kottke.org posts about talks
Free Richard Dawkins! (That's free as in lecture, not free as in spring from jail.) Each year in honor of Harvey David Preisler, a lecture is given and this year's will be delivered by Richard Dawkins on May 3 @ 9am at The New York Academy of Sciences.
The lecture is entitled "The Purpose of Purpose," and Professor Dawkins will make himself available for a question/answer period afterward. If you are in the New York City area (or can be on Saturday), I urge you to attend.
As noted the lecture is free; all you need to do is RSVP in the comments of this thread.
Update: The event filled up quickly...only the first 25 RSVPs will be able to attend.
The 92nd St Y has put the video of a talk called The Art of the Book up on their site. The talk was held in Dec 2006 and featured Milton Glaser, Chip Kidd, and Dave Eggers with Michael Bierut moderating. You may recall that Glaser got into a bit of hot water for some comments he made about the career paths of women in graphic design.
As part of this weekend's New Yorker Festival, a parkour demonstration was held at Javits Plaza. Before the demonstration, Alex Wilkinson talked with David Belle, the inventor of parkour and the subject of Wilkinson's NYer article about parkour from April. In the interview and the Q&A that followed the demonstration, Belle explained that parkour is not about competition or showing off or being reckless. It's a test of self, of control, of deliberate practice. The journey is the point, not the sometimes spectacular results.
The demonstration consisted of a group of about 20-30 parkour practitioners, beginners and experts alike from all over the country. It seemed as though they included anyone with parkour experience who showed up and wanted to participate, and instead of a highly polished display of high skill (which is what I think the audience might have been expecting), we were treated to a more authenic look at the sport. The first five minutes were taken up with calisthenics and stretching in preparation of the jumps and vaults to come. After warming up properly, they began running through the course, each participant picking his way through the course according to desire and ability.
Experimentation was the rule of the day, not performance. With each pass, you could see the group learning the particulars of the course, where the good holds were, finding smoother combinations, and, much of the time, trying and failing. And then trying again until they got it. There was a single woman participant, one of several beginners in the group. When she had some trouble with an obstacle, Belle and his "lieutenant" stopped to show her some moves, a moment that revealed more about parkour than Belle's jump across a ten-foot gap twenty feet off the ground. Belle himself didn't do too much during the performance -- a couple of high jumps -- and had to be coaxed during the Q&A to perform one last big move for the audience. He shrugged off the applause and attention as he back-flipped down to the concrete, knowing that the true parkour had taken place earlier.
Listeningtowords looks like the beginning of a nice resource for sharing/discussing freely available audio files of lectures. Lots of stuff here I've never seen before.
Description of attending an amazing talk by Stephen Hawking. "In the beginning there's a long pause. Really long. The applause dies down and then... crickets. For thirty seconds... a minute... two minutes. Then suddenly, Hawking's synthesized voice: 'Can you hear me?' The climactic scenes of blockbuster movies are not as thrilling."
Notes from Will Wright's keynote at SXSW 2007. "Movies have these wonderful things called actors, which are like emotional avatars, and you kinda feel what they're feeling, it's very effective. Films have a rich emotional palette because they have actors. Games often appeal to the reptilian brain - fear, action - but they have a different emotional palette. There are things you feel in games - like pride, accomplishment, guilt even! - that you'll never feel in a movie."
Took in The Art of the Book lecture at the 92nd Street Y last night. Milton Glaser, Chip Kidd ("a modern day Truman Capote" I heard him described as afterward), Dave Eggers, with Michael Beirut moderating. One of the most interesting comments came late in the proceedings from Dave Eggers, who described one of the main goals of the McSweeney's design staff as attempting to design the books as well and as beautifully as they could as objects so that people would be compelled to save them. That way, even if people didn't have time to read them soon after purchase, they couldn't bear to throw/give the book away and would instead put it on their shelf in the hopes -- McSweeney's hopes, that is -- that the buyer would at some point pull it down off the shelf and give it another try.
This design goal runs counter to the design process behind most contemporary book jackets, which are engineered almost entirely for the purpose of eliciting in the potential buyer a "buy me" reaction within two seconds of spotting them. McSweeney's, as a champion of authors, wants the writing to be read while most major publishing companies, as champions of their shareholders, want books to be purchased. People buying books is important to the goal of getting the writing within them read, but McSweeney's emphasis on designing books to last in people's homes is a clever way to pursue that goal after the sale.
Online Media and the Future of Journalism, a forum celebrating the 10th anniversary of Slate at the New York Public Library. June 22, 6:30pm, with Michael Kinsley, Malcolm Gladwell, Arianna Huffington, Norm Pearlstine, and Jacob Weisberg.
Launch party tonight (4/14) at Eyebeam for Yochai Benkler's new book, The Wealth of Networks. "His book shows why labor done outside the constraints of free markets and giant corporations can still have a huge impact on the economy and social relations. He argues that a 'third mode of production' offers the promise of a more free society, but only if we make the right collective decisions."
Chris Johanesen has a short review of the Eyebeam panel last night. "I'd certainly rather read an insightful and well-written post about sandwiches than an unoriginal, poorly thought out post about politics." I like that Ebert quote too.
Transcripts from 42 hours of presentations by Buckminster Fuller. "These thinking out loud lectures span 42 hours and examine in depth all of Fuller's major inventions and discoveries from the 1927 Dymaxion house, car and bathroom, through the Wichita House, geodesic domes, and tensegrity structures, as well as the contents of Synergetics." (thx avi)
Panel on food and weblogs tonight. "Panelists include Adam Kuban of SliceNY, Alaina Browne of A Full Belly and Josh Friedland of The Food Section. Andrea Strong of The Strong Buzz moderates."