Brain Pickings

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09 MARCH, 2011

Sub City New York: A Cinematic Celebration of Urbanity

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We love cities, especially our current home base: New York. Last year, we featured a breathtaking love letter to NYC in HD and today, we’re back with another mesmerizing ode to one of the world’s most interesting cities.

From filmmakers Sarah Klein and Tom Mason comes Sub City New York — “a visual poem about that moment in New York when you emerge from the subway and find yourself in a new and sometimes unexpected world.”

The film is part of a larger series to be filmed in Paris, Moscow, London and Hong Kong — we can’t wait.

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09 MARCH, 2011

Climate Kid: UNICEF’s Platform for Preparedness

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What evolutionary fantasies have to do with the future of practical education.

The true litmus test for the value of education is how well it equips us for navigating modern life. And while it might be an uncomfortable one, climate change is one of its increasingly urgent realities. Yet traditional education rarely equips kids with the essential lifeskills for dealing with the consequences of climate change, many of which will reach threatening proportions within the lifetimes of today’s youth. To address this, our friends at Do The Green Thing (remember them?) have teamed up with UNICEF to launch Climate Kid — a new platform for UNICEF’s work in helping children around the world adapt to climate change.

Though wonderfully animated and playful in tone, the short film raises the important question of how we adapt — biologically, maybe, but certainly socially — to a world changing before our eyes.

The effort is accompanied by a Twitter competition to win some lovely original artwork by talented independent illustrators who have developed their own interpretation of climate kid. To enter, simply tweet about what evolutionary enhancements you think a climate kid would need in the future, and hashtag it #climatekid.

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08 MARCH, 2011

Vintage Visual Language: The Story of Isotype

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In the 1930s, Austrian sociologist, philosopher and curator Otto Neurath and his wife Marie pioneered ISOTYPE — the International System Of TYpographic Picture Education, a new visual language for capturing quantitative information in pictograms, sparking the golden age of infographics in print.

The Transformer: Principles of Making Isotype Charts is the first English-language volume to capture the story of Isotype, an essential foundation for our modern visual language dominated by pictograms in everything from bathroom signage to computer interfaces to GOOD’s acclaimed Transparencies.

The real cherry on top is a previously unpublished essay by Marie Neurath, who was very much on par with Otto as Isotype’s co-inventor, written a year before her death in 1986 and telling the story of how she carried on the Isotype legacy after Otto’s death in 1946.

Richly illustrated and contextualized with fascinating historical essays, The Transformer is a vital primer for a visual langauge that not only frames much of today’s communication but also speaks to us on a powerful intuitive level.

HT Information Is Beautiful

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08 MARCH, 2011

How a Book is Made, Circa 1947

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2011 is barely underway and it’s already been a tumultuous year for the evolution of publishing. As entire industries struggle to plot the future of the book, we find it important to take a step back and take a look at its past. An 8-bit unicorn tipped us off to the priceless 1947 documentary Making Books — a joint effort of Encyclopedia Britannica Films and the Library of Congress that will make you gasp and wince and gasp again as it opens its treasure chest of retro technology, matter-of-factly industrialism and unwitting vintage sexism. (Alnd cue in omnibus of short films about obsolete occupations.)

This man is an author. He writes stories. He has just finished writing a story. He thinks many people will like to read it. So, he must have this story made into a book. Let’s see how the book is made.”

While we aren’t ones to romanticize the wonders of yore, there’s something to be said for the kind of craftsmanship that we lose, or at the very least dramatically alter, as we substitute the digital page for the printed one. We also have to wonder about the lens of delightful quaintness with which tomorrow’s historians and media scholars will tell the story of, say, designing for the iPad reading experience.

via Dead SULs

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