Articles | Ideas from Thought Leaders

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Squid Communicate With a Secret, Skin-Powered Alphabet

Squid and their cephalopod brethren have been the inspiration for many a science fiction creature. Their slippery appendages, huge proportions, and inking abilities can be downright shudder-inducing. (See: Arrival.) But you should probably be more concerned by the cephalopod’s huge brain—which not only helps it solve tricky puzzles, but also lets it converse in its own sign language.
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Practicing Good Personal Cybersecurity Isn’t Just About Protecting Yourself

Last Thanksgiving, while other people’s families were arguing about politics, my family and I managed to get into a fight over whether they should be paying more attention to the security of their computers and data. One insisted she doesn’t do any online banking; another pointed out that his email is incredibly boring; and, anyway, they pretty much all assume anyone who wanted to would be able to access everything anyway.
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Futurography Newsletter: Frankenstein and Cybersecurity

A conversational introduction along with a cheat sheet that will introduce you to the lingo, debates, key players, and other components of cybersecurity issues, starting with a step-by-step guide to setting up a virtual private network (it's easier than you might think!) and a explanation of how to figure out what cybersecurity threats should actually worry you.
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America Has Its Problems, But Design Can Help Solve Them

Designers do more than make shiny, pretty things. They shape how the world works by solving problems. And right now, the country has some problems. Designers can help. There is a cadre of designers who devote themselves to politics and civic engagement. We spoke to some of them: researchers who study and clarify voting laws, designers who help communities navigate local regulations, and optimistic technologists.
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Google Artificial Intelligence Whiz Describes Our Sci-Fi Future

The next time you enter a query into Google’s search engine or consult the company’s map service for directions to a movie theater, remember that a big brain is working behind the scenes to provide relevant search results and make sure you don’t get lost while driving.
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How Do You Measure Good Design?

Designing websites is a form of artwork, which for most of us is precisely why it’s so rewarding. The problem is, it’s also why the quality of a design can be exceedingly hard to quantify. Not only do opinions vary from user to user, one seemingly beautiful website might not perform as well as another less extravagant one.
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Richard Shindell on Careless and Storytelling Music

Richard Shindell is a singer-songwriter who is best known for telling deeply human stories with his songs. His latest album is Careless. We kick off today’s show with Richard playing a song off the new album titled “All Wide Open.” Then, Brian and Richard talk about the themes that Richard keeps revisiting in his songs (10:30), the time he spent in the seminary (20:30), and why this new album is a kind of departure for him creatively (34:00). The two round out the conversation talking about Richard’s writing process (44:00) and why the dispossessed are so often featured in his music (54:00). Richard ends the podcast by playing one of Brian’s favorite songs—“The Kenworth of My Dreams.
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What If You Could Learn Design from Apple?

Over 4,000 companies have corporate universities. Some of the most famous are run by GE, Disney, and McDonalds. Their purpose is to instill the company’s vision and values and cultivate critical skills and competencies. The best ones are permeable membranes that transfer knowledge from the outside in: Steve Jobs recruited the Dean of Yale’s Business School to run Apple University, while Jeff Weiner recruited business coach and thought leader Fred Kofman to lead leadership development for LinkedIn. Some of the best programs are said to rival traditional business schools.
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A Veteran Graphic Designer Illustrates 5,000 Years of War

New York graphic designer Seymour Chwast, 84, has been designing posters, magazine covers, and corporate packaging—such as a first-generation Happy Meal box for McDonald’s—for more than half a century. The co-founder with Milton Glaser of Push Pin Studios, he is the author of more than 30 children’s books and four graphic novels, and the designer of several typefaces.
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This Interactive Jeff Buckley Music Video Turns Love Into a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Story

Several posthumous releases—from the unfinished studio album Sketches for My Sweetheart the Drunk to the deluxe reissue of Live at Sin-é (Legacy Edition)—have gestured, however imperfectly, at the various paths Jeff Buckley could have charted if not for his untimely death at the age of 30. And the latest release, a compilation of early recordings titled You and I, has now spawned an interactive video—for Buckley’s cover of the Bob Dylan song “Just Like a Woman”—that fittingly explores the theme of alternate possibilities.
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George Saunders Shares His Secrets of Storytelling in This Striking Short Film

When George Saunders isn’t tucking Stephen Colbert into bed, he moonlights as one of our most masterful writers of fiction. That mastery can be witnessed in any one of his collections, but if you want something more direct—wisdom straight from the author’s mouth—there’s this striking documentary by Tom Mason and Sarah Klein, which sees Saunders parse his philosophy of storytelling in a neat seven minutes.
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