Category Archives: Just for fun

Pixação, or why São Paulo looks like a death metal album cover

One of the first things I noticed about Sao Paulo was the graffiti. It’s everywhere, and it’s stylistically very striking – angular, highly stylized letters on walls, buildings, overpasses. It’s clear that it’s writing, not just glyphs, yet it’s difficult … Continue reading

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The biography I’m waiting for: Bambaataa and the parallel universe of hip hop

I wrote a book review, of sorts, last week about Walter Isaacson’s book on Steve Jobs and my concern that biographies, as a genre, celebrate a “great man” theory of history. While I remain convinced that we need more biographies … Continue reading

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Long tail audiobooks – a thought experiment

Because I have a long commute, I listen to a lot of audio: public radio, podcasts and audiobooks. Because I work in academe, I have a massive pile of books and papers I need to read: books by friends, books … Continue reading

Posted in ideas, Just for fun, Media | 8 Comments

Corporate America and the Harlem Shake: Perfect Together

When we’re not doing more serious work like documenting geographic and gender biases in media, or helping provide information to domestic workers about their rights, we at the Center for Civic Media like to talk memes. The other morning, over … Continue reading

Posted in CFCM, Just for fun | 9 Comments

The Globalization of Sumo – My talk at MSR SCS 2013

Microsoft’s Social Computing Symposium is one of my favorite conferences of the year. It’s small, invitation only, curated by some of the smartest people in my field, and attracts a wonderful combination of smart folks I hadn’t previously known about … Continue reading

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What to make of Ai Wei Wei’s “Gangnam Style”?

It’s a good time to be PSY. The Korean rapper has become an international celebrity with the unexpected success of Gangnam Style, the absurdly catchy song that’s introduced much of the world to K-Pop, while simultaneously critiquing and subverting the … Continue reading

Posted in Human Rights, ideas, Just for fun, Media | 9 Comments

“Long Flights” – a somewhat serious business idea

I’m considering starting a new business venture. It’s called “Long Flight” and it’s based on my experiences writing on airplanes. I’ve hit a point in my career where I organize my schedule to maximize the number of long flights I … Continue reading

Posted in ideas, Just for fun | 21 Comments

An idea worth at least 40 nanoKardashians of your attention

In my class today, celebrated science journalist Alister Doyle shared an insight that crystalized for me a line of thinking I’ve been exploring about media attention, celebrity and charity. Doyle shared an idea he’s developing with Paul Salopek (and let … Continue reading

Posted in Africa, Just for fun, Media | 60 Comments

My new quest – replacing QR codes with tartan

Center for Civic Media meetings start with an icebreaker question: you introduce yourself, and tell us whether you prefer pirates or ninjas, homemade or canned cranberry sauce. You offer your favorite protest chant or tell us what percent (“I am … Continue reading

Posted in CFCM, Just for fun | 10 Comments

An open letter to TED organizers on #TEDHighConcept

Dear Chris, June, Bruno – One of my students at the Center for Civic Media and I were discussing the need for more conference venues for young speakers to share their ideas and polish their presentation skills. While TEDx has … Continue reading

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