@R eview | STown

More masterful work from the folks at This American Life.

If you visit the website of the podcast STown, you’ll notice that the seven-part series is divided into “chapters.” After binge-listening seven hours during the past weekend (kept doing yard work so I could listen guilt-free), I agree that “chapters” is more appropriate than “episodes” as STown flows like a well-crafted story, masterfully told.

First a word of caution. If cussing (and I mean cussing, not cursing) offends you, please stop here and forget the podcast. Okay. You’ve been warned. STown stands for Shit Town, the name given to his hometown by John B. McLemore. The town he’s grown to hate is in Bibb County, Ala., about midway between Tuscaloosa and Birmingham. John (or John B) is one of those people who has grown angry with the world, an iconoclast who can’t believe what idiots human beings have become. Unfortunately, he’s smart enough to know it’s true. He’s brilliant on a wide range of topics and is one of the world’s most talented restorers of antique mechanical clocks. But he’s also crazy as a loon and a world class cusser. Read more “@R eview | STown”

Twitter Swaps the Default Avatar Egg for a Gumdrop

How writing differs from content creating.

Harry McCracken, writing for Fast Company’s Co.Design, goes “Inside Twitter’s Obsessive Quest to Ditch the Egg

Quote:

“Starting today…the egg is history. Twitter is dumping the tarnished icon for a new default profile picture–a blobby silhouette of a person’s head and shoulders, intentionally designed to represent a human without being concrete about gender, race, or any other characteristic. Everyone who’s been an egg until now, whatever their rationale, will automatically switch over.”

I’ve been known to mock coverage of logo redesigns at large technology companies; especially those projects that end up with something looking like clip-art from a stock service. (For instance, that time I explained how Hammock Inc.’s logo was designed.)


In an era when “content creators” are judged by the number of keywords they can pack between commas, it’s nice to read the way Harry demonstrates the craft of writing with both wit and insight.:

Quote:

Instead of defaulting to the perfectly spherical head of a restroom-signage figure, the designers began playing with other approaches. They gravitated toward a gumdrop-like shape and found it had Rorschach Test-like qualities. “The second you start playing with head shape, you start thinking, ‘Oh, this might not just be a single gender,’” says Cotton. “Is that a man with a beard? Is that a woman with a bob?” Rounding off the shoulders, they found, also helped them create a symbol for “human being” that wasn’t freighted with any specific characteristics.

That said, I don’t think this is going to be one of those days that people will recall and feel the need to tell their grandchildren where they were the day they heard the news that Twitter got rid of the egg.

via: Techmeme

 

A New Yorker Cover That Magazine Wonks Will Love

Magazine lovers can look at this cover and understand why print will stick around for a few more decades, at least.


“Every once in a while, there’s a perfect storm to produce an image.”

Françoise Mouly
New Yorker’s art editor in interview with the Washington Post


The March 6, 2017, New Yorker provides a great example of how the magazine uses the web to promote its print version. A few days before the print magazine is released, an image of the cover is released. Often, the image goes viral among the readership of the magazine–and those who don’t actually read it, but love to drop references to the magazine at cocktail parties.

More importantly, it’s an example of how a contemporary magazine–some would argue, the best contemporary magazine–can pay homage to its heritage (the 1925 cover on the left is iconic) in a way that readers understand, but non-readers won’t get–an “insider” effect. (The cover for next week’s magazine is explained in the Washington Post today.)

Most importantly, the cover breaks every rule in the “top ten reasons to buy this magazine” cover design book so effectively that “having” the magazine is more important to “reading” the magazine to a big percentage of its subscribers. And that’s more than okay with me.

Magazine lovers can look at this cover and comprehend why print magazines that matter to their readers — their collectors and lovers — will be around for a few more decades, at least.

Update: Another story about the cover via MediaPost.com


Flashback: I wrote a similar post nine years ago.

To Infinity and Beyond

This is one of those events that seem historic in a galactic sort-of-way


While I’m not one to blog about NASA findings, this is one of those events that seem historic in a galactic sort-of-way. We can meet back here in 80 light years (out-and-back trip) and see if I was right or not.


(VIA NASA.gov) NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope has revealed the first known system of seven Earth-size planets around a single star. Three of these planets are firmly located in the habitable zone, the area around the parent star where a rocky planet is most likely to have liquid water. The discovery sets a new record for greatest number of habitable-zone planets found around a single star outside our solar system. All of these seven planets could have liquid water – key to life as we know it – under the right atmospheric conditions, but the chances are highest with the three in the habitable zone.

People Love Selfies, Unless They Are of Someone Else

Is this surprising? This is why they are called selfies.

According to TheNextWeb, researchers in Munich have found evidence to suggest that few people want to look at the selfies of others, but they love sharing their own. The findings of a survey of 238 people were published in Frontiers in Psychology in a January article titled “The Selfie Paradox: Nobody Seems to Like Them Yet Everyone Has Reasons to Take Them.”

77% | Take selfies at least once a month
49% | Receive a selfie at least once a week
90% | Think others’ selfies are self-promotion
46% | Think their own selfies are self-promotion

Translation | People enjoy taking selfies but don’t like looking at other peoples’ selfies. (The researchers say that other cultures than Germany may have more accepting attitudes towards selfies and that further study is required.)

Observation | Is this surprising? They are called selfies. It’s why Apple put a camera on both sides of the iPhone.

For some reason, selfies are of great interest to researchers and the publications that write about research. Bottomline. There are two types of people in the world: People who like taking photos of themselves and people who love to hear themselves complaining about people who take photos of themselves.


The image of the macaca is in the public domain because as the work of a non-human animal, it has no human author in whom copyright is vested.