Word of the Month: Skeuomorph

The word that has been hanging over several conversations that Yung and I have had recently is skeuomorph:

> A skeuomorph is a derivative object that retains ornamental design cues to a structure that was necessary in the original. Skeuomorphs may be deliberately employed to make the new look comfortably old and familiar such as copper cladding on zinc pennies or computer printed postage with circular town name and cancellation lines. An alternative definition is “an element of design or structure that serves little or no purpose in the artifact fashioned from the new material but was essential to the object made from the original material.” This definition is narrower on scope and ties skeumorphs to changes in materials.

A Different Kind of Boudreaux Joke

Many will be familiar with Boudreaux and Thibodeaux/Fontenot jokes, but this takes the numskull genre in an interesting direction:

> The year is 2016 and the United States has just elected the first woman, a Louisiana State University graduate, as President of the United States, Susan Boudreaux. A few days after the election the president-elect calls her father and says, ‘So, Dad, I assume you will be coming to my inauguration?’
‘I don’t think so. It’s a 30 hour drive, your mother isn’t as young as she used to be, and my arthritis is acting up again.’ ‘Don’t worry about it Dad, I’ll send Air Force One to pick you up and take you home. And a limousine will pick you up at your door.’

> ‘I don’t know. Everybody will be so fancy. What would your mother wear?’ Oh Dad, replies Susan, ‘I’ll make sure she has a wonderful gown custom-made by the best designer in New York .’ ‘Honey,’ Dad complains, ‘you know I can’t eat those rich foods you and your friends like to eat.’

> The President-to-be responds, ‘Don’t worry Dad. The entire affair is going to be handled by the best caterer in New York, I’ll ensure your meals are salt free Dad, I really want you to come.

> So Dad reluctantly agrees and on January 20, 2017, Susan Boudreaux is being sworn in as President of the United States. In the front row sits the new president’s Dad and Mom. Dad noticing the senator sitting next to him leans over and whispers, ‘You see that woman over there with her hand on the Bible, becoming President of the United States.

> The Senator whispers back, ‘Yes I do.’

> Dad says proudly, ‘Her brother played football at LSU.’

More on Tor

Tor’s site is just getting better and better. Great original stories — sometimes re”print”ed from paper editions now hard to find. Great blog posts. Great re-reads. Great community. This particular post during their dystopia week caught my eye: Dealing with Real Dystopias is Part of My Job. Now I know why I want to be a scifi novelist: you get to be a futurist consultant. Or, as the program is called: Strategic Foresight and Innovation.

Truth really is stranger than fiction.

Google Should Buy the Music Industry

It started off as a throwaway line by Wayne Rosso, but it’s beginning to grow into something of a meme:

The latest rumor to emerge from the Google campus is that the company’s much anticipated music service is just about at the end of their rope with the major label licensing process. A source close to the negotiations characterizes the search giant as “disgusted” with the labels, so much so that they are seriously considering following Amazon’s lead and launching their music could service without label licenses. I’m told that, though very remote and my guess is that it would never come to this, Google may go so far as to shut down the music service project altogether.

Google may be starting to think that if the industry weren’t going to sue Amazon, then why would they take on Google? After all, who needs whom the most in this scenario? Could you even wrap your brain around the legal costs? As a source pointed out to me, “Larry, Serge and Eric could buy the entire music industry with their personal money”.

Iter: Gateway to the Middle Ages and the Renaissance

I am not sure what to think of the many portals to content that are springing up everywhere. First, it’s great. So much information so lovingly curated. (Well, okay, sometimes it’s a poorly pushed together pile.) On other hand, I worry about all these terrific structures resembling so many silos on a landscape: here’s some data, and here’s some data, and here’s some data, but getting a bit of data from each *at the same time* (in the same search) is not possible. This is a central concern of Project Bamboo, but it’s not the one getting initial attention — and yet it would make a huge difference and have, I think, immense visibility.

The Iter Gateway seems to have gotten a lot of things right. I can’t figure out what they used to build it — Drupal? It could have been Omeka.

Wifi and Energy Efficient Homes

It turns out that one of the problems a lot of people have with their homes — the inability to get your wireless network to reach some part of your house or yard — is a function of the kinds of materials we use to make our homes energy efficient: a lot of the wraps and foam sheets used in new construction have some sort of foil layer to reflect radiant heat in and/or out of the house. (I am also reminded of my friends Alan and Deb who have a lovely stone house built with two-foot thick walls that is backed into the side of a hill. (That’s a wireless problem I would love to have — oh, Indiana, how I miss you now.)

More Language News

Thanks to another network analysis of linguistic data — previous story [here](http://johnlaudun.org/20110414-some-possible-revisions-to-generative-linguistics/) — scholars seem to have traced the origin of language to … well, to the origin of human beings in eastern Africa. The Economist has a [write-up](http://www.economist.com/node/18557572).

TED Linked-In Discussions

Those readers on Linked-In already know that the site/service/socialwhatever has grown its own Facebook-like dimensions, one of which are public discussions about ideas. The great thing about Linked-In’s versions of these things is that they really can be about the ideas — okay, it’s Linked-In and so there is also some self-promotion that happens (really, people, lead with ideas and others will follow you through them). A recent discussion in the TED group has been “If you had the opportunity to talk at TED, what would you speech be about and why?” There is an overwhelming number of responses, but they are quite interesting.

What would I talk about? These crazy boats I am writing about and the amazing men who make them. About the creativity to be found among otherwise, and only seemingly, ordinary people.