Re-reading Carver Mead/0 Comments/in Blog /by John Lobell
With some summer time on my hands, I am belatedly reading Dealers of Lightning: Xerox PARC and the Dawn of the Computer Age, the story of the computer technology developed at Xerox PARC — the personal computer, the mouse, the graphical user interface, the laser printer, Ethernet, computer graphics and video, etc. (Xerox could have owned the whole thing, but gave it away to Apple, and then brought in executives from Detroit to kill what they had.)
Carver Mead shows up in the story — recalling for me his role in the book Microcosm, which describes how, at various times when the computer industry was stuck, Mead would come down from the mountains, gather a group of grad students at Cal Tech, and produce the next needed revolution. He is responsible for:
– VLSI (the modern computer chip)
– Silicon compilers (tell the terminal what you want a chip to do and it designs the circutry)
– CMOS (the sensor in cameras) Read more
Creating an Original Self/1 Comment/in Blog /by John Lobell
I recall in high school English class reading an essay by Emerson and being asked by my teacher, what I thought. I said that I thought, “What am I doing in high school, I should drop out and get on with my life.” She replied, “That is not what he meant at all.” She did not tell me what Emerson did mean, and of course that was exactly what he meant.
We often think of our culture as being defined by its technological advances, and that characterization is in part correct. But why do we have those technological advances and why were they initially unique to the West? It is due to the release of individual creativity. And our first creative task? To create an original Self.
In his Letters to a Young Poet, Ranier Maria Rilke writes: Read more
Vincent van Gogh and Doctor Who/0 Comments/in Blog /by John Lobell
Let’s imagine we could ask van Gogh if he would trade his life of suffering for one of feelings of contentment, satisfaction, wellbeing, pleasure; a positive emotional state. We know how Nietzsche would answer. I suspect van Gogh might answer the same way, declaring himself with William Blake:
“As I was walking among the fires of Hell,
delighted with the enjoyments of Genius;
which to Angels look like torment and insanity.”
And we can imagine van Gogh reflecting on Nietzsche’s admonition, to participate joyfully in the sorrows of the world.
Doctor Who is a long running British television science fiction series about a Time Lord, Doctor Who, who travels through time in a phone booth. In an episode titled “Vincent and the Doctor,” Doctor Who and his companion, Amy, travel to Provence in the south of France in 1890 to enlist van Gogh’s aid in fighting a space monster. They form an affection for van Gogh and in an attempt to relieve him of his despair, take him to our present to see an exhibit of his work in Paris. Van Gogh is overwhelmed by the enthusiastic reception for his paintings. Read more