March 31, 2008
Anne Shirley Forever
Whoah, Anne of Green Gables is a hundred years old!
The Guardian celebrates with an essay by Margaret Atwood which includes gems like:
The book was an instant success when it first appeared -- Anne "is the dearest and most loveable child in fiction since the immortal Alice", growled crusty, cynical Mark Twain [...]
(I was going to quote more, but it won't make any sense if you're not an Anne-fan. And if you are, you'll just want to read the whole thing.)
March 30, 2008
Yeah yeah, I know, I'm biased -- but this piece on Al Gore and the election is good. And largely correct, it seems to me.
(This is my first link ever found via Twitter!)
March 27, 2008
The Art of War
New pod from my pal Tracey Chang at Current. Her reports are some of my favorite, mostly because she's so natural -- and frankly sometimes nervous -- that it feels like one of your friends in the field.
Watch for the guerrilla "family portrait."
Check out the video for Justice's DVNO -- it's a mega-mashup of '80s tele-typography, except way more gorgeous than than stuff ever really was.
(Via, umm, Jonathan Hoefler? Awesome.)
March 25, 2008
OMG CSM ARG
Quoted a bit in Ben Arnoldy's Christian Science Monitor story about the new Olympics alternate reality game. "It was a regular Friday at the office..."
Latest elite magazine story on the Huffington Post and the death of newspapers: so-so.
Rex's identification of the dueling public philosophies of Walter Lippman and John Dewey as the most interesting idea in the piece: excellent.
(I'd write more about am on the road. Look for a follow-up sometime soon.)
But Can It Vacuum My Floor
Forgot where I ran across this, but I was reminded today of the typeface Champion Script Pro, "the most advanced and powerful script ever made. Developed over a period of two and a half years, each one of the 2 weights is loaded with 4253 glyphs (now 4280 glyphs)." What does that mean? It means the typeface is programmed to dynamically adjust glyphs to complement each other in a given word. All for just €175.
March 24, 2008
For a Limited Time: Actual Snark on Snarkmarket
I love this Ask MeFi thread listing retorts to common sayings. Among my favorites:
|You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.||But you catch the most with bullshit.|
|There's no "I" in "team."||Yeah, but there's an "m" and an "e."|
|The squeaky wheel gets the oil.||It's also the first to get replaced.|
|The early bird gets the worm.||But the early worm gets eaten.|
March 23, 2008
NMA Winners '07
March 22, 2008
Just Under the Surface
[Quoting Melissa Harris-Lacewell.] "One of the things fascinating to me watching these responses to Jeremiah Wright is that white Americans find his beliefs so fringe or so extreme. When if you’ve spent time in black communities, they are not shared by everyone, but they are pretty common beliefs." ... What’s happening, I think, is that the Obama campaign has led many white Americans to listen in for the first time to some of the black conversation — and they are thunderstruck.Speaking as a fully assimilated Negro, with a white boyfriend and a surfeit of white friends, living in an overwhelmingly white neighborhood, it's hard for me to write about Obama's speech. There's a lingering note in Kristof's column that threatens to narrow and polarize this conversation just as it begins -- "You white folks just don't get it." Some even heard it in the speech itself, and it instantly deafened them to what was said; it sounds so much like assigning blame to non-blacks for something that they just cannot help. And for me, inhabiting the whitest world a black American man can inhabit, it's even more awkward to say that the note rings true. From the severity of the reaction to Jeremiah Wright's speeches, it seems that a large number of Americans, including many of my colleagues in the press, just had no idea.
In black communities, words like Wright's are commonplace.
Those words you're hearing over and over again on YouTube are not the rantings of a lunatic fringe, they are the frequent utterances of a sizable segment of black America. It's just that this time they've spilled out of our closed conversation in a dramatic way.... Read more ....
File under: Self-Disclosure, Snarkpolitik, Society/Culture
March 20, 2008
The Aesthetic of Us Weekly Can Be Yours
Kottke points out a crazy new kind of portraiture:
Using information provided earlier about their weekly routine, the photographer will arrive on the scene, and unseen, take shots of the subject. The subject will be photographed walking through the streets, going about their daily business. Without posing and artifice, the camera captures only the natural beauty of the person.
Why is this awesome? Because the real mark of status is no longer having a fantastic portrait taken, or even getting the massively-photoshopped magazine cover treatment. It's being surreptitiously photographed leaving Starbucks in your flip-flops.
This is definitely a corollary to the democratization of manipulation. The democratization of observation, maybe?
March 19, 2008
Maybe I Finally Get It Now
Twitter with its bizarre/random limitations and restrictions is a retreat for those craving fuzziness? A cave? Like in Plato's cave, maybe, but here the shadows are 140 characters long.
Margaret Mead Among the Managers
Grant McCracken offers an anthropological take on the recently-ubiquitous corporate reinvention session.
March 17, 2008
Watch carefully. Sort of like Brain Age in real life... with a twist.
March 14, 2008
I, For One, Welcome Our New Avian Overlords
OMG, Jessa's right: the birds are going to rule us one day. Article 1:
And article 2:
March 12, 2008
Conor Knighton on Bollywood's new tricks. This video features Shah Rukh Khan and dancing robots. My prediction is that by 2026, every video will feature those two things.
Someone needs to fuse them. This is the internet. Someone already has. But where?
(Via AFWW on IM.)
March 11, 2008
I've been a horrible SXSW blogger. In my defense, I've been having too much fun learning things and meeting people. But Snarkmarket pal Jane McGonigal's keynote was so remarkable, uplifting and super-great that it bears special mention. Especially in contrast to the meta-vapidity of the Zuckerberg interview on day one, the substance and spirit of Jane's presentation were striking.
Also... she did the Soulja Boy.
March 7, 2008
Samantha Power's Resignation
Such a bummer. I cringed when I read the remark last night. Now one of my favorite figures in any candidate's campaign is out. I don't know how these things work at all, but I really hope she'll still be his unofficial foreign policy adviser.
Also: Why is it I love Samantha Power so much? First, there was her book, an exhaustive and exhausting account of the unchanging pattern of genocide, and why, despite our ability to recognize that pattern, we never stop it before it's too late. Then, there was hearing her speak about the book at the Nieman Narrative conference a few years back. Although she was young (34?) and vibrant, she had this weariness about her. Maybe she was just exhausted for reasons completely unrelated to the subject matter, but you couldn't help thinking, "God, the things this poor woman is cursed with knowing." To speak at length for years with the survivors of genocides all over the world, to see it happening again and be utterly powerless to stop it -- how do you have that kind of experience and not despair?
I was as excited as Robin about the prospect of Power in a major foreign policy position (which I really hope might still come to pass). When secretaries of state commonly can't bring themselves to utter the word "genocide," how amazing would it be to have a cabinet-level official with not only the experience to recognize the pattern of genocide, but also the moral will to call it by its name?
Of course, all these pretty things I'm saying about her shouldn't erase the fact that calling Hillary Clinton a monster was not only boneheaded, but really lowers the threshold given some of the actual, human-slaughtering monsters Power has known. But it really sucks when a mistake redounds to such an ill and public effect.
Update: Marc Ambinder cites anonymous sources from the Obama campaign who say Power was not asked to leave, in case you were wondering.
March 6, 2008
What's a Library For?
This Slate piece was apparently precision-engineered to appeal to me: Witold Rybczynski on public libraries in the age of Google, set to pictures of some new-ish American Alexandrias.
Some of the spaces are very appealing -- the new Denver Public Library and, of course, the Seattle Public Library -- but I wonder if anyone has tried a more distributed approach? I think of all the branches of the San Francisco Public Library scattered throughout the city -- most are pretty lame and outdated at this point. But they could become an archipelago of coolness with the right kind of design and attention.
I almost think the public library of the future has more in common with Starbucks than the stately fortresses of old: comfortable, accessible, intimate, omnipresent.
And of course, there is coffee and free wifi.
(Via the excellent Design Observer.)
P.S. As an aside -- and I might have mentioned this before -- librarians were the single group most fervently interested in sharing EPIC with their colleagues and talking about its implications. This is a group of people that's actually thinking hard about their -- and our -- future.
Wow, check out this titanic feat of pop archaeology: Michael Barthel on the cultural journey of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah."
Don't miss this part, about a third of the way down the page:
What's fascinating about all this is not simply the song's ubiquity on TV dramas--it's that it's used in the exact same way every time. Songs can be used sincerely, ironically, as background shading, as subtle comment, as product placement. But "Hallelujah" always appears as people are being sad, quietly sitting and staring into space or ostentatiously crying, and always as a way of tying together the sadness of different characters in different places. In short, it's always used as part of a "sad montage."
Now, I could go into details about how exactly the "sad montage" is constituted, but it's more efficient and probably more effective just to show you a montage of the montages. You'll see what I mean.
The montage is pretty hilarious. And then, a bit more of Barthel's analysis:
The way Hallelujah is being used here is the auditory equivalent of a silent film actress pressing the back of her hand to her forehead to express despair -- emotional shorthand. It's sometimes called a needledrop, and it's an element of visual grammar that signals the mood of the scene loudly and unmistakably. In the Scrubs musical featurette, creator Bill Lawrence says, "How are we gonna make a show where a lot of the comedy comes from broad, silly jokes switch gears on a dime and suddenly be dramatic? What we found is we were able to make that transition quickly if we chose the right song."
Seriously, you've got to check this out. There are graphs!
March 5, 2008
Politics, Emotion, and YouTube
Henry Jenkins and Stephen Duncombe talk Obama, YouTube, and emotional politics. (Second video down.)
Duncombe on the will.i.am Obama video: "It uses a language of emotions which one couldn't articulate in a logical sentence." He continues with an extended analysis of the "rhetoric that's embedded in the video" that is quite smart and revelatory.
Heard a new term from Jenkins in this exchange, too: "collective intelligence culture." I like it.
March 4, 2008
I could not possibly like John Chiara's photography more. Quick description:
Chiara operates a hand-built, room-sized camera that is mounted on a flatbed trailer. He works inside the camera, physically becoming a part of the process. During the long exposures, he dodges and burns by passing his hands in front of the camera’s lens.
To my eye, his photos are a reminder of how crazy it is that photography works at all.
March 1, 2008
A Mystery Begins
So yeah, clearly this is the beginning of one of those alternate reality game sorta things. Made an important discovery just after I recorded the video above: There was something in the ball of yarn. There's a photo over on the Current.com page I'm using to keep track of all the media. Obviously this site is going to be important soon.
I have to say, getting a mystery box in the mail full of cryptic clues and artifacts is just about as much fun as you'd expect it to be!
Will keep you posted.