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Libraries and the cognitive resource pool

One of the most interesting things I’ve read in the past few weeks was a post at┬áKathy Sierra’s new blog called “Your app makes me fat.” Sierra looks at psychological research that shows how we use the same “pool” of cognitive resources for both thinking and willpower. Tricky cognitive tasks drain our ability to exercise […]

On walkability, part 5: Aesthetics revisited

[This is the fifth in a series of posts on walkability and city form. If you’d like to read them in sequence, here are part 1, part 2, part 3, and part 4.] Via The Atlantic Cities, I’ve been checking out OpenPlans‘ Beautiful Streets project, an experiment to determine what makes a street beautiful. When […]

In search of the elusive Nesselrode Pudding, or, menu digitization rocks!

How much do I love the New York Public Library's What's on the Menu? project? Inordinately, that's how much. They're dealing with a fairly common problem among libraries with digitization projects: a big collection of image files of interesting documents; the need to capture the text from those documents into a usable, searchable form; the […]

Fun with Google Books Ngram Viewer

When Google’s Ngram Viewer appeared on the scene last month, I (like half my Twitter feed) went a little crazy feeding search terms into it and looking at the results. For any of you who missed the news, the viewer lets you search language corpora generated from Google Books and display a chart of the […]

In praise of 750 Words

Thanks to a post about it on the excellent blog ProfHacker, I've become a big fan of the freewriting site 750words.com. It's a godsend for people like me who want to write more but have a hard time getting started or getting motivated. You log in and it gives you a blank screen and a […]

On walkability and how to measure it: part 1 of an intermittent series

I’ve been wanting to write a post about walkability for some time now, but the more I think about it, the more I realize it should be a series, because if I tried to say everything I wanted to say in one post, it would approach book length, and it’s long enough already. So consider […]

Living room and fishbowl: On Facebook and semi-privacy

I have (for the time being, at least) a Facebook account. I signed up for it because all my real-life friends and acquaintances were on it, and because all of the people I'm closest to live at least a hundred miles away. Coworkers from former jobs in cities I've moved away from, college and grad […]

Encountering literature by walking through it

Over on the excellent BLDGBLOG, a new favorite and a recent addition to the blogroll, Geoff Manaugh has been speculating about augmented reality applications for buildings that never were, inspired by a new iPhone application for browsing visionary Manhattan architecture. He also suggests something that sounds a lot like what I've been trying to do […]

Ideal cities, ghostly cities

A team of computer scientists at the University of Washington is creating 3-D virtual models of cities (Rome, Venice, and Dubrovnik, for starters) using nothing but downloaded images from Flickr. As they explain: In this project, we consider the problem of reconstructing entire cities from images harvested from the web. Our aim is to build […]

What is the sound of one melancholy wave withdrawing?

My new absolute favorite thing on the web is FreeSound, an archive of Creative Commons-licensed sound files uploaded by users, like an aural version of Flickr's Creative Commons pool. They're tagged with keywords, and some of them (to the delight of someone as map-obsessed as I am) are geotagged so that if you want to […]