Tron Thoughts

Joe McKay has a "top 6" post up discussing Minecraft and other games, as well as a reconsideration of the original Tron movie (on the occasion of what sounds like an execrable sequel).

Did some blog posts on Tron a few years back (whoops, seven years, time flies). Excerpt from one of them:

The computer graphics were divided among four different companies. In order to communicate the movements the filmmakers wanted (say, in the sequence where a Recognizer chases a tank), the animators hand-wrote numerical coordinates for the horizontal, vertical, and depth axes of each object, as well as variable factors such as pitch and yaw, on a sheet of paper, and the graphics shop keypunched the numbers in: 600 numbers translated into four seconds of film. The movie had approximately 20 minutes of computer-generated footage (including the "descent into the computer," the yes/no-speaking "bit," and other vignettes), all of which had to be painstakingly integrated with the backlit kodalith of the rotoscoped sequences. The "making of" featurette is tres corporate; the Disney execs interviewed basically fib and say the movie succeeded from the get-go, when in actuality the game outsold the film in '82.

Excerpt from another:

The film's director, Steven Lisberger, is just as rooted in digital utopianism as the Pixar folks; in recent interviews he has spoken of how artists can give inspiring form to new technologies, lamented the failed promise of the internet (he believes it's mainly a haven for gossip and p0rn), and dissed the despairing tone of the (original) Matrix. Yet a lot of artists like Tron, perhaps for the wrong reasons: the provisional, cobbled-together look of its technology; its wonderful mix of formal beauty and supreme cheesiness. Also, readers of William Gibson's Neuromancer inevitably thought about Blade Runner when visualizing The Sprawl, but what movie provided a ready template for the blocks of abstract data comprising Cyberspace?

In June '07 I reposted some folks' worried comments about the trend of big companies gobbling up "small scale social web 2.0 companies." Aside from one weird error (was there ever talk of Yahoo acquiring Facebook?) the post is a roll call of the Damned:

GOOGLE now owns Blogger, Writely, Dodgeball, Feedburner, YouTube, and Picasa. EBay took over Stumbleupon and Skype. YAHOO snatched up Facebook,, WebJay, Jumpcut,, and Oddpost.

Mr. Murdoch's NEWS CORP acquired MySpace, the video and photo-sharing site PhotoBucket and the media mash up site Flektor. It goes without saying that they already own Fox News and Fox TV, and a few good old publishing houses like Harper Collins, Daily Telegraph, The Times, New York Daily Post, The Sun, and The Australian.

Fox Interactive bought Photobucket, which is well-liked on MySpace. NewsCorp's effort is to make services on MySpace proprietary. This means that in the future, MySpacers, will not be able to plug in third party services. The goal is to create, popularize, and monetize in-house applications and then close the door to the wealth of the sociable web. Murdoch clearly does not get the sociable web as this direction will go at the expense of the teens on MySpace.

...noted Trebor Scholz, in a post that I can't find now. The thought under consideration was Burak Arikan's:

I think this is an important moment to pay attention to how inhumane the data ownership laws in USA: One who aggregates data owns it.

This kind of talk is increasingly quaint as "big company" control of the web continues to tighten. Control's just a fact of life for most people; concern about independence is dismissed as angry old man talk. Oh, Wikileaks, those grandpas, thinking that their outing secrets could make a difference; let's get back to celebrity news. But the assumption in the above-referenced posts was that data had value, as in good old capitalistic "long green," and thus it's surprising to see Yahoo deciding to just shut down Years of intellectual history--a rich memory bank--accumulated by thousands of people "mining" the web: poof, gone, meet your friend Geocities in heaven. Assuming that's how it will work. Maybe it's precisely because it's about thinking and stuff that Yahoo finds it so unappetizing.

Not to say that the present blog is a vast intellectual resource (some think not) but whatever readership it has is mostly owed to (still using the old spelling). Cory Arcangel was the first link for my old site (95 links to the root URL) and Travis Hallenbeck was the first link for (58 links to the root URL). The post "New Media vs Artists with Computers" got delished 34 times. Sally McKay's essay "The Affect of Animated GIFs": 60 delishes. This may be modest in the Gawker scale of things but it's enough to keep me going.

Normally "stats" aren't discussed here but am feeling wistful about the loss of the hive mind (as others are). Again, selfishly speaking, with all these links gone there is less out there to balance the "likes" and stalker pages that pass for feedback in the late 2.0 era. It's true that delishes are basically just "likes" but sometimes people wrote comments and used the tags creatively--will miss that. Occasionally a comment such as this one from risdcareers came along like a bolt out of the blue to challenge the peanut gallery party line: "Tom Moody is one of the few critics who talks about what he likes and dislikes in equal proportion, always giving the artist the courtesy of actually thoroughly considering the work before discussing it." Well, that's not always true, and I'm not really a "critic" anymore, but the support is appreciated. (It's hard to imagine anyone in the new media world writing that--yay, art schools. With the new media posse you are expected to support 100% of an artist's work or become forever an "enemy.")

Update: Minor face-saving edits.

Update 2: Oops, the quote I attributed to RISD's delicious is actually Paddy Johnson's writing. Her post was reblogged on but it's all messed up now.

Update 3: As of February 2012, Delicious still exists but has a new owner and has suffered death by redesign. My link-count links above no longer jibe with the counts on those pages, the chronologies (e.g., "first linked") are inaccurate, and the pages now look like spam blogs. Various groups and networks within the site disappeared overnight. Current twitter users, take note: this is your possible future.

Update 4, Jan. 2018: The Rhizome post has been repaired but omits Paddy Johnson's authorship of the post.