Sunday, August 15, 2010

A World We Never See

Our perception of the world is limited, of course, by the resolving power of our senses. What we can see, hear, smell, taste and feel forms the boundary of our experience of the "real world". We can extend it by thinking, but, given the data we have that can often mean creating something entirely notional rather than something "real" in the way that we consider sense data "real".

Occasionally, we come across something that demonstrates how we, as humans, are working with extremely poor data when we rely on our senses. If the goal is "objectivity" we are hopeless. Objectivity is a pursuit, if it is even possible, which requires infinitely detailed data of an an infinite variety, and taking it all into account at once.

This video demonstrates the gap between what "is" and what we perceive rather dramatically. I never would have guessed at what it shows. Shot at 9000 frames per second it reveals to our eyes what they would otherwise never be able to see. For me, it is allegorical. It's also really cool even if you don't want to ponder its epistemic implications. Watch it on YouTube for the full impact.

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iPhone 4 Considered Harmful

Apple's packaging is always designed to be a part of the product experience. Minimalism in volume and package contents are clearly among the design goals. So, when I received my new iPhone 4 I was unsurprised, if not unimpressed, that they'd managed to make the box even smaller than the iPhone 3GS's container.

The iPhone's diminuitive box, photographed by its former contents

Among the sparse contents of the new box are two pamphlets: "Finger Tips" which is a quick start guide for the uninitiated and the iPhone 4 Product Information Guide which is a vehicle for Apple's legal team to set out the various advisory messages to help support Apple's eventual refusal to cover, under warranty, a phone that's been cleaned with concentrated sulphuric acid or taken deep sea diving.

In addition are the warnings and disclaimers intended, to the extent allowed by law, to indemnify Apple against lawsuits arising from use or abuse the the iPhone. For example, there is a section saying that using the Maps application to navigate is a bad idea (which stops short of saying "...for entertainment purposes only"). And, further on, the intrepid reader with either excellent vision or a handy magnifier will find this:

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