February 29, 2008
This Is Not a Music Blog
No links to MP3s next week, I promise. But MGMT is super-fun. Try "Time to Pretend."
Neat bit of prose from Paul Ford. Here's my favorite part -- he's talking about his neighborhood:
My wife and I are visitors, tourists, not welcome or unwelcome. Sometimes the natives say hello--they wished us well after our wedding; they gave us some sparklers on the 4th of July; we gave them a case of beer--but just as often they do not. It's like being in a photograph of the Civil War. The subject of the photo is perfectly still, surrounded by ethereal blur. Online, the Google Maps "street view" of this block shows the men downstairs sitting in front of their club. They sit there every warm day. These people are the map.
You won't find another essay (story?) that jumps from street survival to server virtualization.
February 28, 2008
Track of the day: Santogold remixed by XXXChange. Just feels very Thursday-appropriate, you know?
Update: Hey, I have a question. What's the deal with these music blogs posting MP3s? Do they have special (unofficial) arrangements with labels? Or is it just sort of understood that it's okay to share MP3s as long as you practice restraint? I wouldn't mind dropping some tracks on Snarkmarket from time to time but it still makes my spidey senses tingle. Are my spidey senses stuck in 2004?
Becoming an Economist
Dani Rodrik, leader of the development economics program at Harvard, explains how he chose economics as a profession. It's a short, simple story, but I found it totally charming. I wish more professionals and academics would take the time to tell these stories and make them public. It'd make for a good book, actually...
February 27, 2008
Dan Tobin Smith. Click the "still life" section. Check out the super-wide images. They feel super zeitgeisty to me. Also, beautiful.
(Link via... my mom!)
Bleak images from North Korea in the NYT. The first eight or so pictures look like scenes from a science fiction movie. Which I guess they sort of are.
February 25, 2008
Javan Ivey presents an animation unlike any I've ever seen. (Note the digital pre-viz demo he did before embarking on the real animation. It's posted at the bottom of the page, with note: "Computers are dirty cheaters.")
My colleague Dan wants you to vote for Current in the SXSW People's Choice awards. This might be one of those things where I find the video totally hilarious and charming only because I know Dan... but I don't think so.
P.S. I am going to SXSW Interactive this year! Drop me a line (or a comment) if you'll be there too.
February 23, 2008
Spore's Procedural Jams
That link includes a small picture of the programming environment he used, but you've got to see Aaron interact with it live to understand how truly cool it is. It's this crazy hybrid of computer code and, like, circuit design, and the music keeps playing as he makes changes, so you hear it evolving and improving in real-time.
Bonus: Here's some video of Aaron demoing part of the game.
Is Etsy the Next Google?
Haven't even really processed this yet, but I like the boldness of the idea enough to pass it along: Is Etsy the next Google?
I will say I've heard more organic buzz about Etsy than any other company in the last several months -- from real people, not tech-nerd blogs -- and it's only accelerated lately.
Update: Jason Kottke thinks "Is X the Next Google?" headlines are dumb, and he is probably right. However, as part of the proud tradition of Google-based hyperbole mining, I have a soft spot for them.
Update: "Hyperbole mining"? I don't even really know what that means -- it's just the phrase that occurred to me, and it seemed right.
February 22, 2008
Yo! I'm at the Computational Journalism conference at Georgia Tech. So far it is awesome.
I'm going to attempt to liveblog with a new tool I just learned about here -- it's past the jump.
Today: Andrew Haeg from MPR's Public Insight Journalism program is blowing my mind. The work they do isn't massive in scale, but it's exactly right: They're building a database of citizen expertise over time, and they can query it in lots of interesting ways. It's a complete reinvention of sourcing. It's not only electronic, either: They often bridge the gap and bring members of their database together in the physical world.
Something else: Just heard a great analogy: Wally Dean from the Committee of Concerned Journalists recounts the introduction of Doppler radar in local news stations. It was a grafting of (then very new) technology into newsrooms that was hugely successful. What's the next Doppler radar? What's the next bit of technology we can use inventively in the context of news? (Especially, perhaps, local news?)... Read more ....
February 20, 2008
February 19, 2008
Sita Sings the Blues
Nina Paley made an entire animated movie herself -- and it looks amazing. The blurb:
Sita is a goddess separated from her beloved Lord and husband Rama. Nina is an animator whose husband moves to India, then dumps her by email. Three hilarious shadow puppets narrate both ancient tragedy and modern comedy in this beautifully animated interpretation of the Indian epic Ramayana.
Nina Paley's been documenting the process all along, apparently, on her blog. Too cool.
iPhone Users Get All the Love
Whoah, whoah, whoah -- wait a minute here -- why can't us normal boring computer users have wallpaper this amazing?
February 15, 2008
Warren Ellis launched a new webcomic today. Too early to tell if I'll be a fan, but at first glance, the art is nice and the design of the site seems very correct somehow.
Update: So, the site was designed by Ariana Osborne, whose own blog design is sort of totally amazing. It's split exactly down the middle between her own posts and the murmurings of her community. Mostly Twitter stuff, which as always eludes my affection, but still. There's something really interesting there.
February 14, 2008
What Is Videoblogging, Anyway?
Cool little deal over at Umair Haque's Harvard Business blog where he replies to a comment in video. It's super-fun to see his face and hear his voice after reading his stuff for so long. Way too long at 4:35, but I like the idea. Somehow the fact that video is reserved for a thoughtful reply to a comment seems remarkably... respectful, you know?
What do you think? How might video fit into "normal" blogs in interesting ways? How might text and video work together? (And I am excluding the usual "hey look at this embedded viral video" model here.) Any crazy ideas?
Indiana Jones and the Whatever Whatever
Maybe it's just the nostalgic preamble that roped me in, but, okay, the new Indiana Jones movie looks great.
Rex continues his recent run of awesome, kinda-sorta-long-form original content: Here's a nuanced interview with Adrian Holovaty about EveryBlock. (Matt, note the mention of machine-readable metadata for "news blobs"! EPICBlock, yo!)
Developer and Diarist
Wow, this is super-random, but great: a snippet of wonderful, atmospheric prose by... Blake Ross, cofounder of Firefox!
February 13, 2008
The Morning After
It’s the morning after the election. The President-elect calls you up and says, “You know, after this grueling, absurd campaign, I now see that the state of our democracy is something we have to grapple with right away. What should I do?”The Brennan Center for Justice posed this question to fifteen widely regarded personalities, including Hendrik Hertzberg, Anne-Marie Slaughter, Dahlia Lithwick, and David Rakoff. Check out their answers here. And add your answer here. (Via Hertzblog.)
February 11, 2008
The PostSecret Valentine
Video made more or less like this is the future of human communication.
Sounds over the top, but I'm pretty serious. (Note especially 1:20 to 1:45 or so.)
Meet you back here in two hundred years and we'll see if I'm right.
Faster Than a Speeding Meme
Approximately forty-five seconds after the release of that will.i.am video for Obama, and the corresponding insta-backlash, comes the McCain version. It is hilarious and, content aside -- neither the original nor this parody offer much in the way of real policy argument -- worth appreciating for its meta-ness alone.
February 10, 2008
Your new favorite band: Kiosk!
It's an Iranian indie rock band (I mean... sort of) that recently made the movie to America. Here's the full story, written up by Talieh Rohani.
And here are some sample lyrics:
The power of love or love of power
Modernism versus tradition forever
Living in the evil axis
Speed freaks in jalopy taxis
I feel like I'm getting the hang of this internet thing!
February 9, 2008
The Forbidden Fantasy of Utter Upeaval
This WaPo story by Hank Stuever is terrific, and weird, and a good example of that ripped-from-its-context thing the web does so well: I started reading it and had no idea what was going on. You'll see what I mean.
Even when do you figure out what you're reading, it never quite becomes normal. The story is totally fractured, almost impressionist -- but to good effect. Steuver is a terrific writer, and his subject matter is sublime: American culture as it's experienced in places other than New York and San Francisco. His book Off Ramp is terrific, and its subtitle says it all: "Adventures and Heartache in the American Elsewhere."
February 8, 2008
Echo from Last July
Kottke just linked to an old Snarkmarket post, so of course I clicked back to read it... and you know what was way better than the post? The wide-ranging, discursive conversation that followed! What a delight to re-read. Nice work, Snarkmatrix. I wish there was a better way to save/highlight old conversations...
February 6, 2008
Behind the Candidates
Having seen the name of Obama's chief economics adviser Austan Goolsbee appear on a few blogs recently, I've become curious about who else is on the teams of the two lead candidates. Here's what I've found:
Meanwhile, here's a brief Telegraph piece on Team Hillary. Here's a wonderful Washington Post write-up of the Clinton squad, "Hillaryland." An additional WaPo rundown. The articles themselves give you such an interesting picture of the candidates' leadership styles and expertise. And from these articles, here are some links on some of the big names (I'm likely to refine this list as I get time to look into it):
- Mark Penn: chief pollster and strategist
- Harold Wolfson: senior communications director (no Wikipedia link, using a NYTimes story)
- Patti Solis Doyle: campaign manager
- Mandy Grunwald: chief media consultant
- Leecia Eve: chief policy adviser
- Ann Lewis: senior adviser
- Terry McAuliffe: campaign chairman
- Foreign policy/national security:
- Domestic policy:
February 5, 2008
I'm a sucker for Aristotelian lingo, and a sucker for Zephyr Teachout, so that makes me doubly susceptible to her endorsement of Obama's "ethikai aretai."
February 4, 2008
Just Because We Can ...
danah boyd writes a typically thought-provoking post on the prospect of exposing users' "Social Graphs," a meme that's been heating up recently. Quick backstory in case you didn't know: Google and a bunch of techy types want to make it so you can easily port your identity and contacts to any application on the Web. The advantages include easier sign-ups for different Web applications, no longer having to maintain the same information in a bunch of different places, quickly finding any contacts who are using an application you just signed up for, etc. Those of us with MySpace/Facebook/Friendster/LinkedIn/Flickr/vita.mn/etc. accounts are planning to be, for the most part, happy.
But danah makes the good point that those stumping for this move are all tech-savvy people who mostly have no idea of what the repercussions will be for some of the most vulnerable heavy users of the Web -- teens. A typical argument in favor of more open data refers to what Tim O'Reilly calls "security by obscurity" -- i.e. we have the illusion we're secure just because all our data is usually tucked out of the way, but this is patently false, as any reporter could tell you. Exposing public data more commonly means fewer people will harbor this false sense of security, ostensibly making them more directly conscious of how they manage their personal data. But as danah points out, it could be an awfully risky way to make a point.
Key Decision-Making Data
As we head into Super Tuesday, don't you dare ignore what the leading paper in Belarus has to say.
February 2, 2008
Reading "The Revolution in Science 1500-1750" by A. Rupert Hall and absolutely loved this line:
Quite how the authentic philosophy of Plato [...] became the father of natural magic -- magical operations without the aid of demons -- seems to be somewhat obscure.
"Magical operations without the aid of demons"! So awesome! "Hey, uh, listen, so if you want to do some magic... but you don't have any demons... try science!"
I'm enjoying the tone of the book. Hall isn't afraid to make positive value-judgments about the scientific worldview (because, he says, that view actually does provide more useful, more complete theories about the world) but at the same time, he doesn't fail to detail all the weird, religious, dogmatic, and/or occult motivations of many early scientists: Vesalius! Mondino! Paracelsus!