1. I first “met” Jeff Orlick over Twitter. We connected online when I asked him for a press release for Viva La Comida, a festival he organizes to celebrate the food and culture of the city. 

    But I officially met Jeff in person about a week or two after that by coincidence. I was taking notes at Diversity Plaza. He was using a long umbrella to pick trash out of the ornamental planters that get treated like garbage bins. That’s when I first heard about the Queens Qustodian, a character he created to clean up the neighborhood’s streets. 

    My colleague Julia Alsop and I followed Jeff as he climbed highway signs, scaled street poles and used his car trunk as a step stool to get closer to the illegal street signs that are plastered all around his neighborhood. The signs advertise dubious services to buy junk cars or homes with cash payments, and they clutter the local streets. 

    But he doesn’t stop there. He has cleaned up abandoned newspaper stands and slapped stickers that say “You park like an asshole” on illegally parked cars that are dangers to both oncoming traffic and pedestrians. 

    And we even saw him conduct an experiment to break the lock of an old bicycle that had been chained to a street pole and abandoned. He had heard that you could use a car jack to force open the lock and — voila — it worked, much to his surprise. He carried the bike to a trash can and just like that, the sidewalk became just a little cleaner.

    Would you ever do anything like this to clean up your neighborhood? Check out my video and let me know what you think. 


  2. wfaelistenhere:

    Maybe you were raised on public radio or maybe you found it later in life. For me, growing up in a house with one small TV that got turned off right after Mr. Rogers but a radio in every room, public radio was as regular a part of life as breakfast or time-out. But whether you were indoctrinated…

  3. visualeverything:

    Whilst this isn’t technically a data visualisation or an infographic, it almost certainly pays great homage to both. 

    Influenced by old astronomical text books this video plays with the formats to create a beautifully captivating animation, making me want to jump into my rocket ship and explore space some more.

    Lovely work by Kim Taylor

    Pretty astronomy animation with perfectly matched Bjork soundtrack.


  4. socialmediadesk:

    One of the things that we love about social media is that it allows us to share an experience even if we aren’t physically together. At NPR, we’ve done that for years with radio dispatches from trips around the world. More recently, we’ve been asking some of those radio personalities and…

  5. momatalks:

    What does your world SOUND like? 

    Upload your own sound bite on the Soundcloud page here and see it posted to MoMA Studio’s sound map, along with other submissions from around the world! Visit MoMA Studio: Sound in Space to contribute and learn more about this project.

  6. audiovision:

    After Haiti’s earthquake in 2010 images of death and destruction flooded into the media, but photographer Paolo Woods focused on a subject close to our heart — radios.

    Since 49% of the adult population of Haiti is literate, most people rely on local radio stations to get their local news, listen to kompa (traditional Haitian music) and figure out what’s going on in their community.

    It takes about $2,000 to start up a basic station, but that won’t get you broadcast as far as NPR; it’ll just reach your town.

    See more of Woods’ photos on KPCC’s AudioVision.

    (via everythingsoundsmedia)

  7. "London Design Festival 2013: Lebanese designer Najla El Zein has installed 5000 spinning paper windmills in a doorway at the V&A museum in London.

    "Each of the spinning windmills in the Wind Portal by Najla El Zein was folded by hand and attached to upright plastic tubes with custom-made 3D-printed clips."

    (via Wind Portal installation at the V&A by Najla El Zein)

  9. maptitude:

    I’ve seen lots of USA race maps based on the 2010 census data, but this one is my favorite both for detail and aesthetics. Each dot represents a single person, but at most zoom levels those dots are smaller than a pixel, so what you get is a blend of colors. In the map above, blue dots are for people who identify as White, green dots are for those who identify as Black, red is Asian, yellow is Hispanic, and brown is anything else. You can see the interactive map here or learn more about it here.

    (Source: maptitude1, via ilovecharts)


  11. (via Nobutaka Aozaki)

    From Here to There

    2012 -

    Questions, various pens and paper
    10’ x 3’ 2” Dimensions variable  

    A map of Manhattan composed of hand-drawn maps by various New York pedestrians whom the artist asked for directions.

    Pretending to be a tourist by wearing a souvenir cap and carrying a shopping bag of Century 21, a major tourist shopping place, I ask various New York pedestrians to draw a map to direct me to another location. I connect and place these small maps based on actual geography in order to make them function as parts of a larger map.  

  12. theparisreview:

    Listen to Jorge Luis Borges’s 1967-8 Norton Lectures, entitled “This Craft of Verse,” on “storytelling, cliché, the epic, human communication, the shortcomings of the novel, translation, and the falseness of happy endings.”


  13. "

    There are two things that the essay writers I talked with suggested: more reading and more writing. Essay collections like the Best American series, that draw from a wide range of venues (whether literary journal, blog, or science magazine), can give a reader examples of structure, voice, and other craft elements. Finding a reason to do regular essay-writing — whether a personal blog or even a deadline with another writer — can move essays from vague ideas to words on the page.

    Even when you’re not working on essays, ‘you can take the opportunity in almost any kind of nonfiction writing to amp up your own voice,’ Hopson says. ‘It doesn’t leave you, once you create a strong, personalized voice as a writer. It just winds up in things.’

    — Cameron Walker, “The Art of the Essay,” The Open Notebook (via gracebello)

    (Source: theopennotebook.com, via gracebello)

  14. npr:

    In Kenya, Using Tech To Put An ‘Invisible’ Slum On The Map

    If you were to do a search for the Nairobi city slum of Mathare on Google Maps, you’d find little more than gray spaces between unmarked roads.

    Slums by nature are unplanned, primordial cities, the opposite of well-ordered city grids. Squatters rights rule, and woe to the visitor who ventures in without permission. But last year, a group of activist cartographers called the Spatial Collective started walking around Mathare typing landmarks into hand-held GPS devices.

    In a slum with no addresses and no street names, they are creating a map of what it’s like to live here.

    Read the rest and listen to the story on Morning Edition.

    (Map courtesy of Muungano Support Trust and Jason Corburn, UC Berkeley)

    (via humanscalecities)

  15. maudnewton:

    The great Joan Didion has won a National Humanities Medal, and in the lead-up I interviewed her (and tried not to faint while sitting in her living room) for a bio-profile just out in Humanities Magazine

    I promised myself I wouldn’t stay at her place more than 45 minutes. Even in that short time, she said many, many interesting things that didn’t fit in the allotted space. Some of my favorites:

    • She once told The Paris Review that none of her novels are particularly autobiographical. I mentioned this, and she said The Last Thing He Wanted, her last novel, was an exception.I wondered whether she found quasi-autobiographical fiction more difficult to write than other kinds. She said she did. “Why is it so much harder?” I asked her. “I don’t know,” she said, “but it is.” The Last Thing He Wanted was “depressing to write.”
    • She’s written about clothing and linens and furniture, about her mother’s and grandmother’s influence on her tastes. I asked if she saw a relationship between her aesthetics in writing and her aesthetics in the rest of the world. Did they seem related or like two different spheres? “No, they don’t seem like different spheres,” she said. “I have a hard time thinking about it now but I spent a huge amount of my childhood and adult life finding a way to incorporate my family’s ideas into my own…. It seems to me everything you write is so wrapped up in everything you’ve been told and everything you do that it’s hard to separate it.”
    • I asked why people don’t tend to notice that her work is funny. “People have absolutely no sense of humor at all,” she said.

    (via powells)