Since the last weekly newsletter I’ve been to San Francisco… and made it home again. Lots to cover this week, so without too much hesitation…
What Have I Been Up To?
Every time I decide to fly to America, something ‘big’ happens back home, and this week was no exception. A week of catching up with old friends and new companies in Silicon Valley clashed with the BBC saying something about how the UK Song for Europe was going to be selected. My thoughts on that are here (and you can catch up on all the continent’s Eurovision news through the Eurovision Insight Podcast – find it on iTunes).
I’ve also suggested that Apple Music has failed, and even though I’m expecting the streaming music service to be turned around nobody can quite agree in the comments on just how wrong I am to suggest such a thing.
On with the links (but first subscribe to the email newsletter version if you haven’t already).
This set is going to be the biggest selling Lego set in the history of the UK:
Construct a stunningly detailed LEGO® version of the iconic TARDIS and role-play the Doctor’s time-travel adventures! Created by fan-designer Andrew Clark and selected by LEGO Ideas members, this set is based on the BBC’s popular and long-running television series about a Time Lord – the Doctor – exploring the universe in a blue police box. Due to trans-dimensional engineering, the TARDIS is bigger on the inside than the outside and this cool multifunctional set includes the console room that houses all the flight controls.
The Other Container Was The Kindle
Is the Kindle Amazon’s final statement on digital book reading? The concept has barely changed since the first device was launch. Now the rush of delight is over, the Kindle has been found wanting:
All is not well on the digital book design front. Until recently, the Kindle iOS application still lacked the ability – nearly five years after its launch – to hyphenate words at the end of lines in books as they appear on the screen; this was a small ‘problem’, but it’s one that should have been solved years ago. And that’s only one of many deeper usability and design issues. Amazon’s long-term neglect of the Kindle continues to be worrying to me, both as a designer and a reader.
It seems as though Amazon has been disincentivised to stake out bold explorations by effectively winning a monopoly (deservedly, in many ways) on the market. And worse still, the digital book ‘stack’ – the collection of technology upon which our digital book ecosystems are built – is mostly closed, keeping external innovators away.
Craig Mod lays out the history and the arguments for the old-fashioned dead tree book next to the eBook phenomenon.
See All The Moon Landing Pictures You Never Saw
Think of the pictures from the Moon landings and you have to marvel at the skill of the astronauts in framing, lens control, lighting, and a million other things. Err…. no. They just ooh thousands of pictures on each mission and released five or six of the best. Until now, as NASA’s Project Apollo Archive has rescanned every negative and is in the process of putting all of them online.
Mark Murrman looks through the first 8400 (available as a Flickr set) to pick out his personal favourites on Mother Jones.
You can finally see all the blurry images, mistakes, and unrecognized gems for yourself. The unprocessed Hasseblad photos (basically raw scans of the negatives) uploaded by the Project Apollo Archive offer a fascinating behind-the-scenes peek at the various moon missions…as well as lots and lots (and lots) of photos detailing the surface of the moon. Here’s a very small taste.
Two of my favourites would be the original Earthrise image from Apollo 8 (showing what post-processing can do to turn normal image into an iconic image, and a shot of the Lunar Ascent Module that captures the horror of flying around in a spaceship built from aluminium that was thinner than the tin foil in your kitchen. Zoom in on this and worry.
Life Is Like Helsinki Bus Station
A delightful theory for creative endeavours and life choices by Arno Minkkinen is explained in The Guardian. Indeed every creative endeavour can be represented by a bus leaving Helsinki Bus Station:
…it [vividly] illustrates a critical insight about persistence: that in the first weeks or years of any worthwhile project, feedback – whether from your own emotions, or from other people – isn’t a reliable indication of how you’re doing. (This shouldn’t be confused with the dodgy dictum that triggering hostile reactions means you must be doing the right thing; it just doesn’t prove you’re doing the wrong one.)
Having spoken to people starting out on new projects online, this is going in my toolbox of ‘how to judge how you are doing’.
By The Power Of Marketing!
Slashfilm hits it out the park again with another oral history. This time it’s for the delightfully bad film ‘Masters Of The Universe’ but it also covers how the toy line, how it saved Mattel, the birth of the TV series, and therefore the genesis of every TV Animation/Toyline production since the early eighties. THis is how culture was made.
Sales on the He-Man product line were going through the roof and thank god they did. Because other than He-Man, the company was going through a really tough time. Our Electronics Department [Mattel’s videogame division] was going down the tubes, so we were hoisting everything on our shoulders. If not for He-Man, Mattel might have gone under. There’s no question about it. No question. He-Man was doing, at that time, $400 million—if you took that piece out of the equation, there would be no Mattel. So it was kind of, you know, us against the world. It was a good time. It was a good time.
This Week’s Long Read: If They Build It, Will We Come?
The fact is that in the first online tech boom the Porn Industry drove many of the elements that are vital to millions today (such as credit card processing, ecoomerce systems, multimedia CD- and DVD-Roms). In today’s ‘everything for free’ environment the industry has to address the same issues as mainstream media, but with a few more kinks. Buzzfeed’s Charlie Warzel explores the the world of the modern day porn business online.
But if porn helped to conceive and nurture the modern internet, the internet has turned its back on porn. Major internet companies like Instagram and Tumblr have hidden adult content from internal search, and Google has removed porn while de-prioritizing adult sites in its search algorithms. Facebook, arguably the internet’s most important destination, has banned adult content outright since its inception, and mainstream billing sites and financial services firms have shut their doors to adult companies, citing them as “high risk” clients.
If online porn was built by technically proficient, big-dreaming smut innovators, it’s now under siege by, essentially, technically proficient, deep-pocketed, shell corporation–constructing scoundrels. Consumed and overwhelmed by the fruits of its own technological innovations, the adult world must once again return to its entrepreneurial, iconoclastic roots if it wants to reclaim its industry. If anybody has any clue what we’re going to jerk off to in the future, it’s probably these guys.
‘Trivial Posts’ is a mostly weekly series of posts that brings together interesting posts, ideas, video clips, essays, images, and anything else that catches my eye on the Internet. Read it online, or subscribe to the email newsletter version here.