kottke.org posts about video
From Feminist Frequency, a quick video biography of Ada Lovelace, which talks about the importance of her contribution to computing.
A mathematical genius and pioneer of computer science, Ada Lovelace was not only the created the very first computer program in the mid-1800s but also foresaw the digital future more than a hundred years to come.
This is part of Feminist Frequency’s Ordinary Women series, which also covered women like Ida B. Wells and Emma Goldman.
808 is a feature-length documentary film on perhaps the most important musical instrument of the past 30 years, the Roland TR-808 Rhythm Composer. The soundtrack includes songs by Afrika Bambaataa, Public Enemy, and Jamie xx. The film will be available exclusively on Apple Music sometime in the next week but will likely be available elsewhere at some point after that.
See also a browser-based emulation of the 808.
Michael Shainblum makes time lapse videos of nature, landscapes, and cities, and some of them are very relaxing to watch. The resolution on these are great, so make ‘em big, sit back, and enjoy. (via bb)
If you were a religious reader of the encyclopedia and peruser of atlases like I was as a kid, you’ll love this video of interesting facts about almost 100 countries. There’s another video coming next week that’ll highlight the rest of the world’s countries…I’ll feature it here when they post it.
As part of Time magazine’s recent selection of the 100 most influential photos of all time, art historian Christine Roussel talks about the story behind the iconic Lunch Atop a Skyscraper photograph of a group of construction workers on their lunch break. Interestingly, no one knows for sure who the workers were and who actually took the photograph.
The World of Tomorrow is Bora Barroso’s tribute to some of the best post-apocalyptic movies, including Children of Men, 12 Monkeys, Mad Max: Fury Road, and The Road. Wall-E wasn’t dark enough I guess?
Sean Charmatz makes these cute little video vignettes about the secret lives of everyday things like French fries, leaves, paper, ice, mops, Post-it Notes, and the like. Think Christoph Niemann but even simpler. Basically: these videos will start making you happy in less than 10 seconds or your money back.1 (via @arainert)
This volley played during a game of ping pong sounds a lot like the first few bars of the music from Super Mario Bros. (thx, david)
LightMasonry is a light installation by Jason Bruges Studio in York Minster, one of the largest cathedrals in Europe. The Creators Project profiled the installation recently.
LightMasonry by Jason Bruges Studio recently paid homage to the work of the highly skilled masons and carvers using beams of choreographed light.
The beams seek out and outline the vaults of the huge space using a custom system of 48 computer-controlled lights. Designer Adam Heslop, who helped visualize the performance, said it required the studio to develop a whole range of new techniques.
This would be something to see and/or rave to in person. (thx, peter)
I look forward to David Ehrlich’s video countdown of his favorite films of the year and 2016’s installment does not disappoint. Nice to see Beyonce’s Lemonade, the weirdo Swiss Army Man (which I loved, Daniel Radcliffe 4eva!), and the excellent OJ: Made in America on there. Still puzzled by Hail Caesar…I love the Coen brothers but was bored by this one. No Arrival though…this was the only movie I saw in the theater twice this year. For those looking for upcoming or recently released films to watch, Ehrlich includes Jackie, La La Land, and Scorsese’s Silence on his list.
At an event called Letters Live, actor Oscar Isaac read a letter that noted physicist Richard Feynman wrote to his wife Arline after her death at age 25 of tuberculosis. The letter remained unopened for more than 40 years until Feynman’s own death in 1988.
I find it hard to understand in my mind what it means to love you after you are dead - but I still want to comfort and take care of you — and I want you to love me and care for me. I want to have problems to discuss with you — I want to do little projects with you.
The film adaptation of Dave Eggers’ novel The Circle is moving right along. The movie stars Tom Hanks and Emma Watson (as well as John Boyega from The Force Awakens) and the first trailer was released yesterday. Looks Black Mirror-ish…I think we’ll be getting a lot of that over the next four years.
This video quickly sums up almost 80 years of Disney animated movies, from Snow White and Pinocchio to Big Hero 6 and Zootopia. It’s astonishing how good the animation was in the early days and then got less so until fairly recently.
From his seminal TV program Cosmos, Carl Sagan attempts to explain the fourth dimension of spacetime. The story starts with Edwin Abbott’s Flatland, but Sagan being Sagan, his explanation is especially lucid.
Amazon Go grocery stores will let you walk in by swiping an app, grab whatever you need, and just walk right out the door again.
Our checkout-free shopping experience is made possible by the same types of technologies used in self-driving cars: computer vision, sensor fusion, and deep learning. Our Just Walk Out technology automatically detects when products are taken from or returned to the shelves and keeps track of them in a virtual cart. When you’re done shopping, you can just leave the store. Shortly after, we’ll charge your Amazon account and send you a receipt.
I guess that makes these self-shopping stores? Lame jokes aside, this is a pretty cool idea. Not entirely revolutionary though…Apple’s EasyPay service has allowed shoppers to self-checkout with the Apple Store app since 2011. I used the self-checkout at an Apple Store once and it felt *really* weird, like I was shoplifting. New commercial transactions are always tricky. Things like one-click ordering, contactless payments (e.g. Apple Pay), and Uber-style payments feel strange at first, but you get used to them after awhile. Something like Square’s odd “put it on Jack” system — where instead of swiping a card or scanning a QR code on an app, you need to negotiate with a person about who you are — don’t catch on. It’ll be interesting to see where something like Amazon Go falls on that spectrum.
Update: This is an IBM commercial from the 90s that showed Just Walk Out shopping.
In this video, physicist Dominic Walliman explains how all of the various disciplines of physics are related to each other by arranging them on a giant map. He starts with the three main areas — classical physics, quantum mechanics, and relativity — and then gets into the more specific subjects like optics, electromagnetism, and particle physics before venturing across The Chasm of Ignorance (dun dun DUN!) where things like string theory and dark matter dwell.
Posters of The Map of Physics are available.
Why does the US have only two main political parties? Is it because that’s what people want? Nope! It’s just an artifact of our system of voting. From C.G.P. Grey, a video explaining the problems with first-past-the-post voting systems (like the one used in US elections). Great simple explanation…well worth watching. Check out the rest of Grey’s videos in this series, particularly the one on gerrymandering.
Nothing in politics gets my blood boiling faster than gerrymandering…it is so grossly and obviously unfair. I bet you don’t even need to guess which of the two US political parties has pushed unfair redistricting in recent years.
More than anything for me, this is the story of politics in America right now: a shrinking and increasingly extremist underdog party has punched above its weight over the past few election cycles by methodically exploiting the weaknesses in our current political system. Gerrymandering, voter suppression, the passing of voter ID laws, and spreading propaganda via conservative and social media channels has led to disproportionate Republican representation in many areas of the country which they then use to gerrymander and pass more restrictive voter ID laws. They’ve limited potential conservative third party candidates (like Trump!) by incorporating them and their views into the main party. I would not be surprised if Republican donors strategically support left-of-center third-party candidates as spoilers — it’s a good tactic, underhanded but effective. They increasingly ignore political norms and practices to stymie Democratic efforts, like the general inaction of the Republican-led Congress over the past few years and the Senate’s refusal to consider Obama’s appointment of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court.
None of this is an accident. They are a small but (and this is important) unified team that works for the benefit of the group above all else. In football terms, the Democrats are the stronger team: they gain more yards (look at Clinton’s ever-growing lead in the popular vote), they earn more first downs, and they might even score more points over the course of the season. But the Republicans won the Super Bowl by sticking together and deftly pressing their advantages to change the rules of the game in their favor. It’s a Moneyball strategy, but for politics.1 By almost any measure, the US is more liberal than it was 20 years ago and yet we have an incoming administration which is potentially authoritarian, influenced and advised by extremist white nationalists, and unapologetically corruptible. Somehow, we need to make the game more fair again. Fairness and justice should not be partisan. Americans — all Americans, liberal, centrist, and conservative — deserve a fair political process that reflects as closely as possible the collective needs and desires of the citizenry. Anything less should be unacceptable.
Google has updated their Timelapse feature on Google Earth, allowing you to scrub satellite imagery from all over the globe back in forth in time.
This interactive experience enabled people to explore these changes like never before — to watch the sprouting of Dubai’s artificial Palm Islands, the retreat of Alaska’s Columbia Glacier, and the impressive urban expansion of Las Vegas, Nevada. Today, we’re making our largest update to Timelapse yet, with four additional years of imagery, petabytes of new data, and a sharper view of the Earth from 1984 to 2016.
A good way to experience some of the most compelling locations is through the YouTube playlist embedded above…just let it run for a few minutes. Some favorite videos are the circular farmland in Al Jowf, Saudi Arabia, the disappearing Aral Sea, the erosion of the Breton National Wildlife Refuge in Louisiana, the urban growth of Chongqing, China, the alarmingly quick retreat of Alaska’s Columbia Glacier, and this meandering river in Tibet.
A building which cost $1.5 billion and was 20 years in the making was moved into position over the highly radioactive remains of the main reactor at Chernobyl this week. The time lapse video above shows how the building was inched into place.
The new structure, which is about 500 feet long, has a span of 800 feet and is 350 feet high, is designed to last at least a century and is intended to prevent any additional spewing of toxic material from the stricken reactor.
Even with the building in place, the surrounding zone of roughly 1000 square miles will remain uninhabitable.
A few years ago, Dan Harmon broke the structure of stories down into eight basic parts:
- A character is in a zone of comfort,
- But they want something.
- They enter an unfamiliar situation,
- Adapt to it,
- Get what they wanted,
- Pay a heavy price for it,
- Then return to their familiar situation,
- Having changed.
Calling himself a “corny screenwriting guru”, this is Harmon’s attempt to simplify Joseph Campbell’s concept of the monomyth, or hero’s journey.
A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.
In the video above, Will Schoder explains Harmon’s theory using a number of different stories (movies, books, TV shows, etc.) as examples, most notably the original Star Wars, which George Lucas created using Campbell’s ideas.
Wes Anderson directed a short holiday film starring Adrien Brody for H&M. It is delightful. You can criticize the twee formality in his work,1 but this is a reminder that Anderson can bring the emotion when he wants.
A singing group delivers a tight six-minute mashup of songs by Beyonce and the hit Broadway show Hamilton. It starts a bit slow but gets better as it goes along.
Lost in the shuffle over the past two weeks — with the focus on the incoming presidential administration and the Thanksgiving holiday — was President Obama’s awarding of the Presidential Medal of Freedom to 21 worthy recipients.
The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the Nation’s highest civilian honor, presented to individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.
Many of the honorees have dedicated their lives to science, technology, and social justice, including:
Margaret H. Hamilton led the team that created the on-board flight software for NASA’s Apollo command modules and lunar modules.
Rear Admiral Grace Hopper, known as “Amazing Grace” and “the first lady of software,” was at the forefront of computers and programming development from the 1940s through the 1980s.
Bill and Melinda Gates established the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in 2000 to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. In developing countries, the foundation focuses on improving people’s health and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is the National Basketball Association’s all-time leading scorer who helped lead the Los Angeles Lakers to five championships and the Milwaukee Bucks to another.
Ellen DeGeneres is an award-winning comedian who has hosted her popular daytime talk show, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, since 2003 with her trademarked humor, humility, and optimism.
Maya Lin is an artist and designer who is known for her work in sculpture and landscape art. She designed the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C. and since then has pursued a celebrated career in both art and architecture.
You can watch the full event here or just catch the highlights:
Obama has made the most awards of the medal by any President since it was established by President Kennedy in 1963. Notable recipients though the years include Thurgood Marshall, Kennedy himself (posthumously), Cesar Chavez, Mother Teresa, Aretha Franklin, Stephen Hawking, Maya Angelou, Mies van der Rohe, Lucille Ball, Yo-Yo Ma, Julia Child, and Rosa Parks.
It is important these days to remember the good work, the good deeds, and the good fight being fought by many creative, fierce, dynamic, and rational people who need our help and attention more than ever.
Magnus Carlsen and Sergey Karjakin are competing in the FIDE World Chess Championship Match in NYC and are currently tied going into the final match. By all accounts, it’s been a tense competition. But watching chess being played in real time is perhaps only for die-hard fans. Here’s video of Karjakin thinking about a move for 25 minutes:
And here’s Carlsen thinking about Karjakin thinking about the same move for 25 minutes:
The MOTI Museum in The Netherlands commissioned Studio Smack to interpret the middle panel of Hieronymus Bosch’s The Garden of Earthly Delights and they delivered a beautiful high-definition animation. See also an interactive version of the real Garden of Earthly Delights. (via waxy)
In 2000, the BBC broadcast an hour-long documentary called Five Steps to Tyranny, a look at how ordinary people can do monstrous things in the presence of authority.
Horrific things happen in the world we live in. We would like to believe only evil people carry out atrocities. But tyrannies are created by ordinary people, like you and me.
[Colonel Bob Stewart:] “I’d never been to the former Yugoslavia before in my life, so what actually struck me about the country was how beautiful it was, how nice people were, and yet how ghastly they could behave.”
The five steps are:
“us” and “them” (prejudice and the formation of a dominant group)
obey orders (the tendency to follow orders, especially from those with authority)
do “them” harm (obeying an authority who commands actions against our conscience)
“stand up” or “stand by” (standing by as harm occurs)
exterminate (the elimination of the “other”)
To illustrate each step, the program uses social psychology experiments and explorations like Jane Elliott’s blue eyes/brown eyes exercise on discrimination, the Stanford prison experiment conducted by Philip Zimbardo (who offers commentary throughout the program), and experiments by Stanley Milgram on obedience, including his famous shock experiment, in which a participant (the “teacher”) is directed to shock a “learner” for giving incorrect answers.
The teacher is told to administer an electric shock every time the learner makes a mistake, increasing the level of shock each time. There were 30 switches on the shock generator marked from 15 volts (slight shock) to 450 (danger — severe shock).
The “learners” were in on the experiment and weren’t actually shocked but were told to react as if they were. The results?
65% (two-thirds) of participants (i.e. teachers) continued to the highest level of 450 volts. All the participants continued to 300 volts.
The program also shows how real-life tyrannies have developed in places like Rwanda, Burma, and Bosnia. From a review of the show in The Guardian:
But there is no doubt about the programme’s bottom line: tyrannies happen because ordinary people are surprisingly willing to do tyranny’s dirty work.
Programmes like this can show such things with great vividness — and there is news footage from Bosnia, or from Rwanda, or from Burma to back it up with terrible clarity. It isn’t clear why the majority is so often compliant, but the implication is that democracy should always be grateful to the protesters, the members of the awkward squad, the people who challenge authority.
But don’t take it for granted that the awkward squad must be a force for good: in Germany, in the 1920s, Hitler was an outsider, a protester, a member of the awkward squad. When he came to power in 1932, he found that German medical professors and biologists had already installed a racial ideology for him, one which had already theorised about the elimination of sick or disabled German children, and the rejection of Jewish professionals as agents of pollution.
Zimbardo himself offers this final word in the program:
For me the bottom line message is that we could be led to do evil deeds. And what that means is to become sensitive to the conditions under which ordinary people can do these evil deeds — what we have been demonstrating throughout this program — and to take a position of resisting tyranny at the very first signs of its existence.
It’s been three years since The Wolf of Wall Street and Martin Scorsese is finally coming out with a new film. Based on the novel by Shusaku Endo, Silence is the story of a pair of Jesuit priests who travel to Japan in the 17th century to find a third priest and to convert the Japanese to Christianity. Adam Driver, Liam Neeson, and Andrew Garfield star.
Two years ago, Tony Zhou made an episode of Every Frame a Painting called Martin Scorsese - The Art of Silence.
Since Scorsese has been working on making Silence for over 20 years, Zhou’s video must have been a little wink to the director’s true fans.
Damn the Brits! First Brexit paves the way for Trump (ok, not entirely accurate) and now they are currently enjoying Planet Earth II with the sublime David Attenborough while we Americans have to wait until late January 2017, at which point there might not even be a planet Earth on which to watch nature frolic on our living room high-definition displays. But — Jesus where was I? Oh yes: for now we can watch this clip from the Jungles episode of Planet Earth II about fungi, including some great time lapse footage of mushrooms growing, some of which glow in the dark! Also from Planet Earth II: the incredible iguana/snake chase scene and bears scratching themselves on trees. (via colossal)
For the past year and a half, Casey Neistat has been putting out a daily 10-minute video blog about his day. After more than 500 episodes, Neistat announced that he’s hanging up his vblogging spurs to pursue other projects. In his final video, he discusses the complacency of success and the difficulty of advancing your career without taking creative risks, something many of us can identify with.
What [the vlog] hasn’t been doing is challenging me. It hasn’t been the creative fistfight that I want and need every single day.
I’m definitely a fan and can’t wait to see what he comes up with next.
Update: Ah, well that explains it: CNN Acquires Social-Video Startup Beme, Co-Founded by YouTube Star Casey Neistat.
CNN has acquired video-sharing app startup Beme, co-founded by popular YouTube creator Casey Neistat and Matt Hackett, and will invest in the team to launch a new standalone media brand.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed. CNN said the new venture that it’s forming out of the acquisition - aimed at reaching millennial viewers with the street cred of Neistat’s reporting and commentary - will launch in the summer of 2017. All 11 of Beme’s employees will join CNN; the cable news network will be shutting down Beme, which had garnered more than 1 million downloads.
Erik Singer is a dialect coach who works with actors to perfect different accents and dialects. In this video, he quickly analyzes the performances of 32 actors based on their use of accents. Pretty fascinating to watch. He singles out Philip Seymour Hoffman’s portrayal of Truman Capote as an exemplary use of the proper accent. High marks also go to Kate Winslet doing a Polish accent, Idris Elba’s South African accent while portraying Nelson Mandela (and his Bal’more accent in The Wire), and Cate Blanchett playing Katherine Hepburn in The Aviator.
Nicolas Cage in Con Air and Tom Cruise in Far and Away? Well, let’s just say they couldn’t pahk the cah in Hahvahd Yahd.
Update: Actress Sarah Jones takes a slightly different approach to speaking in different accents. Instead of aiming for a particular generalized dialect, she picks out a particular person to impersonate.
Let’s say you want to sound like a Trinidadian woman, as Ms. Jones does in her show. She recommends you watch YouTube clips of speakers at council meetings in Trinidad until you find the person you most want to sound like. If you can meet your subject in person, it will help make your goal much easier to reach.
“I ask them to speak something very slowly three times in a row and then I have them say it at normal speed the way they’d say it three times in a row,” she said. “I have them say it the way they’d say it in school as compared to how they’d say it to a friend.”
Be sure to play the embedded audio clips of Jones speaking as her different characters. And you can watch her in action in this TED Talk: