The Parable of the Polygons

Earlier in the semester we talked about Conway’s Game of Life and, more  generally, about the development of cellular automata as a tool for simulating complex systems.

The parable of the polygons is a brilliant example of how Conway-like games can be used to demonstrate social phenomenon.  The site tells the story of “how harmless choices can make a harmful world”; namely, how small differences in racial preferences can lead to systemic segregation.

The Game of Life

Conway's Game of Life
Conway’s Game of Life


Today in our lecture on Simulations, Simulacra, and the Matrix we talked about the cellular automata developed by the mathematician John Conway.   You can play the Game of Life online, or download the cross-platform application Golly.  There are also versions available for Android and iOS. For more resources on Conway’s Game of Life, visit the ConwayLife wiki. For a more industrial-strength artificial life simulator, try the Avida-ED project at the University of Michigan.

Also, be sure to watch the video on the MASSIVE (Multiple Agent Simulation System in Virtual Environment) software used in the Lord of the Rings films.  Available on the course Canvas site.


Gillian Jacobs on Grace Hopper

Selena Larson at Readwrite has just posted an interesting interview with the actor Gillian Jacobs about the documentary on Grace Hopper that she (Jacobs) is directing.

GJ: I not only want to tell people about Grace Hopper, but remind them that she was not the only woman in her field in her era. Women have always been a part of tech and computing.

Gillian Jacobs is most known for her role as Britta Perry in the television series Community.

Update: Gillian Jacobs knows her historical literature!

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Social Informatics Film Series at IU Cinema

This fall IU Cinema, along with School of Informatics and Computing, will be hosting a film series exploring various aspects of the relationship between computers, individuals, and society.

The films include Humanexus, Desk Set, Her, and TPB AFK: The Pirate Bay Away from Keyboard.

Of particular interest to I222 students will be Desk Set, which is a wonderful romantic comedy starring Katherine Hepburn, Spenser Tracy, and EMERAC. I will be introducing the film, and extra credit will be available for everyone who attends.

You can find more details about the series at the IU Cinema website.