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How Benoit Mandelbrot Discovered Fractals: A Short Film by Errol Morris | Open Culture
"Even if you know little of mathematics, you probably have some awareness of fractals. You’ve almost certainly heard them invoked, correctly or otherwise, to describe things that look or act the same at the large scale as they do at the small. You may even know the name Benoit Mandelbrot, the much-laureled Polish-French-American “father of fractal geometry.” Hard science-fiction titan Arthur C. Clarke called his eponymous set of mathematical points “one of the most astonishing discoveries in the entire history of mathematics.” Nassim Nicholas Taleb, the famously discriminating author of The Black Swan, called him ”the only person for whom I have had intellectual respect.” Even former French president Nicolas Sarkozy gave Mandelbrot his props, crediting his discoveries of the geometrical regularities of “rough” things, from coastlines to stock-market fluctuations, as antecedent to modern information theory. He also acknowledged Mandelbrot’s having carried on his work “entirely outside mainstream research,” and the mathematician’s reputation as an unusually insightful intellectual maverick survives him.

Who better to reveal the mind of an intellectual maverick, insightful or otherwise, than Errol Morris, the documentarian behind such head-on interview-driven feature films as A Brief History of Time, about astrophysicist Stephen Hawking; Mr. Death, about electric-chair designer and Holocaust-denial maverick Fred A. Leuchter Jr.; and The Fog of War, about former Defense Secretary and Vietnam War engineer Robert S. McNamara? His five-minute profile of Mandelbrot comes courtesy of IBM, where the father of fractals worked for 35 years — and whose then-cutting-edge computers he used to father those fractals in the first place. “A formula can be very simple,” he says, summing up one impact of the Mandelbrot set in this interview shot 19 days before his death in 2010, “and create a universe of bottomless complexity.” To find out more about just how that happens, visit to IBM’s page on Mandelbrot and fractal geometry as well as their ongoing fractal-themed Tumblr."
benoitmandelbrot  errolmorris  math  mathematics  education 
november 2013 by robertogreco
New Work: ‘A Wilderness of Error’ | New at Pentagram
"In 1970, Jeffrey MacDonald, a Green Beret doctor stationed in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, was accused of the brutal killing of his pregnant wife and two young daughters, a crime he attributed to intruders. He was convicted, but has always maintained his innocence. In A Wilderness of Error: The Trials of Jeffrey MacDonald, the Academy Award-winning documentary filmmaker Errol Morris presents 20 years of his own investigation into one of America’s most infamous murder cases. Pentagram’s Michael Bierut and his team have designed the book, out September 4, as well as a promotional online trailer and accompanying website."
2012  michaelbierut  errolmorris  pentagram  books  design 
august 2012 by robertogreco
The Umbrella Man - Video Library - The New York Times
"On the 48th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Errol Morris explores the story behind the one man seen standing under an open black umbrella at the site."
errolmorris  history  jfk  2011 
december 2011 by robertogreco
"AIR LOOM ENTERPRISES, LLC: Stationery for Errol Morris' production company, 2009, named for a remote torture device as described by history's first diagnosed paranoid schizophenia patient. An engraving of the Air Loom was altered to wrap around the letterhead, showing a victim on front controlled by rays traced to the device on back. "Paranoid" language was used for the contact information, which is also a nod to the stationery system we created for Errol Morris in 2005."
errolmorris  design  letterhead  stationery  graphicdesign  winterhouse  2005 
august 2011 by robertogreco
Errol Morris: Profiles: "Predilection", by Mark Singer [From the New Yorker, February 6, 1989]
"I did enter Princeton actually thinking I was going to get a doctorate. I was wrong…big fights with my adviser…was supposed to be concentrating on the history of physics…But the classes were always full of 14-year-old Chinese prodigies, w/ hands in air - 'Call on me! Call on me!' I couldn't do it.…It turns out I was a problem, but at least I wasn't a drudge, and that school was filled with drudges…

…Berkeley was just a world of pedants.…truly shocking. I spent 2 or 3 years in the philosophy program. I have very bad feelings about it." His own flaw, he believes, was that he was "an odd combination of the academic & the prurient." While he was supposed to be concentrating on philosophy of science, his attention became diverted by an extracurricular interest in the insanity plea…"
errolmorris  unschooling  deschooling  highereducation  highered  learning  schooling  ivyleague  berkeley  princeton  teaching  messiness  self-directedlearning  education  1989  dropouts 
july 2011 by robertogreco
Errol Morris: Did My Brother Invent E-Mail With Tom Van Vleck? - Interactive Feature -
"MIT’s Compatible Time Sharing System, or CTSS, was one of the first operating systems to utilize “time-sharing,” which allowed many people to use a single mainframe computer simultaneously. Users accessed the computer at remote terminals — modified electric typewriters — that sent input to the computer and printed output on paper as the user typed code. In early 1965, two programmers, Tom Van Vleck and Noel Morris, wanted to send each other electronic messages, and created the e-mail program MAIL. To get a sense of what it felt like to use this early version of e-mail, try the programming game below. Your terminal will type lines of the actual CTSS MAIL code, with missing segments indicated by a blank. Use the clues to fill in the blanks and complete the lines of code. Then, using the MAIL program you just wrote, send a message to yourself or to a friend."
mit  email  history  ctss  compatibletimesharingsystem  errolmorris  noelmorris  tomvanvleck  2011  communication 
june 2011 by robertogreco
The invention of social computing
"As is the case with many of his movies, Morris uses the story of a key or unique individual to paint a broader picture; in this instance, as the story of his brother's involvement with an early email system unfolds, we also learn about the beginnings of social computing…

It seems completely nutty to me that people using computers together -- which is probably 100% of what people use computers for today (email, Twitter, Facebook, IM, etc.) -- was an accidental byproduct of a system designed to let a lot of people use the same computer separately. Just goes to show, technology and invention works in unexpected ways sometimes...and just as "nature finds a way" in Jurassic Park, "social finds a way" with technology."
kottke  errolmorris  socialcomputing  email  ctss  arpa  darpa  technology  social  2011 
june 2011 by robertogreco
The Anosognosic’s Dilemma: Something’s Wrong but You’ll Never Know What It Is (Part 1) - Opinionator Blog -
"Dunning & Kruger argued...“When people are incompetent in strategies they adopt to achieve success & satisfaction, they suffer a dual burden: Not only do they reach erroneous conclusions & make unfortunate choices, but their incompetence robs them of ability to realize it. Instead...they are left w/ erroneous impression they are doing just fine.”
decisionmaking  culture  education  intelligence  incompetence  ignorance  psychology  errolmorris  epistemology  neuroscience  behavior  brain  confidence  mind  competency  tcsnmy  awareness  self-awareness  dunning-krugereffect  possibility 
june 2010 by robertogreco
David Galbraith’s Blog » Blog Archive » The top 10 things that defined ‘the noughties’, by category.
"The next decade is going to suck, but it might produce some great art.

Goodbye to cupcakes, and X-factor and Paris Hilton and Dubai tower blocks, and all that."
davidgalbraith  lists  culture  2000s  art  society  architecture  design  tv  television  film  music  food  cupcakes  celebrity  books  reading  stevejobs  flickr  vimeo  internet  web  thewire  errolmorris  thefogofwar  damienhirst  globalwarming  collapse  finance  sustainability  growth  via:blackbeltjones 
december 2009 by robertogreco
The House Next Door: The Conversations: Errol Morris
"The thing is, truth is always at the center of Morris' films, as you'd expect of a documentary filmmaker, but he also acknowledges that truth is a complicated thing; he's always toying with questions of truth and fiction. Morris' films aren't about The Truth; they're about our personal, private truths, as well as the lies and rationalizations we create for our actions. So fiction and lies and manipulation are also at the center of Morris' films. Fiction is as much the spine of his work as truth."
via:kottke  errolmorris  documentary  film  truth  manipulation  lies  fiction 
october 2009 by robertogreco
Seven Lies About Lying (Part 2) - Errol Morris Blog -
"RICKY JAY: When you’re talking about Kant and trust, it made me think of one of the ways I tell people about the con game. I say, “You wouldn’t want to live in a world where you can’t be conned, because if you were, you would be living in a world with no trust. That’s the price you pay for trust, is being conned.” And it’s very easy to substitute being lied to. Right?"
rickyjay  errolmorris  tryst  lying  truth  lies  morality  psychology  deception  society  religion  myth  illusion 
august 2009 by robertogreco
Photography as a Weapon - Errol Morris - Zoom - New York Times Blog
"Change the yellow labels, change the caption and you change the meaning of the photographs. You don’t need Photoshop. That’s the disturbing part. Captions do the heavy lifting as far as deception is concerned. The pictures merely provide the window-dressing. The unending series of errors engendered by falsely captioned photographs are rarely remarked on."
photography  deception  errolmorris  propaganda  politics  history 
august 2008 by robertogreco
Errol Morris finale on the Roger Fenton photographs (
"Why isn't Morris' level of skepticism & doggedness the norm rather than delightful exception?..If so much energy...into the discovery of...small fact, how are we supposed to learn anything truthful about larger and more significant events like the Iraq W
photography  errolmorris  truth  research  society  media  rogerfenton  history 
october 2007 by robertogreco
New York Times - What's the Matter With College?
"College as America used to understand it is coming to an end" college used to be an escape from small towns, now they are small towns to escape...great insight from student Hamilon Morris (son of Errol)
colleges  universities  change  gamechanging  future  genx  reform  internet  education  society  schools  generationx  peers  organizationkids  davidbrooks  overscheduling  campusculture  culture  history  sixties  60s  errolmorris  money  economics  activism  generations 
october 2007 by robertogreco
Errol Morris - Wikipedia
"His unorthodox approach to applying for grad school included "trying to get accepted at different graduate schools just by showing up on their doorstep."…unsuccessfully approached Oxford & Harvard…was able to talk his way into Princeton…began studying history of science, a topic in which he had "absolutely no background." His concentration was in history of physics, & he was bored & unsuccessful in prerequisite physics classes…This, together w/ antagonistic relationship w/ advisor Thomas Kuhn ("'You won't even look through my telescope.' & his response was 'Errol, it's not a telescope, it's a kaleidoscope.'") ensured his stay at Princeton would be short. He left Princeton in 1972, enrolling at Berkeley as a Ph.D. student in philosophy. At Berkeley, Morris once again found that he was not well-suited to his subject. "Berkeley was just a world of pedants. It was truly shocking. I spent 2 or 3 years in the philosophy program. I have very bad feelings about it," he later said."
documentary  film  errolmorris  biographies  education  alternative  learning  universities  colleges  altgdp  autodidacts  homeschool  creativity  dropouts  unschooling  deschooling 
april 2007 by robertogreco

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