Link About It: This Week’s Picks

Perfect broccoli, comic book infographics and the passing of an iconic stage designer in our weekly look at the web


1. Origins of Zef-Style

South African rap group Die Antwoord brought their unique, subversive style to the world back in 2009. With a mysterious past and alluring themes and imagery, the group has captivated music fans and social critics alike. In this two-part series from UK filmmaker James Stephens, the history and creative formation of the group are examined in detail. Ninja’s musical history is especially interesting. From a Cypress Hill-like rap crew to his abstract, multi-character projects, Ninja’s catalogue runs exceptionally deep. The exploration of identity and race—common themes in South African art—run deep throughout his past. The series continues to the present to examine academic and social reactions to the group’s controversial lyrics and sometimes shocking aesthetic.

2. The Perfect Broccoli Quest

Strange and fascinating things are happening in the lab of Cornell University plant scientist Thomas Bjorkman as he attempts to create a newvariety of broccoli. He’s one of many Cornell scientists looking to revamp produce aisles across the country with improved foods created through experimentation. The scientists’ goal is to change Americans’ attitudes toward fruits and vegetables by making them easier to cook and even increasing their nutritional values. Bjorkman’s creations are part of the Eastern Broccoli Project, which hopes to maximize the vegetable’s concentration of glucoraphanin (a compound that has been found to prevent the growth of cancer) and create a kind of broccoli that can grow in hot climates, thereby making it inexpensive to grow in large volumes, and in areas it was previously difficult, or impossible, to grow at all.

3. British Vogue Gets Dinosaurs

Coming across Easter eggs on the internet can be like striking the jackpot. British Vogue’s Easter egg fits that bill, using the commands “up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A” to produce Velociraptors in hats zooming across its page. This sequence will be familiar to NES players as the Konami Code, which was popular in the mid-’80s as a way to extend the lives of Contra players. Now it’s gotten new life online in this highly unusual yet fun Easter egg that mixes two of the most unlikely things: Fashion and dinosaurs.

4. The Greatest Geek Who Ever Lived

For Nikola Tesla Day on July 10th, Matthew Inman, author of the dark-humored, bluntly honest web comic series The Oatmeal, created a visual homage to the prolific and revolutionary inventor. Half history lesson, half Mythbusters episode, the comic aims to set the facts straight by revealing some very surprising facts and making frequent jabs at Thomas Edison. Inman’s dedication to the Serbian-American scientist is no secret— he successfully fundraised $1.4 million last year to preserve Tesla’s former laboratory in Long Island.


5. Jaguar’s Project 7 Race Car Concept

Based on the “World Car Design of the Year” award-winning 2014 Jaguar F-TYPE, the Project 7 concept car was unveiled at Goodwood Festival of Speed this weekend. Unlike static concept cars, this is a fully-functional, high-performance one-off sports car. The Project 7 has been named after Jaguar’s seven Le Mans wins and everything about street racing glory manifests in its power and design. The all-aluminum auto boasts driver-oriented aerodynamics, a sleek yet muscular body and a top speed of 186mph. It’s easy enough on the eyes, if you can actually see it speeding by.

6. Apple Touchsceen Car Dashboard

Apple has developed a concept that could potentially replace the analog controls of car dashboards with a mix of touchscreen and tactile controls so you can keep your eyes on the road while adjusting air or changing the radio station. Apple’s new patent explains that the dashboard should be able to replace almost all existing car instrumentation with customizable programming and adjustable hardware for drivers who prefer more tactile control. In addition, the iOS 7 beta has a secret “iOS in the Car” setting which should allow iOS devices to synch with car displays for increased usability.

7. RIP Mark Fisher

Remember when U2 drove around the concert arena inside an enormous, mirror-studded lemon? Or when the Rolling Stones jumped from stage to stage on a giant telescopic bridge? Stage designer and architect Mark Fisher was responsible for giving us these unforgettable concert experiences, and he has sadly passed away. From Pink Floyd tours to Olympic opening ceremonies, his stage sets have delighted millions of people around the world for decades and those memories won’t be soon forgotten.

8. Super Graphic

Tim Leong, art director at WIRED magazine, has fused two of his passions—comic books and graphic design—into “Super Graphic: A Visual Guide to the Comic Book Universe.” Described as “infographic porn,” this book filters the plethora of decades-old superhero statistics and backstory data into visually-appealing bar graphs, timelines, and more, providing a new perspective to comics for the most die-hard fans as well as first-time readers. One particularly witty “Venn Diagram of Superhero Comic Tropes” organizes characters into three different categories: tragically dead parents, cape and underwear on the outside.


9. A 40-Year History in Patagonia’s Legacy Collection

This summer heat will subside and apparel brand Patagonia is already prepared. This September they’ll be launching a 10-piece Legacy Series. Each item traces its design roots back to original items from across Patagonia’s 40-year history. The classic items have been modernized, to a certain degree, but maintain the integrity of the original functional motivation. The prices for the line—which includes pants, pullovers and jackets—range from $99 to $349.

10. Wearable Air Purifier

Ohita is a portable air purifier, created by Jorge Alberto Treviño Blanco, that you can snap onto your bag or clothing, but there’s more to it than meets the eye. Ohita breathes in the air around you and “exhales” clean air, but it also analyzes every particle it takes in, telling you just how polluted your environment is. It’s controlled by your smartphone, and you can share stats taken from Ohita to Facebook or Twitter from your smartphone as well. But the most interesting thing is its capture ability—if you’re in a particularly nice, freshly-scented patch of air, you can ask Ohita to take a sample for you, similar to a “scent snapshot.” Ohita isn’t for sale yet, but it’s been getting a lot of buzz and was a finalist in 2013 Electrolux Design Lab competition.

11. Fold to Zoom

While GPS-centered smartphone maps are heralded for their features and convenience, there’s still something comforting about holding a paper map. The folding city maps from Map2 bring paper maps into the 21st century. The maps open to reveal two panes of transit, then four panes of general city map. If you need more information, simply locate your general location and fold out to reveal a zoomed in area with plenty to detail to get you on your way. When you’re finished simply fold the phone-free tool up into its coaster-sized square. The maps are currently available for London and Berlin with more cities in the works.

12. Drive A Tank

Apparently it’s just like driving a car—except that it’s 10 feet wide, has joysticks instead of a steering wheel and lacks cup holders. Drive A Tank is headquartered in a town outside of Minneapolis called Kasota—one of the few places in the world where you can pilot an authentic combat vehicle without enlisting. You can polish your tank-driving skills as long as you’re OK with someone yelling instructions at you form the perch. And for a higher price, you can even drive around crushing cars, but firing the gun is off-limits.