Links for November 16, 2018

The Existential Void of the Pop-Up ‘Experience’

The central experience delivered at all these places is one of waiting. At the Color Factory, I first waited for half an hour past my ticket time, outside in the 90-degree heat. Then I waited inside the lobby, just outside a roped-off area. After being allowed inside the roped-off area, I was offered mochi ice cream while I waited. Then I was shown an orientation video and ushered into a rainbow-painted hallway, which turned out to be another line in disguise.

The Abandoned, Apocalyptic Architecture of One Bold 1970s Retail Chain

Some architects, though, didn’t view the showrooms so kindly. The May 1977 issue of Architectural Record contains several scathing letters to the editor, including one from a California-based reader who called the buildings “an affront to human dignity, an insult to architectural innovativeness and stooping to the lowest on the altar of gimmickry.” A construction company owner in New York suggested SITE, Inc. be given the architectural award for “Sheer Lunacy.” For some designers and critics, there was just no room for playful suburban shopping centers in the world of fine architecture.

muji BGM 1980-2000 disc a

Links for November 14, 2018

The US town ruled by an AI storyteller

Sheldon County tells the story of a fictional American town and the people who inhabit it over the course of 150 years. It is the result of two programs that run in parallel: Hennepin, which simulates each day and night in the history of a fictional American county over 150 years, and Sheldon, which in turn sifts through this accumulated history to find the interesting storylines and dramatic nuggets that have actually emerged over the course of the simulation based on narrative patterns authored by Ryan.

Phantom Islands — A Sonic Atlas

Phantom Islands are artifacts of the age of maritime discovery and colonial expansion. During centuries of ocean exploration these islands were sighted, charted, described and even explored – but their existence has never been ultimately verified. Poised somewhere between cartographical fact and maritime fiction, they haunted seafarers’ maps for hundreds of years, inspiring legends, fantasies, and counterfactual histories.

Listening to the City

Cities can be cacophonous and loud, a chaos of sonic discord. If, that is, you don’t really focus your listening. People who’ve trained their ears to hear urban soundscapes in new ways hear something different.

That’s what David Rothenberg is doing. He’s a composer and an environmental philosopher who’s made a career of listening to and performing music in the wild, with birds, animals and insects. Lately he’s been giving himself a crash course in the art — and science — of urban listening.

His experience made us wonder: what else can you hear from a city when you really listen closely? People’s patterns and everyday experiences emerge in detail, along with their struggles against prejudice and abuse. Some people hear pain, others hear art emerging from the chaos of sound.

In this hour, we make the case for exploring your city sonically.

Links for November 12, 2018


Because the artist is a very private individual, and the work is located in the remote Nevada desert, relatively little is known about City, except that Heizer has been working on it since approximately 1972. City comprises five phases, each consisting of a number of structures referred to as complexes, and in total measuring approximately a 1/4 mile in width and a 1-1/2 miles in length.

Las Pozas – Xilitla, Mexico

Discover Las Pozas in Xilitla, Mexico: Extraordinary sculpture garden created by an eccentric English poet.

Richard Beale is just one of many doodlers throughout history, but it’s through these drawings that people from the past are brought to life and made flesh and blood.

Links for November 9, 2018

V&A · Videogames: Design/Play/Disrupt

This exhibition provides a unique insight into the design process behind a selection of groundbreaking contemporary videogames. Design work, including concept art and prototypes, feature alongside large-scale immersive installations and interactives.

Why the return of Animal Crossing feels so good

“Nicecore” had its own game series long before it was a pop culture trend; this is why Animal Crossing is so beloved, and why we’re so excited to get a new core game in the franchise for the Nintendo Switch.

How To Make Car Racing Game from Cardboard v2.0

Links for November 7, 2018

Minecraft and Me

As the landscapes found within computer games have become more elaborate, they have become more important, and so has the time we spend within them.


Heterotopias is a project focusing on the spaces and architecture of virtual worlds. Heterotopias is both a digital zine and website, hosting studies and visual essays that dissect spaces of play, exploration, violence and ideology.

Two histories of Myst – Picking Up the Pieces

The Myst 25th Anniversary Kickstarter raised $2.8 million from over 19,000 backers in May. Last month, the subsequent re-release of Myst entries three and four was met with fanfare. These are…

Links for November 5, 2018

Singing Against the Grain: Playing Beethoven in the #BlackLivesMatter era

If the names of these Black Oberlinites are unfamiliar, I suspect it is with good reason: we do not know how to talk about them. Over the course of my life I have learned that to be black and a classical musician is to be considered a contradiction. After hearing that I was a music major, a TSA agent asked me if I was studying jazz. One summer in Bayreuth, a white German businessman asked me what I was doing in his town. Upon hearing that I was researching the history of Wagner’s opera house, he remarked, “But you look like you’re from Africa.” After I gushed about Mahler’s Fifth Symphony, someone once told me that I wasn’t “really black.” All too often, black artistic activities can only be recognized in “black” arts.

Inside The Culture Of Sexism At Riot Games

Throughout her three years at Riot Games, the company behind League of Legends, Lacy made it her mission to hire a woman into a leadership role. Lacy had heard plenty of excuses for why her female job candidates weren’t Riot material. Some were “ladder climbers.” Others had “too much ego.” Most weren’t “gamer enough.” A few were “too punchy,” or didn’t “challenge convention,” a motto you can find in Riot’s company manifesto and recruiting materials.

17 Days by Prince

Links for October 31, 2018

Latest Attraction at French Theme Park: Crows That Pick Up Trash

No, that crow casually holding a cigarette butt in its beak isn’t a smoker. It’s meant to “make people feel a little bit guilty” for littering.

The Official CrowBox

The CrowBox is an experimentation platform designed to autonomously train corvids (the family of birds crows belong to). So far we’ve trained captive crows to deposit dropped coins they found on the ground in exchange for peanuts. The next step is to work with wild corvids and see if we can get them to learn to use the box, then to optimize the training protocol to see how quickly they can learn from each other.

“I Can’t Stop Laughing”: Rita Moreno Remembers Singing with Animal

Elon Green interviews Rita Moreno about the time she sang “Fever” with Animal on “The Muppet Show.”

Links for October 29, 2018

How to Design a City for Women

The study, which took place from 1996 to 1997, showed that after the age of nine, the number of girls in public parks dropped off dramatically, while the number of boys held steady. Researchers found that girls were less assertive than boys. If boys and girls would up in competition for park space, the boys were more likely to win out.

City planners wanted to see if they could reverse this trend by changing the parks themselves. In 1999, the city began a redesign of two parks in Vienna’s fifth district. Footpaths were added to make the parks more accessible and volleyball and badminton courts were installed to allow for a wider variety of activities. Landscaping was also used to subdivide large, open areas into semi-enclosed pockets of park space. Almost immediately, city officials noticed a change. Different groups of people – girls and boys – began to use the parks without any one group overrunning the other.

San Francisco’s beloved ‘Tamale Lady’ dead at 65

Virginia Ramos, the Mission District’s beloved “Tamale Lady,” has died. She was 65. Ramos, a resident of San Francisco, died on September 27, the San Franc

World Airports Voronoi

Links for October 25, 2018

Joe Mauer came out in his catcher’s gear one last time

Jim Thome, you are my hero

Jim Thome, one of the game’s greatest players of all time, will be inducted into the MLB Hall of Fame today.

Paul Allen: A Bridge in Portland

When I go back to Portland, I see friends and family, but I also see strangers. I see gentrifiers with California-fat bank accounts and fifth-generation heroin addicts hanging on by a thread.... I see hippies and hipsters and people who don’t have time to even think about self-identifying because they have to pick up their kid and drop them off at the Boys & Girls Club on MLK, and the only things that these people have in common is that they live in the Pacific Northwest and between October and June (hopefully) or April (at least) they root for the Trail Blazers. It’s probably shallow, and it’s almost definitely a distraction, but sometimes it’s nice to care a lot about the things that ultimately don’t really matter that much. Since 1988, for better or worse, Paul Allen gave us that distraction.

Links for October 23, 2018

UTC is Enough for Everyone, Right?

Programming time, dates, timezones, recurring events, leap seconds… everything is pretty terrible. The common refrain in the industry is Just use UTC! Just use UTC! And that’s correct… sort of. But if you’re stuck building software that deals with time, there’s so much more to consider. It’s time… to talk about time. (Also it’s time for a lot of time-related puns. Please prepare yourself accordingly.)


itty.bitty takes html (or other data), compresses it into a URL fragment, and provides a link that can be shared. When it is opened, it inflates that data on the receiver’s side.

Self Solving Rubik’s Cube