May 31, 2006
My new favorite song comes courtesy of this Ask MetaFilter thread I posted. The identity of the song had been driving me crazy for weeks, ever since I first heard it play in a commercial for HBO Documentary Films before a movie at the Landmark Theater by my apartment. Ask MeFi to the rescue! Within hours, site members had it pegged -- "Sparks Fly", by Daniel Agust (mp3).
links for 2006-05-31
May 30, 2006
links for 2006-05-30
May 28, 2006
links for 2006-05-28
May 26, 2006
The e-mail forwards I've been receiving remind me commencement season is upon us. And that means one thing: great speeches. Here's a list of some great ones from the past 70 years.
links for 2006-05-26
May 24, 2006
An Inconvenient Truth
File under Dept. of Effusive Praise: Larry Lessig calls Davis Guggenheim's doc on global warming and Al Gore "the most extraordinary lecture I have ever seen anyone give about anything."
Added bonus: There's actually some rise of the image fall of the word mojo happening with this movie; both it and the slide show it's based on use images, moving and still, to communicate complicated ideas in an extraordinarily efficient way.
The Stories We Tell Ourselves
Roy Peter Clark quotes James Carey in a remembrance on poynter.org:
"Listen: You don't feel well, so you go to see the psychiatrist. And the doctor listens to your story. And, if he's a good doctor, he's listening for the parts of the story that are making you feel sick. His job is then to help you tell a new story about yourself, especially one that will make you well. Newspapers are the same way. Journalists are telling each other stories about themselves that are making them sick. So the remedy is to tell a new story about journalism that will help make journalism healthy again."
May 23, 2006
links for 2006-05-23
Business Quote of the Week
"Well that's the strategy our president picked. We try to act behind the scenes, and we follow our clients' desires, instructions and everything, so our policy is not to have a vision."
That's Koichi Sawada from game developer Tose, in an interview with Gamasutra. Tose is like the video game equivalent of Flextronics: a behind-the-scenes partner to lots of big, well-known companies. The interview is weirdly fascinating.
May 22, 2006
Finally Saw Water
... highly recommended. Brought a single tear to this jaded cheek. Go see it, and try not to be all culturally imperialistic about it.
And then come back and listen to "Aayo Re Saki," a ridiculously good song that shows up midway through the movie and has its way with you for a few moments.
links for 2006-05-22
May 21, 2006
links for 2006-05-21
Last week's New Yorker featured an interesting piece by Steven Shapin on the American organic food industry and how it's come to mirror the rest of Big Ag. I've moved Michael Pollan's Omnivore's Dilemma to the top of my reading list.
Favorite part of the article? My rediscovery of the word "immured," which is how Shapin describes a shipment of organic asparagus that had been held up in distribution from Argentina. The word conjures up images of Fortunato shouting for Montresor. Almost as fun as my discovery of the German word for "bra": büstenhalter.
May 19, 2006
links for 2006-05-19
Illusion is the Ultimate Weapon
The Reality-Based Conservative, Part II
May 18, 2006
Engines of Serendipity
Wish I had time to muse more fully on this, because it's one of the best and most interesting blogposts I've read in ages: Nick Carr on serendipity. Not just the modern disputes, either (though he gets to those); Carr actually starts off with a brief history of the concept.
Three Princes of Serendip, y'all.
links for 2006-05-18
May 17, 2006
The dates where we only post our Five Words links and no other entries show up badly on the front page. We are aware of this problem and
shall attempt to remedy it soon have fixed it. Bam!
links for 2006-05-17
May 16, 2006
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May 15, 2006
Usability Testing in Uganda
Matthew Flannery is co-founder of Kiva, one of my favorite new non-profits. On his excellent blog, he's just posted a video of a Ugandan client using the Kiva site. If you're a web designer, or at all interested in the issue of the digital divide, you should watch it. It's actually a bit harrowing.
In related news, the merchant I helped fund via Kiva just paid back 10 percent of his loan! Nice!
Facebook Was Before My Time, Too
Holovaty rocks Missouri's j-school commencement! As you know, I am a huge fan of both Adrian and commencement speeches, so this is pretty much an excellent way to start the week.
Nice shout-out to the PR-flacks-to-be in the audience, too.
links for 2006-05-15
May 14, 2006
links for 2006-05-14
May 13, 2006
500 Greatest Songs
Went to E3, the big video game show, on Thursday. First thing in the morning I rushed to meet up with Kevin in line for the Nintendo booth.
Well worth the wait. The Wii controller is really well-designed, and although its current implementations -- in everything from tennis to the new Zelda -- are all fun and interesting, the coolest thing to me is that you can sense there's something even crazier waiting around the corner.
Here's Kevin on Wario Ware, which does a good job showing off some of the bizarre-o different ways you can use the controller:
May 12, 2006
Public Editor #2
May 10, 2006
links for 2006-05-10
The amazing Jonathan Harris is at it again, having completed another super-interesting project with a fantastic interface. (Actually, a pair of them.) This time, he and his collaborator Sepamdar Kamvar have outdone themselves with We Feel Fine, a Java applet that offers a peek at blogged emotions, in aggregate or as snapshots. WFF also enabled a spin-off project called Love-lines, done in Flash. Play around with these for a while, they'll awe you. (Infosthetic.)
May 9, 2006
links for 2006-05-09
Thanks for the Intervention
I promise I don't link to McSweeneys every time it updates:
Thank you for crying hysterically during the intervention and repeatedly shifting the attention to yourself. I'm not sure if that was intentional, but if it was, you are a true friend. A person can use a few breathers during such an intense meeting, and your sobbing jags and incomprehensible wailing really helped by raising serious questions about your own stability and obvious addiction to OxyContin—or whatever it was that spilled out of your purse during one of your many Kleenex expeditions.
So again, thanks.
P.S. Everyone in group here at the center is really looking forward to meeting you.
Feist Sings "The Build Up"
Feist's cover of the Kings of Conveniences' "The Build Up" was one of my hands-down favorite moments from her concert. And now you, too, can hear it (mp3 link). Here are all the tracks from the performance. (Waxtastic.)
May 8, 2006
It Was a Dark and Nerdy Night
New genre: wonk noir. Sample line: "She was Milton Friedman with the body of Scarlett Johansson."
Wired at the Walker
Thursdays you'll often find me at the Walker Art Center, cell phone at my ear, wandering from exhibit to exhibit and occasionally punching in digits as I stare at the works of art. It's because the Walker offers this pretty fantastic service called "Art on Call," which lets you listen to the curators (and often the original artists) talking about the exhibits.
Now the Walker's hatched up a plan to lend visitors free iPod nanos, pre-loaded with the "Art on Call" tracks. A great idea. But what's really awesome is the thought the Walker folks have put into hacking the iPods to make them dunceproof. I love this museum.
(BTW: the Walker Channel is really a tremendous resource. Free video of talks by some of my favorite artists, from Ang Lee to Todd Haynes to Paul Auster. Highly, highly recommended.)
links for 2006-05-08
May 7, 2006
I ♥ Librarians
Still chugging along under the steam of EPIC, I gave a talk to a big group of librarians in Denver on Friday. Had Matt been there too, there would have been singing; as it was, I just did a slideshow.
Here's Jennifer Lang's run-down on her blog called "Z666.7.L365." Z is the Library of Congress classification space for information about libraries. That's so rad.
Jennifer also rounded up some examples of a trend I heard about in Denver: libraries creating MySpace pages. The logic, of course, is that MySpace is where all their patrons are hanging out... so they should connect with them there. The Brooklyn College Library has 1673 friends, and some comments that are totally worth reading. For instance: "it is THE strangest experience when you get a Friend Request from your SCHOOL'S LIBRARY. who the hell came up with this idea? BRILLIANT I TELL U....abso-freakin-lutely brilliant!!!!"
And so much sweeter and legit-seeming from a library than from, say, some stupid deodorant.
One of the really magical things about libraries, after all, is that they are all about service. They don't want anything from you; they don't want to sell you anything. Today, that is almost a radical proposition. Like serious journalism, librarianship is worth preserving and extending in the era of Google's cold genius; in both cases there is something valuable at the core.
Holy crud. It's one thing to have your mind blown... it's another to have it blown again and again in a kind of rapid combustion cycle. That's what Matt Webb's presentation on cool ideas from science fiction just did to mine.
(Matt Webb is, incidentally, one of the guys who wrote Mind Hacks.)
If you don't take the time to click through his presentation, at least check out Catalhoyuk, the ancient city with no streets where people got around by walking across roofs and climbing down chimneys.
Also, there's a web site track your personal light cone -- the reach of the photons reflected off of earth on the day you were born. Mine passed the star Chi Draconis six weeks ago. Whoah.
But seriously, just click through his presentation, cuz it's amazing.
P.S. Okay, one more: Here's a wall chart of all the biochemical processes on earth. Just, you know, for reference.
May 5, 2006
links for 2006-05-05
'If you go for the ninja, turn to page 108.'
I predict that the entire stock of these books is going to be purchased by ironic and/or nostalgic twentysomethings. Actual kids will remain glued to the floor of the manga aisle. (Seriously, you've noticed that, right? Every big chain bookstore now comes with a sullen teenager pre-installed there. I think they might work in shifts.)
May 4, 2006
links for 2006-05-04
News sites have been all abuzz about the agreement by soft-drink distributors to pull fizzy lifting drinks out of schools. The AP article about this draws a nice observation from Fine Young Journalist:
Four reporters worked on the story. Six people are quoted, all of whom are either happy observers or proud of themselves. ... A very significant change in behaviour is about to be imposed on students. Yet nobody appears to have talked to a kid, or anybody who works in a school. One of the four journalists could have located a student council president or student newspaper editor or somebody.
May 3, 2006
links for 2006-05-03
May 2, 2006
Grand Theft Auto-matic
DARPA's next Grand Challenge (the one they usually hold in the desert, where they race robot cars over inhospitable terrain) will be held in a simulated city next year. The unmanned vehicles will have to handle traffic and deal with intersections. (Wired.)
links for 2006-05-02
May 1, 2006
Last Month's Books
Just 'cause we never mention it, and it's the first day of the month, here's what I remember reading last month:
David Leavitt, Collected Stories: I love this man's short stories. So. Much. But for whatever reason, I'd never read a collection of them until now. Leavitt is a master of depicting the oddness of a family at the precise moment of dissolution. And the endings of his stories leave the world shifted just slightly askew. The cycle of stories about Lord Alfred Douglas near the end kind of disrupt the rhythm, though.
Anita Diamant, The Red Tent: I've always been fascinated by the Bible story of Leah, Jacob's first wife. As the story goes, Jacob sees a beautiful woman named Rachel tending sheep one day, and he goes to ask her father Laban for her hand in marriage. Laban says, "Sure, if you work for me for seven years." So Jacob does. Wedding day arrives, bride and groom are married, bride's veil comes off, and surprise! It's actually Rachel's un-hott older sister Leah. Jacob's totally disappointed, and he asks Laban, "WTF?" Laban says, "Yeah, sorry, here we marry off the older sisters first. But work for me another seven years, and you can have Rachel for realz." So Jacob does.... Read more ....
links for 2006-05-01
The Outlaw Ombud
I have big love for the fact that Dan Okrent's book is titled "Public Editor #1":
I didn’t mention this in the book, but when I had my troubles with [business reporter David Cay] Johnston, one of the senior editors said to me, “There are three things you must understand about Johnston: He’s a Pulitzer Prize winner, he’s a unique talent, and he’s an asshole.” I’m convinced that at least two of those are correct.