Making useless things

Simone Giertz, bringer of joy and self-described expert in shitty robots, makes machines that succeed in failing. In her TED talk, Giertz talks about her path from “useless” things to expert. It’s all the more relevant after she found out she has a brain tumor.

Giertz’ talk resonates a lot.

During the early years of FlowingData, when there was a comment section on every post, graphics I made would occasionally gain traction over the interwebs. In my own version of Godwin’s law, if a comment thread grew long enough, someone eventually would chime in: “Cool. Someone must have a lot of time on his hands.”

I was in graduate school at the time, with a dissertation staring me in the face, so I didn’t actually have much time. But I made time, because I didn’t know what I was doing, and that was fun for me.

I grasped on to the “cool” part of the comment and discarded the rest in my head. Someone liked something I made enough to tell me so! That turned out to be a great decision.

Tags: , , , ,

Read All About it: PLOS ONE in the News

Polar_Bear_AdF Polar Bear jumping, in Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, Norway. Arturo de Frias MarquesThis December, the Press team is reflecting on some of the PLOS ONE articles covered in the news in 2015. Over the past year ~2,000 PLOS ONE publications were covered in over 6,000 news stories.

A New Fossil Lace Bug with Unusual Antennae Joins the “Big” Club

14844446691_a415feb8d1_b-1024x731Have you ever seen a lace bug? Don’t let their pretty name fool you—even though they’re dainty as a doily, they’re tough little bugs. You may have encountered lace bugs in your garden or on

Are Vampire Bats Nature’s Misunderstood Monsters?

Vampire1-690x320Werewolves, ghosts, and vampires—with the days getting shorter and colder, and Halloween fast approaching, our imaginations turn to the ghouls that supposedly come out around this time of year. Vampires, one of history’s most popular

Does Size Matter? Jellyfish Venom Capsule Length Association with Pain

Since the PLOS San Francisco office is a quick car ride from the Monterey Bay Aquarium, so many of us at PLOS have been captivated by jellyfish movements. They are simply mesmerizing to watch as they travel through the water. … Continue reading »

The post Does Size Matter? Jellyfish Venom Capsule Length Association with Pain appeared first on PLOS Blogs Network.

Printing the Past: Putting a Prehistoric Mystery Lizard Back Together Again

The size, shape, and solidity of an egg can tell us a lot, but until we can see inside, there is still an opportunity for surprise. Unfortunately, when you have an ancient fossilized lizard egg, you can’t just crack it … Continue reading »

The post Printing the Past: Putting a Prehistoric Mystery Lizard Back Together Again appeared first on PLOS Blogs Network.

The Nose Knows: Oriental Honey Buzzards Use Nose and Eyes to Forage for Sweet Treats

Winnie the…Buzzard? The Oriental honey buzzard Pernis orientalis feeds primarily on honey and bee or wasp larvae. But how do they find their food? In the winter, thousands of Oriental honey buzzards migrate to Taiwan to forage. These migrating honey … Continue reading »

The post The Nose Knows: Oriental Honey Buzzards Use Nose and Eyes to Forage for Sweet Treats appeared first on PLOS Blogs Network.

PLOS ONE’s Top 5 Videos of 2015 (So Far)

At the end of 2014, we highlighted some of our favorite research videos from that year. We’re only mid-way through 2015, but we already have a number of popular research videos that we’d like to share. Here are some of … Continue reading »

The post PLOS ONE’s Top 5 Videos of 2015 (So Far) appeared first on PLOS Blogs Network.

I Know What You Think: Collective Intelligence in Online Communication

Have you ever wondered what factors may shape the interactions we have in online chatrooms? With the advent of the Internet 20+ years ago, the ways in which we communicate have drastically changed, allowing us to easily interact nonverbally or … Continue reading »

The post I Know What You Think: Collective Intelligence in Online Communication appeared first on PLOS Blogs Network.

Flight of the Bats: Exploring Head Shape and Aerodynamics

It’s a bird…it’s a plane…it’s a bat! All three may be soaring through the sky, but their shapes vary greatly, which affects their aerodynamics during flight. Birds typically have streamlined head profiles that strongly contrast with the appendages featured on … Continue reading »

The post Flight of the Bats: Exploring Head Shape and Aerodynamics appeared first on PLOS Blogs Network.