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How science fiction influences thinking about the future


Eileen Gunn writes, "What's science fiction good for? The May issue of Smithsonian magazine has an essay on the relationship between science, science fiction, and the future by Boing Boing buddy Eileen Gunn. Major writers -- Ursula K. Le Guin, William Gibson, Neal Stephenson, Samuel R. Delany, Kim Stanley Robinson, Cory Doctorow and others -- talk about why science fiction likes to think about the future and how SF can be used to help scientists think about the uses and ethics of their inventions. The rest of the issue covers science and ethical issues of the near future."

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Marvelous 18th century secretary cabinet

Please enjoy this video of my new writing desk with its hidden compartments, clockwork mechanisms, chimes, inkwell, and sand sifter. It was built in the workshop of Abraham and David Roentgen during the 18th century and previously owned by King Frederick William II. OK, fine, it's not mine. But it will be. Someday. SOMEDAY! (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, thanks Bob Pescovitz!)

Rockabillly space-skeleton DJ backpack


This is a pretty perfect dads-and-grads season item: a backpack featuring: a) a skeleton with; b) sideburns and a quiff, wearing; c) a spacesuit, standing on d) the moon, while e) working a set of turntables. That's the whole package, all right.

Mojo Blast Off Backpack (via Crazy Abalone)

Comic Neue: a sophisticated alternative to Comic Sans


Comic Sans was never intended to be the world's most popular typeface. Its success has irritated type-nerds, who've been vociferous about their disappointment. Now, Craig Rozynski brings us Comic Neue, "the casual script choice for everyone including the typographically savvy." It's a free download, too.

Comic Neue

1982 high school yearbook with videogame theme

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London's IDEA booksellers unearthed this 1982 yearbook, from South Plantation High School in Florida, that has a fantastic hand-drawn video game theme. (via the excellent @ideabooksltd Instagram feed)

5 days of TED in one page

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My ultracreative friend Lucy Farey-Jones attended the recent TED conference in Vancouver and left delightfully overwhelmed. The only way she could make sense of what she learned was by mapping it on a single beautiful page.

"Upon my re-entry to the real world, friends, clients and folks at my firm say: ‘How was TED?’ And there is a big pause from me as my brain tries and fails to sum it up," Lucy says. "It’s an impossible question to answer. It’s like being asked ‘How is food?’ or ‘Puberty — how was it?’ Which is where this idea came in. I thought a way to answer this daunting question would be to make a graphic which tries to capture how TED makes me feel. I gave myself the challenge to capture 5 days in one page."

"5 days of TED in one page"

Wonderful new book about "Magic Experience Design" (in Italian)

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Today marks the Italian publication of "L'arte Di Stupire" ("The Art of Amazement") the new book by Boing Boing friends and collaborators Ferdinando Buscema and Mariano Tomatis whose work is best described as "magic experience design." I've read a draft English translation and it's absolutely fantastic. I can't wait for the eventual publication of the English edition. Here's what I said about the book:

Buscema and Tomatis are modern day mystics who move seamlessly between the realms of science, art, and magic, seeking wonder at every turn. They delight in inspiring us all to cultivate curiosity and embrace astonishment in our daily lives. This brilliant book is an empowering grimoire for hacking reality and giving the gift of magical experiences to others.

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Resume in the form of a custom Lego figure


Leah is looking for a job at a creative agency, so she created a Lego figure of herself and boxed it up as a resume in the form of a custom kit. She made two of them, and used the instructions for building the fig as a means of highlighting her creative credentials. It's a pretty lovely piece of work -- I hope she gets a job!

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Bot & Dolly and the rise of creative robotics

Remember this incredible video above? In the new issue of BusinessWeek, I profile the brilliant minds behind it, creative robotics studio Bot & Dolly, whose astonishing technology was also instrumental in the special effects of Gravity:

Behind a small cafe in San Francisco’s Potrero Hill neighborhood stands an unmarked warehouse where the future of human-machine interaction is taking shape. Inside this sprawling maze of soundstages, machine shops, and computer labs, artists collaborate with engineers, cinematographers brainstorm with coders, and everyone has a collegial relationship with the small army of industrial robots stationed here. This is Bot & Dolly, a boutique design studio that specializes in combining massive mechanical arms with custom software for movies, architecture, digital fabrication, and entertainment installations. “We’re a culture of makers, of creators with open minds,” says Tobias Kinnebrew, Bot & Dolly’s director for product strategy. “We work on things that don’t seem possible and try to make them possible.”
"Bot & Dolly and the Rise of Creative Robots"

How Medium designed its underlines


Marcin Wichary is a designer at Medium who took on the challenge of creating a considered, fine-tuned underline for the links on the site. In contrast to the normal "data-driven" design story, which is often a series of A/B tests that nudge things around by a pixel or two for weeks until they attain some counterintuitive optimum, this is a story about someone who had an intuitive, artistic, aesthetic goal and spent a bunch of time getting HTML to behave in a way that was consistent across different browsers, screen resolutions, and so forth.

I have to say that the actual underlines that Medium came up with don't seem to me to be more or less appealing than the default (the GIF above is displaying a before-and-after and I still can't tell which is which without referring to the article), but I really enjoy stories about people who know what aesthetic effect they want to achieve and are willing to move heaven and earth to achieve it.

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Polygon-art Star Wars character cushion-covers

On Etsy, The Retro Inc sells a nice line of custom-sized cushion slips screened with polygon art renderings of Star Wars characters. They range from $34-$42 depending on size.

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Werkhaus: flat-pack housewares and accessories skinned with photos of scuffed, worn-in real-world stuff


I was in Berlin for the day yesterday to speak at a World Consumer Rights Day, and before I headed back to the airport, I dropped in at Werkhaus, a retail outlet that sells innovative, made-in-Germany flat-pack housewares that are skinned with beautiful photos of decayed, wabi-sabi surfaces from street furniture, antiques, and industrial apparatus. I bought one of their "Telefonstation" shelving units, designed to hold and charge your phones and mobile devices while disguising the charge-cables; the one I bought is skinned with the exterior of a scuffed and beaten Soviet pay-phone, with stenciled Cyrillic lettering.

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Space age design loft bed/desk for kids (1975)

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While searching for a good loft bed/desk system for my son, I found this photo of a fantastic bed/desk/closet module designed in 1975 by Luigi Colani. The closet door is a chalkboard! I like how space age it feels. The DIY Mission Control desktop I posted about previously would be a perfect addition. (Handmade Charlotte)

Lovely silhouette necklaces cut from old records

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Il 570xN 484344181 6mk6Etsy seller RandomPrefect cuts beautiful silhouettes from recycled vinyl records and sells them as bold, elegant necklaces. These are hand-cut (not laser cut or machined) and the designs include birds, hearts, butterflies, keys, skulls, and Star Wars and Star Trek icons! Most are priced around $20 or so. Custom shapes are also available! RandomPrefect (Thanks, Candy Mabry!)

New stop motion short by PES for jewelry design Delfina Delettrez

New stop motion wizardry from incredible animator PES! Designer Delfina Delettrez commissioned this short, titled "Black Gold," as a promotion for her insect-themed jewelry line.