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Cool Hunting: Cartographies of Time

In their new book “ Cartographies of Time,” Daniel Rosenberg and Anthony Grafton dissect and track the methods people used when attempting to record the passage of time. These timelines, lists and antiquated infographics reveal particular attitudes and novel approaches to documenting history.

Rosenberg and Grafton organize Cartographies, naturally, in chronological order, tracing the earliest timelines from ancient Greece all the way to modern reinterpretations. Expertly showing the evolution of the form, the book’s fascinating swathe of cartographic imagery will appeal to history buffs and data visualization fans alike.

The central dilemma these historians and chronologists faced over the centuries was to decide what was important, and—the central theme of Chronologies—the myriad methods employed to illustrate and recreate those histories.

Read the full article here.

Fiction: Civilization Certification

The wives always knew civilization was a bad idea.  They had a feeling watching the etiquette coach, a feeling like a light falling down a deep tunnel.  What would they see?  The etiquette coach came from across the river and was promptly horrified by the swords they wore, the leather boots, and the vicious manner in which they licked their knives after slaughtering a boar.

He declared that all such death—killing without proper sanctions and approvals—outlawed.  The women were genuinely confused for a time.  The boar slaughter marked the beginning of summer.  How did the etiquette teacher expect the seasons to come otherwise?

The etiquette teacher declared the need for executioners. The princes no longer needed to kill themselves.  They could have other people do it.

Cool Hunting: Inventive Children’s Books

Modern parents know that today’s children’s books, while often overlooked as serious literature, can convey rich, complex worlds that appeal to more than just the elementary school set. We looked around to find the latest that expand the genre best, picking “Tales from Outer Suburbia,” “The Invention of Hugo Cabret,” “Puff” and “The Monster at the End of This Book” for their visually-rich and surprising stories. Much like the acclaimed “Where The Wild Things Are”, these books exemplify youth literature just as they transcend it.

Published in the U.S. last year, “Tales From Outer Suburbia” is a collection of short stories about the suburbs. But its strange rationale and amazing twists on text, font and reading, implode the neighborhood. Author Shaun Tan, an artist and illustrator from Australia, writes of entrancing and mysterious worlds much like Chris Van Allsburg’s classic “The Mysteries of Harris Burdick.”

The triumph of Tales is Tan’s ability to write simple but not simplistic stories with visuals both postmodern and approachable. An heir to the Tristram Shandy technique of playing with readers’ expectations, the book also joins the ranks of the experimental “People of Paper” as a pioneer in recreating how to design and illustrate a book. Tan describes the relationship between illustration and words in his books, “The text and illustrations could operate as narratives in isolation, but happen to react in similar ways, opening new meanings from each other’s context.”

Tales, intended for kids 7-12, was an ALA Notable book as well as one of The New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Books. You can read the story from it called “Eric” online via the Guardian, which also has an interview with Tan. It is available from Amazon.

In the title story, an exchange student’s strange habits are examined by his host family. Elsewhere, a grandfather recounts a treasure hunt for his wedding, a water buffalo dispenses advice, and forgotten poetry finds unexpected uses.

Read the full article here.

Pajama Party

I’ve written a post on Creative Time’s Pajama Party 2009 for and their stellar editor over there, Ellen Berkovitch. The party looks pretty amazing, though I wish instead of a boudoir dress-code they’d opted for nightwear and had everyone actually wear pajamas. Check out the article if you can. And if you have a few hundred dollars to spare, the party should be a fun night out.


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