When “The Big Lebowski” was released 16 years ago, it received somewhat mixed reviews and was a box-office disappointment. But the comedy, written and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen, has risen in critics’ estimation over the years and has developed a cult following.
Yesterday, March 6th, was the anniversary of the 1998 film’s release. Fans celebrate it as “The Day of the Dude,” in honor of the easy-going philosophy of the movie’s protagonist, played by Jeff Bridges. Jeff “The Dude” Lebowski is a single, unemployed slacker who likes weed, White Russians and bowling.
Enthusiasts mark the day with such things as bowling tournaments, discussions of Dude philosophy, costume and trivia contests and White Russians.
If the “Day of the Dude” snuck up on you this year and you didn’t quite get your costume worked out, you’ll get another chance in April. Lebowski Fest Los Angeles happens April 25-26. For more information, go to https://lebowskifest.com.
The word at the center of all this, “dude”, may come from “duddies,” the Scottish word for clothes. In the late 19th century, extremely well-dressed city slickers or dandies were called dudes. When some of those Easterners came out to the newly tamed Wild West to enjoy a sort of artificial cowboy experience, the ranches that hosted them became known as dude ranches. The word’s use probably accelerated with the rise of the West Coast surfing culture in the 1960s, by then meaning simply another guy, and it began to occur in movies and music with increasing frequency.
The word that was originally a reference to clothes may have attained a new level in the sartorial splendor of Jeff “The Dude” Lebowski, where it now abides. In modern slang usage it can apply to all genders.
Source: Paul Duginski, Day of the Dude: How often do we say ‘dude’? [Infographic], Los Angeles Times, March 6, 2014, http://www.latimes.com/nation/shareitnow/la-sh-day-of-the-dude-how-much-do-we-say-dude-infographic-20140306-dto,0,2100565.htmlstory#axzz2vDur4xuJ.
Data, Patternicity, and Biases
Last Wednesday, Alberto Cairo gave a keynote presentation at the Tapestry conference. The day after (Thursday), he spoke at the Investigative Reporters and Editors meeting (CAR2014.) In both talks Alberto discussed some topics that are concerning him.
Mr. Cairo is considered by many (including me) to be one of the industry’s leading experts on infographics and a person I respect and view as a mentor.
Mr. Cairo’s keynote focused on the rise of activism and P.R. (he views them as expressions of the same phenomenon) in visualization and in communication in general. He discusses that he has nothing against people having opinions and agendas —is it possible not to have them? However, Alberto feels that some designers and journalists seem to be too willing to surrender to their biases rather than working hard to curb them.
He continues that these communicators usually argue that being transparent about their motives and goals is enough. Mr. Cairo argues that it is not. Writing about journalism, Jay Rosen and Jeff Jarvis have suggested that transparency is the new objectivity. Mr. Cairo disagrees. He states,
Transparency is necessary to gain credibility, but it’s not sufficient, and this is valid for non-journalistic infographics and visualization, too. The old notion of ‘objectivity’ in journalism was simplistic and unworkable, but that doesn’t mean that we should rush to drop the ideal outright.
Another area of concern that Mr. Cairo mentioned at CAR2014: Opinions that may lead you to cherry-pick data are not the main risk. Unconscious cognitive biases are even more dangerous. He discussed Michael Shermer’s patternicity. Mr. Cairo expressed concern that the more he learns about patternicity and cognitive biases, the more worried he becomes about our lack of understanding of them. He further points out that they are not explained in schools of design, as far as he knows. They certainly aren’t studied seriously and systematically in journalism schools. That, he states, is a huge issue.
Interesting Sound Bites from Alberto
- Conscious decisions are not the only risk. Cognitive biases and political ideals can lead us astray, as well. They are much more dangerous, in fact.
- When we are strongly ideologically or politically motivated, we are also more likely to find patterns in the data that confirm our preconceived ideas.
- We journalists like to say “trust your instincts!” Well, that’s very bad advice. PLEASE, DON’T. Don’t trust your instincts. Your instincts are a source like any other. And you should always try to double-check your sources.
New Book in 2015
Mr. Cairo will have a new book out near the end of 2015. It is tentatively titled ”The Insightful Art.”
On the left, in the image below, is the cover of “The Functional Art,” which was published in 2012 and a book I highly recommend you read. The cover example on the right, shown below, is just one of the alternatives he is pondering for the new book.
New MOOC Course in 2015
Mr. Cairo is currently working on a completely new MOOC, co-taught with Scott Murray (photo right) Mr. Murray wrote the book Interactive Visualization for the Web. I have included an image of the cover of his book below. Alberto and Scott’s goal is to offer something at the beginning of 2015.
Stay tuned. I will provide more information about this course in a future blog post as I get more information.
Source: Paul North, The Dresses Worn By All The Best Actress Oscar Winners, mediarun, February 24, 2014, http://www.mediarundigital.co.uk/blog/dresses-worn-best-actress-oscar-winners/.
Paul North is Head of Content & Strategy for mediarun. With eight years of client services experience in the field of creative content and digital marketing, Paul is responsible for ensuring the delivery of results for clients. This is achieved by maintaining a close working relationship with clients and providing innovative and performance-driven digital strategies.
Here is Paul’s discussion of his infographic.
We don’t often feature work of this type on our blog but it was one of those ideas we had that just wouldn’t let go, despite not having an ideal home in a client’s content strategy. We therefore decided to do it anyway and present it as a case study or portfolio piece that demonstrates the kind of thing we do for fashion brands.
We wanted to do something to explore the fashion aspect of the Oscars and thought it would be great to have a poster that displays as many of the dresses as possible. Pretty early on, we realised we had to limit it to just the Best Actress winners in order to fit them into a reasonable file size while making the dresses large and detailed enough to be enjoyed. I would still like to do another one featuring all nominees from major categories, but I need to work out the logistics of that first.
The reason we took this approach to the topic (as opposed to say, a stats breakdown with icons and lots of facts and numbers about how many dresses of which designer were worn etc) is because we try to make our work reflect the needs of the intended audience. In general, we prefer infographics that show, rather than tell but in fashion, people respond well to beautiful imagery, so we did our best to represent that. We instructed the designer to emulate the visual style of a dress designer when depicting the frocks, using freehand lines and watercolour-style shading.
Other than the pleasure of looking at the dresses and remembering them from the occasion (depending on your age), it is interesting to see how styles change over the decades. The 50s are classically elegant, as one might expect, while the love/hate relationship people have with 80s fashion is on full display with wildly different and highly original designs each year. The early ceremonies were a far less extravagant occasion and fashion choices reflected that, while today’s events see luxurious flowing gowns from the world’s leading designers.
Research for this required us to look up every award-winner and find several photos of them in the dress. Older photos, being in black and white presented an issue so we made every effort to find written references to the dresses so we could recreate them in colour. The other significant challenge was in finding the name of designer of each dress. We’ve done our best within the time we could spend on this but many are still marked as ‘unknown’, due to the scarcity of this information. If anyone who sees this can tell us which ones we’re missing, we’ll happily update and re-release the infographic at a later date.
Nigel Hawtin is the editor of New Scientist and newscientist.com He is a Designer, Graphics reporter, Illustrator and Manager. He is a freelance infographics designer specialising in science and technology. His portfolio can be found on http://newspagedesigner.org/profile/NigelHawtin.
I love the Oscars. Ever since I was a little boy, I have been committed to watching the Oscars. No answering the telephone, ignore the doorbell. I am focused.
When I saw this infographic on Visual.ly created by Beutler Ink, I was impressed. I looked at each icon and was able to determine about 95% of the Best Picture titles. For those of you who are not so much into the Oscars or movies, the key to the identity of the icons is at the bottom of the infographic.
There are 85 Best Picture winners in all. See how many movies you can recognize from the icon alone.
If you are looking for me Sunday night, I will have my eyes glued to the television.
There’s only room for one Happiest Place on Earth on this Earth.
The folks at Cheap Flights have cross-examined ticket prices, acreage, and the number of character meet-and-greets to determine which of six Disney parks is the most jolly.
Scroll to the bottom for the big reveal!