Down the rabbit hole.
It’s late August and I’m sitting at my desk, dreaming of golden sand, gently crashing waves, and fruity cocktails. As my mind wanders, I find myself browsing the collection of blogs and podcasts my teammates post to our Slack #random channel. Nestled between the gifs are great stories about technology, design, and data — and each one is there because someone learnt something interesting and wanted to share it with the rest of us.
Come with me on a journey into the rabbit hole as I share some of my favourite summer reads.
Mini backpacks for birds.
I know you’re probably imagining a little red backpack stuffed with seeds and worms (no? just me?), but the backpacks featured in this story are miniature geolocators that are helping scientists figure out where birds like to spend winters and where they stop along the way. Weighing less than half a gram and no larger than a penny, these geolocators can hold up to eight months of data. Pretty neat, eh? With the data that’s collected, conservationists will know which habitats to preserve and protect for migrating birds. I call that a win for birds and conservationists.
Backpacks for Birds Tell Us Where They Spend Their Winters
How do biologists know where birds spend their time?
News illustrations from a pre-internet era.
Long before The New York Times graphics team earned their reputation for creating some of the best interactive data visualisations, they were designing incredible hand-drawn illustrations that gave readers extra insight into the articles they were reading. A Graphics Director at The New York Times Opinion gives us the chance to visit ‘The Morgue’ and see how the graphics team used a wider assortment of map projections than is used today, plus a number of tiny finishing details, to emphasise the parts of the world that were relevant to the story. I hope Stuart takes another trip to the Morgue soon to find some more hidden gems to share with us; I always find that looking to the past provides me with fresh inspiration for the future and a better understanding of the present.
Community newspapers experimenting with Instagram.
On a platform that’s better known for #foodporn and #sunset, photographers for regional newspapers are showing off their talent for photojournalism as their publications seek to capture new audiences and stay relevant in the changing media landscape. Feeling a little skeptical when I first read this Shutterstock blog, I followed the links to the featured Instagram accounts and was genuinely impressed. In particular, the Seattle Times is using their account to introduce important social issues, and there’s hardly a dog show or village fair in sight. To me, this reflects a maturity in the way we use Instagram and proves that it’s a network on which we can share serious messages with more weight than a stuffed burrito.
How Community Newspapers Are Experimenting With Instagram - The Shutterstock Blog
The Pacific Northwest is known for its gorgeous scenery - majestic mountains, tall forests, and deep-blue ocean - but…
Cats, because what would life be without cats?
Okay, I know this particular podcast has nothing to do with technology, data, or design, but it is a delightful example of how the spoken word can bring a story to life. Featuring a number of purrfectly awful puns the podcast introduces us to the history of the British Museum’s cats. Interviews with the people who knew the cats are woven together with extracts from the Museum’s archives to create an entertaining and heart-warming piece of oral history. The podcast left me with a warm, fuzzy feeling, and isn’t that the sign of a well-told story?
The British Museum podcast: The purrrplexing story of the British Museum cats
This is the story of how the British Museum became a cat haven, and how they eventually came to be on the Museum…
Could dragons on Westeros fly? Aeronautical engineering and maths say they could! (No spoilers).
Season seven of Game of Thrones has been INSANE and I’ve fallen head over heals in love with Jon Snow. (Yeah, I know, I’m late to the party. I blame it on a weird crush on the Hound.) But the point I’m trying to get to is this: have you seen those dragons?
To answer a question I expect many of us have thought to ourselves, Guy Gratton, an aerospace engineering academic, used his knowledge of aerodynamics to determine once and for all if dragons really could fly. His calculations came to a rather interesting conclusion: Westeros must have a slightly different atmosphere to the world we live in. It’s a fascinating read and explains a lot of things about life in Westeros (but not everything).
Could dragons on Westeros fly? Aeronautical engineering and maths say they could
Like many people, I have recently become fascinated the lives and loves of the ruling classes of the people of Westeros…
The time has come for me to return to writing about more serious subjects but thank you for joining me on this journey. I’m looking forward to seeing you in Wonderland the next time I fall down the rabbit hole!