Peter Taylor was doing research at the UK's Imperial War Museums when he stumbled across the story of parachuting pigeons. In 1914, the British were seeking intelligence about German troop numbers and movement in Belgium. So they parachuted homing pigeons into the region from balloons and planes. Attached to the pigeons were instructions for civilians to write down what they had seen and then to allow the birds to fly back to base. Inspired, Taylor went on to collect unusual war stories and compiled them into two books, Weird War One: Intriguing Items and Fascinating Feats from the First World War and its sequel Weird War Two: Intriguing Items and Surprising Stuff from the Second World War.
“It was a mixture of proper research—talking to curators, reading books, trawling through the archives—and suitably strange research: for example, (mis)using the museum’s database by typing in odd words for hours to see what came up (‘Socks,’ ‘Disguise,’ ‘Secret,’ ‘Insect’)," Taylor told Air & Space. "It’s hard to have a completely sensible plan for finding strange and surprising things.”
Below, an illustration of a propaganda idea involving flying machines shaped like sharks.
Tim Wu (previously) is a legal scholar best known for coining the term "Net Neutrality" -- his next book, The Curse of Bigness: Antitrust in the New Gilded Age (previously) challenges the accepted wisdom about today's digital monopolists, which is that they grew so big because of some underlying truth about online business ("first-mover advantage," […]
When Amazon division Abebooks -- the largest platform for antiquarian booksellers in the world -- announced it would blacklist stores in the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, South Korea and Russia, citing nebulous transaction-processing difficulties -- 600 antiquarian booksellers in 27 countries went on strike, withdrawing their 4,000,000 titles from Abebooks.
Anand Giridharadas was a former McKinsey consultant turned "thought leader," invited to the stages of the best "ideas festivals" and to TED (twice), the author of some very good and successful books, and as a kind of capstone to this career, he was named a fellow to the Aspen Institute, an elite corps of entrepreneurs […]
A picture can be worth a heck of a lot more than just a thousand words. If you’ve squinted for ages trying to get just the right photo, you might have the right passion for a career behind the camera. You might even have the right equipment, but do you have the know-how? The Beginner-To-Expert […]
In case you hadn’t noticed from the sleigh bell-heavy music and the hues on your Starbucks cup, the holiday season hasn’t shown any more patience this year. But that doesn’t need to be a bad thing, especially if you’re hoping to get a jump on your shopping. Retailers aren’t waiting til Black Friday to dish […]
What do you get for the techie who has everything? How about giving them a Raspberry Pi and letting them make pretty much anything. Or better yet, do it for yourself with the Ultimate Raspberry Pi eBook Bundle. This trove of ideas and education unlocks the unlimited potential of this mini-computer, whose affordability and versatility […]