Eliza Brooke: The Soothing, Digital Rooms of YouTube (NYT)
Picture this: You’re in the Hogwarts library. Rain falls outside, a fire crackles across the room, and somewhere offscreen, quills scribble on parchment. You might look up from time to time to see a book drifting through the air or stepladders moving around on their own. Or maybe, you’ll feel so relaxed, you nod off to sleep.
Welcome to the world of so-called ambience videos, a genre of YouTube video that pairs relaxing soundscapes with animated scenery in order to make viewers feel immersed in specific spaces, like a jazz bar in Paris or a swamp populated with trilling wildlife.
They are part of a long tradition of audiovisual products and programming designed to make a space feel a little more relaxing, a little nicer.
Consider the black-and-white footage of a crackling yule log that the New York television channel WPIX debuted on Christmas Eve 1966 — grandfather to the many digital yule logs available today — or the rise of white noise machines that fill a room with the sound of crashing waves, chirping crickets or falling rain.
But recently, this genre of video has attracted new fans who want to be transported beyond the same four walls they’ve been staring at for the better part of a year.
Ambience videos provide a respite from the “hypermediacy” of the internet, she said — a break from the constant bombardment of ads and emails and the self-inflicted burden of dozens of open browser tabs. (Hypermediacy can be defined as the act of viewing, consuming or interacting with multiple forms of media at once.) Paradoxically, a person has to wade through YouTube’s buffet of suggested videos just to locate an ambience video that will shut out the world.
A Breakdown of Everything Wrong in That “Shocking Secrets of the Food Industry” Viral Video (Snopes)
Te phrase "genetic memory of honey" is lodged in my brain permanently, and here's where it comes from.
None of the items described in the video could accurately be described as either shocking or secret.
Today, you are an Astronaut. You are floating in inner space 100 miles above the surface of Earth. You peer through your window and this is what you see. You are people watching. These are fleeting moments.
These videos come from YouTube. They were uploaded in the last week and have titles like DSC 1234 and IMG 4321. They have almost zero previous views. They are unnamed, unedited, and unseen (by anyone but you).
Astronaut starts when you press GO. The video switches periodically. Click the button below the video to prevent the video from switching.
Let's face it. We are all stuck indoors.
And it's going to be a while till we travel again.
Window Swap is here to fill that deep void in our wanderlust hearts by allowing us to look through someone else's window, somewhere in the world, for a while.
A place on the internet where all we travel hungry fools share our 'window views' to help each other feel a little bit better till we can (responsibly) explore our beautiful planet again.
James Beckwith: A Time Lapse World Map of Every Covid-19 Death (Kottke)
From January to the end of June, over 500,000 people died of confirmed cases of Covid-19. In order to demonstrate the magnitude of the pandemic, James Beckwith made a time lapse map of each Covid-19 death.
“Each country is represented by a tone and an expanding blip on the map when a death from Covid-19 is recorded. Each day is 4 seconds long, and at the top of the screen is the date and a counter showing the total numbers of deaths. Every country that has had a fatality is included.”
As was the case with the pandemic, the video starts slow but soon enough the individual sounds and blips build to a crescendo, a cacophony of death.
Background art for video conference calls on Zoom, Google Meet, etc.
An ever growing collection of virtual backdrops for use in video call apps. Expressions of optimism and art by the world's best designers, illustrators, animators, photographers, filmmakers and artists.
Quarantunes is for...
- sustaining the creation of (live) music throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
- providing a platform for artists + fans to connect, despite the cancellation of tours and shows in venues.
- creating opportunities for artists to recoup lost earnings from cancelled dates through donations from fans via livestream.
- encouraging new experiments in sound and music, using digital technologies and social media interfaces.
“Rarely can a _response_ make something better. What makes something better is connection.”
What is the best way to ease someone's pain and suffering? In this beautifully animated RSA Short, Dr Brené Brown reminds us that we can only create a genuine empathic connection if we are brave enough to really get in touch with our own fragilities.
Animation: Katy Davis (AKA Gobblynne) www.gobblynne.com
Grant Sanderson (3blue1brown): Exponential growth and epidemics
While the intent here is to give a lesson on exponential and logistic growth as general phenomena, with epidemics as a timely case study, there are a few notes worth adding when it comes to epidemics themselves. Probably the most important, mentioned only as a small on-screen note, is that these models should account for the amount of time someone with the virus remains infectious. Those who recover (or die) are no longer able to spread it, and so don't factor into the growth equation. The faster the growth, the less this matters, since at each point on the curve most people with the virus will have only contracted it recently, but especially in the long run or with slower growth, any realistic model has to consider this. The other factor, which I was hesitant to even get into here, is the extent to which reported cases reflect real cases.
Generalizing away from epidemics, though, the key upshot is to be aware of phenomena where the rate of growth is proportional to the size of the thing growing. Compound interest, technological progress, population growth, and many other things fit this pattern, and it's shocking how bad our intuitions can be at recognizing what it means.
Why Do New Diseases Like COVID-19 Appear First in China?
It involved the designation of wild animals as “natural resources” by the Chinese government, which caused a large increase in wildlife farming, with many more and different kinds of animals being put into contact with humans and each other on a regular basis. Add illegally trafficked animals into the mix, and you’ve got the right conditions for diseases to jump from the animals to humans. Then potentially infected animals and their meat, accompanied by potentially infected humans who raised those animals and butchered that meat, are then brought to the wet markets for sale to the public.
"Unless China bans wildlife farming for good, this will keep happening.”
Thread by @spavis: for anyone with covid19 cabin fever, here's some of my fav walking tour youtube channels
for anyone with covid19 cabin fever, here's some of my fav walking tour youtube channels 🧵 i love having these ~1hr vids the background when working on my computer or cleaning. gives a great sense of exploration of other people/cities…
Back to Bits, a curated animation project featuring the collective works of more than 40 artists from around the world, showcases a series of animated GIFs inspired by retro video games. This second round, or “level,” in the Back to Bits series is called Super 16, and is a tribute to retro 80s and 90s SNES games.
Back to Bits was channeled by the nostalgic desire to go 'back to the bit era' when games were measured in bits, NES 8-bit and SNES 16-bit.
The project serves as a lighthearted creative outlet to bring like-minded artists together to share work, celebrate their love for these games and inspire the next generation of gamers.
Back to Bits contributors are professional artists from various creative industries including illustrators, animators, comic book artists, concept artists, directors and designers who share a passion for video games. Artists were asked to reinterpret and create a seamless looping animated short GIF inspired by an NES game of their choice.
‘Old Town Road’: See How Memes and Controversy Took Lil Nas X to No. 1 (NY Times)
In the latest “Diary of a Song” episode, Lil Nas X is joined by the producer YoungKio — who didn’t even know he was a part of “Old Town Road” until he heard it in a video meme — and Billy Ray Cyrus, who lent the song another layer of novelty and outlaw credibility. The video also features cameos by the influencers @nicemichael and @elitelife_kd, who were crucial to the track’s early rise.
There’s an old saw about the web that says that when the web democratized publishing, everyone should have become a writer, but instead most of us became consumers. (Nevermind that email and SMS have most people writing more in a day than their Victorian ancestors wrote in their entire lives.) There’s more than a hint of disparagement and elitism in that saying: everyone should have taken up writing, which is obviously superior to reading or watching or (gasp!) consuming. And I worry that that same sentiment creeps in when we argue the supremacy of text over image on the web. Writing is an important and valuable skill, but so are many other things.
Here’s another way to think about it: over the past year, video after video has emerged showing cops shooting unarmed black people. Those videos have been shared on the web, and while they haven’t yet led to anything resembling justice for the victims, they have contributed to profound discussions around race, militarized police forces, guns, and more. They are not sufficient to bring about desperately needed social change—and there’s an argument to be made about whether they are at risk of becoming mere spectacle—but I think it would be hard to deny that they are an important element in the movement, that they have had a major impact.
I worry that the push to keep the web defined to words, while pragmatic and reasonable in many ways, may also be used to decide what stories get told, and what stories are heard. Many more people are using their tiny computers to record video and audio and take pictures than are writing; as much as I may love writing, and as much as I know that transmitting writing via cables and air is a hell of a lot easier and cheaper than transmitting video, I’m not sure I can really stand here and say that the writing is—or should be—primary.
One of the design principles of the web is to pave the cowpaths: it looks to me like there are some new paths opening up, ones we may not have expected, ones that aren’t going to make many of our jobs easier. Maybe instead of putting up signs saying there are better paths elsewhere, it’s time we see where these ones take us.
Mathias Bynens: 3.14 Things I Didn’t Know About CSS
From the CSS Day Conference.
This talk will showcase a series of obscure CSS fun facts, such as CSS syntax gimmicks and quirks, weird tricks that involve CSS in one way or another, and security vulnerabilities that are enabled by (ab)using CSS in unexpected ways.
Keith Calder: vhxtv: We’re very proud to announce that VHX is powering the worldwide release of Indie Game: The Movie on June 12
But this is it. This is where we start. Crowd-funded on Kickstarter; self-released on iTunes, Steam, and VHX. Our Edison is Steve Jobs, our Chaplin is Louis CK, our multiplex is VHX, and our Warner Brothers is Kickstarter. I hope you can be our Hitchcock, our Curtiz, our Méliès, or our Griffith.
‘No amount of lawsuits or legal threats will change the fact that this behavior is considered normal — I'd wager the vast majority of people under 25 see nothing wrong with non-commercial sharing and remixing, or think it's legal already.’
Brett Terpstra: Automated HTML5 video encoding revisited
This will come in handy someday.
“The script is specifically designed to take an MPEG-4, H.264 file, move it to a new folder based on the filename, create WEBM and OGV versions of it in the new folder, and upload the whole folder to a server using rsync. SSH information and target directories are specified in the config at the top of the script. At the end, it takes what it knows about the files and filenames and creates a TextMate Markdown blog template, inserts the video shortcode for the VideoJS WordPress plugin (which is common syntax for other plugins as well) and opens it for editing in TextMate.”