Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Finding Lena Forsen, the Patron Saint of JPEGs (wired.com)
242 points by lelf 35 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 112 comments

Oh that is fun, I was one of the operators at the USC Image Processing Institute who did scanning, ran the systems (initially a the HP2100, then a PDP 11/40, and later a PDP 11/55t. We did lots of tours and we had a number of graduate students working on various issues. One of the things we did was to provide the 512 x 512 set of reference images on 1600BPI magnetic tape to researchers. Each image was stored as a red image, green image, and blue image (8 bits per pixel for 24 bits total). In addition to Lena there were other standard images that involved repeating texture, lots of lines and edges, and variable frequency details. By using the standard images, two algorithms could be compared using their output on the same standard image. This helped researchers in the field compare their work with other published studies.

The images (well, most of them) are online: http://sipi.usc.edu/database/

> Please note that we no longer distribute the following images that were previously available in our database: 4.2.04 (lena), 4.2.02 (tiffany), elaine.512, numbers.512 and testpat.1k. Although these images have played a significant role in the history of image processing, they no longer represent the best examples for future research.

It there a reason why these images "no longer represent the best examples for future research"?

How is Lena inferior to the other "female" images? Lena seems to offer a good mix of highly detailed textures, smooth gradients and sharp edges. Maybe there are copyright reasons but Playboy seems to be fine with the use that the Lena image is made of.

Lena is problematic for technical reasons, it’s not PC pushback. The scanning technology of the time was somewhat limited, and the exact parameters are not known if I recall correctly. And of course it is fairly low resolution by current standards. It’s a scan of a reproduction of a production image on magazine paper - something quite different than a photograph. All of these processes introduce characteristic degradations of the image.

I seem to recall someone approaching playboy to see of the negatives where available to make a new “standard” version but I don’t know of that got anywhere. At any rate, there are several subtly different versions around, which has caused some issues in the past.

Lena originally became popular not because people liked looking at a pretty face (though I don’t imagine that hurt) but because it has quite a bit of variation in texture, with strong and weak edges, etc. Particularly for image compression research, it was a real challenge in the 80s and 90s.

All of the technical challenges are better represented these days by other image sets, that don’t have the drawbacks I mentioned. And of course it is much easier to produce your own sets now, and evaluate performance over a significant number of images...

There are plenty of other even lower resolution images in the set that they haven't removed.

Low resolution was not part of the motivations presented. The main one, IMO, were that it is highly processed and that there were a few slightly different copies going around making ambiguous which one did people actually use.

Also I would personally add that the level of exposure received could by itself warrant removal from a bigger set, since it would still be used as an example anyway and could skew informal perception.

I wonder to what extent the Lena image has stayed around longer than technically warranted because of a desire to avoid PC pushback.

Probably the fact that she's from Playboy.

Almost certainly pressure from the PC crowd...

elaine.512 doesn't seem particularly pornographic, but perhaps she's from Playboy too (anyone know?)

A bit of digging shows that it's Elaine Morton, from June 1970. The others are variations of the Lena image.

Maybe the resolution?

Yup, that’s what I was referring to. Kind of disappointing that they’ve taken down Lena :(


Is this like the ImageNet of old?

What’s wrong with female beauty? It’s not like it’s porn or a nude image. I’m not even a straight male but I can still appreciate female beauty and I don’t think it’s sexist. The photo is more artistic than anything. I wonder if the same people who complain about this photo lodge similar complaints when they visit art museums that have female nudity in oil paintings or nude female sculptures?

I know nudity and even a slight sexual undertone in anything upsets some people, but I don’t understand why. I think it says something more about the person than our culture. Sexuality is a core part of the human experience and to deny it is to remove that part of our humanity.

Because it's not about you. It's about the women who see the image, understand its history, and see it as another reminder of how tech is not just male-dominated but thoughtlessly so (having Playboy issues lying around in the research lab) and where women are literally reduced to objects. From the article:

> “As silly as it sounds, they were surprised she was a real person,” he told me.

Women notice stuff like that, I guess.

I think it's important to keep in mind that Lena Forsen (and the other models of Playboy) made the decision to be photographed nude and to have those photos published as a creative expression. To portray the exhibition as exploitative robs them of their agency and demeans their decision.

The issue isn't her agency in choosing to model or not. The issue is that casually having a Playboy around work is in and of itself exclusionary. It taints the history of graphics research because it is so clearly inappropriate, and only in a very broken work culture would it be remotely okay to have that sort of stuff just laying around.

The objection that people have is not to Lena Forsen having a modelling career, it's to the culture of non-inclusion created by NSFW images that make women uncomfortable.

As long as a "gun" is held to our collective heads stating 'you will surrender your bodies to work or starve on the street', there is no such thing as making a voluntary decision like what you say. Look no further than the article:

> “I didn’t really know what that was,” she told me. “But my husband, he thought it was kind of cool, and it was money, and I didn’t have a lot of money.”

And what did she get?

> After her centerfold photos were published, Lena, green card in hand, got a divorce and a new boyfriend.

Even faced with lack of money for food and rent, still got a divorce out of it. Which in '71 , was still considered an abomination.

Don't get me wrong. Men also trade their bodies for the same existential threat; being deprived of food and shelter. But instead of being valued for beauty, we're valued for our utility. And too, our bodies break and rot under harsher conditions.

Only ones who automate and make others' lives meaningless get further than the rest - which I think adequately explains IT in a nutshell. Frankly, its only time until we're also due the same fate.

I disagree with the characterization that it's comparable to a gun to the head. In Lena's case, she was offered a way to make money, she considered the decision, took it, then used the money she made to start an independent life for herself. She declines Hugh Hefner's offer because that crosses a line for her. How does any of this suggest the desperation of starvation?

At the end of the day, her perspective matters the most:

> Lena doesn’t harbor any resentment toward Sawchuk and his imitators for how they appropriated her image; the only note of regret she expressed was that she wasn’t better compensated. In her view, the photograph is an immense accomplishment that just happened to take on a life of its own. “I’m really proud of that picture,” she said.

She's proud of it. Don't deprive her of that.

Besides, in a world obsessed with copyright and take-downs would her image have circulated so much today? Would she have become so iconic to enter our collective unconscious?

She’s like the Amen Break.

> 'you will surrender your bodies to work or starve on the street' As opposed to all of the coal miners and bricklayers who work for fun.

If you'd read the entire comment, you'd have seen that those labourers were well and truly included.

Frankly I think it’s so overstated that it’s edging toward self-parody.

Of course a straight male won’t ever be able to compute the monstrosity of Patriarchy - ironically, it makes me a lesser human - but seriously, I’m not sure all this vitriol helps.

Believe me, I’m relieved when I see a normal woman work at software. It raises my hope that we’re not inevitability stuck living in a Mad Men episode. A normal woman, not some edgy, fringe individual, just a plain female, not ugly nor beautiful, loud extrovert of not. Just plain average.

And the next thought is how little there still are, and how all this punitive, calvinist moral panic might be focusing so much on castigation and not enough at making it chill for anyone to just pick up this job if they feel it’s their thing.

I wonder how many walk away and do something else rather than become a walking flame-bait.

Do you ever think maybe that most normal women walk away when they see a culture of objectification of women, of men making up all sorts of weird analogies and excuses to keep using Playboy pictures in the workplace, and that you telling them to just 'chill' might not actually fix the problem?

Re-reading your reply I noticed you misread my comment: I never said anyone should “just chill” and comply... no. I wrote that it should be “chill for anyone to just pick up this job if they feel it’s their thing”. I’m quite sure there’s a world of difference

What exactly do you think is involved in making it “chill for anyone to just pick up this job if they feel it’s their thing”? Like, should anything different be done? Should anything be done at all? Or should we tell anyone who has any criticisms, 'nah we made it chill, so your criticism is actually invalid'?

IMHO any action should not be centered around combing history to formulate a constant moral (istic) judgement on past behavior.

Sure, the most egregious cases of outspoken chauvinism should be addresses - preferably if they relate to something occurring today - but constant nitpick and blanket attack simply select for people with axes to grind who are motivated to quarrel.

Propositive criticisms like "this attitude/prejudice/whatever, today is an obstacle now and we should work to remove it if we care about an inclusive society also in our industry and workplace." would be much more effective (IMHO.)

That is exactly what people are asking for. You just objected to exactly what people are not doing, and called for exactly what they are calling for.

And you’re still arguing along that fault line... and that’s the point really, it’s all about original sin and “gatekeepng”.

You assume that the women who choose to model in Plaboy do so not out of their own free will and choice. That is somewhat diminutive of these women wouldn’t you say?

Who are you to say anything about their character or quality as “objects”? It seems uncharacteristically harsh to just make an assumption like that.

Yes, but don’t you feel like your wording of women who choose to model in Playboy as objects is somewhat demeaning to them?

No, because my wording was carefully chosen to reflect the actual attitudes of the people who worked with the image, not my personal feelings about Playboy models. If you'll notice, I included a quote from the article where they literally did not know (and had never cared enough to find out!) that the image was of a real person. It was literally an objectified woman.

But human beings generally engage in this kind of objectification, and it's often not malicious. For instance, people elicit similar reactions to meeting athletes for the first time (i.e. only knowing them on TV in a competitive context, and then meeting them in reality and discovering for the first time their non-sport related traits and characteristics that are incongruent with their athletic persona).

I don't interpret "oh you're a real person" as saying "oh wow, you're more than a sex object". I think the reaction is more in line with the awe of meeting the flesh and blood subject behind a static photograph (and an alluring photograph at that).

> If context matters, we can't apply our modern standards to a time with different standards. In the context of the time when the image was originally promulgated, it was done without controversy. The act is only controversial outside of its original historical context.

You make it sound like this was 500 years ago! Anyway, no one is saying to retroactively condemn the people who did it. They are saying to stop using it now. The context is the use of the picture in the here and now contributing to non-inclusion of women in tech.

And I think we need to ask, if the subject of the photograph is "proud of that picture" and feels that the photograph is "an immense accomplishment", then why are modern audiences perceiving it in a negative light?

If Lena came out saying she felt abused by the distribution of her photograph in this manner and that the practice needed to cease, I would agree with you. But her comments indicate to me that individuals ought to reconsider their reaction in light of the subject's perspective. If we respect what Lena believes, and sought her out to document her opinion, then we should seriously consider the weight of her opinion of her own life and own image versus ours.

Because the fact of the photograph itself is separate from the fact of it being connected to objectification of women in the workplace. It's not just about what Ms Forsen feels or believes, it's about what women in the workplace perceive when they see these kinds of pictures being normalized and defended.

Yeah but in your effort to make an analogy, you're missing the point, which is that context matters. You need to look at the context of using objectified pictures of women in the workplace, especially one where women are routinely given signals that they don't belong. Your example of a fan meeting an athlete or celebrity for the first time is just a wildly different context.

If context matters, we can't apply our modern standards to a time with different standards. In the context of the time when the image was originally promulgated, it was done without controversy. The act is only controversial outside of its original historical context.


It's not about insecurity when seeing 'beautifuller' women, it's about getting the impression that women are objectified in the workplace.

I had no idea about the origin of the picture until people started discussing it, so actually this might result in more people being uncomfortable, not less. Consider this thought experiment: suppose that in some foreign language the word "hello," once had a horrible and offense meaning. However both sides of the past social divide had forgotten its past meaning and now it is used commonly as a greeting. Now, some well-meaning historian comes along and uses this history to convince a member of a marginalized group that every time someone says hello, they are echoing something horrible and offense. Now this person will walk around with a heavy weight of paranoia, having been "woken up" to a reality that is long past. Every time someone says "hello," they will suffer through the experience of someone who is being insulted, and worse will have to then repeatedly convince themselves that no harm was meant (this is brutal if you have ever experienced it). That sounds like a curse to me, I say things like that should stay forgotten.


No one said anything about the agency of Playboy models, only about the inappropriateness of using Playboy or other NSFW materials in professional environments making women uncomfortable. In the privacy of your own home, do whatever you like (legally). But don't bring it into the office!

So is the hangup that it was published in Playboy? What if the cropped non-nude version of the photograph first appeared in a mainstream publication, and then was appropriated by the imaging community afterward? Does that contextual difference change anything if we're still discussing the same photograph?

I don't know–it depends! It's difficult to talk hypotheticals. In the end it's all about the context.

Why is it difficult? The hypothetical makes all the relevant information available.

What information are you using right now when dealing the judgement of "inappropriate" to the current situation?

Like I said, it's very difficult to talk about hypotheticals because in real life there are always unintended consequences. For example, the model from the cropped image from the mainstream publication may have later spoken out that she was made to feel uncomfortable during the photo shoot. And people may find that objectionable. As long as we keep talking in hypotheticals, we can justify anything!

But it most definitely is not a NSFW image because it was cropped.

It's not explicit but it is suggestive, and it takes on a new dimension if you know its context.


This is an extreme mischaracterization of the parent comment :/


Nope not at all, I'm just saying that it's not appropriate to bring sexuality into the workplace because it makes people (not just women) uncomfortable. I'm also not saying I'm standing up for anyone, but it's always fun to come across this 'they don't need you to stand up for them' as an argument tactic, because that's when I know there are no actual arguments there.

The fact that some women spoke up about this doesn't mean that only those women find it objectionable; many may have just decided it wasn't worth the grief (and rightly, given how many replies I got to my original post!) and just moved away.

i think it's more about the culture which allowed that image (even in its cropped form) to proliferate as it did: > About six months later, a copy of the [Playboy] issue turned up at the University of Southern California’s Signal and Image Processing Institute, where Alexander Sawchuk and his team happened to be looking for a new photograph

i think we've come far enough to agree that having playboy issues in your research lab is no longer acceptable so why continue to implicitly endorse that?

find a new picture if you want. it's not like this is the optimal image for testing anyways...

Personally I’m not bothered, and while the image isn’t pornographic, it is from Playboy which does make it at least porn adjacent. I see it’s use less as a matter of offensiveness or some headfuck of “intersectionality” and more as just immature and unprofessional. Sexuality is great, it’s everywhere, and I think it has literally nothing to do with this issue.

I can understand not wanting a Playboy model to be the standard image in a professional setting, especially a setting that is overwhelmingly full of guys.

I’m a nudist (meaning I have no problem being naked or seeing people without clothes on when it is comfortable, publicly or privately). What on earth is wrong with a nude photograph? What does it say about humankind that we deny our baseline state?

Fair play to you on the nudism. My question would be whether you’d show up starkers at work? If not, then I’m not sure how it applies.

No I wouldn’t. Firstly because shocking unexpected people is streaking and/or (in some jurisdictions at least) some kind of offence. Secondly because I’m willing to see people undressed doesn’t mean it’s universal (everybody has there preferences, prejudices, and ingrained values). Thirdly because I’m the managing director and enthusiastic or not or not one of my duties is to set the tone for the workplace by example not by demanding that others do what I tell them to but by leading by example, and that includes conservative dress.

Then again I’m in Italy where somewhat different social norms apply: people ask each other out on dates after they meet in the workplace and even if it’s unappreciated nobody dreams of kicking up a stink for sexual harassment because they consider it a normal form of human interaction. It’s also normal to compliment people on their looks and choice of attire. Both genders do it. Nobody gets offended. It’s more like “yeah, I put a ton of effort into choosing and matching this outfit this morning, and nobody noticed?! WTF??”

I guess most people using it have no idea it's a picture from Playboy, nor a nude picture, nor a controversial picture. I used it a lot myself when I was working on content based image retrieval simply because all the literature was using it. It never even occurred to me I was being controversial or sexist.

Now that I'm aware of the picture's history, I agree that it was a poor choice back then but I disagree that using it today is somehow an endorsement of sexism. Using it today only means you are using the standard image processing image.

Not the person you’re replying to, and fuck me if I’m wading into the question of sexism, but professionalism and maturity are things. We get paid the big bucks now, we’re not snotty kids in our parent’s garage; a whole world of acceptable professional behavior goes along with that.

I would have expected something more algorithmic out of experimentation, to easily compare compression errors and otherwise interesting issues.

Nope. They chose porn from Playboy. And this trend continues on to today with "brogrammers". No wonder why women feel inferior in tech.

> I would have expected something more algorithmic out of experimentation

Faces are a great test case. They represent a large fraction of the images we need to compress, and humans are very good at picking out issues with faces.

No, it is a nude image. They just cropped out her face. Google it. I have no idea why the article didn’t actually point that out?

Once you understand that the piece makes sense.

I mean the test image itself shows no nudity. It's a woman's face. Regardless of the source, I do think it shows respect and discretion that they cropped out the nude part. It shows that they at least thought a nude image would be unprofessional in a professional setting.

Personally, I found the story of her life interesting and uplifting (especially about her days at Kodak). If they had selected a landscape or airforce test pattern, we wouldn't have this wonderful story or be getting to read about this woman's life. It's a human connection and history of a time that may have been operating under different social norms.

It's a unique part of the culture and a personal story and it saddens me that some people are able to find negativity in it, just because of the source, and I find it very disrespectful to Lena herself -- there's nothing wrong with how she lived her life or what she did to earn her current minor celebrity.

>No, it is a nude image. I have no idea why the article didn’t actually point that out?

The article essentially said it:

>In 1972, at the age of 21, she appeared as Miss November, wearing nothing but a feathered sun hat, boots, stockings, and a pink boa.

Heh, I had that as my desktop background for a while back in university. By modern standards it's fairly tasteful and inoffensive - I saw a poster publicly displayed outside a lingerie shop yesterday which was more provocative.

Because it makes a significant portion of the population feel objectified?

This is literally what happened to "Lenna" - the image didn't celebrate or honour her as a person. It was an image protraying an unrealistic "beautiful thing". People didn't even know her real name, or what she's achieved as a real person.

It's perfectly reasonable and rational for women to say this makes it harder for them to be perceived as being equals.

So when my two sisters were plastering their walls with very good looking males to which they masturbated, it was making it harder for me as a male to be percieved as being equal ?

Or the fanservice aimed at females in current-day shows like Riverdale where these hot guys throw off their shirts at the hint of an opportunity ?

This idea that it is somehow wrong to appreciate and find pleasure in the physical appearance of people is something I find very hard to understand. Are we going to ban makeup ?

Fair question. I would say the primary difference is that in most workplaces men are seen as being competent, and being male is not a disadvantage or put you in a minority. There are undoubtedly professions where stereotypes about men would be harmful. For example if a man wants to become a flight attendant, nurse, or a school teacher.

Also consider examples outside of work, like dating. The tall, handsome, muscular guy is more likely to be perceived as desirable even though those traits don't necessarily correlate with what makes a good boyfriend. A man in search of a partner might feel objectified if his potential partner had posters of good-looking men up on her wall.

Actually, it turns out that even in woman-dominated professions, being a man is advantageous. [1]

[1] The Glass Escalator: Hidden Advantages for Men in the "Female" Professions https://www.jstor.org/stable/3096961

This is not about personal "pleasure in the physical appearance", but about the culture where using Playboy photos in a professional cobtext doesn't raise any eyebrows.

  where these hot guys throw off their shirts at the hint of an opportunity ?
I don't know why, but I'm reminded of https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=spwTDpJ0-eY

> the image didn't celebrate or honour her as a person. It was an image protraying an unrealistic "beautiful thing". People didn't even know her real name, or what she's achieved as a real person.

Because it's a test image not a novel.

>It was an image protraying an unrealistic "beautiful thing".


It's a picture of a woman. What's unrealistic about that? That she's good looking?

> What’s wrong with female beauty?

It's a facile concept that is extremely difficult to decouple from a whole set of nasty, narrow social expectations for women that have nothing to do with aesthetics.

If you want to get a sense of just how nasty, do the social experiment of discussing one of the many subculture of biological males who present convincingly as female. It's hard to analyze the resulting physical unease and non-sequiturs as anything other than a confusion of aesthetics with... everything else, really.

> The small army of women who had worked as so-called computers during the first half of the 20th century were leaving the tech industry in droves, as computing went from being perceived as a form of menial labor to a more cerebral, masculine pursuit.

Isn't this rather misleading? Obviously there were women in early computing who were very influential. But weren't the "human computers" in fact performing tedious and repetitive calculations, and not merely "perceived" as such?

No, it's not misleading. The change was in perception, not in the nature of the task. Yes, there were women who did rote calculations, but those weren't the roles influential to how the role evolved.

"Programmer" used to be the job of turning prose or flowcharts from a "systems analyst" into a deck of machine instructions. The uncreative grunt work making up half of the profession got completely automated away.

I know a person who had that kind of job, and eventually started fixing bugs in the code because it was easier than tracking down the analyst. She gradually morphed into being a full fledged programmer in the contemporary sense, now nearing retirement.

But the quoted sentence explicitly mentions an "army of women" doing human computer jobs.

Lena Forsén*

You'd think, having written a whole article about her, you'd be able to spell her name right. It's incredible to me how relaxed people in English speaking countries, particularly the US, are with removing and changing letters as they see fit.

I remember seeing someone on Reddit, for example, who had named their kid Soren, after Søren Kierkegaard, completely ignoring that it's not even the same name. Do people realize that these letters are different looking for a reason?

Isn't that just how language works? When a name doesn't suit your language's writing system it's natural to adapt it in a way that's more accessible. English simply doesn't have an acute accent.

It's why people in English speaking countries are named Michael (or one of the 50+ alternatives) instead of the original מִיכָאֵל, or why BBC reports on Chinese President Xi Jinping instead of Chinese President 习近平.

But it’s completely fine/effortless to use it in English, it’s even part of latin-1.

Fiancée résumé déjà vu touché.

I'm spanish, with dual keyboard layout which means easy access to deadkeys for those chars, and I don't even bother putting the accent in my own name when I'm writing English.

It is also natural to be attracted to sweet pictures of the other sex. But this whole article pushes the mindset that this is not ok. So I would argue that ignorance of proper spellings (in the same alphabet! Your examples are misleading) marginalizes them.

It's not the same alphabet. English alphabet is distinct from the Swedish alphabet, they just happen to use the same writing system.

Sorry, second language English here. I thought it was obvious what I meant. é is very close in appearance and sound to e compared to some Hebrew(?) or Chinese.

I too found that irritating. Especially since the deliberate misspelling of her name as 'Lenna' in Playboy.was explicitly mentioned.

But the article explicitly states that Lena Forsén herself requested the extra 'n' in the spelling of her name so that she would not have to hear it mispronounced as 'Leena'.

I like to imagine a world where everybody refused to use Uber, on grounds of orthographic incorrectness. Would Lyft have won? Is deliberate misspelling okay as long as it's in your own language?

Yeah, I dislike this too. It's not as if you have to change your keyboard layout to write a foreign name. You can just copy paste it.

I feel that whenever Lena is mentioned, we should also give a shoutout to the researchers who were fed up with her and decided to use Fabio instead.


What do you guys (yes, guys) think about making Fabio the standard image instead?

The Fabio image is not very useful wrt image compression:

  - grayscale (lenna image is rgb)
  - very odd 271x257 resolution (lenna image is square 512x512 which is a power of two)
  - just hair as fine detail features (lenna image has several: hat, feather boa and hair)


An optimal image would have the following properties:

  - different textures at different
    - scale
    - brightness
    - frequency
  - easily recognizable features
  - color
  - power of two resolution
  - no cultural issues 
  - no licensing issues (not a scan of a magazine, globally recognized license, i.e. not "public domain")
The problem with faces is that on the one hand, humans are able to tell easily if a feature was destroyed by an image compression algorithm, but on the other hand it's personally identifiable information and therefore comes with additional legal restrictions in many jurisdictions.

> we should also give a shoutout

No, we shouldn't.

Them using a different image in their research is perfectly acceptable--when one spends hours looking at something rendering, one shouldn't have to look at something one objects to--but referring to the research as a social statement diminishes the scientific value by framing it as a publicity stunt.

Also, apart from using research time/money for licensing: "lena" has become shorthand for "face-female-with-various-patterns" and is a historical accident. "Fabio" will always be Fabio, a commercial model; a less than optimal choice for a scientific paper.

I'd have no issue with it, but then I have no issue with the Lena image. Of course, anyone who does have an issue with Lena would have equal issue with a male equivalent, if they're not a hypocrite.

> if they're not a hypocrite.

I don't agree at all with your statement here. There is a whole historical/social difference at play here; taking it into account doesn't make you a hypocrite.

(I hate the "hypocrite" judgement. So easy to cast and rarely true)

Well I hate the way that "it's OK to do something to a person of one race/gender/subgroup that it's not OK to do to a person of a different race/gender/subgroup, for some historical reason" has become the new justification for all sorts of prejudice, so I guess we're even.

Please don't do this on HN.[0]

>Of course, anyone who does have an issue with Lena would have equal issue with a male equivalent, if they're not a hypocrite.

Part of cedex12's point, I take it, is that there is no 'male equivalent'. Your 'of course' following by accusation of hypocrisy makes it seem you were looking for a fight, not a discussion, and mainly wanted to dump out the standard 'talking point' which followed. "Of course" is just bluff, begging the question, code for "I have no reason to give but I'm right, obviously". No, you're not "even".

(I do however disagree with cedex12's claim that accusations of human hypocrisy are rarely true.)

[0] I dislike like the sound of me saying that. I tried removing it, but I disliked the implied acceptance of the way you were speaking on here even less, so I put it back.

> What do you guys (yes, guys) think about making Fabio the standard image instead?

No objection here. Heck, make both the Fabio and Lena images part of the test image set so that everybody's happy (or at least equally unhappy).

Well on her (the researcher), her (Lena), and him (Fabio). Well on all of them.

You mean "good on them"?

In addition to lenna old timer image processing researchers would also have fond (depending whether your compression or edge detection algorithm worked correctly or not) memories of girl, cameraman, and barbara images as well as the infamous baboon (https://goo.gl/images/4Js7YH).

I remember doing my senior thesis on 2D LPC in 1990 and since we did not know how to print images, in our report we just printed the pixel values as numbers. Ahh, the good old times.

infamous mandrill, I think it is. Anyway, that picture in full colour has a definite wow-factor.


> Yet the model herself (right, now 67) remained mostly a mystery—until now.

Not exactly, there is even a web site about it -- http://www.lenna.org/ -- and both she and the image have Wikipedia entries.

I thought the image was used to test formats well before JPEG.

I wasn't aware of the compared cases from the article such as Suzanne Vega, "The Mother of the MP3", or Susan Bennett, the namesake for Siri.

But I have heard that a 3d model of Thom Yorke (Radiohead)'s head is the de facto standard for 3d printer trials.

So it isn't Benchy?

Did she actually still have the same hat and scarf? I didn't notice that mentioned in the text.

The new one looks slightly different: it has a different texture on the underside of the brim. It’s likely that the original hat belonged to Playboy.

"In 1973, at the moment that her picture was being brought into the lab, there were hundreds if not thousands of women being pushed out,” said Marie Hicks, a historian of technology and author of Programmed Inequality.1 “All this happened for a reason. If they hadn’t used a Playboy centerfold, they almost certainly would have used another picture of a pretty white woman. The Playboy thing gets our attention, but really what it’s about is this world-building that’s gone on in computing from the beginning—it’s about building worlds for certain people and not for others."

This is the thesis of the article, if you don't want to waste your time reading through the banal padding of a story around it.

It's definitely pushing an agenda, with a whiff of product placement, too. It's a bit of an absurd conclusion they're drawing. Sure, continuing to use a centerfold picture is sexist, but the picture was only a tool and - unlike the article implies - there is no 'spirit' of Lena inside my family photos.

Applications are open for YC Summer 2019

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact