A Frontier Miscellany

Fifty articles, videos, buildings, apps, podcasts, and more, curated for your enjoyment

A Frontier Miscellany
Illustration by Paul Twa

Hi everyone,

Did your inboxes survive Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Giving Tuesday? I’m glad our Wednesday delivery means we’re arriving after the tumult.

I’ll be brief: On Monday morning I tested positive for COVID. So instead of the usual short essay, I’ve compiled fifty—that’s right: fifty!—links for you. Below you’ll find articles, albums, buildings, apps, videos, fonts, podcast episodes, and more. Most have something to do with one of Frontier Magazine’s four subject areas: the arts, the built environment, tech, education. Others are there because they bring me (and you, I hope!) joy.

As those close to me will attest, sharing links is my love language. So browse through, click a few links, open a few tabs, and explore. I hope you find something inspiring or fun.

I expect normal Frontier Magazine service will resume next week. Until then, stay healthy.

Love all ways,

  1. I’ve long wanted a non-Kindle e-ink reader. This short video suggests the tech may finally be ready for mass adoption.
  2. A dark and moody bar in Chengdu, China, designed by Office AIO.
  3. “This is the decade to find and try the most promising ideas.” Nan Ransohoff, of the other Frontier, on advancing carbon removal.
  4. “Indigenous people would be consulted not only about what items would go into the museum but also on how they should be identified, stored and exhibited.” On rebuilding the National Museum of Brazil after a fire.
  5. “628 trees for Copenhagen.” COBE designs a new harborfront park with six gardens and a café/greenhouse.
  6. The next power plant is on the roof or in the basement.” Bill McKibben on remaking the North American energy grid.
  7. Kristoffer Tjalve and Spencer Chang on taking an internet walk: “remind yourself that you have an instinct for what draws you [and] hunt for handmade sites made with care.”
  8. “For many of these women artists, environments projected powerful statements about taking up space in a patriarchal world. Here, gates, corridors and entrances are everywhere you look, but also tubes, wombs and orifices.”
  9. A smartly reported podcast episode imagining “a world without libraries.”
  10. An sustainable and bright yellow apartment building in Melbourne’s suburbs points to a somewhat more-affordable housing future.
The Opera Park, Copenhagen, designed by COBE. Photo: Francisco Tirado/COBE
  1. The Mozilla Foundation names its “25 game changers—artists, activists, creators, builders, and advocates”—who are shaping an “ethical, responsible, and inclusive” internet.
  2. As the data-visualization industry “becomes more aware of the barriers it creates for blind and visually impaired people, things are starting to change.”
  3. Mini profile of Jon Corbett, an Indigenous programmer trying to create “an Indigenous computing framework” for both hardware and software.
  4. The 2023 Dezeen Awards winners have been announced.
  5. A deeply engaging and often funny podcast interview with writer Zadie Smith.
  6. Polish guitarist and composer Raphael Rogiński’s lovely ode to the Black Sea, one of my favorite records released this year.
  7. “Rather than aesthetic taste, the fundamental failure is one of public process and civic discourse.” Stefan Novakovic on the controversy surrounding Canada’s Afghanistan War Memorial.
  8. iA Writer is a beautiful, fast, simple writing app for the Mac ecosystem. As it prepares a new update, the company talks through how it’s thinking about integrating AI.
  9. Apropos our recent podcast episodes on the independent-music economy, NTS Radio is now partially owned by Universal Music Group.
  10. Musician and writer Sasha Frere-Jones on “the beautiful, unpredictable life of Ryuichi Sakamoto.”
Jon Corbett’s circular Cree-language keyboard. Photo illustration: Chris Connolly
  1. Chinese materials company Yi Design creates water-permeable bricks from recycled ceramic waste to help with urban flooding.
  2. Numi, a beautiful MacOS calculator app that translates simple descriptions into answers.
  3. “Oh, he’s just thirsty for some frog tea.” My favorite viral video of 2023: building a compound for Frodrick the frog.
  4. Greg Allen on fashion-designer Yohji Yamamoto’s little-known music.
  5. Hannah Ritchie: “We need the right kind of optimists: those who recognize that the world will only improve if we fight for it.”
  6. AstriaGraph, a real-time map of space junk. (“Cosmos 1867 Coolant” is flying over Toronto as I write this.)
  7. “When it comes to noise reduction, too much of a good thing also has its downsides.” (See also.)
  8. Michael Bierut: “I believe I'm still passionate about graphic design. But the great thing about graphic design is that it is almost always about something else.”
  9. Novelist Colson Whitehead: “Walking in New York is very much a solo pursuit for me. But I never feel alone because … I’m walking with, not through, the city.”
  10. Taurus Grotesk, a beautiful and functional new sans-serif typeface from Dave Foster.
Screen capture of AstriaGraph
  1. The best Illusions of 2023 contest winners.
  2. Jonathan Franzen, birding enthusiast and writer: “Indifference, not active hostility, is the greatest threat to the natural world.”
  3. “Today culture remains capable of endless production, but it’s far less capable of change.” Jason Farago suggests “ours is the least artistically innovative century in 500 years.
  4. “Ancient light is pouring in from the far corners of the universe. The peoples of this planet are pooling it together to better understand our shared home.”
  5. “Can we escape the discourse of competition and crisis … by reorganizing knowledge production around questions or problems?” Should some academic disciplines … end?
  6. Teju Cole: “How many of our best encounters with art have happened in a minor museum on a quiet day? What moment, fully inhabited, isn’t ‘once in a lifetime’”?
  7. Sumui House, an artist’s residency in a converted salt-farm workers’ dormitory in Jeungdo, Joennam, South Korea
  8. Laurel Schwulst: “Questions are the instruments of perception. Good answers encourage continued questions, like an infinite game.”
  9. “Industrial software has become so incredibly cheap that most of us have lost the sense for how much value a quality piece of software can provide.”
  10. Forty minutes of a busy high-end restaurant from the head chef’s POV.
View from Sumui House. Photo: TCA
  1. In Durham, NC, Night School Bar, a faculty collective offering arts and humanities classes on a sliding scale (and drinks).
  2. Raycast, an “app launcher” that does so much more; I use it dozens of times a day.
  3. Illustration.lol, a celebration of editorial illustration.
  4. Embark, a dynamic-document research prototype that allows people to “write down a travel plan and then gradually enrich it with interactive features.”
  5. The Interlock, a five-story mixed-use building in London designed by Bureau de Change, one of my favorite uses of brickwork in recent years.
  6. Mini Tokyo 3D, a live-updated map of the city’s trains (with embedded webcams)
  7. Vox’s Future Perfect 50, the “scientists, thinkers, scholars, writers, and activists building a more perfect future.” I’m a fan of Olúfẹ́mi O. Táíwò, Hannah Ritchie (see #25 above), and Azeem Azhar.
  8. “If liberal learning is for everyone and can be pursued anywhere … why would anyone pay tens of thousands of dollars a year for it?”
  9. Apropos my recent interview with Jace Clayton, a series of videos on the “surprisingly long history of Auto-Tune.”
  10. From the Louisiana Museum in Denmark, an insightful video interview with poet and novelist Ben Lerner on voice and the novel as a “curatorial, elastic” form.

Still reading all the way down here? That’s pretty hardcore! How about another hundred links that I sent to friends in 2020 as an early-pandemic goodie bag?