Designers on acid: the tripping Californians who paved the way to our touchscreen world

  Next time you drag a document across your desktop and put it in a folder, spare a thought for acid. Organising your files might not seem like a psychedelic experience now, but in 1968, when Douglas Engelbart first demonstrated a futuristic world of windows, hypertext links and video conferencing to a rapt audience in […]

From Coke’s flower power to Kendall Jenner’s Pepsi ad – how ads co-opt protest

  It’s a unique skill to have #boycottpepsi trending among both the right and the left. It managed to alienate both sides of an increasingly polarised consumer universe,” says Nicola Kemp, trends editor at advertising trade magazine Campaign, who points out that the ad was made by an inhouse team at Pepsi, which may be […]

The UK’s inflation foot soldiers: how the ONS measures the CPI

  In a shop stacked to the ceiling with toys, Brenda Cleaver is searching for a very specific car. “I am looking for a modern road vehicle, and I am checking the price. Here it is. It hasn’t changed,” she says, comparing the price sticker on the toy car with the information on her handheld […]

Sydney Opera House: the designs that didn’t make it (thank god)

The Observer has published some fascinating (and, quite frankly, awful) ideas from the 1950s for the Sydney Opera House that thankfully didn’t get built. The one that did was controversial at the time (and still is) but it’s certainly iconic. I can’t imagine Sydney harbour with any of the monstrosities you can see here. Some […]

The potato solution: how the Guardian switched to biodegradable packaging

Some background on The Guardian’s recent decision to begin using plastic derived from potatoes to wrap its supplements: Last year we used approximately 25 tonnes of plastic for wrapping, which is about half a tonne a week. We knew we had to find an alternative. The newsprint we use for newspapers, however, is more than […]

Beauty spot or landscape blot? Computer trained to judge scenery

  Wordsworth found it in a host of daffodils; Nan Shepherd in the nooks of the Cairngorms. For Monet it popped up all over the place, from the windmills and canals of Amsterdam, to the sailing boats of Argenteuil. What lends a scene beauty has long been left to the poets and painters to define, […]

Microsoft’s new iPhone app narrates the world for blind people

  The app works in a number of scenarios. As well as recognizing people it’s seen before and guessing strangers’ age and emotion, it can identify household products by scanning barcodes. It also reads and scan documents, and recognizes US currency. This last function is a good example of how useful it can be. As […]

Rider v rider: how transit etiquette campaigns make you the scapegoat

  At best, etiquette campaigns treat the symptoms of transit inefficiency, not the disease, they argue. At worst, they contribute to a ridership more concerned with each other’s behaviour than advocating for a better system. Read the full story here

Narrative Maps for ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ Books

  Maps like the ones Chooseco created can reveal the structure of a book that gives readers choices, but though the multiple story lines are part of what makes the series so fun, they’re not the only thing that defines it. The meat of “Choose Your Own Adventure” stories are gender-neutral romps in worlds where […]

Madrid tackles ‘el manspreading’ on public transport with new signs

Madrid’s transport authorities are taking a stand against seated male selfishness with a campaign to tackle the social scourge that is manspreading. Fed up with men whose thighs fail to respect the boundaries of bus seats, the Spanish capital’s Municipal Transport Company (EMT) is to put up signs discouraging the practice. Link