Thing:Futurese: The American Language in 3000 AD by Justin B. Rye. TIMEMACHINEPREP: 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: 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:
Thing:The Best Magazine Articles Ever by Kevin Kelly. KK is putting together a list of the best magazine articles ever, spanning from an 1816 article on criticism to a piece from tomorrow’s New Yorker on hospices, and people are voting on them. This is the most obvious instant bookmark you’ve come across in quite some time.
Thing:Mood, twitter, and the new shape of america by Harvard’s Complexity and Social Networks Blog. Some math people did a Twitter-data thing to map our state-by-state zeitgeist as it changes throughout the day and across the country. You can read about how they did it, or you can watch the mesmerizing video:
Conclusions: people in Florida and California are pretty much never unhappy; Georgia is happy but the relatively grumpiest state in its neighborhood; and the Mississippi delta region and parts of the midwest are pretty much never happy.
America’s favorite time of day: quittin’ time is an obvious favorite, but early birds (people up between 5 AM and 7 AM) tend to be obnoxiously chipper* and have skewed our whole mornings green. America’s least favorite time of day: the post-lunch-pre-quittin’-time death march is pretty bad, but apparently oceans of horror start washing all over Twitter after 1 AM. Except in Florida and California, where they just have oceans of warm water.
Thing:Some Thoughts On The Three Amigos from A VC. Very many great things have been written about this week’s LeBron James sideshow — if you missed it, let’s just say it combined all the most spectacular elements of a two-year-long infomercial, a Derby horse auction, and Alexander’s invasion of India. It’s become almost cliche, but it’s true: the problem isn’t what he did, it’s how he did it. Not since Ron Burgundy has a city so unmistakably been told to go **** itself. But let’s get beyond the question of whether we’re mad at LeBron or just disappointed.
The freshest piece on the matter (the one linked to at the beginning of this rambling) frames LeBron’s decision as an experiment being conducted by LeBron. It’s like nothing we’ve seen in the sports history of America, though the word sports is superfluous — a household-name for-profit organization’s labor has taken total control of its own factory.
In X’s and O’s terms, it’s not likely to work. The team won’t have any money to afford depth, James and Dwayne Wade don’t complement so much as duplicate each other, and this might be the biggest foursome of egos since… I don’t know, the Beatles (?), if you count Heat general manager Pat Riley. But let’s say it does work… will sports ever be the same? (ht Rafi Kam.)
Thing: As a Gentile, it’s hard to know how to approach this video. A Holocaust survivor, his daughter, and two grandchildren tour former German concentration camps and Holocaust memorials — where they dance to Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive.”
After watching, people tend to either feel goose-bumpy or uncomfortable. Rationally, the presence of an able-minded-and-bodied Holocaust survivor should dissuade any concerns of whether the montage is tasteful and appropriate — if he’s ok with it, you should be too. But it’s still unsettling.
And it’s all because of the song they’ve chosen. It’s an instantly mockable karaoke throwaway, for whatever reason. If they’d gone with a traditional Hebrew song, any traditional Hebrew song, even one we’ve never heard of, the video would be cool but unremarkable. Or you’d expect something like Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, whatever — no problem (since apparently men with guitars know more about the joy and power of survival than an African American woman born in the 1940s).
But because “I Will Survive” somehow has become the definitive disco song, it feels like it’s not just the wrong song, it’s almost blasphemous.
But, of course, it’s the best possible song. This man is almost literally dancing on his own grave.
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:
I’ve always tried to discover where it is that these fans feel all the money should go. Major sports leagues make billions of dollars — if athletes are making, like, $90,000 a year, does that mean the other 99.9% of each billion should should go to team owners? It’s gotta go somewhere. Might as well go to the people who provide the entire product, right?
It’s hard to avoid thinking it might be a race issue, as we’ll all get worked up about a guy named Rodriguez earning $25 million for 162 games, yet nobody complains about Tom Hanks making $25 million for doing one movie.
What’s the hardest thing in the world to market?
It can be difficult, elitist, inaccessible, and as if this weren’t enough, it’s in a foreign language.
What do you do?
If you are the Opera Company of Philadelphia, about a month ago, this is what you do.
Google announced their API and directory on May 19, 2010. On Thursday, May 20, 2010, a Drupal module was released that gives you all the tools you need to display Google Fonts on your Drupal website. Time to market - one day. In the first week after its release, the module has already been installed on over 50 websites, kick-starting the virtuous cycle of testing and feedback that is the hallmark of open source software …
The lesson here is clear: you can move at web speed by using open source tools. Stop waiting for your proprietary vendor to add it to their product, Drupal let’s you use tools like Google Fonts today.
Elsewhere in new, efficient, and agile vs. old, wasteful, and sluggish:The Government Wants To Save Newspapers And Media Moguls from Silicon Alley Insider (via Rafi Kam). A recent FTC report on how to save journalism ignores blogs and other independent media, instead cooking up schemes that basically amount to newspaper industry bailouts. (What else can you call “a 5% surcharge on consumer electronics to raise $4 billion for public funding of news”?) There’s too much astounding stuff to summarize in a short space; go read it for yourself.
Like There’s Not A Bonus Section
Cell phone in microwave. Yes, it’s worth watching. With your speakers on.