Meet the Lady Taxi Force of NYC

NY Times reports:

A new livery service starting Sept. 16 in New York City, Westchester County and Long Island will offer female drivers exclusively, for female riders, according to its founder. It will take requests for rides through an app, and dispatch drivers sporting hot pink pashmina scarves.

The service will be called SheTaxis — SheRides in New York City because of regulations barring it from using “taxi” in its name — and aims to serve women who may feel uncomfortable being driven by men, or who simply prefer the company of other women. The app will ask potential riders if there is a woman in their party. If not, they will be automatically redirected to other car services.

Related & Worth Watching: (posted above) is a really wonderful short doc produced by my dear friend Diana Diroy about what it’s like to be a female taxi driver in NYC. —Jihii

Global Literacy

Today’s International Literacy Day and UNESCO reports that “there are still 781 million adults and 126 million youth who cannot read or write a simple sentence.”

Via UNESCO (PDF): 

The lowest literacy rates are observed in sub-Saharan Africa and in South and West Asia. Adult literacy rates were below 50% in the following 14 countries: Afghanistan, Benin, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Guinea, Haiti, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Sierra Leone… It is important to note that regional averages can mask disparities at the country level. This is most apparent in sub-Saharan Africa, where the adult literacy rate ranges from 15% in Niger to 95% in Equatorial Guinea. 

The UN group has an “eAtlas of Literacy" that lets visitors browse and export maps and data to explore global literacy rates and regional indicators.

Images: Adult and Youth literacy rates, via UNESCO (PDF). Select to embiggen.

3D Printing Tactile Picture Books for Visually Impaired Children

A team from the University of Colorado Boulder is creating 3D printed tactile books for children with visual impairments.

Information about the Tactile Picture Books Project is here. Have a 3D printer? You can download the source files from MakerBot’s Thingiverse.

Images: Tactile Goodnight Moon, via Thingiverse. Select to embiggen.

Start Your Remix Engines: Millions of New Public Domain Images Now on Flickr
Over 2.6 million images from books published between 1500 and 1922 are now on Flickr thanks to a Yahoo! fellow who, in a sense, reverse scanned 600 million pages from the Internet Archive.
Via Open Culture:

Thanks to Kalev Leetaru, a Yahoo! Fellow in Residence at Georgetown University, you can now head over to a new collection at Flickr and search through an archive of 2.6 million public domain images, all extracted from books, magazines and newspapers published over a 500 year period. Eventually this archive will grow to 14.6 million images.

Via The BBC:

Mr Leetaru said digitisation projects had so far focused on words and ignored pictures.
"For all these years all the libraries have been digitising their books, but they have been putting them up as PDFs or text searchable works," he told the BBC.
"They have been focusing on the books as a collection of words. This inverts that.
"Stretching half a millennium, it’s amazing to see the total range of images and how the portrayals of things have changed over time.

Geek Speak: Traditional book scanning uses optical character recognition to extract text from books but, in doing so, more or less ignores images. Leetaru wrote a program that went back through the scans and reversed the process, favoring images over text.
Back to The BBC:

The software also copied the caption for each image and the text from the paragraphs immediately preceding and following it in the book.
Each Jpeg and its associated text was then posted to a new Flickr page, allowing the public to hunt through the vast catalogue using the site’s search tool.

Read through to the BBC to learn more about how it was done.
Image: Partial screenshot, page 26,198 of the collection.

Start Your Remix Engines: Millions of New Public Domain Images Now on Flickr

Over 2.6 million images from books published between 1500 and 1922 are now on Flickr thanks to a Yahoo! fellow who, in a sense, reverse scanned 600 million pages from the Internet Archive.

Via Open Culture:

Thanks to Kalev Leetaru, a Yahoo! Fellow in Residence at Georgetown University, you can now head over to a new collection at Flickr and search through an archive of 2.6 million public domain images, all extracted from books, magazines and newspapers published over a 500 year period. Eventually this archive will grow to 14.6 million images.

Via The BBC:

Mr Leetaru said digitisation projects had so far focused on words and ignored pictures.

"For all these years all the libraries have been digitising their books, but they have been putting them up as PDFs or text searchable works," he told the BBC.

"They have been focusing on the books as a collection of words. This inverts that.

"Stretching half a millennium, it’s amazing to see the total range of images and how the portrayals of things have changed over time.

Geek Speak: Traditional book scanning uses optical character recognition to extract text from books but, in doing so, more or less ignores images. Leetaru wrote a program that went back through the scans and reversed the process, favoring images over text.

Back to The BBC:

The software also copied the caption for each image and the text from the paragraphs immediately preceding and following it in the book.

Each Jpeg and its associated text was then posted to a new Flickr page, allowing the public to hunt through the vast catalogue using the site’s search tool.

Read through to the BBC to learn more about how it was done.

Image: Partial screenshot, page 26,198 of the collection.

Unfortunately, Green’s victim-blaming beliefs about sexual assault aren’t surprising, because they aren’t new. From celebrities who sing about supposed “blurred lines” to politicians like Todd Akin who use language like “legitimate rape” to lawyers like the one in Steubenville, Ohio, who claimed that a victim’s silence implies consent, it’s clear that Green’s comments are the rule rather than the exception in our cultural reality. They point to a profound misunderstanding at every level of society of what consent actually looks like.
nprfreshair:

It has been a slow week of reruns, so this happened. 

FJP: Looks familiar but we love your questions so ask away.

nprfreshair:

It has been a slow week of reruns, so this happened. 

FJP: Looks familiar but we love your questions so ask away.

(via npr)

The Art of Swimming

The unfortunate, unofficial end of the summer comes to the US this Labor Day Weekend. With that in mind, a visual explainer from 1587.

Via The Public Domain Review:

Illustrations from Everard Digby’s De Arte Natandi (The Art of Swimming) published in 1587, considered the first English treatise on the practice. Divided into two parts, the first is largely theoretical (Digby wrote in Latin, though it would be translated into English by Christopher Middleton eight years later). The second part is concerned with practical demonstration borne out in a series of 40 beautiful woodcuts, all composed from five landscape blocks into which swimmers in various positions have been placed. The work was hugely influential, not just providing a practical guide to staying afloat and different strokes but also in its attention to issues of safety. As the Wellcome Library blog notes: “The work is alive to the dangers of swimming outdoors: Digby makes careful note of the safest methods of entering rivers, warning against jumping in feet first (particularly if the water has a muddy bottom to which your feet would stick) and advocating a slow and patient entry. Swimmers are also advised to have a companion with them, to help if they get into difficulties.

Images: The Art of Swimming, by Everard Digby, via The Public Domain Review. View the complete set on Flickr. Select to embiggen.

Manatee Fair
Via @darth on #RuinAMagazine.

Manatee Fair

Via @darth on #RuinAMagazine.

Mapping Perspective
Via Al Jazeera:

Why do maps always show the north as up? For those who don’t just take it for granted, the common answer is that Europeans made the maps and they wanted to be on top. But there’s really no good reason for the north to claim top-notch cartographic real estate over any other bearing, as an examination of old maps from different places and periods can confirm…
…There is nothing inevitable or intrinsically correct — not in geographic, cartographic or even philosophical terms — about the north being represented as up, because up on a map is a human construction, not a natural one. Some of the very earliest Egyptian maps show the south as up, presumably equating the Nile’s northward flow with the force of gravity. And there was a long stretch in the medieval era when most European maps were drawn with the east on the top. If there was any doubt about this move’s religious significance, they eliminated it with their maps’ pious illustrations, whether of Adam and Eve or Christ enthroned. In the same period, Arab map makers often drew maps with the south facing up, possibly because this was how the Chinese did it.
Things changed with the age of exploration. Like the Renaissance, this era didn’t start in Northern Europe. It began in the Mediterranean, somewhere between Europe and the Arab world. In the 14th and 15th centuries, increasingly precise navigational maps of the Mediterranean Sea and its many ports called Portolan charts appeared. They were designed for use by mariners navigating the sea’s trade routes with the help of a recently adopted technology, the compass. These maps had no real up or down — pictures and words faced in all sorts of directions, generally pointing inward from the edge of the map — but they all included a compass rose with north clearly distinguished from the other directions.

Image: A perfectly good map. Select to embiggen.

Mapping Perspective

Via Al Jazeera:

Why do maps always show the north as up? For those who don’t just take it for granted, the common answer is that Europeans made the maps and they wanted to be on top. But there’s really no good reason for the north to claim top-notch cartographic real estate over any other bearing, as an examination of old maps from different places and periods can confirm…

…There is nothing inevitable or intrinsically correct — not in geographic, cartographic or even philosophical terms — about the north being represented as up, because up on a map is a human construction, not a natural one. Some of the very earliest Egyptian maps show the south as up, presumably equating the Nile’s northward flow with the force of gravity. And there was a long stretch in the medieval era when most European maps were drawn with the east on the top. If there was any doubt about this move’s religious significance, they eliminated it with their maps’ pious illustrations, whether of Adam and Eve or Christ enthroned. In the same period, Arab map makers often drew maps with the south facing up, possibly because this was how the Chinese did it.

Things changed with the age of exploration. Like the Renaissance, this era didn’t start in Northern Europe. It began in the Mediterranean, somewhere between Europe and the Arab world. In the 14th and 15th centuries, increasingly precise navigational maps of the Mediterranean Sea and its many ports called Portolan charts appeared. They were designed for use by mariners navigating the sea’s trade routes with the help of a recently adopted technology, the compass. These maps had no real up or down — pictures and words faced in all sorts of directions, generally pointing inward from the edge of the map — but they all included a compass rose with north clearly distinguished from the other directions.

Image: A perfectly good map. Select to embiggen.

If we are all journalists now, what happens to the privileges journalists used to claim? →

Via Index on Censorship:

We are used to telling ourselves by now that journalism is a manifestation of a human right — that of free expression. Smartphones, cheap recording equipment, and free access to social media and blogging platforms have revolutionised journalism; the means of production have fallen into the hands of the many.

This is a good thing. The more information we have on events, surely the better. But one question does arise: if we are all journalists now, what happens to the privileges journalists used to claim?

Official press identification in the UK states that the holder is recognised by police as a “bona fide newsgatherer”. As statements of status go, it seems a paltry thing. But it does imply that some exception must be made for the bearer. The recognised journalist, it is suggested, should be free to roam a scene unmolested. One can ask questions and reasonably expect an answer. One can wield a video or audio device and not have it confiscated. One can talk to whoever one wants, without fear of recrimination.

That, at least, is the theory. But in Britain, the US and elsewhere, the practice has been changing. Whether during periods of unrest or after, police have shown a disregard for the integrity of journalists’ work. The actions of police in Ferguson have merely been part of a pattern.

FJP: As of August 22, 17 reporters had been arrested in Ferguson. 

Jon Stewart on (Fox) News Coverage of Ferguson

American History: Now in Color! 

In An American Odyssey, published by Taschen, you can now see striking color photographs of the U.S. that predated autochrome photography by almost 20 years.

All of the postcard images are curated from the private collection of Marc Walter, the early results of a photolithographic process — something Wired dubbed “what Instagram would have looked like in the 1800s” because of the surreal, dreamlike quality of the photochroms’ colorings.

On the unique process:

Photochrom photographers would start the process by coating a printing plate with a light-sensitive emulsion and then exposing a glass plate photo negative onto it. Unlike modern four-color printing process that can represent millions of colors by overlapping tiny dots of cyan, magenta, yellow, and black ink, the inks mixed for Photochroms were mixed by hand in an attempt to perfectly match the yellow-green sunblasted scrub brush that surrounds the Grand Canyon or the aquamarine ocean water of the Bahamas. The photographers would erase the entire plate except for the area reserved for that specific color and make 10-15 more plates to fill out the composition. Photographic details were preserved, but an emotive, if slightly artificial, range of color was added.

Bonus: Learn more about the coloring process, history, and more over at the helpful FAQ by Taschen.

Images: “A Monday Washing, New York” and the cover of the new volume by Marc Walter and Sabine Arqué, a collection that spans from 1888-1924 from the Detroit Photographic Company, courtesy of Taschen books. 

Space is a Beautiful Place: Flying Through an Aurora Edition

Timelapse taken from the International Space Station.

Those revelations sparked fresh fury in media circles, where retracting a story is viewed as a serious blow to one’s journalistic credibility—and to do so without notifying readers is a cardinal sin. Retracting four thousand posts without telling anyone is simply unheard of. To many in the industry, it smacks of a disregard for journalism’s basic tenets of accountability. That apparent disregard is especially galling when it comes from an upstart that is raking in VC rounds and gobbling up top journalists from established outlets that are struggling to survive.

That’s Will Oremus, Slate’s Senior Tech Writer, on the discovery that over 4,000 BuzzFeed posts mysteriously disappeared this year.

Founder/CEO Jonah Peretti confirmed that this was true, as BuzzFeed embarked on a project to take down sub-par posts earlier this year. His caveat, however, was that this was no breach of journalistic integrity as BuzzFeed began as a tech company, not a media company.

Point is, they employ journalists, produce an increasing amount of original reporting and long-form journalism, and they’re not the only media company to have tech roots or projects. And when that’s the case, it’s not a good idea to delete content from one part of your site without comprising the integrity of the other, unless you find a way to be very transparent about it.

Related: BuzzFeed’s Jonah Peretti Goes Long (on Medium with Felix Salmon).