Link About It: This Week’s Picks

The passing of a political hero, growing crops on the moon and the color of 2014 in this week's look at the web


1. Mandela, Captured by the Camera

This past Thursday, the world mourned the death of Nelson Mandela. Passing away at the age of 95, Mandela is best known for his leadership role in the movement to end apartheid in South Africa. To look back on his influential life, The Times highlights his role as an activist, political prisoner and presidential candidate, as well as the final years of his life through a set of heavy hearted but striking images.

2. Grand Canyon Cloud Porn

Due to the unexpected interaction of both cold and warm air masses at the Grand Canyon this week, a “once-in-a-decade” phenomenon called total cloud inversion occurred. From Yavapai Point on the South Rim to Desert View Point, the clouds created a sea-like body between rock faces and mountains, making for a wealth of heavily shared other-worldly images.

3. How To Sharpen a Pencil

Taking a perfectly dry approach to the mockumentary, this step-by-step video demonstrates how to craft the rare perfect #2 pencil point using traditional techniques. Staring a single central character and a hilariously large tool kit, the clever video is so well done it takes a moment to realize it’s a direct jab at the overwhelming resurgence of artisanal craft culture.

4. Web Life After Death

With the typical web user apparently having 25 different online accounts, it’s interesting (albeit a little morbid) to think what happens to those accounts when the owner passes away. In a recently born realm—in which many of us don’t read the fine print—the public and lawmakers are just beginning to find out the rules, or lack there of. Fascinatingly, experts suggest people treat their online presences as a tangible asset and leave it to somebody they trust—complete with instructions, passwords and their mother’s maiden name.


5. UPS Delivery Drones

As some may have expected, UPS is too in the process of developing delivery drones to compete with Amazon’s future Prime Air service. Sources close to the company say the world’s largest parcel service has been working on the idea of drones for some time. However, only time will tell how the legality and availability of both projects pan out.

6. Moon Plants

A figment of science fiction and imagination for countless years, it seems humans living on the moon is a genuine possibility. And, as a step towards that reality, NASA will be planting basil, turnips and other flowering plants on the moon’s surface in 2015. The thought process behind the experiment is, “If we send plants and they thrive, then we probably can.” The plants will travel aboard the Moon Express lander, live in a sealed chamber and will use natural sunlight for germination. Expect to be garnishing your meals with space basil in no time.

7. The Artful Accidents of Google Books

As millions of pages are rapidly scanned into Google Books and made searchable to the public, interesting anomalies occur—the physical book’s history, such as tobacco stains or handwritten notes, end up being preserved online, along with glitches that occur during the scanning process, like the hand of the scanner operator covering a page. These “mistakes” have been collected in Tumblrs, used in new media art work, and also raise thought-provoking questions regarding the politics and class factors behind data entry.

8. FlightAware Misery Map

Just in time for peak holiday travels, FlightAware’s real-time Misery Map collects weather and flight data from around the US to show the number of delays and cancellations at major airports. Hover over each airport to see which specific flights are affected—and if yours is, know that you are in solidarity with the 300+ other delays around the country.


9. Pet Hospice

As the lives of our pets become increasingly more human—with pet-specific spas, cupcakes and ice cream—so does a pet’s passing, thanks to the growing pet hospice industry. Much like humans, pets are taken off the heavy meds and transitioned to pain killers and anti-anxiety treatments to ease their final days. The one point of difference is the option of euthanasia; when a vet comes to you and eases the passing of your pet in the comfort of your home.

10. Chicken Training Camp

If you’re yearning to take your pet training skills to the next level, then perhaps it’s time to check out Ryan’s Chicken Training Camps in Sequim, Washington. It’s true: If you can train a chicken, you can train anything. The simple minded animals need instant gratification, which teaches visiting pet trainers to be super-exact and timely. The founders of these camps, the Baileys, have trained chickens to complete obstacle courses, remember patterns, choose between colors and shapes and even play the xylophone.

11. Graff Castle

The lengthy title says it all: “This is what happens when you give graffiti artists an abandoned warehouse and an unlimited amount of paint.” Using the always entertaining time-lapse technique, this video zooms about a cavernous warehouse as the painters use everything from floor to ceiling as their canvas, showing each piece from start to finish in intricate detail.

12. 2014 Pantone Color of the Year

Trend consultant, adjust professor at Parsons The New School for Design and color forecaster Jasmine Takanikos was quick to share the Pantone color of the year announcement for 2014: Radiant Orchid. The bold shade reaches across the color wheel from the 2013 Pantone 17-5641 Emerald, flashing fuchsia, purple and pink undertones to create Pantone 18-3224. With the news out, expect an influx of purple in SS14 wardrobes.

Link About It is our filtered look at the web, shared daily on Twitter and published weekly every Saturday morning.