History

Ancient Aztec chemistry

A 50-50 blend of morning glory juice and latex created rubber with maximum bounciness, while a 75-25 mix of latex and morning glory made the most durable material.

It seems they were making bouncy balls for fun and sport. But, to be clear about the ingredients:

Morning glory plants tend to grow near rubber trees, and both plants were considered sacred in several Mesoamerican cultures. Morning glory, for example, was also used in religious ceremonies for its hallucinogenic properties.

From Rachel Kaufman’s reporting on rubber chemistry and industry in the prehistoric Americas.

The cameras I’ve enjoyed

Big Huge Labs reminded me that my 10 year Flickr birthday is in just a few days. Tthat has me thinking about the cameras I've used over those years. Ten years is long enough that I had to go looking to remember some, and long enough that I found some I'd forgotten. » about 3000 words

Flickr Adds Video

I asked for it in 2004, before YouTube, Vimeo, Viddler, or Revver appeared on the scene, and before MySpace and Facebook added video sharing as a feature. Four years later they finally added it. Neil Rickards should get credit for creating the theme of “long photos” (Neil called them “moving photos”). And anybody who was around then isn’t the least surprised at how angry some are now about the new feature (see sarcastic response to that).

20th Century Information Architecture

One hundred years ago the country was in the middle of a riot of library construction. Andrew Carnegie’s name is nearly synonymous with the period, largely due to his funding for over 1,500 libraries between 1883 and 1929, but architectural historian Abigail Van Slyck notes that the late 19th century was marked by widespread interest […] » about 300 words

Apple’s iTV — From 1995!

The original Apple press release is gone (and gone from the Wayback Machine too), but back in 1995 Apple announced a different set-top box, also called the iTV, for a six-state trial of interactive television services. Apple’s ITV system incorporates key technologies including a subset of the MacOS, QuickDraw and QuickTime. In addition, it includes […] » about 200 words

Inclusion or Exclusion By Language

…The time for pedantic purism is past; if we wish to communicate with the larger audience, we must use language they understand. We do not have the luxury of defining our words, their definitions are thrust upon us by usage. I was struck by how much that sounds like something I might have said about […] » about 300 words