5 Intriguing Things: Tuesday, 12/31

1. What wearables might do to our ideas about phones, according to one glasshole's honest confession.

"Glass kind of made me hate my phone — or any phone. It made me realize how much they have captured our attention. Phones separate us from our lives in all sorts of ways. Here we are together, looking at little screens, interacting (at best) with people who aren’t here. Looking at our hands instead of each other. Documenting instead of experiencing.

Glass sold me on the concept of getting in and getting out. Glass helped me appreciate what a monster I have become, tethered to the thing in my pocket. I’m too absent. Can yet another device make me more present? Or is it just going to be another distraction? Another way to stare off and away from the things actually in front of us, out into the electronic ether? I honestly have no idea."

 

2. A gripping story about art, $50 million, two brothers in suburban Colorado, and authenticity in a world where everything is trackable. 

"Every object has a barcode. Everyone has a traceable genetic code. Our smartphones let us know exactly where we are. And all the analysis that objects undergo at museums — by curators, conservators, scientists, and historians— only serves to place those objects deeper and deeper into categories of knowledge and history. Everything arrives to us in the full light of day with a wealth of background information. But in Ron's collection, there is the rare opportunity to experience something different. It is more than the opportunity to look at art free from the judgments of authorities. In this collection, there is an opportunity to look at things that come from the darkness, things unknown, filled with actual mystery."

 

3. Stanford students organized a "code poetry" slam.

"Wu wore Google Glass as she typed 16 lines of computer code that were projected onto a screen while she simultaneously recited the code aloud. She then stopped speaking and ran the script, which prompted the computer program to read a stream of words from Psalm 23 out loud three times, each one in a different pre-recorded-computer voice."

 

4. Stefan Becket's 2013 Twitter glossary is pretty much perfect. E.g. Whoa:

"Adding whoa before someone else's tweet is a great way to steal their retweets. Or, less cynically, it's useful for reemphasizing a tweet that your attention-starved followers might have missed. This year, "its usage overlapped with the advancing popularity of social media to create an unstoppable force of media momentum." Some inexplicably spell it woah or (heaven forbid) whoah, but make no mistake: the correct usage is whoa."

 

flickr/FloridaMemory

5. Happy New Year's Eve from aboard the shantyboat Lazy Bones, Florida, 1947.

 

Today's 1957 English usage tip is:

A.D., Anno Domini. Properly, 'in the year of (our) Lord...' should be followed, not preceded, by the year in question, A.D. 1960, but the misuse (1960 A.D.) is so frequent as to be almost established. Also, it must be a specific year, NOT e.g. the tenth century A.D. B.C., however ('Before Christ'), follows the year or years, 25 B.C., & may follow a century or era.

 

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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is the deputy editor of TheAtlantic.com, where he also oversees the Technology Channel. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer has called Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science Web site in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.


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