How about a World Wide Web museum of web design?

Tuesday, 15 April, 2014

I like the sound of this idea, a museum of sorts, for web design artifacts, which possibly includes disassociated. I now regret not better archiving some of my earlier designs, if only for personal reference purposes, but it unfortunate that the interfaces of many websites dating from the 1990s are irretrievably lost.

For too long we have relied upon a service that “archives” other websites but it’s not enough. The archives are tragically incomplete and lack the means to provide the full experience of what used to be. Archive.org does not adequately preserve enough information to serve as a lasting account of the web. We can not rely on large, multi-billion dollar companies to do this for us. Nor can we depend upon individuals to properly archive their PSDs, HTML, their work, which helped to change the world.

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Kurt Cobain

Friday, 4 April, 2014

This weekend marks the twentieth anniversary of the death by suicide of Kurt Cobain, of erstwhile Seattle based band Nirvana.

What I remember most vividly, aside from the shock, was the confusion and disorientation Cobain’s death caused. It was something no one could – despite whatever way they viewed his suicide – make any sense of. Twenty years later, has anything changed?

I’ll sign off the week to the sounds of Nirvana’s 1989 track About a Girl. Once, way back in the day, I could bash this out on my guitar, but it was the lyrics that really spoke to me:

“I’m standing in your line, I do hope you have the time, I do pick a number too, I do keep a date with you.”

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Writing history with the Wayback Machine

Monday, 31 March, 2014

An intriguing way to write about history… by sourcing articles written about historical events from data stored in the Internet Archive, also known as the Wayback Machine.

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What’s next for music’s fragmented genres? Yet more splintering?

Friday, 21 March, 2014

Music timeline

Music genres have become increasingly fragmented since around the mid-1960s. That’s probably not news to anyone though, but this music timeline, based on data drawn from Google Play Music users, starkly illustrates the change in both music listening preferences, and production styles, since the middle of the twentieth century.

Mouseover each of the genres (for best results try Chrome), especially those tightly condensed into the upper level of the timeline, to find out a little more about each one.

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Finland’s unusual World War II military alliance

Monday, 17 March, 2014

Last October I linked to an animation of the ever changing battle lines in Europe during the Second World War, and was intrigued by Finland’s seemingly individual involvement in the conflict. As it happens the Finn’s were, side by side with the Germans, fighting off invading Russian forces.

One little talked about aspect of this alliance however, up until now at least, was the fact that Jewish Finns were among those siding with the German, meaning they were effectively, albeit through a wish solely to defend Finland, fighting for Hitler.

In September 1941, a medical officer performed a deed so heroic he was awarded an Iron Cross by the German high command. With little regard for his own safety, and in the face of heavy Soviet shelling, Major Leo Skurnik, a district doctor who had once fostered ambitions of becoming a concert pianist, organised the evacuation of a field hospital on the Finnish-Russian border, saving the lives of more than 600 men, including members of the SS.

Skurnik was far from the only soldier to be awarded the Iron Cross during the Second World War. More than four million people received the decoration. But there was one fact about him that makes the recommendation remarkable: he was Jewish. And Skurnik was not the only Jew fighting on the side of the Germans. More than 300 found themselves in league with the Nazis when Finland, who had a mutual enemy in the Soviet Union, joined the war in June 1941.

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Giving a name to those tried and true opening chess moves

Tuesday, 11 March, 2014

The Queen’s Gambit, the English Opening, and the Dutch Defence. Cocktail names? They could well be, but they are also the titles given to common opening moves in games of chess. If you’re a chess player you probably know of them through use thereof, but it could be you didn’t know them by actual name.

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Is it code? Is it a joke? The 600 year old book that poses a puzzle

Monday, 10 March, 2014

A book, known as the Voynich manuscript, thought to have been published in the fifteenth century, has thus far baffled those trying to make sense of it. Cryptographers, and even codebreakers working during World Wars I and II, remain stumped.

Since the manuscript was brought to the public’s attention in 1912 – when antique book collector Wilfrid Voynich bought it in Italy – experts from a range of fields have tried their hardest to make sense of it. Cryptographers have tried to crack its code; linguists have tried to decipher its base language. Botanists have identified the plants sketched within its aged pages and attempted to cross-reference their ancient and modern names.

It may not be as mysterious as is believed though… some experts are of the opinion that the writings could in fact be gibberish.

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Floods, war, pestilence, and famine… who to call? The fire brigade

Friday, 7 March, 2014

From a US based publication, but I expect the trend would be similar in other places… no more than twenty percent of calls to a fire station are on account of a fire, rather those contacting the fire brigade have an emergency of some other nature on their hands:

If fire departments aren’t getting calls about fires, what are they mostly getting calls about? They are getting calls about medical emergencies, traffic accidents, and, yes, cats in trees, but they are rarely being called about fires. They are, in other words, organizations that, despite their name, deal with everything but fires. Why, then, are they called fire departments? Because of history. Cities used to be built out of pre-combustion materials – wood straight from the forest, for example – but they are now mostly built of post-combustion materials – steel, concrete, and other materials that have passed through flame. Fire departments were created when fighting fires was an urgent urban need, and now their name lives on, a reminder of their host cities’ combustible past.

Via Link Banana.

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Historic events, worlds apart, but happening in conjunction

Friday, 28 February, 2014

There’ll likely be something for everyone in here… Reddit members have put together a list of historical events, that while unrelated, either occurred at the same time, or say something about the age of well known institutions relative to each other:

  • Pablo Picasso died the year Pink Floyd released “Dark Side of the Moon”
  • Oxford University is older than the Aztec Empire
  • Nintendo formed the same year Van Gogh painted Starry Night

Some of the inclusions may be subject to qualification but that makes them no less fascinating.

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Restoring Alfred Hitchcock’s 1940 film “Foreign Correspondent”

Thursday, 27 February, 2014

Thanks to the efforts of film restorers, such as New York City based Criterion Collection, older, or classic, movies will continue to be available for decades to come. For an idea of how they work, watch their technicians remaster Alfred Hitchcock’s 1940 film, Foreign Correspondent.

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