May 15, 2010

Items

“A low moan of agreement escaped Ellis’s mouth.” –Bret Easton Ellis

Once again, it’s too nice out to sit in front of a computer screen, so we’re going with assorted links today… A few interesting stories, including an article on the future of digital journalism. *UPDATED on 5/16 with even more recommended reading.

uniqlo-uniqlones-tadashi-yanai-via-nymag

bolano-haring

  • I’m almost embarrassed to admit that I’ve never read any Roberto Bolaño, but I’d never seen a picture of him before—is it just me, or does he look a lot like Keith Haring? (GQ)
  • Alastair Harper on “George Orwell, Patron Saint of Hacks” (Prospect)
  • Rebecca Newberger Goldstein’s “Theory, Literature, Hoax” after Borges. (NYT)
  • Claudia Roth Pierpont on Duke Ellington (New Yorker)
  • Nick Carr on the new New York license plate (below) (Huffpo)

new-nyc-license-plate-via-huffpo
Also worth reading, if you’re so inclined:

  • The current state of NBA point guards (GQ)
  • Kareem sounds off (ESPN)
  • The China Model (Economist)
  • How the Web Is Changing the Way We Eat (Salon)

rick-owens-via-slamxhype

  • Interview with Rick Owens (above) (Artinfo via Slam×Hype; images here)
  • Interview with Damien Hirst & Michael Joo (WWD via Slam×Hype; images here—the log piece reminds me of Ai Weiwei…)
  • Interview with Bret Easton Ellis (Vice)
  • Interview with Gorillaz (Wired)
  • Gus Van Sant catches up with Madonna (Interview)
  • Adam Kimmel raps with David Blaine (Interview)

how-our-brains-make-memories-Memory-microscopic-nerve-cells-smithsonian

  • Greg Miller on Karim’s Nader’s theory of mutable memory (Smithsonian)
  • Ryan Bradley on “Sex, Lies and Nature Documentaries” (GOOD)
  • Malcolm Gladwell on WWII espionage (New Yorker)
  • Gary Wolf on the Data-Driven Life (NYT)
  • Richard Lewontin on Jerry Fodor & Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini’s What Darwin Got Wrong. (The New York Review of Books)—I’d heard a lot of the arguments before until I came to this bit:

Individual organisms are surrounded by a moving layer of warm moist air. Even trees are surrounded by such a layer. It is produced by the metabolism of the individual tree, creating heat and water, and this production is a feature of all living creatures. In humans the layer is constantly moving upward over the body and off the top of the head. Thus, organisms do not live directly in the general atmosphere but in a shell produced by their own life activity. It is, for example, the explanation of wind-chill factor. The wind is not colder than the still air, but it blows away the metabolically produced layer around our bodies, exposing us to the real world out there.

Plus, a short, sweet video for good measure:

Stick Monster Lab for Nike Sportswear (High Snobiety via Notcot)

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April 19, 2010

Infographic Overload

This ironic meta/PoMo infographic has been making rounds in the memesphere lately:

phil-gyford-infographic-infographic

It’s true for the most part, though the 3,274 seems a bit over the top.

In any case, here are a few of the better infographics I’ve seen lately:

soyouneedatypeface

Julian Hansen has created an extremely thorough visualization of typography for dummies.

Click the image for the full, unadulterated 1983×1402 version.

Inspiration Lab

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Yesterday, before I discovered the video above, I came across a dollar bill with a red “Where’s George” stamp on it and I decided to enter it into the database (I’ve logged a couple in the past). It seems that I’ve since spent said dollar, as it is no longer in my wallet, but I managed to find it in my Firefox history. Apparently, it was in Greenpoint almost exactly a year ago; who knows what sort of wonderful adventures George #B2078 7046J has had in the mean time…

Follow the Money via Visual Complexity via PSFK

Almost (but-not-really-at-all) related: Redesigning the Dollar Bill; UPDATE: The new $100 bill.

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apple-google-microsoft-gizmodo

Gizmodo’s guide to the current fronts where the Big Three are vying for tech/information world domination.
Read the rest of this entry »

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April 17, 2010

Google Art

ken-solomon-google-painting-ed-ruscha

Ken Solomon
Josée Bienvenu Gallery
529 W 20th St 2nd Fl [map]
New York NY 10011
212 / 206-7990
April 8, 2010 – May 15, 2010

Jonathan Jones on Google Images as an art critic:

Green’s point is that Google has its own insidious “number one” works by these artists, which are automatically determined by the number of hits. But even if they are, does it matter?

It’s hard to argue, critically, with some of Google’s choices. Any picture researcher at an encyclopedia would be likely to go with Impression, Sunrise to illustrate Monet, or the aerial photo of Spiral Jetty to embellish Robert Smithson.

-Jonathan Jones, Can Google Gauge the Greatest Art?, The Guardian, April 12 2010

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March 22, 2010

Google vs. China: Round II

googlecn

Earlier today, Google announced that it is shutting down Google.cn. (Uncensored) Chinese searches are currently being redirected to Google.com.hk as the Search/Ad Giant hopes to make good on its promise to not be evil by challenging the Chinese government’s policy of Internet censorship.

The Internet was seen as a catalyst for China being more integrated into the world. The fact that Google cannot exist in China clearly indicates that China’s path as a rising power is going in a direction different from what the world expected and what many Chinese were hoping for.

–Xiao Qiang, director of the China Internet project at UC Berkeley
Google Shuts China Site in Dispute over Censorship, The New York Times, 3/23/2010

It’s a bold move that has been applauded by many, including myself: the Great Firewall was perhaps my only plaint about my recent stay in Beijing.

However, there are some who sympathize with the PRC, painting Google as the symbol of Western imperialism in the Information Age. I agree that American criticism is inherently biased toward freedom of speech—a constitutionally inalienable right that may still seem foreign to many native Chinese (though perhaps not to the 400m+ Chinese Internet users)—but I’m impressed that Google is willing to sacrifice profit for principle nonetheless.

UPDATE: G vs C on NYT Room for Debate Blog, a fascinating look at China’s internet culture, WSJ on how Brin was forced out and an older essay on the Chinese scholars’ reliance on Google Scholar via Nature.

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March 16, 2010

Daylight Saving Time & Other Items

» Aesop Rock – Daylight (4:25) – 4.1MB m4a @ 128kbps

The Persistence of Trite Imagery

The Persistence of Trite Imagery

Since this Sunday marked Daylight Saving Time, I decided to put my philosophy degree to good use by pondering the psychology and metaphysics of this semi-annual ritual.

First of all, there is technically only one daylight to be saved: contrary to folk wisdom that might suggest otherwise, daylight is an indivisible entity. In a sense, daylight is like money—which is also grammatically singular but conceptually plural (insofar as one would hope to have more than one money)—such that daylight is quantifiable, at least in terms of daylight hours. In other words, official terminology denotes that summer is ‘Time to Save Daylight’—i.e., Time for Daylight-Saving—while the colloquial (if not altogether prevalent) shorthand “Daylight Savings” is a gerund, as per the nominal usage of “Savings” for that type of  bank account. (Even the Wikipedia URL for the Daylight Saving Time entry is Daylight_savings.)

The monetary metaphor is useful in illustrating how DST’s pithy essence “spring forward, fall back” belies the curious phenomenon that either occasion—the turning of the clocks in spring or in fall—can be described as gaining or losing an hour. Common parlance suggests that we have indeed acquired a full 60 minutes, yet this increment simultaneously seems to have slipped through a mysterious temporal rift in the wee hours of Sunday morning. It appears that we have both gained and lost an hour on Sunday, a discrepancy that reveals two divergent systems of belief concerning time and how it is measured: absolute vs. relative. The two views correspond to a scientific picture of an independent physical world and a pragmatic ‘lived’ experience of time, respectively.

The former system holds that time marches forward of its own accord and that to push a clock forward—from 2AM to 3AM, say—disturbs the clockwork of the universe to the effect that humans have erased an hour from their day. Here the bank analogy must be modified: on Sunday, we withdrew an hour on credit, which we will pay back in October; for the next six months, we owe one hour to the universe, or nature, or whatever. We have lost it in the interest of practicality—we need to borrow the hour for the better half of the year—though we plan on restoring balance in six months or so. For the absolutist, the hour is deferred.

Those who abide by the second perspective, on the other hand, see time as more malleable, where chronology is purely pragmatic: we gained an hour on Sunday because we now have an extra hour of sunlight—and, ostensibly, productivity—to the effect that the days themselves grow longer. By springing forward, we stake a claim to the greater daylight afforded by the rotation of the Earth, silently folding one hour into the shroud of slumber in order to extend each and every day in those six months. For the relativist, it’s possible to save daylight like money albeit not in the interest of yielding a long-term dividend: everyone cashes out the same predetermined amount at the end of each day.

Of course, both schools of thought understand that the actual demarcation of time to be incidental (i.e. pragmatic in a broad sense)—otherwise we wouldn’t have license to give and take (or take and give) hours as we please. Nevertheless, I wonder if there is any correlation between the saving(s) locution and the gain/loss dichotomy: are relativists more predisposed to regarding DST as a savings account, as opposed to absolutists who treat the extra time as a line of credit?

Does that even make sense? Rather, does it even matter?

Now for the real news:

  • Advertising 2.0: This Time, It’s Personal. FaceBook is now crowdsourcing targeted advertising like social AdSense (=AdBook?). (NYT, Future Perfect) Also, Product Placement: Geolocation is so hot right now (NYT)
  • Mattel Mentality x Mad Men = Barbie. WTF. (NYT)
  • Google Maps now has (spotty) bike directions: Gothamist blurbs, Streetsblog mentions, Wired crowdsources; Bike Snob NYC is more thorough, with an incisive riposte to the Post
  • Big ups to the Alma Mater in the Times. But seriously, the prospect of digitally tracking writers’ inspiration and composition process is quite fascinating.
  • Stanley Fish on Pragmatism’s Gift.
  • I’ve always been a stickler for free throws (i.e. I don’t understand why every player isn’t shooting 90+% from the line), so I was pleased to see that Wired has posted a guide on How to Nail a Free Throw.
  • Old news, but here’s a couple of interesting articles on sports video games and their source material; specifically, how video games are have become increasingly true to life for athletes: League of Gamers (ESPN); Gamechangers: How Videogames Trained a Generation of Athletes (Wired)
  • Speaking of video games, Virtusphere. Just watch the damn video.
  • G4 (correctly, I think) identifies Chatroulette’s ‘Merton.’ NYMag’s Vulture (correctly, I think) identifies Ben Folds as a “Fin de siècle singer-songwriter.” Just watch the damn video.
  • (Over)analysis of Lady Gaga’s “Telephone” music video. (Vigilant Citizen)

Music news:

  • What Would They Know: Matthew Perpetua interviews Liars for Pitchfork.
  • Time to Get Away: LCD Soundsystem finishing up their last record. (Daily Swarm)
  • Wanna Be Startin’ Something: MJ posthumously lands a massive record deal. (WSJ, NYT)

Art news:

Bonus Trailer:

Ride, Rise, Roar trailer via Wired.

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March 2, 2010

Googlism

Some Google news.

Googletheonion

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January 24, 2010

Items

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January 12, 2010

Google vs China

Google.cn censored by the Chinese government

Earlier today, Google’s SVP, Corporate Development and Chief Legal Officer David Drummond posted a potentially revolutionary announcement on the Official Google Blog: due to security issues and censorship-related tension, Google may go so far as to terminate its operations in China (pending negotiation with the Chinese government).

This astounding move is already being regarded as a shot heard ’round the world regarding the Western principle of free speech in the face of China’s draconian Internet censorship policy, as well as an opportunity for Google to live up to its pithy dogma, “Don’t be evil”.

As someone who has personally been frustrated by Chinese censorship, I fully support Google’s stand against the insidious authoritarianism still exerted by the putatively progressive state.

Incidentally, I was staying about half a kilometer from Google’s headquarters in Beijing.

The New York Times has more coverage, as always.

See also: Grass Mud Horse

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January 6, 2010

Assorted Links

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