C.

Crossing the Universe on a Logarithmic Scale

Powers of Ten by Charles and Ray Eames.

“Powers of Ten”, a 1968 short film by Charles and Ray Eames, is a quite impressive application of the logarithmic scale. The film is an adaptation of “Cosmic View”, a 1957 book by Kees Boeke. Both the book and the film deal with very short and very long distances and the relative size of things in the universe. Although Einstein wouldn’t agree with the trip, because very soon the camera travels faster than the speed of light, you should have a look at what it means to cross the universe on a logarithmic scale. Every ten seconds you will add a zero to your distance and stride away from earth by the factor ten: from meters, to 10 meters, 100 meters, 1000 meters and so on. Some minutes later and lightyears away you pass the nearest star. The way back is even faster and leads you through the skin and the DNA to the subatomic scale. Impressive! Enjoy the trip!

Cosmic View by Kees Boeke

www.eamesoffice.com

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A.

Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World

Aldous Huxley, author of Brave New World, talks to Mike Wallace in an interview on May 18, 1958. His views on freedom, technology and bureaucracy provide some interesting parallels to our life in the era of the internet. Happy Birthday Mr Huxley and welcome to the Brave New World of Google, Facebook, Microsoft & Co.! Nowadays, hierarchies are called networks, subordinates have become users and the organizations are bigger than ever.

As technology becomes more and more complicated, it becomes necessary to have more and more elaborate organizations, more hierarchical organizations, and incidentally the advance of technology is being accompanied by an advance in the science of organization. It’s now possible to make organizations on a larger scale than it was ever possible before, and so that you have more and more people living their lives out as subordinates in these hierarchical systems controlled by bureaucracies, either the bureaucracies of big business or the bureaucracies of big government.

You can find a trancription of the interview here.

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B.

Books + Internet = ?

With more and more books digitalized, with Kindles, iPads and audio-books, will printed books become an endangered species? Not if you turn the idea the other way round: How can printed books benefit from the internet and its networking features?

One idea is Ubimark Books that links paper books, such as “Around the World in 80 Days” to the web. This happens rather seemlessly through 2D code. Have a look:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OE5Ch4NnVu0

Another brilliant idea is BookRenter. The service enables students to save money by loaning textbooks for a fixed duration, usually a semester. The system is simple: a student searches for a book on the website using a title or ISBN, and places an order by selecting a rental period and delivery option. The books are delivered complete with return UPS labels for easy shipping.

Rent, read, return. (c) www.bookrenter.com

The bookstores at the University of Texas at Austin, the North Carolina State University, the University of Memphis, the City College of San Francisco, and the University of San Diego already offer a textbook rental store on the BookRenter platform. Alternative book rental services are provided by Chegg and Barnes and Noble.

(Thx @techcrunch and @swissmiss)

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D.

Discover Great Literature with Google Earth

Googlelittrips.org is an engaging approach to reading and discovering great literature. Using Google Earth, readers undertake virtual expeditions created by teachers and students following and visualizing the travels of the characters.

Read the book, saw the film, hit the road on Lit Trips. (c) www.googlelittrips.org

Lit Trips’ developer and manager Jerome Burg “retired” after 38 years in public education teaching high school English. He now supports educators around the world in areas related to effective integration of technology into the curriculum. His brainchild Lit Trips was developed as part of the Google Certified Teachers program and is an effort to encourage engagement with the wisdom of great world literature through 21st century technologies. In my opinion, Lit Trips is “augmented imagination” at its best.

The list of Lit Trips is already impressing and ever growing. Visit, share, and build your own Lit Trips on www.googlelittrips.org!

The following video explains how you can start the trip.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K-yMU3DJmwU

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F.

Forget About Heavy Textbooks – Here Comes Smarthistory

Pictures of an exhibition. (c) www.smarthistory.org
Pictures of an exhibition. (c) www.smarthistory.org

Smarthistory.org is an incredible resource for all people interested in art history: museum visitors, travelers, informal learners, teachers and students. The website is more than a replacement of expensive and heavy textbooks. It uses multimedia to deliver a personal voice through unscripted conversations between art historians while looking at works of art. This is much more than a textbook or a usual audioguide can provide. Smarthistory makes information about art accessible, entertaining and engaging.

Beth Harris and Steven Zucker started Smarthistory as a blog in 2005, featuring podcasts that could be used as free audio guides. They later organized the podcasts stylistically and chronologically and began adding text and images.

In 2008, they received a grant to redesign the site from the Kress Foundation. Now the site itself is a masterpiece of usability. Last year Smarthistory won the renowned Webby Award, “the Internet’s highest (official) honor for excellence” as The New York Times put it, for the best education website.

Visitors can enter and explore smarthistory using several navigation paths, depending on their needs and interests: by timeline, style, artist, and theme, or by using a prominent visual navigation in the center of the homepage or at the bottom of post pages. It’s a a lively, entertaining and even playful approach to art history.

Start (re-)discovering art history with www.smarthistory.org

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