June 10, 2011

Left Coast

Three months (/forever) ago, I spent ten days in the Bay Area visiting friends and family. Shit weather but good times otherwise… mostly just ate ridiculously well.


Made it up to Napa—iPod video below (looks better smaller)—but not the Wave Organ.



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February 4, 2011

Beijing Sim City

Reprise: YACHT – Psychic City (Classixx Remix) (4:13) – 4.2MB mp3 @ 128kbps

Explore Beijing from the comfort of your living room with Baidu’s 3D maps:

I used to live in the future...

I used to live in the future...

I can only assume that Google is still reticulating splines for NYC…

The map ends a few short blocks from Rem Koolhaas' CCTV building...

The map ends a few short blocks from Rem Koolhaas' CCTV building...

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July 7, 2010

What They Eat Where

About damn time: Very Small Array is back with another instant classic.


Don’t forget to check out the rest of the boroughs

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June 13, 2010

Cities I've Called Home

Courtesy of Eric Fischer‘s amazing Geotagger’s World Atlas (Locals & Tourists version).





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May 28, 2010

Cartographic Design

It’s no secret that I love maps, though my ambivalence about the MTA applies to their newly revised NYC subway map—the first major update since 1998—set to launch in the next month. In any case, the New York Times has an interactive feature on old vs. new (only the new map is pictured above).

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Chinese Globe

Chinese Globe

The Daily Mail has a feature on ““Ten of the greatest: Maps that changed the world,” in conjunction with an eponymous exhibition at the British Library. (via Freakonomics Blog)

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In other geography-related news, GOOD has posted the submissions to their open call for ‘Neighborhood Flags‘; unsurprisingly, the majority of them represent the likes of Portland, New York, boroughs in the Golden State (Nor- and So-)… and Minneapolis? (via FreeWilliamsburg)

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Be On Guard! - also via Daily Mail

Be On Guard! - also via Daily Mail

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May 26, 2010

Assorted Links

UPDATED, one last time before midnight.

Os Gemeos & Blu (Works in Progress) in Lisbon

Os Gemeos & Blu (Works in Progress) in Lisbon

Street art’s symbiotic relationship with the Web makes you wonder whether the genre’s broad popularity stems from the fact that its characteristic features—swift execution, quicksilver response to pop culture and politics, the dominance of quotation and commentary, snarky attitude, fragmented statements embedded in the world rather than meant to stand apart from it—actually reflect the way that plugged-in people process information, more so than “traditional” art. There is something particularly contemporary about street art’s whole M.O., in this sense.

–Ben Davis, Is Street Art Over?, Slate, May 26 2010 (Highly recommended)

Fresh Stuff from Ron English in Queens

Fresh Stuff from Ron English in Queens

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Two perspectives on Marina:

She and MoMA have brought some magic back into art—the sort of magic that all of our courses in art history and appreciation had encouraged us to hope for.

–Arthur C. Danto, Sitting with Marina, The Stone blog on NYT, May 23 2010

There are euphoric moments and then intensely sad feelings of heaviness. Whatever you’re feeling becomes intensified. Certain truths about things I need to fix in my life are revealed to me. Marina says that in her own life she’s not so disciplined—that the performance gives her structure.

–Deborah Wing-Sproul, The Performer Made Bare, NYMag, May 23 2010

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[As Prokhorov] explained to “60 Minutes,” “I don’t use a computer. We have too much information and it’s really impossible to filter it.”

You know what? He’s not necessarily wrong. Do we REALLY need all this information? Like, right now—you’re reading this column and hopefully enjoying it, but ultimately, could you have survived the weekend if you missed it? I say yes. Just about everything online fits that mold—you have to sift through loads of bad writing and irrelevant information to find the occasional entertaining/funny/interesting thing, and even then, it’s not something that’s making or breaking your week. Ever been on a vacation and had little-to-no Internet access that week? You survived, right? Maybe the big Russian is on to something.

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Candy reminds us of the postmodern notion of self-creation—the way we don social signifiers with the same ease as clothing, constructing our selves bit by bit from cultural cues and images. Rather than the solid frameworks we cast them as, our selves are more like sweaters we put on and take off. When it comes to social identity, we’re all a wee bit in drag.

–Caroline Hagood, New Documentary Tries to Solve the Riddle of Andy Warhol’s Candy Darling,
The Huffington Post, May 21 2010

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The problem of negative externalities [refers to] costs that accrue when the self-interested actions of one person leave bystanders worse off. The biggest example of a negative externality is global warming: When we burn carbon-based fuels, we benefit ourselves while imposing a great cost on billions of other present and future inhabitants of the planet.

–Felix Salmon, The Man Who Could Unsnarl Manhattan Traffic, Wired, May 24 2010

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GOOD Picture Show has a gallery of J. Bennett Fitts' incredible photos of Middle America

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April 19, 2010

Infographic Overload

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


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:


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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Gizmodo’s guide to the current fronts where the Big Three are vying for tech/information world domination.
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April 18, 2010

Yr City's a Sucker


Last week, the NYC media was abuzz about New York Magazine‘s recent report on our great city’s most livable neighborhoods, a “quantitative index of the 50 most satisfying places to live,” complete with an interactive neighborhood ranking feature. Statistician Nate Silver of Fivethirtyeight.com  weighted and rated each neighborhood against a dozen criteria, from practical concerns like affordability, transit and schools to a full range of cultural factors (Silver explains in more detail on his own blog).

via Very Small Array

Semi-relevant humorous graphic via Very Small Array

Park Slope takes first, followed by the Lower East Side and (surprise?) Sunnyside, Queens. My own ‘hood, Fort Greene, is 18th, representing a purportedly objective improvement over my previous home in Williamsburg (20th), though adjacent neighborhoods such as Prospect Heights and Greenpoint (which apparently did not lose points for prevalent vinyl siding) place ninth and fifth, respectively. The fact that half of the top ten is within the two miles east of my current home is an obvious testament to the city’s density—a 30-minute walk (or 5-minute bike ride) in any direction takes me across up to five distinct neighborhoods—while the disparity in ranking suggests that even adjacent blocks may be worlds apart.


Conversely, I find that ethnographic data is perhaps more telling than the pseudo-scientific approach. While it’s hard to draw grand conclusions from a 5,000-person poll (conducted in conjunction with Silver’s number-crunching), I tend to think that these pithy gems constitute a more accurate snapshot of present-day New York than the algorithmic approach. (There are too many fun facts to list here; I recommend viewing it for yourself.)

In any case, the content and information design is well-executed, though I wish NYMag.com gave the option to view full articles as a single page (and, similarly, view all of the comments at once as well). Technical issues aside, I’m impressed with the depth and breadth of the content: as a conscientious urbanite, I am fascinated by both the social and cultural dynamics of city life and the concept of conurbation.

Lots of words with no images: Read the rest of this entry »

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April 5, 2010

Cartographic Design


Matthew Picton‘s sculptures are right up my alley: he makes roadmaps into art.

DB; more at Toomey-Tourell.


Claire Burbridge & Matthew Picton
Absence and Presence
Toomey-Tourell Fine Art
49 Geary Street [map]
San Francisco, CA 94108
415 / 989-6444
Through May 1, 2010
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Connie Brown NYC map

Connie Brown makes detailed, vintage-y (not to mention pricey) custom maps. She’s giving at talk at NYPL on April 10th. Much more info (and images) at NGS, linked below.

National Geographic Society via Boingboing.

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The Times has an interactive feature on taxi pick-ups (in Manhattan), a nice to their piece on taxi traffic and, by extension, Jonah Lehrer’s musings on commuting. Now if only there was some way to track the Cash Cab…

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April 2, 2010


This video from about a month ago, but it’s relevant (or at least as relevant as anything I post):

On his blog the Frontal Cortex, Jonah Lehrer recently explored the ‘Commuters Paradox‘:

When people are choosing where to live, they consistently underestimate the pain of a long commute. [People] mistakenly believe that the big house in the exurbs will make them happier, even though it might force them to drive an additional hour to work

Of course, as Brooks notes, that time in traffic is torture, and the big house isn’t worth it. According to the calculations of Frey and Stutzer, a person with a one-hour commute has to earn 40 percent more money to be as satisfied with life as someone who walks to the office.

I’ve found that this is true of public transportation as well: since I moved to Fort Greene from Williamsburg, the lack of public transportation has been an immeasurable source of psychic distress. However, I must say that the big apartment is definitely worth it.

In fact, like several of the commenters, I’ve found that commuting on bike circumvents the arbitrariness of automobile traffic, following a different set of rules: travel time has a regular rate based on distance, terrain and, sometimes, fatigue.

In other words, I am in complete control of my journey when I am on my bike, performing a split-second cost-benefit analysis of running a red light or deciding to take a shortcut that goes against traffic for a block. The only variables that are completely beyond my control are poor road and weather conditions, both of which are fairly low on the list of drivers’ discontents. Meanwhile, the subway is subject to all manner of hindrance and impediment, and I doubt that any New Yorker has gone for more than a dozen trips without the inconvenience of some kind of delay.

Furthermore, I echo one reader’s cyclists’ envy: on occasions when I opt to take the subway or walk, I can’t help but envy bikers as they speed by, liberated from the oppressive gravity of concrete jungle.

(Streetsblog also took David Brooks’ lead and covered the topic of commuting, with more good comments, if you’re into that sort of thing.)


In other bike news, the Brooklyn Greenway, a 14-mile bike and pedestrian path spanning the East River waterfront from Greenpoint to Bay Ridge, is underway. I’m all for it.


Last but not least, Revisiting the Idea of a Bicycle Tax and revisiting the idea of congestion pricing. I’ve never been a hardcore cycling proselyte (=procyclyte?), but I’m far more amenable to the latter idea.

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