Week 1

The first week of 2012 is over.

How are you all feeling? Overwhelmed? Excited? Same as always?

Yeah, me too.

I want to try something new, though.

I’m already pretty good at getting out of bed and dragging my body down to the gym (at least somewhat regularly) and I already eat almost as well as I want to, but I don’t share enough on this blog.

That’s why I’m trying something new. I don’t want to promise I’ll keep this up, but I tried recording everything I read and watched and liked in the past week. It’s all collected in this post, and I hope you’ll find something you like as well.

It’s all split into these categories:

There’s already things I’d like to change, but that’s the great thing about writing for yourself; things can change anytime.

Let’s go:

Top 5 posts

These are the five posts I think everyone should read:

But trollgaze as an idea also reflects a wider concern. A trollgaze track is utterly web-native: It’s not built to exist in a record shop, a TV channel, a collection, or even an mp3 playlist. Its natural habitat is the stream– that ceaseless flow of information we access every time we use social media. Trollgaze is something you see sandwiched between other status updates, tweets, or posts, fighting for attention with every other picture, stray thought, polemic, or advert. Its button-pushing crassness and ambiguous motives make it an evolutionary nightmare: music perfectly adapted for life in the stream.

Wake up. I hope you enjoyed your holiday because it’s a new year and it’s time to get back to work. We did pretty good last year. We started standing up for ourselves. We stopped working for free. We started getting our financial house in order. (Please don’t make me do the contract thing again this year.) We rediscovered typography (again). We learned to think about mobile first. We learned how to make responsive sites. And we stopped comping with lorem ipsum and started paying attention to the actual stuff we were designing for.

This year? This year’s gonna be a goddamned golden age. Last year we trained. This year we fight.

There is not a word in this I disagree with. But that’s easy. Let’s get to work instead.

In 1974, when Colbert was 10, his father, a doctor, and his brothers Peter and Paul, the two closest to him in age, died in a plane crash while flying to a prep school in New England. “There’s a common explanation that profound sadness leads to someone’s becoming a comedian, but I’m not sure that’s a proven equation in my case,” he told me. “I’m not bitter about what happened to me as a child, and my mother was instrumental in keeping me from being so.” He added, in a tone so humble and sincere that his character would never have used it: “She taught me to be grateful for my life regardless of what that entailed, and that’s directly related to the image of Christ on the cross and the example of sacrifice that he gave us. What she taught me is that the deliverance God offers you from pain is not no pain — it’s that the pain is actually a gift. What’s the option? God doesn’t really give you another choice.”

Reading about the real Colbert who believes in God is just plain weird.

Hi! Good to be back! I brought my straw hat and cane.

That’s always an interesting question, about the forces driving current events and future ones, “the significant change drivers.” What differences are making a difference?

I’ve tended to emphasize climate change, urbanization and demographics. Those are big and significant changes in the world, but also pretty easy to measure and quantify. That’s like hunting for futurity under the street-lights where it’s nice and bright.

So I often tell people that the mid-century will be about “old people in big cities who are afraid of the sky.” I think that’s a pretty useful, common-sense, plausible assessment. You may not hear it said much, but it’s how things are turning out.

Futurity means metropolitan people with small families in a weather crisis. That’s because quite a few of us already are those people. Future already here, just not much pontificated about.

But that doesn’t mean I can make everybody perceive that reality. For instance, right-wing American talk radio guys also have a set of favorite change-drivers. They’re sure the world is changing, and anxious that everyone should know the hidden truths about why.

This is near-future where the things around us start to display behaviour – acquiring motive and agency as they act and react to the context around them according to the software they have inside them, and increasingly the information they get from (and publish back to) the network.

In this near-future, it’s very hard to identify the ‘U’ in UI’ – that is, the User in User-Interface. It’s not so clear anymore what these things are. Tools… or something more.

On June 8th, 2010, I was “in conversation” with Christopher Hitchens at the 92nd Street Y in New York in front of his customary sellout audience, to launch his memoir, Hitch-22. Christopher turned in a bravura performance that night, never sharper, never funnier, and afterwards at a small, celebratory dinner the brilliance continued. A few days later he told me that it was on the morning of the Y event that he had been given the news about his cancer. It was hard to believe that he had been so publicly magnificent on such a privately dreadful day. He had shown more than stoicism. He had flung laughter and intelligence into the face of death.

That was actually six, but (luckily) it’s not every day a person as interesting as Hitchens dies so take Rushdie’s euology as an added extra.

Instapaper’d

I ♥ Instapaper and with my newly purchased Kindle, I get a personalized newspaper delivered free every morning. This is all long-form stuff, and it comes highly recommended:

How far would you go to help your son fulfill his dream of having a child? What if that son fell into a coma, from which you know he’ll never emerge? Would you reach inside him to extract and preserve his legacy? If you were Nik Evans’s mother, you would—and you’d start a paternity fight unlike any the world has ever seen.

A little after 9 a.m. on Sept. 15, 1990, the owner of a steel-products company pulled up to her office in Vinegar Hill, near the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and spotted a black garbage bag sitting on the sidewalk out front. She parked her car and went to move the bag when she noticed it leaking blood. The woman called 911. Within the hour, Ken Whelan, a homicide detective from the 84th Precinct, peered into the bag. It was full of human body parts.

It has been nearly a year and a half since the Federal Bureau of Investigation seized Anna Chapman, the Russian spy who had been working undercover in Manhattan real estate. Her arrest along with nine other Russians broke up the largest foreign intelligence network discovered on American soil since the Cold War.

Our world is a place where information can behave like human genes and ideas can replicate, mutate and evolve.

With the rise of information theory, ideas were seen as behaving like organisms, replicating by leaping from brain to brain, interacting to form new ideas and evolving in what the scientist Roger Sperry called “a burstwise advance.”

The looming figure is Neil Tyson, the director of the Rose Center for Earth and Space at the American Museum of Natural History. He has just put the crowd into a swoon by switching on a laser and pointing it towards the zenith of the sky. The green beam seems to reach up from the field and touch the star.

His tirades are the distilled violence, cruelty, and bigotry of right-wing Catholic ideology.

The Nixon tapes remind us what a vile creature Henry Kissinger is.

This was the first video shoot for the re-launched Jacques Magazine, and Danielle Leder had to get it right. She had to produce content to show that the magazine still existed. She had to create something that didn’t stray from Jacques’ well-established aesthetic. And she would do it without the magazine’s co-founder and her husband, 38-year-old Jonathan Leder, who at that moment was somewhere near Tampa shooting a movie about a stripper running from a serial killer. He was in Florida while his wife was in New York because they were in the process of separating. Over the course of the year, their marriage had disintegrated, just as the magazine’s momentum had slowed to a crawl.

Is there a formula—some mix of love, work and psychological adaptation—for a good life? For 72 years, researches at Harvard have been examining this question, following 268 men who entered college in the late 1930s through war, carreer, marriage and divorce, parenthood and grandparenthood, and old age. Here, for the first time, a journalist gains access to the the archive of one of the most comprehensive longitudinal studies in history. Its contents, as much literature as science, offer profound insight into the human condition—and into the brilliant, complex mind of the study’s longtime director, George Vaillant.

All Posts

This is everything I read and liked in the past week. I keep track using the fantastic web service Reading. You can follow along there during the week, if you want.

Computer hackers plan to take the internet beyond the reach of censors by putting their own communication satellites into orbit.

Anyone who says we aren’t living in the near-future already is out of their mind.

You don’t have to go ‘off the grid’ to be quiet. Knowing when to speak and when not to speak is your greatest weapon.

Claude Verlinde

Drive and Bellflower are both movies with fast cars and distinctive looks but one had a budget 765x the other. Drive was captured to Betamax’s grandchild, Bellflower to a Mac Book Pro.

Evan Glodell is mechanically inclined. In order to shoot his no-budget post-apocalyptic love story Bellflower, he built his own camera.

The influx of Generation Y, now in their teens through early thirties, will change housing demand. They are comfortable with smaller homes and will happily trade living space for an easier commute and better lifestyle. They will drive up the number of single households and prompt a surge in demand for rentals, causing rents to escalate.

Crank up the volume and get clickin’.

Hey Peter Thiel, instead of whining about the iPhone, Twitter, and internet not being innovative and life-changing enough, why don’t you fix this life-ruining piece of shit company that you crapped into the world? That would definitely be a “net plus”.

In research by Dan Ariely and others it appears that higher incentives, actually reduce performance. That’s a perverse and counter-intuitive result, but in several different kinds of experiments, groups that were promised the largest amount of money as a reward for doing a task performed that task more slowly, and completed the tasks less often.

While I enjoy hours alone with a book as much as the next guy – well, probably a little bit more than the next guy, actually – and can relate to this praise to downtime, it would be downright foolish to not contuously praise the virtues of connected development and the expert system of previous idiots on the same quest as you. The problem of course is that it only works for certain kinds of problems.

Why does a clock sometimes appear stopped? Is it possible to perceive the world in slow motion during a car accident? Can action and effect be reversed? Time perception is surprisingly prone to measurable distortions and illusions. The past few years have introduced remarkable progress in identifying and quantifying temporal illusions of duration, temporal order and simultaneity. For example, perceived durations can be distorted by saccades, by an oddball in a sequence, or by stimulus complexity or magnitude. Temporal order judgments of actions and sensations can be reversed by exposure to delayed motor consequences, and simultaneity judgments can be manipulated by repeated exposure to non-simultaneous stimuli. The confederacy of recently discovered illusions points to the underlying neural mechanisms of time perception.

For generations, mothers have told their children not sit around and let life pass them by. The Time Hack was an effort to confront the time-honored adage and demonstrate the science-backed benefits of making the most out of life.

In short: Do more and your perception of life will change for the better.

Get out the house and experience the world first-hand, put yourself in unusual and uncomfortable situations.

Over the past few years, courts and parliaments in countries like France and Estonia have pronounced Internet access a human right.

But that argument, however well meaning, misses a larger point: technology is an enabler of rights, not a right itself.

Then things fell apart. A self-made millionaire at 23, Ek found himself holed up alone in the woods 20 miles south of Stockholm enduring a harsh Swedish winter and a harsher bout of depression. Seeking the fast life, he had bought a three-bedroom apartment in central Stockholm, a cherry-red Ferrari Modena and entrée to the city’s hottest clubs. But it was still hard to attract girls, and the big spending attracted the wrong ones. “I was deeply uncertain of who I was and who I wanted to be,” Ek says. “I really thought I wanted to be a much cooler guy than what I was.”

Hard to pick the most ridiculous element of these updated numbers.

Is it that just 0.6% of Android users have Ice Cream Sandwich (4.0) two months after it launched?

Facebook Cards, which will become available for the social networking giant’s 800 million-plus users globally from 5pm on Thursday (GMT), has been developed in conjunction with UK-based digital printing business Moo.com.

Mr. Brûlé aspired to be a network anchorman like his idol, Peter Jennings, and in his early 20s, he was a reporter in London for the BBC and other networks. He landed in war-torn Afghanistan in 1994, reporting for a German newsmagazine, where he nearly died after being shot twice in a sniper attack.

Flickr is for the story I want to remember, Instagram is for the story I want to tell now.

I’ve more or less stopped using Flickr as well. Not sure that’s a good thing, but I’m enjoying Instagram way more than I ever did Flickr.

In celebration of this national holiday, I was curious to trace the trends and personalities of the American presidency, from founding fathers to today so I scoured the internet for images of each president with an eye to their personal style.

The first person to crack and look at their phone picks up the check.

Steven Johnson writes in Where Good Ideas Come From about the notion of the adjacent possible. Coined by Stuart Kauffman, this phrase describes the idea that at any given moment, the game board of life allows certain moves. As civilation has developed, certain ideas come into being, founded on the ideas that came before them. This opens up new moves on the game board. The adjacent possible explains why no-one invented a car in the 1600′s–it wasn’t just that the technology didn’t exist. The basic conceptual building blocks weren’t there either.

Remember that there are only three kinds of things anyone need ever do. (1) Things we ought to do (2) Things we’ve got to do (3) Things we like doing. I say this because some people seem to spend so much of their time doing things for none of the three reasons, things like reading books they don’t like because other people read them. Things you ought to do are things like doing one’s school work or being nice to people. Things one has to do are things like dressing and undressing, or household shopping. Things one likes doing — but of course I don’t know what you like. Perhaps you’ll write and tell me one day.

Work shouldn’t suck.

But it shouldn’t feel like play either.

The deliberate practice hypothesis demands that we learn to recognize (and embrace) that curious zone found somewhere in between.

I hate Google+. Can’t stand it. It is agonizing to use. The stream is so ugly, it won’t even bother me when the inevitable Google ads arrive. Culturally, it feels like walking into a religious school. It swarms with disciples of the + waiting for the messianic downfall of the Evil Internet, so that the One True Google+ is all that’s left.

The rest of the post is better than this.

“Move everything to the left one pixel.”

Dear reader,

I would like to present an opportunity for you all with an open assignment for the Tycho Deep Space capsule hatch. We are currently at a development stage where this hatch design must be decided soon for prototype production the next couple of months.

Help send Copenhagen Suborbitals to space!

Al-Shabaab, the Somali militant group heretofore best known for stoning teenage girls, blowing up soccer fans, and blocking food aid to their starving countrymen, is now on Twitter. You can talk to them if you like.

The truth behind building something like the iPad or the iPhone is that there is considerably more than just design at play. There is, a harmony of all aspects of business: Finance, Internal Manufacturing, Supply Chain Management, Engineering, and the list continues. I’ve never worked at Apple but I’m sure there are at least 10 other departments that somehow come to affect the design of a phone in some indirect, but ultimately logically business-related fashion.

This would not be the first time. For example, when Sir Francis Bacon said that knowledge of the world should be grounded in carefully verified facts about the world, he wasn’t just giving us a new method to achieve old-fashioned knowledge. He was redefining knowledge as theories that are grounded in facts. The Age of the Net is bringing about a redefinition at the same scale. Scientific knowledge is taking on properties of its new medium, becoming like the network in which it lives.

At the root of democracy there must be a space where we are allowed to change our minds, alter our opinions, and try out some new lenses on the world. If we lose this space to experiment and learn then we are left with no option than to polarize and attack one another.

Aram Sinnreich, an assistant professor of media studies at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J., said that Timehop is part of “a radically new moment in our cultural history” emerging around what he called “the quantified self.” A new wave of Web applications, he said, is empowering people to track, sort and analyze their own online behavior — in much the same way that Web sites and advertisers already track and analyze consumers.

From the Washington Post:

Private employers added 220,00 jobs, moving the total of private-sector jobs created in 2011 to 1.9 million [my emphasis].

From the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

1.1 million: The number of jobs gained under President George W. Bush.

That would be eight years of George W. Bush.

I hope one day to get to America. My manager tells me lots about it as he has been there many times with other acts he manages. I was watching an old film on TV the other night called “No Down Payment” a great film, but rather depressing if it is a true reflection of The American Way Of Life. However, shortly after that they showed a documentary about Robert Frost the American poet, filmed mainly at his home in Vermont, and that evened the score. I am sure that that is nearer the real America. I made my first movie last week. Just a fifteen minutes short, but it gave me some good experience for a full length deal I have starting in January.

Whatever you hope for this year — to lose weight, to exercise more, to spend less money — you’re much more likely to make improvements than someone who hasn’t made a formal resolution.

This application saves and downloads a copy of nearly all of the textual content of the English Wikipedia locally so that it can be accessed without internet connectivity.

I left Algeria in 1990 to work abroad. In 1997 my family and I moved to Bosnia and Herzegovina at the request of my employer, the Red Crescent Society of the United Arab Emirates. I served in the Sarajevo office as director of humanitarian aid for children who had lost relatives to violence during the Balkan conflicts. In 1998, I became a Bosnian citizen. We had a good life, but all of that changed after 9/11.

When I arrived at work on the morning of Oct. 19, 2001, an intelligence officer was waiting for me. He asked me to accompany him to answer questions. I did so, voluntarily — but afterward I was told that I could not go home. The United States had demanded that local authorities arrest me and five other men. News reports at the time said the United States believed that I was plotting to blow up its embassy in Sarajevo. I had never — for a second — considered this.

I’ve been thinking about the emergence of a new type of 21st-century professional. I call them “free radicals” because they take their careers into their own hands and put the world to work for them. The commoditization of once-pricey resources like business management services (now in the cloud) and everything open-source is the wind at their backs.

Free Radicals are resilient, self-reliant, and extremely potent. You’ll find them working solo, in small teams, or within large companies. They’re everywhere, and they’re crafting the future.

An experiment by computer science researchers shows that Perl, a major commercial programming language, is no more intuitive to use than a fake language with a completely random syntax. What gives? – Give Your Employees Unlimited Vacation Days by Joe Reynolds, Inc.com:

Taking vacation at Red Frog is encouraged (and even celebrated). And it’s not abused. Ever. By anyone. Simply make sure your work is getting done and make sure you’re covered while you’re away and that’s it—no questions asked.

“I got a call from [David Fincher], it was the middle of the night in Sweden and he was on some shoot that was going really bad,” Tim Miller, Blur’s co-founder and the creative director behind the sequence, said in a phone interview with Wired.com. “And he calls me and he says, ‘Look, you’re going to do this thing and it’s going to redefine titles for our generation the way Se7en did and that’s all there is to it.’”

This past Tuesday Tumblr broke its traffic record again when it received 600 million pageviews in one day.

This is what an abandonded Russian rocket factory looks like on the inside:

Russian rocket factory

It’s Rick Santorum time!

This week’s theme is the potential contender to the presidency of The United States of America, Rick Santorum.

Santorum, 53, is devout, hawkish, competitive and polarizing. Social conservatives praise him for his hardline positions. He opposes abortion, even in cases of rape and incest, believes gays should not be allowed to marry, and has said he would bomb Iran’s nuclear sites if they are not opened to international inspection. Evangelicals applaud the prominence he gives to his faith. Liberals decry him for many of the same reasons.

Santorum is a piece of shit. Oh, wait, no—it’s the frothy mixture of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the by-product of anal sex.

Spread the truth, as they say.

“People die in America because people die in America. And people make poor decisions with respect to their health and their healthcare. And they don’t go to the emergency room or they don’t go to the doctor when they need to,” he said. “And it’s not the fault of the government for not providing some sort of universal benefit.

“I’ve looked at that quote, in fact I looked at the video,” he told CNN’s John King on Wednesday. “In fact, I’m pretty confident I didn’t say black.” Pretty confident! That’s all we need. “I started to say a word and then sort of changed and it sort of, bleaugh, mumbled it,” he explained. Yes, Rick: you started to say a word. That word was “black.”

I went out and bought his book. There are some classic Santorum moments. Like on page 138: “The notion that college education is a cost-effective way to help poor, low-skill, unmarried mothers with high school diplomas or GEDs move up the economic ladder is just wrong.” Or page 386: “It’s amazing that so many kids turn out to be fairly normal, considering the weird socialization they get in public schools.” At one point, he accuses feminists of hating women.

Citing the work of one anti-poverty expert, Santorum said, “He found that even fathers in jail who had abandoned their kids were still better than no father at all to have in their children’s lives.”

While the G.O.P. hopefuls are all making their final tours around early voting states, their modes of travel — and their entourages — vary widely.

I can’t stand Santorum, but this is why he’s so—ugh—likeable:

Rick Santorum has made hundreds of stops in Iowa and was the first candidate to visit all 99 counties in the state. He sometimes travels alone, but often with just one press aide.

Danish

Here’s a few Danish articles for those of you lucky enough to understand our weird elvish language:

Folk, der har rødder i idrætten, ved, at der er ting, der ikke lykkes, og der er modstandere, der er bedre end én selv. Hvis man ikke er indstillet på det, kommer man ikke derhen, hvor ting lykkes.

Til gengæld står virksomhederne, konsulenterne og alle vi andre, der laver ting, der skal leve gennem nettet, med det store spørgsmål: Hvad er det egentlig du laver, har det tool-karakter eller medie-karakter – det bliver sværere og sværere at forveksle de to, hvor det egentlig i en periode så ud til at blive sværere og sværere at holde dem adskilt.

Work Resources

There’s not many newly found work resources this week, so here’s a classic from last year:

Cassie Diptych

More on my Pinboard.

Videos

I watch a lot of videos on YouTube, and here’s the favorites from the past week:

Delaunay Raster – Making Of

Two Against One

Nazitübbies

Iowa Nice

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo — Title Sequence

Movies

The past week I haven’t seen more than a few episodes of series I follow, but I watched a lot of movies. Their rating follows IMDb’s 10-point scale, as I already rate them there:

Despite the rating, The Informant! spawned this week’s best quote:

“Four white guys in suits getting together in the middle of a day—that’s not a business meeting, it’s a crime scene.”

Post Scriptum

That’s the end of this week’s hunt. I hope I’ll make this into a weekly post on Friday morning, but we’ll see.

Hope you liked it.