The Next Great Disruption Wednesday, Mar 20 2013 

Can you guess what the next great disruption will be? Why 3D printing of course! Ravenous has looked at this before in a post on the repair of a 19th century object but this time it’s all about the 21st century and what is to come:

This constitutes disruptive innovation such as we’ve experienced with the internet.

How about a manufactured 3D house:


DUS Architects vision is being created in cargo containers to be re-assembled on site. New technology comes with hyperbole, time tells what’s next.



GIFS Wednesday, Dec 12 2012 

Earlier this year we celebrated the 25th Anniversary of the invention of the GIF file format by Steve Wilhite of CompuServe. The following video by PBS OffBook does a great job of telling this story:

From the practical “under construction,” to the silly LOL Cats, to the very artsy incarnations from INSA, these little scripts compel us to look. Now as to pronunciation, according to Wikipedia both”gif” and “jif” are acceptable with the OED.

Raven-ous says long live the GIF!


Could This be the Future? Wednesday, May 9 2012 

In reading the Athenaeum’s Twitter feed this morning I came acr0ss an espresso maker and television set that stretches the imagination.  First, the text message, robot initiated espresso by Zipwhip:

We have a Keurig machine in the Reading Room. Could this be it’s replacement?

Next, is what could very loosely be called a “television set”.  Christina Bonnington’s writes in Wired about NDS’s “surfaces” as you can see in the picture:

Image from NDS via Wired

The images are managed through an iPad and can include multiple displays of digital content or a single mammoth screen. When it is off it disappears and the wallpaper shows through.   Can you imagine either of these in use at the Athenaeum?

3D Printing of 19th Century Object Friday, Mar 30 2012 

3D printing is amazing. If you are unfamiliar with the concept check out the following National Geographic video:

Now imagine having a tool from the 19th century, like this conformateur, a hat makers form:

It sits on little wooden feet, two of which are broken.  La Bricoleuse relates their experience repairing the tool using a 3D printer here. My understanding is they could have reproduced the whole piece, but why would they when theirs is such a lovely Steampunkish product, with a wonderful French name?

Thanks @BoingBoing

Typewriters Friday, Oct 28 2011 

Over the last couple of months, there has been a surprising amount of talk about typewriters across the Internet. First, Christopher Lockett is working on a documentary about typewriters in the 21st century, their future and history.  Then  Inventor Jack Zylkin has developed a USB Typewriter (which the website describes as “a new and groundbreaking innovation in the field of obsolescence”). The project seems to have originated as a do-it-yourself kit, but the demand caused him to include pre-assembled models in his store. The video demonstration is below.

Finally, there is an article about a place where typewriters are still seeing daily use: India, where the last typewriter-manufacturing company (anywhere) survived until 2008. Back to the future.

Thanks Boingboing

An Interactive Book Wednesday, May 4 2011 

Mike Matas from Push Pop Press demonstrates an amazing book:

Currently it only works on Apple products but other vendors will follow suit. At first I thought that interactive books were gimmicky but they are reaching a level of sophistication that is hard to overlook. Should we call them books?

Marshall McLuhan Wednesday, Feb 9 2011 

Centennial celebrations are underway for Marshall McLuhan and there are some wonderful digital collections for you to see. Marshall McLuhan Speaks is a collection of video clips of McLuhan in conversations and lectures on the topics he loved: media, television, and the “electric age”. The introduction is done by Woody Allen and Tom Wolfe and is definitely worth viewing.

The McLuhan family website has an extensive list of world events that have been scheduled for the year and there is a new book by Douglas Coupland, Marshall McLuhan: You Know Nothing of My Work! Reviewed by David Carr of the New York Times here.

The Athenaeum owns a collection of his letters but RISD has many of his scholarly works.

Google’s Ngram Viewer Wednesday, Dec 22 2010 

Word geeks are ecstatic about Google’s latest curio that searches word occurrences over time and across the Google books database. Choose a word or two, or a phrase, and see how usage has changed over the centuries. Great fun. The word Athenaeum for example peaked in usage in the 1940’s and has been in decline ever since although there has been a slight uptick in the new millennium. The results for the words men and women:

Women enjoyed a brief usage victory in the 1990’s. If you search “man,woman” the results are quite different, with woman still far behind. This tool has created a major buzz on the internet; of note is this Atlantic piece, where the comments are as interesting as the article, and of course there are naysayers of the project such as this post, but geek that I am I think it’s wonderful. Another interesting search “geek,nerd”–geeks rule!

Thanks John and Twitter

Machine of Death Friday, Dec 10 2010 

Comments abound about how social media and the internet are changing everything and here is yet another example. Machine of Death is a privately published collection of short stories, created by webcomic authors, who posted a plea on their website that everyone go to Amazon on a certain date and buy this book so it would be the number one seller of the day. Through tweets, blogs,  facebook,  websites, etc. they accomplished this goal but Glenn Beck’s book came out the same day and reportedly he was very upset to be beat out by the indie crowd.

Issued with a creative commons license it is available in pdf and podcast and we will have a copy in the Athenaeum shortly.

Thanks to Ian & RJ

The Republic of Letters – 21st Century Style Wednesday, Dec 1 2010 

The Humanities Center of Standford University has mapped correspondences between scholars in 18th century Europe using visualization software. The results are amazing:

And you can access the full map here.

Thanks to Stephen’s Lighthouse via Fast Company.

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