Justin Leaves Little to Believe In

It would be easy to listen to two tracks from the new Justin Bieber release, slag the whole album as pop garbage, and leave it at that.

At just over 48 minutes long, Believe does plenty of things right. A small army of producers, including big names Diplo, Zedd, and Bei Maejor, give the album’s 13 tracks an impressive range of beats and synth lines. Try as you might, you can’t find an unsatisfying chord progression or drumbeat anywhere.

The album is consistent, but this turns out to be more of a drawback than a virtue. Too many of the tracks are nothing more than half of a verse followed by a neverending chorus. “As Long As You Love Me,” one of the album’s better cuts, teases the listener with a dubstep-inspired beat that never develops beyond the first minute.

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Hans Rosling, Data Superhero

For many, data is a chore–the stuff of spreadsheets and long-forgotten stats lectures. For Hans Rosling, data is the quickest way to change the world. Rosling is a professor of global health at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden and his work with data has made him an international superstar.

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The Best Of The Net: The Webbys 2012

Once a year all of the world gets together to celebrate the best of the lovely Internet we call home. Monday night, the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York played host to comedians, musicians, journalists, and all manner of web professionals gathered to present the 16th Annual Webby Awards. The awards reflect Internet achievement and meaningful social and cultural contributions as judged by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences.

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You Are What You Read (And Watch And Play And Listen To)

The last book I bought was David Foster Wallace’s The Pale King. I’m only about 80 pages in, but so far it’s a terrific read. For me, it seems to be just a book, but recent research suggests it may be much, much more.

In a recent paper in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, psychologists Geoff Kaufman and Lisa Libby claim that the books we read can transform our personalities and redefine our perspectives. Their research centers on the process of “experience-taking,” or the idea that when people read they “[assume] the identity of a character in a written narrative and [simulate] that character’s subjective experience while immersed in the world of the story.” So what’s the big deal? Immersion in literature is as old as literature itself. How does this change anything?

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Commentary Ticker

  • Google Glass Lets You Take Photos With Your Brain
    July 12, 2014 | 4:02 pm

    If you haven’t heard, electroencephalograms (EEGs) have been getting better. Way better. Artificial limbs and even video game controllers are utilizing the non-invasive brain-wave monitoring method to guide computers by thought. Now English startup This Place has developed a way to bring the technology to Google Glass, allowing Google’s wearable to read your mind. Well, […]

  • Android Art: The Accidental Selfies of Google Art Project
    July 5, 2014 | 11:11 am

    Within the cultural centers of the world lurks a mechanical beast draped in silver spinning madly and capturing everything, sometimes even itself. In 2011 Google created the Art Project, an initiative to bring their Street View technology inside the cultural epicenters of the world. Google enlisted 17 world-class museums in short time. Institutions such as […]

  • Purple Mountunes Majesty: The Most Patriotic Playlist
    July 4, 2014 | 12:13 pm

    A while ago, Paul Lamere of The Echo Nest, a music-analysis company, took to finding each state’s most distinctive, yet popular, artist in a viral article. Spotify took note, purchasing Echo Nest for their analytical talent. Together, they’ve released a blog post documenting each state’s most distinctively American song creating a patriotic playlist for the […]

  • Emojinealogy: Where the Heck Emojis Come From
    July 2, 2014 | 3:10 pm

    On June 16th, the Unicode Consortium announced that 250 new emoji would be added to the list of symbols available to people’s cellphones and computer devices. The list of the new symbols can be found on Emojipedia. And no, the list doesn’t include the much needed minority representation, but it does include your favorite (?) […]

  • The Decline and Fall of the American Mall
    June 24, 2014 | 9:07 pm

    For ages, the shopping mall was as essential to the architecture of suburbia as Levittowns and freeways. But in an era of online shopping, these epicenters of brick and mortar yesteryear are quietly being abandoned across the country. While the U.S. currently has around 1,500, the number may soon shrink, and rapidly, leading to abandoned […]

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