An Interactive Map Shows Just How Many Roads Actually Lead to Rome

...he went away, and passing through what was called the house of Tiberius, went down into the forum, to where a gilded column stood, at which all the roads that intersect Italy terminate."

- Plutarch, Life of Galba (XXIV.4)

No one can give you exact directions to Milliarium Aureum (aka the Golden Milestone). Just a few carved marble fragments of the gilded column’s base remain in the Roman Forum, where its original location is somewhat difficult to pinpoint.

But as the image above, from interactive map Roads to Rome, shows (view it here), the motto Emperor Caesar Augustus' mighty mile marker inspired still holds true.

All roads lead to Rome.

To illustrate, designers Benedikt Groß and Philipp Schmitt worked with digital geographer Raphael Reimann to select 486,713 starting points on a 26,503,452 km² grid of Europe.




From there, they created an algorithm to calculate the best route from each point to Rome.

(It beats typing a street address into Google Maps 486,713 times.)

From afar, the resulting map looks like a delicate piece of sea lettuce or an early exploration in neuroanatomy.

Zoom in as tight as you can and things become more traditionally cartographic in appearance, names and spatial relations of cities asserting themselves. A bold line indicates a busy route.

In a nod to map lovers outside of Europe, the mobility-obsessed team came up with another map, this one geared to stateside users.

Do you know which of the United States’ nine Romes you are closest to?

Now you do, from 312,719 distinct starting points.

To help them in their labor, the creative team made good use of the GraphHopper route optimization tool and the Open Street Map wiki. In their own estimation, the project’s outcome is “somewhere between information visualization and data art, unveiling mobility on a very large scale."

Buy a poster of the All Roads Lead to Rome map here. Or view the interactive map here.

via Arch Daily

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  Join her in NYC on Wednesday, May 16 for another monthly installment of her book-based variety show, Necromancers of the Public Domain. Follow her @AyunHalliday.

Studio Ghibli Releases Tantalizing Concept Art for Its New Theme Park, Opening in Japan in 2022

When you watch an animated film, you visit a world. That holds true, to an extent, for live-action movies as well, but much more so for those cinematic experiences whose audiovisual details all come, of necessity, crafted from scratch. Walt Disney understood that better than anyone else in the motion-picture industry, and none could argue that he didn't capitalize on it. When they founded Studio Ghibli, Hayao Miyazaki and the late Isao Takahata — in the fine 20th-century Japanese tradition of borrowing Western ideas and then refining them nearly beyond recognition — took Disney's deliberate world-building a step further, painstakingly crafting a look and feel for their productions that amounts to a separate reality: rich, coherent, and, for the millions of die-hard Ghibli fans all around the world, immensely appealing.

In a few years, those fans will get the chance to enter Ghibli's world in a much more concrete sense. Disney's insight that his audience would beat a path to an amusement park based on his studio's movies led to Disneyland, Disney World, and their global successors, two of which, Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo Disney Sea, now rank among the five most visited theme parks in the world.




The area of the Japanese capital already offers an acclaimed Ghibli experience in the form of the Ghibli Museum, but in just a few years the city of Nagakute, a suburb of Nagoya, will see the opening of Ghibli's own version of Disneyland, a theme park filled with attractions based on the studios beloved films.

Scheduled to open in 2022 on the same plot of land used for the 2005 World's Fair (where the house from My Neighbor Totoro was then built and still stands today), Ghibli's theme park will greet visitors with a main gate reminiscent, writes Kotaku's Brian Ashcraft, of "19th-century structures out of Howl’s Moving Castle as well as a recreation of Whisper of the Heart’s antique shop."

It also includes "the Big Ghibli Warehouse, which is filled with all sorts of Ghibli themed play areas as well as exhibition areas and small cinemas," a Princess Mononoke village, a combined area for Howl's Moving Castle and Kiki's Delivery Service called Witch Valley, and the Totoro-themed Dondoko Forest. Will Studio Ghibli's theme park rise into the ranks of the world's most visited? Nobody who has yet visited their world, in any of its manifestations thus far, would put it past them.

Studio Ghibli has released some basic concept for the new theme park. You can get a few glimpses of what they have in mind on this page.

 

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Watch Choirs Around the World Simulate the Rainstorm in Toto’s “Africa” Using Only Their Hands

The Los Angeles-based choir, Angel City Chorale, above, captured the Internet’s imagination in a big way with their 2013 cover of Toto’s 1982 hit, "Africa," in which the group’s 160 performers created a realistic-sounding thunderstorm using only their hands.

Delightful! And more common than you may at first think.




The Chorale acknowledges that they owe a great debt to Slovenian vocal group Perpetuum Jazzile’s thunderous 2008 rendition. Stagehands accustomed to creating credible thunderclaps by waving wiggly sheets of aluminum backstage may want to switch to hundreds of feet hopping up and down in unison, as heard at the 1-minute mark, below.

Go a bit further back to find an actual African choir’s finger-snapping, thigh-smacking "Africa."

The Kearsney College Choir is based near Durban, South Africa, and they appear to have been the first to open this number with the now-famous rainstorm effect. Its members are school boys ranging in age from 13 to 18. The video below shows them performing the tune in the 2008 World Choir Games, an annual competition that will be taking place on their home turf this year.

Interestingly, there’s not that much rain in the original. Over the years Toto’s songwriters, David Paich and Jeff Porcaro have made various statements about its origins—a guy transfixed by images of suffering Africans on TV, a lonely missionary, a visit to the 1964 World’s Fair’s Africa pavilion …

There’s a bit of rain to be seen in the very 80’s official music video, but nothing that rivals the choirs’ spectacular downpours.

If you’re moved to whip up a tempest of your own, Jbrary’s children's librarians, Dana Horrocks and Lindsey Krabbenhoft, have created an instructional video that shows just how simple the effect is to master. The real trick is enlisting 100s of friends to do it at the same time.

Buy Perpetuum Jazzile’s "Africa" CD and vocal arrangements here.

Download Angel City Chorale’s "Africa" single on iTunes or CDBaby.

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  Join her in NYC on Monday, April 23 for the third installment of her literary-themed variety show, Necromancers of the Public Domain. Follow her @AyunHalliday.

The Genius of Harry Beck’s 1933 London Tube Map–and How It Revolutionized Subway Map Design Everywhere

The subway is a marvel of engineering, and so is the modern subway map.

For the first 25 years of its existence, London Underground riders relied on a map that reflected the actual distance between stations, as well as rivers, parks, and other aboveground phenomena.

As designer Michael Bierut observes in the video at the top, the radically revised approach it finally adopted in 1933 proved so intuitive and easy to use, it remains the universal template for modern subway maps.

The brainchild of Harry Beck, a young draftsman in the London Underground Signals Office, the new map is more accurately a diagram that prioritized riders’ needs.




He did away with all aboveground references save the Thames, and replotted the stations at equidistant points along color-coded straight lines.

This innovation—for which he was paid about $8—helped riders to glean at a glance where to make the subterranean connections that would allow them to travel from point A to point B.

The former senior curator of London Transport Museum, Anna Renton, said in an interview with The Verge that Beck’s design may have helped persuade city dwellers to make the leap to suburbs serviced by the Underground "by making them look closer to the center, and showing how easy it was to commute.”

It’s not Beck’s fault if service falls short of his map’s efficient ideal, particularly on nights and weekends, when track work and service advisories abound, rendering such commutes a nightmare.

The appeal of subway map-themed souvenirs is also a testament to the visual appeal of Beck’s original design, especially given that such purchases are not limited to tourists.

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  Join her in NYC on Monday, April 23 for the third installment of her literary-themed variety show, Necromancers of the Public Domain. Follow her @AyunHalliday.

A Vending Machine Now Distributes Free Short Stories at Francis Ford Coppola’s Café Zoetrope

I loved the idea of a vending machine, a dispensing machine that doesn’t dispense potato chips or beer or coffee for money but gives you art. I especially liked the fact that you didn’t put money in. - Filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola

Thusly did filmmaker Coppola arrange for a free Short Edition story vending machine to be installed in Café Zoetrope, his San Francisco restaurant.

The French-built machine is the perfect companion for solitary diners, freely dispensing tales on skinny, eco-friendly paper with the push of a button. Readers have a choice over the type of story—romantic, funny, scary—and the amount of time they’re willing to devote to it.

After which, they can perhaps begin the task of adapting it into a feature-length film script. Part of Coppola’s attraction to the form is that short stories, like movies, are intended to be consumed in a single sitting.




Short Edition, the Grenoble-based start-up, has been following up on the public’s embrace of the Café Zoetrope machine by sending even more short story kiosks stateside.

Columbus Public Health just unveiled one near the children’s area at its immunization clinic, providing Ohio kids and parents from mostly disadvantaged backgrounds with access to free literature while they wait.

Philadelphia’s Free Library won a grant to install four story dispensers, with more slated for locations in South Carolina and Kansas.

Part of the allure lays in receiving a tangible object. You can recycle your story into a bookmark, leave it for someone else to find, or—in Coppola’s words—save it for an “artistic lift” while “waiting for a bus, or marriage license, or lunch.”

A café patron described the cognitive dissonance of watching her cousin read the story the Zoetrope machine picked out for her:

The scene seemed archaic: a woman frozen in concentration, in the middle of a buzzing crowd, reading from a line of print instead of scrolling through Instagram, as one might normally do while sitting solo at a bar. 

“When people ask [if] we have wifi for the kids," Café Zoetrope’s general manager told Literary Hub, “We point to the machine and say, ‘No, but you have a story—you can read.’”

Those without access to a Short Edition story vending machine can get a feel for the experience digitally on the company’s website.

Scroll down to the dice icon, specify your preferred tone and a reading time between 1 and 5 minutes.

Or throw caution to the wind by hitting the search button sans specification, as I did to become the 3232nd reader of "Drowned," a one-minute true crime story by Cléa Barreyre, translated from the French by Wendy Cross.

French speakers can also submit their writing. The vending machines’ stories are drawn from Short Edition’s online community, a trove of some 100,000 short stories by nearly 10,000 authors. Registering for a free account will allow you to read stories, after which you can toggle over to the French site to post your content through the orange author space portal at the top right of the page. The FAQ and Google Translate should come in handy here. The editors are currently reviewing submissions of comics, poems, and micro fiction for the Summer Grand Prix du Court, though again—only in French, for now. 

Short Edition hopes to start considering other languages for vending machine content inclusion soon, beginning with English. For now, all stories being dispensed have been translated from the original French by British literary professionals.

Bon courage!

via Literary Hub

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  Join her in NYC on Monday, April 23 for the third installment of her literary-themed variety show, Necromancers of the Public Domain. Follow her @AyunHalliday.

Pre-Flight Safety Demonstration Gets Performed as a Modern Dance: A Creative Video from a Taiwanese Airline

Taiwanese airline EVA Air’s pre-flight safety video is a genuine oddity in a field littered with creative interpretations.

Ten years ago, airlines were straightforward about complying with the International Civil Aviation Organization, the Federal Aviation Administration, and other governing bodies’ requirements.  These instructions were serious business. Children and other first time travelers paid strict attention to information about tray tables, exits, and inflatable life vests that jaded frequent flyers ignored, confident that most take offs and landings tend to go according to plan, and the overwhelming number of planes tend stay in the air for the duration of one's flight.




What about the ones that don't though? There are times when a too-cool-for-school business traveler seated next to an emergency exit could spell disaster for everyone onboard.

Virgin America’s 2007 animated safety video, below, was the first to recapture passengers' attention, with a blasé narrative style that poked fun at the standard tropes:

For the .0001% of you who have never operated a seatbelt before, it works like this…

The cocky tone was dialed down for more critical information, like how to assist the child in the seat next to you when the yellow oxygen masks drop from the overhead compartment. (Imagine the mayhem if indie animator Bill Plympton had been in the pilot’s seat for this one…)

The irreverent approach was a hit. The FAA took note, encouraging creativity in a 2010 Advisory Circular:

Every airline passenger should be motivated to focus on the safety information in the passenger briefing; however, motivating people, even when their own personal safety is involved, is not easy. One way to increase passenger motivation is to make the safety information briefings and cards as interesting and attractive as possible.

For a while EVA Air, an innovator whose fleet includes several Hello Kitty Jets, played it safe by sticking to crowd pleasing schtick. Its 2012 CGI safety demo video, below, must’ve played particularly well with the Hello Kitty demographic.

...looks a bit 2012, no?

A few months ago, EVA took things in a direction few industry professionals could’ve predicted: modern dance, performed with utmost sincerity.

Choreographer Bulareyaung Pagarlava, a member of Taiwan’s indigenous Paiwan community, and a small crew of dancers spent three months translating the familiar directives into a vocabulary of symbolic gestures. See the results at the top of the post.

You’ll find none of the stock characters who populate other airlines’ videos here—no sneaky smokers, no concerned moms, no sleepy businesspeople. There’s barely a suggestion of a cabin.

Unfettered by seats or overhead bins, the brightly clad, barefoot dancers leap and roll as they interact with 3D projections, behavior that would certainly summon a flight attendant if performed on an actual plane.

Does it work?

The answer may depend on whether or not the plane on which you’re traveling takes a sudden nose dive.

In “No Joking,” an essay about airport security, University of Ottawa professor Mark B. Salter writes that it is “difficult to motivate passengers to contemplate their own mortality.” The fashion for jokiness in safety videos “naturalizes areas of anxiety,” a mental trick of which Freud was well aware.

What then are we to make of the EVA Air dancer at the 4:35 minute mark, who appears to be falling backward through the night sky?

Would you show a jet's worth of travelers the modern dance equivalent of Airplane 1975, Fearless, or Snakes on a Plane before they taxi down the runway?

Mercifully, the narrator steps in to remind passengers that smoking is prohibited, before the digitally projected dark waters can swallow the writhing soloist up.

There’s also some question as to whether the video adequately addresses the question of tray table operation.

Readers, what do you think? Does this new video make you feel secure about taking flight?

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine. Follow her @AyunHalliday.

How the Fences & Railings Adorning London’s Buildings Doubled (by Design) as Civilian Stretchers in World War II

London is a particularly rich destination for visitors with an interest in World War II:

Winston Churchill’s underground War Rooms

The Royal Air Force Museum

Blitz-specific walking tours

…and the scabby steel fences/railings surrounding a number of South London housing estates?

These mesh-and-pipe barriers look utterly unremarkable until one hears their origin story—as emergency stretchers for bearing away civilian casualties from the rubble of Luftwaffe raids.




The no-frills design was intended less for patient comfort than easy clean up. Kinks in the long stretcher poles kept the injured off the ground, and allowed for easy pick up by volunteers from the Civil Defence Service.

Some 600,000 of these stretchers were produced in preparation for airborne attacks. The Blitz killed over 28,000 London civilians. The number of wounded was nearly as high. The manufacture of child-sized stretchers speaks to the citizens' awareness that the human price would be ghastly indeed.

''I am almost glad we have been bombed,'' Queen Elizabeth “the Queen Mum” told a friend after Buckingham Palace was strafed in 1940. ''Now I feel I can look the East End in the face.''

Born of community spirit, it’s fitting that the stretchers continue to serve the community, replacing more ornamental fences that had been uprooted for scrap metal as part of the war effort.

Few neighborhood residents, let alone tourists, seem aware of the fences’ history, as evidenced in the video above.

Perhaps the recently formed Stretcher Railing Society—for the promotion, protection and preservation of London's Air Raid Protection Stretcher Railings—will change that, or at the very least, put up some plaques.

See photos of the stretchers in action, then follow the Stretcher Railing Society’s map to their present locations.

via Twisted Sifter

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  Follow her @AyunHalliday.

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