The Story of the Rainbow Flag
“Soon after, Gilbert was dancing at the Cow Palace with Cleve Jones and, amidst the swirl of colored lights, he was overwhelmed with the diversity of people out dancing and came up with the idea of the rainbow flag. I believe there was LSD involved.”
There are few places more joyful than a pride parade. Its symbol, the rainbow flag, was created by Gilbert Baker, whose story you can read on 99U.
Made in China
Most of us have heard about the town in China that replicates oil paintings, usually during a discussion on the value of art, copycats or the like. This beautifully made documentary tells the tale of one of those artists, who spent 20 years painting Van Gogh paintings. See what happens when he travels to Europe to see the originals for the first time.
“We are only painter-workers, you know? To change from being a painter to an artist and to whatever it is is very difficult.”
Are you a painter worker, or a painter? The value of one’s work is based on the difference between the two. What’s your difference?
The Beach House That Connects The Internet
There’s a small, unmarked beach house in Denmark, alongside two unsuspecting manhole covers by the sea. They are responsible for one of the most important and unusual highways of the world – they carry internet traffic from the US to Europe and back. Meet the man responsible for keeping us connected.
This month, I’ve been exploring Europe by train. In an effort to remember the experiences and locations (and also because some of these train journeys were really f*cking long), I made a playlist with some (for me) new music. Here are my travel companions.
TYPO Berlin 2018
I got invited to join the editorial team at TYPO Berlin 2018. You can read more about my work here.
I'm sat on a train to Copenhagen, packed with inspiration, ideas and energy (and merch!) from TYPO 2018. Here’s an attempt to put some of the things that happened into words.
I used TYPO as an excuse to do a lot of things I wouldn't usually do. So I bought an Interrail ticket and travelled from London to Berlin via Brussels and Amsterdam. After TYPO I'm visiting Hamburg, Copenhagen and Stockholm, before returning to my temporary home London. But even TYPO itself consisted of hopping from one unexpected activity to the next.
In addition to writing for the TYPO newsletter and contributing to the social media channels, I got to interview some of the most influential, forward-thinking designers. Some of them I've known and admired for years (Frank Rausch, Aaron James Draplin, Timothy Goodman and more), while others I had the pleasure of getting to know personally at TYPO for the first time. All of them were incredibly friendly, open and kind.
In general, it has been very clear that massive egos have no place in the creative industries. We are stronger when we work together, share our process and discuss our values and work ethic publicly. While TYPO is by no means a cheap conference (student prices are still unaffordable for many), this year more talks than ever were livestreamed and all videos were made public within 24 hours, as opposed to only making them available for visitors as has been the case in the past. Props to the organizers for making sure even those who for whatever reason couldn't come to Berlin are still able to follow the conference online.
Another development that is worth noting (even though in 2018 shouldn’t need any applause) is that there were more female speakers than ever before (about 40%). While TYPO still has some way to go regarding diversity, it is good to see things are developing in the right direction.
One thing TYPO does that no other conference does as well is to create a schedule that will inspire (dare I say “trigger”?) you in ways you didn’t expect. I had watched many of Aaron James Draplin’s talks and knew he was a great speaker (and he was, while also being an incredible human to talk to in person). I had followed Frank Rausch for a long time and respect his opinion and work a lot, but had never seen him speak (he also smashed it). Then there are people whose work you were familiar with without knowing the designer behind it (this was the case with Fidel Peugeot for me). His enthusiasm and curiosity were just infectious. And then there are people who for some reason you didn't stumble upon yet and after watching them speak you'll find yourself asking why you didn’t discover them earlier. dina Amin’s fun and thought-provoking talk “A Tinker Story” was the unexpected highlight of TYPO 2018 for me. Her dedication and curiosity will inspire you, whatever you do.
Timothy Goodman had a great story in his talk: When he asked a guy at a party what he did for a living, he replied “Whatever I can get away with”. I’d love to be at a point in my life where I’m able to say that (mostly because I might end up in someone’s TYPO talk) and after this weekend and a lot of what happend in the last few months, I might have reached this point already. This conference included a lot of “Pinch me!” moments for sure.
Lastly, let this whole experience be a lesson to future David: When I made that video about TYPO Berlin 2017, I mainly made it for myself. I thought maybe one or two people might see it. That someone from TYPO Berlin would see it, that would be incredible. But I never considered it would lead to an invitation to join the TYPO editorial team. Sometimes it’s important to make something just for the sake of it and not expect anything in return. It may lead to incredible experiences.
TIL what an incredible training procedure taxi drivers in London have to go through. The whole process takes nearly three years, involves acquiring The Knowledge of London, which includes over 25,000 streets and the number of traffic signals on a route, and that would-be cabbies are called “knowledge boys” or “knowledge girls” who drive around on motor scooters to acquire route knowledge. Research has shown that the hippocampus, the area of the brain used for navigation and spatial memory, is generally larger in taxi drivers than the general population. This is fascinating.
It would be easy to think that all of this knowledge has been replaced by satellite navigation, but in a test by the Wall Street Journal, the black cab was faster and cheaper than its UBER competitor.
Take the power back
Oliver Reichenstein writes:
“In the cellphone of an 11-year-old, the browser is not, as you might think, “the Internet”. He doesn’t know exactly what a browser is and how to use it. Apps bring him there sometimes. To a chatting teen, the address bar is a cousin of the terminal.”
Self-publishing was once a revolutionary concept. Then Facebook, Medium and YouTube came along. Your thoughts became a commodity. Many of these ecosystems want us to think they are open, but quite the opposite is true. Suddenly, me typing this article in my FTP client and uploading it to my own web server doesn't feel so old-fashioned. Maybe it was the right thing to do all along.
“Blogging is so out of fashion that it is almost fashionable again. (...) And it’s writing as opposed to liking, thinking as opposed to reacting, owning your traffic as opposed to building up your Facebook followers that one day a Zuckerberg will take away from you when it suits his needs.”