The future is fast approaching

Caught up in an information culture.


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Paper sculpture maps reveal the history of cities

Detail of Matthew Picton's map of Dallas, showing the route of the Kennedy assassination.

Detail of Matthew Picton’s map of Dallas, showing the route of the Kennedy assassination.

The Atlantic Cities takes a pictorial stroll through Matthew Picton’s paper sculptures of cities, combining their streetmaps and their history in a way that quickly conveys geolocated information about major events.  The Atlantic’s Mark Byrnes says:

“In his series “Paper Sculptures,” Picton creates hand-cut and folded paper 3D street grids. He also incorporates art, text, or even special paper to evoke something specific about the city (often, a historical event or time period). So, for example, Picton’s London “Great Fire” of 1666 map depicts burned illustrations of 17th century street life. In the case of Las Vegas, Picton uses neon green paper decorated solely by the words from Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.”

While these are primarily positioned as art, and deservedly so, I like the concise and subtle information design, communicating the damage done by the French invasion of Moscow or the progress of the Kennedy motorcade in Dallas with tremendous economy.

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Infographic: How big will your apartment be in 2050?

Graphic by BBC Future

Graphic by BBC Future

Two types of people are obsessed with the apartment of the future: science fiction fans and anyone who’s lived in a city.  Both those groups know that Korben Dallas’s apartment in The Fifth Element is somewhere between near-certain prediction and inspirational.

If you’re one of those two types of people (or, let’s be honest, both), BBC Future’s got the infographic for you: city by city, they depict how big your individual shoebox will be and how many of your fellow citizens will be stacked on top of you.  And for good measure, they’ve added in what your quality of life will be, based on things like health care, culture, infrastructure, and political stability.

Life in 2050: How much space will you have to live in?


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Pre-flight footage of Valentina Tereshkova – June 16th, 1963

Valentina Tereshkova, suited up for spaceflight.

Valentina Tereshkova, suited up for spaceflight.

Here’s a little Tereshkova love to celebrate the 50th anniversary of her spaceflight on  June 16th, 1963.  I didn’t realize this footage existed, but it’s great stuff.  It always surprises me to realize how actually literal it is when Bowie says, “Here am I sitting in my tin can“, and how much space-age technology really… isn’t.  We basically sent people up into total vacuum with snorkels and aluminum foil.  What wonderful insanity. Continue reading


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Weekend Longform Video: Media for Thinking the Unthinkable

Bret Victor creates a camera path from a dataset.

Bret Victor creates a camera path from a dataset.

It’s time for the weekend longform video, something that’s a bit too lengthy or too chewy for a weekday, and really needs a cup of coffee and time to sit down with it over a couple of days.

This week’s is a talk Bret Victor gave in April at the MIT Media Lab on the design of graphical forms of scientific ideas.  It covers a lot of ground, from the mental need for mathematical notation, to the invention of infographics, to improvising physical models of your data, to new interactive graphical communication in scientific papers.  There’s some rich stuff in here for thinking about communicating understanding and intuition, particularly for interface designers, educators, coders, and researchers.

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