"The Autumn of the Multitaskers"

From “The Autumn of the Multitaskers,” an essay by novelist Walter Kirn in the November Atlantic:

“Where do you want to go today?” Microsoft asked us.

Now that I no longer confuse freedom with speed, convenience, and mobility, my answer would be: “Away. Just away. Someplace where I can think.”

Related posts
Multitasking makes you stupid
Multitasking: “not paying attention”
On continuous partial attention
(Thanks to L. Lee Lowe, who pointed her readers to this essay.)

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“The Autumn of the Multitaskers”

Piet Zwart






Everyone has to start somewhere. Along the line some decision towards design has to manifest itself. Maybe it’s due to your beloved New Order record covers, a logo you see everyday or a book you happen across. For me it was one afternoon looking through a book on Piet Zwart book in the middle of a life drawing lesson. ‘Yes.’ I thought ‘That’s exactly what I’d like to do’. Here are five things of his to look at. Who other than the mighty Mr Zwart could make a cable factory look this stylish?
Piet Zwart

THE IMPORTANCE OF A FRAME


There’s only one thing that all art has in common: a frame.

The frame may be made of metal or wood or it may be purely conceptual, but it is a perimeter that defines where the art ends and the rest of the world begins. No matter how outlandish or varied the art is, no matter whether it is an antique painting or the latest performance art, it is always framed by a boundary that separates the art from the rest of the natural world.

It’s pretty easy to locate the borders of a work of art if it’s on a piece of paper or canvas. However, some artists provoke their audience to think by playing tricks with the location of that border. The great Saul Steinberg jumped off the paper and created illusions, drawing on a bathtub:


or a box:

The clever artist Peter Callesen escapes the bonds of the page another way:


Even the art of Andy Goldsworthy, who makes temporary sculptures in nature using all natural materials, depends on his framing a space where he makes aesthetic choices and alters the natural order of things for the consideration of the viewer:



A few inches to the right or left of this sculpture there are rocks balanced on each other that are not art, but this one has became art because of the conceptual frame around it offered by Goldsworthy. The iconoclast Jean Dubuffet dreams of a day when there is no longer a thing named “art” because the frame is gone:

What is true of art is true of many other things whose virtues fly away as soon as their names are spoken…. [I]t is quite probable that soon the painting, a rectangle hung with a nail on a wall, will become an outdated and ridiculous object– a fruit fallen from the tree of culture and henceforth considered an antique….[T}he notion of art… will have ceased to be conceived of and perceived when the mind will have ceased to project art as a notion to be gazed upon, and art will be integrated in such a manner that thought, instead of facing it, will be inside it….


Until we live in Dubuffet’s utopia, the role of art will continue to depend in part on where we draw the frame .

THE IMPORTANCE OF A FRAME

FreeRice

FreeRice is a novel humanitarian project: for every correct definition one chooses, a participating company donates ten grains of rice to the United Nations World Food Program.

(Thanks, Ben!)

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FreeRice

English Pronunciation!?!

“If you can pronounce correctly every word in this poem, you will be speaking English better than 90% of the native English speakers in the world. After trying the verses, a Frenchman said he’d prefer six months of hard labour to reading six lines aloud. Try them yourself.”


English Pronunciation!?!

Lee Valley Jar Opener

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I always used a spoon until I was given one of these lid poppers. I was skeptical, but I now find myself reaching for it without even thinking. It’s an 8.5 by 5 cm piece of metal, bent in the middle and curved at each end to accommodate just about any size jar lid. It’s very simple and straightforward. You simply place it on the top of the jar with either of the rolled sides caught just under the edge of the lid (which side of the opener depends on the lid size). Your fingers hold the piece in place, which acs as a lever, and the bend in the metal serves as the fulcrum. The downward pressure of the heel of your hand provides just enough force to release the vacuum without distorting the lid. I can happily report no more bent spoon handles, no more splatters, no more spills, just a nice “pop” sound when the vacuum has been broken; then I know I am home free. I have not tried the plastic JarPop, but I’ve had this steel one for at least 3 years and it has never bent in anyway, nor has it rusted.

– Ellen Rocco

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Lee Valley Jar Opener
$8
Available from Lee Valley


Related items previously reviewed in Cool Tools:

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Tilia Vacuum Food Sealer

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Peanut Butter Mixer

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World’s Easiest Wine Bottle Opener


Lee Valley Jar Opener