Sunday, 17 February 2013

So it's another internet post then

I keep having thoughts I want to blog but they involve complicated things and I'd have to think hard to explain what I mean and not be totally incomprehensible as usual. Instead I am going to post some things I got off of the internet.

Here's an interesting thing about internet currencies. (I work with someone who is one of the programmers on bitcoin.) I think there's a huge difference between in-game purchases of hats, however unusual those might be, and bitcoin, which can be exchanged for other monies. Tuvalu is a place which should have been invented by Neal Stephenson.

I was trying to explain to someone the other day that the internet has made a huge difference to my usage of exclamation marks -- I used to recoil from them with upturned lip but now I find myself using them quite often, and I have a sense that that has become OK. The person I was talking to didn't have a clue what I was on about. But it's not just me, and here a properly articulate person talks about it.

Apparently Computer Science equals Facebook for Dummies.

The bloody BBC wants DRM in HTML5. For goodness' sake!

Men and women are quite similar apparently.

Saturday, 2 February 2013


In 2010 I was annoyed with First Great Western for not having a simple "Dr" option on their website registration, but "Dr (Male)" and "Dr (Female)". I chose the "Other" option as an ineffectual sort of protest. Now I get emails from them starting "Dear Other Rebecca Rushforth". I quite like this. At the same time as freeing me from the crushing expectations of being The Rebecca Rushforth it also suggests that I'm a bit alternative, like one of those sitcoms (Arrested Development, Peep Show, etc) which get low ratings because only interesting people like them.

There used to be a Rebecca Rushforth who played teenage league tennis in America. Now there's a Rebecca Rushforth who is Professor of Ballroom Dancing at William and Mary College, Williamsburg, Virginia. Rate My Professors has her down as "hot". Comments include: "Fantastic class! Professor Rushforth is incredibly easy going and a fantastic dancer!" I think it's quite likely that she's The Rebecca Rushforth, and she seems like she's making a good job of it.

I'm rather less fond of Virgin Media's habit of sending me emails starting "Dear null". It's hard not to feel a bit dismissed by this. But I did just phone them up to sort out a bill and a polite man in India constantly referred to me as Doctor, as in "Now, doctor, can you confirm your email address", or "please wait, doctor, while I transfer you to my colleague". I did like that. I don't go by "Doctor" in my work life. People don't seem to on the whole -- there are quite a lot of people with doctorates around, not just in the science areas, and everyone's very cool about it.

People being cool about PhDs is such a nice contrast to my previous life. It may well be that at some point I get all misty-eyed about academia, but at the moment I find that almost impossible to imagine. I used to quite like the PHD webcomic, but now when it pops up in my RSS feed I love it, because it reminds me of what I've escaped. Also LinkedIn keeps asking me if I know people whose work I used to find it hard to take seriously, and with whom I had to have dull earnest conversations at conferences -- pretending that I don't gives me a beautiful feeling of release. This probably counts as the zeal of the convert. But long may it last!

Friday, 1 February 2013

Some more things

Neil Gaiman has long claimed that Tasmania is wonderful. I just got this email from a friend:
Instead of having wall-labels, MONA, The Museum of Old and New Art in Tasmania, gives visitors a mini-iPad with interactive features. The icon for more in-depth info about an artwork is a cock and balls with the caption "Artwank".
He found out about it from this blogpost by David Byrne of a visit to the place. It does sound pretty cool.

The American Storycorps project is very excellent. I think I've posted about it before. It's a huge oral history collection, and sometimes they animate interesting recordings. This one about one of the astronauts who was on board the Challenger when it crashed went somewhere I wasn't quite expecting. It's very good.

Also not quite what you think it's going to be, and very much worth watching, is this:

I think it's from an old British clips show. Are those the dulcet tones of Denis Norden?

Plus there's another video by that excellent dancer: