Category: Art

The painting "The Way We Shook" by Ryan Crotty

I dig these minimalist paintings by Ryan Crotty, and am gonna try to visit the NYC gallery to see them IRL. “Chickens Prefer Attractive People.” Nearly half the times we open our phones to use an app, it’s one created by Facebook or Google. Why it’s good to play video games with your kids. A fabulous example of octopus color-and-shape-changing. The corporate slogans of CES are a study in awfulness. How Charles Schulz introduced the first black character into Peanuts. Training a neural net to classify online articles as either “news” or “not-news”. A gorgeous photographic tour of one of America’s last pencil factories. And my latest Boing Boing posts: i) the history of “badday.mpg”, one of the Internet’s first viral videos; ii) logic gates made purely from rods and levers; and iii) a study finds municipal broadband is up to 50% cheaper than comparable telco service.

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Camouflage sweaters knitted by the artist Nina Dodd

Hand-knit sweater camouflage. This is big: NASA discovers there’s a lot of easy-to-access ice on Mars. A computer language where you code in Filipino. A twitterbot that tweets whenever the New York Times uses a word for the first time. An analog split-flap display that I want sooooo bad. Why UV-sensing tech might encourage us to get more sun, not less. A superb thread on Trump’s “s**thole” comment, and its deep historical context. How to make an anonymous, collaborative Google spreadsheet. How to fold a circle into an ellipse. A flower that never blooms. And … my latest Boing Boing posts: i) The secret physics behind the ultrablack feathers of “birds of paradise”; ii) Frankenstein considered as a novel about climate catastrophe; iii) a study finds that ocean waves can hurl ashore boulders 2.5X the weight of the Statue of Liberty.

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A photo from the book "Things Organized Neatly", of dozens of locks laid out in a rough grid

A book of photos of things organized neatly. Yet another weird signal from space, which quite certainly isn’t aliens even though wow yeah isn’t that precisely what the heat-signature of an interstellar spacecraft would look like? How Leibniz tried to create a 17th-century machine that would calculate pure reason. A set of robot hands that listen to your speech, autotranscribe it, then type it out on a manual typewriter. I’m gonna build this Arduino-powered stompbox and program it to deliver a different random effect every time you step on it. What’s it like to be a bee? Being curious about science may make you more open to changing your mind politically. Meditation glasses.

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A photo of a 60s desk telephone covered in needlepoint by artist Ulla Stina Wikander

A artist who takes modern domestic objects and wraps them in needlepoint. A tiny, USB-mountable computer. Behold Sunday Magazine, which each week posts “the most interesting articles from the New York Times Sunday Magazine from exactly 100 years ago, with a little bit of commentary or context.” According to a Facebook study, people who use the Internet a lot are less likely to click on spam. Ancient rock art may have captured a supernova that was visible during the day. On the delightful readability of 1980s-era BASIC programs. I notice a curious phenomenon — that when I’m reading deeply on my phone, I often forget it is a phone — and a good Twitter discussion emerges. And my latest Boing Boing posts: i) A 3d-printable “measuring cube” for cooking; ii) a terrific piece on the “stowaway” craze of the 1920s; iii) in the 1970s, the CIA created a tiny dragonfly-shaped drone to fly around as a remote spy microphone; iv) what it’s like mining bitcoins by hand, with pencil and paper; v) Blackbeard’s pirates apparently enjoyed reading novels; and vi) this gentleman has figured out how to use the data from his rooftop solar panels as a crude way to photograph the nearby landscape.

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"La Liberté Triomphante", a 1792 illustration from the French revolution, showing Liberty brandishing a thunderbolt in one hand and a Phrygian cap on a stick in the other

Why the French revolution adopted the lightning bolt as the symbol for “the will of the people”. How to tell if you’re a jerk. “Scurryfunge,” “mogshade”, “popple”, and 363 other English words that we have sadly stopped using. Science has determined you can drink as much damn coffee as you like. The use of “meritocracy” soared from its invention in 1958 until today, except for a big dip in the 80s. Meet the New York Times“super commenters”. Why China is building the world’s hugest dish to look for extraterrestrial life. The last people in the US still using iron lungs. A Javascript punch-card emulator. Tearing a book apart and reassembling it, letter by letter: A gorgeous art project!

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"Desert necklace", a 1995 sculpture

“Desert Necklace” is a lovely and haunting 1995 work by the Dutch artist Peter Hoogeboom. A smartphone-shaped fidget gadget. NYC has genetically distinct “uptown” and “downtown” rats. Is life inevitable, as dictated by the laws of physics? Behold The California Review of Images and Mark Zuckerberg. Why social media traps in the eternal present: My latest essay for THIS magazine. Why analog circuits could make for faster, better neural nets. A Greenland Shark that may be over 500 years old. I dig Write.as, a new, stripped-down blogging engine. Amazon parody reviewers strike again! On War Primer, Bertolt Brecht’s multimedia book of antifascist poetry. On the cognitive impact of spreadsheets. Flash-photography powder, invented in Germany in 1887, was originally dubbed “Blitzlichtpulver”, or “lightning light powder”. NASA’s 1981 history of ball bearings.

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An animated gif by the artist Kim Albrecht showing how a phone sense its environment

Animated gifs that show what it’s like to be a mobile phone. An app that reads text back to you in a sarcastic voice. Why “routine biased technological change” strikes most heavily during recessions. The stilt-walking shepherds of France. The illustrations in the 1898 book “On the Disposition of Iron in Variegated Strata” look like gorgeous modern art. The best layperson’s explanation of blockchain I’ve ever read. Can you use regex to parse HMTL? An unexpectedly apocalyptic answer. Hunting for alien life by looking for rocket exhaust. Basque “arborglyphs”.

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A medieval painting of people killing someone

Why do people in medieval paintings look bored, even when killing someone — or being killed? An appreciation of the neglected Windows Phone. An exploration of the polarized IMBD review for “An Inconvenient Sequel” (men voted far more often than women, and were the group most likely to hate the movie) provokes an interesting question: Why don’t review sites behave like pollsters, and adjust their sample to match reality? The “law” of exponential growth in tech is nonsense, as Rodney Brooks notes in this essay on AI. Software updates can change the range-mileage of a Tesla. “Lenny” is a voice chatbot designed to talk to telemarketers and waste their time. Speaking of medieval times, a historian of that period ponders the fact that white-supremacists are in love with it. “Why and When Your Code Starts to Smell Bad“. When OCR errors afflict The Illiad.

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Painting of an eclipse, originally published in the New York Times

How to paint an eclipse. (Pro tip: Work quickly!) How the military changed food science, with the MRE. Audio recordings from the 1930s and 40s of former slaves, reflecting on their lives during and post-slavery. A short anthropological history of human sleep arrangements. A short history of communist bookstores. Border collies can “fast-map” (infer the name of a new, unfamiliar object) with the acumen of a three-year-old human. A graveyard of software. Datacrunch of the lexical complexity and affective metrics of YA fiction. The problems of, in the digital age, having the last name “Null.

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Screenshot of "Ten Bullets", an online browser game. “10 Bullets”, an addictively simple one-button browser game. First-person stories from religious protestors in Charlottesville. How the Internet has changed the work of being a private detective. Blockchain considered as foundational technology, like TCP/IP. (The analogy: TCP/IP -> blockchain as Early email -> bitcoin.) Typely, an online-proofreading tool, is very good at catching my consistent overuse of clichés in first drafts. (Man, if I had a nickel for every time I used a cliché!) What is technology? “How My Instagram Hacker Changed My Life.” Here’s some nifty browser-fu for sorting Chrome tabs. “Fuck”: That’s the title of this academic paper, on the legal implications of the word. So, Amazon’s new “2 minute” delivery system is basically just … an Automat?Turn old ASCII art into nicely-formatted HTML with Retrotext. Dataviz infoporn of Chicago’s tree canopy.

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