Posts Tagged ‘ractors’

I read in Drudge today a link to an interesting article.

Smart PJs are storytelling pajamas, that use mobile technology, similar to a QR code, to display bedtime favorites on a smartphone or tablet.

Now, read the next section carefully.

The bedtime stories are contained in the polka dots on the child’s pajamas, which are available in pink or blue.

“You scan one of those dot patterns on the kid’s pajamas – there are 47 different ones – and each one of those dot patterns is a bedtime story,” says Murdoch.

To choose a story, parent or child launches the Smart PJs Stories app (free, in Apple Store for iOS, or Google Play for Android), and holds the device’s camera over the dot patterns.

“You take the picture, and it automatically launches the story,” Murdoch says.

Murdoch says most of the stories contained in the app are in the public domain.

“It’s all the classics,” Murdoch says. “Cinderella, The Gingerbread Man, Old Mother Hubbard, Humpty Dumpty.”

Murdoch hired voice actors and artists to record the stories and illustrate the slides that correspond with the story.

Catch that? Go read Neal Stephenson’s book The Diamond Age.


The story by Stephenson is about nanotechnology, where actors (re-actors) are hired to interact with people by acting out roles, and they have nanites embedded in their skin so their real faces can be captured digitally, and the customer can have whatever they want, provided the ractor is paid enough to do it. Actual live meatspace interaction need never happen.

A nano-designer is asked to create a bespoke device called “The Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer” and then destroy the design. It was to be made for a rich man’s grand-daughter or niece as one of a kind but is stolen and ends up with a poor neglected girl named Nell, who is essentially raised by a ractor who begins to care for her as if Nell were her own daughter.

But the overarching story is that with nanologic or a sufficiently advanced Turing machine, one could raise a child using one of these devices whether or not there was a ractor. Maybe. The question the book leaves is: Is it good enough or is it better than nothing if it is not as good as the real thing?

It is at once a heartwarming story, a breathtakingly sad story, and a cautionary story. And worth every penny.

The second and third possibilities (sad and cautionary) are totally do-able, and the first can only come from someone who loves the kid.

How can one do that, make a connection, by letting a device read a story to one’s kid?

Note: Full and honest disclosure requires me to state that I am a total fanboy of Stephenson’s, so my bias should be noted. “The Diamond Age” is a must-read, regardless. Then go read “Snow Crash”, “Zodiac”, and “Cryptonomicon”.


Well, since it is a serious post anyway, I would bring this up – who knew that Hitchcock would have done a documentary on the Holocaust?

I will probably see it since I have made it a point to witness many of the real evil things that men do, not Hollywood (but not all, there are some lines I draw, where I am incapable of seeing, especially when it comes to children). I don’t do this out of morbid curiosity or fascination, but I feel that someone has to witness these horrible things. Someone has to be able to say “Yes, I have seen it, it is horrible, and even if you cannot bring yourself to see it, know that these things exist, they are real, and should never be buried or forgotten.”

Too many people have forgotten, I think.

Sorry for the serious turn tonight.


Well, maybe something to take your mind off the other stuff…

Man takes dive in snow challenge.

Heard about this today from The Butcher of Lansing.

I may have done a global warming dance in the snow barefoot but the skin of my feet is a lot tougher than my mini-me’s skin.

Talk about a life-changing lapse of common sense.

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