Sunday, 4 May 2014

Cuttings: April 2014

Why Snapchat is valuable: it's all about attention – blog post by Danah Boyd, quoted in John Naughton’s Memex 1.1 blog. “When someone sends you an image/video via Snapchat, they choose how long you get to view the image/video. The underlying message is simple: You’ve got 7 seconds. PAY ATTENTION. And when people do choose to open a Snap, they actually stop what they’re doing and look. In a digital world where everyone’s flicking through headshots, images, and text without processing any of it, Snapchat asks you to stand still and pay attention to the gift that someone in your network just gave you.... Snapchat is a reminder that constraints have a social purpose, that there is beauty in simplicity, and that the ephemeral is valuable. There aren’t many services out there that fundamentally question the default logic of social media and, for that, I think that we all need to pay attention to and acknowledge Snapchat’s moves in this ecosystem.”

Tumblr's Hilarious New Legal Terms Of Service Include A Ban On Pretending To Be Benedict Cumberbatch - Business Insider article, referenced in the Simplification Centre blog, where Rob Waller comments: “This is innocent-smoothie copywriting applied to the small print. I found it good fun, but could this technique be repeatable by others? Only if it suits their users and brand. Like those smoothies, too much can make you queasy after a while.” Some extracts from the Terms of Service:
  • "Confusion or impersonation. Don't do things that would cause confusion between you or your blog and a person or company, like registering a deliberately confusing URL. Don't impersonate anyone. While you're free to ridicule, parody, or marvel at the alien beauty of Benedict Cumberbatch, you can't pretend to actually be Benedict Cumberbatch."
  • "Gore, Mutilation, Bestiality, or Necrophilia. Don't post gore just to be shocking. Don't showcase the mutilation of torture of human beings, animals, or their remains. Dick." 
  • "Misattribution or Non-Attribution. Make sure you always give proper attribution and include full links back to original sources. When you find something awesome on Tumblr, reblog it instead of reposting it. It's less work and more fun, anyway. When reblogging something, DO NOT inject a link back to your blog just to steal attention from the original post."
The invention of radio talks at the BBC, in “What can the origins of the BBC tell us about its future?” - Guardian articles by Charlotte Higgins.
  • "[Hilda Matheson, first director of talks], like her colleagues, was making up broadcasting as she went along. What was a “programme”? The models for BBC broadcasts were the public lecture, the political speech, the theatre and the variety hall. One of Matheson’s many achievements was to realise that the microphone demanded an entirely different manner from the podium. “It was useless to address the microphone as if it were a public meeting, or even to read it essays or leading articles,” she wrote. “The person sitting at the other end expected the speaker to address him personally, simply, almost familiarly.” She rehearsed, coaxed and harried speakers until they found a mode of speech that worked."
  • Vita Sackville-West, whom Matheson invited to give talks, gave the following account: “You are taken into a studio, which is a large and luxuriously appointed room, and there is a desk, heavily padded, and over it hangs a little white box, suspended from two wires from the ceiling. There are lots of menacing notices about ‘DON’T COUGH – you will deafen millions of people’, ‘DON’T RUSTLE YOUR PAPERS’, and ‘Don’t turn to the announcer and say was that all right? when you have finished’ … one has never talked to so few people, or so many; it’s very queer. And then you cease, and there is an awful grim silence as though you had been a complete failure … and then you hear the announcer saying ‘London calling. Weather and News bulletin’, and you creep away.”
The Empire of Necessity: The Untold History of a Slave Rebellion in the Age of LibertyGuardian review by Michael Moorcock of book by Greg Grandin. “In a superbly argued and richly detailed account of the interdependencies of slavery and revolution throughout the Americas, as well as the religious traditions of Protestantism, Catholicism and Islam (many of the west Africans were educated Muslims), Grandin brings to vivid life the realities of the period, pointing out that, of the estimated 12,500,000 Africans carried to the Americas between 1514 and 1866, at least half were boarded after 4 July 1776…. Numbers increased after 1800 as the US economy became increasingly reliant on slavery…. One person's freedom was all but impossible without another's servitude.”

Why all babies love peekaboo - from Mindhacks blog. "An early theory of why babies enjoy peekaboo is that they are surprised when things come back after being out of sight. This may not sound like a good basis for laughs to you or I, with our adult brains, but to appreciate the joke you have to realise that for a baby, nothing is given. They are born into a buzzing confusion, and gradually have to learn to make sense of what is happening around them. You know that when you hear my voice, I’m usually not far behind, or that when a ball rolls behind a sofa it still exists, but think for a moment how you came by this certainty....  As the baby gets older their carer lets the game adapt to the babies’ new abilities, allowing both adult and infant to enjoy a similar game but done in different ways. The earliest version of peekaboo is simple looming, where the carer announces they are coming with their voice before bringing their face into close focus for the baby. As the baby gets older they can enjoy the adult hiding and reappearing, but after a year or so they can graduate to take control by hiding and reappearing themselves. In this way peekaboo can keep giving, allowing a perfect balance of what a developing baby knows about the world, what they are able to control and what they are still surprised by. Thankfully we adults enjoy their laughter so much that the repetition does nothing to stop us enjoying endless rounds of the game ourselves."

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