Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘software’

19 OCTOBER, 2010

projeqt: A Creative Storytelling Platform


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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05 OCTOBER, 2010

FORM+CODE: Eye & Brain Candy for the Digital Age


Computational aesthetics, or what typography has to do with Yoko Ono and Richard Dawkins.

Yes, we’re on a data visualization spree this week, but today’s spotlight taps into an even more niche obsession: data viz book candy.

This season, Princeton Architectural Press, curator of the smart and visually gripping, brings us FORM+CODE — an ambitious, in-depth look at the use of software across art, design and illustration for a wide spectrum of creative disciplines, from data visualization to generative art to motion typography.

The nature of form in the digital age is trapped in the invisible realm of code. Form+Code makes that world visible to the community that stands to gain the most from it: artists and designers.” ~ John Maeda

Elegant and eloquent, compelling yet digestible, the tome — dubbed “a guide to computational aesthetics” — offers a fine piece of eye-and-brain stimulation for the age of digital creativity. It features more than 250 works spanning over 60 years of innovation in art, architecture, product design, cinema, photography, interactive media, typography, game design, artificial intelligence, graphic design, data mapping and countless other manifestations of creative culture.

From fascinating historical background to visually mesmerizing showcases to practical guides, the book talks the talk and walks the walk — its website is a digital treat in and of itself, featuring a treasure trove of extras, including code examples and a remarkable library of links to related projects.

FORM+CODE features work by some of our favorite creators and thinkers: Aaron Koblin, Jonathan Harris, Martin Wattenberg, Stefan Sagmeister, and many more across the various facets of culture, including Yoko Ono and Richard Dawkins. Yes, in the same book.

Thanks, Julia

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01 OCTOBER, 2010

7 Image Search Tools That Will Change Your Life


What martinis have to do with reverse art lookup and obscure German calendars from the 1990’s.

Although Google has been playing with some fun image search toys in its lab and the official Google Image Search has recently significantly upped its game, some of its most hyped features — color search, instant scrolling, hover preview — are but mere shadows of sleeker, better versions that geekier, more sophisticated image search tools offer. Here are seven of our favorites.


oSkope is a visual search assistant that lets you browse images and products from popular sites like Amazon, eBay, YouTube and Flickr in a highly intuitive way. You can skim thumbnails related to your search keywords and save search results from different services to a visual bookmark bar at the bottom of your browser screen.

Thanks, Amrit!


CompFight is a Flickr search tool tremendously useful for all your comp stock image needs but also doubling as a visual inspiration ignition engine. It lets you search based on tag or text, spitting out a pleasant wall of thumbnails. Particularly useful: The CreativeCommons search option, which filters results by image rights license type.

CompFight was featured in the Experimental category of this year’s Communication Arts annual.


You may recall Flickr Related Tag Browser from pickings past — a sleek web app retrieves Flickr images tagged with your search keyword in a neat grid, surrounded by a radial display of related tags. Clicking each related tag produces the same grid of images tagged with it, semantically leading you down the endless image tagging rabbit hole.

FRTB is the work of interactive designer Felix Turner, a Flash whiz who helped build the now-ubiquitous Brightcove video players.


TinEye is reverse image search — feed it any image, either by uploading or by pasting the image URL, and it’ll tell you where it came from. We were able to use it on a scan of an obscure German calendar from our childhood and TinyEye proceeded to promptly produce a

TinEye can be particularly useful for identifying the artist or original source of photographs and artwork that you happen to stumble upon on Tumblr or another all-too-often unreferenced photo bookmarking service.


We first featured Cooliris nearly three years ago, when it was still called PicLens. This fantastic free browser plugin offers an image search interface like no other. It works on the expected image search platforms — Google, Flickr, etc. — but we particularly like its use on Facebook, where the native image browsing is lacking at best.

Cooliris is available for Firefox, Safari, Chrome and Internet Explorer. Unfortunately for us, Chrome for Mac — our browsing weapon combo of choice — is not supported yet, but is said to be coming soon.


Another blast from pickings past, retrievr is an experimental image search tool that uses color recognition to retrieve Flickr images that reflect the spatial color arrangement of a digital sketch you draw on a canvas.

It’s important to keep in mind that the algorithm doesn’t recognize shapes, but does color and space relationships — so if you doodle the outline of a martini glass in black, you’re more likely to get a lamp post, but if you go with an inverted triangle in blue, you may just get that Cosmo.


Easily the most useful color-based search tool yet, and also a throwback to our deep archives, Multicolr Search Lab offers a simple yet sophisticated way of finding images based on a color or color combination you’re looking for. Images are pulled from more than 10 million of Flickr’s most interesting photos and you can add up to 10 colors as your search criteria, including multiple swatches of the same color to indicate ratio — say you want an image that’s almost entirely yellow with a bit of blue, you may select yellow four times and blue once.

Developed by Toronto-based Idée Labs, the tool uses their proprietary Piximilar software which we’re utterly surprised Google hasn’t acquired yet.

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21 SEPTEMBER, 2010

PICKED: IDEO Imagines The Future of Books


PICKED is a new series of short-form interestingness we’re adding to our usual one-item-daily menu — every day, in addition to the main Brain Pickings article, we’ll also curate a couple of quick, often self-explanatory tidbits of noteworthiness from around the web. Think of it as the takeout to Brain Pickings’ full-service fine dining — same curatorial yardstick and quality of content, served to go.

We’ve previously looked at the evolution of magazines. Now, design and innovation powerhouse IDEO is reimaging the book as an interactive, non-linear storytelling experience.

We’ve got a weekly newsletter and people say it’s cool. It comes out on Sundays, offers the week’s articles, and features five more tasty bites of web-wide interestingness. Here’s an example. Like? Sign up.