Link About It: This Week’s Picks

The inimitable Elaine Stritch, a crazy cooler, Wired's innovation fellows and more in our weekly look at the web


1. Vale Elaine Stritch

Broadway legend and all-round sassy broad Elaine Stritch passed away this week and the outpouring of grief has been a testament to how special and appreciated she was. In his tribute to the icon, Steve Reiss writes, “She wasn’t traditionally beautiful, she didn’t have a particularly melodious voice, and her sole fashion imitator might be Diane Keaton. But she projected integrity, honesty, vulnerability and charisma with a force that demanded she be seen, heard, noticed.” He outlines how it’s her spirit that her friends, family and public loved about her most; she was “irrepressible, impossible to censor, incapable of being embarrassed or ashamed, simultaneously classy and inelegant.” And, in Stritch’s own perfect words, she told him, “I want to be an original.” She certainly was.

2. Why We Quote TV

Evidently, singing the “Monorail” song from The Simpsons or quoting the Soup Nazi from Seinfeld is just a way to make friends. Australian linguist Lauren Gawne calls The Simpsons a “cultural touchstone” for those who grew up with the show, thus quoting Homer or Dr Nick (or any character from your formative years) is simply a way to connect with others. Gawne says, “We like to share what we like with people as a way of identifying whether they’re part of our group.” It’s incredible, and quite magical, that people can connect on such a level simply with the word “D’oh!”

3. Pimp My Cooler

Portland’s Ryan Grepper is pleasing the masses with Coolest, a 21st century cooler that is the ultimate party on wheels. His rendition—which is now on Kickstarter—includes an 18-volt blender for mixing up drinks on the go, a Bluetooth-enabled speaker, a USB port, beach tires, a cutting board, a built-in bottle opener and a bungee cord for strapping more gear to the top. Grepper’s clearly found a gap in the market—in the span of just a few days, he’s gained $6 million in funding for his project.

4. Malala Day

On Monday, the world celebrated global education advocate Malala Yousafzai on her official commemorative holiday. Yousafzai marked the occasion the way she does best, by taking a stand against those who are still attempting to keep women from receiving an education and writing a deeply moving essay on how the world needs to unite in the fight against academic oppression.


5. London’s New Commuter Train

Thanks to industrial designers Barber & Osgerby, London may very
well be getting a new commuter rail train by 2017. The
winning design, appointed by Transport for London, will eventually
occupy space on the new Crossrail line, a 62-mile network of
underground tunnels to be added underneath the city. The line will
connect several existing stations within the London Underground and
Overground networks.

6. MoMA’s New Head of Architecture and Design

New York’s Museum of Modern Art recently named Martino Stierli as chief curator of
architecture and design. Currently a professor at the Institute of Art
History of the University of Zurich, Stierli will work alongside
MoMA’s senior curator of design Paola Antonelli and curator of
contemporary architecture Pedro Gadanho. With such archives as those
of Frank Lloyd Wright and Mies van der Rohe in his possession, we’re
excited to see where Stierli takes the museum.

7. Falling Back in Love with Technology

In this presentation for 99U, former RISD president John Maeda (now a Design Partner at a venture capital firm and chair of eBay’s Design Advisory Board) covers numerous topics—starting with some big questions like defining design to explaining venture capital for those (like himself) are new to it, making the analogy of launching rockets, as well as discussing the difference between start-ups and “end-ups.”

8. Screen Art

Making the invisible visible is photographer Meggan Gould, who turns her lens onto the iPad screen. Scanning her husband and daughter’s iPads for the series “Surface Tension,” Gould captures the plethora of smudges and smears made by their fingers. With nary a clean spot, it reveals just how much we touch and interact with touchscreens, but never really consider them.


9. Touching The Art

What is art? Could my kid do that? Is James Franco really real? All
these questions and more are addressed in comedian Casey Jane
Ellison’s new web series “Touching the Art.” With a legitimate guest
panel of acclaimed art world inhabitants, the first
sub-seven-minute episode is full of clever quips, perfectly cynical
reflections and—believe it or not—some interesting insight on the
subject of contemporary art as well.

10. Pencil Vases

Designer Tuomas Markunpoika has used pencils as a raw material in a series of surprising vases, suitably dubbed “Amalgamated.” By glueing together hundreds of Faber-Castell pencils into a solid block and then turning it on the lathe, the lead is exposed and a beautifully distinct surface pattern appears. The vases are selling in limited supply from London’s Gallery FUMI, and are available in three different sizes.

11. JIF vs GIF

CompuServe engineer Steve Wilhite is adamant that GIF is pronounced “jif” and while many believe being the inventor of the format gives him that right, it’s a (sometimes hilarious) subject of contention. Interestingly though, Wilhite isn’t really the inventor of the GIF—his version of a GIF played just once, and it was actually Netscape who added the ability to loop animations, in 1995. In his article for Medium, Andy Baio argues that by now it doesn’t matter who invented the format—as the wondrous GIF has taken on a life of its own and belongs to a culture, not an individual. Long live the GIF! However you pronounce it.

12. The Inaugural Wired Innovation Fellows

This week, Wired announced their 12 Innovation Fellows, a program in its inaugural year. The diverse crew spans seven different countries and includes CH favorite Nelly Ben Hayoun (a designer of experiences at the SETI Institute), Skylar Tibbits (developing a new process called 4D printing, where objects can self-assemble themselves) and Nina Tandon (CEO of EpiBone whose technology allows patients to to grow bone cultivated from the patient’s own cells), to name a few.

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