How People Will Inspire Curiosity About the Farmer's Market in the Year 3000 [Three Best Things 8/2/10 - 8/8/10]

Thing: Futurese: The American Language in 3000 AD by Justin B. Rye. TIME MACHINE PREP: unless you can tell what the word ZHÜBwatögh refers to, you’re going to need to click and read, overwhelmedly. Also, a tremendous quote:

When looking at a biological family tree (such as the evolutionary history of the horse), the general public insists on seeing any movement as intrinsically progressive, moving from primitive to advanced designs. Yet somehow when looking at the linguistic equivalent (such as the development of the Romance languages from Vulgar Latin) they see exactly the reverse - any change is proof that the language is in decline. In reality they’re just as wrong both times!

Thing: The Itch of Curiosity from Wired.

Thing: Creating Cultural Change by John Rauser. The keys to cultural change — whether that means getting people to brew another pot of coffee, dance en masse on the side of a hill, or buy more of a particular brand of cereal — include letting them in on the big joke:

It’s Not Really a Bonus If There’s Always a Bonus

A montage of the greatest Iron Chef America mystery ingredient reveals. Stick around for honeycombs wielded as weapons, the overwhelming glory of the farmer’s market, and Bruce Lee swish noises used to punctuate eyebrow gestures. I don’t understand any of this:

[via Ryan See]

Three Best Things 6/28/10 - 7/4/10


THING: A Comedy Writer Confronts ‘Mind-Shredding Evil’ in Uganda from RD Magazine. Jane Bussman, a former South Park writer, somehow went from interviewing Ashton Kutcher for blahblahblah to doing real, dangerous (in every sense) journalism. This is this week’s must-click.

THING: Students Record Spellbinding Video of Disintegrating Spacecraft form NASA. Hey, it’s real-life Ender’s Game!

Last year, high school science teacher Ron Dantowitz of Brookline, Mass., played a clever trick on three of his best students. He asked them to plan a hypothetical mission to fly onboard a NASA DC-8 aircraft and observe a spacecraft disintegrate as it came screaming into Earth’s atmosphere. How would they record the event? What could they learn?
For 6 months, they worked hard on their assignment, never suspecting the surprise Dantowitz had in store.
On March 12th, he stunned them with the news: “The mission is real, and you’re going along for the ride.”

THING: The Making of OutKast’s Aquemini from Creative Loafing. If you’re me, then you barely made it through that headline before clicking on it. However, please report back on how long it took you to click if you are, in fact, not me. Big Boi’s debut solo album drops this week, and at least one-fourth of our staff is very excited about that.

Bonus Patriotic Bonus

Via SBN, the best fake documentary trailer you’ll wish was a trailer for a real movie all season:

The University of Washington's Latest Drupal Project, Assisted by ENGINE

The University of Washington’s Career Center needed some help with its Drupal site. The Dawgs rank among the many, many esteemed universities using Drupal*, and their entire web presence needs to reflect the university’s standard for excellence — U Dub is one of the world’s 25 best and most prestigious universities and the world’s best medical school.

As a brief overview of our role in this project, we:

  • Coded the theme, based on a design by UW staff, to fit the main site’s new look.
  • Rebuilt the site’s dropdown menus to work like the main site’s.
  • Upgraded from Drupal 5 to Drupal 6.
  • Imported all content (including most recent webform submissions and what have you).
  • Adjusted inline page tools capabilities, including the arrangement of them all into a single tidy block.
  • Reworked a custom Trumba calendar module to be Drupal 6 compatible.
  • General blocks, menus, templates, and modules Drupalery.
  • And so on and so forth.

Here you can see the site’s old header, which didn’t match the rest of the university website’s layout, menu functionality, and visuals. Its many orange elements veered from the classic Husky purple and gold — and web-friendly gray — color scheme, leaving the Career Center’s decor looking a little wrong. (The new header can be seen in the image above.) Note that we didn’t design the new header and footer; we implemented it into CSS:

This is the site’s former footer:

And this is how the footer, redesigned by Career Center staff, looks after ENGINE’s assistance:

Bottom line: we’re very proud to now be associated — even if it’s in a very, very small way — with one of the nation’s oldest, most productive, and largest universities. If we may be so bold, we’re already looking forward to getting our next chance to lend our skills to another incredible academic institution.

We leave you with this:

* Harvard, MIT, Stanford, Cornell, and others use Drupal for various subsites, while universities including Rutgers, Duke, Calgary, and Boston University trust Drupal with their main sites.

Three Best Things 6/21/10 - 6/27/10

THING: Sergey Brin’s Search for a Parkinson’s Cure from Wired. Google co-founder Sergey Brin, who’s made a life of using the power of algorithms to “organize all the world’s information,” is using that same kind of power in an attempt to cure Parkinson’s Disease. Since discovering he carries a gene mutation that puts him at risk of contracting the disease, Brin has sought “to bypass centuries of scientific epistemology in favor of a more Googley kind of science. He wants to collect data first, then hypothesize, and then find the patterns that lead to answers. And he has the money and the algorithms to do it.”

THING: Travel itineraries from Flickr photo trails from Geeking With Greg. Greg Linden links to a paper by American and Israeli researchers on “cleverly [using] the data often embedded in Flickr photos (e.g. timestamp, tags, sometimes GPS) to produce trails of where people have been in their travels.” It makes sense that the most interesting points along a path would also be the most photographed, so this could be a great way to note can’t-miss spots, common travel routes, and typical trip durations. An inspiring quote from the paper:

By aggregating such timed paths of many users, one can construct itineraries that reflect the “wisdom” of touring crowds. Each such itinerary is composed of a sequence of POIs, with recommended visit times and approximate transit times between them.

THING: How Rap Tears Up the Boring Art Vs. Commerce Argument from The Awl. Selling out has a different connotation in hip-hop than it does in other spheres. Though punk and hip-hop grew up at the same time and place and in the same socioeconomic conditions, the two have had very different ideas on mass appeal. (Yes, this is lumping thousands of musicians and millions of fans into two groups. I’m sorry.)

We can all agree the Black Eyed Peas sold out — they completely changed everything about their sound and image, conscious of their brand and marketability the whole time, and wedding receptions will never be the same. I’m sure they weep into their pallets of Franklins every night, thinking about all the underground respect they lost in the process. But many rappers have been able to market themselves without significantly changing their sound. None of this is new information, but the Awl article certainly presents a worth-reading take on the issue.

A Video of Americans Pretending to Care About the World Cup

Even though the U.S. lost its knockout round match against its nemesis Ghana, this World Cup still produced one of the best moments in American soccer history, and certainly the most widely experienced — Landon Donovan’s last-minute, life-or-death goal against Algeria did the kind of Twitter damage unseen since Michael Jackson’s death. An amazing montage of Americans from Arkansas to France celebrating the score:

Three Best Things 6/7/10 - 6/13/10

THING: Copyright: The Elephant in the Middle of the Glee Club from Balkinization. Glee might be the most unrealistic show on TV, now that [something something Lost joke]. How is a tiny extracurricular group able to pay $150k copyright fines for releasing videos of their performances? Let us discuss copyright.

THING: Mind Over Mass Media from the New York Times. You may have heard that Twitter is making you dumb. (Yes, you also probably heard the same thing about mime in 450 BCE, and look how smart that’s made you.) Well, Harvard psychology professor and best-selling pop science author Steven Pinker says Twitter isn’t bad for you, which sounds kind of like Harvard psychology professor and best-selling pop science author Steven Pinker says Twitter is good for you to me!

In fact, there isn’t anything — except for, like, helmetless motorcycling — that can make you dumber or smarter at anything else, so to speak:

Music doesn’t make you better at math, conjugating Latin doesn’t make you more logical, brain-training games don’t make you smarter. Accomplished people don’t bulk up their brains with intellectual calisthenics; they immerse themselves in their fields. Novelists read lots of novels, scientists read lots of science.

THING: Real Gardening vs. American Lawncare from Kitchen Stewardship.

Comment-Free Double Bonus Round