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Posts Tagged ‘web site’

Tour the Milky Way in 20 billion pixels

Milky Way
(Credit:
(Screenshot by Michelle Starr/CNET Australia))

Most of us will never leave the Earth — but that doesn’t stop us dreaming of the stars. There are a few tools that let you explore, though — and NASA has just launched a killer.

Created from the Galactic Legacy Mid-Plane Survey Extraordinaire (Glimpse) project, it’s the most comprehensive visual map of the Milky Way Galaxy released to date — and yet it only shows just over half of the galaxy’s stars. Stitched together from more than 2 million images taken by the Spitzer Space Telescope over the course of a decade, the zoomable, 360-degree image comes in at 20 gigapixels. Since its launch in 2003, Spitzer has spent a total of 4,142 hours taking pictures of the Milky Way in infrared light.

“If we actually printed this out, we’d need a billboard as big as the Rose Bowl Stadium to display it,” Spitzer Space Science Center imaging specialist Robert Hurt said in a statement. “Instead we’ve created a digital viewer that anyone, even astronomers, can use.”

When viewed in the visual spectrum, sections of the Milky Way — a flat spiral disc — are occluded by dust. By taking images in the infrared spectrum through which stars can be seen through the dust, Spitzer allows us a more complete picture of our galaxy so that astronomers can map the spiral arms and determine the galaxy’s edges.

With Glimpse data, astronomers have been able to create the most accurate map of our galaxy’s center to date, and see star formation and faint stars in the outer, darker regions that, prior to Spitzer, were unexplored territory.

“There are a whole lot more lower-mass stars seen now with Spitzer on a large scale, allowing for a grand study,” said Barbara Whitney of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, co-leader of the Glimpse team. “Spitzer is sensitive enough to pick these up and light up the entire ‘countryside’ with star formation.”

There are two ways to view the mosaic: using Microsoft’s WorldWide Telescope platform, which includes context and cross-fade to visual light; and CDA Aladin Lite, which doesn’t show the entire mosaic, but instead offers shortcuts to regions of interest, such as nebulae, and image exports.

The Glimpse data is also being used as part of a NASA citizen scientist project. People can visit the Milky Way Project Web site and help NASA catalogue areas of interest, such as bubbles, clusters, and galaxies.

You can visit the interactive image here, and download it in full resolution here.

(Source: Crave Australia via NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory)

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/cnet/pRza/~3/ey5iT7etbL8/

Restaurant uses parachutes, PayPal to deliver sandwiches

Jaffles

A woman removes the parachute from her just-landed “jaffle,” a toasted sandwich popular in Australia.


(Credit:
Video screenshot by Michael Franco/CNET)

Waiters are so last century. These days, sushi is flown to your table via a quadcopter and beer is dropped out of the sky from an octocopter. Now, a new pop-up restaurant in Melbourne, Australia, has added another, albeit less high-tech, method of food delivery: sandwiches that parachute several stories down to customers waiting on the street.

The novel nosh drop is the brainchild of David McDonald and Adam Grant, who make the toasted sandwiches, called “jaffles,” after people order and pay for them via PayPal on their Web site. The customers then stand on an “X” on the sidewalk and wait for their meal to drop down like mana from heaven. The locations change, and customers are kept up to date via Facebook. The company is fittingly called Jafflechutes.

The sandwiches are pretty basic — either cheese and ham for $6 AUD ($5.45) or cheese and tomato for $5 AUD — but this restaurant definitely seems to be more about style than substance.

Interestingly, parachute-delivered food could have a real benefit for would-be restauranteurs, as pointed out by Pop-Up City. Storefronts on busy city streets can demand super-steep rents. If chefs can prepare food from lesser-priced spaces higher up in buildings and then just throw it out the window to their customers, they could test out culinary concepts in a much less-expensive way. Plus, there are no pesky waiters to pay or tables to clean up.

At the moment, “Melbourne’s first float-down eatery,” as Jafflechutes terms itself, is taking a break to prepare for a roadshow to New York. So if you happen to be in the Big Apple over the next few months, be sure to keep your eyes on the sky. You just might see a sandwich floating your way. And if you’re in Melbourne, you can help the Jafflechuters create 1,000 new parachutes at its workshop on March 29, where they promise: “There’ll be beer nearby, some tunes, and a full afternoon’s worth of jafflechuting anecdotes (and other tall stories). We’re even working on a way to allow you to be recognised for every parachute that you make!”

(Via Pop-Up City)

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/cnet/pRza/~3/WhNWnzMT1X8/

Mapping the human face in 900 megapixels


(Credit:
Video screenshot by Lexy Savvides/CNET)

Daniel Boschung is a cartographer, but not as you know it.

He creates intricate photographs captured by his robotic camera that provide incredibly high-resolution overviews of paintings and insects.

For his latest project, Boschung set his camera on faces. He asked his subjects to remain perfectly still for 30 minutes as the robot took their portrait.

Each of the finished photos consists of 600 individual shots all stitched together. The level of detail captured is amazing, turning a regular portrait into a map of the human face. Eyelashes, stray hairs, and pores get captured in all their macro glory with incredible depth-of-field. Just like a gigapixel image, you can zoom in and out to explore every facet of the photo.

The photos are all taken by an ABB industrial robot that has been programmed specifically to take the images in the correct order and orientation. A Canon 5D Mark II is the workhorse responsible for churning out the images, equipped with a 180mm macro lens that has been customized to act as a telecentrical lens. This means that the optical image of the actual aperture stop is set at infinity.

Illuminating 600 images taken in quick succession would usually present a problem with overheating and variable color temperature when using normal studio flashes, so Boschung used the Scoro S 32000 RFS 2 from Broncolor.

The finished product. You wouldn’t look particularly happy either if you had to sit perfectly still with no expression for half an hour.


(Credit:
Screenshot by Lexy Savvides/CNET)

You can explore the finished portraits on the project Web site and take a closer look at how the robotic camera arrangement operates in the video below.

(Source: CNET Australia)

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Kaffe qif qiya! Finally, a course to help kids learn Dothraki

Completely appropriate for children, the Muzzy Dothraki language program will have your kids running their own khalasar in no time!


(Credit:
Video screenshot by Michael Franco/CNET)

Hey kids! Have you ever wanted to learn how to say “I will dance in your blood?” in the Dothraki language made popular on “Game of Thrones”? Parents, do you want to arm your kids with vital language skills in a world that’s increasingly being taken over by strange terms like “Valyrian steel,” and “mother of dragons?” If so, video-spoof-making team Nacho Punch has got just the thing for you.

Their latest YouTube parody takes a 1990s commercial for a video set that teaches kids to learn a foreign language by following along with the slightly creepy character “Muzzy,” and melds it with the fantasy world of “Game of Thrones.”

“With this unique language course,” the video says, “humans, giants and even bastards can learn a second language with incredible ease.” The course isn’t just for wannabe Dothraki speakers either. It also offers lessons in Valyrian, Hodor and White Walker.

The cost for the set of “four delightful videos” is a deal too: just three petrified dragon eggs, or 20 gold pieces a month for six months.

Even though the video is a spoof, such a language-learning set for Dothraki isn’t really that crazy. The language actually exists. It was created by David Peterson, who won a contest sponsored by the Language Creation Society to invent the vocabulary and grammar for the HBO show. It has more than 3,000 words and a Web site that tells you all you’d ever really want to know about speaking the language.

The Muzzy/Dothraki mashup is just one of the latest in a long line of Nacho Punch short animations like “Star Wars: The Lost 1980s Anime,” humorous series like “Robin Banks and the Bank Roberts,” and spoof videos like “Hipsters Love Beer,” which went viral after it was released in January, according to the Nacho Punch peeps.

So act soon to reserve a Dothraki Muzzy language course for your kids, because you never know when they’ll need to talk their way out a tricky situation with a nomadic horde at school. And Qafak qov kaffe qif qiya fini kaf faqqies fakaya! (That means, “The trembling questioner crushed the bleeding boar that squished a kicking corn bunting,” but I’m still learning, so give me a break.)

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Preserved woolly-mammoth autopsy shows cloning is a real possibility

Woolly mammoth
(Credit:

Woolly mammoth image by Flying Puffin, CC BY-SA 2.0
)

The female woolly mammoth unearthed in the Lyakhovsky Islands in May 2013 could one day become the “mother” of the first woolly mammoth to walk the earth in millennia.

The discovery of the beast caused excitement when the scientists who unearthed her found that she was very well preserved — to the point that her blood was still liquid after all these years.

Now, after a necropsy (an autopsy on an animal), the team has discovered that the mammoth’s soft tissues are in excellent condition, so much so that they may be able to extract enough high-quality DNA to perform an analysis — and maybe even a reconstruction.

“We have dissected the soft tissues of the mammoth — and I must say that we didn’t expect such results. The carcass that is more than 43,000 years old has preserved better than a body of a human buried for six months,” Viktoria Egorova, chief of the Research and Clinical Diagnostic Laboratory of the Medical Clinic of North-Eastern Federal University, Siberia, told the Siberian Times. “The tissue cut clearly shows blood vessels with strong walls. Inside the vessels there is haemolysed blood, where for the first time we have found erythrocytes. Muscle and adipose tissues are well preserved.”

The team also found migrating lymphoid tissue cells; the liver, intact, with hard fragments inside, possibly kidney stones; and the animal’s intestines, with the remains of the vegetation it consumed prior to dying still inside. The analysis of the blood, interestingly, revealed some insight into how the mammoth died: the blood was “agonized,” indicating that the animal had died an unnatural death, in pain for 16 to 18 hours. The unnatural angle of the leg leads scientists to believe the mammoth fell into an ice hole and couldn’t get out.

Cloning is something the scientists are considering — but first they have to determine if the DNA is usable for this purpose, including something called a “living cell” — the least damaged DNA; and then, of course, there’s the tricky matter of gestation.

“The next question is how to use an elephant in the cloning process,” Semyon Grigoriev, the leader of the expedition that found the mammoth, explained. “The evolutionary path of the mammoth and the elephant diverged a long time ago. So even if we could get a ‘living cell’ we need to have a special method of cloning. The Koreans are working on getting the clones from different species, but, you see, it is not so fast. If we do not get ‘living cell,’ we will have a longer route. Then we should create artificial DNA; it could take 50 or 60 years.”

And then there are the moral concerns around cloning extinct animals. Some scientists believe that such an act would be irresponsible. First of all, you have to determine how and why an animal became extinct. Then you have to examine the impact of the animal’s return on the current environment. And then you have to think about how it would affect the animal itself. Elephants, for example, are herd animals; how would the world’s only mammoth cope?

As Vice President of the Russian Association of Medical Anthropologists Radik Khayrullin said, “We must have a reason to do this, as it is one thing to clone it for scientific purposes, and another to clone for the sake of curiosity.”

But, even without cloning, the mammoth is a rich source of information to the scientists.

“Apart from cloning, these samples will give us an opportunity to completely decode the DNA of the mammoth, and we will be able to decipher the nuclear DNA, which stores a lot of information,” Grigoriev said. “So we have a unique opportunity to understand how the mammoth’s blood system worked, its muscles and the trunk. Of course, we are engaged primarily in fundamental science. It is important to us to learn all possible details about mammoth. Maybe our findings will be used by applied science, but now it is early to think of it.”

The team will present its findings at a special conference to be held in May. Meanwhile, you can see images of the necropsy on the Siberian Times Web site.

(Source: Crave Australia via The Siberian Times)

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/cnet/pRza/~3/shFLhvKaIYA/

Preserved woolly mammoth autopsy shows cloning is a real possibility

Woolly mammoth
(Credit:

Woolly mammoth image by Flying Puffin, CC BY-SA 2.0
)

The female woolly mammoth unearthed in the Lyakhovsky Islands in May 2013 could one day become the “mother” of the first woolly mammoth to walk the earth in millennia.

The discovery of the beast caused excitement when the scientists who unearthed her found that she was very well preserved — to the point that her blood was still liquid after all these years.

Now, after an autopsy, the team has discovered that the mammoth’s soft tissues are in excellent condition, so much so that they may be able to extract enough high-quality DNA to perform an analysis — and maybe even a reconstruction.

“We have dissected the soft tissues of the mammoth — and I must say that we didn’t expect such results. The carcass that is more than 43,000 years old has preserved better than a body of a human buried for six months,” Viktoria Egorova, chief of the Research and Clinical Diagnostic Laboratory of the Medical Clinic of North-Eastern Federal University, Siberia, told the Siberian Times. “The tissue cut clearly shows blood vessels with strong walls. Inside the vessels there is haemolysed blood, where for the first time we have found erythrocytes. Muscle and adipose tissues are well preserved.”

The team also found migrating lymphoid tissue cells; the liver, intact, with hard fragments inside, possibly kidney stones; and the animal’s intestines, with the remains of the vegetation it consumed prior to dying still inside. The analysis of the blood, interestingly, revealed some insight into how the mammoth died: the blood was “agonized,” indicating that the animal had died an unnatural death, in pain for 16 to 18 hours. The unnatural angle of the leg leads scientists to believe the mammoth fell into an ice hole and couldn’t get out.

Cloning is something the scientists are considering — but first they have to determine if the DNA is usable for this purpose, including something called a “living cell” — the least damaged DNA; and then, of course, there’s the tricky matter of gestation.

“The next question is how to use an elephant in the cloning process,” Semyon Grigoriev, the leader of the expedition that found the mammoth, explained. “The evolutionary path of the mammoth and the elephant diverged a long time ago. So even if we could get a ‘living cell’ we need to have a special method of cloning. The Koreans are working on getting the clones from different species, but, you see, it is not so fast. If we do not get ‘living cell,’ we will have a longer route. Then we should create artificial DNA; it could take 50 or 60 years.”

And then there are the moral concerns around cloning extinct animals. Some scientists believe that such an act would be irresponsible. First of all, you have to determine how and why an animal became extinct. Then you have to examine the impact of the animal’s return on the current environment. And then you have to think about how it would affect the animal itself. Elephants, for example, are herd animals; how would the world’s only mammoth cope?

As Vice President of the Russian Association of Medical Anthropologists Radik Khayrullin said, “We must have a reason to do this, as it is one thing to clone it for scientific purposes, and another to clone for the sake of curiosity.”

But, even without cloning, the mammoth is a rich source of information to the scientists.

“Apart from cloning, these samples will give us an opportunity to completely decode the DNA of the mammoth, and we will be able to decipher the nuclear DNA, which stores a lot of information,” Grigoriev said. “So we have a unique opportunity to understand how the mammoth’s blood system worked, its muscles and the trunk. Of course, we are engaged primarily in fundamental science. It is important to us to learn all possible details about mammoth. Maybe our findings will be used by applied science, but now it is early to think of it.”

The team will present its findings at a special conference to be held in May. Meanwhile, you can see images of the autopsy on the Siberian Times Web site.

(Source: Crave Australia via The Siberian Times)

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/cnet/pRza/~3/shFLhvKaIYA/

Oculus Rift Dev Kit 2 now on sale for $350

Oculus’ vision of virtual-reality gaming took another step closer to reality on Wednesday with the public availability of its second Rift Developer’s Kit (DK2).

Game makers can purchase the headset for $350 today from the Oculus Web site, with an expected ship date sometime in July.

Oculus said many of the headset’s features are ready for the average gamer. These include “key technical breakthroughs” such as “low-persistence, high-definition display and precise, low-latency positional head tracking.”

The DK2 takes cues from Oculus’ Crystal Cove prototype, including a low-persistence OLED to tamp down on simulator sickness and improve the potential for presence. It has a high-definition 960×1,080 per-eye display for improved clarity, color, and contrast.

The external camera’s improved low-latency positional head tracking will allow players to peer around corners or lean in to more closely examine virtual objects, Oculus said, while improved positional tracking precision will allow better retention in-game of real world movement.

Oculus Rift Development Kit 2 is on sale now for $350, with an expected ship date sometime in July.


(Credit:
Oculus)

Other DK2 improvements include better orientation tracking, built-in latency testing, an on-headset USB port, better optics, a redesigned Software Development Kit, and optimization to integrate Oculus Rift with the Unity and Unreal Engine 4 game engines. Oculus also has eliminated the “infamous” control box.

Despite the improvements, Oculus said the “overall experience” is still lacking, and not yet ready for gamers.

“DK2 is not the Holodeck yet, but it’s a major step in the right direction,” the company said.

Developers now have access to Oculus Rift Dev Kit 2 (pictures)

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/cnet/pRza/~3/GID93fg9-jI/

3D-printed corset wraps model in revisionist Eden

3D printed fashion
(Credit:
Lori Grunin/CNET)

Multimaterial is going to be the next big thing in 3D printing, allowing for multiple colours and materials in a single print session. And 3D-printing company Stratasys is right in the vanguard with its Objet500 Connex3, unveiled in January.

The printer has three nozzles, which makes it possible to print in three materials at the same time — or three different colours, cyan, magenta and yellow, for an entire rainbow of colour options.

What could you do with such a printer? Well, the potential options are amazing. But perhaps an artist is the best person to showcase just how beautiful 3D printing can be. Michaella Janse van Vuuren, a South African artist, designer, and engineer, has used the Objet500 Connex3 to create a range of fashion accessories in a collection she calls the Garden of Eden — a subverted version of the biblical myth in which, she says, the woman is free and powerful.

“This is the first time that I’m using a 3D printing technology that truly allows me to make something so close to an end product,” van Vuuren said in a Stratasys statement. “The ability to combine rigid and flexible materials in one piece is something that is so rare, and introducing color into the process inspires us creatives to think in a whole new way.”

3D-printed shoes
(Credit:
Stratasys)

The collection consists of some truly gorgeous pieces: a stained-glass-inspired corset based on the Tree of Knowledge, made of three different rubbery materials in clear, solid black, and pink-hued plastic, fitted using body-scanning technology; several pairs of shoes based on the serpent, with the snake forming the heel from rigid material and a more flexible upper; a serpent belt from multihued rubber material; and fish bracelets made from both rigid and flexible materials.

“Depicting the water features in the Garden of Eden, the Fish in Lilies bracelet explores rigid mechanical solutions to bend the bracelet around the wrist while the Fish in Coral piece experiments with different material properties to create a more rubbery part,” van Vuuren explained.

Van Vuuren has not mentioned whether she will be selling the collection on her Web site, or whether it is an art piece not meant for consumer release, but Garden of Eden is only the beginning — not only for van Vuuren, but for an entire new generation of 3D-printed design.

3D-printed shoes
(Credit:
Lori Grunin/CNET)

“I have only scratched the surface of the possibilities with the Objet500 Connex3 3D Printer,” concluded van Vuuren. “Not only does this technology replace traditional methods of fashion manufacturing, it enables one to manufacture in a completely new way. The ability to include different material properties and beautiful jewel-like colours in a single print run is absolutely ground-breaking. Like paint on a canvas, this 3D printer is a powerful tool for engineering and creative expression — I cannot wait to see the objects that this technology will enable.”

(Source: CNET Australia)

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Be your own light show in app-controlled CuteCircuit clubwear

CuteCircuits latest fashion line reminds us that wearable technology doesnt have to sacrifice beauty.

CuteCircuit’s latest fashion line reminds us that wearable technology doesn’t have to sacrifice beauty.


(Credit:
CuteCircuit )

London-based designers Ryan Genz and Francesca Rosella create clothes worthy of sci-fi fashionistas. Their latest CuteCircuit collection, which debuted at this year’s New York Fashion Week, features miniskirts, jackets, dresses, and accessories with LED-lit designs controlled by an iPhone app.

“We’re trying to bring a new dimension, to have everything be controlled by iPhone or a smartphone of some kind, so there’s some way users wearing interactive garments have really cool ways to control what they’re wearing,” Genz explained behind the scenes of CuteCircuit’s fashion show.

During CuteCircuit’s New York Fashion Week show, models using smartphone apps controlled when lit messages, designs, and animations were displayed across miniskirts, shirts, dresses, jackets, and various accessories they wore.

“Many years ago people would put on sequins because they wanted their clothes to sparkle, and there’s times you don’t want your clothes to sparkle, but if you can make them interactive you can make them sparkle when you want them to,” Genz said in the backstage video.

CuteCircuit is well-known for its fashion-meets-tech creations, including Katy Perry’s MET Gala silk chiffon gown adorned with 3,000 colorful lights, and Pussycat Dolls singer Nicole Scherzinger’s Twitter Dress, which displays tweets in real time.

We managed to make the technology invisible, so invisible that not even the models realized they were wearing technology until they turned it on using their phone app, the CuteCircuit site revealed.

“We managed to make the technology invisible, so invisible that not even the models realized they were wearing technology until they turned it on using their phone app,” says the CuteCircuit site.


(Credit:
Theodoros Chliapas/CuteCircuit)

“At CuteCircuit we believe that wearable technology is not a gadget strapped to your wrist,” CuteCircuit’s Web site states. “A piece of wearable technology should be a beautiful garment that allows the human body to become an interface, a sort of second skin, that can connect us to people and places, even faraway and remote ones.”

It’s this desire to connect people that inspired CuteCircuit to design interactive clothes that send messages to wearers at a great distance with its HugShirt. This unusual garment is embedded with sensors that “feel the strength of the touch, the skin warmth and the heartbeat rate of the sender, and actuators that recreate the sensation of touch, warmth, and emotion of the hug to the shirt of the distant loved one,” CuteCircuit claims.

As a Bluetooth accessory for a Java-enabled mobile phone, all the data from the HugShirt is transmitted from the sensors to the phone. “Sending hugs is as easy as sending an SMS and you will be able to send hugs while you are on the move, in the same way and to the same places you are able to make phone calls,” the CuteCircuit site promises.

The integration of telecommunication technology and social media enhances the wearer's experience of their garments and how they relate to other people, CuteCircuit says on its Web site.

“The integration of telecommunication technology and social media enhances the wearer’s experience of their garments and how they relate to other people,” CuteCircuit says on its Web site.


(Credit:
Theodoros Chliapas/CuteCircuit)

While the concepts of CuteCircuit’s clothes may sound gimmicky, wearabilty and a high-fashion look are still a priority of the line’s designers.

“Integrating fashion and technology is not an easy thing to do and you’ll still find people that think we send a garment out with a gigantic
car battery and thick electric wires inside,” CuteCircuit explains on its Web site. “This is not the case fortunately. The fabrics we develop are as thin as other fabrics and as comfortable, the batteries are microscopic (like a 50-cent coin for example), the only difference between a CuteCircuit garment and other garments is that CuteCircuit’s garments bring magic and fun into your wardrobe.”

(Via Fast Company)

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The Web at 25: How it won the White House — and won me back

On assignment.


(Credit:
Johanna DeBiase)

This week I’ve been celebrating 25 years of the Web by retracing my own life, lived largely online, from the Web’s early years to the dot-com boom and bust to the slow emergence of Web 2.0, which I largely missed while in self-imposed digital exile in Alaska. In the final installment today I look at how I came back to the Web just in time for things to get really good.

Look through my author’s profile here at CNET and you might notice that I’m a bit obsessed with following the latest developments in the mobile world, from even the most hopeful iPhone rumors to torture-testing ruggedized Android phones. But back in January of 2007 when the first iPhone was introduced, arguably kicking off the global smartphone craze and eventually helping to push the mobile Web into the mainstream, I missed it completely.

I was focused on being a new father at the time, and although I was back living in the contiguous United States after a stint in a fly-in village in the Alaskan bush where even landline calls came with a 3-second satellite delay, I still had not yet fully re-immersed myself in digital life.

The events of the prior seven years — from being part of the dot-com bust to witnessing firsthand the impacts of climate change in Alaska and touring the mind-boggling nation that is modern China — had all led me to believe that my skills as a journalist might be better used covering issues like energy, the environment, and the politics that drive these for a national radio audience rather than tracking every movement of the hottest startups.

My time in the wilderness had turned me from the hardest-core digital devotee into someone more like my grandmother, a remarkably well-informed octogenarian who has still never touched a keyboard to this day, at least to my knowledge.

But here’s one of the secrets to life that I finally learned the day my now-6-year-old daughter was born: time is our only truly finite resource (although Google and people like Ray Kurzweil seem to be working to change that). Yes, I know it sounds like a ridiculous headline from Thought Catalog, but when faced with the desire to use my time more efficiently so I could spend more of it with my new family, the prospect of reporting on our highly repetitive and inefficient political processes began to feel increasingly corrosive for my soul.

Don’t get me wrong, we could probably use more people scouring the political beat, but it was during the presidential campaign in 2008 that I began to realize I was just over it. Ironically, after covering politics helped draw me away from a career on the Web, it was the unprecedented use of the Web — particularly the social Web — during that campaign that drew me back online.

Tumblr-dry my soul
It wasn’t until August 2008 that Facebook reached 100 million global users (yes, just one-twelfth of its current user count), and the Obama campaign in particular bombarded many of those users with advertising on the social network that encouraged more than 3 million to sign up as supporters of the candidate on Facebook. On election day, 5.4 million people clicked the “I Voted” button on Facebook’s Election ’08 page.

Using this social presence, combined with the campaign’s own social network and an aggressive email and texting campaign, Obama raised half a billion dollars for the campaign on the Web alone. By comparison, the amount of contributions to all candidates from all sources in the 2004 campaign was just $880 million, according to figures from the Federal Election Commission. Arguably, the Web had won the White House for the first time ever.

In 25 years the Web has gone from being ignored to practically winning the White House.


(Credit:

PresidentObama
)

Blogs also played an unprecedented role in that campaign, both the influential partisan sites like DailyKos and HotAir, and official blogs of the candidates that encouraged participation and posting by supporters. I had kept an eye on the blogosphere over the years, even from rural Alaska, and became completely enamored with Tumblr in early 2008, finding it to be a perfect tool to let off steam with a bit of outright mockery of the political system I was becoming increasingly frustrated with covering.

After a six-year absence, I had created yet another in a long line of half-assed Web sites to my name to share my disorganized thoughts with the world. I was back, baby!

My Tumblr was tiny but grew surprisingly quickly by satirizing the hot political stories of the day, and helped bring me fully back to working on the Web with a gig as an editor at AOL in 2009. Something about working for the company that first introduced me to the Web in the mid-’90s and even helped me score my first kiss had the poetic feel of an Elton John song. But as it turns out, the AOL of this century is much different than the one that nurtured me in my youth and I only lasted there for about nine months. But no biggie, as the folks I met through AOL were and continue to be awesome, and it eventually led me here to Crave, where once again, after a nearly decade-long hiatus, I finally felt at home on the Web again.

So that’s my story of love, loss, exile, and homecoming on the Web, spanning almost its entire 25-year history — from an awkward adolescence through the bubble that burst in our faces to the epic quest for meaning amid the chaos of worlds both physical and digital that leads us to today, and a mature Web that isn’t quite perfect, but is pretty damn cool.

#HappyBirthdayAndManyMore


(Credit:
Johanna DeBiase)

But in wrapping this up it also seems only natural to ask what’s next for the Web. I don’t actually think my opinion on that is particularly valuable, but fortunately we did ask the guy who dreamed the whole thing up 25 years ago.

What does strike me, though, is that my first exposure to a computer came at age 8, to online services about four years later, and finally to the Web at age 15. Almost two decades after that, it is the central interface for my life, following important daily face-to-face time with the two redheads I share an abode with, of course.

The smallest of those redheads, my daughter, could perform basic operations on a
tablet at age 2, followed a few years later by surfing certain Web sites on a Netbook. Today she already does homework and pretty major science and craft projects on the Web. By the time she’s my age, with the growth of the Internet of Things and of her digital skills, I have to wonder if she might really be living life on the Web, in a more literal way.

I just hope she takes time out to see the Arctic along the way — the Northern Lights are way more spectacular in person than on YouTube.

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