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Tagged with “writing” (118)

  1. Marcus du Sautoy and James Bridle – books podcast

    On this week’s show, we’re exploring infinity and beyond with artist and writer James Bridle and mathematician Marcus du Sautoy.

    Through his visual art and writings on technology and culture, James Bridle has been at the forefront of our understanding of tech for the last decade – and from his perspective, the view of our future is both exciting and gloomy. He sat down with the Guardian’s technology reporter Alex Hern to talk about his book, New Dark Age.

    Limits are grist to the mill for Marcus du Sautoy, professor of public understanding of science at Oxford University. His mission is to explore – and if possible, explain – the unknown, so following hot on the heels of his bestselling book What We Cannot Know, is How to Count to Infinity. Meeting with Richard Lea at the Hay festival, Du Sautoy explained how a German mathematician first proved the existence of infinity in 1874, and what the concept means for our understanding of the universe.

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  2. Interrobang - 99% Invisible

    In the beginning was the word, and the word was … well, actually, there was just one word … one long, endless word. For thousands of years, in some written languages, there was no space between words. People were expected figure out sentences and clauses while reading aloud.

    Vergilius Augusteus, Georgica, written with continuous wrapping scriptScriptio continua was the dominant form of writing for the Greeks and the Romans. Sometimes, this never-ending string of letters would execute what was called an ox-turn, first reading left to right, then switching to read back from right to left.

    In the 3rd century BCE, a librarian in Alexandria named Aristophanes introduced the idea of putting in dots to indicate pauses, like stage directions for people performing texts out loud. Dots of ink at the bottom, middle, or top of a given line served as subordinate, intermediate and full points, corresponding to pauses of increasing length.

    Aristophanes’ system became the basis for Western punctuation. A partial thought — followed by the shortest pause — was called a comma. A fuller thought was called a kolon.  And a complete thought — followed by the longest pause — was called a periodos.  These rhetorical units eventually lent their names to the comma, colon and period we know today.

    More punctuation followed. Medieval scribes gave us the earliest forms of the exclamation mark. And in the 8th century, Alcuin of York, an English scholar in the court of Charlemagne, quietly introduced a symbol that would evolve into the modern question mark. Ever since, we’ve ended our sentences with one of these three ancient marks, called end marks.

    Questioning Exclamations

    There have, however, been attempts to expand this typographical toolkit, and include other end marks. One such example has made it into dictionaries: the interrobang (‽).

    Producer Joe Rosenberg’s Americana Monotype interrobang, image by Vivian LeIt was created by an ad man named Martin Speckter just over a half-century ago. In the 1950s and 60s, he repped some of the biggest names in publishing, such as Barron’s, Dow Jones, and the Wall Street Journal. Speckter was also a typography nerd, constantly reading books on punctuation and the English language. He and his Penny wife, Penny, collected hundreds of printing presses of all kinds and sizes.

    In the spring of 1962, Speckter was thinking about advertising when he realized something: many ads asked questions, but not just any questions — excited and exclamatory questions — a trend not unique to his time. Got milk?! Where’s the beef?! Can you hear me now?! So he asked himself: could there be a mark that made it clear (visually on a page) that something is both a question and an exclamation?!

    Speckter was also the editor of the typography magazine TYPEtalks, so  in March of 1962, in an article for the magazine titled “Making a New Point, Or How About That…”, Speckter proposed the first new mark of English language punctuation in 300 years: the interrobang.

    Proposed interrobangs from Type Talks, March-April 1962, as drawn by Jack LiptonThe interrobang was a new kind of end mark. It denoted a question that expressed surprise or incredulity. This also made it useful for rhetorical questions, most of which are also incredulous. In his article, Speckter was already envisioning exclamatory-slash-rhetorical advertising slogans that could take advantage of the new mark, such as “What?! A Refrigerator That Makes Its Own Ice Cubes?!”

    Alternative interrobangs submitted to Type Talks, May-June 1962 via Shady CharactersSpeckter laid out a few different potential ideas for what the interrobang should look like, but quickly zeroed in on a favorite.  His design collapsed the question mark and the exclamation point into a single glyph. The two marks, instead of being placed back to back, were now conjoined, sharing the same dot at the bottom.

    One version of the interrobang design, combining a question mark and an exclamation pointAt Speckter’s request, readers of the article also wrote in with proposals for alternate names, including “emphaquest,” “interropoint” and “exclarogative.” But he stuck with the original name — “interro” for interrogate and “bang” for the proofreader’s word for the exclamation point. (When giving dictation, people didn’t use the phrase “exclamation point.” They would just say “bang.”)

    Shady Characters by Keith HoustonBut, as punctuation expert Keith Houston explains, “it’s not easy to invent a mark of punctuation that actually sticks.” Houston loves the interrobang, but notes that history is littered with failed attempts to create new end marks. “Around the 16th century,” for instance, “the percontation mark, this rhetorical question mark, lasted about fifty years before it disappeared. There was one invented by a kind of renaissance man called John Wilkins who proposed an irony mark and it went nowhere.”

    And then there’s the interrobang, which, seemingly from the day it was born, faced a string of bad luck. For example, an article praising the interrobang appeared in the New York Herald Tribune in 1962. In the Tribune article, the writer called the interrobang true genius. Unfortunately, his article was published on the first of April and it may have been that the readers took it as an April Fool’s joke.

    Still, this punctuation mark persevered. In 1966, a company called the American Type Founders — a legendary design firm that created some of the most widely used typefaces of the 20th century — unveiled a new typeface called Americana that included an interrobang, but the foundry was in decline, and Americana was the last type typeface they ever cut.

    Then, in 1968, the iconic typewriter company Remington announced that their latest model typewriter would feature an optional intrerrobang key. Still, it was optional — an extra — costing extra money.  It failed to catch on.

    A 1969 brochure from Smith-Corona showing their interchangeable interrobang keyToday, the interrobang is just barely hanging in there. It has its own character in Unicode, the common directory of symbols which all computer fonts must reference. But Keith Houston points out that it still hasn’t cleared the biggest typographical obstacle of all: “I think that in order to really consider it to be a real mark of punctuation, people have to use it without thinking about it.” In other words: a truly remarkable mark of punctuation must be unremarkable.

    Banality Inaction

    Alas, banality is not one of the interrobang’s strong suits. After Remington’s brief attempt to give it a key, it never made it onto any standard keyboards. And, now, if it is included in a font, it’s accessible only within a nested series of menus and selections. So when people do use it, they’re deliberately going out of their way to do so. They’re using it to make a sort of statement, not because it’s needed.  For it to truly succeed, ordinary people need to employ the interrobang for no other reason beyond the fact that the sentence at hand calls for its use.

    Portrait of Judge Frank EasterbrookHouston says these are rare, but has found at least one genuinely banal interrobang, used by a man named Frank Easterbrook. Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, Easterbrook used to be Deputy Solicitor General, arguing the interests of the United States in the Supreme Court. He is also a typophile, and has no patience for briefs written in Times New Roman, a newspaper typeface (he wants lawyers to use book typefaces).

    In May of 2011 Easterbrook was writing a ruling for a case, the case of Sears vs. Crowley, when he realized he’d written himself into a corner. “I reached a point where I had written a rhetorical question where I was tempted to use, you know, “question mark, exclamation point, question mark, exclamation point,” he recalls. Then he remembered the interrobang. His clerks thought it was a typo, but he assured them it was quite intentional. It was also very, very banal — he wasn’t showing off and he didn’t publicize his usage.

    Shortly after Easterbrook issued his opinion, his quiet use of an obscure form of punctuation was spotted by a legal blog and added to the interrobang’s Wikipedia page. When Easterbrook learned this, he laughed. He said he never intended to draw attention to the interrobang. He just thought it was the right mark to use.

    https://99percentinvisible.org/episode/interrobang/

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  3. 005: Jason Kottke and Twenty Years of kottke.org

    Kottke.org is a website. It is not an app. It is not a product. It is simply a static website, updated daily, running some rickety old blogging software. As of March of 2018 it’s been consistently updated for twenty years. It is largely the product of a single mind: Jason Kottke. Kottke.org has shaped the way many of us have thought about news, blogging, and linking. On Margins talks with Jason about his two decades of blogging, influences in his life that shaped how he works today, and what kottke.org would look like were it a book.

    https://craigmod.com/onmargins/005/

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  4. Episode 52 - Going Offline | with Jeremy Keith - Relative Paths

    We talked to Clearleft co-founder, author and speaker Jeremy Keith about service workers and his recently released A Book Apart book, Going Offline.

    Coming into this episode I didn’t really know much about service workers. I assumed there were very specific use cases for them, but Jeremy opened our eyes to the fact that they allow access to some very powerful browser features and are useful across the board.

    We also spoke about Jeremy’s recently released A Book Apart Book ‘Going Offline’, I’m really enjoying it. I can’t put it any better than Sarah Drasner (https://sarahdrasnerdesign.com), who said:

    "Jeremy Keith explains service workers with kindness, clarity, and humour in his new book, a must-read for any web developer who wants to learn this exciting new API and enable offline experiences for their applications."

    The first chapter is available as an A List Apart article, link below.

    There were some strong Jukebox Entries this time. Jeremy Chose Catastrophe And The Cure by Explosions In The Sky, from one of my very favourite albums. Ben chose The Celestial Garden by DrumTalk but apparently described a different track in the episode, he’s a sleep deprived new dad so we’ll have mercy on him for that. My pick was Bashed Out by This Is The Kit, a lovely bitter sweet track.

    https://relativepaths.uk/ep52-going-offline-with-jeremy-keith

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  5. Kottke.org’s Jason Kottke, @jkottke | Internet History Podcast

    Jason Kottke, of kottke.org fame, was one of the early bloggers, one of the first bloggers to go pro, and one of the few solo bloggers still going. If you know Kottke.org, then you love it. How could you not? If you’ve never heard of it, you can thank me later. This episode examines what it means to be a publisher on the web for 20 years as well as the discipline required to find cool stuff on the web every single day (almost).

    http://www.internethistorypodcast.com/2018/04/kottke-orgs-jason-kottke-jkottke/

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  6. Longform Podcast #289: Craig Mod · Longform

    Craig Mod is a writer and photographer. His podcast is On Margins.

    “You pick up an iPad, you pick up an iPhone—what are you picking up? You’re picking up a chemical-driven casino that just plays on your most base desires for vanity and ego and our obsession with watching train wrecks happen. That’s what we’re picking up and it’s counted in pageviews, because—not to be reductive and say that it’s a capitalist issue, but when you take hundreds of millions of dollars of venture capital, and you’re building models predicated on advertising, you are gonna create fucked-up algorithms and shitty loops that take away your attention. And guess what? You need to engage with longform texts. You need control of your attention. And so I think part of what subverted our ability to find this utopian reading space is the fact that so much of what’s on these devices is actively working to destroy all of the qualities needed to create that space.”

    https://longform.org/posts/longform-podcast-289-craig-mod

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  7. Scratching the Surface — 64. Paul Ford

    1. Paul Ford Paul Ford is a writer, programmer, educator, and technologist. He is currently the co-founder of Postlight, a digital product studio in New York and teaches at the School of Visual Arts….

    http://scratchingthesurface.fm/post/170859573600/64-paul-ford

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  8. Ursula Le Guin & Margaret Atwood - Literary Arts

    Ursula Le Guin begins her lecture with Margaret Atwood by saying, “I emailed Margaret about six weeks or so ago and said, ‘What are we going to talk about?’ and she replied, ‘I expect we will talk about 1) What is fiction?; 2) What is science fiction?; 3) The ones who walk away from Omelas—where do they go?; 4) Is the human race doomed?; 5) Anything else that strikes our fancy.’” The two women proceed to examine these questions and talk through their answers. They delve into their writing processes and motives, creating many humorous analogies for the act of writing, whether they connect it to naked chickens, salted slugs, or dark boudoirs.

    Margaret Atwood is a poet, novelist, short story writer, essayist, and environmental activist. She has written over 40 books and is best known for her fiction, including The Blind Assassin, which won the Man-Booker Prize in 2000. Atwood has used her public profile to advocate for human rights, the environment, and the welfare of writers. She has been president of PEN International and helped found the Writer’s Trust of Canada. As a public intellectual, Atwood is known as a brilliant thinker on a huge range of subjects who has a wry and ironic sense of humor and who is willing to call out platitudes and other forms of lazy thinking.

    Ursula K. Le Guin sold her first story over 50 years ago and has been writing and publishing ever since. Tackling various modes, including realistic fiction, science fiction, high fantasy, children’s literature, screenplays, and essays, her work has challenged traditional understandings of gender roles, politics, race, and identity. She is best known for her fantasy series Earthsea and her science fiction novel The Left Hand of Darkness. She has influenced several generations of writers, including Junot Díaz, Kelly Link, David Mitchell, and Jonathan Lethem. Throughout her career, she has continuously met criticism with courage, causing one critic to note, “It’s been hard for reviewers to cope with Le Guin. She’s often seemed like a writer without a critical context. But that may just mean that the context is still to come.” Among her many honors, Le Guin has received a National Book Award and, most recently, The National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters.

    If we knew everything ahead of time, we wouldn’t write the book. It would be paint by numbers and there wouldn’t be any discoveries.” – Margaret Atwood

    “Rereading a book is much better than reading it. A good book reread is better than a good book read.” – Ursula Le Guin

    “All doors are doors to the future, if you go into them.” – Margaret Atwood

    https://literary-arts.org/archive/ursula-le-guin-margaret-atwood/

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  9. Episode 8: Fantastica, with George R.R. Martin and Kim Stanley Robinson

    Science fiction and fantasy have gone from the sidelines to the mainstream. We bring you a live conversation between two of the field’s living legends, George R.R. Martin (“A Song of Ice and Fire,” adapted for television as Game of Thrones, the Wild Card series) and Kim Stanley Robinson (New York 2140, the Mars trilogy), discussing their careers, the history of fantastic literature, and how it shapes our imagination. They came to the Clarke Center in support of the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Workshop (clarion.ucsd.edu), the premiere training and proving ground for emerging writers, which the Clarke Center organizes each summer with the Clarion Foundation.

    http://imagination.ucsd.edu/_wp/podcast/episode-8-fantastica-with-george-r-r-martin-and-kim-stanley-robinson/

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  10. Anne Leckie: “Provenance” | Talks at Google

    Ann Leckie, winner of the Hugo, Nebula, Arthur C. Clarke and Locus Awards, joins us in Cambridge to discuss Provenance, an enthralling new novel of power, theft, privilege and birthright.

    A power-driven young woman has just one chance to secure the status she craves and regain priceless lost artifacts prized by her people. She must free their thief from a prison planet from which no one has ever returned.

    Ingray and her charge will return to her home world to find their planet in political turmoil, at the heart of an escalating interstellar conflict. Together, they must make a new plan to salvage Ingray’s future, her family, and her world, before they are lost to her for good.

    Get the book here: https://goo.gl/nJfmsd

    ===
    Original video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sapIgYyzAYs
    Downloaded by http://huffduff-video.snarfed.org/ on Thu, 09 Nov 2017 22:01:53 GMT Available for 30 days after download

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