Awesome Stuff: Everything Old Is New Again

from the re-renaissance dept

One of our most important themes here at Techdirt is the idea that the act of remixing, reimagining and recombining the creations of the past is not only natural and wonderful, it's the primary (and at a fundamental level, the only) engine of creativity in human culture. The internet era brings this to the fore and makes the cycle more immediate, because it makes the wealth of history and culture available to everyone, along with the tools to make use of it. Moreover, the sometimes-overwhelming nature of rapid change promotes a healthy degree of nostalgia in even the most forward-thinking and future-embracing among us, and it's in that spirit that this week's Awesome Stuff highlights some nostalgic offerings from Kickstarter:

One Of Those Old-Timey Cameras With A Hood (a.k.a. The Camera Obscura)


We've all seen them — if not in real life then in one of the many movies where they are used as a piece of shorthand synecdoche for "hey, it's the past!" Well, this project to resurrect the iconic camera has shot way past its goal, by staying true to the original design while also demonstrating how it can be combined with modern equipment.


Hey, Is That A Robot?


I love design and illustration work that creates contrast between content and style. I also have every former-8-year-old-boy's fondness for robots. This dinner plate, second in a series, so perfectly emulates a traditional and somewhat bland graphic style that at a glance, anyone would miss the giant robot preparing to disrupt its quaint tranquility. And it all started because the artist re-drew an image from an old plate inherited from his grandparents...


Go Fish (Through The History Books)


Kickstarter has been a boon for all sorts of creators, but there are certain very particular areas that seem to have been bolstered beyond all expectations by the crowdfunding site (the wallet has been "revolutionized" and "reinvented" at least 100 times in the last year, apparently). One of these areas is playing cards, which have a large collector community and serve as a cool way for artists to get their work out there. This extremely beautiful deck is based on the paintings of the old masters, but digitally repainted in exceptional detail (and considerable style) from scratch.


Okay, But How About Something New?


Well, it can't all be nostalgia, so here's a pointer to a project to create something that definitely didn't exist in the past: a personal indicator light that tells you whenever the ISS is overhead. Mostly pointless, perhaps, but cool, because hey, we have a space station!


Dishonorable Mention / Schadenfreude Moment


Here's something I really wish would stay in the past: a belief in ghosts. This guy wants $120,000 to produce a documentary about how ghosts are, you know, real and stuff. With science. And lazers. He promises to reveal "the truth that nobody knows about all the TV Ghost Hunting shows" which presumably is that they are fake but he is, like, totally genuine. If you pledge $1000, you'll even get one of their "devices for capturing human soul" which sounds like a good deal, actually. Just don't cross the streams.

It heartens me to see that he has only raised $5.



Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Typical Dumfuck Copy-Restrictard, Feb 22nd, 2014 @ 2:05pm

    OMG YOU DUMB ASS ALL YOU DID WAS COPY SOMETHING ALREADY EXISTING!!! YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO CREATE IN A VACUUM WTF IS WRONG WITH YOU?!!? YOU ARE A THIEF AND A PIRATE AND A RAPIST DEFILING THE GENIUS OF THOSE PAST ARTISTS YOU SHOULD ALL BE HUNG AND BURNED AT THE STAKE!!!!!!!!

     

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    Also.., Feb 22nd, 2014 @ 2:09pm

    "Here's something I really wish would stay in the past: a belief in ghosts."


    If anything people are going to become more aware of the fact spirits do exist, not less, as time goes on. There was a time where people didn't believe germs existed, just remember that.

     

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  3.  
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    Leigh Beadon (profile), Feb 22nd, 2014 @ 2:14pm

    Re:

    There was a time where people didn't believe germs existed, just remember that.

    No, there was a time where people didn't know germs existed. They didn't formulate it as a belief, they deduced it as a fact. Best of luck doing that with ghosts.

     

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  4.  
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    tracyanne, Feb 22nd, 2014 @ 2:43pm

    Re: Spirits

    Yes I know that spirits exist, I've seen lots of them, in fact I've drunk quite a few of them as well.

     

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  5.  
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    Ole Juul (profile), Feb 22nd, 2014 @ 4:16pm

    Re: Re: Spirits

    People have their favourite haunts.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Anonymous Coward, Feb 22nd, 2014 @ 6:06pm

    3 Things

    I just want to say that while I consider myself to be a fairly reasonable person, with a bit of grounding and respect for physics, and a deep disrespect for any kind of organized religion (believe what you want, don't foist it upon me) I have seen a ghost, and I have witnesses (and at one time artefacts, though those those are now gone). The story is a good one, wish I had time to tell it, though setting it down in writing well would take someone with better skills than myself.

    Second, I have had some out of body experiences. I did not control these, and I do not have a reason why they happened to me. Some folks think that controlling the level of your mind state (ala Alpha Beta Delta Theta, if I remember correctly, and there is some cause for concern there) can get you there. I don't have that control, but what if it could be practised. one can initiate such experiences at will (see Carlos Casteneda for possibly different but related reasons), and if you believe an old girlfriend of mine much much more.

    Some say that we use only about 10% of our brains. Some of that has been dis-proven lately, but the fact remains, we don't use all of it. Some lower species have abilities that we don't, and there is reason to believe that those abilities (sans the particular organ) may be possible. What if kinetic energy and out of body experiences are lacking in our lives because we don't know which 'muscles' to excersize.

    Thirdly, we have actual physics. We all know about the first four dimensions, length, width, height, space/time. What is not as well known is that (I think) Quantam physics necessitates anywhere from 12 to 48 dimensions. Regardless of which number one latches onto, the thought possibilities of what those other dimensions are for is...is...is...not sure what to say here.

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Anonymous Coward, Feb 22nd, 2014 @ 6:08pm

    Re: 3 Things

    My apologies for number grammar and editing inequities in the above post, I hit a wrong button before preview was done.

     

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    John Fenderson (profile), Feb 22nd, 2014 @ 7:35pm

    Re: 3 Things

    I, too, have seen ghosts, and have a rather fantastic and baffling story about it. I have also had out of body experiences, and have seen flying saucers.

    I don't believe in any of those things, though. I don't necessarily disbelieve, but here's the thing: for every anomalous thing I've experienced, I can think of dozens of possible explanations, some supernatural and some not. My experiences alone aren't evidence of what caused those experiences. It would be foolish to "believe" in any particular explanation without additional evidence.

    For example, you can't trust your perceptions. We tend to perceive what we expect to perceive. When we are faced with something unexpected, our brains tend to leap toward an explanation -- any explanation -- immediately, then we start to perceive everything after that in a way that supports our explanation. Reality has a million gotchas like that.

    About those out of body experiences, I did train myself about them, and I could do it at will. It doesn't change a thing about perception and belief, though. In a fairly direct way, that is the whole point of the famous Castenada books.

    We also have to be very, very careful about the more esoteric branches of science, such as quantum physics. At the level those guys are working at, it's pure math. If you're getting an explanation that isn't equations, then the explanation you're getting is an analogy that isn't to be taken literally. You're getting a map, and a fuzzy one at best. It's really very easy to get lost.

    Remember, the map is not the territory.

     

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    Anonymous But Not A Coward, Feb 22nd, 2014 @ 8:24pm

    Ghosts

    Yes, I believe in ghosts and have "played" with one. Well, rather, she played with us. Anyway: Yes, I belive in ghosts, but that last guy with the film is not getting a cent out of me!

     

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    Leigh Beadon (profile), Feb 23rd, 2014 @ 2:42am

    Re: Re: 3 Things

    All well said, and this is the crux:

    for every anomalous thing I've experienced, I can think of dozens of possible explanations

    Even if you pare away the dozens, when you really get down to it with any such individually anomolous experience, there is always a simple fact: there are various well-known, frequently observed and thoroughly documented circumstances that could cause the human brain to perceive such things, versus a grand total of zero equally well-established circumstances in which such things could genuinely exist.

    Does that mean it's impossible that they do exist? No, of course not. But it means that truly extraordinary evidence is required to make them worthy of anything more than cursory consideration.

     

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  11.  
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    Leigh Beadon (profile), Feb 23rd, 2014 @ 3:21am

    Re: 3 Things

    Let me say in advance that I don't mean to be harsh in rebuking your points here, because I appreciate the way you've raised them, however I do think you are very wrong on many fronts, and as such I will probably sound harsh nonetheless...

    grounding and respect for physics

    This is, I fear, a meaningless statement. "Physics" seeks nobody's "respect" -- the term merely refers to the observation of physical systems and the deduction of underlying mechanics.

    What does deserve respect, or perhaps better phrased as simply personal adoption, is the scientific method and the pursuit of verifiable, observable knowledge. And the first, biggest, most important step to embracing that way of thinking is acknowledging your own fallibility, and requiring more than merely the momentary firing of your own senses to believe something is objectively real. It means accepting that a single observation is just that, and an explanation requires more rigorous study.

    It means never, ever rushing to the most complex explanation before eliminating the simple ones, and I cannot think of any set of observations -- even a howling translucent phantom rattling chains over a crowd of a thousand onlookers -- that would not have simpler potential explanations than "the spirits of dead people walk the earth". Indeed, that statement is not even a valid or meaningful one in the realm of true, verifiable knowledge -- not without an explanation of what 'spirit' actually means, which is an explanation nobody seems able to offer.

    Second, I have had some out of body experiences.

    I don't see the relation. Well, not scientifically -- I do understand the cultural relation, which is that a wide variety of non-scientific ideas ranging from ghosts to psychics to cryptozoological creatures to chemtrails have glommed together into a subculture largely because of their rejection by the rational-minded. So really the connection is "these are two things scientists reject"

    However, it should be noted that many kinds of out of body experiences (or in-body relocation experiences -- see Richard Feynman's experiments with sensory deprivation) are a known and documented phenomenon. Science does not deny this. The conflict comes when out-of-body experiences supposedly produce results that would prove they are not purely psychological -- such as a person seeing an object not visible from the position of their body -- which catapults the claim into extraordinary territory, and calls for much greater evidence. No such evidence has been forthcoming.

    It is funny, most people who read Castenada skip the boring bit at the end of the first book -- of course, that happens to be the bit where he makes it abundantly clear that he in no way believes that anything he experienced was magical or defied physics, and goes into great detail on the concept of "special consensus" as a subjective sociopsychological phenomenon that allows groups to perceive the manifestation of magical beliefs. As for the following books, written after he was hit with unanticipated fame and a widespread misunderstanding of his work, well, I'd be careful about how seriously you take those.

    Some say that we use only about 10% of our brains. Some of that has been dis-proven lately, but the fact remains, we don't use all of it.

    Ugh. Let's nip this one in the bud. The 10% thing is bullshit -- it's not been recently "disproven", it was never even claimed to begin with, and is in fact a misquoting of a statement by William James, a psychologist making a quip about how most people don't value intelligence and work on it. It has no grounding or relevance to neurophsyiology or the modern understanding of the brain.

    The "fact" does not "remain" that we don't use all of it -- however, the fact does remain that we barely know a damn thing about how it works. It is capable of all manner of things we don't understand. Now, what do you think is more likely? That the things it is capable of are things like kinesis and extraphsyical experiences, which would not only be surprising about the brain but would actually defy every single observation we've ever made about physics, chemistry and biology? Or that the things it is capable of are in fact entirely internal perceptive phenomenon?

    That wasn't actually a question: the latter is more likely. Full stop.

    Thirdly, we have actual physics. We all know about the first four dimensions, length, width, height, space/time. What is not as well known is that (I think) Quantam physics necessitates anywhere from 12 to 48 dimensions. Regardless of which number one latches onto, the thought possibilities of what those other dimensions are for is...is...is...not sure what to say here.

    Do not try to understand quantum physics in magical ways. As John pointed out, without the math, the best you can get is an imperfect metaphor. Quantum physics contains exciting phrases like "many universes" and "48 dimensions" but those terms are being used at a level of abstraction that is far beyond what you think.

    But, at a lower level, you should understand that all math is an abstraction: it is a language for describing patterns, not a thing with any objective reality. And thus when you wonder about what "other dimensions are for" you betray a lack of fundamental understanding. Dimensions do not "exist" -- not even the familiar ones of width and height and depth -- they are an invented structure by which we describe the observable universe. As we make more detailed observations, we discover behaviours that are not immediately explainable within the artificial framework of dimensions that serves us so well in macro-level physics -- and thus, precisely because it is an artificial language invented by us, we can choose to modify its vocabulary, expand its grammar, state "there is now a new dimension" and test to see whether the updated language helps us better describe what we observe. There are no dimensions; they are not real, they are just a description.

    But really, if you want to make the case that ghosts exist or may exist, there is a simple starting point: define "ghost" in great detail. Without that, the claim has no meaning.

     

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  12.  
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    rawcookie (profile), Feb 23rd, 2014 @ 8:57am

     

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  13.  
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    Peter Kinnon, Feb 23rd, 2014 @ 10:42am

    Engine of creativity

    "... the act of remixing, reimagining and recombining the creations of the past is not only natural and wonderful, it's the primary (and at a fundamental level, the only) engine of creativity in human culture."

    You have hit the nail right on the head here.

    It is one of the main themes in "The Goldilocks Effect: What Has Serendipity Ever Done For Us?" , a free download in e-book formats from my "Unusual Perspectives" website

     

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  14.  
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    GEMont, Feb 23rd, 2014 @ 12:40pm

    Re: Re:

    hmmm - didn't our ancestors actually believe at one point that diseases were caused by aethers(sp?) entering the body - same sort of spiritual ephemeral matter that ghosts are supposed to be composed of... wasn't that the reason that some "healers" used a candle under a glass laid upon the chest? To suck out the aethers... you could say that they thought germs were ghosts in that case.

     

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  15.  
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    anzablazer, Feb 23rd, 2014 @ 1:16pm

    possessesion

    I'd leave the Dead alone if I were you. Messing in the spirit world is very dangerous. You no those spirits of children are Demons? God would never leave children to wander the earth.

     

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  16.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Feb 24th, 2014 @ 9:41am

    Re: Re: 3 Things

    Well said.

    I do want to clarify one thing I said: "It would be foolish to "believe" in any particular explanation without additional evidence."

    That statement does not mean that it's foolish to consider one explanation as being more likely than another. Take ghosts (and alien visitations, which is pretty much the same phenomenon) for instance: it's easy to induce these exact experiences in humans with powerful magnetic fields, to such a degree that the people will swear their experience is just as real as everyday life.

    That's a piece of evidence to add to the rather large pile of evidence suggesting that such experiences are not as they superficially appear. The pile of evidence for the literal existence of ghosts (or aliens) is, on the other hand, tiny.

    While I do think it's a mistake to say that the hallucinatory explanation is "true" and the literal reality explanation is "false" -- the balance of evidence certainly does point that direction, and I think it's fair to say that one is more likley to be true than the other.

     

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  17.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Feb 24th, 2014 @ 9:43am

    Re: Re: Re: 3 Things

    Oops. I meant this as a reply to your other comment. But it works just as well here.

     

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  18.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Feb 24th, 2014 @ 9:44am

    Re: possessesion

    "God would never leave children to wander the earth."

    And you know this how?

     

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  19.  
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    Leigh Beadon (profile), Feb 24th, 2014 @ 9:53am

    Re: Re: Re: 3 Things

    While I do think it's a mistake to say that the hallucinatory explanation is "true" and the literal reality explanation is "false" -- the balance of evidence certainly does point that direction, and I think it's fair to say that one is more likley to be true than the other.

    Absolutely. But of course, there are literally infinite possible explanations that can be imagined, so the only way forward is to focus on those that actually have evidence.

    This is why I put so much focus on requesting a definition for ghost, too. Because really, it's almost wrong to say science rejects the notion of ghost: science is just uninterested, because "ghosts" are not asserted with any real meaning, other than some vague link to dead people. That is, of course, by design: any specific claim about what ghosts are -- are they a physical entity? energy? what? where do they come from? -- is almost certainly going to be easily and quickly disproved.

    So really, at the moment, what "ghost" refers to is just a big long list of unexplained incidents, the vast majority of them indicated only by a single anecdotal observation, and consisting of events that are not even that shocking or amazing to begin with. The whole widespread and deeply held notion that there is some presence of the dead responsible is a purely cultural and psychological phenomenon (excellent evidence of this comes via alien abductions, which are a new culture-bred claim that never existed in the past but replaced many "ghost" and "demon" claims in the modern age) and it has no falsifiability because it's not a concrete claim.

     

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  20.  
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    GEMont, Mar 2nd, 2014 @ 1:13pm

    Re: Re: possessesion

    He is obviously in regular communications with the Holy Ghost.

     

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  21.  
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    Emma Love (profile), Mar 21st, 2014 @ 1:46am

    Re:

    This if funny :)& I Do Believe in Spooks

     

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