Museum Future

The biggest problem facing Danny Dorling’s tongue-in-cheek proposal for Our Museum Future is surely that it leaves Britain’s prosperity dependent upon the continued interest of the rest of the world in what the British royal family gets up to and where they live. Possibly not a great bet.

If we work hard enough, we will win the global race to become the central tourist destination on planet earth. We are in the right time zone; we speak the right language, and no other languages; we have a captive, cheap, docile, servile labour force. We have a quaint currency with a picture of a member of the royal family on it, a souvenir in itself. And every year tourists will get more and more pounds for their dollar, euro, renminbi or rupee.

Punish David with Marvel Movies to Help End Gun Violence!

Film critic David Ehrlich, who is a significant part of the reason Fighting In The War Room is my favourite film podcast, as well as the author of some glorious end-of-year YouTube video countdowns, but who is not a big fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is organising Punish David with Marvel Movies to Help End Gun Violence! If you’re wondering how badly this could turn out for David Ehrlich, let me point you to MGK Ranks Every Live-Action Marvel Movie Since 1998 (2018 Remix Edition), in which even someone generally well-disposed towards big-screen superhero epics finds himself admitting that some of them are, well, pretty shitty.12

If you can afford to throw a few dollars David Ehrlich’s way, please consider doing so.

Getting the picture right

In case you were wondering, Netflix go to great lengths to select the most enticing preview image possible for you when you’re presented with a list of possible viewing choices:

For many years, the main goal of the Netflix personalized recommendation system has been to get the right titles in front each of our members at the right time. With a catalog spanning thousands of titles and a diverse member base spanning over a hundred million accounts, recommending the titles that are just right for each member is crucial. But the job of recommendation does not end there. Why should you care about any particular title we recommend? What can we say about a new and unfamiliar title that will pique your interest? How do we convince you that a title is worth watching? Answering these questions is critical in helping our members discover great content, especially for unfamiliar titles. […]

My experience is that some of the time I already have an idea of the image I associate with a film and it just adds to my confusion if I see the same title being represented by a completely different image a few weeks or months later. Perhaps once I’m in their record as having watched a film, they should have a field which notes that and locks in the ID of whatever image was shown to me at the point when I viewed it.

[Via The Overspill]

Kindles and touchscreens

I had no idea that my post earlier today was going to be eclipsed by a much better, deeper take on the whole topic of how touchscreens make for a user-hostile interface, this one from Craig Mod:

I’ve been using Kindles on and off ever since they launched. Our relationship has been contentious but I’ve always been seduced or re-seduced by their potential. At their best, they are beautiful devices. At their worst, infuriating. They are always so close to being better than they are.

Initially they didn’t have touch screens, but Kindle.app on iOS did. The iOS app worked in its own funny way: adopting its own interaction model. An analog to that model found its way to hardware Kindles. I think this was a mistake. […]

A different corner of the same topic, to be sure, but the basic “invisible user interface elements are bad” problem at the heart of the issue.

Via Tim Carmody, guest-posting at kottke.org

Reasons why touch interfaces are terrible as tools for discovering new features, part 89

From Federico Viticci’s post 11 Tips for Working on the iPad:

[Here’s…] a list of my favorite long-press shortcuts in Safari.

9: Tap and Hold in Safari

Safari Reader (text icon on the left side of the address bar). Display settings to always use Safari Reader on the selected website or for all websites.

Considering how much I’ve missed per-site Reader activation since last I used Safari on MacOS X (where I used CustomReader to achieve precisely this effect, I have to wonder Why Was I Not Told About This?

The thing is, I have no doubt that that feature got the odd mention in any number of reviews that appeared when it first appeared. If Apple are going to hide it away behind a long-press shortcut, I have to assume that Apple are OK with users not being aware of all the features they roll out in iOS once a year or so. This is where an operating system with a menu bar wins every time…

Quiet!

So, it turns out that Peter Watts had less tolerance than I did for the plot holes in A Quiet Place:

[Spoilers follow, especially if you click on that link to go to the original post.]

I really wanted to like this one.

I did, too, at first. The layered, multidimensional, never-quite-silence of the movie’s soundscape grabs you from the first scene. The sight of the Abbott Family creeping through the aftermath of whatever wiped out the rest of us effectively builds suspense and curiosity. [Spoiler omitted]

Five minutes in— wholesome ‘Murrican nuclear family focus notwithstanding— you knew this was no Spielberg movie.

But the further we got into “A Quiet Place” the less goddamned sense it made. […]

[Lengthy list of inconsistencies snipped…]

Quite a few of the points Watts makes occurred to me, and arise from the way the film enters the story months after the aliens arrived. There’s the odd allusion in an old newspaper headline here and there to difficulties encountered when the humans tried to shoot their enemies’ spaceships down and suchlike, but it seems unlikely that the entire world’s armed forces would have given up so easily.

If the individual aliens were as physically vulnerable to fire from shotguns as they seemed to be, wouldn’t someone have noticed this when some suicidal patriot took a potshot at the enemy on the ground? Even if the aliens generally didn’t open up their soft, squishy heads to enemy fire that often, it’s hard to believe that some unlucky bastard with a death wish and a sub-machine gun wouldn’t have explored their options at some point along the way. Unless the aliens accepted humanity’s surrender when they were still in the sky and only emerged from their ships once the human race had agreed to bugger off into the woods and stay far enough away from their conquerors to resist the temptation to loose off a potshot now and again…

Of course the real answer is that the film chose to open the story after the fighting was over so they didn’t have to present us with a plausible scenario for how the aliens ended up yomping around in the woods without any protective armour. For the duration of the film their cunning plan mostly worked, but ten minutes afterwards I’d be pretty surprised if most of the audience weren’t thinking Wait, but… about the entire experience.

Small pieces, very loosely joined

In writing The Missing Building Blocks of the Web, Anil Dash reminds us of the future we’re missing out on, the future where the web is for publishing stuff on a human scale:

Though the world wide web has been around for more than a quarter century, people have been theorizing about hypertext and linked documents and a global network of apps for at least 75 years, and perhaps longer. And while some of those ideas are now obsolete, or were hopelessly academic as concepts, or seem incredibly obvious in a world where we’re all on the web every day, the time is perfect to revisit a few of the overlooked gems from past eras. Perhaps modern versions of these concepts could be what helps us rebuild the web into something that has the potential, excitement, and openness that got so many of us excited about it in the first place.

Just to be clear, he’s talking about concepts like View Source and Transclusion and publishing your content on your own domain. Not massively complex, unless you want it to be.1 I strongly doubt that Mark Zuckerberg would agree, but in the long run I know which side of that argument I want to see prevail.

Hybrids

Digital Collage Artist Creates Weird and Wonderful Animal Hybrids

From a sealion/horse creature named a Horseal to a Labrador puppy/albatross combo called a Labratross, Fredriksen renders his weird and wonderful critters by first finding two images that go well together. “The angle has to be right, and it helps a lot if the skin/fur textures are approximately similar. This is the hardest part,” Fredriksen explains […]

I think Pugilla is the most adorable (narrowly ahead of Pengwhale), and Hammergull most natural mix (i.e. the one I’d barely notice if it flew by me, until someone prompted me to look more closely.)

[Via MetaFilter]

Mark Zuckerberg’s 14 year apology tour

Zeynep Tufekci on Why Mark Zuckerberg’s 14-Year Apology Tour Hasn’t Fixed Facebook:

At a minimum, Facebook has long needed an ombudsman’s office with real teeth and power: an institution within the company that can act as a check on its worst impulses and to protect its users. And it needs a lot more employees whose task is to keep the platform healthier. But what would truly be disruptive and innovative would be for Facebook to alter its business model.

Basically, until someone gives Facebook a reason to change their business model – which is to say, one that results in a quantifiable financial penalty for them carrying on as they have been – they’re not going to do so. At one time that would have been a government-backed regulator’s job, but once the present furore dies down is that something there’s much chance of us seeing?