Getting the Word Out

The word. The message. The need to connect to other human beings. This month we look at three challenging approaches to reaching out to each other and getting the message across.

Jeff Bridges, the actor, has put up a website that offers blatant advertising disguised as kids' doodles. It may be dumbing down, but it works. You will find both personal information and product boosting in a casual but clever graphic format at http://www.jeffbridges.com

Andy Deck is an American artist who specializes in collaboration between humans. His current project, called Panel Junction, combines elements of the graphic novel with the concept of community authorship, all empowered by the Internet. Visitors to the site are invited to contribute material for a novel, to be divided into chapters and eventually available for downloading and printing with an inkjet printer. All of the material submitted remains free for any non-commercial use. You can find out more, and contribute to the novel, at http://artcontext.org/act/05/panel. A fuller elaboration of Deck's Internet projects can be found at http://www.artcontext.org

The ultimate development in communication has to be the InterPlanet project, enthusiastically endorsed by Vint Cerf, keynote speaker at Stanford University's recent conference, "The Internet: Today & Tomorrow". (Some of you may remember his father, Bennett Cerf, founder and publisher of Random House and a noted wit.) Vint Cerf is one of the developers of the TCP/IP protocol and a co-creator of the Internet. The goal of the InterPlanet project is to connect earth's Internet users to users on spacecraft or even on other planets. It is being called "a network of disconnected Internets", as opposed to the connected networks that we use on earth. Some of the myriad problems that have to be resolved include speed-of-light time differences, error events, and connections that are intermittent and unidirectional. One of the protocols currently being used is called Turbo Codes, high performance codes that allow for maximum transfer of data in spite of data-polluting noise. The technique was developed in 1993 by two French researchers and bears the official title of "parallel concatenated convolutional codes". Out of this research has emerged a new discipline called "an architecture for delay-tolerant networks", specifically designed to be used for deep space exploration. Here are a few sites that will get you started on Interplanetary communications:



Vint Cerf's "Cerf's Up" page: http://global.mci.com/us/enterprise/insight/cerfs_up/


Incidentally, if you want to get an idea of Internet usage (on this planet) and its worldwide distribution, here's a site that may interest you: http://www.internetworldstats.com/stats.htm. You will find not only regional distribution, but data on individual country populations and their Internet usage as well.

Late note: for those of you who were interested in last month's eMusings article on the International Space Station, Fortune magazine in its September 5 issue has an informative article on art and space, describing some of the art projects that have been funded for space over the years. Entitled "What Would Christo Do?",it is online at http://www.fortune.com/fortune/thisjustin/0,15704,1096772-1,00.html. As you would expect there are strong feelings on both sides of the aisle concerning money spent on art in the space program. They range from Tom Schatz, President of Citizens Against Government Waste, complaining "I don't remember Scotty saying 'Captain, paint me a picture'" to Frank Pietronigro, co-founder of the Zero Gravity Arts Consortium, who wrote, "If people are going to travel and live in space, they will need art to keep from going nuts". (Note: Whitaker has a digital painting in the permanent collection of NASA). In addition, if you have a broadband connection and a fairly powerful computer, you will enjoy Arthur Woods' Cosmic Dancer Video, showing his 1993 sculpture set to the music of Gabriel Faure and placed on the Mir Space Station. This takes a long time to load, but is worth waiting for, especially the footage of the cosmonauts floating with the sculpture. http://www.cosmicdancer.com (Thanks to Roger Ferragallo for both of these.)

c.Corinne Whitaker 2005