Yvonne Volkart, ‘Big Data’ – Dr Hairy gets famous in Austria!

A journalist called Yvonne Volkart contacted me last year to ask if she could use some references to the ‘Dr Hairy in: Big.Data’ videos in an article she was preparing for the Austrian magazine springerin.

Springerin is ‘a quarterly magazine dedicated to the theory and critique of contemporary art and culture… Artists, gallerists, collectors, art pedagogues are served by springerin as well as readers from the field of the humanities and those generally interested in new media and popular culture.’

volkart_springerin_bigdataShe’s just sent me a copy of the article, which appeared in the last edition of the magazine last year – she says she didn’t let me know earlier because she hoped it might  be made available online, but it hasn’t been. You can download a copy in .png format from http://edwardpicot.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/volkart_springerin_bigdata.png .

Unfortunately it’s all in German, so it’s a struggle for me to translate, but I’ve managed to pick out the following – ‘wie die kartoffel mit dem schragen tomatenmund oder schlaue Grabber mit dem puppen- babyface und dem aufgeklebten backenbart’, which Babelfish renders as ‘like the potato with tomato mouth or clever Grabber with the puppet-babyface and the whiskers glued-on’. Brilliant!

An Austrian TV series is surely bound to follow.

Alex Turgeon – Better Homes & Gardens Revisited

Rhizome are hosting an exhibition entitled ‘Poetry as Practice’ – ‘ In this online exhibition, six poets approach internet language as a bodily, social, and material process. ‘

I don’t really know what that means, but the first entry is one of the nicer pieces of new media poetry I’ve seen for a while – ‘Better Homes & Gardens Revisited’ by Alex Turgeon – artfully simple-looking graphics combined with cleverly-animated texts. Well worth checking out.

Dr Hairy, by Michael Szpakowski

dr hairy

An impression of Dr Hairy by my friend Michael Szpakowski. It’s subtitled ‘Size Ten Rant’ and I think it captures something about Dr Hairy when he’s in full flow, telling it like it is, or like it seems to be if you’re ever so slightly bonkers. This is one of a set of images based on participants in the NetArtizens debate (mentioned in a previous post): you can see the full set at https://www.flickr.com/photos/szpako/sets/72157651122579216 .

Dr Hairy’s Casebook, Part 5

Part 5 of Dr Hairy’s Casebook is now available online, featuring fictional cases on the following subjects:

  • Digestive health
  • Care of people who misuse drugs and alcohol
  • Care of people with ENT oral and facial problems

Dr Hairy’s Casebook is an attempt to bring the RCGP’s GP Curriculum to life, by illustrating each chapter with one or more fictional but true-to-life case. To find out more, click here .

The NetArtizens Project and Isla Del Hierro Virtual

The Furtherfield organisation is currently running a project called NetArtizens, about what it means to be an artist and a citizen of the Net. There are lots of interesting posts about this on the NetBehaviour discussion-list, and one of the most striking contributions so far is a set of images by Paul Hertz called Isla Del Hierro Virtual . He describes them as

‘a series of glitched images of the Island of Hierro in the Canary Islands, captured form Google Street View. I lived on that island for a while in the 1970s, when the only way to get there was by boat four times a week. International communication was by a special phone in the Central Telefónica. It was really far away. Now it is so close by I can visit it by internet any time I want.’

For ‘glitched’ read ‘corrupted, either accidentally or deliberately’.

Dr Hairy’s Research Summaries, February 2015

For more about Dr Hairy’s Research Summaries, visit http://www.drhairy.org/concrete5/index.php/research-summaries/ . Subjects covered this time:

Margaret McCartney: Don’t be bullied into prescribing Tamiflu

BMJ 2015;350:h417

The General Medical Council and doctors’ financial interests

BMJ 2015;350:h474

Weight change and risk of fracture in postmenopausal women

BMJ 2015;350:h60

The drooling child

BMJ 2015;350:h38

Margaret McCartney: Industry’s interest in diagnosing more dementia

BMJ 2014;349:g7480

Is it a stroke?

BMJ 2015;350:h56

Long working hours are linked to risky alcohol consumption

BMJ 2015;350:g7800

How much is too much breast screening?

BMJ 2015;350:h139

Type 2 diabetes and risk of cancer

BMJ 2015;350:g7707

Quantifying and monitoring overdiagnosis in cancer screening: a systematic review of methods

BMJ 2015;350:g7773

Should doctors encourage patients to record consultations?

BMJ 2015;350:g7645

From Jack Saturday, 20/2/15

In a tarpaper cabin Dad rough-carpentered into livability on an abandoned Indian reservation on Schooner Cove, Long Beach, Vancouver Island in 1956, to a crackling woodstove fire and coal-oil lanterns, with the roar of the Pacific surf always present and wild robins and raucous blue jays loud in the deep forest behind the cabin – age 4 and 5, curled up in pajamas against my mother’s warmth as she read us three kids poems with lines like:



By the shining Big-Sea-Water,

Stood the wigwam of Nokomis,

Daughter of the Moon, Nokomis.

Dark behind it rose the forest,

Rose the black and gloomy pine-trees,

Rose the firs with cones upon them;

Bright before it beat the water,

Beat the clear and sunny water,

Beat the shining Big-Sea-Water.

There the wrinkled old Nokomis

Nursed the little Hiawatha,

Rocked him in his linden cradle,

Bedded soft in moss and rushes,

Safely bound with reindeer sinews;

Stilled his fretful wail by saying,

“Hush! the Naked Bear will hear thee!”

Lulled him into slumber, singing,

“Ewa-yea! my little owlet!


My mother’s voice bringing magical cadence and invoking visions in a magic land before schools brought all that down.


But what inspired me to learn to read was my mother’s reading aloud of the Classics Illustrated comic The Time Machine, based on the H. G. Wells story.




Robert Bly said: “On the level of one to ten, it’s about a two to read great works on the spirit from the page. On the level of one to ten, it’s like a nine to hear a human being speak it, especially one you love – that brings the spirit inside the house, inside the family, inside your genetic line.”


I wanted two things: a tape recorder so that I could record my mother reading that wonderful story, and the ability to read it myself. So I was ahead of the game when I started school. I started on books at 8 or 9, and got my first tape recorder at 11. Now I work and play with recordings of the living voices of people more than I read text, though of course I will never give that up. I think digital media has re-opened and universalized a path to oral forms (both oratory and reading aloud) that links us again past Gutenberg and Plato with the pre-Socratics and shamanism.