What is Art?

Even before the Impressionists challenged the accepted rules of painting, photographers struggled to have their work accepted as art. One hundred and fifty years later, we accept photography as a medium that can be used to create art, but usually isn’t. What makes one photograph different from another? Why are billions of photographs not art but yet thousands are? ChatGPT provides a concise explanation:

Photography can be considered art, as it is a medium of visual expression that involves creativity, technical skill, and aesthetic judgment. Like other art forms, photography can convey emotions, tell a story, capture a moment in time, and evoke a particular mood or atmosphere. Photographers use their artistic vision and technical abilities to create images that are not only aesthetically pleasing but also meaningful and thought-provoking. […]

but whether a particular photograph is considered art depends on the intention, creativity, and aesthetic value of the photographer.

I like this answer, because the last clause summarizes my personal definition of art:

Art is any action intended by the performer, or any object intended by the creator to convey emotion, tell a story, capture a moment, or evoke a mood.

There are two consequences of this definition that are worth mentioning:

  • Only the performer or creator can tell if a performance or object is art.
  • Nobody else can say whether something is art; only whether they like it or not.

Who Am I?

I read somewhere that when men are asked “Who are you?” they answer with what they do rather than who they are. For a long time this caused me to wonder how the question should be answered, if not by what one does. At a personal level I’ve never found a satisfactory choice.

Today, May 30, 2023, I asked ChatGPT “What does the question “Who Are You?” really mean?” and it told me

The question “Who are you?” is a fundamental and complex philosophical question that can be interpreted in various ways, depending on the context in which it is asked.

In everyday conversation, the question may be used to get to know someone’s name, occupation, background, interests, or personality. In this sense, the question is usually seeking information about a person’s identity or self-concept.

In a deeper sense, the question “Who are you?” can be interpreted as an inquiry into the nature of a person’s existence and their fundamental identity. It can prompt individuals to reflect on their values, beliefs, experiences, relationships, and sense of purpose. In this sense, the question is more philosophical and existential, inviting individuals to explore the nature of their consciousness and the meaning of their life.

Ultimately, the meaning of the question “Who are you?” depends on the context in which it is asked and the level of introspection and self-examination that it prompts.

and I still don’t know how to answer the simple question “Who are you?” but I think I’ll create an answer for everyday conversation.

I am, to string adjectives together, an old straight, white, male, US citizen, retired and regularly dismissed as a Boomer. But being of the boom taught me that Boomers are as unique and varied as any cadre in US history, and other than identifying the slice of history I’ve experienced, doesn’t really tell you anything about me.

I’m Marty. I used to program computers for a living, but I’ve been retired since 2016, due to a disability. I was born in 1955 and grew up in Butte, MT, a horrible place I loved, hated and left in 1983 to come to California to work for NASA and get a PhD. Despite being accepted in PhD programs in mathematics, the source of my undergraduate degree, and computer science, I never got the PhD and I still live in California with my wife of 40 years, 2 dogs, and 2 cats. Is that who I am?

Besides programming computers, I play guitar, badly and sometimes try to create music that always turns out mediocre. But they’re things I enjoy so I keep doing them. The same way I enjoy using Blender software to create 3D scenes and images. I participate in social media but I don’t have followers. Every few years I remember that I have a blog and I write another flurry of posts, that I usually delete the following year.

I’m not good with people. That’s probably why I’ve spent so much of my time in the company of computers. These days that time is divided between blender and music. I’ve recently discovered VCV Rack and I also use Studio One to record my guitar playing and some other things.

You can a few of my creations on YouTube or SoundCloud and you might find me on Mastodon. But I still don’t think I’ve answered the question.

How NetBSD came to be shipped by Microsoft.

In 2000, Joe Britt, Matt Hershenson and Andy Rubin formed Danger Incorporated. Danger developed the world’s first recognizable smartphone, the Danger HipTop. T-Mobile sold the first HipTop under the brand name Sidekick in October of 2002.

Danger had a well developed kernel that had been designed and built in house. The kernel came to be viewed as not a core intellectual property and Danger started a search for a replacement. For business reasons, mostly to do with legal concerns over the Gnu Public License, Danger rejected Linux and began to consider BSD Unix as a replacement for the kernel.

In 2006 I was hired by Mike Chen, the manager of the kernel development group to investigate the feasibility of replacing the Danger kernel with a BSD kernel, to select the version of BSD to use, to develop a prototype and to develop the plan for adapting BSD to Danger’s requirements.

NetBSD was easily the best choice among the BSD variations at the time because it had well developed cross development tools. It was easy to use a NetBSD desktop running an Intel release to cross compile a NetBSD kernel and runtime for a device running an ARM processor.

(Those interested in mailing list archaeology might be amused to investigate NetBSD technical mailing list for mail from picovex, particularly from Bucky Katz at picovex.)

We began product development on the specific prototype of the phone that would become the Sidekick LX2009 in 2007 and contracts for the phone were written with T-Mobile. We were about half way through the two year development cycle when Microsoft purchased Danger in 2008.

Microsoft would have preferred to ship the Sidekick running Windows/CE rather than NetBSD, but a schedule analysis performed by me, and another by an independent outside contractor, indicated that doing so would result in unacceptable delay.