Overview Effect. Spaceship Earth. Home

The Overview Effect, first described by author Frank White in 1987, is an experience that transforms astronauts’ perspective of the planet and mankind’s place upon it. Common features of the experience are a feeling of awe for the planet, a profound understanding of the interconnection of all life, and a renewed sense of responsibility for taking care of the environment.

There’s more about this at www.overviewthemovie.com.

Never thought about chairs this much before

Colin McSwiggen explains why he’s so against chairs. I have to admit to not giving them a second thought, other than the times at work when my recline lever slips and I end up suddenly horizontal. The problems seem much deeper than temperamental office furniture though.

Against Chairs
I hate to piss on the party, but chairs suck. All of them. No designer has ever made a good chair, because it is impossible. Some are better than others, but all are bad. Not only are chairs a health hazard, they also have a problematic history that has inextricably tied them to our culture of status-obsessed individualism. Worse still, we’ve become dependent on them and it’s not clear that we’ll ever be free.

History, ergonomics, politics, it’s all in there.

And here’s another take on the chair, which I guess backs up his point. Make of it what you will.

Self-Sustainable Chair 2

Regrets, I've had a few —all these, at least

The Harvard Business Review has a rundown of the top five career regrets according to some survey or other. I think it’s safe to say we can identify with most if not all of them.

“Disappointment doesn’t discriminate; no matter what industry the individual operated in, what role they had been given, or whether they were soaring successes or mired in failure, five dominant themes shone through.”

The web we lost – and how to rebuild it

We all know the web’s certainly a different place now than it was ten or fifteen years ago, but Anil Dash points out exactly how — and to what extent — things have changed.

“The tech industry and its press have treated the rise of billion-scale social networks and ubiquitous smartphone apps as an unadulterated win for regular people, a triumph of usability and empowerment. They seldom talk about what we’ve lost along the way in this transition, and I find that younger folks may not even know how the web used to be. So here’s a few glimpses of a web that’s mostly faded away:”

And then a few days later he writes an update on how to rebuild the web we lost.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb: The future will not be cool – Salon.com

Nassim Nicholas Taleb: The future will not be cool – Salon.com

“Tonight I will be meeting friends in a restaurant (tavernas have existed for at least 25 centuries). I will be walking there wearing shoes hardly different from those worn 5,300 years ago by the mummified man discovered in a glacier in the Austrian Alps. At the restaurant, I will be using silverware, a Mesopotamian technology, which qualifies as a “killer application” given what it allows me to do to the leg of lamb, such as tear it apart while sparing my fingers from burns. I will be drinking wine, a liquid that has been in use for at least six millennia. The wine will be poured into glasses, an innovation claimed by my Lebanese compatriots to come from their Phoenician ancestors, and if you disagree about the source, we can say that glass objects have been sold by them as trinkets for at least twenty-nine hundred years. After the main course, I will have a somewhat younger technology, artisanal cheese, paying higher prices for those that have not changed in their preparation for several centuries.”

Fourteen years of pantone colors-of-the-year (tecznotes)

Fourteen years of pantone colors-of-the-year (tecznotes)
“I love the language patterns in press releases that accompany annual announcements, like Pantone’s Color Of The Year. Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute, has been providing adjectives and free-associating since 1999. Between 9/11 and the economy, a lot of political freight gets bundled into these packages as well—“concern about the economy” is first mentioned in late 2005 (sand dollar).”

Understanding music

My kind of music video.

“Music is a good thing. But what we did not know until we started with the research for this piece: Music is also a pretty damn complex thing. This experimental animation is about the attempt to understand all the parts and bits of it. Have a look. You might agree with our conclusion!”

Finally Studios

The 10 Best Psychology and Philosophy Books of 2012

QuietYes, I’m highlighting yet another brainpickings blog post, but this one is very interesting, a very detailed and considered look at the ten best psychology and philosophy books of the year: “From Buddhism to the relationship between creativity and dishonesty, by way of storytelling and habit”. Off I go to add all these to my wishlist. (I’m assuming I can get all these on my kindle?)

Many fine quotes here, but my favourite one:

To the dumb question ‘Why me?’ the cosmos barely bothers to return the reply: Why not? — Christopher Hitchens (who else?)

Link: The 10 Best Psychology and Philosophy Books of 2012

Colossal Organic Wooden Sculptures by Henrique Oliveira

Colossal Organic Wooden Sculptures by Henrique OliveiraIncredible transformation of a material normally thought of as straight, solid, rigid, dependable. These massive sculptures from Henrique Oliveira, consisting of a very natural material, feel anything but; threatening, almost. When Botany attacks! PhotosMore photos.

Bill Clinton, the last sane man on Earth?

BillE-mail sends you mad. This is a fact, known to science since forever. You know it, I know it. The more you deal with, the more insane it makes you. Turns out that Bill Clinton sent just two e-mails as President. He must have been very sane. Perhaps the last sane man on Earth.

I guess the reason this is most surprising is that Bill Clinton is not a faded memory where quirky stories like this are read with misty eyed nostalgia. He is still on the scene; his presidency happened within the lifetime of anyone over 11 years old. So this is a very stark reminder of how quickly things have changed.

Derfel Owen | Salon

The shapes of stories

Shape of StoriesYes, I’m aware I’m linking to yet another brain pickings article, but I don’t care as I love this one. it’s Kurt Vonnegut drawing the shapes of stories, which leads him on to discussing the difficulties with distinguishing good news and bad news. And there’s a great video too.

Kurt Vonnegut on the Shapes of Stories and Good News vs. Bad News

Going retro

Following on from that earlier The Last Typewriter article from the BBC, here’s another of theirs, on why we should still use them. I was expecting this to be a little flippant but I liked its take on the generational issue: “while ‘older folks’ resist technology, the youngest missed the original typewriter experience, hence the interest now.” You remember the iPad typewriter thing I mentioned earlier, right?

Five reasons to still use a typewriter