October 30, 2006
Nice reminder from Foreign Policy: There are, in fact, universities outside North America, Europe and Japan.
Neighboroo is a new mapping site with loads and loads of data overlays. It's interesting both at the micro level (to suss out your zip code) and the macro level (to see the U.S. in different ways).
Also new: Outside.in, which is also map-driven but instead of data it's blogggs!
October 29, 2006
I can't tell you what I find so incredible about it, but I spent about 45 minutes just staring at this Flash program yesterday, and I don't regret a minute of it. Turn down your speakers before you visit.
October 27, 2006
Mother of Exiles
I always forget how great it is:
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
What an American document. What a great (though often unrealized) American ideal.
Sundarbans, Space, and Shelter-Suits
Pruned has been full of interesting imagery lately:
October 26, 2006
Ooh! Great new design over at Worldchanging. I know I've said it a million times, but: It's one of my favorite sites on the entire internet.
October 24, 2006
Best American Science & Nature Writing 2006
Another year, another anthology of science articles. The book is, as always, a highly recommended purchase. And if you're not already a subscriber to Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, well, what are you waiting for?... Read more ....
October 22, 2006
Magazine of the Future?
Atlantic contributor Marshall Poe asks MeFi, "If The Atlantic Monthly (or Harper's, or The New Yorker) were founded today, would it be Metafilter?"
October 20, 2006
World of Falstaff
Edward Castronova, the virtual-world economist who writes at Terra Nova, is building a Shakespeare-themed MMOG at Indiana University. It's going to be set in "Richard III" to start. I think this sounds supercool. I just hope the aesthetics are up to snuff; too often, academic game projects are full of high-level ideas... and 1996-level graphics.
October 18, 2006
Snarkmarket Feed Report
In an effort to better understand Snarkmarket's audience... or something... I have been trying to look at the Feedburner stats more often. They are often surprising. Top-clicked items over the past seven days (remember, this is from the feed only, not from raw website use):
- Secrets Buried Deep in Time -- 52 clicks
- How Sesame Street Changed the World -- 54
- Insurance and Opportunity -- 54 (nerds!)
- Post-Traumatic Architecture -- 59 (how can you not click on 'earthquake baroque'??)
And, proving at least one blogger here knows what he's doing:
- Rabbit -- 117
The Ultimate Interactive TV Show
Wow -- Richard Dawkins was surprisingly good on the Colbert Report. He is so sprightly and British.
On the same show -- the Report's one-year anniversary -- Stephen Colbert announced they'd be auctioning off his portrait.
October 17, 2006
(Via Points of Note.)
Democratization of Manipulation, Cont'd
October 16, 2006
Whoah. Earthquake baroque. Way too cool.
There is a secret song hidden in many Nintendo games published over the past ten years.
It sounds exactly as a secret song should.
28 Pages Later
I haven't read any of Cormac McCarthy's books, but his new one "The Road" looks good. It's post-apocalyptic literary fiction!
And -- this is a good sign, I think? -- it has generated a lot of well-written book reviews. The NYT review by William Kennedy was a good read in its own right, and this CSM review by Yvonne Zipp sparkles. For instance, it describes the book as taking place in a "cauterized horrorscape." Nice.
Welcome to the Future
October 15, 2006
Secrets Buried Deep in Time
Who wrote the Voynich Manuscript?
Why are there 63,360 inches in a mile?
And what will be the ultimate fate of the universe?
October 14, 2006
October 13, 2006
Insurance and Opportunity
If you are a reader of one or more policy blogs, Jacob Hacker's proposal for a new kind of social insurance will be old news. If you are not, then check it out. And subscribe to a policy blog why doncha!
He Deserves It
Muhammad Yunus and Bangladesh's Grameen Bank just won the Nobel Peace Prize.
I met Yunus in Bangladesh. Without detracting from his accomplishments, which are vast, I will report that he is at least as good at self-promotion as anything else. That's why Grameen gets such disproportionate global attention compared to, for example, an organization like BRAC, which also does microcredit in Bangladesh and, by many reports, does it better.
More than anything else, I am delighted that a Bangladeshi organization won the prize. That country is such a puzzle: one of the most populous in the world (almost 150 million people!) but nobody pays any attention to it.
Update: Istiaque uddin Rifat is a Bangladeshi blogger; check out his reaction:
This day is one of the happiest days for our nation since its independence. Dr. Yunus made the nation proud. Dr. Yunus's name will be uttered with "Mother teresa" and "Nelson Mendela", two legend who won Noble peace price. Now we can say we are from Dr. Yunus's country. From today we have a new identity.
Just In Case You Haven't Heard ...
October 12, 2006
How Sesame Street Changed the World
October 11, 2006
The Tense Middle
We can change the middle; we can disturb the equilibrium. From NPR's cool series where people explain their deepest beliefs.
E.g. "I'm leaving you. I'll be back tomorrow." or "She felt the hand move up her back. Surely it was a hand."
Was Media Ever About Content?
An old colleague at Poynter used to hate it when people used the words "media" and "news" interchangeably. Not the same thing, he'd say. News means standards, values, a mission; media just means... eyeballs.
Who are the next media moguls and to whom do they have to sell their souls for the priviledge? The $165 billion question left unanswered by this deal is: What is media anymore? Can you just slap videos up on the Web and become a younger and more vibrant Rupert Murdoch or Sumner Redstone?
And then Karp adds:
Does media have anything to do with content anymore, or is it all about aggregating people's attention by any means? Was media ever really about content?
I can't say I fully understand it, but I feel like this might be an interesting and illusion-piercing insight.
Lately, Al Gore likes to use the word "thrall" when talking about climate change. For example:
Our biggest challenge, our biggest foe, is thrall. The word sounds ancient, but it means anything that imprisons our thinking and prevents us from seeing the reality of our situation.
And I wonder if there aren't some ideas about media, content, and journalism that we are still in thrall to, and haven't realized it yet...
(The dots mean I don't know what they are either, not that I do and am not telling you.)
Mad Maps Beyond Thunderdome
I can't tell what this blog "Subtopia" is supposed to be about, exactly, but this collection of maps is rad.
(A link this weird could only come from 3qd.)
The Pulse of the Planet
Eeeeeep. Breathing Earth. Pretty mesmerizing.
October 9, 2006
More Fun for Everybody (Even in Nairobi)
Kiva, recall, is the web app that lets you make tiny loans to tiny businesses in places like Uganda, Kenya, Mexico, and Ecuador. But Kiva doesn't deliver the money itself; it's just a tool that local organizations (like this one in Nairobi) use to connect to lenders and keep everything organized.
Surprising feedback from the organization's staffers:
The credit officers at WEEC find their jobs more enjoyable with Kiva because the personal side of our site gives them a reason to be more involved in the lives of the masai women. The officers feel sort of like journalists or social workers. Kiva has caused them to be closer to their clients and they feel like this will eventually result in higher repayment rates.
Well, not that surprising. In fact I think social software has the potential to make a lot of jobs more enjoyable.
Was just explaining to a non-midwesterner the danger and delight of the corn maze. The link talks about Minnesota, but we have them in Michigan, too. In fact, corn mazes and cider mills are what I miss most this time of year, way out here in autumn-impaired California.
October 6, 2006
links for 2006-10-06
October 5, 2006
Treatise on Nihilism
P.S. I am a little embarrassed to say I bought the shirt. The rules: It will be worn only on weekends. In the confines of my apartment. While playing board games.
Questioning Her Commitment to Sparkle Motion?
October 4, 2006
Chip Kidd's Got Competition
Daily Show vs. Broadcast News?
Which has more substantive political coverage?
Best American Comics
October 3, 2006
How Current Works
Hey, if you have any interest in the nuts-and-bolts of how Current works, check out this long interview with my boss Joanna Drake Earl over on [itvt]. It is almost ridiculously long and in-depth... I love online interviews.
One of the things Joanna talks about is the fact that aspiring VC2 producers can now download legal, licensed production music for their videos from the Current site. As I said on the Current blog, it exemplifies my favorite thing about Current: We take people (and their desire to do good work) seriously.
The Return of Optimus Prime
Michael Bay is bringing Peter Cullen, the original voice of Optimus Prime in the Transformers cartoon series, back for the live-action version. Cullen talks about it here. Revelation: Until recently, he did not really understand how popular Prime was!
And what about the reaction from fans?
I don't remember any overwhelming reaction from anybody. But then I wasn't really in any way aware of what the kids were thinking. I didn't have any thermometer to tell me how popular the show was. I do remember that the movie was not a very big financial success.
Though you must've gotten fan letters ...
No, that's one thing about that series. I never saw a fan letter. I don't know who got them. That's why I was so surprised so many years later to find out that he was so popular. I didn't know.
Related: You can submit a line to be spoken by Cullen (!) in a contest over at the Transformers website. I am such a shill but I don't care. If you had cried in the movie theater watching an animated Optimus Prime die like ten minutes into the first Transformers movie you would totally, totally understand.
Two gems from MeFi this morning:
October 2, 2006
You've Got to Read It With a British Accent
Tony Blair's recent speech to New Labour, besides carrying a rather appealing message, is an exemplar of brisk British rhetoric: lots of parataxis, one-word phrases, fragments. Charming.
What efforts are currently being made to preserve human knowledge and culture (great literature, scientific theory, et cetera) for far-future generations, or in the event of a worldwide catastrophe?I never knew about the Rosetta Project, but it sounds fantastic, as does Norway's doomsday vault.
Boring Revolutions Are the Best Kind
Romania and Bulgaria are in the EU now, by the way. I still think the slow, unsexy growth of the EU might be the sleeper story of our age.
Night Falls in Reykjavik
Hey guys, let's turn off all the lights so we can see the stars. (Kottke-riffic.)
Think of This Blog as a Series of Colored Index Cards
Conor explains the primacy of the colored index card in TV production (and includes informative stills!). Why hasn't it been displaced by something high-tech and web-based?
At first, I was shocked that technology hadn't killed this practice. Isn't there some sort of wiki that we could use? A cool, iCal-looking webapp that everyone in the office could access, annotate and play with? Are leaky Sharpies and 3x5 cards really the best we can do?
Already, we use software that lets us share/edit our scripts, and I've been slowly getting people to use del.icio.us to share bookmarks across the office. But I don't think I'm going to make any progress killing the wall of cards, and, the more I see it popping up other places, the less I want to.
There's something cool about being able to look at the wall (instead of a monitor) and instantly visualize what you have coming up. But, for me, there's something even cooler about maintaining a couple of traditions that make you feel like you belong to some larger sense of TV history -- that your room of writers isn't so different from the rooms of writers on all the shows you've admired growing up.
Hmm -- the bit about instant visualization sounds just like the engineers and project managers over in that Edward Tufte thread we were talking about earlier. For big, shared projects, there's still nothing better than paper pinned to the wall.