Friday, March 22, 2013

There's actually something to that "girly beer" phenomenon...

Popular Science and Inc Magazine, recently pointed out that over time, beer lovers get used to drinking more bitter beers because they are seeking out the hops flavor. So if you are like me and get pitying glances from "true beer snobs" for not appreciating the hoppy taste of a double IPA, do not despair, just realize that you haven't had enough to drink yet.

Unlike many of the "give-me-more-of-that" additives, humulones, the compound in hops that gives beer its bitterness, don’t affect the brain the same way as recognized, addictive compounds like caffeine or tobacco so it is not an addiction to hoppy beer but a sensory adaptation, when your perception of taste or smell dissipates over the course of exposure to the sensation.

This happens with all types of food and drink, and in part accounts for young finicky eaters who just haven't eaten enough bitter veggies to stomach them yet. Therefore if you are starting down the road of any new taste specialization (read spice, coffee, wine) know that it's going to take awhile for you to get used to a specific additive or ingredient . And once you do your interest and desire for it may increase and therefore you may seek out spicier curries, blacker, stronger coffees or bolder wines over time.

But also know that anyone who is a particular expert in a cuisine may be more used to their palate's level and based on the laws of habituation is actually tasting things differently than you are. So it's okay to start tamer - embrace your "girly" starter choices. You can explain you are working your way up to a deeper love of something.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Portion control

Over saturation has yielded a new trend in culture: the mini. Just as fun as tapas, mini-cupcakes, wine flights vs. bottles so are more digestible media portions.
Lately the trend towards the pre-curated and the small seems to have multiplied.
When you are overwhelmed with work and there is everything to do, you actually tend to try and take on less by procrastinating. Therefore the natural human reaction to a glut of new media choices  - and literally the full breadth of the classics of the world at our fingertips -  has had readers running for  smaller controlled media. We filter the news we read, whose Facebook updates we get and don't always click through past a headline or synopsis. What other ways to you cope with media overload? Is it a good or bad trend in media consumption?

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Beauty and the font

Life on the web is about to get a whole lot prettier. Adobe has released a new method to automatically align web text based on a algorithm that not only takes into account potential orphans but actually uses word length to adjust the spaces between words to reduce the large gaps that are over prevalent when simply using the "Justify" feature. 

While typography news alone is enough to get me to sit up and listen (fellow font geeks click here), let's add a little bit of theoretical perspective to really wake the class. Do evenly spaced words really matter? Not for comprehension. Msot poelpe cn raed setnecnes regrdlaess of mddile lteter odrer just bsaed on cotnxet.   

Instead this move, like most other font and layout choices, can be traced back to aesthetics and one of the most classic - that subtle symmetry is beautiful.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Is over-confidence curbing our abilities?

Maybe it's narcissim, but I'm perpetually fascinated with studies done on my generation: the millienials. Even our nomenclature sounds epic. MILLENIALS! And with the oldest subset of us turning 30, employers, advertisers and politicans are all struggling to figure us out as we become a larger and more powerful force in society. From how we use social media and the internet to what we do for community service and how we exercise, date, eat, travel, vote, etc.
But the latest study about the younger set points out that our navel gazing could be determental. In fact, the American Freshman Survey found that while self-confidence is on the rise, actual aptitude (measured by test scores) and hard work (measured in hours studied) has declined. Embarrassing, but worth a real look. How can you build skills and learn if you already know it all?
Last night I was lucky enough to be in a Louis CK audience and he warned against celebrating youth. “You don’t have to agree with what someone who is older than you is saying, but they are saying it from a place with a lot more data and experience so it’s useful for you to at least listen.”

Thursday, November 29, 2012

What can't video games do?

Video games are saving the world, spurring on self-improvement, teaching and now they are art.

 The MOMA added 14 games to its collection this week. My personal favorite definition of art comes from an 8 year-old being interviewed by the BBC: "If the artist says it's art, than it's art."

 But in fact, Video games do not even need the extreme justification of babes. They are not bending the rules of what art is. In fact video games just intensify some of the more important qualities of an art form.
  • Playing the senses. A video game engages your emotions as well as your vision, your hearing, your sense of touch. If you have the right gaming snacks: you can add taste and smell to it as well.

  • It takes a village of artists. Not only does it take great artistic, programming and story skills to make a good video game, it takes a whole team of people to do it. One question that art critics often ask is does the artwork require a certain caliber of talent to be produced. In the case of games that can take 6 months to years to be produced I would say there's no denying the high level of skill involved.

  • Interaction is required. Your English literature school teacher may have told you that it is up to you to interpret what Jane Austin or Shakespeare meant. In video gaming it is up to you to determine how much of the world the game creators you will see and in some cases you characters even have a dash of free will.