Posts tagged “books”

This Week @ Portigal

Monday is well underway and the week is filling up with meetings and work sessions! Away we go!

  • Last week we kicked off a super-rapid project. We didn’t know we were doing the project at the beginning of the week and by the end of the week we had started recruiting research participants. This week we’re lining up our participants and figuring out what we’ll do in the field.
  • I’m calling it “collaborative listening” – thanks to our officemate Olly, we’re experimenting with some networked speakers that lets us all listen to music together instead of individually over headphones. This will mean sorting out some social norms around volume, phone calls, and musical tastes. But so far, so good (oh yeah, because we’re listening to my music right now!)…
  • We’re hosting our first event later this week. We’ve invited a small number of folks for a discussion and will be sharing more once it’s all over. But we’re actively discussing our catering options right now!
  • More conference submissions to prepare, more conference acceptances to announce, and more conference presentations to start getting together!
  • This week we’ve begun reaching out to potential new teammates, partners, and collaborators. We don’t know where we’ll end up but the journey is sure to be an informative one.
  • What we’re consuming: A Visit From The Goon Squad, The Firestarter Sessions, Pizzeria Delfina

ChittahChattah Quickies

‘Brogrammers’ challenge coders’ nerdy image [SF Chronicle] – It’s a bit of a silly story that turns a catchphrase into a cultural trend, but of course there’s something happening to drive the growth of the catchphrase. Sad that flipping the nerd stereotype reveals a sexist one.

Tech’s latest boom has generated a new, more testosterone-fueled breed of coder. Sure, the job still requires enormous brainpower, yet today’s engineers are drawn from diverse backgrounds, and many eschew the laboratory intellectualism that prevailed when semiconductors ruled Silicon Valley. At some startups the pendulum has swung so far in the other direction that it’s given rise to a new title: brogrammer. A portmanteau of the frat-house moniker “bro” and “programmer,” the term has become the subject of a Facebook group joined by more than 21,000 people; the name of a series of hacker get-togethers in Austin, Texas; the punch line for online ads; and the topic of a humorous discussion on question-and-answer site Quora titled “How does a programmer become a brogrammer?” (One pointer: Drink Red Bull, beer and “brotein” shakes.) “There’s a rising group of developers who are much more sociable and like to go out and have fun, and I think brogramming speaks to that audience,” said Gagan Biyani, co-founder and president of Udemy, a San Francisco startup that offers coding lessons on the Web.

Mr. Peanut’s Alter Ego Leads Kraft Into Planters Butter [Bloomberg] – Surprising not to see any mention of Kraft Peanut Butter, the Canadian product that pretty much defines peanut butter in that market.

Mr. Peanut has a stunt double. Sporting a goatee, aviator sunglasses and overconfidence, “Doug” performs death-defying feats that always end the same way: with him getting crushed and turned into peanut butter. Doug’s daredevil act is part of Kraft’s move into the crowded U.S. peanut butter market. In what may be the most overdue brand extension in history, Kraft is using the 100- year-old Planters brand to spark growth in its mature grocery business. Kraft is targeting adults, who consume two-thirds of the $1.8 billion of peanut butter sold in the U.S. each year, Kraft was looking for an adult mascot and settled on Doug, voiced in Web ads by Kevin Dillon in an homage to the hapless Johnny Drama character he played on HBO’s “Entourage” series. “Peanut butter was a natural extension,” Schmelter said. The new spread and Peanut Butter Doug, as he is formally known, are signs Kraft is getting more aggressive with the grocery business, said Alexia Howard, an analyst for Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. in New York.

Internet Archive’s Repository Collects Thousands of Books [NYT] – Digital technology allows rapid content creation, and creates interesting archiving challenges. First all the digital data was worth preserving. Then digital was a method to archive the physical world. Now we’re going all-in and trying to archive the physical world itself. Seems like a setup for a Steven Wright joke (didn’t he describe his full-scale map of the US and the problems he had folding it?).

“We want to collect one copy of every book,” said Brewster Kahle, who has spent $3 million to buy and operate this repository situated just north of San Francisco. “You can never tell what is going to paint the portrait of a culture.” As society embraces all forms of digital entertainment, this latter-day Noah is looking the other way. A Silicon Valley entrepreneur who made his fortune selling a data-mining company to Amazon.com in 1999, Mr. Kahle founded and runs the Internet Archive, a nonprofit organization devoted to preserving Web pages – 150 billion so far – and making texts more widely available. But even though he started his archiving in the digital realm, he now wants to save physical texts, too. “We must keep the past even as we’re inventing a new future,” he said. “If the Library of Alexandria had made a copy of every book and sent it to India or China, we’d have the other works of Aristotle, the other plays of Euripides. One copy in one institution is not good enough.” Mr. Kahle had the idea for the physical archive while working on the Internet Archive, which has digitized two million books. With a deep dedication to traditional printing – one of his sons is named Caslon, after the 18th-century type designer – he abhorred the notion of throwing out a book once it had been scanned. The volume that yielded the digital copy was special. And perhaps essential. What if, for example, digitization improves and we need to copy the books again?

Myq Kaplan Gives Birth to a Stand-Up Joke [NYT] – The prototype/test-with-users/iterate process of designing a joke.

The first week is arguably the most creative in the life of a joke. For Mr. Kaplan it’s all about generating ideas. What could explain this jacket convention? Maybe, he speculated, jackets were once very cheap and, as he would later say onstage, “men wore seven coats out, hoping it wasn’t an eight-puddle day.” He also decided that the modern equivalent was leaving the toilet seat down. All these ideas were transformed into jokes as the bit expanded. Setups shrank. Punch lines multiplied. The jacket over the puddle soon became one of several examples of chivalry that began with his pantomiming opening a door after asking the audience: “Does it detract from chivalry if, when opening a car door for a lady, I say, ‘Chivaaalry!'” He dragged out the last word in the self-satisfied voice of a magician introducing his assistant. A coarse joke about chivalry during sex replaced the homeless-man line. By early January Mr. Kaplan’s rhythm became more assured and moseying, lingering on pauses, finding extra laughs between punch lines. His typical stage pose – leaning back, his free hand placed gently on his stomach as if he were pregnant – became looser, adding touches of showmanship. It didn’t matter where he performed (clubs, restaurants, even a hostel), chivalry always worked. The focus now was on getting the right laughs. It was important, he thought, to get a big one right at the start with his car-door opening, and in paring it down, he turned a question (“Does it detract from chivalry…”) into a statement. Later, he brought back the question. Laughter marginally improved.

ChittahChattah Quickies

The Mechanic Muse – From Scroll to Screen [NYTimes.com] – It’s easy to get caught up in the user interface changes that digital technology brings to everyday activities like reading, but of course there are very cool precursors (if you will) in the history of book design.

But so far the great e-book debate has barely touched on the most important feature that the codex introduced: the nonlinear reading that so impressed St. Augustine. If the fable of the scroll and codex has a moral, this is it. We usually associate digital technology with nonlinearity, the forking paths that Web surfers beat through the Internet’s underbrush as they click from link to link. But e-books and nonlinearity don’t turn out to be very compatible. Trying to jump from place to place in a long document like a novel is painfully awkward on an e-reader, like trying to play the piano with numb fingers. You either creep through the book incrementally, page by page, or leap wildly from point to point and search term to search term. It’s no wonder that the rise of e-reading has revived two words for classical-era reading technologies: scroll and tablet. That’s the kind of reading you do in an e-book. The codex is built for nonlinear reading – not the way a Web surfer does it, aimlessly questing from document to document, but the way a deep reader does it, navigating the network of internal connections that exists within a single rich document like a novel. Indeed, the codex isn’t just another format, it’s the one for which the novel is optimized. The contemporary novel’s dense, layered language took root and grew in the codex, and it demands the kind of navigation that only the codex provides

Thanks, Ilya!

Ultrabook: Intel’s $300 million plan to beat Apple at its own game [Ars Technica] – Although a divergence from the main theme of the post, the author’s narrative of trying to make a laptop purchase online is hilarious and depressing all at the same time.

The options I get are just… meaningless. Yes, I want “Everyday Computing,” so I want an Inspiron. But hang on, I also want “Design & Performance,” so I want an XPS. Wait a second, I want “Thin & Powerful,” too. So maybe I want a Z Series? But the only line that apparently matches my broad search criteria-lightweight, 11-14″-I wouldn’t even consider because I don’t want a “gaming” laptop, and so I’m never going to click Alienware! Is this the best way to sell laptops? Create a bunch of categories with arbitrary, overlapping labels, and just hope that buyers manage to fight through the system to find something that isn’t wretched? Maybe HP will be better… no, not really. Their site has some outright weirdnesses (yes, I’m in the UK, and yes, we’re metric, but no, I don’t want my screen measured diagonally in centimeters; we don’t do that). The same odd labels cover everything-I know I don’t want “Mini/Netbook,” but I want both “Everyday Computing” (that term again) and “High performance” (because I don’t want it to be slow, do I?). And who knows what “Envy” means? When I tick my screen size and weight boxes, I get back a crop of lousy netbooks that are almost the complete opposite of what I want.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from julienorvaisas] 5 Reasons Why E-Books Aren’t There Yet [Wired.com] – [Echoes the work we did in our 2010 Reading Ahead project, "The unabridged reading experience includes crucial events that take place before and after the elemental moments of eyes-looking-at-words" http://www.portigal.com/blog/reading-ahead-research-findings/] E-books are still falling short of a promise to make us forget their paper analogs. For now, you still lose something by moving on. I have never owned an e-book reader, because I have an ingrained opposition to single-purpose devices. But since getting an iPad on day one, I haven’t purchased a print edition of anything for myself. I am hooked — completely one with the idea that books are legacy items that may never go away, but have been forever marginalized as a niche medium. With that in mind, however, here are five things about e-books that might give you pause about saying good riddance to the printed page. 1) An unfinished e-book isn’t a constant reminder to finish reading it…5)E-books can’t be used for interior design.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from wstarosta] Status displays: I’ve got you labelled [The Economist] – [Evolutionary biology helps to explain why luxury branded objects, even counterfeit ones, are so appealing.] DESIGNERS of fancy apparel would like their customers to believe that wearing their creations lends an air of wealth, sophistication and high status. And it does—but not, perhaps, for the reason those designers might like to believe, namely their inherent creative genius. A new piece of research confirms what many, not least in the marketing departments of fashion houses, will long have suspected: that it is not the design itself that counts, but the label.
  • [from steve_portigal] The Future of Books. [McSweeney’s Internet Tendency] – [As usual, McSweeney's does razor-sharp mockery, but you could read this as straight-ahead prediction and it would sadly almost pass for believable] 2050: Analog Reading Will Be Digitally Simulated. As people spend more and more of time immersed in massively multi-player role-playing games, they will begin to crave some downtime. Virtual simulation worlds will start to include hideaway "libraries" you can lock yourself into. There you'll be able to climb into a virtual bath and lovingly turn the pages of a pixilated representation of one of those dog-eared tomes—reliant on old-school linear narrative— that by this time will have been made illegal in the real world. Perfectly reproduced will be the sensation of turning the pages, the crack of the spine, and even the occasional paper cut.
  • [from steve_portigal] When Did Girls Start Wearing Pink? [Smithsonian Magazine] – [Fascinating cultural history] The march toward gender-specific clothes was neither linear nor rapid. Pink and blue arrived, along with other pastels, as colors for babies in the mid-19th century, yet the two colors were not promoted as gender signifiers until just before WW I—and even then, it took time for popular culture to sort things out. In 1927, Time magazine printed a chart showing sex-appropriate colors for girls and boys according to leading U.S. stores. In Boston, Filene’s told parents to dress boys in pink. Today’s color dictate wasn’t established until the 1940s, as a result of Americans’ preferences as interpreted by manufacturers and retailers. “It could have gone the other way,” Paoletti says..Nowadays people just have to know the sex of a baby or young child at first glance, says Jo B. Paoletti, a historian & author of Pink and Blue: Telling the Girls From the Boys in America. Thus we see a pink headband encircling the bald head of an infant girl. [Via @boingboing]
  • [from steve_portigal] In Sweden’s frigid north, auto testing is hot [SFGate] – [Obvious car companies do a ton of lab and simulation testing, but they are also big advocates of real world testing] Arjeplog, a region in northern Sweden is is important to car makers eager to optimize their vehicles for driving in extreme weather, This winter, temperatures have hovered around -4 F, making ice on the lakes consistently thick enough for driving. About 180 engineers convened at the test center at one point this season to work on making cars more fuel-efficient in cold weather and to optimize their anti-spin function. While Arjeplog is the world's largest winter testing area, rival locations include Ivalo, Finland; West Yellowstone, Mont.; Carson City, Nev.; and Millbrook, England. Francisco Carvalho, an analyst at IHS Automotive, says such tracks provide automakers with "the ultimate test for the little things they can't detect or predict in a lab." Almost 9,000 car industry officials visit Arjeplog each winter, with about 2,800 engineers working on any given day.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from steve_portigal] Book Lovers Fear Dim Future for Notes in the Margins [NYTimes.com] – [While there's a bit of 'Death of Print! Oh noes!' at work here, the impact of digital technology on archiving is, in general, a mounting challenge (and frequent blog fodder)] Twain was engaging in marginalia, writing comments alongside passages and sometimes giving an author a piece of his mind. It is a rich literary pastime, sometimes regarded as a tool of literary archaeology, but it has an uncertain fate in a digitalized world. “People will always find a way to annotate electronically,” said G. Thomas Tanselle, a former vice president of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation and an adjunct professor of English at Columbia University. “But there is the question of how it is going to be preserved. And that is a problem now facing collections libraries.” [Thanks, Stacey G.]
  • [from steve_portigal] Bidder wins `lucky’ car registration number 16 for cool $8.5m [The Standard] – [Arbitrary extrinsic value for meaningful symbols, albeit for charity] Suen was willing to shell out such a large sum because 16 is his lucky number. More than HK$18.5 million was raised at the auction, where the proceeds go to charity. Suen also tried to get 668 as a gift for his wife but was outbid by number plate collector Ngan Man-hon, who paid HK$3 million for it. Ngan said that he liked 668 as it sounds auspicious in Cantonese. In recent years lucky car plates have become popular among mainland collectors so the prices for the better ones remain high….The sale trumped Saturday's auction under the Personalized Vehicle Registration Marks Scheme. Then, car plate B0NUS was sold for HK$220,000 while 201314, which sounds similar to "Love you forever" in Putonghua, went for HK$22,000…Suen's lucky number trails 18 and 9, which were sold for HK$16.5 million in 2008 and HK$13 million in 1994, respectively. The third most expensive number was 2, which went for HK$9.5 million in 1993.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from julienorvaisas] Apple Says Chinese Supplier Made Changes After Suicides [NYTimes.com] – [The awkward truths revealed by increased transparency around our fancy gadgets is a topic we've discussed before. Here, Apple's investigation is admirable, but hotlines and nets to catch suicidal employees do not seem to be adequate solutions reaching towards the core of the problem.] Apple said that Mr. Cook and a team of independent suicide prevention experts conducted a review of Foxconn’s factory in Shenzhen in June and made a series of recommendations. Mr. Cook and the team also reviewed changes that Foxconn had put in place, which included “hiring a large number of psychological counselors, establishing a 24-hour care center and even attaching large nets to the factory buildings to prevent impulsive suicides,” Apple said in the report. “The investigation found that Foxconn’s response had definitely saved lives.” Apple said it recommended areas for improvement, including “better training of hotline staff and care center counselors and better monitoring to ensure effectiveness.”
  • [from steve_portigal] Create with people, really! [InternetActu.net] – [Google Translate excerpt from a French review of our innovation session at Lift11] But this is not the most important, says Steve Portigal, because all these methods can be acquired by whoever wishes. No, the most important thing is to change the culture, the process by which we do things. "Companies often think they know the problem and are confident they know to solve it, better than anyone." It is their products, services, customers, suppliers, engineers … But a little humility does not hurt, the consultant recognizes the height of his experience "It is actually rather sit back and see that the problem is not what we thought. We must confront the ambiguity and be tolerant to other approaches, to reach the measure of data (and methods). "
  • [from steve_portigal] Shorter E-Books Show Promise for Mobile Devices [NYTimes.com] – [In ReadingAhead we called for the creation of *digital* reading experiences] The Atavist is (publishing) stories that are longer than a typical article but shorter than a novel ­ in the hope that they will find a home on the glassy screens of mobile devices. The dimensions of mobile devices are quite limited. So it’s important to exploit the advantages that the devices do have. Success depends on thinking beyond a “one-to-one transition from book to e-book,” and on doing more than replacing paper with pixels. The Atavist integrates clever tools into the text, like interactive timelines and character biographies to help a reader quickly find her place without spoiling the plots…But it’s much too early to know whether the Atavist and its brethren will become permanently rooted in our reading culture or become a “fossil, embedded in the archaeology of the medium of reading…We are seeing a new category take shape that reflects a new paradigm of what it means to read on a new device.”
  • [from steve_portigal] Geneva and Lyon, 2011 [a set on Flickr] – [Photos from my trip to Geneva (with a side trip to Lyon) for Lift11]

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from steve_portigal] Romance Books Are Hot in the E-Reading Market [NYTimes.com] – [We've commented extensively on how printed books are a means of conveying identity by displaying a key to their contents; something that is lost with e-books. Now here's an example where that limitation provides a benefit] Sarah Wendell is passionate about romance novels. Except for the covers, with their images of sinewy limbs, flowing, Fabio-esque locks or, as she put it, “the mullets and the man chests “They are not always something that you are comfortable holding in your hand in public,” Ms. Wendell said. So she began reading e-books, escaping the glances and the imagined snickers from strangers on the subway, and joining the many readers who have traded the racy covers of romance novels for the discretion of digital books.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from steve_portigal] You’re Reading That Book Too? Marry Me: How Young People and Online Dating Services Look for Love Matches Based on Reading Habits or Artistic Pursuits [WSJ.com] – [As we spend time on social networks announcing what we "like" this seems an obvious extension] alikewise.com, a free dating site that matches singles based on books and has amassed 4,000 users, mostly in their 20s and early 30s, since it launched in July. The site facilitates matchmaking by notifying users when someone adds a book of the same title or genre….The focus on matching people based on what they've read (or what they'd like to read) could change the online dating lexicon from "she's hot" to "she's interesting."…But are books really a Rorschach test for compatibility? Dennis Palumbo, a psychotherapist and author of the novel "Mirror Image," believes people in their 20s and 30s are too concerned with shared interests, as evidenced by the growing number of niche dating sites. "As we get older, we want a kind, caring person who cares how we feel," he says. Not necessarily someone who has read "The Cornish Trilogy." [via Springwise]

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from steve_portigal] book lovers never go to bed alone – [A Tumblr blog consisting only of photos of bookshelves, from homes and bookstores. Why? Because they can.]
  • [from steve_portigal] Ideal Bookshelf – [More examples of books as a identity system] This is an ongoing project called "Ideal Bookshelf". I paint sets of books as a form of portraiture: a person's favorites (of all time, within a genre or from a particular period in their lives); the ones that helped make them who they are today. We show off our books on shelves like merit badges (the ones not on our Kindle, at least), because we're proud of the ideas we've ingested to make us who we are, as we should be. The spine of a book is a sort of code for the giant cloud of ideas the author included within it. Just ten of them together on a sheet of paper tells the story of the mind that picked them in a way that is easily digestible but allows for endless study. We also display our books hoping to connect with others. When I paint someone else's bookshelf and they have the same book I do, it instantly makes me happy.
  • [from steve_portigal] Mr. Peanut’s New Look? Planters Went Old School [NYTimes.com] – Mr. Peanut is getting a voice as part of efforts to revitalize the character and brand for contemporary consumers. [Also] a new look, meant to give him a more authentic appearance by evoking designs of the character from the 30s & 40s. He is now brown, rather than yellow, and sports a gray flannel suit…Nostalgia is not what it used to be, particularly when it comes to younger consumers, so the goal is to be perceived not as old-fashioned but rather as old-school ­ from an earlier era and worthy of respect…Mr. Levine hastened to reassure fans that “he’s still Mr. Peanut, with the top hat and monocle and cane….We’re taking him back to his roots.” In addition to getting a voice, Mr. Peanut has a new sidekick. Mr. Peanut’s buddy is named Benson, shorter than Mr. Peanut ­ one nut in his shell rather than two. “Benson is quite enamored of Mr. Peanut,” Mr. Levine said, but they are, as the saying goes, just friends. Benson does not live in Mr. Peanut’s house, Mr. Wixom said.
  • [from steve_portigal] White poppies banned from P.E.I. market [CBC News] – [Disruption – whether innovative or not – starts with ideas. The poppy itself is not harmful or otherwise objectionable, but the idea it – arbitrarily, mind you – represents is transgressive enough that the establishment reacts as only the establishment can – by banning the representation of that idea. I assume, for further irony, that these are plastic poppies, not "real" poppies. The power of symbols!] The Charlottetown Farmers Market turned away people selling white poppies on Sunday for Remembrance Day. Volunteers with the Island Peace Committee had arranged to hand out the controversial poppies at the farmers market for the second consecutive week. Committee members say the alternative poppies stand for peace and are also to remember civilians who die in war. The white poppies have drawn an angry response from the Royal Canadian Legion, saying they detract from the original red poppy…For now, people will have to contact the Island Peace Committee directly to get a white poppy.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from steve_portigal] Lending Coming Soon for Kindle [Kindle Forum] – [This announcement from Amazon produced a lot of skepticism on the important caveat – that lending will be dependent on the publishers. Nice move that allows Amazon to raise their eyebrows innocently, "Oh, sure, we're allowing people to share eBooks. It's those greedy publishers that won't let you do it. But don't look at us!"] Later this year, we will be introducing lending for Kindle, a new feature that lets you loan your Kindle books to other Kindle device or Kindle app users. Each book can be lent once for a loan period of 14-days and the lender cannot read the book during the loan period. Additionally, not all e-books will be lendable – this is solely up to the publisher or rights holder, who determines which titles are enabled for lending.
  • [from steve_portigal] Proposing a Taxonomy of Social Reading [Institute for the Future of the Book] – [Bob Stein opens the conversation on how we can further the dialog about what it means to be social in reading. The wiki-like format he's used allows for discussion but is pretty difficult to navigate. I've linked here to the overview page that summarizes the current entries in the taxonomy] In recent months the phrase “social reading” has been showing up in conversation and seems well on its way to being a both a useful and increasingly used meme. While I find this very exciting, as with any newly minted phrase, it’s often used to express quite different things…In order to advance our understanding of how reading (and writing) are changing as they begin to shift decisively into the digital era, it occurred to me that we need a taxonomy to make sense of a range of behaviors all of which fit within the current “social reading” rubric.
  • [from steve_portigal] Cross-examining your interview skills [Slideshare] – [Discovered through Google Alerts since it quotes me, but shared here because it's a great reference for a lot of fundamental interpersonal (and other) aspects of interviewing]
  • [from steve_portigal] Some crayons belong in kids’ mouths [Seattle Times Newspaper] – [Old news perhaps, but new news to me. A surprising brand name for a beverage!] In 2003, Seay bought the Crayons trademark for use with food and beverages from someone who had been tinkering with using it with juices on the East Coast. The crayons trademark is not the same as Crayola, a company that sells a popular brand of the colorful writing instruments known as crayons. Coincidentally, another local company — Advanced H2O on Mercer Island — uses the Crayola brand name for a bottled-water line called Crayola Color Coolerz.
  • [from steve_portigal] HP’s Slate specs slated by bloggers [Boing Boing] – [As Homer Simpson said, it's funny cuz it's true] it's just a pretty keyboardless netbook. Its most interesting characteristic is a bizarre slide-out tray that exists only to display the Windows 7 licensing information. It's like something from some kind of screwball comedy about awful product design: HP was apparently obliged to do this because it didn't want to mess up the exterior with this compulsory information panel.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from steve_portigal] It’s a Book – By Lane Smith [NYTimes.com] – In a memorable two-page spread the jackass reads the thing. A clock runs above him, counting out the hours, and his ears and eyes, with wonderful caricatural economy, express first puzzlement, then absorption and at last the special quality of readerly happiness: a mind lost in a story. Those of us for whom books are a faith in themselves — who find the notion that pixels, however ordered, could be any kind of substitute for the experience of reading in a chair with the strange thing spread open on our lap — will love this book. Though it will surely draw a laugh from kids, it will give even more pleasure to parents who have been trying to make loudly the point that Smith’s book makes softly: that the virtues of a book are independent of any bells, whistles or animation it might be made to contain. That two-page spread of the jackass simply reading is the key moment in the story, and one of the nicest sequences in recent picture books. (via @Anthropunk)

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from julienorvaisas] William Gibson On the Future of Book Publishing [Speakeasy – WSJ] – [Sci-fi author William Gibson lays out a vision for an alternative bookstore/publishing model, a response to the rise of eBooks… and it involves actual books.] "My dream scenario would be that you could go into a bookshop, examine copies of every book in print that they’re able to offer, then for a fee have them produce in a minute or two a beautiful finished copy in a dust jacket that you would pay for and take home. Book making machines exist and they’re remarkably sophisticated. You’d eliminate the waste and you’d get your book -– and it would be a real book. You might even have the option of buying a deluxe edition. You could have it printed with an extra nice binding, low acid paper.]

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from julienorvaisas] The Sketchbook Project: 2011[http://www.arthousecoop.com/projects/sketchbookproject] – [For $25 and an output of your own artistic energy, you can be part of this traveling sketchbook project. Choose from themes like "Adhere to me," "Help!" and "Down your street." Great way to practice sketching and story-telling!] Thousands of sketchbooks will be exhibited at galleries and museums as they make their way on tour across the country. After the tour, all sketchbooks will enter into the permanent collection of The Brooklyn Art Library, where they will be barcoded and available for the public to view. Anyone – from anywhere in the world – can be a part of the project. To participate and have us send you a sketchbook that will go on tour, start by choosing a theme.
  • [from steve_portigal] Want Smart Kids? Here’s What to Do [The Chronicle of Higher Education] – [It seems like this confuses correlation and causality, but it is a very actionable finding in that way] Buy a lot of books. That seems kind of obvious, right? But what's surprising, according to a new study published in the journal Research in Social Stratification and Mobility, is just how strong the correlation is between a child's academic achievement and the number of books his or her parents own. It's even more important than whether the parents went to college or hold white-collar jobs. Books matter. A lot.
  • [from steve_portigal] Google Research Director Peter Norvig on Being Wrong [Slate] – We do it by trying to fail faster and smaller. The average cycle for getting something done at Google is more like three months than three years. And the average team size is small, so if we have a new idea, we don't have to go through the political lobbying of saying, "Can we have 50 people to work on this?" Instead, it's more done bottom up: Two or three people get together and say, "Hey, I want to work on this." They don't need permission from the top level to get it started because it's just a couple of people; it's kind of off the books. …Within the company, we're really good at making decisions based on statistics. So if we have an idea—"You know, here's a way I can make search better"—we're really good at saying, "Well, let's do an experiment. Let's compare the old way with the new way and try it out on some sample searches." And we'll come back with a number and we'll know if it's better and how much better and so on. That's our bread and butter.
  • [from steve_portigal] Dangerous Ideas [Big Think] – [When we lead ideation exercises, we often talk about the importance of "bad" ideas and try to empower or teams to be free to come up with bad ideas; it's a way of coming un-stuck, to free yourself from "solving" the problem and just play with the problem. When we suggest trying things that are dangerous or immoral, people laugh, but they are immediately get it. Here's a more serious consideration of the power of "bad" ideas] Throughout the month of August, Big Think will introduce a different "dangerous idea" each day. Brace yourself: these ideas may at first seem shocking or counter-intuitive—but they are worth our attention, even if we end up rejecting them. Every idea in the series will be supported by contributions from leading experts.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from Dan_Soltzberg] Flow [Future Perfect] – [A lovely observation on how behavioral flows in the cafes of several countries reflect differing cultural values.]
  • [from Dan_Soltzberg] Getting unstuck: solving the perfect problem [Seth’s Blog] – [Short piece on strategy for solving sticky problems.] The way to solve the perfect problem is to make it imperfect. Don't just bend one of the constraints, eliminate it. Shut down the factory. Walk away from the job. Change your product completely. Ignore the board.
  • [from steve_portigal] Multimedia E-Books, Adorned With Video Extras [NYTimes.com] – [The language we use to describe an emerging technology or form of communication is in flux as its meaning, marketing, and perceived usefulness is in flux] In the spring Hachette Book Group called its version, by David Baldacci, an “enriched” book. Penguin Group released an “amplified” version of a novel by Ken Follett last week. And on Thursday Simon & Schuster will come out with one of its own, an “enhanced” e-book version of “Nixonland” by Rick Perlstein. All of them go beyond the simple black-and-white e-book that digitally mirrors its ink-and-paper predecessor. The new multimedia books use video that is integrated with text, and they are best read — and watched — on an iPad, the tablet device that has created vast possibilities for book publishers.

Series

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