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Here's Kevin Smith discussing his success as an independent, and rebutting critics who say that his go-it-alone strategy for his Red State (which is, by the way, excellent) was only possible because he'd made a name for himself:

Anyone that tells you "oh he could do it because he's Kevin Smith"—tell 'em horseshit, man. That's somebody who's trying to tell you "don't try, you can't try, he did it, he can do it, you can't do it." Don't listen to that shit man. Think of life and progress as a game—I always think of it in terms of a game of hockey. When you're skating with the puck towards the net there's always a motherfucker trying to hook you from behind, just to slow you up enough, 'cause nobody wants to see anybody succeed. So don't listen to that. When you hear somebody go "well of course he could do it, he's Kevin Smith"—those same assholes, before I did it, were like "it's never gonna work, it's dumb, he crazy". And then when it worked, they didn't go like "you know what? we were wrong"—instead they say "well only he could do it because he's Kevin Smith" and I say horseshit. Kevin Smith wasn't always Kevin Smith, nor was Kevin Smith the little kid that pulled the fucking sword from the stone.

Now am I going to say like, this is the only way it should ever be done forever? No but you're always looking for alternatives, because the old method doesn't so much work anymore. You can't just put a commercial on TV and expect a bunch of people to show up and see it at the movie theatres. They have too many choices. They can just stay home and surf porn on the internet. Why would you want to go see The Avengers when you can watch like three people having sex from the privacy of your own home? You're competing for attention, and in a world where you're competing for attention, you have to figure out ways to make it more interesting for the audience to come out. It's no longer enough to be like "here's the movie, come see it".

Techdirt's Mike Masnick relates this to Masnick's Law: "in any conversation about musicians doing something different to achieve fame and/or fortune someone will inevitably attempt to make the argument that 'it only worked for them because they are big/small and it will never work for someone who is the opposite,' no matter how much evidence to the contrary might be readily available."

Kevin Smith On Why You Don't Have To Be Kevin Smith To Try Innovative New Things

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For the past five years, Peter Jansen, a Canadian scientist whose PhD is in neural computation and cognitive modelling, has been developing a series of open source hardware "tricorders" -- handheld sensor packages running GNU/Linux that can be used by everyday people to make and record observations about the world around them. There are several versions of the tricorder, some with sensors attached (atmospheric, electromagnetic, spatial), others that are "blank," with places to mount your own sensors. The latest version, the Mark IV, is still in development, and is intended to be mass-produced at low cost.


The Tricorder project emphasizes accessibility. The devices we build are meant to be as inexpensive as possible, so folks might have access to them without having to worry about the cost, or their difficulty of use. My hope is that someday every household — and every child who wants one — might have access to a small device that can easily be kept close in a pocket or bag, and quickly pulled out when curiosity strikes. By turning a walk home through the park into a nature walk, and Dad's spring time home repairs into a lesson about heat flow, it's my hope that everyday experiences will become opportunities to learn and develop an intuitive understanding and deep fluency with the science of our everyday world.

It is my deep belief that knowledge brings about positive change. It's possible that the same instrument that can show a child how much chlorophyll is in a leaf could also show how them much pollution is in the air around us, or given off by one's car. As an educator and a researcher, I feel that if people could easily discover things about their worlds that were also important social topics, that they would then make positive social choices, like reducing their emissions, or petitioning for cleaner industry in their communities. By having access to general tools, people can learn about leaves, or air, or clouds, or houses — or light, or magnetism, or temperature — or anything the Tricorder can help them see.

Most of all, the Tricorder is designed to discover things that we don't already know. I'm excited about what you can discover with it. And that's what it's about. Little discoveries, everywhere.

the Tricorder project:

(via MeFi)

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Robert sez, "The gamified EyeWire project, now in open beta, is about using human computation to help trace the neurons in a retina. Tracing the neurons will help nail down the computation that goes on inside the retina leading up to the optic nerve, and lead to better methods of brain mapping. Come and help explore the eye's jungle!"

Game 1: Reconstructing Neurons
The first step of the challenge is to reconstruct the tree-like shapes of retinal neurons by tracing their branches through the images. You will accomplish this by playing a simple game: helping the computer color a neuron as if the images were a three-dimensional coloring book. The collective efforts of you and other players will result in three-dimensional reconstructions of neurons like this. Playing the game does not require any specialized knowledge of neuroscience — just sharp eyes and practice. If you like, you can stop reading this page, and proceed to detailed instructions for the game here or simply start playing. On the other hand, if you’d like to know more about the scientific plan, read on.

Game 2: Identifying Synapses
Reconstructing neurons involves tracing their branches, which are like the “wires” of the retina. This by itself is not enough for finding connectomes; we also need to identify synapses. This kind of image analysis will be accomplished through another game that will be introduced on this website in the near future. The identification of synapses will involve subtleties, due to limitations of the dataset, as will be discussed in detail later on.

Rules of Connection
Playing either of the above games will produce information that will be valuable for understanding how the retina functions. How exactly will the information be used? To answer this question, we should confront the issue of variability. We expect that every retina will be wired somewhat differently. In that case, would mapping the connections in one retina tell us anything that is applicable to other retinas? We expect that retinal connectomes will obey invariant rules of connection, and it is these rules that really interest researchers. Many of the rules are expected to depend on neuronal cell types, i.e., of the form “Cell type A receives synapses from cell type B.” Some such rules are already known, but the vast majority remain undiscovered.

EyeWire – Help Map the Retinal Connectome

(Thanks, Robert!)

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My colleagues at Institute for the Future and Rockefeller Foundation are launching a fascinating and ambitious online game to crowdsource ideas on how to fight global poverty! It's a 48-hour game to cultivate back-of-the-envelope ideas for new technologies, social enterprises, skillsets, educational approaches, and other strategies or methods to help and empower poor and vulnerable populations around the globe. Sound like a huge endeavor? Yep. The game, called Catalysts For Change, kicks off on April 3 and you can sign up right now to play. Boing Boing is proud to be a media partner in this epic endeavor. From the project announcement:

Catalysts for Change will be played over a 48-hour span. It will draw players from around the world, with the goal to identify thousands of new paths out of poverty with hundreds of players from all walks of life. The game itself will leverage simple 140-character messages to play cards. Each card will capture an idea, and participants will build on one another’s ideas. By building on the cards, players will start chain reactions of innovations and solutions that are more than the sum of their parts.

On April 3, (Rockefeller Foundation president Dr. Judith) Rodin will kick off the game and initiate a conversation with leaders in international philanthropy, development, technology, design, and social innovation. Building from the real-time experiment of the Catalysts for Change game, the Bay Area forum will focus on imagining innovative ways to catalyze positive change in the lives of poor or vulnerable people throughout the world.

Ideas generated during the game and forum will be featured in an online game blog that will build on an interactive online map already offering more than six-hundred examples of innovative approaches to the issues that poor communities around the world face.

Catalysts for Change: Paths out of Poverty

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At a dog show in Shenyang, China, a Tibetan Mastiff has no idea whatsoever what this man is trying to achieve. Photo: REUTERS/Sheng Li

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We've talked here before about the extremely important (and often-overlooked) DIY aspect of science. Scientists are makers. They have to be. The tools they need often aren't available any other way. Other times, the tools are available, but they're far more expensive than what you could construct out of your own ingenuity.

In this video, researchers at Cambridge build LEGO robots that automate time-consuming laboratory processes at a fraction of the cost of a "real" robot.

Video Link

Via Karyn Traphagen

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Now that The Pirate Bay is serving tiny "magnet links" instead of torrents, its whole database will fit in 90MB. That means that they can use much lighter-weight server hardware, including tiny Raspberry Pi boxes in RC drones with long-range wireless Internet links. They say that this means that you'll need the Air Force to take them down -- though presumably you can still attack their ground-stations with more conventional technology (presuming you can find them).

With the development of GPS controlled drones, far-reaching cheap radio equipment and tiny new computers like the Raspberry Pi, we're going to experiment with sending out some small drones that will float some kilometers up in the air. This way our machines will have to be shut down with aeroplanes in order to shut down the system. A real act of war.

We're just starting so we haven't figured everything out yet. But we can't limit ourselves to hosting things just on land anymore. These Low Orbit Server Stations (LOSS) are just the first attempt. With modern radio transmitters we can get over 100Mbps per node up to 50km away. For the proxy system we're building, that's more than enough.

But when time comes we will host in all parts of the galaxy, being true to our slogan of being the galaxy's most resilient system. And all of the parts we'll use to build that system on will be downloadable.

TPB LOSS

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[Video Link] If you've been reading Boing Boing for any length of time, you probably know by now Daniel Clowes is at the top of my list of greatest living cartoonists. (See our many posts about Dan's work, interviews, profiles, etc.).

So you will understand why I'm so excited about the forthcoming monograph, The Art of Daniel Clowes: Modern Cartoonist, edited by Alvin Buenaventura (the great comic book publisher and historian), and published by Abrams ComicArts. On April 5, Meltdown Comics in Los Angeles is holding an event to celebrate the release of the book. Part of the festivities will include a live interview with Dan, conducted by yours truly. If you buy a copy of The Art of Daniel Clowes through Meltdown, you'll get 2 tickets to the event (and Dan will sign it for you that evening). Additional tickets can be purchased for $10.

Also, enter our contest for a chance to win a copy of the book autographed by Daniel Clowes. Throughout our countdown, one winner will be picked at random every day, so check Boing Boing for the daily code. To enter, send an email to artofdanielclowescontest@gmail.com with your mailing address (no PO boxes please) and put today’s contest code: [enidcoleslaw] in the subject line.

For the next two weeks, I'll post a daily countdown entry about Clowes and his book, written by Dan or Alvin. The official release date is April, 1, but you can get it today on Amazon.

Here's today's countdown post: ¡Ay Dan Clowes! (Los Simpson en Español) y Correa de la Utilidad del Batman

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Daniel Clowes, along with Art Spiegelman and Alan Moore, appeared on The Simpsons episode titled "Husbands and Knives," first broadcast on November 18, 2007. Clowes was asked to draw a version of Batman's utility belt, but it was too detailed for the show’s minimal style.

Two-Week Countdown to the Release of "The Art of Daniel Clowes: Modern Cartoonist"!

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Here's a POV video of a fourth grade girl psyching herself up for her first run down an intimidating ski-jump. The tension mounts as she narrates her anxieties and checks in with her instructor for comfort, and the payoff -- a successful run and delighted cheering -- is all the better for it.

Girls first Ski Jump

(via Kottke)

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