Kevin Slavin:

If scientists are going to transmit information — and that’s what they should be trying to do — then they should recognize the most effective form of compression for that information: stories.

Yes, stories are lossy compression. They exaggerate this part over here, and leave out this other important idea. But the idea moves from one mind to many, and the utility of that transmission is as important as the idea that is being transmitted in the first place.


Don’t become a well-rounded person.

Don’t become a well-rounded person. Well rounded people are smooth and dull. Become a thoroughly spiky person. Grow spikes from every angle. Stick in their throats like a pufferfish. If you want to woo the muse of the odd, don’t read Shakespeare. Read Webster’s revenge plays. Don’t read Homer and Aristotle. Read Herodotus where he’s off talking about Egyptian women having public sex with goats. […] You didn’t come here from nowhere. There are reasons why you’re here. Learn those reasons. Learn about the stuff that was buried because it was too experimental or embarrassing or inexplicable or uncomfortable or dangerous.

Bruce Sterling: The Wonderful Power of Storytelling. (via)

Just Nots

Greetings from the Future | Dentsu London:

One of the most compelling trends presented on this occasion was that of the ‘Just Nots’. This is a tribe defined by what they don’t have, rather than what they do. They are ‘just not’ earning enough money to buy a house; they are ‘just not’ getting their kids into the right schools and they are ‘just not’ feeling that they are getting what is rightfully theirs. And they are a growing phenomenon. Nicolas Sarkozy calls them ‘alarm clock France’ and in the UK they form a significant part of our ‘squeezed middle’.


Brands and services are slowly starting to respond to this group (and politicians should get a move on). P&G has launched Gain, its first bargain soap in the US for thirty eight years. Layaway schemes are on the rise again. Meanwhile in the UK, the People’s Supermarket is popularising food co-ops, suggesting that the Just Nots are leading not just an economic shift but a fundamental social one.

Yes, let’s figure out how to sell stuff to people who are just not well off. A compelling trend indeed.


“Fuehlometer” (Feel-o-meter) or “Public Face” is an interactive art installation that shows the mood of a city by displaying it in the form of a monumental Smiley. The system allows to read emotions out of random people’s faces. The faces are analyzed by sophisticated software (contributed by the Fraunhofer Institut). The obtained mood data are then stored on a server and processed by the smiley to visualize the emotions in real-time. The system has been developed as joint project by the artists Julius von Bismarck, Benjamin Maus, and Richard Wilhelmer. They already realized a much respected media installation at the Gasometer in Berlin-Schöneberg in 2008. For their participation in the summer group show Provinz on Lindau-Island, they installed their interactive installation in and at Lindau-Island’s lighthouse. The emotions are captured by a digital camera that is focused on the faces of the people standing in a specific area on the lakeside. A computer analyzes the photos and sends the results (happy, sad or indifferent) to the giant smiley on top of the lighthouse.

Project site. (via)

Place Pulse

In 1960, Kevin Lynch published “The Image of the City” and established how people perceive and create mental models of the cities they inhabit. Since then, the fields of both architecture and urban planning have heavily studied urban perception, placing emphasis on everything from the macro scale of a city to the intricate details of an individual building. Institutional limitations, however, have limited the throughput of urban perception studies by constraining the quantity of both images and subjects used.

To mitigate these past limitations, we present Place Pulse. Place Pulse is a website that allows anybody to quickly run a perception study and visualize the results in powerful ways. Developed at the MIT Media Lab by the Macro Connections group, Place Pulse crowdsources surveys to internet participants, asking binary perception questions across a large number of geotagged images. From the responses of each participant, directed graphs are generated, which are then layered with the graphs of others, forming what we call a perception network. This perception network can be analyzed and visualized in a multitude of ways, allowing the experimenter to identify interesting patterns in the data, possibly forming the basis for a future hypothesis.

Place Pulse | The Collaborative Image of the City.

Steve Yegge in an epic rant about Google Plus and his time at Amazon:

When software – or idea-ware for that matter – fails to be accessible to anyone for any reason, it is the fault of the software or of the messaging of the idea. It is an Accessibility failure.

Like anything else big and important in life, Accessibility has an evil twin who, jilted by the unbalanced affection displayed by their parents in their youth, has grown into an equally powerful Arch-Nemesis (yes, there’s more than one nemesis to accessibility) named Security. And boy howdy are the two ever at odds.

But I’ll argue that Accessibility is actually more important than Security because dialing Accessibility to zero means you have no product at all, whereas dialing Security to zero can still get you a reasonably successful product such as the Playstation Network.

Twitter Digest for Week Ending 2011-11-27