Author: Bobbie Johnson

Radar week 18: Re-release

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Link / Things my friends have made

• Facing life: Eight people discuss life after incarceration in this beautifully simple, extremely touching project from Pen and Brandon. • New York Times is killing it with clear interactives at the moment—here’s one about the soundtrack to the AIDS crisis: I was sold as soon as they showed me a bunch of pictures of mixtapes. • How police interfere with public spaces. • I get the ethical stance of Ogilvy saying it won’t work […]

Just a formality

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Form follows function: an inspiration for designers and makers of all kinds. You see it surface in other ways, twisting a little, showing a different face: Separate content and presentation; Radical functionalism; Let people’s needs determine the shape of the thing, not the other way around. But form follows function is an ideal, not a fact.  It appeared as a counter to formal constriction, not as a natural law. Because while function is the why, […]

Radar week 14: Infinite curiosity

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• “What I learned as a hired consultant to autodidact physicists“• This review made me want to read Megan Phelps-Roper’s book on growing up inside the Westboro Baptist Church• Something to explore: The Eames Institute for Infinite Curiosity• Feelgood story of the week had to be the footage of 11-year-old Prince being interviewed on TV. (Backstory)

Radar week 13: Niche hobbies

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• This collection of Japanese cassette tapes is quite beautiful. • This drone time lapse photography of a herd of sheep moving around has a wonderful liquid quality to it. • The dirtbag left (and its heroes) gets an inordinate amount of attention. The latest is Adam Tooze. • I think the common thread between these “rock and pop greats” who are avid model railway enthusiasts is not that they are musicians, but that they […]

Red sky thinking

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What is urgency? Why are some people driven while others sit back?   Because I am a happy cliche, Hamilton has been on repeat recently. In Burr’s words: “he has something to prove, he has nothing to lose.” Why wouldn’t you try to do everything you can? Time is limited, and you can’t wait for life to happen to you. Clearly not everyone feels this way. Or even if they do, they don’t all feel able […]

Radar week 12: Theories and practice

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•“The poetics of history from below” • Undark on how nudge theory—which was very exciting to the political classes over the last decade—fared during the pandemic • The Office of Collecting and Design • I love Michael Hobbes. Here’s his recent video on cancel culture (re: the last post) • Why the Center on Privacy & Technology is no longer using the term “artificial intelligence”

On freedom

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Information wants to be free.  People want to be free too.  But freedom from? Or freedom to? Hello Isiah Berlin. What freedoms count on either side of this moral ledger? Who gets to speak? And who gets to criticize? We’re dragged there again and again by the faithless, often in the tawdriest pages of the New York Times. A couple of years ago, Timothy Snyder’s On Tyranny became my go-to book on the threat to […]

Radar week 11: Printing on purpose

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• March 19 in San Francisco, Letterform Archive presents “Making Mistakes on Purpose” (passim) • Keith Stuart on the return of video game magazines: “If we’re going to cut down a tree, I want to do something as special as I can with it.” • “Tree planting is booming. Here’s how that could help, or harm, the planet.” (cf) • I wonder what’s happened to Barbara Beskind.