Imagining the mind

Images and words used to describe the mind are also indicative of how we conceptualize the mind, its functions and purpose, and our relationship to it. They embody the connotative meanings we find in the world, rather than denotative meanings we find in a dictionary. Each visual and verbal representation offers a unique perspective of […]

The stories we tell ourselves: Cognition, brain networks, and points of view

What if networks in the brain correspond to different ways of interpreting information? In their article about a large-scale brain networks framework of cognition, Bressler and Menon describe three major networks: central executive, default mode, and salience. The executive network is “responsible for high-level cognitive functions, notably the control of attention and working memory”, the […]

Dan Lundquist (The Chronicle of Higher Education) | When trying harder doesn’t work

Ken Burns’s recent documentary tells the story of the Dust Bowl, blow by blow: the brutally unrelenting natural challenges, the grim perseverance and astonishingly unfailing hope of Depression-era farm families, and the glimmers of actual relief that were quickly followed by even worse calamities. Staring straight at the camera, one stoic survivor states the prevailing […]

Google Earth Outreach | A planetary perspective: With Landsat and Google Earth Engine

Since July 1972, NASA’s Landsat satellites have gathered images over the entire land surface of the Earth, creating the most complete record ever assembled. These images, archived at USGS, reveal dynamic changes over time due to human activity (deforestation, urbanization) and natural processes (volcanic eruptions, wildfire). Now, Google Earth Engine allows scientists, researchers and the […]

Our species thinks in metaphors and learns through stories…

“Wherever a story comes from, whether it is a familiar myth or a private memory, the retelling exemplifies the making of a connection from one pattern to another: a potential translation in which narrative becomes parable and the once upon a time comes to stand for some renascent truth. This approach applies to all the […]

Kseniya Simonova (Ukraine’s Got Talent) | Sand animation

Even though the important role of language in human cognition is readily acknowledged, what is the role of storytelling? It may not require words or language, but it still conveys meaning. Maybe memories and concepts are simply stories that our minds tell themselves. Like stories, memories and concepts may vary with the narrator’s creative liberties, adapt to and with different […]

Joe Lee • Rob Goldstone | Precepts and Concepts Laboratory: Interactions between perceptual and conceptual learning (Illustrated)

An illustrated guide to ways that concepts influence our perception (made perceptually manifest by Joe Lee, conceived by Rob Goldstone). Attention Weighting Categorical Perception Dimensionalization Unitization Segmentation Assimilation and Contrast Differentiation Idealization Elaboration Reference Joe Lee • Rob Goldstone | Precepts and Concepts Laboratory: Interactions between perceptual and conceptual learning (Illustrated) Related Rob Goldstone | […]

Krista Tippett • Kevin Kling (OnBeing) | The losses and laughter we grow into

By telling a story, things don’t control me anymore. It’s in my vernacular; it’s the way I see the world. And I think that’s why our stories ask our questions, our big questions like: “Where do we come from — before life, after life?” “What’s funny in this world or sacred?” And even more importantly, […]

A tale of two apes: Elaine Morgan and the aquatic ape hypothesis

Elaine Morgan was a tenacious proponent of a theory that is not widely accepted. The aquatic ape hypothesis lays out the idea that humans evolved from primate ancestors who dwelt in watery habitats. Hear her spirited defense of the idea — and her theory on why science doesn’t take it seriously Well, this is 2009. […]

Chicago Humanities Festival 2013 | Animal: What makes us human

Are humans animals? Not long ago, the question produced a predictable standoff. Now it is the start of a fascinating conversation. The 24th Chicago Humanities Festival takes this new exchange of ideas out of the academy and into the public. We explore what it means to think about culture biologically, about biology culturally, and about […]

David Brier • Rafa Galeano (Fast Company) | What is innovation?

It all comes down to dots. In his famous commencement speech, Steve Jobs said: “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something–your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach […]

The shapes of stories: a Kurt Vonnegut infographic | Maya Eilam

Stories have shapes. That is, they have patterns which can be represented as shapes. Kurt Vonnegut thought about story shapes as graphs on a coordinate plane, with good-to-ill fortune as the y-axis and beginning-to-end of the story as the x-axis. With this simple frame of reference, he could capture the emotional journey embedded in a […]

John Bohannon (TEDxBrussels) | Dance vs powerpoint: A modest proposal

This idea came to me while talking to a physicist friend of mine at MIT. He was struggling to explain something to me: a beautiful experiment that uses lasers to cool down matter…But the experiment is not the end of the story, because you still have to transmit that knowledge to other people… [I]f you’re […]

SCFlashMob | Superconductivity Dance

Created for the online science museum, this dance flash mob illustrates the behavior of electrons in a superconductor. Superconductors are materials which, at very low temperatures, can conduct electric currents without any resistance. That means that the current can flow forever with no energy loss. Reference | When electrons flashmob (interactive site) SCFlashMob […]

On the distinction between work groups and teams

Groups do not become teams simply because that is what someone calls them…A working group’s performance is a function of what its members do as individuals. A team’s performance includes both individual results and what we call “collective work products.”…Whatever it is, a collective work product reflects the joint, real contribution of team members…The essence […]

Microsoft Design • Bassett & Partmers | Connecting

What is Interaction Design? Connecting explores this question with some of the industry’s foremost thought leaders. When digital and physical worlds become one, new behaviors become possible, enabling connected humans with a collective capacity to change the world…. It’s not very different from what happened, you know, during the Cambrian explosion when cells began to […]

Isabel Behncke (TED) | Evolution’s gift of play, from bonobo apes to humans

Bonobos, like humans, love to play throughout their entire lives. Play is not just child’s games. For us and them, play is foundational for bonding relationships and fostering tolerance. It’s where we learn to trust and where we learn about the rules of the game. Play increases creativity and resilience, and it’s all about the […]

Alex “Sandy” Pentland (Harvard Business Review) | The new science of building great teams

When we set out to document the behavior of teams that “click,” we noticed we could sense a buzz in a team even if we didn’t understand what the members were talking about. That suggested that the key to high performance lay not in the content of a team’s discussions but in the manner in […]

Avaaz | Stories of us

Avaaz—meaning “voice” in several European, Middle Eastern and Asian languages—launched in 2007 with a simple democratic mission: organize citizens of all nations to close the gap between the world we have and the world most people everywhere want. Stories are incredibly powerful. They bring us closer together and heighten our sense of shared humanity. Meet […]

Bruce Cameron | Informal Sociology: A casual introduction to sociological thinking

It would be nice if all of the data which sociologists require could be enumerated because then we could run them through IBM machines and draw charts as the economists do. However, not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.     Reference Informal Sociology: A Casual Introduction […]

The Universcale: From the nanoworld to the universe | Nikon

From the nanoworld to the universe — The worlds we measure using our infinite yardstick. Nikon’s opto-electronics technologies let people explore realms beyond the range of the naked eye. In this presentation, you can see the relative sizes of objects arranged on a single scale. This lets you grasp the sizes of things that you […]

Cosmic View: The Universe in 40 Jumps (1957) | Kees Boeke

Kees Boeke’s Cosmic View is a classic on learning about the scale of things. It is similar to the Morrison’s Powers of Ten, but aimed at a younger audience. Its legacy includes Charles Eames’s film Powers of Ten, the resulting book by Philip and Phylis Morrison, and several similar books which followed. REFERENCE Cosmic View: […]

Meet the Elements: Atoms, elements, and interactions

The music video for the song, “Meet the Elements,” is an “animated, upbeat ode to the periodic table of elements[.]” The periodic table visually organizes structural and chemical relationships among the various elements, while the music video offers a playful glimpse into the types of interactions among elements that — “like a box of paints […]

Antwerp Central Station – Belgium | Sound of Music Flash Mob

More than 200 dancers were performing their version of “Do Re Mi”, in the Central Station of Antwerp. with just 2 rehearsals they created this amazing stunt! Those 4 fantastic minutes started the 23 of march 2009, 08:00 AM. It is a promotion stunt for a Belgian television program, where they are looking for someone […]

perpetual ocean

NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio | Perpetual Ocean

This is an animation of ocean surface currents from June 2005 to December 2007 from NASA satellites. Watch how bigger currents like the Gulf Stream in the Atlantic Ocean and the Kuroshio in the Pacific carry warm waters across thousands of miles at speeds greater than four miles per hour (six kilometers per hour); how […]

Fibonacci TED Talk

Arthur Benjamin (TED) | The magic of Fibonacci numbers

Fibonacci was actually named Leonardo of Pisa, and these numbers appear in his book “Liber Abaci,” which taught the Western world the methods of arithmetic that we use today. In terms of applications, Fibonacci numbers appear in nature surprisingly often. The number of petals on a flower is typically a Fibonacci number, or the number […]

music animation machine

Bach • Stephen Malinowski | Toccata and fugue in D minor

The subtleties and intricate patterns at the core DNA of western classical music—which have enchanted and fascinated people for centuries—still challenge us today: how do we find our way into a musical language developed long ago and containing considerable structural complexities? Musician and inventor Stephen Malinowski uses a simple visual approach to stimulate our ability […]


One is one … or is it? Counting, units, and the (relative) value of the concept of one

Interaction involves relationships, and relationships involve the ways in which things are connected to each other. It all begins with the individual thing or unit of one. One is, by definition, the smallest whole number. So it may feel like a very simple idea. Yet when we question this idea, we find that the concept […]

image of blessed unrest project

YES! Magazine | We Are Many: Chris Jordan captures our blessed unrest

Jordan recently released a new work that tries to convey a fact that’s just as mind-boggling, but much more heartening: the number of people working to build a more just and sustainable world. E Pluribus Unum is 24 feet square, composed of aluminum panels laser etched with the names of “one million organizations around the […]

ISEN Connectivity Map

Datascope Analytics (ISEN) | ISEN Connectivity Map

The ISEN (The Initiative for Sustainability and Energy at Northwestern University) Connectivity Map is designed to enable researchers, administrators, funding agencies, and donors to explore ISEN’s interconnectivity. In particular, this visualization focuses on the relationship between ISEN Affiliates through their shared faculties, focus areas, and categories (network diagram) and the number of ISEN Affiliates with […]

image of sychronous objects

From dance to data to objects: Visualizing choreographic structure

What else, besides the body, might physical thinking look like? — William Forsythe REFERENCE Animating choreography | Norah Zuniga Shaw We made this project. It’s called Synchronous Objects. And we call it a choreographic digitalization project. If you don’t know what that means, that’s ok. We kind of made it up. Basically, it’s [data] visualization […]

TED Playlists: Adventures in Mapping (10 Talks)

Maps don’t just tell you which street to turn left on. Maps convey information that shapes our lives, deepen our understanding of problems and our ability to create solutions, and whisk our imaginations to new lands. Aris Venetikidis: Making sense of maps Lalitesh Katragadda: Making maps to fight disaster, build economies Steven Johnson: How the […]

A theory

It’s just a theory There’s a possibility I am wrong It’s just a theory But I would stake my life Lay my money down That you were meant for me And for you I’m the one It’s just a theory A particular set of assumptions It’s just a theory An educated guess A conclusion not […]

The philosopher believes that the value of his philosophy lies in the whole…

The philosopher believes that the value of his philosophy lies in the whole, in the building: posterity discovers it in the bricks with which he built and which are then often used again for better building: in the fact, that is to say, that that building can be destroyed and nonetheless possess value as material. […]