Some follow-up links from last class
First, if you were interested in the computer-generated ringtones Wolfram is selling, check out Wolfram Tones: An Experiment in a New Kind of Music (I suppose he's reinventing music, as well). You can listen to them on the website, share them with friends, and download them to your cell phone -- the last for a fee of about $2. Another bit of follow-up is something I'd been meaning to post for a while, but I was waiting to get my blog account. Since we were talking about computer-generated art, it seems particularly appropriate to link to it now. For the last few months, I've been using a screensaver called Electric Sheep (the name of which, as you may know, is a reference to Philip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?). This screensaver is a distributed computing project which produces and shares fractal movies which are then shown on the screen as the computer idles. Users can vote on them using the up and down keys on their keyboards, and the "more popular sheep live longer and reproduce according to a genetic algorithm with mutation and cross-over." Obviously this art isn't generated in a context free from human input, but for the most part this input is limited to a simple thumbs-up or thumbs down (or, in this case, a right-side-up or upside-down sheep), and it's striking to me how entrancing the results are (I've had many conversations in my room interupted when the screensaver came on and everyone present started staring at my computer). It's available for many platforms, and I would really recommend downloading it and taking a look at it yourselves. Keep in mind that it takes a while for the "sheep" to download, so it's good to let your computer idle with it running for a while. The FAQ and other documentation might also be of interest.