How Do Cultural and Intellectual Centers Re-locate Over Time?

Have you ever wondered why cities rise and fall, as do empires?

Charting Culture” is an animation that examines when and how “notable” people are born, stay or migrate, and where they die. Over 12,000 notable historical figures were tracked and the migrations display how people moved from city to city, empire to empire, between 600 B.C. to 2012 A.D.

Charting Culture

Published on Jul 31, 2014

This animation distils hundreds of years of culture into just five minutes. A team of historians and scientists wanted to map cultural mobility, so they tracked the births and deaths of notable individuals like David, King of Israel, and Leonardo da Vinci, from 600 BC to the present day. Using them as a proxy for skills and ideas, their map reveals intellectual hotspots and tracks how empires rise and crumble

The information comes from Freebase, a Google-owned database of well-known people and places, and other catalogues of notable individuals. The visualization was created by Maximilian Schich (University of Texas at Dallas) and Mauro Martino (IBM).

Read Nature’s news story:

Find the research paper in Science:…

Did you find anything unusual or surprising about this video?

I was fascinated by the data and by the visualization of it. However, I found it very Euro-centric. The authors did show Japan, briefly, but ignore the US South, the Middle East (the birth place of numbers 0-9), China, and the entire African continent.

What do you think?

[Source: Smithsonian Smartnews via Thomas Strömberg.]

Why Digital Preservation is Important to **You**

If you ever want a cocktail party conversation killer, try announcing that you work in “digital preservation”. You can watch people’s eyes glaze over within a split second!

Digital preservation does matter, as much to the average person as to the Information Professional. The Library of Congress tells you why in the video below. They also offer tips and tricks for preserving your personal digital materials.

Does digital preservation matter to you? What are you and are you not doing now to preserve your personal and work-related digital material? Do you agree or disagree with the above tips and tricks?

And, finally…what occupations and topics do you consider conversation killers? :)

Prudential: The Curious Secrets of a Long Life (Kind of)

the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.”
― Jack Kerouac, On the Road

Do you want to live a long life? Or would you rather live fast and short? Either way, Prudential has some amusing tips for you on how to extend your life. (And if you don’t want to live a long life, now you’ll know what not to do in order to shorten your time on this earth.)

Will you make any changes to your current lifestyle, after watching this video?

The “Bullet Journal” : a New Time Organizing Method or a Recycled Idea?

The Bullet Journal MethodI love organizing things. Ideas, notes, calendars, appointments, and tasks. You name it, I can organize it. I’m the queen of sticky notes and reminders.

Thus, I’m always interested in finding a new and better way of organizing my life, either digitally or on paper. The first method I used was Franklin Covey, complete with paper calendar, task list, address book, and Mission Statement. I later moved on to Getting Things Done (GTD). I have tried other organizing methods, but I tend to revert back to the Franklin Covey method. Maybe because it is the first one I learned?

In truth, each method has its pros and cons, even paper versus digital “life stuff” organization. Paper is actually faster, but I have to carry something else around with me. Digital organizers can make it hard to find information — I like to lay my non-digital calendar, schedules and tasks out in front of me to review them — but it’s less burdensome to carry around a smart phone tied in to my laptop via the Cloud.

When I saw this article promising a more efficient way to organize my life, I was intrigued. Could it really be this good?

I admit, I was disappointed by what I saw in the video. However, I was intrigued enough to read through the entire web site for the Bullet Journal method.

In my opinion, the Bullet Journal organizational method is a handwritten, Moleskine-oriented, hipster version of the Franklin Covey system. (I show a typical Franklin Covey daily page in the photo below.) To me, it’s not a “new” method, just a recycled version of an existing method. Franklin Covey also organizes by task, event, and note. As well, it uses notations to decide how important a task is. It is also organized by monthly calendar, daily calendar and schedule, and daily tasks. Franklin Covey also provides a way to organize by monthly and weekly tasks, and to plan ahead months and years in advance, if I remember correctly.

Franklin Covey

The Bullet Journal method doesn’t seem to provide a way to plan months ahead on a calendar. I guess that goes in a note until you create your new calendar at the end of the current month? That doesn’t seem very practical, and depending on your schedule, hand writing every task and event and moving them each month seems tedious compared to the Franklin Covey paper method or using a digital time tracker like OmniPlan, which is based on GTD. It’s also not very flexible. If I try to write out my tasks by day a month ahead, and then I need to add a significant number of new tasks, I am likely to run out of space! This photo, below, is an example daily task page in the Bullet Journal method.

The Bullet Journal

I suspect, also, that the author doesn’t have a family. I am skeptical that this method would scale. If you happen to lose an analog time tracker, there are no back up files. In addition, I am not a fan, anymore, of letting outdated paper organizers pile up and take space. That happened to me with my Franklin Covey paper planners. Eventually, I shredded the paper to save space when I lived in a small apartment in Los Angeles. I did not refer back to them after a certain amount of time passed, and it was unnecessary to keep them. It was a relief, actually, to let go! Personally, I don’t have time to manage my current and future tasks, much less to sit around and flip through my past ones.

I will give Ryder Carroll credit for creating a well-organized, manual, paper and pen system for the Moleskine or a Composition book, though. Should you use it, I have no doubt it will help you. If I still used Moleskines or a Composition notebook, I would adopt this system to organize my life. He has put a lot of thought into developing an analog organizing system. (I just think it is too similar to the Franklin Covey method to be called an “original” method. And, like all methods, it is not perfect.)

What do you think of the Bullet Journal method? What method do you use to organize your life? Do you have any tips and tricks you swear by?

Addendum, 31 December 2013: In spite of my criticisms above, I am going to give the “Bullet Journal” method a go. Please check back as I report on how well it does or does not work for me. Happy New Year 2014!

Addendum, 2 February 2014: I have an update on my use of the Bullet Journal method, 33 days later. In short, success. I am happy to eat my words. :)

What Does the U.S. Confederate Rebel Yell Sound Like?

US Post Office Battle Gettysburg Centennial stampWhat famous parts of history have librarians documented and placed online, that, prior to the Internet and digital libraries, were obscure and difficult to access for the average person? One example is an authentic recording of the U.S. Confederate “Rebel Yell” from the American Civil War.

July 1st to 3rd, 2013 marks the 150 anniversary of The Battle of Gettysburg. The National Park Service has several events planned to commemorate this battle. It is an important battle because it turned the tide of the war, and the Confederates eventually lost the war to Union forces. Casualties were high on both sides. The Union had about 23,000 dead, wounded, or missing. The Confederate forces had between 20,000 to 25,000 dead, wounded or missing.

Like the Battle of Gettysburg, people have recorded many parts of the history of the conflict between the North and the South, either on paper as written history, or via audio or video. Other portions have been lost to history. One famous part of the War Between the States is the Rebel Yell. Members of the Confederate Army were famous for their Rebel Yell. When Union forces heard the Rebel Yell, it often brought them feelings of terror and panic.

But…how many people have heard an authentic Rebel Yell from an actual Confederate soldier?

Not many living today, I’m certain.

However, thanks to the digital librarians at The Library of Congress and The Smithsonian, you can hear an authentic recording of the Rebel Yell, as given by Confederate veterans. In the 1930s, some people recorded Confederate Veterans giving a Rebel Yell. This video is below.

WBT Radio of Charlotte, NC archived another example of the Rebel Yell given by Pvt. Thomas N. Alexander of the 37th North Carolina Troops in 1935, when he was about 90 years old. (You’ll have to go to the page to listen to the Rebel Yell. Unfortunately, I have not figured out how to embed an audio file of that type.)

Did the Rebel Yell sound like you imagined it would? If you heard that sound en masse from enemy soldiers, would it strike fear in your heart?

Dumb Ways to Die, Via Melbourne, Australia’s Metro Trains

Dumb Ways to Die by Melbourne, Australia's Metro TrainsSo, you want to make a Public Service Announcement (PSA) that will deter the public from engaging in activities that may cause bodily harm, if not death, around trains.

How do you do this?

If you are the Melbourne, Australia Metro Train organization, you create a catchy animated and real-world video of the various ways to die, augmented by a catchy tune.

This video first went viral in November 2012. Recently, it “won the Grand Prix in the public relations and direct marketing categories at the Cannes Lions festival.” In addition to doing well at Cannes, the video “won gongs at One Show D&AD and the Webby Awards. It also earned mentions in YouTube’s Year in Review, Google’s Zeitgeist and TED’s Ideas Worth Spreading.”

I thought this was a great way to take a serious topic and engage the public with a slew of serious data and information.

Do you have any favorite PSAs?