Wednesday, July 23, 2014

This #11

It's been like six months since I did a This post. You don't care. That's fine. I care. Anyway...

1. CodeAcademy
Code Academy is wonderful. It's a website where you can learn how to program for free. It has actual exercises and you do the coding right on their website. It's responsive and gives you feedback when you do something incorrectly and you can learn a variety of languages and practice them doing various projects and activities. So far I've done the HTML/CSS course and I'm now doing the JavaScript course. I also did a few activities that only require knowledge of HTML & CSS. The website is incredibly well designed and easy to navigate, the courses are even funny sometimes, and though I won't become a professional doing these courses, they're giving me a solid foundation that I can build upon in my Media Arts + Practice classes at USC and on my own.
I applied for some summer funds from school so I could take time off and not have a summer job and just commit myself to learning programming basics and they kindly obliged, so every day this month, I'm doing CodeAcademy. Some days I don't actually do an activity on the site and instead I just try and frame everything I've learned in my mind for myself in a way that will help me remember it. But once I know the basics, I'm pretty sure it's going to be all about practice and reiteration, just like anything. 

2. Duolingo
I'm a pretty firm believer that if you're going to learn a second language, you need to be doing so in the place where that language is spoken so that you can immerse yourself in it. I've had at least seven years of often pretty bad Spanish classes throughout high school in college, but I also lived in Buenos Aires for small bits of time here and there and I live in a neighborhood where Spanish is the primary language spoken, but when I'm out of LA and in my Colorado suburbs, I don't get to practice at all. Not to mention there are a ton of words I'm lacking in my Spanish vocabulary simply because I never have to use them. But I have a translation exam coming up soon for my PhD program and I need to be able to translate three pages of Spanish literary theory text into English. So I've been practicing with Duolingo, which I read about in GOOD Magazine, which is another This, but one I'm too lazy to write about right now.
Duolingo's actually pretty fun to use. More fun than Rosetta Stone, which I've also tried, but the best part is, it's free. In the piece I read in GOOD on the project's creator, Luis von Ahn [who also created reCAPTCHA, another This I'm too lazy to write about], he talks about how we want people to learn multiple languages for jobs, school, etc, but often times access to that knowledge can cost a lot of money. Lower income people trying to boost their resume by listing a second language usually don't have access to something like Rosetta Stone or language classes, which can cost thousands of dollars. And just as awesome is the reason why Duolingo is capable of providing this free language learning service: "Learning languages in Duolingo is completely free – now and forever – with no ads or hidden fees. Wondering how that can be? It’s because you create value by translating real-world documents while you’re learning. Here’s how it works: Somebody who needs a webpage translated uploads it to Duolingo. That document then gets presented to Duolingo students who can translate it in order to practice the language they are learning. When the document is fully translated, Duolingo returns it to the original content owner who, depending on the type of document they uploaded, pays for the translation." One of the websites that pays for this service is Buzzfeed. So you're learning a language and doing actual work. Fucking. Epic.

3. Blood of an Author Box
A few months ago, Amaranth Borsuk stopped me at AWP and asked if I'd write a word on a microscope slide. She explained that a woman named Eleanor Antin created something called Blood of a Poet Box back in 1965. She collected blood samples from 100 poets. Amaranth asked her students what the blood of the author is in the 21st century, and they answered language, so she and others were having writers write one word each on glass slides. The full list of contributors can be found here.
This photo is from the project's facebook page.
My word is listed in the box above. I bet you can guess what it is...

4. This video of an abandoned Los Angeles, which makes me feel so many things, for instance: confusion, also awe, also breathing. It makes me feel breathing.


5. The photographs of Nicolas Bruno.
All of the above are his photos, more of which can be found at his website. I love everything about them. I love their subject matter. I love their composition. I love, more than anything, their color. I'm about to bite the bullet and buy a really nice camera with my birthday money, and I've been diving into the endless abyss that is photog websites and I have never been more in love with any photos than I am with these. I want my wedding photos to look like this. I want my dress to be lit on fire. I want to be naked in the Salton Sea with antlers on my head. I want a dance floor of guests covered in smoke under tea lights in the dark.

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