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Why the "mechanical shutter" is better
Old 06-22-2007   #1
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Why the "mechanical shutter" is better

The beauty that is in the song of a bird is also in the finger of the photographer. Probably what makes both the song bird's voice and the photographer's finger so artistically powerful is the empathic facility that allows us to interrelate with the surrounding environment-- to join in its rhythm.

Linked to the photographer's finger is the shutter, and through the shutter, the photographer extends his awareness, just as Jimi Hendrix was extended by his guitar. When a photographer reaches the mental state of taking a perfect picture, all the different levels of the human consciousness become linked, and the empathic understanding of the scene is linked through the empathic neurons (mirror and spindle) to the nervous system through to the camera, and vice versa-- the entire environment gets unified within the photographer's neurons.

The same is true for the musician. Live concerts are so much more exciting than recordings, with the Grateful Dead as a standing example; the audience feeds back emotions to the performers who then relate this emotional information with their motor neurons through their instruments, or voices, to the audience completing a cycle.

This ability to interrelate with the environment is what defines humanity; humans without these emotional communication facilities need to look-up these concepts Google or WikiPedia, as they have no ability to conceive of what these facilities are. As it turns out, most of the definitions of emotional facilities are written by people with no emotional facilities, probably because we who have normal emotional facilities take them for so much for granted that we cannot imagine why the over-obvious should be over-stated. As a example, emotional communication, especially happinenss, is often described as a "contagion" by scientists in an emotionally blind attempt to relate emotion to something they can actually grock: disease.

The question becomes "can the human motor system extend itself into an electronic device, or does the entry point to digital circuity become the terminus of the nervous system?"

Ask any neuroscientist or psychologist and their answer will be "no way in hell." In fact, the most popular psychological writer, Daniel Goleman (Emotional Intelligence), thinks we here are not having any significant emotional communication using email. I think that is correct about digital circuitry, especially as it relates to digitalized cameras as there is nothing for the human system to grasp upon in a circuit, except in an abstract sense. As to our communications here on the Internet, Goleman is wrong in my opinion.

He likes to say "you can't get a hug over the Internet," but you can get an emoticon hug, which is usually good to tide you over to the next physical hug.

I like my manually-fired rangefinder cameras because the mechanical action works well with my nervous system, and I am imagining that this is true for all photographers.

And the truth is, that in digital I am taking about 250 snaps to get 6 good images.

I cannot wait until I am able to dwell w/in arts of B&W developing and printing.

My recent digital work <-- CLICK
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Last edited by john_van_v : 06-22-2007 at 07:12.
 

Old 06-22-2007   #2
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John, there are some beautiful thoughts expressed beautifully here!

I disagree wtih the conclusion to this question: The question becomes "can the human motor system extend itself into an electronic device, or does the entry point to digital circuity become the terminus of the nervous system?" though, that a mechanical linkage makes this link possible while an electronic link does not.

The issue is responsiveness of the machine, be it mechanical or electronic, to the operator. In other words: shutter lag. We've all experienced the frustration of shutter lag on electronic auto-focus cameras, digital and film. Add to that the time it takes for the auto-flash capacitor to build its charge. That's where the problem lies.

Having said that, I prefer a mechanical shutter due to its independence from a battery, but that's just an irrational, personal bias.

Electronic shutter buttons have different "feels" to them and this feedback is also important to the user.

Lovely prose though. Thank you!
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Old 06-22-2007   #3
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Didn't Hendrix play an electric guitar? Maybe Andres Segovia might be a better example.
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Old 06-22-2007   #4
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Woa, are we going to pick this one to death or what ??

About Hendrix-- the strings he used were mechanical, and the electronics analog. He used vacuum tube amplifiers-- which many, if not most, guitarists prefer. By digital standards, the quaintness of old school rock and roll is nearly acoustic.

Another analogy of electronics in music would be the electronic piano. The early ones were total crap; it took a while for a good one to be developed. But still, no ancient classical or classical jazz muscian will use, or perhaps limit themselves to, an electronic piano. The action in the connections just cannot compare to the action in the mechanics of the piano. I seem to remember that the first mechanics actually worked in wood, on windmills and stuff.

Now moving on to Frank-- You are obviously deep-- but I hate to have to say this -- you are not fully in touch with your depth. I think you may already know this as you state that your preference for a mechanical shutter is "irrational." No it isn't. Maybe, Frank, you just wanted me to tell you this.
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Last edited by john_van_v : 06-22-2007 at 07:42.
 

Old 06-22-2007   #5
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What a load of BS. LoL. No wonder the DSLR folks laugh at us.

/T
 

Old 06-22-2007   #6
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Old 06-22-2007   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tuolumne
What a load of BS. LoL. No wonder the DSLR folks laugh at us.

/T

You really need to get your chakras properly aligned
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Old 06-22-2007   #8
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You really need to get your chakras properly aligned
No doubt you are correct.

/T
 

Old 06-22-2007   #9
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Mechanical shutter is counter intuitive for digital sensors. As technology advances, we're going to see electronic shutter on all of our digital image capturing equipment. By then people on RFF will be asking camera makers to put in mechanism to make that "thwap" mechanical shutter click noise.
 

Old 06-22-2007   #10
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Why do some people mock this line of thinking? Are we not physical beings with a finely developed tactile sense? Our very sensitive fingers are able to detect very fine changes in hardness, smoothness, temperature and perhaps hundreds of other gradation. It makes perfect sense to me that some would prefer the mechanical vs the electronic because to them it simply feels better. That "irrational" feeling comes from somewhere. It doesn't come from advertising. It doesn't come from consumerism. It doesn't arise from anything other than our physical being. It makes sense that some people would rather write with a fine fountain pen versus a ball point (of any quality). Not everyone feels this way. And that's OK.
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Old 06-22-2007   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ywenz
Mechanical shutter is counter intuitive for digital sensors. As technology advances, we're going to see electronic shutter on all of our digital image capturing equipment. By then people on RFF will be asking camera makers to put in mechanism to make that "thwap" mechanical shutter click noise.
They already do that on the P+S digitals.
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Old 06-22-2007   #12
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Before anyone here dashes off any more poetic illusions about the human interface to mechanical vs. electronic devices, you might want to actually find something out about the matter. Researchers have been interfacing human neurons to semi-conductor chips for some time now. Try something like this before your next paen to mechanical shutters (which, btw, I prefer to electronic ones, but that's just because I like mechanical devices):

Bi-directional human machine interface via direct neural connection
Gasson, M. Hutt, B. Goodhew, I. Kyberd, P. Warwick, K.
Dept. of Cybern., Reading Univ., UK;

This paper appears in: Robot and Human Interactive Communication, 2002. Proceedings. 11th IEEE International Workshop on
Publication Date: 2002
On page(s): 265- 270
ISSN:
ISBN: 0-7803-7545-9
INSPEC Accession Number: 7529324
Digital Object Identifier: 10.1109/ROMAN.2002.1045633
Posted online: 2002-12-10 17:18:13.0

Abstract
This paper presents an application study into the use of a bi-directional link with the human nervous system by means of an implant, positioned through neurosurgery. Various applications are described including the interaction of neural signals with an articulated hand, a group of cooperative autonomous robots and to control the movement of a mobile platform. The microelectrode array implant itself is described in detail. Consideration is given to a wider range of possible robot mechanisms, which could interact with the human nervous system through the same technique.
 

Old 06-22-2007   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FrankS
They already do that on the P+S digitals.
Yes, in particular, the new Ricoh GX100 does that, and as far as I can tell, it can't me disabled.

/T
 

Old 06-22-2007   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by visiondr
Why do some people mock this line of thinking? Are we not physical beings with a finely developed tactile sense? Our very sensitive fingers are able to detect very fine changes in hardness, smoothness, temperature and perhaps hundreds of other gradation. It makes perfect sense to me that some would prefer the mechanical vs the electronic because to them it simply feels better. That "irrational" feeling comes from somewhere. It doesn't come from advertising. It doesn't come from consumerism. It doesn't arise from anything other than our physical being. It makes sense that some people would rather write with a fine fountain pen versus a ball point (of any quality). Not everyone feels this way. And that's OK.
Strangle electricity is one of the universe’s fundamentals it runs through you, me everything, mechanics, at its best, is just a clumsy attempt by us to mimic what mature achiever with a poetic ease, if we werre ever reach am affinity with the natural universe it will be an electrical connection! not a sentimental one!
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Old 06-22-2007   #15
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Hi John,

I disagree with you on just about everything here. Firstly I think an electronic shutter can be made to be indistinguishable from a mechanical one. Secondly I think you are not really comparing electronic vs. mechanical shutters, but better vs. less good ones. While you would probably agree that the M3's shutter is better than that of the Panasonic Lumix FX07, I doubt whether you would go as far to say that the mechanical shutter of the Bessa R is somehow better or more intuitive than the electronic shutter in the R4A.

Quote:
Originally Posted by john_van_v
About Hendrix-- the strings he used were mechanical, and the electronics analog. He used vacuum tube amplifiers-- which many, if not most, guitarists prefer. By digital standards, the quaintness of old school rock and roll is nearly acoustic.
Just to pick that out: Hendrix was using tube amplifiers mainly because they were then state of the art. The state of the art is a moving target. If you say that "by [today's] digital standards" their quaintness qualifies them as acoustic, then by extension you should also be saying the electronic shutter of the Yashica GSN should really count as mechanical, and that in ten years the electronic shutter of the Canon AE-1 should count as mechanical as well. So mechanical = old-fashioned = better. That's like talking about the steam locomotive as a quaint symbol of nostalgia and about human-centered technology, while in its time it was actually seen as a symbol of industrialisation, progress, high tech and even the dehumanisation of the world.

Even if we don't go into the actual science, I think your ideal of the mechanical shutter as a quasimythical extension of the human nervous system collapses in the moment when you look at camera systems which offer both in direct comparison, like the Bessa R vs. RxA at the low end, or the Leica MP vs. M7 at the high end. Would you actually say that the M7's electronic shutter is somehow less adapted to the human nervous system than the MP's because the former has a different timing method? I have my doubts about that.
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Old 06-22-2007   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tuolumne
Yes, in particular, the new Ricoh GX100 does that, and as far as I can tell, it can't me disabled.

/T
Of course you can.
You only have to know were to hit it and how hard

BTW: I'm not really interested if a camera is mechanical or electronic. As long as it does what I want. Shutter lag however is very annoying and if mechanical is better in that regards I go for mechanical.
My M6 has hardly any shutter lag. The Hexar RF I have for a few weeks is accused for having a bit more. I'm not sure yet. If it has I will go back to the M6. If not I will be very happy with the top speed of 1/4000th and AE

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Old 06-22-2007   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tuolumne
Yes, in particular, the new Ricoh GX100 does that, and as far as I can tell, it can't me disabled.

/T

Read the manual. It's that easy.

But what I can't understand on the GX100, why the autofocus makes buzz even when it's set to snap focus...?

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Old 06-22-2007   #18
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I've been in AI for over a decade and although he's a great spokesperson for AI and getting people excited about it, Warwick's human<>computer interface has some cool practical stuff but I don't "dig" the philosophy around it.

That was a very well written post John, but I don't think I understood whether it was an stabdalone article or something wanting discussion until Franks post. I don't think there is any difference between a mechanical or electronic shutter when it comes to human<>computer integration, the thing getting in the way is the extras bolted on (red-eye reduction, focus &c.). Of course there is a difference between a membrane switch and a M2 release, but then we come to something else

Last edited by kully : 06-22-2007 at 08:49.
 

Old 06-22-2007   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by visiondr
Why do some people mock this line of thinking? Are we not physical beings with a finely developed tactile sense? Our very sensitive fingers are able to detect very fine changes in hardness, smoothness, temperature and perhaps hundreds of other gradation. It makes perfect sense to me that some would prefer the mechanical vs the electronic because to them it simply feels better. That "irrational" feeling comes from somewhere. It doesn't come from advertising. It doesn't come from consumerism. It doesn't arise from anything other than our physical being. It makes sense that some people would rather write with a fine fountain pen versus a ball point (of any quality). Not everyone feels this way. And that's OK.
Quote:
Originally Posted by FrankS
They already do that on the P+S digitals.
I'm taking about some sort of mechanical spring device that also gives you physical feedback. You don't need a true mechanical shutter, just a mechanical trigger that gives you the illusion of a mechanical shutter, where in fact it is just a trigger for an electronic shutter.
 

Old 06-22-2007   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ywenz
... we're going to see electronic shutter on all ... equipment ... people on RFF will be asking camera makers to ... make that "thwap" mechanical shutter click noise.
I sometimes get mad at collectors for hoarding their cameras, but think about it --they are saving us from digital annihilation.

As soon as they move onto the next existence (if there is any), they leave for their relatives a sh*t-load of mechanical "junk" that winds up on ebay-- and for cheap.

My favorite right now is my Lynx 14. What a brick sh*t house it is. And no "thwap" to speak of; often ebay sellers state the camera is broken when it isn't.

I am not trashing digital photography at all. Besides being hypocritical to do so as all my recent work is digital, it has its own vailidity within its scope.

I feel the same about electronic music (as opposed to digital), it has been valid in it's own right since, for instacne, Ozzie started using it. Digital music is more about samples, which is a sort of stealing in that the "art" in the music is in the samples, and the digital muscian only creates a collage.

I had a friend on my empathy list (http://www.care2.com/c2c/group/empathy) who has a digital music effort called alicesyndrome. He had a lot of ideas I liked, but then we actually started discussing emapthy, I found him to be devoid of it --he has aspergers and hence alice, or aspergers, syndrome. When the discussion group began to show the importance of feelings in life, his aspergers "challenge" came out, and then he left the group-- not in a huff, but with an obvious "sock puppet" threatening message.

So I have to wonder if his digital art effort, which sounded good, is a valid art from. He certainly could not do the effort himself in analog in real life.

I think these are valid questions, and I think that old school black and white is where it is at, just like in the movie "Blow Up" with Vanessa Redgrave and David Hemmings.
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Old 06-22-2007   #21
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John, I think film vs. digital is a small part of the man vs. machine argument.

Our minds are great at doing something, reacting to stuff while we're doing it, learning all the time to make it better... But we need to start off crap and then get better.

Then. Engineers come along and because they are geeks they want to make the world a better place so they make things easier by making the machine do some thinking between our action and expected the action of the machine.

Anti-locking brakes, auto-focus &c. do make it easier to do something but also take away full control from the human. And sometimes, if the mind of the human is learned enough it will irk, it irks because something it expects to happen is not. Bit like being a cricket outfielder and the laws of gravity changing from one throw to another Or a electronic camera stopping the shutter from firing because it hasn't achieved focus lock even though you know DoF will cover it (grrr).

Last edited by kully : 06-22-2007 at 09:00.
 

Old 06-22-2007   #22
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" Read the manual. It's that easy."

RTFM? Surely you jest.

/T
 

Old 06-22-2007   #23
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What a fun and provocative post! Thanks for taking the time to put this together. Yes - probably more than I care to admit, I went back to manual film cameras because of the tactile nature of the cameras themselves that digitals simply don't have. I'm sure there's a psychological reason for this - something between the eye, the brain, the hand, and the camera... "feeling" the tension on the shutter release... that is largely absent in electronic devices.

Another example very similar to the preference of some to mechanical film cameras - if I had my druthers, the car I'm now driving would have a manual transmission. I like having complete control over the engine and what gear it's in, the "feel" of the clutch, it makes the simple act of driving more engaging and fun, required more of an investment from you and therefore is more rewarding, it engages your body and your mind, and makes the tool/vehicle more of an extension of your mind/body. Automatic transmissions are certainly more "convenient" like digital cameras but I never really "bond" with cars with the automatics. They serve a purpose, do their job, but are never "fun to drive" to me like the manual trans cars I've owned. Same with digital and highly automated autofocus SLRs vs. an all manual film camera. If anything, I see myself leaning toward going "meterless" with a Russian camera more than anything more automated.

Thanks for this interesting post.

Last edited by NickTrop : 06-22-2007 at 09:12.
 

Old 06-22-2007   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tuolumne
What a load of BS. LoL. No wonder the DSLR folks laugh at us.

/T
Its about time those DSLR types had something to laugh at.
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Old 06-22-2007   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NickTrop
What a fun and provocative post! Thanks for taking the time to put this together. Yes - probably more than I care to admit, I went back to manual film cameras because of the tactile nature of the cameras themselves that digitals simply don't have. I'm sure there's a psychological reason for this - something between the eye, the brain, the hand, and the camera... "feeling" the tension on the shutter release... that is largely absent in electronic devices.

Thanks for this interesting post.
Great, you are welcome So much so that that toluene <expletive deleted> isn't even bothering me.

Actually this was all a trick; I really wanted to discuss empathy, and how we use feeling to link everything everywhere, and not just our relationships.

Engineering is empathy, in that it uses "memes" (the transport containers of emotional communication) to allow for highly complex communication. A blue print is as much containerized emotional communiation as a recorded folk song is. When engineering goes bad, it is not the engineers to blame, the managers are responsible as they are in control and invariably lack empathy (by design?), and I am especially citing sales managers.

While the Soviet Union did not have sales managers they were as purely centralized, and hence capitalistic, as the inventor of the capital enterprise-- the Roman empire. A really good book showing both the evil and good of Soviet communism, and hence possibly helping to explain the "man against machine" battle is "Beyond the Arals" by John Scott, son of Helen and Scott Nearing, the back-to-the-land gurus.

I believe in science and engineering as much a art, but I do not believe in the "human capital" system that assures that engineers, scientists, and (amazingly) doctors are devoid of empathy-- I call that the "aspergers empire."
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Old 06-22-2007   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tuolumne
" Read the manual. It's that easy."

RTFM? Surely you jest.

/T

No, not. At least not intended, sorry if hurts.

nemjo

BTW what is RTFM?
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Old 06-22-2007   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NickTrop
What a fun and provocative post! Thanks for taking the time to put this together. Yes - probably more than I care to admit, I went back to manual film cameras because of the tactile nature of the cameras themselves that digitals simply don't have. I'm sure there's a psychological reason for this - something between the eye, the brain, the hand, and the camera... "feeling" the tension on the shutter release... that is largely absent in electronic devices.

Thanks for this interesting post.
Great, you are welcome So much so that that toluene <expletive deleted> isn't even bothering me.

Acturelly this was all a trick. I really wanted to discuss empathy, and how we use feeling to link everything everywhere, and not just our relationships.

Engineering is empathy, in that it uses "memes" (the transport containers of emotional communication) to allow for highly complex communication. A blue print is as much containerized emotional communiation as a recorded folk song is. When engineering goes bad, it is not the engineers, but the managers who are responsible as they have no empathy (by design ?), and especially sales managers.
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Old 06-22-2007   #28
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john_van_v, as a former math, digital imaging, business ethics, project management, and multimedia instructor, the poster who you allude to seems to lack intellectual curiosity and "hand waves" opinions like you've offerred. Seen this lots of times. Some appreciate the the beauty of linear equations, geometry, matrices, off the beaten path thinking... others roll their eyes and say "Why do I need to learn this s--t?" It's better to be in the former class of folks, and I'm grateful that I am.
 

Old 06-22-2007   #29
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I have a few cameras that have dual systems, electronic shutters with a mechanical backup (1/100)... I know for sure my Minolta XD-11's have it, I'm pretty sure the Pentax Super ME and Nikon FG do as well.

When I get home, I'll see if I can even tell the difference in feel btwn electronic activation vs mechanical.
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Old 06-22-2007   #30
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It took airplane pilots a long time to accept "fly-by-wire" technology because they also wanted the tactile response.

I'm not certain that, in the philosophical realm, one can easily distinguish between mechanical and electronic.

Each of us, individually, is an organized grouping of atomic structures guided by electro-energy impulses. When we interact with our environment, electro-energy impulses arrange our atomic structures in such a way that they come into contact with the energy and structures of other discrete groupings of atoms -- other people, rooms full of air, basketballs, Leicas.

In taking a picture, the atomic structure of my finger presses against the atomic structure of the camera's shutter button. The energy follows the path of least resistance as it seeks an outlet, either through motion or heat. The energy motion of metal linkages can trip a shutter. Or the energy motion can be transferred to an electronic relay that continues to transfer this energy motion via the same laws of physics as the mechanical interface -- both systems rely on the constant interaction of energy seeking the path of least resistance though an atomic structure.

The issue of empathy is not dependent on electronic versus mechanical. Mechanical systems can be developed which have poor or no tactile feedback (for example, most American family cars from the 1950s). Tactile feedback can be built into a mechanical system as well. In essence, tactile feedback is a side-effect of inefficiency and push-back within a system. A system of perfect efficiency would have no tactile feedback (for example, pedalling a well-oiled bicycle in a weightless environment). However, our electo-energy sensory systems require some inputs from tactile feedback in order to judge the effectiveness of our actions in an inefficient world. For this reason, I always switch on the inherently useless feature of my digital point-and-shoot camera that makes a tiny faux shutter sound when it takes a picture. The audio feedback, via waves of energy motion passing through the atoms that make up the air around me, allows my brain to more easily process the concept and awareness of the exact moment the photograph was taken.
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Old 06-22-2007   #31
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Some appreciate the the beauty of linear equations, geometry, matrices, off the beaten path thinking... others roll their eyes and say "Why do I need to learn this s--t?" It's better to be in the former class of folks, and I'm grateful that I am.
I think that is at the heart of the man vrs machine argument (or myth?).

My main man is Lewis Mumford who in his "Technics and Civilization" predicted the tech crash of 2000 in 1937-- he could not have possibly known about the Interent, but he understood information communcation technology, and how stock-brokers think.

Science, math, technology-- these are democracy to Mumford. The twisting of these things for Mumford, a proper and straightlaced city planner, where "authroity." He had the Authoritarian Technic fighting the Democratic Technic: Hitler vrs Darwin.

I saw this analogy instantly in the Linux vrs Micro$oft battle-- but it is not that simple. In the end, Linux failed the desktop users after using us for their political battles-- Linux is now only useful to Google, IBM, and the weather prediction poeple. It has failed the "masses" dilberately and through lies. (In short the monolithic kernel is in no way better than the microkernel).

As I discovered the Linux deceit, I started looking at my life, and how I spent 12 yrs in the "hole" (or cubicle) doing systems development and operarations for the biggest creeps on the planet, Wall Street financial creeps.

I too got the great feeling from my work that you describe and appreciated the beauty of how a human friendly system can be so graceful, but now I realize it hurt me in the long run by keeping me from my (and all of our) real purpose, which is to interrelate. Health is in interrelation, as proved many times in compassion/immune system studies.

We don't really live in ourselves so much as in the physical spaces inbetween us. This is how were evolved, and therefore this is how we have to live. In the end, science explains life, love, and even God.
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Old 06-22-2007   #32
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I hope Bill Mattocks joins this thread.
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Old 06-22-2007   #33
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Bill likes pie.

I believe it gives him sensory feedback.
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Old 06-22-2007   #34
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No, not. At least not intended, sorry if hurts.

nemjo

BTW what is RTFM?
"Read The ****ing Manual".
Has no one a sense of humor around here?

/T
 

Old 06-22-2007   #35
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"Read The ****ing Manual".
Has no one a sense of humor around here?

/T
Not you, you just developed a new strategy
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Old 06-22-2007   #36
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......
Sorry if I hurt your feelings, John. Just because you post something doesn't mean we all have to admire it.

/T

Last edited by Tuolumne : 06-22-2007 at 11:32.
 

Old 06-22-2007   #37
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......
Sorry if I hurt your feelings, John. Just because you post something doesn't mean we all have to admire it.

/T
yet another strategy, and you wonder why seemingly nice people are so cruel to you in real life
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Old 06-22-2007   #38
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yet another strategy, and you wonder why seemingly nice people are so cruel to you in real life
That's rather aggressive.
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Old 06-22-2007   #39
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John; why would one be better? Both are only human artefacts after all, can you not imagine that someone may achieve the same connections through an electric device that you get from a mechanical one? Is the value judgment “better” appropriate here?
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Old 06-22-2007   #40
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That's rather aggressive.
Maybe, but then maybe I am helping the guy understand why he keeps getting his ass kicked
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