Weekly Head Voices #7: The Answer, a STAR is born, post-human YouTube

I know that I said that I’d excuse myself from writing one or two editions of the Weekly Head Voices due to the upcoming VisWeek 2009 (and 2010, yes I will be blogging from the future) and the live-blogging explosion it will most likely lead to, but I somehow couldn’t stay away from my beloved WordPress installation. Oh well, so be it!

Welcome to the Weekly Head Voices #7, a lucky number for a blog post dealing with week #42, a week that could potentially have something to do with the answer to life, the universe and everything. Auspicious is an understatement.  (Oh my word, I just realised that week #42 is only starting as I write this.  Week #41 is the one just behind us and hence the subject of this post.  Oh well, just add 1 for the answer to life, the universe and everything!)

First the customary (but more uplifting than usual) visual element, I’ll get back to it at the end of this post.  Watch it to get in the mood:

A brilliant and excellently debauched Tuesday evening with friends in Rotterdam led to an exceedingly difficult Wednesday, the difficulty of which was definitely not alleviated by my 6 scheduled meetings. Fortunately a number of the meetings turned out being quite energising, leaving me with an energy surplus by the end of the day.  Beer: 0 Charl: 1.

On Thursday and Friday, Jorik and I helped the famous Jelle Feringa with a workshop he set up to expose architecture M.Sc. students to the Wonderful World of Scientific Visualisation (!!!). Jelle has somehow managed to bring our two fields together with great effect, and was trying to impress some of this magic onto the students. I found it quite challenging explaining bits of Python and VTK programming to a class of students that had for the largest part never seen source code before, but by the time we had gotten to extracting surfaces and direct volume rendering with DeVIDE, things were going just swimmingly. At least that was my impression. :)

On Friday, I submitted a rather extensive proposal to write a Eurographics State-of-the-art Report (STAR) together with a number of similarly interested colleagues. I’d love to tell you what the STAR’s about, but would prefer waiting until we know whether it has been accepted or not. In any case, if it is indeed accepted, we will have the privilege of publishing the full-length survey article in the Proceedings of the Eurographics, giving a 90 minute (!!!) presentation during the conference next year, and submitting a revised version of the article to the journal Computer Graphics Forum. That’s like Graphics/Visualisation-scientist crack man!

Because this is my little soap-box, I have decided to conclude with one of my typical “I love the 21st century” RA RA moments.

First, as you all know, one can easily upload photos and videos to facebook by mailing them to a special per-user email address: Go to facebook.com/mobile – the special email address is on the bottom left under “Upload Photos via Email”. This is especially useful for sending absolutely useless but seriously incriminating media directly from your cellphone, especially exactly when you shouldn’t be doing so, for example at 3 in the morning.

I’m probably one of the last to come across this, but youtube of course has similar functionality! Login, then go to your account page, then settings and finally mobile setup to find your upload email address. This means you can upload your incriminating media at 3 in the morning to yet another site, except that this one has a far, far greater reach than facebook.

Is this why I love the 21st century? Well, it’s a minor reason amongst many others. A slightly more meaningful one is the fantastically uplifting video clip embedded at the start of this post. That’s a real wedding (and what a wedding it was!), the clip was posted in July of this year and has since been watched more than 27 million times. That’s crazy! In what other century can a visual memory of your humble, although very original, wedding be seen 27 million times and so brighten up the respective days of millions of people that won’t ever even know you?

That’s just so beautiful, it’s post-human.

P.S. The sound-track to the clip is Forever by Chris Brown. Instead of suing the love-birds, Sony (the label) and Brown decided to work together with Google to monetise the occasion. Notice that when playing the video, there’s a box underneath with the name of the song and a “Buy Song” button. It turns out that due to this video, the single was slung back into the top 10 charts, more than a year after its release. This GoogleBlog post describes how everybody involved wins. It’s gratifying that labels are slowly waking up to the new order. May those that refuse to smell the coffee wither away as quickly as their irrelevance seems to indicate.

P.P.S. My mother now has a Blackberry.