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Link About It: This Week's Picks

A Twitter-shaped short story, Google's new Nest, Four Tet's "Thriller" and more in our weekly look at the web

by CH Editors in Link About It on 18 January 2014

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1. Hero-Glyphics

Designer, illustrator and self-proclaimed nerd, Josh Lane perfectly blends hieroglyphics with mythical superheroes through his series of "hero-glyphics," in which the likes of Spiderman, the X Men and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles get the ancient Egyptian treatment. While the illustrations are visually entertaining, they are also incredibly apt for modern times, in which many people have "left behind the gods and monsters that once peopled legends and sustained religions" and the "last supernatural beings to openly walk our world are costumed crime fighters with amazing powers." The project creates a fantastic history for these heroes, making them seem all the more real.

2. Google Buys Nest for Billions

"Father of the iPod" Matt Rogers and his Nest co-founder Tony Fadell have taken their world-changing vision and hundreds of patents to Google. This week the tech giant announced they've acquired the connected-device company, Nest for an astounding $3.2 billion—cash. The heavy price tag not only places a high value on Rogers and Fadell's work; it also indicates Google's serious interest in advancing conscious products which allow people to teach household objects how to best adjust one's personal heating, A/C, energy needs and more.

3. The Art of Time Travel

A tip from writer Kate Donnelly led us to Japanese photographer Chino Otsuka, who has seemingly done the impossible and traveled back in time. Her photo series, "Imagine Finding Me" (collected by museums from all over the world), inserts her present adult form into photos taken of her decades-younger self. The beauty comes from Otsuka's expert Photoshop manipulation and different, natural poses that make the photos entirely believable.

4. Bike Tracks

Julian Smith's "Techno Jeep"—in which he and a group of friends performed a rhythmic jam live only using actual sounds from a Jeep—became a viral hit on YouTube in 2009. In a similar vein, composer Johnnyrandom kicks it up a notch by sampling sounds only from a bicycle, creating a more ambient, harmonic track titled "Bespoken." From using an EBow on derailleur cables to hitting the disc brake rotors with mallets, Johnnyrandom creatively coaxes the bicycle to "sing" in a way we never imagined, and it's sure to change the way you hear ordinary objects.

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5. Twitter's Literary Side

The ubiquitous social media platform Twitter is mostly known for short quips, the occasional gaffe or nugget of wisdom. However, author Teju Cole is bringing a more thoughtful, literary tone—all in under 140 characters—with his Twitter-based short story. Cole reached out to friends and followers for help, asking each person to tweet lines of the story, which he then chronologically retweeted to build the full narrative. One thing's for sure with this bite-size prose: The story's accessibility and interactive nature enhance rather than hamper its literary depth.

6. Navigating Stuckness

Talented artist, writer, speaker and thinker Jonathan Harris beautifully and heartbreakingly describes the familiar feeling of "stuckness" (and everything that goes along with it) in his most recent essay. Chapter by chapter Harris writes about life events and how they affected and motivated (or, indeed, de-motivated) him. It's universal, the way that "the low points are actually thrilling because the high points are about to come back, and how the high points are actually terrifying, because the low points always come next"—and that's OK.

7. Beat This: Four Tet

The brainchild of legendary East London grime photographers Tim and Barry, the Beat This series on their remarkable network, Don't Watch That TV, challenges top electronic music producers to create a track in under 10 minutes. Each episode shows how artists like Toddla T, Manny from Teklife, Melo-X and more make a beat from start to finish, with the camera capturing emphatic head nodding, various computer programs and personal techniques. This week they checked in with Kieran Hebden—aka Four Tet—whose finished product was created solely with samples from Thriller.

8. LCF MA + LFW

Several about-to-be MA graduates from the London College of Fashion will debut catwalk shows at the upcoming London Fashion Week. The newly released preview images reveal the sheer talent of this year's crop, with expert tailoring being the only thing linking the vibrant, highly original and captivating designs. The full show, which includes men's and women's lines, takes place on 14 February and, as these preview images demonstrate, it will be worth following closely.

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9. An Online Home for Animal Lovers

From cutting-edge research to animal welfare issues, the newly launched digital platform The Dodo has it all. This isn't a site focused on zany cat videos (there are already enough of those to keep your day unproductive). Instead, The Dodo regards animals in a wholly serious light, sighting the shift in perception of the animal kingdom toward a more emotionally minded perspective. Look to The Dodo for a dose of daily updates on animal news and other unique stories.

10. YACHT Collage

Thanks to the open-source mission of online creative platform to.be, YACHT fans are now free to play with the album art for the Portland-based band's new single "Plastic Soul." Originally illustrated by artist Tim Lahan, the graphic features all the wonderful things found around the beach—from smoking seagulls and spilled ice cream to broken skateboards and dolphins—which can be personally collaged into a one-off T-shirt.

11. Kate Moss Turns 40

While certainly not outwardly visible, Kate Moss does actually grow older each year and 2014 marks her biggest birthday yet. This week the supermodel turned 40, and the internet was abuzz with celebratory tributes. But culturally savvy website The World's Best Ever has been paying homage to her unfading beauty for years in a column called Kate Moss Thursdays. Whether you need a little inspiration for keeping your New Year's gym resolution or proof that the London bombshell astoundingly remains forever young, check out TWBE's catalog of shots, starting with Moss on the beach with a bottle of Champagne.

12. Double Shot of Memory

The next time you fire up your espresso machine or queue up at your local coffee shop, your brain will thank you. Recent research suggests that a daily dose of 200 milligrams of caffeine for adults (about as much as a double shot of espresso) is beneficial to longterm memory. The study tested image recognition over a 24-hour period—adults who were given caffeine pills outperformed those given placebos at recognizing "similar" images, suggesting that the stimulant improves memory consolidation but not necessarily retrieval. This contributes to mounting evidence of the health benefits of moderate caffeine consumption and has us hitting the espresso bar with no regrets.

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13. 2014's Good Food Award Winners

Across pickles and preserves, cheese, chocolate and even beer, the Good Food organization has announced their winners for 2014. Good Food focuses on responsible production, environmental attention, superior quality and taste, and was created by farmers, independent grocers and food journalists. This is their fourth year hosting the awards in San Francisco, and everything from the charcuterie from Nebraska's The French Bulldog to Tandem Coffee Roasters in Maine are getting attention for their fair practices and fine products.

14. Bitcoin ATM

The controversial digital currency bitcoin continues to make its way out of cyberspace and into the "real" world. This past December, NYC's Hester Street Fair holiday market was the first of its kind to accept bitcoins as a valid form of payment; now, prepare for the first bitcoin ATM to hit New York City, which is set for installation in an East Village bubble tea shop.

15. The Showman Jason Brown

After a meek and mild warmup, 19-year-old American figure skater Jason Brown delivered an uproarious, spot-on performance at this past week's US Figure Skating Championships. From fancy, fast footwork to a climax of sequential leaps and spins, the showcase wowed the crowd to a state of whoops and hollers. His exceptional performance also earned him a silver medal and a trip to the Sochi Olympics on the US team, where he is likely to be just as buoyantly charismatic, artistically driven and bursting with enthusiasm.

16. 24 Share-It Gold

The designers at NYC's Tomorrow Lab love Citi Bike, apart from the unsightly blue plastic key fob provided for regular riders. To make the key more appealing, the RFID tag was removed and embedded in a new, sculptural 3D-printed case they were able to create through Shapeways. Once the final design was decided upon, Tomorrow Lab produced a 24 carat gold-plated stainless steel version designed to be a functional piece of jewelry.

Link About It is our filtered look at the web, shared daily on Twitter and published weekly every Saturday morning.

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