Ten Stories We Have Enjoyed This Week

3rd December 2016

‘You start by picking up the knife, or reaching for the neck of a broken-off bottle. Then comes the lunge and wrestle, the physical strain as your victim fights back, the desire to overpower him.’ Science-fiction writers have fantasised about virtual reality (VR) for decades. Now it is here – and with it, perhaps, the possibility of the complete physical experience of killing someone, without harming a soul. This is why murder in virtual reality should be made illegal.

In a post-truth society, there is much consternation regarding what represents fake news. A recent piece of research indicates that simply banning fake news sites from platforms such as Google and Facebook (if that were practicable) would have little effect. ‘This is because much of the traffic to and from those sites—and therefore their presence at the top of Google’s search engine or high up in the Facebook news feed—is achieved organically. Many sites seem to be publicised primarily through sharing across old-fashioned networks. In other words: they’re sent via email.’

Was the promise of gamification overstated or misrepresented? ‘Lots of unscrupulous people sold their clients gamification that should not have had expectation of delivering anything. For some creators ….gamification has become a toxic label that must be rejected.’ From @HowWeGetToNext – Was Gamification a terrible lie?

Great fun from @newyorker. ‘By this point, you might have noticed that the history of Western painting went something like this: First, it didn’t matter whether the people looked realistic. Then it mattered. Then it stopped mattering again. This one is from 1910, when it was no longer mattering so much…..’ This is the Honest Museum Audio Tour. 

There is a correlation between the amount of time it takes to distribute something, and the amount of time it takes for that thing to have an effect, and consequently the amount of time that thing stays relevant and interesting. ‘When music was distributed as sheet music, a popular hit stayed at the top of the charts for years. Digital distribution removes many of the friction points within the system; but this also leads to far more rapid cultural decay rates. Sales charts are now driven almost exclusively by novelty—top selling tracks are just what came out this week.’ From @faris – This is the effect of Cultural Latency. 

The National History Museum’s, wildlife photographer of the year competition is in progress. Here are some of the most enchanting shots, and you can vote here, up to 10th January 2017.

@brainpickings on the wonderful Eadweard Muybridge . ‘He captured aspects of motion whose speed had made them as invisible as the moons of Jupiter before the telescope, and he had found a way to set them back in motion. It was as though he had grasped time itself, made it stand still, and then made it run again, over and over.

From @sciencemag. Watch pollution flow across the planet in real time. Spin the globe.

From @TED, get a daily idea worth spreading, chosen and explained by a TED speaker or community member. Close out 2016, by remembering the world can be a wonderful place.

Forget Monty the penguin or Buster the boxer; here is the H&M Christmas commercial, borne out of the weird and wonderful mind of Wes Anderson.