Tuesday, February 10, 2015


1. Okay, if you had to choose, which of the following two scenarios would you prefer: for there to be bubonic plague DNA found throughout your city's public transit system? or for more than half the DNA to be "of unknown origin"? Well, if you're in New York, lucky you, because you don't have to choose! BOTH scenarios are true! And there's a handy dandy interactive map to show you exactly where all the most disgusting pathogens are concentrated! Hooray for antibiotic resistant, radioactive e.coli!

2. Here's an intriguing little experiment in publishing related novelty: a book with a cover that judges you. The damn thing won't even unlock until you pull a face that it approves of! Here's a video that shows how it works, although I can't for the life of me figure out who would need this. Maybe the CIA?

3. While the above book-related technology is kind of cute, I can see a whole lot of potential for mischief - especially of the malevolent variety - with this book related technology, which ostensibly "allows" the reader of a book to experience what the characters in the book are experiencing. From the article:
It's straight out of the pages of science fiction: a "wearable" book, which uses temperature controls and lighting to mimic the experiences of a story's protagonist, has been dreamed up by academics at MIT. The book, explain the researchers, senses the page a reader is on, and changes ambient lighting and vibrations to "match the mood". A series of straps form a vest which contains a "heartbeat and shiver simulator", a body compression system, temperature controls and sound. "Changes in the protagonist's emotional or physical state trigger discrete feedback in the wearable [vest], whether by changing the heartbeat rate, creating constriction through air pressure bags, or causing localised temperature fluctuations," say the academics. Dubbed "sensory fiction", the idea was developed by Felix Heibeck, Alexis Hope and Julie Legault at MIT's media lab. The prototype story used was James Tiptree Jr's Hugo award-winning novella "The Girl Who Was Plugged In", in which the protagonist P Burke – who is deformed by pituitary dystrophy and herself experiences life through an avatar – feels "both deep love and ultimate despair, the freedom of Barcelona sunshine and the captivity of a dark damp cellar", said the researchers.
I can't help but wonder what reading Fight Club would be like while strapped into this contraption. Or American Psycho. The possibilities are endless. As an added bonus link. You can read the Tiptree novella at this here link, free of charge.

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