Friday Link List

1. Two Pittsburghians send mail to everyone on Earth

Or at least that’s the goal:

Michael Crowe and I are in the middle of writing a unique hand-written (or hand-typed) letter to every household in the world. [...]

Each letter is different, and where possible personally addressed. We sign them “love Michael & Lenka”, and write in a chatty, friendly tone about topics of possible mutual interest; the weather, gentleness, Roseanne, etc.

In an attempt to discover these shared interests we often travel to the town, suburb, or small village that we plan to write to and live amongst the future recipients of our letters while we write them. We walk the same streets, eat the same bread brought from the same shops, observe the views from their hills, count the daffodils in their gardens, and so on.

Via {very short list}.

2. What Should We Be Worried About? {mother jones}

A new collection of essays entitled just that asks some of today’s biggest thinkers to divulge their fears and worries.

One of my favorites, Nicholas Carr, rants about the patience deficit (of course):

Given what we know about the variability of our time sense, it seems clear that information and communication technologies would have a particularly strong effect on personal time perception. After all, they often determine the pace of the events we experience, the speed with which we’re presented with new information and stimuli, and even the rhythm of our social interactions.

That’s long been true, but the influence must be particularly strong now that we carry powerful and extraordinarily fast computers around with us. Our gadgets train us to expect near instantaneous responses to our actions, and we quickly get frustrated and annoyed at even brief delays. I know that my own perception of time has been changed by technology. If I go from using a fast computer or Web connection to using even a slightly slower one, processes that take just a second or two longer—waking the machine from sleep, launching an application, opening a Web page—seem almost intolerably slow. Never before have I been so aware of, and annoyed by, the passage of mere seconds.

3. Amazon, a Friendly Giant as Long as It’s Fed {new york times}

Vincent Zandri hails from the future. He is a novelist from the day after tomorrow, when Amazon has remade the worlds of writing, printing, selling and reading books so thoroughly that there is hardly anything left besides Amazon. [...]

A few years ago he was reduced to returning bottles and cans for grocery money. Now his Amazon earnings pay for lengthy stays in Italy and Paris, as well as expeditions to the real Amazon. “I go wherever I want, do whatever I want and live however I want,” he said recently at a bar in Mill Valley, Calif., a San Francisco suburb where he was relaxing after a jaunt to Nepal.

Mimicking Birds {new music}

Mimicking Birds

The latest album from Portland’s Mimicking Birds, Eons {spotify}, is an album that takes some time to fully comprehend and appreciate.

Sure, you’ll be intrigued by the lazy wandering feel of the opening track, “Memorabilia.” The persistent bass line of the third track, “Owl Hoots,” will certainly keep your interest. You’ll be captivated by the fifth song, “Bloodlines,” which as NPR’s Steven Thompson says, is “constantly in motion”.

And if the album has a single, I suppose that would be it. But Eons is an album that’s not designed for fragmented listening. You have to experience the entire album, from start to finish, to truly appreciate all the intricate textures, persistent momentum, and subtle layers.

That said, here’s one of my favorite songs. I love how the melody drops off repeatedly, leaving room for a new one to rise up in its absence.

Mimicking Birds — “Wormholes” {mp3}

Via {all songs considered}.

Photo via Inger Klekacz {flickr}

Theses in Tweetform

I love these {nicholas carr’s blog}:

28. People in love leave the sparsest data trails.

11. Personal correspondence grows less interesting as the speed of its delivery quickens.

25. Personalized ads provide a running critique of artificial intelligence.

19. Instagram shows us what a world without art looks like.

39. When we turn on a GPS system, we become cargo.

“Green” Apps: A Contradiction in Terms

Apparently green apps {epa.gov} are a thing. They may help you find recycling locations in Chicago, set up a carpool, locate the closest farmers’ market, or allow you to calculate your carbon footprint.

But one thing these apps don’t factor into their calculations is the emissions created by people simply using said apps.

Psychology Today helpfully draws our attention to this contradiction:

For all the good intentions behind the green app explosion, there’s a big contradiction in their deployment: namely, increases in green app usage—the basis of a green mobile lifestyle—inevitably increase electricity usage. And no app can address the two main forces that sustain this contradiction: the number of consumers linked to broadband mobile and landline networks continues to grow at astounding rates; and with that growth, comes increasing dependency on conventional energy production to power mobile communication.

I don’t know why Psychology Today is picking on green apps. The vast amount of energy used by our devices to access data in the cloud has been well documented {tech pundit}:

Using a [tablet or smartphone] to watch an hour of video weekly consumes annually more electricity in the remote networks than two new refrigerators use in a year.

That’s the lead story, not green apps. We’ve witnessed an app and smartphone explosion {nielsen}—period—over the past several years. To call out green apps in particular is unfair, distracting, and irrelevant.

Troll Target? Just Change Your Profile Pic

Mikki Kendalli {the guardian} is a writer, pop culture analyst and social commentator. And as an African American female doing that writing and social commenting, she is subjected to a ton of vitriol from anonymous Internet commenters and Twitter trolls.

She recently decided to fight back, sort of. She changed her profile picture to that of a white man. The difference was remarkable.

She didn’t change what she wrote about. She didn’t cover up her identity; she even still referred to herself as a woman. But the hateful comments stopped—for the most part.

Check out the episode {tldr} for her story and for more about how she conducted her research. (She also got some white men to change their profile pictures to black women so they could experience life on the Internet in her shoes—and the change had the effect you might expect.)