Favorite links of 2007

359 links posted in 365 days. I just went back through them all and plucked out the most unusual, thought-provoking, or interesting of the lot. In my opinion, of course. Kinda interesting (depressing?) to note the trends of topics that capture my attention over time.*

(As a sidenote, if you’re not receiving these links in your subscription to Ascent Stage add this feed here. It combines the main posts with the links. For you site-visitors the links are called Marginalia and are over in the right gutter. All links historically live at del.icio.us.)

Mindstorms Autofabrik
LEGO robots that build LEGOs. How Skynet began.

How to Speak a Book
Richard Powers on writing fiction by dictation. I knew there was something different about the style of his latest novel.

100 Years of the DJ
From “music waiter” to international superstar. A great audio-annotated timeline.

Vintage Charleston video set to Daft Punk
I enjoy watching this very much. The moves at the end are approximately 60 years ahead of their time.

No ducking foie gras law
Doug Sohn, mastermind behind the greatest hot dog joint in Chicago, takes a stand against an asinine law.

Spaceport Sheboygan
Bratwurst Capital of the World and … the Midwest’s only licensed space launch facility? What the hell?

Space. Annotated.

One Picture, 1,000 Tags
Museums begin to understand the value of user-created descriptive taxonomies. Says the Met: “There’s a huge semantic gap between museums and the public.” Well, yes.

Wrigley Beer Vendors
Trading cards for the most important people in the ballpark. Fantastic.

Music textile
A fabric-based MIDI controller that is interesting because it raises the possibility of a music score itself acting as the instrument.

How to Turn a Book Into a Picture Frame
Creative. Try matching book themes to photo subjects.

The Alameda-Weehawken Burrito Tunnel
Hilarious recounting of America’s greatest engineering accomplishment. Viva Maciej.

Forget team-building, shoot an after-work music video
This made my day, maybe my week. Apparently these co-workers did this in one take. Watch ’til the end.

Best Venn diagram ever
So, so true. I am not truly happy right now.

Plot a point between two people. Want to find a bar to meet your mate equidistant from you both? This is your app.

Baseball Geography and Transportation
Alex Reisner explains the impact of changing modes of transportation on player culture and ballpark symmetry. Very well done.

OK, this is currently the most brilliant thing I’ve come across in 2007. Simple, beautiful.

Serial Port: A Brief History of Laptop Music
Serious, thoughtful primer on the laptop as more than just a digital turntable.

Incredible! Why Roger Federer may be the most amazing athlete ever
This is not new, but I never tire of watching it. Kudos to Roddick on his sense of humor too.

Friends of the Bloomingdale Trail
A High Line-type project to convert an abandoned elevated rail line into a linear park through Chicago.

Baby monitor in Illinois picks up live video from NASA mission
See also, how John would be arrested for parental negligence.

If Real Life were like Second Life
Giggle. (Love the away person.)

Dunning-Kruger effect
“The phenomenon whereby people who have little knowledge systematically think that they know more than others who have much more knowledge.” I have an in-law who suffers from this. Or rather, the rest of the family suffers from it.

Thousands of rubber ducks to land on British shores after 15 year journey
Amazing story of bath toys washed overboard in the Pacific that have made their way to the Atlantic.

Bud Light Swear Jar
One of the commercials that didn’t air. By far the funniest. I was crying at “Doesn’t count.”

Man(y) With a Movie Camera
Very cool idea for a “remake” of Vertov’s classic with user-submitted clips.

Watch the World(s)
My god. This is wonderful, gorgeous. Vincent would be proud.

People are reading more in the UK than they were in the 1970s
Interestingly counter-intuitive theory: “Books are ideal to fill gaps in people’s schedules – and with busier lives there are more gaps.”

The Manualist
Hand-fart soloist. (Thank you, Internets. Thank you.)

An entire prison does the Thriller dance
Not sure what to say about this except to wonder how many death threats the choreographer got. Impressive organization.

Barry Bonds surpasses Ty Cobb as the Biggest Asshole in Baseball History
Some contest: “Bonds’ Assholery has been enhanced by illegal drug use. Chemically induced “roid-rage” has artificially inflated his numbers. Ty Cobb established his record fueled by nothing more than bourbon and cold, steely hate.”

Somewhere Nearby is Colossal Cave: Examining Will Crowther’s Original “Adventure” in Code and in Kentucky
And you thought all English professors did was explain iambic pentameter, eh?

Flickr timeline with Simile
Rob Smart answers my call for a simple timeline view of your Flickr photos. Well done!

Venice charges rude tourists extra
I don’t disagree with this, though it might be nice to have the rudeness quotient work both ways, i.e. a rude shopkeeper discount as well.

Sara and I just got engaged!
Did YOU laser-cut foam core as part of your marriage proposal? No, I didn’t think so.

The immaturity of consumers (or “I want a refund!”)
Glad I am not the only one who thinks that the whining about the iPhone price drop is ridiculous. If you did not think it was worth $600 why did you buy it? (‘Course I’m not going to say no to the $100 rebate.)

x is the new y 2007
Roo Reynolds plots the permutations of x is the new y (e.g., “white is the new black”) based on Google results. Impressive and humorous.

Fellow baldy Darren Shaw creates a Last.fm for playlists.

Seth’s Blog: Thinking about this war
The War on Terror as a marketing problem.

The Virtual And The Far Away
Gorgeously deserted, compellingly human. From my work pal Jeff Berg.

ecards for when you care enough to hit send

Amazon MP3
Whoa. Millions of songs. Not an iota of rights-management. Your move, Apple.

The Open Workspace Environment: “Where a human becomes a human resource”
Including tips on limiting your odor waft radii, abolishing prairie dogging, comparisons with prison cell square footage, and more.

DOT Unveils Sidewalk Compass Markings
What a great idea. Chicagoans, don’t get your hopes up. The first compass needed by the CTA is to direct it in removing its head from its ass.

Reverse Graffiti
Brilliant. Subtracting grime from walls to create art. But be warned: cleaning a wall may get you arrested.

“The half-life of an irregular verb scales as the square root of its usage frequency.”
That is, the more frequently an irregular verb (to be, to have, etc) is used the less likely it is to evolve into a regular verb (e.g., the past tense of “chide” has become “chided” where in the past it was — wait for it — “chode”.

The Moby Quotient
A handy formula to determine “the degree to which artists besmirch their reputations when they lend their music to hawk products or companies.”

The Future of the Music Business
Hint: one genre of music already provides the model.

Make a Mixa
Forget CD’s. Put your next mix on a cassette tape USB drive. Love it!

Using McDonalds’ As Pizza Toppings
And I thought the Goblin Cock was innovative. As described: “a culinary Frankenstein cooked by Bizarro, a crude combination of deliciousness into an artery-jamming fatty Voltron.”

NeoVictorian Computing
Mark Bernstein’s insights into the software developer as artisan. A good read.

The wisdom of clouds
Cumul.us is a merger of multiple weather feeds, user predictions, and suggestions on what to wear (and buy) to combat the elements. An excellent idea.

This salad container topographic map is genius.
Yes, I would have to say it is.

The Future of Reading (A Play in Six Acts)
Great exposition on the new e-reader from Amazon that people are ga-ga about.

Japan’s melody roads play music as you drive
This is so great. I have often thought that the sound of changing pavement is a lot like half the stuff in my music library. And that’s a good thing.

Forgotten Chicago
Bookmarked so I don’t, you know, forget.

An Open Letter to a Guy I Work With Who Always Comes Into My Office to Tell Me He Sent Me an E-mail Right After He Sends Me an E-mail.
I’d like to append my name to this letter. I HATE when people do this.

Electronic Music Writing Guide
Need to write an electronica review? Here’s your cheat sheet. I particularly like “an arduous slab of Powerbook abstraction.”

The Worst Band Names Of ’07
Worst? I think not! Deny the creativity of this sampling, just try: The Asbestos Tampons, Harmonica Lewinsky, Slut Barf, Coach Said Not To, Bi Furious. And yes, they all have MySpace pages.

Our Dumb World | The Onion
Now an annotated Google Map and Earth layer. A new country is “featured” each week. Hilarious.

You know those computers you see in the movies…
Most of the “fictional interfaces” you see are designed by this guy. What an awesome job to have.

Update:: And here are a few I liked from my stint as Guest Editor of Coudal’s Fresh Signals.

Dopa, funkadelico, scratchare, and suckeroni. Hip Hop Italiano blends American slang and dialect from the bottom of the boot. Viva comic opera.

Zombies vs. Robots, a new comic so conceptually sound it is self-evidently perfect.

Intimate Exchanges is a “multi-play” where two actors make decisions Choose-Your-Own-Adventure-style, cycling through 10 characters and 8 different plays. It can be perplexing, but each show is a new experience. Here’s the decision tree.

If you can’t describe it in 17 syllables, perhaps you shouldn’t be drinking it.

This bed sheet with printed rulers should finally give you the data you need to protect your territory.

Underpass as Photoshop. View Layers.

Tom Phillips selectively draws right onto the pages of a Victorian novel. Brian Dettmer takes it a step further and carves into the z-axis of a book. It’s all about layers, you see.

Vader’s labored breathing? Just pausing between sets.

Peter Feigenbaum’s gorgeous model railroad slums.

* Top tags for my links: music, chicago, humor, space, design, art, maps, tools, language, travel, video, visualization, china, secondlife, photography, nasa, google, lego, mashup, ibm, architecture, mac, museum, blog, books, cubs, map, audio, baseball, flickr, ipod, history, web2.0, baby, film, parenting, social, web, gadget, itunes. Yep, that’s pretty much me.