Because of the immense amount of information and data in this digital age, new ways of presenting and organizing information have developed in the past few years. This has been dubbed, “data visualization.” A new PBS series has turned attention to this form of presenting information, exploring how good design – from “scientific visualization to pop infographics – is more important than ever. The goal of creating information we can visualize is to help designers – and even those without a mind for design – conceptualize what they’re looking at and interpreting. The overall message to take from the video is: the simpler the better.
“Lolita is about obsession and narcissistic appetite, misogyny and contemptuous rejection, not only of women, but of humanity itself. And yet. It is also about love; if it were not, the book would not be so heart-stoppingly beautiful.”
Check out more of the covers and read excerpts from the book.
Starting November 1st, all peer-reviewed work published by scholars working within The University of California system will be available for free on the university’s eScholarship website. This is a big move toward open access publishing, and comes in the wake of Aaron Swartz’s death as he was on trial for “illegally” attempting to do exactly what UC is starting. An interesting caveat to this move is that scholars can opt-out on a per paper basis. Read more at The Verge.
For all you organization geeks (like myself), go-getters who like to plan ahead, frequent group collaborators, and anybody who just appreciates the beauty of a Gantt chart, I give you TeamWeek, a web and iOS interactive Gantt chart. TeamWeek has a pretty simple interface, yet it’s not so simple that it’s boring. Think the colorful drag-and-drop interface of Google Calendar, or even iCal, yet flipped so time stretches horizontally rather than vertically; and tasks are arranged by team member instead of day. And for my Gantt chart geeks, imagine a chart where you can move dates and times without having to redo the whole dang thing!! Whew I think I need a cigarette.
Latte art from my local coffee shop, GrandRiver Coffee in East Lansing.
Lifehacker recently reminded it’s readers that working near others can boost your productivity, which resonated with me. I’m a coffee shop fanatic. When I travel, especially for work and school, I don’t look for the coolest bar or world-renowned restaurants, I look for independent coffee shops. Places where the locals go to get some work done while sipping a hopefully fair-trade latte. One of the reasons I love coffee shops so much is that I tend to get a good amount of work done. I’m by myself, but not alone. Check out LifeHacker’s piece about why this is true, then peruse their suggestions for staying productive while working at your local coffee shop.
The Oregon Trail, classic computer game of yesteryear, started in 1971 as three student teachers struggled to get their students engaged. Hello, pedagogy. The game started on a teletype machine available in a janitor’s closet in a junior high school. Interestingly enough, the cold war inspired the US to create grants to out-pace Russian technological innovation. As such there was a boon in PC manufacturing, leading Minnesota public schools to be one of Apple’s first large-scale commercial customers, putting 500 Apple II’s in classrooms across the state. And since the game came on a diskette it was shared easily.
The game came to be the cult classic it is now when programmers who’d played the game as kids added graphics and retooled the plot a bit, coining the phrase, “You have died of dysentery.” The educational innovation of The Oregon Trail is that it gave students instant feedback, which served to keep students engaged and more importantly learning.
While The Oregon Trail started in a history classroom, it’s effect on getting millions of students using computers is the genius. In fact, you can now relive the magic with an app. In 2009 an iOS version of the game was launched, with already over 3 million downloads. Mental Floss does a lovely job recounting the legend of The Oregon Trail. Hop over to their post for the rest of the story.
Attention Borders Books: if you had only permeated the delicious aroma of chocolate throughout your store, combined with the undeniable smell of new books, you might still be in business. Too soon? A study conducted by a group of Belgian researchers found “that the ever-so-alluring aroma of chocolate not only inspires bookstore shoppers to stay in the store longer, it also boosts sales of certain genres of books.”
The “enticing smell” was sent through the store at two locations, not strong enough so it was noticeable right away, but when pointed out, customers recognized it as the scent of chocolate. Sales for a specific category of books also rose 40% when the smell of chocolate was present, and customers “were less likely to search for one specific book and take it directly to the register to immediately check out.”
My Modern Met recently featured Italian artist Manuel Cosentino’s new series of paintings: a little house set against giant, dramatic landscapes. In the series, Cosentino paints the same house atop the same hill, but almost the entire painting is taken up by the sky and backdrop behind it.
“The large prints, currently exhibited at Klompching Gallery in Brooklyn, New York are paired with a book filled with prints of the house set against a white sky.” Cosentino invites viewers to create their own imagery against the little house. He says, “The project intends to start a conversation with the public; its nature is purposefully left mutable, open to chance and to change.”