bpb Column: Three Ways Meet
Sunday, 20 May 2012 23:20

In this new weekly column, filmmaker Danish Aslam will be your purveyor of the finest quality random facts, useless trivia and other esoterica from the world wide web. He lives mostly behind a keyboard and may or may not be a wizened old green man who speaks in grammatically incorrect aphorisms. You can find more on his home page http://pictually.me/dontpanic

The Flying Baby

Rachel Hulin likes to make her son fly. Henry, still a baby, already has a large portfolio of pictures which make it seem like he's an Avenger-in-training. Apparently she tried it once while on assignment and liked the result so much that she's done an entire series on it. She refuses to divulge how she did it, but admits that "it was more subtraction than addition". Also, "he never gets tossed", just in case any of you were looking at your children with a gleam in your eyes.

How Yahoo Killed Flickr

In 2005, Yahoo bought Flickr. And then proceeded to systematically destroy it. This incisive long read from Mat Honan on Gizmodo traces the story of how a giant corporation can buy a startup and then forget all the reasons why they bought it in the first place. Best line: "If you can't beat laser cat, you probably deserve to die." Read on to understand.

Icons That Refuse To Leave Us

The floppy disk, audio cassettes, black & white TVs and walkmen (?): all some of the most iconic objects that my generation grew up with that the current crop of kids have never seen and probably never heard of. Except for the floppy disk. Because that's the universal symbol for 'Save' on most computers/smart phones. But why? And why is the icon for a phone still the old rotary dial handset? Scott Hanselman compiles a list of these and some other icons still in use and universally accepted even though nobody's seen the originals in years.

PS: A related story by the same blogger: There is only one cloud icon in the entire universe. Fascinating.

Extreme Motorbikes

I'm not really a bike or a car person, but I know that the heading of this section probably made a few people sit up and drool. And after seeing the bikes on display, I have to admit that my salivary glands went into overdrive too. This compilation of alternative bikes may not be the coolest super-bikes on the road (and I don't think most of these are on the road at all), but they certainly take the cake for mind-bending, geekgasm-inducing designs. My personal favorites: the Sbarro Pendulato Concept and the Evolve Xenon Lightcycle (TRON overload anyone?).

Instead Of TV, You Should Watch…..

That's the name of a website that wants you to stop watching the idiot box. What it doesn't do is show you videos of children drugged after the dentist, or biting each other's fingers, or monkeys doing back flips (unless that's part of a science experiment). What it does do is give you a new video every time you click on the link saying "I want to watch something else". Each video is curated from sites like TED, the Khan Academy, etc. & if you watch one of these every day, you should become the genius your mom saw in you in no time!

Images with A Twist

Speaking of the idiot box, that's just one of the images that Spanish illustrator Nacho Diaz has, well, illustrated (the power of simple words at play right here). Essentially, he takes phrases or symbols that are a part of everyday life and the English language and subverts them using very simple, almost cartoonish images that make you look at them twice and go "Aaahhhhh, ok then." For example, the aforementioned idiot box, or a Molotov cocktail. It's almost like a puzzle but a lot of fun and highly ingenious.

Nikola Tesla - The Greatest Geek Ever

Another reason why I love The Oatmeal (apart from the kickass humor) is the occasional comic on really important stuff that educates you (which is not to say that a video about a m*****f***** pterodactyl isn't enlightening). In this long and very impassioned piece, Matthew Inman tries to right one of the greatest injustices in scientific history - overlooking Tesla in favor of Edison. Apparently, he wasn't just a crazy recluse destined to be portrayed by David Bowie (The Prestige, Nolan's best work till date). Read this to realise just how much of modern technology we owe to this man. And just how big a douche Edison really was.

How To Write A Great Story

The sentence above is the subject of thousands of books and tens of thousands of seminars/get-rich-quick schemes. But the 8 tips outlined by Kurt Vonnegut (the man who didn't write the Wear Sunscreen song) have to be among the most accurate and concise I've ever seen. So ditch the Syd Fields and listen to the man himself tell you what to do. And check out some of the other links on the page as well: John Steinbeck has some interesting stuff to say.


"What if movies were made before they were made?" This is the simple premise employed by Ivan Guerrero, a filmmaker who re-imagines trailers for contemporary movies using footage from classic Hollywood under the moniker 'whoiseyevan'. As promised, here's the link to his YouTube channel which includes 'premakes' of Forrest Gump, Up, Raiders Of The Lost Ark & a few more. The popularity of the videos can be gauged by the fact that 'premake' may just be an addition to the Oxford English Dictionary sometime soon. Well, not really, but Roger Ebert did classify it as "useful new word". And that's got to count for something, right?

How To Sell A Mobile Phone

Russia: the country of vodka, perestroika and now apparently, sexist mobile phone ads. Check out this series of ads for MegaFon, the second largest mobile phone operator in Russia that seem to have cropped up from another era and what I can only assume is an all-male ad agency. Perv much?

The Future Of Touch Screens

We have Steve Jobs to thank for making us aware of what touch screens can do, but I'm guessing even he didn't stretch his mind so far. However, the geeks over at Disney Research (yup, that's right…Disney! Who knew?) decided to take this whole touching objects to make things happen thing about 3 steps further. So imagine a world where you can lock a door by squeezing the doorknob, control your iPod by touching your wrist and a sofa that dims the lights and turns the TV off as you fall asleep. If the video seems too dry to start with, jump to 2:51 for the real-world applications and prepare to have your mind blown. The future really is now. And Mickey, Goofy and the gang are bringing it you.


Add your comment

Comments (6)
Tuesday, 22 May 2012 14:06
Danish Aslam
@B. Nayar: Here's the rebuttal from The Oatmeal to the Forbes article. Despite (or sometimes because of) his snarky writing style, it makes for an extremely interesting read.
Monday, 21 May 2012 22:16
Danish Aslam
Amit: Thanks! And that post was one of my favourites too.
Monday, 21 May 2012 18:59
Amit S
Danish I have to say, this was one of my fav compilations from all the columns until now. And the icon post it made me unearth my very vintage walkman.
Monday, 21 May 2012 14:32
Danish Aslam
@B Nayar: Thanks for posting that article. It makes a fair number of very good points.
Monday, 21 May 2012 13:41
B Nayar
While Tesla has been somebody to admire, and Edison the reverse on a few counts, that Oatmeal article, while entertaining, was off on a lot of facts - read about that in Forbes http://onforb.es/L4c60Q
Monday, 21 May 2012 11:38
Siddhartha Gupta
Another wonderful compilation of internet arcana... thanks for livening up a (hot) Delhi monday, my friend.

Here's a youtube link of the Tron LightCycle from your extreme motorbikes section.

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