Brain Pickings

projeqt: A Creative Storytelling Platform

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The new language of the creative polyglot, or what tweets have to do with portfolios.

Much has been said over the past few years about the future of publishing and content on the web. Terms like “transmedia storytelling” and “cross-platform publishing” are tossed around like giant balls of cotton candy — delicious, fluffy but, ultimately, without much substance. And while certain platforms have made multimedia storytelling possible for publishers and visual artists, none offers a truly holistic proposition.

This week, the launch of projeqt offers hope for a platform that does it all and then some. Dubbed a “creative storytelling platform,” it’s Tumblr meets Slideshare meets Cargo Collective — only a more flexible Tumblr, a sleeker Slideshare and spanning more media than Cargo Collective. And if this isn’t enough of a treat, it’s also device-agnostic — built entirely in HTML5 for cross-platform compatibility and specifically optimized for iPad and iPhone, projeqt is part publishing CMS, part portfolio-builder, part something else entirely.

projeqt is simple, intuitive and highly social, playing nice with other platforms by allowing you to mesh together text, image, video and feeds within the same projeqt, so you can embed your Vimeo uploads, post photos from your Flickr stream, import your blog’s RSS feed and even your tweets — in other words, it’s a creative polyglot that invites you to tell your story, whatever creative languages it may be in. (The reader experience is equally flexible, allowing for seamlessly switching between line, grid and full-screen view.)

Great stories keep us riveted to the page. Or the screen (whatever shape or size it happens to come in.) Great stories get shared and are retold time after time after time. Great stories always leave us wanting more. Projeqt gives you the tools and technology to tell your story. It provides a robust architecture, with unprecedented flexibility and possibilities.”

We’re thrilled about the creative possibilities with projeqt. If you’re a cross-media creative type who writes, designs, does photography and has a significant Twitter presence, you can pull all of these personalities into one cohesive portfolio. If you’re an educator, you can use it as sleek storage for your research. If you’re a content curator, you can put together digital exhibitions around specific topics. In fact, to get a first-hand feel for projeqt‘s capabilities, we’ve curated a thematic projeqt about data visualization — take a peek to see how it all works.

Though projeqt is currently in beta and invite-only, we’ve secured a limited number of invites for our newsletter readers — to request one, subscribe to our free weekly newsletter if you haven’t already, then shoot us an email with “projeqt” in the subject line. [UPDATE: We're no longer taking names (though we're still kicking ass) but you can still sign up for the regular waitlist on the projeqt website.] Meanwhile, follow projeqt on Twitter and Facebook for updates.

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RIP Benoît Mandelbrot: Remembering The Father of Fractals

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We reported yesterday with great sadness that Benoît Mandelbrot, known as the father of fractal geometry, has passed away. We have to agree with Jason Kottke that one day, Mandelbrot’s contribution to mathematics will be regarded as Einstein’s contribution to physics is today — his geometrical algorithms have been applied to everything from lung surgery to financial markets. And while we don’t go as far as making a dizzifying animated-gif tombstone, we’d like to commemorate the great thinker with a few of our favorite Mandelbrot gems.

In February, we had the pleasure of seeing him speak at TED, where he gave a fantastic talk on fractals and the art of roughness. The talk is based on Mandelbrot’s theory of roughness, best articulated in this excellent Edge interview from 2004.

I prefer the word roughness to the word irregularity because irregularity — to someone who had Latin in my long-past youth — means the contrary of regularity. But it is not so. Regularity is the contrary of roughness because the basic aspect of the world is very rough.” ~ Benoît Mandelbrot

Curiously, Mandelbrot didn’t get his start with fractals as a physicist or mathematician or geometrist. He started by studying stock market prices. His book, Fractals and Scaling In Finance: Discontinuity, Concentration, Risk, is utterly fascinating in a deep yet lateral and cross-disciplinary way that hardly any other financial book has managed to be.

Visually, Mandelbrot fractals have propagated the synth-creative field in the form of trippy, mesmerizing artwork and animation, such as this treat from teamfresh. (An additional hat tip is due to the great mathematician for his indirect contribution to language with such delightfully incongruous linguistic bedfellows as “math porn” — a term that has been used to describe the vibrant, colorful artwork based on Mandelbrot fractals.)

Finally, a gem as priceless as they come — Benoît Mandelbrot in conversation with our greatest creative and curatorial hero, MoMA’s Paola Antonelli, at a SEED/MoMA salon in 2008:

The power of fractals is that they’re so instinctive, immediate graspable, even without knowing there’s a geometric law behind them.” ~ Paola Antonelli

If you haven’t yet read The Fractal Geometry of Nature, his seminal work offering a compelling yet digestible mathematical explanation of everything from snowflakes to coastlines to capillary beds, do yourself a favor and do.

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How Do I Explain It To My Parents: Abstract Artists on the Art

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If you’re in the creative field, chances are, the exact nature of your work is a prolific source of confusion for your parents. And for those of us on the more eclectic, cross-disciplinary end of the creative spectrum, it often elicits a self-conscious string of ummm-ing and wellllll-ing.

How To Explain It To My Parents is a series of short documentaries that combat the dreaded question head-on, by making nine prominent abstract artists do precisely that — sit down with their actual parents and explain

The artists range from a video remixer to a beer artisan, but as they diverse as their domain of creativity may be, the expression on their parents’ faces — loving yet utterly perplexed — seems universal across all of them.

Set in an almost prison-like grey room, the conversations light up the drab backdrop with their unique dynamic, both touching and humorous in their futility.

The brainchild of Lerner & Sander, the Dutch team who brought us The Procrastinators, and once again commissioned by Limboland.tv, the series is a charming exercise in trying to explain abstract art in concrete terms and, for the most part, failing. But the beauty of it lies in the simple human truth that it bespeaks — whatever we may do for a living and however poorly our parents may understand it, they love us anyway.

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