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May 31, 2008

Responsibility to Protect

Robin says,

Good, short piece by David Rieff in the NYT about the urge to intervene -- and the fact that we never actually do.

Any other good references/readings on this out there?

Update: Good pointers from David in the comments. Also, "criminal neglect."

Comments (3) | Permasnark | Posted: 7:26 PM

May 30, 2008

@MarsPhoenix Revealed

Robin says,

Wired's Alexis Madrigal scores an interview with the voice of the computer -- the writer behind NASA's charming Mars Phoenix twittering.

Comments (0) | Permasnark | Posted: 3:40 PM

Nico Nico Douga

Robin says,

My mind is being blown in real-time.

Nico Nico Douga is sort of a Japanese YouTube, except it has a weird extra feature: You can write comments in real-time over the video. Hard to imagine; easier to see. Just watch the second video on this page (the one after the YouTube video) for a second.

Weird/cool, right?

Even better, a Goldsmiths team is dissecting and explaining the crazy characteristics of the Nico Nico Douga community in blog form. Insanely high-brow meta-theoretic blog form.

Why is this interesting? Two reasons:

  1. Video is still so immature, and still changing so fast. Kevin Kelly thinks text is actually a big part of its future -- a sort of reunion of long-estranged formats, thanks mostly to computers and high-resolution screens. I agree, and Nico Nico Douga is a (spastic) data point in that direction.

  2. The web is so not a global village. It's totally compartmentalized by region and, especially, by language. So it's cool to get a guided tour of something that would otherwise be incomprehensible or, worse, invisible.

I still have no idea what to make of this site. I'm almost afraid to click around. Any thoughts/reactions?

(Via the wax.)

Update: Great Wired article on the site's founder.

Comments (8) | Permasnark | Posted: 11:58 AM

May 29, 2008

Now That's a Good-Lookin' Web Page

Robin says,

Pardon the a) Current promotion, and b) super-extreme-nerdiness, but I think our redesigned "item page" is awesome. This is not normally the kind of thing I get that excited about, but man, I just think this is a really, really good web page.

Nice work, Naber.

Note especially: the "playlist" of related stuff on the left; the cool hot pink tab for the "TV-ified" version of the item; and the inline media in the comments!

Comments (2) | Permasnark | Posted: 11:28 PM

Where Do Hits Happen Now?

Robin says,

I love this: The new Motley Crue single sold more copies via the Rock Band online store than via iTunes.

Now granted, this is "the new single from Motley Crue," which I'm pretty sure no one was waiting for un-ironically.

But still, totally love it. Video games are the new movie soundtracks are the new albums.

Comments (4) | Permasnark | Posted: 9:53 AM

May 28, 2008

Samantha Power's Commencement Address

Robin says,

As you know, the graduation speech is my favorite of all forms. Samantha Power did a nice job at Pitzer this year; in particular I like exhortations one and two.

This bit is great:

Instead, I'm encouraging you, class of 2008, to focus on the next thing, and take some of the pressure off finding the eventual thing. Emphasize the substance of what you will learn, not the status of what you will be called. Ask yourself, "What will I take away from this? Will I learn a new skill? A new town? A new mindset?" Put one foot in front of the other for as long as you can afford to, rather than trying to map your way to the winner's platform.

See any other good graduation speeches out there this season?

Comments (6) | Permasnark | Posted: 12:06 PM

May 27, 2008

Media Is Singular

Robin says,

Adjust your style guides, everybody.

I totally agree with Jeff Jarvis. And I like the fact that it's a bit of a political definition, just like when Wired made "internet" lowercase -- more "water" than "CompuServe."

Comments (0) | Permasnark | Posted: 5:19 PM

The Accelerator and the Grid

Robin says,

You know, the other crazy project at CERN might be the one that really changes the world.

(Okay probably not, but I always like to keep track of new clouds miasmas brewing on the horizon.)

Comments (0) | Permasnark | Posted: 4:36 PM

Miasma Computing

Robin says,

Aghh I've been reading some awesome stuff lately but no time to blog it all up. Check this out -- Nick Carr on miasma (not cloud) computing and the funny way we think about the internet:

The metaphor of "the cloud" seems to have been derived from those schematic drawings of corporate computing systems that use stylized images of clouds to represent the Internet - that vast, ill-defined digital mass that lies beyond the firewall. Those drawings always reminded me of the ancient maps of the known world, the edges of which were marked with the legend "Beyond Here There Be Dragons."

Over the weekend I finally switched my site over to Slicehost and I have to say, I enjoyed being forced to understand how it all really works. Turns out the web is really just a bunch of stressed-out, poorly-configured applications waiting for you to send them special messages indicating you want them to get something off a disk for you! And words like "prefork" are involved.

Comments (0) | Permasnark | Posted: 10:59 AM

May 21, 2008


Matt says,

Over at, I'm ranting about how the practice of settling the tab at restaurants is woefully broken. It's launched me on a campaign to demand separate checks whenever dining with a group. Thought this was worthy of the Snarkmarket hive mind. Do you have any foolproof systems for handling checks that must be split? Are there any establishments you've been to that deal with this ingeniously?

Comments (15) | Permasnark | Posted: 2:40 PM

May 20, 2008

Retinal Treat

Robin says,

Check out a bit of the Current graphics team's 2008 work.

So super-slick.

Comments (3) | Permasnark | Posted: 5:10 PM

May 19, 2008

To the Capitol, and Step On It

Robin says,

For his architecture thesis, Bryan Boyer redesigned the U.S. Capitol. It's a very cool project, but honestly, I think my favorite part is this rendering.

(It's an important consideration: Forget about what your building looks like from the sky. What does it look like from the inside of a cab on a rainy night?)

Comments (0) | Permasnark | Posted: 4:40 PM

Penguin's Killing It

Robin says,

Penguin Books UK is doing such a terrific job with the web.

Their We Tell Stories project was novel and interesting -- and made me actually buy a book (no joke).

Their blog is excellent, too. For instance, this post about the new editions of the James Bond books is media-rich and full of nerdy detail -- a far cry from a press release. And check out this presentation on interesting typography in books.

Great, great stuff. A+.

Comments (0) | Permasnark | Posted: 11:13 AM

May 18, 2008

Some Things You Can't Control

Robin says,

Howard Weaver writes a great post at Etaoin Shrdlu about newspapers, technological change, and... Microsoft.

There's a point latent in his piece that I'd amplify: Lots of things -- maybe even most things -- happen by accident, and totally despite your plans or wishes. Even if you're super-smart. Even if you have an MBA.

MBA thinking wants everything to be quantifiable and controllable. Analysis, strategy, execution. Build your model right and you can do anything. But that mode of thinking grew up in a more static, cordoned-off industrial world, and it simply doesn't work anymore. (Or maybe it never really did?)

That's why I've been digging this book lately, and why I want MBAs to start taking classes like "stochastic scenarios" and "ten prototypes in ten weeks."

Comments (2) | Permasnark | Posted: 10:00 PM

May 16, 2008


Matt says,

Margaret pointed me to this mesmerizing stop-motion graffiti masterpiece filmed in Argentina. Make sure to turn the sound on:

MUTO a wall-painted animation by BLU from blu on Vimeo.

Comments (0) | Permasnark | Posted: 10:55 AM

May 15, 2008

NASA 2.0

Robin says,

You know you want to follow the Mars Phoenix lander on Twitter.

Comments (0) | Permasnark | Posted: 11:17 AM

May 14, 2008

OMG This Is How News Flows Now

Robin says,

Marc Ambinder speculating about the Edwards endorsement, courtesy Short Schrift. Obviously he speculated correctly. It's this part that really got me:

What's Wendy Button, Edwards's longtime speechwriter, been doing lately? I hear she's been writing a secret speech... (Her facebook profile includes this entry for 3pm: "Wendy just finished writing the speech.")

I could not possibly love this more.

Comments (1) | Permasnark | Posted: 4:12 PM

May 13, 2008

Iron Man Rebooted

Robin says,

Aha! Iron Man redesigns from the always-fun Project Rooftop blog. Which one is your favorite?

Comments (1) | Permasnark | Posted: 10:13 PM

Watch for the Battery Pack

Robin says,

You've seen Jay Maynard -- the Tron Guy -- in costume lotsa times. But have you ever seen him getting suited up? There's something both quietly melancholic and undeniably Batman about the start of this piece.

(Ridiculously, I discovered this bit of Current ROFLcoverage via Waxy. The world just imploded.)

Comments (3) | Permasnark | Posted: 3:14 PM

May 12, 2008

From Russia With Hate

Robin says,

Whoah! Christof Putzel's report on neo-Nazis in Russia is blowing up: front page of Digg, etc. It's hard to watch, but revelatory. And some of the comments on constitute significant bits of reporting in their own right.

Comments (0) | Permasnark | Posted: 12:13 PM

In Case of Emergency...

Robin says,

...break glass.

It's, er, pretty high concept -- but I love it. Tools that remind you of decisions you've made are really valuable.

Reminds me of the trick with the giant wall calendar: First, you decide you're going to start a new habit. Then you buy a giant wall calendar. And on the first day you successfully do habit X -- maybe it's "floss" or "do 20 sit-ups in the morning" or "practice the electric violin before bed" -- you make a big black check-mark on the calendar. Then you do it again the next day.

And then the calendar takes over! The chain becomes impossible to break. As long as X is pretty easy to do, you do it -- because your decision, your discipline, is right there staring you in the face.

Comments (2) | Permasnark | Posted: 1:10 AM

Iron Man Exploded

Robin says,

So I really enjoyed "Iron Man."

Almost better than the entire rest of the movie all on its own, though? The "Iron Man" end title sequence!

Perfect motion, check. Dust and scratches, check. Terrific colors, check.

Am now going to resist temptation to watch ten more title sequences in a row.

Comments (5) | Permasnark | Posted: 12:45 AM

Musings on Twitter

Robin says,

After a year of defiance, I now meekly serve the 140-character box. And I just ran across the smartest take I've yet seen on what makes Twitter different, and good/bad, from ROFLconspirator Diana Kimball:

Okay, finally: I think what's so striking about this social signaling in Twitter is that it's imbued with intentionality. On Facebook, when you do something or friend someone or post on someone's wall, Facebook just reports it; the "hey, look at me" is automated. Therefore, the person who wants to be looked at is absolved of responsibility, vanity, or attention-seeking. Twitter is all about self-reporting, and so that all-important illusion of absolution is whisked away.

Mostly, of course, I just like the phrase "all-important illusion of absolution." So good.

Comments (0) | Permasnark | Posted: 12:30 AM

May 8, 2008

'I Have No Designs on Your Camry or Your Hamster'

Robin says,

Slate still has some of the best writing on the internet. Loved this piece on vegetarianism by Taylor Clark:

Vegetarians give up meat for a variety of ethical, environmental, and health reasons that are secondary to this essay's goal of increasing brotherly understanding, so I'll mostly set them aside. Suffice it to say that one day, I suddenly realized that I could never look a cow in the eyes, press a knocking gun to her temple, and pull the trigger without feeling I'd done something cruel and unnecessary. (Sure, if it's kill the cow or starve, then say your prayers, my bovine friend -- but for now, it's not quite a mortal struggle to subsist on the other five food groups.) I am well-aware that even telling you this makes me seem like the kind of person who wants to break into your house and liberate your pet hamster -- that is, like a PETA activist. Most vegetarians, though, would tell you that they appreciate the intentions of groups like PETA but not the obnoxious tactics. It's like this: We're all rooting for the same team, but they're the ones in face paint, bellowing obscenities at the umpire and flipping over every car with a Yankees bumper sticker. I have no designs on your Camry or your hamster.
Comments (0) | Permasnark | Posted: 11:31 AM

May 7, 2008

The Fatigue and the Remedy

Robin says,

That's it. I'm officially no longer interested in the primaries.

(One exception: I've been enjoying Current's Campaign Update by Mark Ganek and Brett Erlich. The "Real Story" segment in each episode is actually really good.)

Comments (0) | Permasnark | Posted: 2:54 PM

May 6, 2008

Whoah, Clusterflock

Robin says,

Clusterflock was sort of crazy good today -- particularly the images.

Art, Saturday night, comics, zombie mass, fine chariots, and swing jumping.

I love it all.

Comments (0) | Permasnark | Posted: 5:35 PM

Make Dance Here

Robin says,

My sister Lily, an amazing dancer working on her MFA in dance, just started the world's first dance vlog. She's going to make a super-short dance video every week based on her readers' input. I think it's a terrific idea.

Here's a longer dance film she made recently. And here's a recent performance.

Don't think of, like, break-dancing in music videos when you watch these. Think instead of using the whole range of human motion -- including motion we don't usually think of as "dance" -- as a palette.

Comments (1) | Permasnark | Posted: 4:57 PM

May 2, 2008


Robin says,

I love Yoshitaka Amano. It's hard for me to think of him as really serious because, of course, I first ran across his art in conjunction with Final Fantasy 2 on the Super Nintendo... but no, he is super-serious indeed. Beautiful stuff.

Comments (0) | Permasnark | Posted: 5:04 PM
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