Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘social web’

17 APRIL, 2009

As Seen On Earth: The Infinite Photograph

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A portrait of Earth painted with 300,000 brushes, or why editorial curation and user-generated content can be friends.

There’s no question National Geographic is a photographic force to be reckoned with. And now they’re on a mission to inspire people to care about the planet through a gigantic collaborative photo-mosaic of the Earth.

Infinite Photograph is a global project building a portrait of Earth seen through the eyes of ordinary people, a promotional effort for NG’s MyShot initiative. Think of it as crowdsourcing meets collage meets environmental sensibility.

Currently, the mosaic is composed of over 300,000 photos of the natural world, pulled from archived images by MyShot users. But the project is also an ongoing invitation for new submissions — the more images are indexed, the richer the the color sampling will be and the closer to infinity the mosaic can get.

The team at National Geographic envisions various future extensions of the project as the image catalog grows, breaking it down into mosaic representations of sub-categories like water, trees, and animals.

Besides being the socially-smartest marketing effort we’ve seen in a while, we have to respect NG’s fierce editorial curation — even user-submitted images have to live up to the same editorial standards as those in the actual publication in order to make it to MyShot, which ensures all the photographs that do make the cut for Infinite Photograph are absolutely stunning.

But be not discouraged — go ahead and submit some of your own nature-loving shots. It’s not every day you get a chance to feel closer to the planet and to your global cohabitants at the same time.

We’ve got a free weekly newsletter and people say it’s cool. It comes out on Sundays, offers the week’s main articles, and features short-form interestingness from our PICKED series. Here’s an example. Like? Sign up.

10 APRIL, 2009

LBB + OLPC = GOOD

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Why egocentricity is the new philanthropy, or how to turn your city know-how into a child’s bright future.

It’s a well-known fact that the advertising industry is a self-revolving beehive that buzzes solely about itself, glorifying and aggrandizing every effort that leads to awards meaning nothing to anyone else. Or so the stereotype goes.

But regardless of its veracity, we applaud it when someone takes a perceived fault and turns it into something that benefits others.

lbb That’s exactly what Little Black Book, the publisher of guide books and online city directories for ad folk, is doing in their charity partnership with One Laptop Per Child. (Which, as we all know, we’re big proponents of.) All you have to do is recommend a restaurant, bar, hotel, squash club — any good place to take a client — in a major advertising city. LBB has pledged to donate £1 for every new recommendation, up to £20,000.

In essence, all you’re donating is your time, and a child in the developing world gets a shot at a life of knowledge and self-sufficiency. You’ll never feel better about your bar-hopping expertise.

via Creativity Online

05 FEBRUARY, 2009

TED 2009 Highlights: Day 1

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A cultural dialogue on sex, Bill Gates releases more bugs into the world, and lots of caffeine.

Let’s get one thing out of the way first — live-blogging TED turned out to be much harder than we thought, especially fighting the 10-hour time difference and Red-Bulling our way to the dog hours of the morning. But it was tremendously exciting.

TED 2009 You can check the speaker schedule for the line-up, but be sure to catch on our real-time updates, as there were a number of surprise appearances, including two of our greatest heroes: Al Gore, who gave us an even more chilling update on global warming, and Yves Behar, who unveiled his latest project — the fully electric Mission One motorcycle, a beautifully designed 150-mph wonder.

But perhaps the most noteworthy of the day’s wildcards was a short cameo by professional jaw-dropper Cindy Gallop, who unveiled her new site, MakeLoveNotPorn.com — a humorously framed yet enormously culturally ambitious project that takes the myths of pornography and balances them with the reality of sex.

Make Love Not Porn

Gallop talked about the failure of cultural institutions to address the issue of sex adequately, especially to teenagers.

So it’s not surprising that hard pornography has, in effect, become sexual education.

Make Love Not Porn

Make Love Not Porn

The site even invites visitors to submit their own porn myth busts, which Gallop hopes would create an open dialogue about the cultural meaning of sex. And this — the ability to create an open forum for a cultural taboo — is just one of the billion reasons we love TED.

Bill Gates Q&A Another delight — despite our initial skepticism — was Bill Gates, who not only managed to release a box of very real mosquitoes into the audience while talking about malaria mortality, but also cracked a rather hilarious impromptu joke during the Q&A at the end: Chris asked him what he’d like written on his tombstone when he dies “in 10 or 15 years,” to which Gates responded with something to the effect of:

10 or 15? I certainly hope I live longer than that. So, in that case, it’ll say “Check my pulse!”

A geek god, an iconic philanthropist, and now a standup comic? Who new. Even we in the vicious Mac camp have to give it to the guy.

Finally, two simply titled yet truly promising Earth-centric documentaries were revealed. Home, by Yann Arthus-Bertrand, explores life on Earth from a bird’s eye perspective, showcasing phenomenal aerial landscapes that are disappearing before our eyes.

Oceans, produced by the amazing Jake Eberts in collaboration with Jacques Perrin, was edited down from over 300 hours of footage from a worldwide deep-ocean expedition costing $75 million. From the phenomenal cinematography to the pure stride-stopping brilliance of the Blue Planet that it captures, Oceans is an absolute must-see.

Oceans

And while both films are a gloomy reminder that we’re going faster than the planet can sustain, they also do something much more valuable: Give us hope there is still time to avoid disaster.

We’ll be live-blogging today as well, so be sure to follow us on Twitter if you’re into, you know, hearing stuff before everyone else does.