I bring you some of the funniest cat videos from the web, because why not!

 

So that's all for today but I'm back here on Sunday. Happy weekend everyone!

 

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