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30 SEPTEMBER, 2011

Arthur C. Clarke Predicts the Future in 1964, Gets It Oddly Right

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How to walk the line between futurism and absurdity, or why the satellite is more important than the A-bomb.

Earlier this week, we explored 5 vintage visions for the future of technology. In this fantastic clip from a 1964 BBC Horizon program — the same series that to this day explores such illuminating topics as the nature of reality, the age-old tension between science and religion, how music works, and what time really is — legendary science fiction writer, inventor, and futurist Arthur C. Clarke predicts the future.

A half-century before most of today’s technologies, he presages the digital convergence with uncanny accuracy and reminds us, with eloquence and lucidity foreign to most of today’s quasi-futurists, of the very essence and purpose of predicting the future in the first place.

The only thing that we can be sure of the future is that it will be absolutely fantastic.

One day, we may have brain surgeons in Edinburgh operating on patients in New Zealand. When that time comes, the whole world would’ve shrunk to a point and the traditional role of the city as a meeting place for men would’ve ceased to make any sense. In fact, men will no longer commute — they will communicate. They won’t have to travel for business anymore, they’ll only travel for pleasure.

For more of Clarke’s striking futurism, treat yourself to Profiles of the Future — his fantastic anthology of essays written between 1959 and 1961, exploring the ultimate possibilities of the future with equal parts visionary imagination and astonishing accuracy.

via Open Culture

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29 SEPTEMBER, 2011

Hall of Femmes: The Female Icons of Graphic Design

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Four self-made women who shaped the course and voice of modern graphic design.

After spending some time in the creative industry, Swedish design duo Hjärta Smärta (“Heart Pain”) observed that there weren’t nearly enough female design role models at the forefront of our cultural awareness. So they started Hall of Femmes, an online project (alas, in Swedish) highlighting female designers and art directors who have significantly influenced creative culture. In 2009, the pair traveled to New York to interview some of these design icons as the basis for a series of books and soon thereafter they published four of these volumes honoring female creative legends.

A few years ago, we traveled to New York to meet up with a few iconic female graphic designers. We wanted to connect with women whose successes we could aspire to. With the book series HoF, we direct attention to these unsung heroines.” ~ Angela and Samira, Hjärta Smärta

Hall of Femmes: Lillian Bassman tells the story of one of the first art directors, who got her start as an assistant to Alexey Brodovitch at Harper’s Bazaar during the golden age of the American magazines in the late 1940s. In 1945, Bassman became art director for the newly launched Junior Bazaar, a fashion magazine focused on teenagers that functioned as a creative lab for up-and-coming creatives. The magazine folded just three years later, but the creatively agile Bassman taught herself photography and became one of Harper’s Bazaars’ most sought-after photographers. At 94 today, she still works every day.

Hall of Femmes: Carin Goldberg highlights the legacy of postmodernist book designer who earned the prestigious AIGA Gold Medal for lifetime achievement in 2009. Her career began in the 1970s as a designer at CBS Television and CBS Records, an era that expected you to be, as Goldberg puts it, “a cool, irreverent, experimental, hungry, talented smart-ass”. In the 1980s, she founded her own firm, Carin Goldberg Design, where she heads to this day. Over the past three decades, Goldberg has designed more than 1000 books for every iconic publishing house and has worked with legends like Madonna and Steve Reich, as well as Brain Pickings favorites Kurt Vonnegut and Susan Sontag.

Hall of Femmes: Ruth Ansel highlights one of the greatest magazine designers of all time, who over the past half-century has been shaping the visual aesthetic of some of the most influential magazines of our time as a visionary art director — Harper’s Bazaar in the 1960s, The New York Times Magazine in the 1970s, Vanity Fair in the 1980s, and running her own design studio since the 1990s. She has collaborated with nearly every icon of magazine publishing — Diana Vreeland, Richard Avedon, Annie Leibowitz, Bruce Weber, Tina Brown, and many more.In her 70s, answer remains active and creatively restless as ever.

The most recent in the series, Hall of Femmes: Paula Scher, covers one of my personal heroes, whose views on combinatorial creativity capture the founding ethos of Brain Pickings with remarkable eloquence. Scher began her graphic design career as a rebellious record cover art director at both Atlantic and CBS Records in the 1970s, where her hate for the then-ubiquitous Helvetica led her to create some of the most innovative and memorable typography of all time, which helped define the visual voice of New York City. In 1991, she joined iconic design firm Pentagram as a partner. Her stunning typographic maps have become one of the most celebrated feats of creative cartography. Her identity and branding systems have helped shape iconic cultural institutions and brands like Bloomberg, Coca-Cola, the Metropolitan Opera, the MoMA, and Citi. In 2001, Scher earned the coveted AIGA Medal for her contributions to graphic design. In 2006, she was awarded the Type Directors Club Medal. At 63, Scher remains a principal at Pentagram and teaches at New York’s School of Visual Arts.

Hat tip Fab

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29 SEPTEMBER, 2011

The Ropes at Disney: 1943 Walt Disney Employee Handbook

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“If you unwittingly slip off the beam, it will give you painless nudge in the right direction. Please read it carefully.”

In 1943, Walt Disney Productions’ personnel department set out to eliminate confusion for the company’s workforce with the publication of an employee handbook titled The Ropes at Disney. It was an effort to reconcile the need for organizational order with Disney’s effort to craft an image of an informal, irreverent, fun employer who seeks to “maintain a friendly relationship between Company and employee” (but, apparently, deems only the former worthy of capitalization).

Notice also the multiple cameos by this charming fellow, who appears to have a chronic ogling problem. Oh, wait, it’s 1943.

The last page of the handbook features this lovely map of the Walt Disney campus:

via @openculture

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Brain Pickings has a free weekly newsletter. It comes out on Sundays and offers the week’s best articles. Here’s what to expect. Like? Sign up.