How the Elevator Transformed America

The Boston Globe • 2 March 2014

Going up. While everyone points to the automobile as the transformative technology in creating urban sprawl, the elevator's role in city planning was equally instrumental. As Elevator Museum founder Patrick Carrajat observes, "If we didn't have elevators . . . we would have a megalopolis, one continuous city, stretching from Philadelphia to Boston, because everything would be five or six stories tall." Read on for a fascinating history of the culture of elevators and why they still matter.

One of those things we appreciate whenever they are broken. I hadn't thought about the elevator as the "engine of vertical spread" that changed "the garret to the penthouse." Nor had I thought about how elevators work. For me they conjure two weaknesses—vertigo and claustrophobia—that have snuck up on me in recent years. For a wonderfully sinister description of an elevator ride I recommend the opening chapter of Murakami's Hard-boiled Wonderland and the end of the world: " . . . Stationary in unending silence, a still life: Man in Elevator." (Michalko)

The Next Frontier in Crowdsourcing: Your Smartphone

Technology Review • 12 March 2014

Captcha, anyone? Researchers at Stanford and the University of Toronto are experimenting with apps that require smartphone users to perform simple tasks to unlock their phones. One, dubbed Twitch, asks users to enter data about the energy level of people around them. Other possibilities might include answering personal health questions or gauging surrounding noise levels. Depending on which apps catch on, the outcome could be a new source of environmental data, marketing info or microtasking toward a larger research effort.

Completely Automated Public Turing Tests To Tell Computers and Humans Apart do such a good job at SPAM control that I barely resent them any longer. But having to answer questions to unlock my very own phone? I don't think so. Maybe for money? Or a really good cause? Right now Twitch doesn't provide either motivation to join their crowd. (Michalko)

MoMA Launches New Twitter Account to Get You Talking About Art

Advertising Week • 7 March 2014

Start the conversation. MoMA is partnering with startup Possible to engage the Twitterverse in commentary on what people love and hate about art. The museum plans to start with six works that represent a range of styles, including landscapes and abstract art, and will post information on each to elicit opinions. Read on for more about how the ART140 project hopes to create "the most engaged art community in the world."

This strikes me as a nice example of the way Twitter is being repositioned by both users and the company to support persistent interactions around big topics rather than micro-outbursts or event-driven commentary. (Michalko)

Reading to Have Read

The Atlantic • 14 March 2014

Beyond comprehension. Spritz is a new speed-reading startup that promises to help users get through the average 54,000 words a day that come their way. The problem is that as speed increases, understanding dwindles and one is left with merely encountering content. Read on for writer Ian Bogost's thoughts on what he calls the "Olestra" of reading.

Here's a rant that characterizes current reading as "interaction with content." Spritz went around the net like a rocket just a short while ago. It seems to be new clothes for an older discredited idea. (Michalko)

How to Have a Eureka Moment

HBR Blog Network • 11 March 2014

Don't think about it. We all know that some of our best insights come during moments of unfocused activity, like long walks or hot showers. But how do you create that opportunity in the workplace? Read on for suggestions on how to get past mental roadblocks and open up new pathways to inspiration.

This rings true for me. Most of the time my procrastination is incubation. But, sometimes it's just procrastination cf. Calvin and Hobbes. (Michalko)

From Distant Admirers to Library Lovers—And Beyond—Summary of Findings

Pew Research Internet Project • 13 March 2014

Breaking down the biblioverse. Check out this summary of Pew Research findings on how Americans connect with libraries, technology and information resources. While earlier studies have reported on how different demographic groups interact with public libraries, this analysis focuses on "moving beyond familiar groups and fitting demographics into contexts that matter to the library community." Read on for insight into how strong connections with public libraries correspond with overall community engagement, and contemplate ways to reach out to Distant Admirers and the Young and Restless.

We should all send thank-you notes to the Pew folks. I'm serious. Click here and tell Lee Rainie you're grateful that Pew has done such good work on libraries, internet and technology topics for so many years. If this summary has already crossed your desk, check out their WWW Timeline or the theses about the Internet in 2025. (Michalko)

Above the Fold Quiz

According to an item in this week's News and Views section, what lies at the center of any shared print strategy?

Get the answer.