Brain Pickings

PICKED: Color Story Parallels, Past vs. Present

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Street style photography has evolved from being a hobby for the style conscious to source for inspirational personal style. We recently featured a documentary on Scott Schuman, better known as The Satorialist, who is partially responsible for today’s surge of street style photography.

Originally inspired by Shuman’s work, Color Comparisons is a series of image pairs that draw comparisons between the art world and street style photography, presenting fashion photography alongside vintage ads or classic art with the same color stories. The results are pretty incredible.

Explore the Color Comparisons archive for more color story doppelgängers across the space-time continuum.

Shenee Howard is a writer, designer and creative tactician based in Atlanta, Georgia. She is also an avid story and pop curator. The 90s are her favorite. She founded design/strategy firm You’ll Look Great and is in the process of launching the storytelling blog eight thirty seven. She also spends way too much time sharing links on Twitter.

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How to Write a Sentence: A Manual for the Art of Language

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This week has been a mecca of publishing gems: From J. D. Salinger’s highly anticipated biography to a priceless collection of Kurt Vonnegut’s unpublished fiction to an innovative modernization of Gogol’s Dead Souls for the Facebook age to TED’s bold entry into publishing with the freshly launched TEDBooks imprint. But perhaps most notable among them is Stanley Fish‘s humbly titled yet incredibly ambitious How to Write a Sentence: And How to Read One — an insightful, rigorous manual on the art of language that may just be the best such tool since Strunk and White’s legendary 1918 classic, The Elements of Style.

In fact, in many ways, Fish offers an intelligent rebuttal to some of the cultish mandates of Strunk and White’s bible, most notably the blind insistence on brevity and sentence minimalism. As Adam Haslett eloquently points out in his excellent FT review:

[Pared-down prose] is a real loss, not because we necessarily need more Jamesian novels but because too often the instruction to ‘omit needless words’ (Rule 17) leads young writers to be cautious and dull; minimalist style becomes minimalist thought, and that is a problem.”

To argue his case, Fish picks apart some of history’s most powerful sentences, from Shakespeare to Dickens to Lewis Carroll, using a kind of literary forensics to excavate the essence of beautiful language.

How to Write a Sentence isn’t merely a prescriptive guide to the craft of writing but a rich and layered exploration of language as an evolving cultural organism. It belongs not on the shelf of your home library but in your brain’s most deep-seated amphibian sensemaking underbelly.

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MoMA’s Paola Antonelli on Humanized Technology

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What augmented reality has to do with farm animals and talking sidewalks.

We’re big fans of Paola Antonelli, MoMA’s brilliant and eloquent curator of Architecture and Design, whose work continues to be a beacon of where design is headed both as a creative discipline and as cultural currency for making sense of the world. Under her tenure, MoMA has made such thought-provoking acquisions as early computing ephemera, the @ sign and, as of this week, 23 digital typefaces, challenging the notion of what a design “object” is and how it interlaces with everyday life.

In this excellent interview, she talks about the vision behind her latest MoMA show, Talk To Me, while in her signature fashion interjecting higher-order insights about the role of design that transcend the immediate context of the exhibition.

Many people think that technology is a problem in that it dehumanizes people. And, instead, I think it’s a great thing because it humanizes objects.” ~ Paola Antonelli

Technology would not become life without design and design would not function without technology, because design is a matter of translating technology into things that people can use.” ~ Paola Antonelli

Paola mentions several Brain Pickings favorites, including Jonathan Harris’ I Want You to Want Me project and Christien Meindertsma’s ingenious PIG 05049.

See all the ideas tickling the brains of Talk To Me‘s curators here and tip them off to something worthy of consideration.

via @juliaxgulia / Creators Project

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Democratizing Publishing: TED Launches TEDBooks

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Yesterday, we were thrilled to hear that TED is launching TEDBooks — an imprint of short nonfiction books. Using Amazon’s freshly released Kindle Singles imprint for books under 20,000 words and designed to be read in a single sitting, the $2.99 books are available on the Kindle and Kindle Reader apps for iPad and Android.

The project launched with three promising all-star titles:

The Happiness Manifesto by Nic Marks of Happy Planet Index fame debunks the notion of using economic factors to measure a nation’s well-being and instead explores how people and nations can build real, lasting foundations for well-being — a timely addition to our selection of 7 must-read books on happiness released earlier this week.

Homo Evolutis by Juan Enriquez and Steve Gullans is a bold vision for the next human species, portraying mankind as a species in transitions not only through a life science map of evolution but also through a compelling discussion of how the core principles of our civilization — government, religion, social structures — are shifting.

Beware Dangerism! by Gever Tulley takes on the culture of fear perpetuated by mass media and often embedded in parenting, which he terms “dangerism,” with surprising statistics and insights indicating that play and pursuit of curiosity — something we’re big proponents of — is the better model for raising kids to be high-functioning, entrepreneurial, creative, successful, happy people.

The effort is an “idea worth spreading” in more ways than one — it serves not only as a powerful vehicle for some of today’s most compelling thinking, leveraged by the TED brand, but also bespeaks a new frontier of publishing that bypasses the stagnant traditional model of the industry to democratize how authors’ ideas reach their audience. Bravo, TED.

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