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2 Notes

Never before seen photographs from WWI

From the bizarre to the sobering: never before seen photographs from WWI have been released from a private collection.

More on The Telegraph.

Notes

San Francisco dashcam: a trip down market street, circa 1906

San Francisco’s main thoroughfare, Market Street, is a hive of activity in 1906, as can be seen in this dashcam footage from the time. The trip was filmed from the front of a cable car, and shows horse drawn and motorised traffic weaving between the cable cars & horse drawn trams, often narrowly missing pedestrians by mere inches.

The downtown area pictured here was all but destroyed by the infamous 1906 earthquake and subsequent fires.

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Wikipedia mining algorithm reveals the most influential people in history
In 1978, the American researcher Michael Hart published The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History, a book that became an international best seller.
Since then, various others have published similar lists. But all suffer the same drawback: they are subjective and thus ultimately influenced by numerous cultural factors.
Now data scientists have come up with a way to extract an objective list of the 100 most influential people in history, using the network of links between biographical articles on Wikipedia and how they vary between 24 different language editions.
The researchers assume that people who are highly ranked in different language editions are influential across both language cultures and that the more appearances they make in different language editions, the more influential they are. But the actual ranking is done by PageRank-like algorithms that consider a biographical article important if it is pointed to by other important articles.
The resulting lists of the most influential men and women is a bit of a surprise: the top PageRanked individual is Carl Linnaeus, the 18th century Swedish botanist who developed the modern naming scheme for plants and animals.
Jesus takes second place.
The top PageRanked woman is Elizabeth II. Mary - mother of Jesus - takes second place.
For comparison, just under half of the top 100 most influential also appear in Hart’s 1978 book. But this is just the beginning. By counting the individuals from one culture that influence other cultures, the team is able to work out which cultures have dominated others. And by looking only at people born before certain dates, they can see how the influence of different cultures has waxed and waned throughout 35 centuries of recorded history.
Full story on Medium.

Wikipedia mining algorithm reveals the most influential people in history

In 1978, the American researcher Michael Hart published The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History, a book that became an international best seller.

Since then, various others have published similar lists. But all suffer the same drawback: they are subjective and thus ultimately influenced by numerous cultural factors.

Now data scientists have come up with a way to extract an objective list of the 100 most influential people in history, using the network of links between biographical articles on Wikipedia and how they vary between 24 different language editions.

The researchers assume that people who are highly ranked in different language editions are influential across both language cultures and that the more appearances they make in different language editions, the more influential they are. But the actual ranking is done by PageRank-like algorithms that consider a biographical article important if it is pointed to by other important articles.

The resulting lists of the most influential men and women is a bit of a surprise: the top PageRanked individual is Carl Linnaeus, the 18th century Swedish botanist who developed the modern naming scheme for plants and animals.

Jesus takes second place.

The top PageRanked woman is Elizabeth II. Mary - mother of Jesus - takes second place.

For comparison, just under half of the top 100 most influential also appear in Hart’s 1978 book. But this is just the beginning. By counting the individuals from one culture that influence other cultures, the team is able to work out which cultures have dominated others. And by looking only at people born before certain dates, they can see how the influence of different cultures has waxed and waned throughout 35 centuries of recorded history.

Full story on Medium.

2 Notes

As the Web turns 25, Sir Tim Berners-Lee calls for a web Magna Carta
Happy belated birthday to the world wide web.
Yesterday marked the 25th anniversary of Tim Berners-Lee’s “Information Management: A Proposal”, containing the ideas that led to the World Wide Web.
From its humble beginnings as a way to store linked documents at CERN to… well, you’re reading this now.

"In the following quarter-century, the Web has changed the world in ways that I never could have imagined.
"There have been many exciting advances. It has generated billions of dollars in economic growth, turned data into the gold of the 21st century, unleashed innovation in education and healthcare, whittled away geographic and social boundaries, revolutionised the media, and forced a reinvention of politics in many countries by enabling constant two-way dialogue between the rulers and the ruled.
"It’s time for us to make a big communal decision.
“In front of us are two roads - which way are we going to go? Are we going to continue on the road and just allow the governments to do more and more and more control - more and more surveillance? Or are we going to set up a bunch of values? Are we going to set up something like a Magna Carta for the world wide web and say, actually, now it’s so important, so much part of our lives, that it becomes on a level with human rights?”
- Tim Berners-Lee
How has the rise of the web affected your life?

As the Web turns 25, Sir Tim Berners-Lee calls for a web Magna Carta

Happy belated birthday to the world wide web.

Yesterday marked the 25th anniversary of Tim Berners-Lee’s “Information Management: A Proposal”, containing the ideas that led to the World Wide Web.

From its humble beginnings as a way to store linked documents at CERN to… well, you’re reading this now.

"In the following quarter-century, the Web has changed the world in ways that I never could have imagined.

"There have been many exciting advances. It has generated billions of dollars in economic growth, turned data into the gold of the 21st century, unleashed innovation in education and healthcare, whittled away geographic and social boundaries, revolutionised the media, and forced a reinvention of politics in many countries by enabling constant two-way dialogue between the rulers and the ruled.

"It’s time for us to make a big communal decision.

“In front of us are two roads - which way are we going to go? Are we going to continue on the road and just allow the governments to do more and more and more control - more and more surveillance? Or are we going to set up a bunch of values? Are we going to set up something like a Magna Carta for the world wide web and say, actually, now it’s so important, so much part of our lives, that it becomes on a level with human rights?”
- Tim Berners-Lee

How has the rise of the web affected your life?

1 Notes

The cinema at the end of the world

Check this abandoned outdoor movie theatre in the Sinai desert, nestled at the foot of a desert mountain range. It’s a peculiar sight, out of place and somewhat out of time: hundreds of seats for an outdoor movie theatre.

Estonian photographer Kaupo Kikkas recently visited the desolate location and brought back these amazing shots of a decaying dream.

Apparently the theatre was built in the recent past by a man from France with considerable means. Tonnes of old seats and a generator were hauled in from Cairo, along with a giant screen that looked like the sail of a ship.

Everything was set for opening night, with one small problem. Kikkas says the locals weren’t particularly keen on the whole idea and decided to discreetly sabotage the generator, meaning that not a single movie was ever screened.

So here it sits, a random movie theatre  in the middle of a desert that was never used.

And you can see it on Google Maps.

10 Notes

Divers’ paradise

A Chinese city, left to ruin after a dam flooded the valley it lay in, has become a paradise for divers.

The ancient city of Shi Cheng, known as the Lion City because it was surrounded by the five Lion Mountains, was founded over 1,300 years ago. It vanished more than half a century ago to make way for a new hydroelectric power station and a man-made lake.

The once bustling city is now between 85 and 131 feet underwater.

An artist's impression of the town as it once was

But Qiu Feng, a local official in charge of tourism, decided to see what remained of the city under the deep waters.

"We were lucky. As soon as we dived into the lake, we found the outside wall of the town and even picked up a brick to prove it"

The town is in remarkable conditions, with wooden beams and stairs still remaining.

Now a film crew has been on site to record the preservation of the lost ruins.

@paulrgn is a regular contributor to Found Things.

4 Notes

Vikings’ secret code cracked
What may look like mere scratches is much more.
A 900-year-old Viking code known as jötunvillur has been cracked. The code-cracker, runologist Jonas Nordby from the University of Oslo, deciphered the system after realising he needed to replace the original runic character with the last sound used to pronounce it.
For the jötunvillur code, one would replace the original runic character with the last sound of the rune name. For example, the rune for ‘f’, pronounced fe, would be turned into an ‘e’, while the rune for ‘k’, pronounced kaun, became ‘n’.

“It’s like solving a puzzle. Gradually I began to see a pattern in what was apparently meaningless combinations of runes.”
Jonas Nordby, speaking to the Norwegian website forskning.no
However, those thinking that the coded runes will reveal deep secrets of the Norse will be disappointed.
The messages found so far seem to be either used in learning or have a playful tone. In one case the message was simply ‘Kiss me’.
Via Erik Kwakkel.

Vikings’ secret code cracked

What may look like mere scratches is much more.

A 900-year-old Viking code known as jötunvillur has been cracked. The code-cracker, runologist Jonas Nordby from the University of Oslo, deciphered the system after realising he needed to replace the original runic character with the last sound used to pronounce it.

For the jötunvillur code, one would replace the original runic character with the last sound of the rune name. For example, the rune for ‘f’, pronounced fe, would be turned into an ‘e’, while the rune for ‘k’, pronounced kaun, became ‘n’.

“It’s like solving a puzzle. Gradually I began to see a pattern in what was apparently meaningless combinations of runes.”

Jonas Nordby, speaking to the Norwegian website forskning.no

However, those thinking that the coded runes will reveal deep secrets of the Norse will be disappointed.

The messages found so far seem to be either used in learning or have a playful tone. In one case the message was simply ‘Kiss me’.

Via Erik Kwakkel.

1 Notes

The urban explorers of the ex-USSR

Exploring the grandiose buildings and industrial infrastructure left over from the USSR is a popular pastime for some young people - but not the faint-hearted.

Known as urban exploration, the hobby involves climbing high-rise buildings, towers and bridges, or going deep underground. Russia’s vast territory is dotted with industrial sites, some of which are unused and empty.

Many of these urban explorers are skilled photographers who take striking images. 

"Who needs words when you’ve got stars in the sky?"

- Vitaly Raskalov

Under Russian law, trespassing on private property is punishable by a small fine, but entering abandoned and unguarded buildings is usually legal.

Thank God for that - we have these amazing images as a result.

"The process of looking for them is breathtaking, too. If you’re serious about it, there is so much you can learn about your own country, so many mysteries you can discover."

Original photo story on the BBC.

2 Notes

Canada’s first computer, 1951-52
Following on from Sunday’s find of a photo of London’s first computer, here’s a shot of Canada’s first computer, which was located at the Computation Center in the University of Toronto.
The photo was dug up by a relative, who now in her mid 80’s is completely wired to today’s technology. She was the keeper of the keys to this beast… and presumably other secrets of the day.
@ColonyClive is a regular contributor to Found Things.

Canada’s first computer, 1951-52

Following on from Sunday’s find of a photo of London’s first computer, here’s a shot of Canada’s first computer, which was located at the Computation Center in the University of Toronto.

The photo was dug up by a relative, who now in her mid 80’s is completely wired to today’s technology. She was the keeper of the keys to this beast… and presumably other secrets of the day.

@ColonyClive is a regular contributor to Found Things.

Notes

London’s first computer, May, 1950
At the time, the fastest in the world, running at 1MHz.
Read more on Wikipedia.

London’s first computer, May, 1950

At the time, the fastest in the world, running at 1MHz.

Read more on Wikipedia.

11 Notes

New York’s gritty flashback

In an age where transport systems are the lifeblood of modern cities it’s hard to remember how New York’s subway used to be 30 years ago - a gritty home to gang crime and graffiti that left large sections of the network no-go for the public. Few wanted to experience this unwanted underground culture and few, as a result, documented it.

But one fearless photographer was looking for his break at the time and saw opportunity in braving the tunnels with his camera. Christopher Morris’ lens on the dark underbelly of 1980s New York now provides a rare and captivating insight into a city that was once dangerously different – and there’s an odd beauty to his work.

Morris is now a contract photographer for TIME – and the recently rediscovered full portfolio can be found at his website.

@paulrgn is a regular contributor to Found Things.

Notes

The original homepage of “Thefacebook”
Mark Zuckerberg launched the social network 10 years ago today.
Via @History_Pics.

The original homepage of “Thefacebook”

Mark Zuckerberg launched the social network 10 years ago today.

Via @History_Pics.

3 Notes

Watch Quentin Tarantino and Steve Buscemi Rehearse Scenes for Reservoir Dogs in 1991

Think about the actors and directors who stood as pillars of the 1990s “indiewood” movement and Quentin Tarantino and Steve Buscemi will be at the top of your list.

Both were at the pinnacle of their art in that cinematically fruitful decade.

Buscemi, whom Roger Ebert deemed the house act of American independent films”, played highly memorable roles in movies like Alexandre Rockwell’s In the Soup, Tom DiCillo’s Living in Oblivion, and the Coen brothers’ Fargo.

Tarantino directed three features that need no introduction.

The first, 1991′s Reservoir Dogs, brought the two together.

In the clip above, you can watch Tarantino and Buscemi’s videotaped rehearsal sessions, wherein they work out their respective characters, the would-be diamond thieves Mr. Brown and Mr. Pink.

More on Open Culture.

5 Notes

The very first photo of a full moon
At this time of year, when the days are short and the nights are long, we spend a good deal of time gazing at the night sky.
In 1826 or 1827, Joseph Nicéphore Niépcethe made what is widely acknowledged as the first photograph - a ghostly but, with effort, recognisable view from an upstairs window at his estate in Burgundy.
Fast forward ten years and another French inventor, Louis Daguerre, made the earliest known candid photograph of a person - a picture of a Parisian shoe-shiner.
Daguerre also made early daguerreotypes of the crescent moon, but it was left to English scientist, chemist and historian John William Draper to make the very first detailed photograph of the full moon in 1840.

The very first photo of a full moon

At this time of year, when the days are short and the nights are long, we spend a good deal of time gazing at the night sky.

In 1826 or 1827, Joseph Nicéphore Niépcethe made what is widely acknowledged as the first photograph - a ghostly but, with effort, recognisable view from an upstairs window at his estate in Burgundy.

Fast forward ten years and another French inventor, Louis Daguerre, made the earliest known candid photograph of a person - a picture of a Parisian shoe-shiner.

Daguerre also made early daguerreotypes of the crescent moon, but it was left to English scientist, chemist and historian John William Draper to make the very first detailed photograph of the full moon in 1840.

Notes

Watch Steve Jobs Demo the Mac, In 1984
Steve Jobs debuted the first Macintosh computer before a packed room of shareholders on January 24th, 1984.
He speaks alarmingly of a future controlled by IBM, and shows a dystopian commercial based on that theme.
He says that the Mac is “insanely great” and plucks the diminutive machine from a bag; it talks for itself. Screens of a graphical user interface - something few people had seen at the time - swoop by.
The theme from Chariots of Fire swells.
Jobs beams, as only he could.
This presentation, at Apple’s annual shareholder meeting on January 24, is the stuff of tech-history legend. What’s not so well remembered: Jobs did it all twice, in less than a week.
Only days later, Jobs appeared before the Boston Computer Society to show the Mac to the public for the first time.
Time has recovered the full, 90-minute presentation never-before-released online, along with the entire backstory of how the presentation came about.
The BCS was an important audience for Jobs to court, since founder Jonathan Rotenberg was a noted industry figure at the time. But this was Jobs in his glory. According to Dan Bricklin, co-inventor of VisiCalc, “You get to see Steve when Steve became the Steve Jobs.”
Here, Jobs at first repeats his earlier presentation, but then proceeds to expand on it for the audience, discussing how the personal computer was on the cusp of something world-changing - much like the telephone that came before it:

And what we think we have here is the first telephone. And in addition to letting you do the old spreadsheets and word processing, it lets you sing. It lets you make pictures. It lets you make diagrams where you cut them and past them into your documents. It lets you put that sentence in Bold Helvetica or Old English, if that’s the way you want to express yourself.

Incredible stuff.

Watch Steve Jobs Demo the Mac, In 1984

Steve Jobs debuted the first Macintosh computer before a packed room of shareholders on January 24th, 1984.

He speaks alarmingly of a future controlled by IBM, and shows a dystopian commercial based on that theme.

He says that the Mac is “insanely great” and plucks the diminutive machine from a bag; it talks for itself. Screens of a graphical user interface - something few people had seen at the time - swoop by.

The theme from Chariots of Fire swells.

Jobs beams, as only he could.

This presentation, at Apple’s annual shareholder meeting on January 24, is the stuff of tech-history legend. What’s not so well remembered: Jobs did it all twice, in less than a week.

Only days later, Jobs appeared before the Boston Computer Society to show the Mac to the public for the first time.

Time has recovered the full, 90-minute presentation never-before-released online, along with the entire backstory of how the presentation came about.

The BCS was an important audience for Jobs to court, since founder Jonathan Rotenberg was a noted industry figure at the time. But this was Jobs in his glory. According to Dan Bricklin, co-inventor of VisiCalc, “You get to see Steve when Steve became the Steve Jobs.”

Here, Jobs at first repeats his earlier presentation, but then proceeds to expand on it for the audience, discussing how the personal computer was on the cusp of something world-changing - much like the telephone that came before it:

And what we think we have here is the first telephone. And in addition to letting you do the old spreadsheets and word processing, it lets you sing. It lets you make pictures. It lets you make diagrams where you cut them and past them into your documents. It lets you put that sentence in Bold Helvetica or Old English, if that’s the way you want to express yourself.

Incredible stuff.