<%image(20080830-abc-news.jpg|427|316|ABC News Story)%>
I’m old enough to vaguely remember Walter Cronkite forty years ago showing us hand painted “NASA Simulation” video of the Apollo spacecraft maneuvering in space. There simply was no way to position a news camera outside the Lunar and Command Modules to get the shot.
Now we have computer generated movies and commercials. I’ve seen computer simulations of plane crashes and of presidential candidates. But yesterday morning was the first time I’d seen computer-generated pictures of human participants in breaking news. I’m not sure I approve of the concept altogether, but given it’s existence I do like the editorial decision to render the named humans in untextured solid red.
Computer-generated graphics aren’t the only way to generate an imagined world. For example, statues have been one of the mostly used ways to put an event on humanity’s “Permanent Record,” and these, too can be created, labeled, and altered to suit the message of the presenters. But when statues are big and expensive enough to require a committee to act together, there has to be at least some agreement about the context in which the message is to be understood. When computer generated graphics are cheap, fast, and easy enough for a lone specialist to create, the opportunity for convincing fraud might be transformative. I wonder how few people were involved in yesterday’s false news service release of Steve Job’s obituary.
When I post a picture that I would not be considered to own the copyright for, I generally try to make that picture be a link to the context in which I found the picture. In this case, that would be a link to the ABC News story. But the video is horrible: it takes forever to load and is full of advertisements. Furthermore, it’s so buried below abuses of W3C technology that I can’t even find the actual direct link. Fuck ’em.