Posts Tagged ‘culture’
All roads lead from Rome, according to a visual history of human culture built entirely from the birth and death places of notable people. The 5-minute animation provides a fresh view of the movements of humanity over the last 2,600 years.
Maximilian Schich, an art historian at the University of Texas at Dallas, and his colleagues used the Google-owned knowledge base, Freebase, to find 120,000 individuals who were notable enough in their life-times that the dates and locations of their births and deaths were recorded.
The list includes people ranging from Solon, the Greek lawmaker and poet, who was born in 637 bc in Athens, and died in 557 bc in Cyprus, to Jett Travolta — son of the actor John Travolta — who was born in 1992 in Los Angeles, California, and died in 2009 in the Bahamas.
The team used those data to create a movie that starts in 600 bc and ends in 2012…
Learn more (e.g., that more architects than artists died in the French Revolution) at Nature.
* Ellsworth Huntington
As we take the long view, we might recall that on this date in 1597, the Hanseatic League (a northern European confederation that was a forerunner of Germany) expelled all English merchants. The expulsion was a product of on-going tensions with English and Dutch trading interests, and a direct response to Elizabeth I’s closure of the Steelyard, the League’s trading post in London.
The MIT Media Lab’s Pantheon Project aims to restore some of that knowledge…
You were not born with the ability to fly, cure disease or communicate at long distances, but you were born in a society that endows you with these capacities. These capacities are the result of information that has been generated by humans and that humans have been able to embed in tangible and digital objects.
This information is all around you. It is the way in which the atoms in an airplane are arranged or the way in which your cell-phone whispers dance instructions to electromagnetic waves.
Pantheon is a project celebrating the cultural information that endows our species with these fantastic capacities. To celebrate our global cultural heritage we are compiling, analyzing and visualizing datasets that can help us understand the process of global cultural development. Dive in, visualize, and enjoy…
Readers can lose themselves in Pantheon, exploring the relative cultural output of different regions in specific domains, like innovation:
… or the cultural output across all domains of a particular nation:
… even the overall rankings of individual contributors to culture over time:
There are, as Pantheon’s keepers freely acknowledge, biases built into the methodology; they continue to work to overcome them. Still, it is a fascinating– and altogether absorbing– resource. Check out the rankings engine here; the visualization engine here; and these videos, by way of background:
As we consult the league tables, we might recall that it was on this date in 2010 that the overdue fines on two books checked out but never returned by George Washington from the New York Society Library (the city’s only lender of books at the time of Washington’s presidency) reached $300,000.
The library’s ledgers show that Washington took out the books on October 5, 1789, some five months into his presidency at a time when New York was still the capital. They were an essay on international affairs called Law of Nations and the twelfth volume of a 14-volume collection of debates from the English House of Commons.
“We’re not actively pursuing the overdue fines,” the head librarian Mark Bartlett said at the time. “But we would be very happy if we were able to get the books back.”
Feeling _____? About to head out for a night on the town in _____? Then dress in _____!
click the image above, or here, for full-screen interactive version
And for a grid version, click here.
As we reorganize our sock drawers, we might recall that on this date in 1896 the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that color mattered in a different kind of way: it ruled that separate-but-equal facilities were constitutional on intrastate railroads. For half a century thereafter, the Plessy v. Ferguson decision upheld the principle of racial segregation in the U.S., across which laws mandated separate accommodations on buses and trains, and in hotels, theaters, and schools. While the Court’s majority opinion denied that legalized segregation connoted inferiority, a dissenting opinion from Justice John Marshall Harlan argued that segregation in public facilities smacked of servitude and abridged the principle of equality under the law.
At a Rome, Georgia bus station, 1949 (source)
The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, UNESCO, is charged with administering “the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage“– a duty they discharge by convening a committee once a year to select from member nations’ nominations those traditions that are needy of conservation.
Consider, for example:
Castells are human towers built by members of amateur groups, usually as part of annual festivities in Catalonian towns and cities… The human towers are formed by castellers standing on the shoulders of one another in a succession of stages (between six and ten). Each level of the tronc, the name given to the second level upwards, generally comprises two to five heavier built men supporting younger, lighter-weight boys or girls. The pom de dalt – the three uppermost levels of the tower – comprises young children. Anyone is welcome to form the pinya, the throng that supports the base of the tower… The knowledge required for raising castells is traditionally passed down from generation to generation within a group, and can only be learned by practice.
On consideration, the committee ruled that Castells satisfied the criteria for inscription on the Representative List:
R1: Human towers are recognized by Catalan people as an integral part of their cultural identity, transmitted from generation from generation and providing community members a sense of continuity, social cohesion and solidarity;
R2: Their inscription on the Representative List could promote intangible cultural heritage as a means of reinforcing social cohesion, while encouraging respect for cultural dialogue and human creativity;
R3: The safeguarding measures being implemented and those planned are carefully described, and the commitments of both the State and the communities are well demonstrated, all aiming at ensuring the viability of the element;
R4: The nomination was elaborated through a process of consultation and cooperation with the bearers of the tradition who have provided their free, prior and informed consent;
R5: Human towers are registered in the Inventory of the Ethnological Heritage of Catalonia, maintained and updated by the Department of Culture and Media.
As we wonder if the castellers are now required to wear blue helmets, we might recall that it was on this date in 1993 that Hollywood’s homage to the Anglo-Saxon tradition of cross-dressing– Mrs. Doubtfire– premiered.