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Is Lying to the Public OK?

In a recent post, Lane Wallace discusses the pros and cons of a proposed amendment to Canada’s Broadcasting Act of 1986 which would allow broadcasters more leeway to broadcast false or misleading news. As you might imagine, that has generated some controversy, with free speech advocates saying the current law is too …

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Notes from the Margin: The Tipping Point

I finally had a chance to read Malcolm Gladwell’s book The Tipping Point the other day and I thought I’d pull together a few quick comments. Things that caught my fancy: Social epidemics – On his website, Gladwell defines a meme as an infectious idea that spreads through a population like …

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Design
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Fighting Insidious Business Jargon with Design

One of the biggest barriers to introducing new concepts to people is that they often have old, preconceived notions about those concepts that are just close enough to the truth to cause confusion. For example, my company recently started a sales program that establishes performance incentives by “vertical” — one of those vague business …

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Rise of the (Old) Machines

With the recent shutdown of Egypt’s internet and cell phone service, people have started to break out some older technology to keep the flow of information going. Fax machines, dial-up modems and ham radios are all back in vogue now that the communications blackade is up and running. (It kind …

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The Revolution Will Not Be Televised … But It Will Be Tweeted

The chart below illustrates the Egyptian government’s most recent attempt to stem the rising tide of civilian protests. Apparently recognizing the threat that social networking sites posed, the Egyptians finally pulled the plug on the entire Internet on Thursday: “[I]n an action unprecedented in Internet history, the Egyptian government appears to …

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Design
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Great TV Remote Mods

Electronics manufacturers still don’t seem understand how to design easy-to-use controls for their devices. This is particularly true for the thousands of TV/cable box combinations that exist in our homes. While we wait patiently for some specialty company to meet this need, check out this arts-and-crafts modification I found online: What …

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Propaganda vs. Disinformation vs. News

In his book Warriors of Disinformation, Alvin Snyder notes that, back in the 1980s, new developments in broadcast technology were making it difficult for Soviet and Warsaw Pact authorities to control the flow of information into their respective countries: “The increasing accessibility of images, ideas, and information, facilitated by the rapid …

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Design
Discovering New Opportunities for Urban Design in American Cities

“What a city has to say must find expression in its architecture.” Walter Wallmann, Lord Mayor of Frankfurt/Main Here in the U.S., we tend to think of our built environment –- our cities and towns — as mostly finished. Sure, we might tear down a few old buildings or add …

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What Does the Average Biker Dude Look Like?

CNN published the mugshots of all of the biker gang members who were arrested after the recent shootout in a Waco, TX restaurant. There were a total of 171 pictures, all in the same standard pose and most in the same standard orange jumpsuit: Seeing all of these pictures got …

Design
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A Force Node Diagram of the U.S. Interstate System

There’s nothing too complicated about this post. I’ve been interested in creating an illustration of the U.S. Interstate system for awhile but my initial concept of a “subway-style” diagram of the network had already been done. After some recent experimentation with the D3 Javascript library, I decided that it might …

Favorites

What Does the Average Biker Dude Look Like?

CNN published the mugshots of all of the biker gang members who were arrested after the recent shootout in a Waco, TX restaurant. There were a total of 171 pictures, all in the same standard pose and most in the same standard orange jumpsuit: Seeing all of these pictures got …

Design
2

A Force Node Diagram of the U.S. Interstate System

There’s nothing too complicated about this post. I’ve been interested in creating an illustration of the U.S. Interstate system for awhile but my initial concept of a “subway-style” diagram of the network had already been done. After some recent experimentation with the D3 Javascript library, I decided that it might …

Design
4

Most Popular Word Roots in U.S. Place Names

My family visited Washington D.C. last year for Spring Break and, during our 12-hour drive, I remember noticing a subtle change in the names of the cities and towns we were passing through. In the beginning, the place names had a familiar mid-western flavor; one that mixed Native American origins …

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Visualizing English Word Origins

I have been reading a book on the development of the English language recently and I’ve become fascinated with the idea of word etymology — the study of words and their origins. It’s no secret that English is a great borrower of foreign words but I’m not enough of an …