January 17th, 2006

Art Smarts

Whenever I post about something like this, I have the sneaking suspicion that I’m weeks (no! months!) behind on the this-is-cool bandwagon, but bethrh’s use of flickr for art history education is absolutely genius and worth looking like a fool for, if necessary.  How to open up a dialogue about a specific piece of art?  Post it on Flickr and let your students go wild with selecting pieces of it to write about.  Then you can mouse-over whatever visual aspects intrigue you and read what other people have to say about them.

Seeing this makes me wonder whether artists and designers are using Flickr to collaborate remotely and discuss what’s wrong with the images they’re creating.  It seems really powerful to me to be able to select a part of the image and tell your partner exactly what’s wrong, instead of trying to describe the piece of the image in words.  It gives you back one of the affordances of face-to-face communication - pointing and gesturing - in an asynchronous and really useful way.  Any of the art folks reading this know of people using Flickr this way?

32?

Yes, there are 32 Discworld novels.  I shudder.

It’s not that I particularly hated the Discworld novels - in fact, I have fond memories of reading the first eight or so when I was living in England in the early nineties, very lonely and very scared and very much in need of a fantastic escape.  They’re just, unfortunately, not very good books.  As the boy put it, Pratchett has about eight jokes and none of them are sustainable over that many stories.  Good Omens is by far the best thing he’s ever done, because Gaiman made him break out of his bloody rut!

No, what upsets me is that it’s the mediocre series that go on, and on, and on, and on, while the truly bad ones (usually) get killed and the good ones (usually) end on their own.  Why can’t there be thirty-two books worth of Philip Pullman, or Mary Doria Russell, or Tad Williams?

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