Alex Jay examines the evolution of the Star Wars logo.

Credit for the Star Wars logo belongs to Suzy Rice. First there was her original design. Second, Joe Johnston revised her logo for the film. And third, there was her original logo with the revised “W”, which can be traced to Jim Novak, whose contribution, although minor, was significant.
Anatomy of a Logo: Star Wars

Light-based media

The evolution of the Star Wars logo

Alex Jay examines the evolution of the Star Wars logo.

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Danah Boyd
Humans and other animals

Teens, social media and privacy

Danah Boyd:

Yesterday, Pew Internet and American Life Project (in collaboration with Berkman) unveiled a brilliant report about “Teens, Social Media, and Privacy.”

My favorite finding of Pew’s is that 58% of teens cloak their messages either through inside jokes or other obscure references, with more older teens (62%) engaging in this practice than younger teens (46%).

Over the last few years, I’ve watched as teens have given up on controlling access to content. It’s too hard, too frustrating, and technology simply can’t fix the power issues. Instead, what they’ve been doing is focusing on controlling access to meaning. A comment might look like it means one thing, when in fact it means something quite different. By cloaking their accessible content, teens reclaim power over those who they know who are surveilling them.
Danah Boyd, Senior Researcher at Microsoft Research

Fascinating post, worth reading in full. The first half of the article discusses the different ways African-American and White-American teens use social media.

(via @tomstandage)

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SH-06D NERV

Based on the aesthetics of the Evangelion universe, the Sharp DoCoMo SH-06D NERV is an Android phone skinned to look like a futuristic gadget.

I’m a year late to this particular geeky party, but it would be cool to own futuristic hardware that actually looks futuristic.

Watch promo and hands-on review →

Craft and creativity

Sharp DoCoMo SH-06D NERV

Based on the aesthetics of the Evangelion universe, the Sharp DoCoMo SH-06D NERV is an Android phone skinned to look like a futuristic gadget.

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Game of Thrones characters reimagined as 80s/90s stereotypes by Mike Wrobel.

I love the depiction of Khaleesi.

It’s hard to imagine being a fan of a show like Game of Thrones without all the magnificent fan art on Tumblr, or access to a dedicated wiki or chat on Twitter.

Update: Three more!

Craft and creativity

Game of Thrones, reimagined

What would “Game of Thrones” have looked like if the action had been set in a contemporary period such as the 80s and 90s?

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The Periodic Table of Storytelling by ~DawnPaladin

The Periodic Table of Storytelling

Based on data from TV Tropes [WARNING: Do not click link until you have ample free time available].

Use your words

The Periodic Table of Storytelling

A detailed infographic by ~DawnPaladin on DeviantArt

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Charles Bukowski
Humans and other animals

Charles Bukowski on censorship

The thing that I fear discriminating against is humor and truth.

In my work, as a writer, I only photograph, in words, what I see. If I write of “sadism” it is because it exists, I didn’t invent it, and if some terrible act occurs in my work it is because such things happen in our lives. I am not on the side of evil, if such a thing as evil abounds. In my writing I do not always agree with what occurs, nor do I linger in the mud for the sheer sake of it.

Censorship is the tool of those who have the need to hide actualities from themselves and from others. Their fear is only their inability to face what is real, and I can’t vent any anger against them. I only feel this appalling sadness. Somewhere, in their upbringing, they were shielded against the total facts of our existence. They were only taught to look one way when many ways exist.
Charles Bukowski, 1985

From the amazing Letters of Note (via Clayton Cubitt).

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The Philosophy of Hayao Miyazaki, a comic by Ashley Allis.

Humans and other animals

The flawed concept of “good vs. evil”

The philosophy of Hayao Miyazaki, a comic by Ashley Allis

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Banksy on advertising

Craft and creativity

Banksy on advertising

People are taking the piss out of you everyday. They butt into your life, take a cheap shot at you and then disappear. They leer at you from tall buildings and make you feel small. They make flippant comments from buses that imply you’re not sexy enough and that all the fun is happening somewhere else. They are on TV making your girlfriend feel inadequate. They have access to the most sophisticated technology the world has ever seen and they bully you with it. They are The Advertisers and they are laughing at you.

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I’ve often wanted to download the source files for these images and make my own interpretation. Just for fun.

One of the primary tools for measurement and observation is imaging using cameras connected to powerful telescopes on Earth and in space. And although it’s not the primary motivation for photographing space, beauty is one of the most intriguing byproducts.

See also: /r/spaceporn

I’ve been enjoying LARP Trek, a fairly new webcomic by Josh Millard that has the crew of the Next Generation Enterprise (circa season 3) roleplaying a game set on Deep Space Nine – as dreamt up by Geordi.

The two most recent strips have been particularly good. There’s no roleplaying here as the characters take a time out and Worf chats to Data:

LARP Trek 081 - My Dinner With Android

When I read the dialogue I hear the character’s voices perfectly. Continue reading

Life on the Internet

LARP Trek

The crew of the Enterprise take on their greatest challenge yet — an out-of-service holodeck — by exploring an ancient Earth custom Geordi calls a “role-playing game”

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Humans and other animals

Pluralistic ignorance

Ever found yourself at odds with what you thought was the majority opinion? There’s a name for that: pluralistic ignorance.

A phenomenon I’ve often felt to be true, so it’s nice to have a name for it. The entire wine industry probably hangs on this kind of bullshit, and I suspect more important issues too, like anti-immigration hostility and austerity politics.

The term, coined in 1931 by psychologists Daniel Katz and Floyd Allport, describes the surprisingly common situation in which individual members of a group privately believe one thing, but think that everyone else in the group believes the opposite.

Katz and Allport came up with the term when their research revealed that students at Syracuse University generally didn’t object to the notion of allowing minorities into then-segregated frat houses and dorms, but were convinced their peers wouldn’t accept such a multicultural move.

Researchers have found similar syndromes at work in everything from vegetarian co-op members’ views of dietary rules to witch hunts in colonial Massachusetts.
Alone With Everyone Else – Pacific Standard

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Daniel Dennett
Use your words

Daniel Dennett’s seven tools for critical thinking

Cognitive scientist and philosopher Daniel Dennett is one of America’s foremost thinkers. In this Guardian extract from his new book (Intuition Pumps and Other Tools for Critical Thinking), he reveals some of the lessons life has taught him.

  1. Use your mistakes: When you make a mistake, you should learn to take a deep breath, grit your teeth and then examine your own recollections of the mistake as ruthlessly and as dispassionately as you can manage. Try to acquire the weird practice of savouring your mistakes, delighting in uncovering the strange quirks that led you astray.
  2. Respect your opponent: Here Dennett quotes Anatol Rapoport‘s rules to composing a successful critical commentary:
    1. Attempt to re-express your target’s position so clearly, vividly and fairly that your target says: “Thanks, I wish I’d thought of putting it that way.”
    2. List any points of agreement (especially if they are not matters of general or widespread agreement).
    3. Mention anything you have learned from your target.
    4. Only then are you permitted to say so much as a word of rebuttal or criticism.
  3. The “surely” klaxon.
  4. Answer rhetorical questions: Whenever you see a rhetorical question, try – silently, to yourself – to give it an unobvious answer. If you find a good one, surprise your interlocutor by answering the question.
  5. Employ Occam’s razor.
  6. Don’t waste your time on rubbish: In order not to waste your time and try our patience, make sure you concentrate on the best stuff you can find, the flagship examples extolled by the leaders of the field, the prize-winning entries, not the dregs.
  7. Beware of deepities.

I hadn’t heard of deepities before, but I will have fun looking out for them in the future!

A deepity is a proposition that seems both important and true – and profound – but that achieves this effect by being ambiguous. On one reading, it is manifestly false, but it would be earth-shaking if it were true; on the other reading, it is true but trivial. The unwary listener picks up the glimmer of truth from the second reading, and the devastating importance from the first reading, and thinks, Wow! That’s a deepity.

Here is an example (better sit down: this is heavy stuff): Love is just a word.
Daniel Dennett’s seven tools for thinking

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Humans and other animals

How to start your own religion

John Howell starts his article for Thought Catalog by proving that he doesn’t really understand atheism or religion:

“If you’re one of the growing number of young adults who identify as “other” when asked about religious affiliation, this is for you. Unlike those who claim to be atheists, you are honest enough with yourselves to realize that as a human being you are hardwired to be religious, but at the same time you don’t like the standard choices on the menu.”

It’s such a bad piece I’m not even going to deconstruct it, however there are the ingredients in here of a good idea.

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Humans and other animals

How do religions manage to change their mind?

Medieval thinkers such as St Thomas Aquinas or Maimonides would be astonished at the way we read, preach and pray today, says author Karen Armstrong.

“We’ve tended to lose older, sometimes more intuitive patterns of thought,” she says.

“They would see some of the ways we talk about God as remarkably simplistic.

“We are reading our scriptures with a literalness which is without parallel in the history of religion, largely because of this rational bias of ours.”

The BBC looks at how religions change their minds.

I find it very strange that people feel the need to look deeply into their own religions to justify changes they can plainly see need to be made.

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Light-based media

Why Star Trek is great

Star Trek's Captains

Matthew Yglesias writing for Slate:

The standard line among Trek apologists is that the franchise is not just a lot of sci-fi nonsense but a meaningful exploration of what it means to be human. And among Trek’s kaleidoscope of Vulcans and androids and holograms and shapeshifters, this is a core concern. But Trek has a very particular take on what it means to be human. Part of what it means, the franchise teaches us, is participating in an ongoing progressive project of building a utopian society. Even though the bulk of Trek comes from the ’90s, the franchise launched in the mid-’60s, and the now-anachronistic spirit of midcentury optimism has remained at the heart of the franchise throughout. It’s a big part of what makes Trek great.

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Shape of things to come

If you’re unemployed, it’s not because there isn’t any work

Be sure to read beyond the headline…

If you're unemployed it's not because there isn't any work

If you’re unemployed it’s not because there isn’t any work

Just look around: A housing shortage, crime, pollution; we need better schools and parks. Whatever our needs, they all require work. And as long as we have unsatisfied needs, there’s work to be done.

So ask yourself, what kind of world has work but no jobs. It’s a world where work is not related to satisfying our needs, a world where work is only related to satisfying the profit needs of business.

This country was not built by the huge corporations or government bureaucracies. It was built by people who work. And, it is working people who should control the work to be done. Yet, as long as employment is tied to somebody else’s profits, the work won’t get done.

The New American Movement (NAM) was an American New Left socialist and feminist political organization established in 1971.

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A fascinating map of the world’s most and least racially tolerant countries from the Washington Post:

Racism map of the world

A couple of caveats:

First, it’s entirely likely that some people lied when answering this question; it would be surprising if they hadn’t. But the operative question, unanswerable, is whether people in certain countries were more or less likely to answer the question honestly. The willingness to state such a preference out loud, though, might be an indicator of racial attitudes in itself. Second, the survey is not conducted every year; some of the results are very recent and some are several years old, so we’re assuming the results are static, which might not be the case.

Humans and other animals

Map of racism around the world

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From the fascinating Strange Maps blog.

These two maps were produced by Steve Goldman. They show the place names in both groups of islands that he considers strange.

“I’ve loved place names on Orkney and Shetland since I was a kid. They are by turns surreal, beautiful, nonsensical, rude, and bizarre… There seems to be no consistency to them at all.”

Use your words

Funny place names of Shetland and Orkney

Steve Goldman’s guide to the amusing and surreal names of the Shetland and Orkney islands.

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Update: World Press Photo have cleared Paul Hansen, saying that the image was simply “retouched with respect to both global and local color and tone.”

World Press Photo 2013 - Paul Hansen

Was the 2013 World Press Photo of the Year a composite image?

The World Press Photo association hasn’t yet stripped the photographer, Paul Hansen, of the title, but presumably it’s just a matter of time. Rather than discussing the politics of photo manipulation, though — is it faked, or is it merely enhanced? — we’re going to look at how Hansen seemingly managed to trick a panel of experienced judges with his shooping skillz, and how a seasoned computer scientist spotted the fraudulent forgery from a mile off.
How the 2013 World Press Photo of the Year was faked with Photoshop

Light-based media

2013 World Press Photoshop of the Year

Was the 2013 World Press Photo of the Year a composite image?

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Quite possibly the most important street photographer of the 20th century was a 1950s children’s nanny who kept herself to herself and never showed a single one of her photographs to anyone.

In 2007, historical hobbyist John Maloof purchased a box of undeveloped film negatives of an unknown ‘amateur’ photographer for $380 at his local auction house. It soon became clear these were no ordinary street snaps of 1950s & 60s Chicago and New York and so John embarked on a journey to find out who was behind the photographs and soon discovered her name: Vivien Maier.

(via messynessychic.com)

Finding Vivian Maier

John has made a documentary film about the incredible discovery of this lost talent, due for release later this year.

Craft and creativity

Finding Vivian Maier: The discovery of a reclusive 1950s Chicago and New York street photographer

Quite possibly the most important street photographer of the 20th century was a 1950s children’s nanny who kept herself to herself and never showed a single one of her photographs to anyone.

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Princess Merida
Light-based media

Pixar’s Merida ‘sexualised’ for induction into The Disney Princess Collection

Princess Merida - Sassy or sexy?

Princess Merida – Sassy or sexy?

Merida’s creator Brenda Chapman — who won an Oscar for writing and co-directing Brave — fiercely criticised Disney’s sexy makeover of her feisty heroine as “a blatantly sexist marketing move based on money.” Merida now appears slimmer, older and somewhat sexualised with seemingly higher cheekbones, heavier makeup, better groomed hair, a considerably thinner waistline and exposed shoulders.

“I think it’s atrocious what they have done to Merida. When little girls say they like it because it’s more sparkly, that’s all fine and good but, subconsciously, they are soaking in the sexy ‘come hither’ look and the skinny aspect of the new version. It’s horrible! Merida was created to break that mold — to give young girls a better, stronger role model, a more attainable role model, something of substance, not just a pretty face that waits around for romance.”

Related

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Good Show Sir showcases only the worst Sci-fi/Fantasy book covers.

There are many pieces of cover art that are beautiful to behold. Yet, there are others which exhibit a rarer, odd form of beauty. We think that such conflicts of focal points, lettering choices, false perspectives, anatomical befuddlement, ridiculous transport vehicles, oversized and frankly unusable monster-hunting weaponry, clothing choices that would get you killed walking down the street let alone hiking a through a frozen wasteland, clichéd cat-people, and downright bad art deserve their own special form of tribute.

Is it wrong that I love so many of these?

Craft and creativity

Good Show Sir

Only the worst Sci-fi/Fantasy book covers

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PBS Off Book covers one of my favourite subjects – fan art.

The fan art community is one of the most creative and active online. Taking pop culture stories and icons as its starting point, the fan community extends those characters into new adventures, unexpected relationships, bizarre remixes, and even as the source material for beautiful art. Limited only by the imagination of the artist, the fan art world is full of surprises and brilliance.

If you haven’t seen Off Book, you should totally subscribe. Off Book is a PBS web series that explores cutting-edge art, internet culture, and the people that create it. Here are some recent episodes:

Life on the Internet

Stop giving your money to rich people on Kickstarter

The Veronica Mars film is a watershed moment in alternative methods of film financing. Together with Zach Braff’s successfully funded Garden State sequel a terrible precedent has been set, according to Alan Jones writing for the Toronto Standard (and I agree).

Filmmaking is an art, but it’s also a business. It’s a profit-seeking venture done by people and businesses with enough money to risk millions of dollars on a product that people may or may not want to see. Those who have donated to Veronica Mars have given over $5 million to Time Warner for an unknown commodity. Those who have donated money to Zach Braff have given millions to a millionaire for another unknown commodity.

Collectively, fans have said that it’s OK for rich people to eliminate the factor of risk when they make films.

Stop Giving Your Money to Rich People on Kickstarter – torontostandard.com

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Miscellany

Our solar system turns out to be a bit of a freak

I’ve always assumed that the characteristics of our solar system would prove to be typical of most solar systems we would find throughout the galaxy.

Typical solar system?

However, that doesn’t appear to be the case at all: As of this month, we’ve discovered 884 planets, 692 planetary systems, 132 of them with more than one planet and, strange to tell, almost none of them look like us.

“So our solar system is, in some sense, a bit of a freak and not the most typical kind of system that Nature cooks up.”
Steve Vogt, astronomer, University of California

The newest explanation is that new planets don’t stay put. They move. A gassy planet will form on the far side of the frost line, orbit for a while, and then gradually move inward, pulled in closer by the star. It stops only when the sun pushes back

“It really is something that I find deeply weird. What does it all mean? I don’t know. I am certain that this single-minded emphasis on planets-in-habitable-zones is making people forget that there is still a lot of weird stuff happening out there and that we still don’t even understand the basics of how we ourselves got here.”
Mike Brown, astronomer, Caltech

Our Very Normal Solar System Isn’t Normal Anymore – npr.org

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