Matthew Butterick released a full-fledged book on typography and published it exclusively online. Readers can access everything for free. Butterick is relying on people to help pay for the work through font purchases or PayPal donations. I’ve just started reading - it’s really good. Here is a quick blurb that introduces the book’s motivation:
You might be a programmer, writing documentation for a new software tool.
You might be a scientist, writing a proposal for a research grant.
You might be a lawyer, writing a brief for court.
When we think of “professional writers,” maybe we think of novelists or journalists. But the programmer, the scientist, the lawyer—and you, if your work depends on presenting written ideas—all deserve to be called professional writers.
But as professional writers, we do more than write. We edit, we format, we print, we generate PDFs, we make web pages. More than ever, we’re responsible for delivering the written word to our readers. So we’re not just writers—we’re publishers.
Typography is the visual component of the written word. And being a publisher of the written word necessarily means being a typographer.
This book will make you a better typographer.
A really cool interactive tour from The New York Times that illustrates the many changes in New York City over the past twelve years:
From buildings to bike lanes to painting over Broadway, how the city changed in 12 years of Bloomberg
TwistedSifter has compiled their favorite photos from a subreddit that colorizes old black and white photos:
When we see old photos in black and white, we sometimes forget that life back then was experienced in the same vibrant colours that surround us today. This gallery of talented artists helps us remember that :)
Below you will find a collection of some of the highest rated colorized images to date on r/ColorizedHistory.
The Hindenburg photo is astonishing.
A very cool graphic posted on Silodrome:
This beautiful, historical infographic-of-sorts was designed by NASA in 1967 to give the general public a better idea of what the Apollo 11 mission was actually going to do, from lift off, to lunar landing, to splash down in the Pacific.
Prominent technology blogger Om Malik writes about his experiences as an immigrant to the United States and what it felt like to become a citizen:
On a globe, America is a landmass, a country. In an immigrant’s heart it is a belief that future is almost always better. It may not be perfect and it is certainly not equal, but it still is one of a kind — the only place where an absolute stranger with a funny name and a funny accent with no friends or contacts can show up, work hard and actually get to do what he was destined to do.
That America is the place, I can now officially call home.
Today, in a ceremony at the Paramount Theater in Oakland, California, I was sworn in along with 1224 others and we became Americans. I am still memorizing the Star Spangled Banner and trying to imprint the oath of allegiance on my heart, but I have always known that I was an American.
(via: Zac Flamig)
Marc Santora, writing for The New York Times:
It was immediately hailed as positively futuristic and yet dismissed as a fantasy.
In the search to find a better way to move people from one place to another, a wealthy inventor proposed packing passengers into a container that would hurtle through a tube, propelled by little more than a gust of air and gravity.
It is not the “Hyperloop” proposed this week by the technology mogul Elon Musk, which attracted some buzz by offering the possibility of whisking passengers from San Francisco to Los Angeles in 35 minutes.
This idea came more than 140 years ago, when pneumatic pressure for mass transit was first tested beneath the streets of New York City.
What’s old is new again.
TwistedSifter posted 40 really awesome maps of the world:
If you’re a visual learner like myself, then you know maps, charts and infographics can really help bring data and information to life. Maps can make a point resonate with readers and this collection aims to do just that.
Hopefully some of these maps will surprise you and you’ll learn something new. A few are important to know, some interpret and display data in a beautiful or creative way, and a few may even make you chuckle or shake your head.
There are many great things in which the U.S. should be proud to stand out from the rest of the world. Maps #2 and #6 are not such examples.
(via: Gordon Carrie)
Rebecca Onion, writing for Slate’s The Vault blog:
This “Histomap,” created by John B. Sparks, was first printed by Rand McNally in 1931.
This giant, ambitious chart fit neatly with a trend in nonfiction book publishing of the 1920s and 1930s: the “outline,” in which large subjects (the history of the world! every school of philosophy! all of modern physics!) were distilled into a form comprehensible to the most uneducated layman.
This is pretty cool. It visually depicts the march of civilization.
You can also grab the high-resolution version.
Elon Musk details his ambitious plans for high-speed travel:
The Hyperloop (or something similar) is, in my opinion, the right solution for the specific case of high traffic city pairs that are less than about 1500 km or 900 miles apart. Around that inflection point, I suspect that supersonic air travel ends up being faster and cheaper. With a high enough altitude and the right geometry, the sonic boom noise on the ground would be no louder than current airliners, so that isn’t a showstopper. Also, a quiet supersonic plane immediately solves every long distance city pair without the need for a vast new worldwide infrastructure.
However, for a sub several hundred mile journey, having a supersonic plane is rather pointless, as you would spend almost all your time slowly ascending and descending and very little time at cruise speed. In order to go fast, you need to be at high altitude where the air density drops exponentially, as air at sea level becomes as thick as molasses (not literally, but you get the picture) as you approach sonic velocity.
According to Musk, the Hyperloop could theoretically transport passengers from San Francisco to Los Angeles, a distance of nearly 400 miles, in only 35 minutes.
You can read the complete description in this pdf.
A very gripping documentary on the perils of texting while driving. The short film was directed by Werner Herzog for the It Can Wait campaign.
Marc Scott, with an extremely thoughtful article on the prevailing myth that all young people are technology wizards:
Not really knowing how to use a computer is deemed acceptable if you’re twenty-five or over. It’s something that some people are even perversely proud of, but the prevailing wisdom is that all under eighteens are technical wizards, and this is simply not true. They can use some software, particularly web-apps. They know how to use Facebook and Twitter. They can use YouTube and Pinterest. They even know how to use Word and PowerPoint and Excel. Ask them to reinstall an operating system and they’re lost. Ask them to upgrade their hard-drive or their RAM and they break out in a cold sweat. Ask them what https means and why it is important and they’ll look at you as if you’re speaking Klingon.
They click ‘OK’ in dialogue boxes without reading the message. They choose passwords like qwerty1234. They shut-down by holding in the power button until the monitor goes black. They’ll leave themselves logged in on a computer and walk out of the room. If a program is unresponsive, they’ll click the same button repeatedly until it crashes altogether.
How the hell did we get to this situation? How can a generation with access to so much technology, not know how to use it?
In one way, parents perpetuate the myth because their children use technology more than they do. The perception is that the kids must then be advanced. However, using something and understanding how it works are two very different things.
A lot of people aren’t familiar with meteorology beyond what they see on television. The truth is, our field is essentially a branch of applied physics. Computers and programming are quickly becoming essential tools. From my own experience as a graduate student, and now post-doc, our field suffers the same problems that Scott describes.
Often, incoming graduate students and faculty enter the field without so much as a working knowledge of operating systems and simple scripting. Many write papers and share tons of pretty figures about numerical model results without so much as a clue how to install the code, how their tool functions, and what the various physical schemes contained within actually represent. It’s frankly embarrassing. Yet, they are viewed by many as savvy. Why? Because they use the technology more than the preceding generation. Such false praise only further skews these people’s internal gauge of success.
Now, ignorance of a subject isn’t something to condemn - however, it always irked me when people are not self-motivated when presented with their own shortcomings. I’ve been in classes where programming was required and the students with limited computer skills just mooched off of someone else. It speaks to a larger problem where hard things are simply passed off to others. It’s a discouraging problem and I like Scott’s suggestions to improve the situation.
Craig Hockenberry offers usability improvements for the AMBER Alert implementation on mobile devices:
But I was also seeing a lot of people on Twitter whose response to the confusion was to ask how to turn the damn thing off. And since AMBER Alerts aren’t affected by the “Do Not Disturb” settings, a lot of people went to Settings > Notification Center so they wouldn’t get woken again in the future.
That’s exactly what you don’t want to happen when a child is abducted.
I agree with many of Hockenberry’s suggestions. However, I think a lot of those complaining are the type of people who value The Bachelor over an abducted child. Honestly, I think people should get the hell over themselves. “Oh, I was so inconvenienced because my expensive phone beeped late at night.” Give me a break.
Jesse David Fox and Linsey Fields, Vulture, present some pretty great infographics:
We have been spending a lot of time analyzing Breaking Bad as we walk up to the final episodes (which begin Sunday night), but now it is time to break down the show in a scientific way that Walter White would approve of: through infographics. Below, through line graphs, bar charts, and Venn diagrams, we measure Walt’s face over the show’s run, Gus’s face before and after his last meeting with Hector Salamanca, what Mike will do to Lydia depending on how she acts on her call to Hank, and much more.
This is a great way to whet your appetite if, like me, you are eagerly awaiting the final episodes of Breaking Bad to resume on Sunday.
An interesting page that illustrates how much stuff happens in a mere second on the internet. Amazing.
Elliott Kember found that saved passwords in Chrome are viewable as plain text with the click of a button - all without a master password:
Google isn’t clear about its password security.
In a world where Google promotes its browser on YouTube, in cinema pre-rolls, and on billboards, the clear audience is not developers. It’s the mass market - the users. The overwhelming majority. They don’t know it works like this. They don’t expect it to be this easy to see their passwords. Every day, millions of normal, every-day users are saving their passwords in Chrome. This is not okay.
When those close to us are negatively impacted by life, we naturally find ourselves affected as well. Susan Silk and Barry Goldman, in an Op-Ed for The LA Times, offers Silk’s “Ring Theory” for these situations and how we should properly manage the flow of comfort:
Draw a circle. This is the center ring. In it, put the name of the person at the center of the current trauma. For Katie’s aneurysm, that’s Katie. Now draw a larger circle around the first one. In that ring put the name of the person next closest to the trauma. In the case of Katie’s aneurysm, that was Katie’s husband, Pat. Repeat the process as many times as you need to. In each larger ring put the next closest people. Parents and children before more distant relatives. Intimate friends in smaller rings, less intimate friends in larger ones. When you are done you have a Kvetching Order.
If you want to scream or cry or complain, if you want to tell someone how shocked you are or how icky you feel, or whine about how it reminds you of all the terrible things that have happened to you lately, that’s fine. It’s a perfectly normal response. Just do it to someone in a bigger ring.
Comfort IN, dump OUT.
Paul Farhi, reporting for The Washington Post, on the sale of the paper to Amazon founder, Jeff Bezos:
Bezos, 49, will take the company private, meaning he will not have to report quarterly earnings to shareholders or be subjected to investors’ demands for ever-rising profits, as the publicly traded Washington Post Co. is obligated to do now. As such, he will be able to experiment with the paper without the pressure of showing an immediate return on any investment. Indeed, Bezos’s history of patient investment and long-term strategic thinking made him an attractive buyer, Weymouth said.
The newspaper industry has struggled adapting to the digital revolution. Bezos, who has been at the forefront of that revolution (see his prescient push into ebooks), seems like the perfect fit. Even better, he can do what he wants without investor influence.
This was originally posted in 2011, but it still remains cool. The Sad and Useless Blog posted numerous illustrations made by French artist Villemard in 1910 of how he imagined the future to be in the year 2000.
Somewhat prescient pictures include:
- Schools will be equipped with audio books
- You’ll be able to send mail just by dictating it into loudspeaker
- Building sites will be equipped with automatic devices and machines, and
(via: Brian Bridges)
Melissa Hogenboom, BBC News, on some interesting geologic activity on one of Saturn’s moons:
Saturn’s gravitational pull is responsible for the extraordinary hot geysers on the Enceladus moon that spew water out into space.
The particles are ejected from active fissures known as “tiger stripes” at Enceladus’s south pole.
Salt in the plumes suggest the water may come from a liquid ocean beneath its icy shell.
But it had been unclear what was ultimately driving the geological activity on this moon.
Scientists believe the moon could answer questions surrounding the potential for extraterrestrial life.
Alan Taylor, The Atlantic:
The winning entries in the 25th annual National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest have just been announced. First prize winner Wagner Araujo will receive a 10-day Galapagos expedition for two for his image of competitors in the Brazilian Aquathlon. Collected here are the ten 2013 prize winning photos, plus the Viewers’ Choice selection. Photos and captions by the photographers.
I’m partial to #4.