Archive for October, 2007

Da Vinci Automata in ‘Fundamentals of the Network Neutrality Debates’

Previously I mentioned Tayfun Uslu’s Master’s thesis where he mentioned this blog. Here are the relevant excerpt from Tayfun Uslu’s Master’s Project Thesis, Fundamentals of the Network Neutrality Debates, where he uses DaVinci Automata as an example of autonomy in network information economy.

Davinci Automata* blog is an example of how the Networked Information economy increases individuals’ autonomy. Davinci Automata is a blog on he Clockpunk genre of Science Fiction. It is designed for a segment of the population that is interested in this genre; thus it makes diverse information available to individuals. The owner has the open source tools to customize he blog as he wishes. The readers get turned into users by leaving comments or even submitting their work to be posted in this blog.


Da Vinci Automata in a Master’s Thesis


(Image Source: Little Clock Shop)

Great news for Clockpunkers! This blog, Da Vinci Automata, was mentioned in a master’s thesis on network neutrality by Tayfun Uslu. A link to one of his video presentation is given below. The presentation “focuses on the fundamentals of the Network Neutrality debates. The subject requires the analysis of historical, social, technological, economical and policy related developments.”

Ayhan Aytes on Al-Jazari’s Automata

Ayhan Aytes, a student at UCSD seems to have a very interesting take on Al-Jazari’s Automata. Here is a description of his work and a talk that he will be giving at the University of Minnesota.

Ayhan Aytes’s research complicates the categorical distinctions between sacred and profane through a series of examples from al-Jazari’s book of mechanical devices. Aytes’s study addresses mainly the depiction of the concept of time in some devices as it originates from the symbolic domain but eventually contributes to a mechanical understanding of the universe, while in other automata time reveals a strange synthesis of a religious ritual with an artificial life form. Traditionally these works have been mainly presented as “Islamic automata” by history of science scholars but even this conception is problematic because of the syncretic elements of the symbolic system referred to by these machines. Ayhan Aytes is a graduate researcher in the Department of Communication at the University of California, San Diego.

Hal Duncan’s “The Whenever At The City’s Heart

Tangent, an online magazine that reviews short fiction has a review of Hal Duncan’s “The Whenever At The City’s Heart which appears to an awesome story and well placed in the Fantasy side of the Clockpunk genre. Here is the review from Tangent which should give people a good idea about the story.

The first story in the 25th anniversary issue of Interzone, Hal Duncan’s “The Whenever At The City’s Heart,” is a striking mix of “clockpunk” and fantasy, a sense of grand Baroque whimsy coming through in both the telling and the details. The kaleidoscopic structure of the story centers on the great clock tower, the titular “whenever” in the heart of his imagined, nameless city. All glittering glass and brass and mirrored cogs and grinding gears, the tower contains inside it a microcosm that keeps the streets around it following “their paths through time” in an apparently clockwork universe.

As the story begins, however, the watchtower’s bell is inexplicably out of synch, and the world around it grows chaotic, the city “adrift upon its rock, a myriad of singularities spiraling around it.” The narrative switches back and forth between those spiraling singularities, fanciful and surreal, and the tower’s watchman as he struggles desperately to get the universe back in order, but alas, order may be just something “tossed out by chaos as a glib aside.”

Duncan’s imagery is razor-sharp, and his prose playful and poetic, all but making verse out of the vocabulary of today’s physicists. Additionally, while it may initially seem impenetrable, the story holds together better than much of the High Modernist poetry it reminded me of stylistically (and happily, its tone is far removed from their overwrought aristocratic gloom). “Whenever”‘s complexity and sensibility will certainly not be to every taste, but even if you’re initially skeptical, you may find it growing on you with rereading, and even if you come away feeling the whole is less than the sum of its parts, there is much to enjoy in its richly imagined fragments: the sandminer listening to a blind boy’s song; the battle-scarred veteran soldier losing himself with a dreamwhore for a little while; the ruling angels and human rebels battling in the streets.

October 2007
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Knowing and Doing

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“I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.” - Leonardo Da Vinci