"Order doesn't come by itself."I read a few things trolling the net over the weekend and I kept coming back to these items. Maybe they have something to do with each other, or maybe not, but I string them together anyway. Most of these were stumbled upon at Metafilter.
"I don't seek power and do not run around". Fractals visualized is more than a florid riot of repeating structures but opens up logic systems of behavior on a whole gamut of things that include weather and the stock market. My pedestrian brain can skim and find the odd human angle. Mandelbrot's talk has a fringe of bitterness, he was an outsider it seems.
My ambition was not to create a new field, but I would have welcomed a permanent group of people having interests close to mine and therefore breaking the disastrous tendency towards increasingly well-defined fields. Unfortunately, I failed on this essential point, very badly. Order doesn't come by itself. In my youth I was a student at Caltech while molecular biology was being created by Max Delbrück, so I saw what it means to create a new field. But my work did not give rise to anything like that. One reason is my personality — I don't seek power and do not run around. A second is circumstances — I was in an industrial laboratory because academia found me unsuitable. Besides, creating close organized links between activities which otherwise are very separate might have been beyond any single person's ability.
A THEORY OF ROUGHNESS
A Talk with Benoit Mandelbrot
Okay, to pursue fractals may really have to be a lonely vigil, but Mandelbrot's industry seems no different from others where the facile and those caught in the lucky flavor-of-the-moment spotlight will get the attention. Push what is popular. Below is a documentary that takes aim at the music industry.
Before the Music Dies' Diagnoses an Ailing Industry
The movie offers a roster of forces to blame for all this: The consolidation of power in a shrinking number of companies; the takeover of executive posts in those companies by bean counters who don't respect the artistic process; the rise of MTV and a visual orientation among young people; technology that makes it easy to cover up and correct lousy singing; the culture's growing emphasis on physical beauty; and a mysterious loss of humanity and heart, certainly in the music business and perhaps in the species.
No news to see that what succeeds needs to be replicated. The Economist article excerpted below highlights that in 2007 "Hollywood studios have scheduled no fewer than a dozen sequels within 16 weeks." A move to convert theaters to digital is great news to both audience and studios. Though one wonders if the technology is being mistaken for content yet again.
Coming (again) to a theatre near you
The move will revolutionize distribution. The studios stand to save $1 billion a year on the costs of duplicating and shipping celluloid prints. For the audience, digital will enable more technical innovations, including a revised 3D—if the technique lured audiences in 1952 with “Bwana Devil”, why wouldn’t it work now? James Cameron, who has not made a fictional film since “Titanic” in 1997, is aiming for a 2007 start on a trilogy that he will shoot in new 3D technology. Currently, 150 auditoriums in America are equipped for 3D; this will climb to 500 in 2007.
We're in for a sensory assault. I'll find this novelty worth checking out when it's installed in the local multiplex. Though if it goes the way of the digital special effects extravaganza movies (Van Helsing, Underworld, Doom...you fill in your list, I don't have the energy) we'll be in for another re-learning of the simple lesson that we go to the movies for the stories.
That's no more obvious than in the business of books. We buy them because it takes no special effects or 3D delivery system to make the stories real. They just have to be told well. Since the emergence of the internet everyone's regarded as inevitable the end of the printed book, supplanted by its digital incarnation. Not so fast.
But surprise--the conventional wisdom is wrong. Our special report on books and the future of publishing is brim-full of reasons to be optimistic. People are reading more, not less. The Internet is fueling literacy. Giving books away online increases off-line readership. New forms of expression--wikis, networked books--are blossoming in a digital hothouse.
That's comforting. Readers speak with their dollars. Personally, I like to see the author in the work, the human being in there--which goes without saying in the case of books (though not always). Maybe that's why I like the Mandelbrot story, nice-guy-finishing-last but eeking out a meager, personal victory of having done it himself away from what's fashionable for his industry. Music? Movies? I can only watch and listen to what I want. That's how my sentiments, I guess, are best vented.