Archive for December, 2007
Jan von Holleben creates images of gravity-defying joy using, er, the ground:
Don’t miss this one. Or this one! And, it’s not as clever, but I could not possibly like this series any more than I do.
(Via A Photo Editor.)
Needed: a term for when your phone makes calls to random entries in my address book on its own volition, usually as a byproduct of unintentional button-mashing. Somehow, my phone intuits the romance/dating-related entries and goes straight for them. It’s particularly enamored of one of my exes, which can be awkward. But not as awkward as the time it sent a discouraged suitor of mine five copies of a text message to a friend describing what I was going to wear that night.
I understand that keyboard lock (and probably looser jeans) would mostly solve this problem. But until I decide whether those are sacrifices I’m willing to make, I need something to describe this phenomenon. Ghost-dialing?
The Kindle/iPod comparison keeps coming up, usually in service of the point, “Amazon, don’t flatter yourself.” Which I think is fair. But in reading all this talk about the “iPod moment” for books, I feel as though I have a completely different notion of what that moment meant for music. Sure, on the face of it, Apple’s innovation was a tiny-but-capacious music player that allowed us to carry our music library everywhere we wanted. But wasn’t the deeper surprise/lesson of the iPod that Apple had essentially invented a need where none had formerly existed?
When I remember 2001, I remember Apple launching a device that garnered some admiration for its technical savvy, but whose price and function drew something of a raised eyebrow from critics. “‘Breakthrough digital device’ might be pushing it,” wrote David Pogue, in his review of the first iPod. (“Apple, don’t flatter yourself.”) Meanwhile, the first New York Times mention of the device was hardly breathless. The article quoted three people. The first was a Gartner analyst, who said, “It’s a nice feature for Macintosh users … but to the rest of the Windows world, it doesn’t make any difference.” The second was Steve Jobs, who was paraphrased as “disputing the concern that the market was limited, and said the company might have trouble meeting holiday demand. He predicted that the improvement in technology he said the iPod represented would inspire consumers to buy Macintosh computers so they could use an iPod.” The RIAA declined to comment, and another analyst simply said, ”This raises the bar.” The one actual description of the iPod in the article called it a “hybrid of existing products.” The article included an estimate that the size of the market for all digital music devices would be 18 million units by 2005.
I remember this muted enthusiasm pretty clearly because I was one of the skeptics. What could be so impressive about a portable music player? The Walkman’s been around almost as long as I have. Storage size? Honestly? What need could I possibly ever have to carry my whole music library around with me? How much music can I lsten to at one time?
32 million iPods were sold in 2005. That’s not even counting other digital music devices. This year, the 100-millionth iPod was sold. Clearly there was a market need here for a vast mobile music library that most of us were blind to in 2001.
I now have three iPods.
When folks talk about Kindle doing (or not doing) for books what the iPod did for music, they usually seem to mean creating a tiny-but-capacious e-book reader that allows us to carry our library everywhere we want. But I don’t think Bezos et al. are aiming at that at all. I suspect they’re trying to create something we didn’t know we needed. A leap of imagination so bold, it could only seem obvious in hindsight. Jury’s still out on whether or not they succeeded.* But I’m wonderfully excited by the possibility that I could one day encounter something that just transforms my notion of what a book can be.
* Personally, I felt for the Kindle the murmur of a tug I hadn’t yet felt for any other digital reading devices, although not strong enough to win me over.
Just returned from a concert I’ve been on tiptoes for all week: Richard Hawley, at one of Minneapolis’ most intimate, acoustically divine little bars. And it was just perfect. The impeccable, impossible clarity of Hawley’s baritone surrounded everything in the room. And each of his songs is a gem. The tiny crowd lapped up every moment of the performance. To the SF folks, he’s coming your way in five days. Highly recommended for a chill night out.
Insane line-up of statistical maps of Europe. Note in particular the maps of hair color and eye color. Also, on the ethnicity map, I’m sort of intrigued by that stub of Celtic-ness in northern Spain and Portugal…
Reader-diners know the pain of trying to balance a thick book and a meal without losing your page or spilling food. As a regular lunchtime reader, I went searching online for a tool that would allow for comfortable hands-free reading — and eureka! Cleverly designed, this diminutive device is replete with intelligent features: a little pull-out stand supports the book, two sturdy clips hold the pages in place, a pair of pull-out legs holds the book upright on a table. Best of all, spring-loaded page holders on either end make for simple page-turning without the need for repositioning the text; you just grip both holders with one hand and squeeze. I’ve used the BookGem with a variety of types of books — everything from thick hardcovers to slim-ish paperbacks — and it’s adapted marvelously. And because it folds down to a pocket-size rectangle, I can easily tuck it in with my book wherever I go.
One note: the most ingenious design feature is not the spring-loaded page clips, it’s that each of these clips features a little plastic nubbin, behind which you can slip about 10 or 15 pages for easy turning. Am I this guy yet?
BLDGBLOG’s post on book warehousing could not possibly be more evocative and interesting. (He is a master of, among other things, slipping terrific photos into the flow of his text just so.)
But, don’t miss the comments either. Autoautism writes:
I had the pleasure of working on the design for a storage library for Stanford a few years back. Three things that I still remember from that experience:
1. Books are placed in quarantine before being allowed into the storage area. Dust mites and other pests love book bindings and you have to make sure your incoming books won’t infect the neighbors.
2. If there is a fire, they douse the books in water, and then freeze-dry them back to keep the paper from getting ruined.
3. Books in storage libraries are cataloged in the order that they are received– the first book in the door is book #1, and so on. Without a very detailed and cross-indexed database, the books would be impossible to find (just like the ark?)
What a world!