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Kristallnacht on Twitter seems hopelessly naive

November 11, 2013
Kristallnacht on Twitter post - interior of burnt synagogue in Berlin

This weekend was the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht – the Night of the Broken Glass, when thousands of Jewish homes and businesses were ransacked and destroyed across Germany. Ninety-one Jews died that night. That was the night of November 9/10, 1938. (Awkward anniversary tie-in – on November 9, 1989, the Berlin Wall came down.) Media…

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An Instagram worthy of royalty and madmen (with video!)

October 28, 2013

Following up on last week’s post, some related notes on the dictators of the interwebs. Because once you’re done Photoshopping those propaglamour shots, where else do you turn but to Instagram? Slate posted a round-up video of Assad & his cohort are getting up to on Instagram a few months ago. Yes, dictators on Instagram is…

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Can you Photoshop that? Our tone-deaf response to the Kim Jong-Uns of the world

October 24, 2013
Kim Jong-Un Photoshop contest - Statues of Kim Il-Sung and Kim Jong-Il

One of my favourite Soviet-era jokes goes something like this: Three Russians are in the gulag. The first one says, “What are you in for?” The second one replies, “I called Zbarsky a revolutionary.” “That’s funny,” the first one says. “I called Zbarsky a counterrevolutionary.” “That’s funny,” the third one says. “I am Zbarsky.” (I may have…

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People of North Korea (and the world), we are looking at you

March 6, 2013
Fotopedia North Korea iPad App - image collage

It’s North Korea week here on the blog (and, apparently, everywhere). Fotopedia has a fantastic series of photo apps, including this one on North Korea. It’s neatly divided into categories – Pyongyang, propaganda, women of North Korea, men of North Korea…you get the picture. I popped it open in bed a few nights ago (something…

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Google turns the lights on in North Korea

February 26, 2013
Mapping Gulags - What Happened When Google Turned the Lights on in North Korea

When journalist Barbara Demnick wrote her book about the lives of North Koreans (Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea), she opened with a darkened map – the black mass that is North Korea at night, surrounded by the flickering lights of an Asia immersed in modern life. But last month, those lights went on.…

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The social media revolution, World War II, Syria, and oh, Walmart

August 17, 2012
Wal-Mart Supercenter Parking Lot in Virginia

I’ve been thinking a lot about social media – mostly Twitter – and whether the increased speed and availability of global communicating is really going to make the world a better place (see: every Twitter revolution, everywhere). But Twitter just reflects ourselves back to us – the good and the bad. It’s not going to…

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Soldiers, homecomings and YouTube surprises

July 11, 2012
Moscow World War 2 announcement - people listening in the streets

Found: Soldiers coming home to surprise their families and uploading it to YouTube. There is an endless reel of these videos, and you can watch them for hours without repeating the same clip. I thought I’d share a few with you, because when I discovered this little universe, it was just days after the anniversary…

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The Potemkin effect: Colour photos from Russia in the black-and-white days

February 12, 2012
Old colour photos from Russia - peasants harvesting in a field

There is a fantastic collection of old colour photos from Russia – Tsarist Russia, to be exact – taken between 1902 and 1912 on the Boston Globe site. Strictly speaking, they’re not colour photos – the photographer, Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863-1944) – shot each image three times, using a red, green and then blue filter. He…

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On Russian tchotchkes and Soviet design

June 6, 2011
Unsung Icons of Soviet Design book cover

A very long time ago (in internet years), I had a Twitter conversation with blogger and general funny girl Vicki Boykis (@vboykis) about our attitudes towards Russian tchotchkes. The original link is dead, but it was probably something along these lines. Her response was an unequivocal “yea,” while I was firmly on the “ugh, why?”…

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iPhone rumours, or outsourcing the rumour mill

May 20, 2011
Outsourcing iPhone Rumours

Consider this post more of a thought-in-progress than anything. Two things I read this week that triggered the “Bingo, it’s a connection!” neurons in my brain. I can’t quite pinpoint how, but here they are: 1. Outsourcing Education: Does It Matter If Someone in India Corrected Your College Paper? Apparently some US colleges are outsourcing…

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