July 21, 2019

Fearless Girl

Kristen Visbal

Fearless Girl is a bronze sculpture by American sculptor Kristen Visbal, commissioned by State Street Global Advisors (SSGA), a large asset management company. The statue was installed on March 7, 2017, in anticipation of International Women’s Day the following day.

The statue was originally installed in Bowling Green, a park in lower Manhattan, facing down the ‘Charging Bull’ (also known as ‘Wall Street Bull,’ a large bronze statue illegally placed there in 1989 by Sicilian artist Arturo Di Modica), but following complaints from Di Modica, ‘Fearless Girl’ was removed in November 2018 and relocated to a nearby spot across from the New York Stock Exchange. A plaque with footprints was placed on the original site. Continue reading

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July 11, 2019

Scunthorpe Problem

Dirty Words

The Scunthorpe problem is the unintentional blocking of websites, e-mails, forum posts, or search results by a spam filter or search engine because their text contains a string of letters that appear to have an obscene or otherwise unacceptable meaning. Names, abbreviations, and technical terms are most often cited as being affected by the issue.

The problem arises since computers can easily identify strings of text within a document, but interpreting words of this kind requires considerable ability to interpret a wide range of contexts, possibly across many cultures, which is an extremely difficult task. As a result, broad blocking rules may result in false positives affecting innocent phrases. Continue reading

July 3, 2019

Car Tailfin

Harley Earl

The tailfin era of automobile styling encompassed the 1950s and 1960s, peaking between 1955 and 1961. It was a style that spread worldwide, as car designers picked up styling trends from the US automobile industry, where it was regarded as the ‘golden age’ of American auto design.

General Motors design chief Harley Earl is often credited for the automobile tailfin, introducing small fins on the 1948 Cadillac, but according to many sources the actual inventor/designer of the tailfin for that vehicle was Franklin Quick Hershey, then chief of the GM Special Car Design Studio. It was Hershey, who after seeing an early production model of a WWII P-38 fighter plane at Selfridge air base, thought the twin rudders of the airplane would make a sleek design addition to the rear of future modern automobiles. Continue reading

June 29, 2019

Public Art

Lipstick (Ascending) on Caterpillar Tracks

Public art is art in any media that has been planned and executed with the intention of being staged in the physical public domain, usually outside and accessible to all. Public signifies a working practice of site specificity, community involvement and collaboration.

Public art may include any art which is exhibited in a public space including publicly accessible buildings, but the relationship between the content and audience, what the art is saying and to whom, is just as important if not more important than its physical location. Continue reading

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June 26, 2019

Pussyhat

2017 Women's March

A pussyhat is a pink, crafted hat, created in large numbers by thousands of participants involved with the United States 2017 Women’s March. They are the result of the Pussyhat Project, a nationwide effort initiated by Krista Suh and Jayna Zweiman, a screenwriter and architect located in Los Angeles, to create pink hats to be worn at the march for visual impact.

In response to this call, crafters all over the United States began making these hats using patterns provided on the project Web site for use with either a knitting method, crocheting and even sewing with fabrics. Continue reading

June 11, 2019

Rio PMP300

PMP

The Rio PMP300 is one of the first portable consumer MP3 digital audio players, and the first commercially successful one. Produced by Diamond Multimedia, it was introduced in 1998 as the first in the ‘Rio’ series of digital audio players, and it shipped later that year. The Rio retailed for US $200 with the ability to hold around 30 minutes of music at a bitrate of 128 kbit/s.

It shipped with 32 MB of internal memory and has a SmartMedia slot, allowing users to add additional memory. It is powered by a single AA battery, which provides between 8 and 12 hours of playback time. Connection to a personal computer is through the computer’s parallel port, with a proprietary connector on the Rio’s edge. Continue reading

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June 4, 2019

Zero Rupee Note

Zero Rupee

zero-rupee note is a banknote imitation issued in India as a means of helping to fight systemic political corruption. The notes are ‘paid’ in protest by angry citizens to government functionaries who solicit bribes in return for services which are supposed to be free.

Zero rupee notes, which are made to resemble the regular 50 rupee banknote of India, are the creation of a non-governmental organization known as 5th Pillar which has, since their inception in 2007, distributed over 2.5 million notes as of 2014. The notes remain in current use and thousands of notes are distributed every month.

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May 30, 2019

Splinternet

Great Firewall

The splinternet (also referred to as ‘cyber-balkanization’) is a characterization of the Internet as splintering and dividing due to various factors, such as technology, commerce, politics, nationalism, religion, and interests. China erected a ‘Great Firewall’ to restrict the informational sources its citizens have access to. The U.S. and Australia, are discussing plans to create a similar systems to block child pornography or weapon-making instructions.

Clyde Wayne Crews, a researcher at the Cato Institute, first used the term in 2001 to describe his concept of ‘parallel Internets that would be run as distinct, private, and autonomous universes.’ Crews used the term in a positive sense, but more recent writers, like Scott Malcomson, a fellow in New America’s International Security program, use the term pejoratively, describing a threat to the internet’s status as a globe-spanning network of networks. Continue reading

May 19, 2019

Virgil Abloh

Off-White by Elizaveta Porodina

Virgil Abloh (b. 1980) is an American fashion designer, entrepreneur and DJ who has been the artistic director of Louis Vuitton’s men’s wear collection since March 2018. Apart from his work at Louis Vuitton, Abloh serves as the chief executive officer of the Milan-based label Off-White, a fashion house he founded in 2013.

He entered the world of fashion with an internship at Fendi in 2009 alongside rapper Kanye West. The two then began an artistic collaboration that would launch Abloh’s career with the founding Off-White. Continue reading

May 14, 2019

Stand on Zanzibar

John Brunner

Stand on Zanzibar is a dystopian New Wave science fiction novel written by John Brunner and first published in 1968. The book won a Hugo Award for Best Novel in 1969.

The story is set in 2010, mostly in the United States. A number of plots and many vignettes are played out in this future world, based on Brunner’s extrapolation of social, economic, and technological trends, such as an enormous population and its impact: social stresses, eugenic legislation, widening social divisions, future shock and extremism. Continue reading

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May 10, 2019

Frankfurt Kitchen

Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky

The Frankfurt kitchen was the first unified concept kitchen. It was designed to enable efficient work, maximize the usable area of a small space, and to be built at low cost in 1926 by Austrian architect Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky for architect Ernst May’s social housing project ‘New Frankfurt’ in Frankfurt, Germany.

German cities after the end of World War I were plagued by a serious housing shortage. Various social housing projects were built in the 1920s to increase the number of rental apartments for working class families subject on tight budget constraints. As a consequence, the apartments designed were comfortable but not spacious. Continue reading

May 7, 2019

Cognitive Bias

cognitive bias is when someone makes a bad choice that they think is a good choice. This bias is an important part of the study of cognitive psychology, which looks at basic actions of the mind, such as thought, feeling, problem solving, memory, and language.

Cognitive biases are often a side effect of evolutionary changes. Some behaviors that were beneficial for primitive humans and animals are unsuited to modernity. Others are adaptive and may lead to more effective actions in a given context. Continue reading