Hello! Long time no talk. I heard you all singing this song, and I’m back!
Every so often the Oxford English Dictionary adds new words. It adds them to its online dictionary with far more frequency than its physical tome, given that a physical dictionary is quite a bit more difficult to update. It released a list of new words yesterday, and while a few are new words entirely (bikeable) others are new definitions of familiar words. The “tumblr definition” of ship is recognized (and boy is the tumblr community excited about it) and a definition of thing that accounts for the phrase “is that a thing?”
Ted Striphas was interviewed about the effects of algorithms (such as the ones that define the order of google search results, or what shows up in your facebook newsfeed) on culture. As he puts it, “The issue may come down to how comfortable people are with these systems drilling down into our daily lives, and even becoming extensions of our bodies.”
Books are holding their own against e-books, vinyl is making a comeback, film if it isn’t making a comeback, is holding steady since the Kodak bankruptcy. This cycle gives voice to what we want from our technology, devices, and everyday contraptions. In my first post on this matter I reasoned that it comes down to the experience, and that “The contrast between a digital and an analog experience can alter interpretations of media.”
This still holds true, and the nostalgia and authenticity attached to an analog experience has led digital technology to be reworked, in a way, to take advantage of these emotions.
Here’s what was important this week…
We’re all in recovery from the snow and frigid cold that gripped most of the United States this week. It’s been too cold in much of my city to properly use salt–the city has just had to spread sand and efficiently clear the snow, and hope for the best until it got warm enough yesterday to start spreading some salt. This might be a good thing, because the salt used to de-ice roads in winter has damaging effects on the environment, largely due to the run-off of the chloride.
Another unfortunate and little-considered effect that these winter storms have on our lives is the order that snow is cleared off the streets. In Sweden at least, the prioritizing turns out to be rather gendered. The priorities effectively ignore the more vulnerable populations–women, mostly–that rely on public transportation and daycare that may be less accessible while snow is cleared elsewhere.
This oversight extends beyond snow clearing and to general urban design as well, but it is beginning to be recognized. Recognizing how women use cities is imperative for designing transportation networks and community centers that work in a city, and government in Vienna, Austria is doing just that.