April 29, 2011

Light and Darkness (Book Blurb Friday)


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I finally got my act together for Book Blurb Friday, I've missed the last few but here's one for this week.
Book Blurb Friday is hosted by Lisa Ricard Claro at Writing in the Buff. Every week, she posts a photo which is a prompt for a 150-word-or-less book cover blurb. This photo was taken by her daughter, Christina Claro.



Light and darkness

When she puts on her tinted glasses, Monica Teller can look into someone's soul . What some might see as an invaluable ability, she sees as a curse.  For not only do love, kindness and charity fill her vision, so do hate, depravity and malice. After years of suffering feelings of callousness and wickedness, she’s had enough. Though she is literally blind without her glasses, she is determined to start life anew in darkness. Fearlessly, she crushes her cursed tools. But cursed she is, for she finds that her seeing ability has not deserted her; in fact, it’s strengthened. What more can Monica see that she can’t run away from? Will she survive her dark ordeal to see light in her new life?
(125 words)


Thanks for reading, please leave me a comment if you enjoyed this. There are links to some of my posts below.
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Recent posts
100,000 toothpick replica of San Francisco
Copyright, crediting, plagiarism and blog ethics
Going West animation for New Zealand Book Council

Related posts
my other Book Blurb Fridays
my book-related posts


by liberal sprinkles

April 28, 2011

A tiny day in the Jackson Hole Backcountry by Tristan Greszko


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for all my skiing bloggy pals. Watch at your own risk. heheh


A Tiny Day in the Jackson Hole Backcountry made and posted by Tristan Greszko on Vimeo
found at fubiz

shot with Canon 7D and 5D mkII, edited with effects including Tilt Shift using Photoshop. How cool is this? I feel like whooshing (tumbling, more like it) down a mountain right now!
Lots of snow and action shots at Tristan Greszko's website.


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by liberal sprinkles

April 27, 2011

100,000 toothpick replica of San Francisco


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Today's incredible discovery: a model of San Francisco constructed out of 100,000 toothpicks! As if that were not incredible enough, Rolling Through the Bay comes with a marble run with ping-pong balls rolling through the city. Artist Scott Weaver worked on the project on and off for 35 years! Can't beat that for patience, dedication and perseverance!

Here's a video of the artist talking about the ping-pong paths through the 9-foot-tall (2.75-m), 20-pound (9-kg) city.


Scott Weaver's Rolling through the Bay replica from Learning Studio on Vimeo.


The replica's so detailed I'm surprised he didn't need more than 100,000 toothpicks actually. The tiny sticks come from various countries including Italy, Germany, Kenya, Morrocco and Spain. This is another video of the amazing wooden sculpture from KTEHTV.




You can see photos of the toothpick model of San Francisco at Scott Weaver's Flickr stream. Rolling Through the Bay is on display until June 19, 2011 at The Tinkering Studio in Exploratorium, the museum of science, art and human perception in San Francisco.


The Tinkering Studio is an experimental laboratory within the Exploratorium where visitors are encouraged to try new things and learn about science, technology and other things by playing with and exploring exhibits and tools. If learning had been such fun when I was in school, I probably would have actually liked science!

Here's a video on The Tinkering Studio. Tinker away!


The Tinkering Studio in action from Learning Studio on Vimeo.

Have you read my post on match-stick art by Pei-San Ng?

Hope you had fun! If you did,
please leave me a comment

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by liberal sprinkles

April 26, 2011

copyright, crediting, plagiarism and blog ethics


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( wow, I just noticed in my dashboard that this is my 100th post! apt, i think! )

You know how one thing can lead to another, and another, and another... This post is a result of a postcard I received from a blog buddy. I started researching the card, as I'm wont to do (I'm a facts junkie!), which led to a post about snail mail and Google Books, another post about Google Books and copyright, and now this post about copyright, plagiarism and blogging ethics. 

I'll start with plagiarism. I have several facts posts that rank very highly in Google searches, so they get a lot of hits. Many of my visitors are educational institutes, academics and students (I base this on comments and data from website trackers I use). It is possible my posts get copied wholesale (you can tell from the data when a viewer is toggling between your site and a document on his/her desktop).

My facts posts are not analyses. There are no original thoughts there. But I do spend a lot of time doing research, rewriting what I find and organizing the information into a format that makes everything more digestible and understandable, for instance by grouping chunks of information and data into bite-size categories. I haven't found any similar web pages for my facts posts on the Japan earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis, my most popular posts. I'm happy my posts are of use to some, but it also irritates me that my content gets copied and pasted. Some blog owners go so far as to copy my html so my pages gets cached on their sites and they rank higher in searches even if there isn't any content relevant to the search words on their pages. Clever, that. Sometimes I want to just take my facts posts offline completely, but that seems seriously egostic and drastic since many people with no bad intent can also benefit, which was the reason why I wrote them in the first place.

I received this email last week about my Japan disaster facts post, did I do right?
from AJ (last name and email removed)
I am a thirteen year old boy from England. You have compiled a researched this article very very well and it is because of this that I am requesting that you let me copy parts of the article. I have a scholarship exam for Westminster School and the Japan Earthquake is very likely to come up and it would save me a lot of very precious time if I could copy and paste the article. I will only be sticking it in my revision book. I understand fully why you don’t particularily like copying and I agree. But please, just let me copy. 
My response
Dear AJ, I'm flattered that you think my post is so useful you'd like to copy it. However, I'm afraid I'm going to have to say no. I don't want to make exceptions for anyone, I wouldn't be able to draw a line as to whom I should help and whom I shouldn't. In any case, I don't believe in doing something I've explicitly come out against. 
A lot of the information is available elsewhere on the Internet. I have spent a lot of time and put much effort into researching, rewriting and organizing the info so that my posts are useful resources, and I believe they are as I get a lot of visits from educational institutions, educators and students, some of whom I'm sure have copied and pasted the information wholesale somewhere. If you don't already know, that is PLAGIARISM. It is wrong and as a student (or anyone, for that matter), you should know not to do it, and you could get into trouble if you did. 
If you only wish to use the information for revision purposes, you could always take notes, that is a form of studying. I don't think it would be wasting "precious time", as you put it. You'd be learning as you read or take notes. The only use I see in copying and pasting the article into a revision book is if you were planning to copy and paste it into some form of homework or essay. I can't stop anyone from printing or from copying/pasting, but I don't need to help you in doing so. Thank you for your understanding.

Then I received this comment over the weekend from an Anonymous: "I’ve recently started a blog, the information you provide on this site has helped me tremendously. Thank you for all of your time & work." I don't quite know what to make of this. Were my posts inspirational? Or had they become fodder for someone else's blog?

Yesterday, I found an excerpt of my Japan facts post copied verbatim and posted as homework on a site. It was not credited or linked.

I'm not sure I have the right to righteous indignation. It's so easy to draw the line where plagiarism is concerned, at least it is for me. Copyright is a completely different ball game. I have to admit I'm somewhat conflicted with regard to this. Of course I know it's wrong to steal, but can the use of images or works that don't belong to me ever be justified? Should I have not used the images of the magazine covers in my Google Books posts?

When I first started blogging about four months ago, I used a lot of photos of art, works and crafts created by other people in my posts. The more I blogged, the more I did my best to trace the origin of such works I used and to credit their creators and link to their blogs or sites. If I couldn't find the original source, I would link the works to where I had found them. I never claimed them as mine. Often, I used them when I wrote about their creators. I know that is no justification; flattery is nice but still constitutes a violation. So many people do it, though. In my daily bloghop, I come across countless sites where other people's photos and works are used, often without even a credit. Does it become more morally acceptable because it is so prevalent?

No. But I still fight the constant temptation to use others' images, even if it's for the purpose of education or promoting their works. In the past month, I've tried to avoid posting any images that aren't my own if they are not retail stuff or free to share (eg as stated on blogs/sites, Creative Commons, Wiki Commons). I've written many emails to artists, photographers and bloggers to request permission to use their works. It takes time and it means I don't get to write about everything I would love to if I don't get a response (I haven't yet got a negative one, so most people do say yes if they don't ignore you!), and I may have to rethink the rationale behind this blog, which I started to catalog the stuff I like and the wonderful things I discover. And what about Pinterest and Tumblr, where I post/repost and pin/repin all the amazing things that are on the Internet? I don't lurk around there anymore, mostly because I don't have time and partly because I got frustrated after a while of looking at beautiful photos that are credited or linked to source, and spending hours trying to trace them. It got to be a bit too much and yes, it's possible to get tired of looking at so much beauty when you don't know where it comes from. I'm speaking for myself of course; I like to get to the bottom of things.

Bottomline: I'm not sure where this blog is headed. I have several half-written posts that I probably won't finish due to the copyright issue. I'm no longer comfortable with crediting sources without permission, although I suspect I may have lapses if I find something truly wonderful. I also don't know where the videos I post fall into all this. They aren't always embedment-coded videos that are provided by original sources.

If you're still here, I would love to know what you think. This post is not meant as a criticism of anyone's blogging approach. I think we all have to find what works for us individually, whether in blogging or in life. I saw this cool infographic during my period of Pinterest/Tumblr obsession; it is a good guide on the copyright/credit problem. I'm happy to say it's free to share.


 giving credit infographic by Pia Jane Bijkerk (enhance the everyday) and Erin (Design for Mankind)

Click the links in the credit to read the articles Pia and Erin posted on crediting sources. There are other great posts on crediting/copyright, I like this detailed one from Grace at design*sponge (a wonderful blog if you don't know it already): biz ladies: online etiquette and ethics (part 1)


Thank you for reading.
Please leave me a comment
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More blog discussions on copyright/plagiarism
Shades of Gray (the long thread)

Related links
Why Do They Do It (The New York Sun)
Plagiarism lines blur for students in digital age (New York Times)
turnitin.com, an online plagiarism detector
http://plagiarism.org/
link to resources on blog copyright and content theft (from geneabloggers.com) a very good list!
Patterns and how they are affected by copyright law (tabberone.com)

Understanding Copyright and Licenses (smashingmagazine)
Copyright, Part I: It’s Not Only About the Law (an interesting piece on using others' images in your art or crafting)
Small businesses warned against infringing on copyright (British Journal of Photography)
Copyscape, service that crawls your site to see if your pages have been copied
Tynt, a program you can install in your site’s header that inserts a credit tag/text every time someone copies a chunk of text or images from your site
TinEye can find an image wherever it lives on the Internet, even if the file name has been changed



by liberal sprinkles

Canal St, DIY flowers, cigar boxes and fortune tellers


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A few interesting things I stumbled across today:


A miniature rendition of New York's Canal Street as it might have looked in the late 1970s. Canal St. Cross-Section by American artist Alan Wolfson shows the street-level environment (love the pizza shop!), as well as the underground world of a subway car and platform. It will be among the exhibits at the New York Museum of Arts and Design's Otherworldly: Optical Delusions and Small Realities from June 7 to September 18, 2011.


A visualization of how quickly a news story spreads via Twitter. The New York Times' Project Cascade attempts to shed light, through infographics presented in video form, on how information goes viral on the Internet by linking viewers' browsing behaviors to their sharing activities. The tool could eventually help the media and corporate worlds understand how best to promote their stories and word their messages. Read an article about it here.


An app to sift the junk out of your email inbox - quickly! The Email Game times you as you go through your emails, giving you more points the faster you're done with one. Well, that's the idea at least. Seems a bit stressful to me to see a clock ticking as you go through your inbox ...


A free digital download of cigar box templates. Thanks, Cathe at Just Something I Made. She has a cigar box collection (lucky girl!) and is sharing two at her post. Hurray! I've always wanted one, now I can make one. I've already printed it but I don't have any cardstock so I had to do it on paper. I need to improvise to make the box usable.


A fortune teller! Make your own cootie catcher and see what the future holds for you. LOL. I used to play with these when I was a kid; I don't remember what we used to call it but it wasn't "cootie catcher". heheh. These are fun, you can use if you need to make a decision and don't know which way to go. Seens from The Backs of My Eyelids has posted some real gems!


(and 2 flowery discoveries from last week)
A tutorial on making flowers from crepe paper, by How About Orange. If you have some crepe paper lying around, you could try this. It looks easy and the flowers are so cute, you could use them as decoration for all kinds of events, or maybe even gifts. I certainly wouldn't mind getting some!

Another tutorial on making flowers - from card stock paper this time. Patricia from A Little Hut has written an excellent step-by-step guide. I'm definitely trying both this and the other how-to from How About Orange.


Hope you enjoyed this post! If you did, please
leave me a comment
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by liberal sprinkles

April 25, 2011

Going West, Paper Boy, Moving Paper cut animation film festival


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Today's another day for videos! If you love pop-up books, you'll adore the stop-frame animation Going West, produced by Andersen M Studio for the New Zealand Book Council, a non-profit organization that promotes the love of books and reading in the country.

Books come to life in this short film, which features Maurice Gee's classic New Zealand novel Going West. It has won several awards including the 2010 Museum's Choice grand prize at Moving Paper, an international film festival of cut paper animation organized by New York’s Museum of Arts and Design.



Going West by Andersen M (YouTube)





This short film, Paper Boy, was the Moving Paper grand prize winner of the People's Choice award. It was made by composer/musician Ehran Elisha and animator/visual artist Ian Klapper.


Paper Boy animation (on YouTube)

Did you see my post earlier today on Logorama? Watch the Oscar-winning short film here.


lollipops
I'm sharing this with What I Love Wednesdays at Lollipops. Go on over to see what others are loving!


If you liked this post, please
let me know in a comment
check out my posts with videos
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Related links
more videos at Moving Paper



by liberal sprinkles

logorama short film, h5 and Röyksopp video


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If you haven't already watched the Oscar-winning Logorama, here you go! Car chases, gun battles, an earthquake, oil spill and other disasters all find their way into the 16 minutes of action-packed drama but the plot's not really the draw. It's what's used to create the 3D animated scene that's interesting: more than 2,500 logos, mascots and brand images of all kinds of retail products, corporations, companies, movie titles etc. How many can you spot?

This satire of corporate culture, American culture and mass consumerism won the Academy Award for Best Animated Short in 2010. I found the film at Vimeo today. It was posted by a co-owner of the company that produced the original music. [ if you're reading from a feed, click here to see videos ]

April 23, 2011

Midori plays Tchaikovsky violin concerto D major


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I am in the middle of two posts and I'm behind on my postcard blog posts but I just had to share this. I just saw violinist Midori Goto in concert and she is   B  R  I  L  L  I  A  N  T !   I can't quite get over how fabulous she was. Additionally she was playing one of my favorite pieces ever: Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto in D major, op.35. This is a great test of any violinist technical skills and boy did she ace it. Also, she is fascinating to see live (lucky me, I was in the eight row center so she was playing right in front of me). It's like watching a kabuki performance minus the costume. She is so expressive and dramatic in her facial expressions and movements - she uses her whole body and she's so mastered communicating through her 1734 Guarnerius del Gesu "ex-Huberman". No need for words, the music speaks for itself.

I'm on a high. I am constantly amazed at the beauty and restorative powers of music. When I'm down, I often turn to music. It never fails me! When I'm upbeat, music puts me in an even more positive mood! I wish I could play you a video of what I got the chance to see but I'll have to settle for these videos of Midori from YouTube (she's playing the same piece but I can't read the Japanese so I don't know when or where, she's not as expressive here I think). [ if you're reading from a feed, click to see videos ]

April 22, 2011

google books, copyright, art project and magazine


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Life magazine
via Google Books


I wrote about Google Books in a post earlier this week, where I gushed about what a great resource it is. Google Books has partnerships with some publishers that have led to the archives of numerous magazines being digitized and made available online. The magazines whose back copies you can read (some go back further than others) without having to pay anything include Life, Billboard, New York, Ebony, Liberty, National Parks, Prevention, Working Mother, and many, many more.


New York magazine
via Google Books
Apart from magazines, Google has a database of more than 15 million digitized books from over 100 countries in 400 language, which it has scanned, many with the permission of libraries but not always with the consent of authors. Books whose copyrights have expired are available for sale through Google Books, which also gives previews and snippets of books under copyright that it has licensed from publishers, or copyrighted titles for which it has no license.

Google's dream is to make Google Books a digital library of every book ever published, including out-of-print and "orphan" titles, and selling access to them (orphan books are those for which the copyright holders have not been established). Google's digital library would also give authors and publishers a new outlet to sell their works.

Not surprisingly, Google Books has faced many copyright suits and its future is now unclear. On March 22, 2011, a US federal judge made a landmark decision in New York against the creation of a universal digital library by Google. Citing copyright, antitrust and other concerns, US Circuit Judge Denny Chin rejected a $125 million legal settlement the company had worked out with the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers which would have let Google sell access to its database. Under the 2008 settlement, Google agreed to pay $125 million to search for copyright holders and pay authors and publishers fees and royalties.

Google says it is not violating anyone's copyright, even if it scans a text without the author's permission; it cites the concept of "fair play" and says authors have the right to opt out of having their books digitized. Judge Chin says it should be an "opt in" process. Another sticking point involved orphan books (according to the dearauthor.com article, as much as 70 per cent of the books Google has scanned are orphan works), for which Google got the right to sell through the 2008 settlement. Judge Chin says the orphan issue should be one tackled by legislation instead of an agreement between private parties.

This is a very good post explaining the court decision and what's ahead
Judge Chin rejects the Google Book Settlement (dearauthor.com)

And here's a very well-argued, though completely biased, commentary against the judge's decision. The reactions to the post are as interesting and represent both sides.
Singel-Minded: To the Whingers Go the Spoils in the Google Books Decision, by Ryan Singel (wired.com)

Among the comments posted at wired.com was one from someone who identifies himself/herself as CJ Hinke from Easterwood Press in Bangkok, who says:
"As an author, translator, editor and small book publisher, I have always posted my books to Google Books for free download before the print editions. Think about it: If people like the book, they’ll probably buy one. If not, I only make about a dollar per book in profit anyway. If I’m so stingy I won’t risk losing a dollar, I should get out of the book business.

The real travesty of this decision is that, at 61, I will probably not live to see the ancient libraries of Timbuktu and Alexandria recreated by the likes of Google in my lifetime. The ancient libraries were torched by small-minded men just as Google’s has apparently been burned by Judge Chin."

Like CJ Hinke, I feel sorry at the loss of what could have been a universal digital library that would have given me access to books and text I would never otherwise get to read or see. I am very much an armchair viewer, of events, books, arts and so many other wonderful things I can witness and experience thanks to the advent of the Internet. Did you know that you can peruse the British Library's John Gutenberg bibles online? Do you know about Google's Art Project? Through it, you can view and examine hundreds of masterpieces and tour museums around the world like MoMA, the Tate and the Palais de Versailles. Sure, nothing beats seeing the real thing but how often do you get to visit New York, London or Paris?

Hopefully the copyright issues can be addressed. As for fears that Google will dominate the market, well, it is already the king of search engines. It would be lovely and ideal if a non-profit body could be the one to create a universal digital library but since no one seems to be anywhere near doing so, why thwart Google?


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by liberal sprinkles

April 21, 2011

postcards, snail mail and Google Books


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I love snail mail. In the last month, I've received postcards from the US, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Holland, Malaysia, Switzerland and Bulgaria. Thank you, Postcrossing! Now I get postcards from random people around the world and not just bills in my mailbox, yay. If you want to know how Postcrossing works, please visit the Postcrossing website or read an earlier post I wrote about it: Postcrossing and Bookcrossing.

If you're a follower and would like to exchange postcards and other snail mail with me, please leave me a comment!

I am swapping cards with my blog friend Lynn, who blogs at Present Letters. This is the first postcard I received from her.

postcard of Gateway Memorial Arch in St Louis
The 630 feet (192 meter) tall Gateway Memorial Arch symbolizes St Louis' role as the
gateway to the West during the westward expansion of the USA in the 19th century.

I wrote about the card and the Arch at my postcard blog here if you'd like to read more about it. I always include lots of facts in my posts at Postcard Love, as well as any links I have with the places or things the postcards show, and sometimes what they remind me of.

I decided to post about Lynn's card at  liberal sprinkles  as well because I used a beauty of a resource while researching the Arch and wanted to write about it here at my main blog. I found this interesting article from 1964 : Tallest U.S. Monument (Popular Science, April 1964, page 91) via Google Books. It talks about the construction of the Gateway Arch and has a nice infographic on how its tram takes you all the way up to the top (I love infographics!).

I have to admit I scrolled through the whole magazine (thank you Google Books!!), I love vintage stuff so the magazine design, layout, ads all fascinate me, not to mention the articles. Here's a sampling:
* On page 29 you can see a 1964 Harley-Davidson;
* page 36 has an ad for the new Sony 3-head stereo deck (hey, must have been revolutionary in its days!);
* write-ups and ads on pyramid plans (scams?), job advice, mail order business;
* an article on US supersonic airplane designs (page 67), which I guess never went on to be developed. The Anglo-French Concorde is mentioned, which was first flown in 1969 and went into service in 1976. The Concorde doesn't fly anymore of course. Its business and reputation never quite recovered after a dramatic crash in France on July 25, 2000 that killed everyone on board and four on the ground. It made its last commercial flight in May 2003.
* How a Chevy Chevrolet ended up at the pinnacle of Utah's Castle rock near Moah. That's 1,500 feet above ground, no roads! (page 89)
* How to prefab a home for less than $1,000 in 1964 dollars! (page 100)
* The worst pet in the world (look at page 124 to find out what it is!)
* (from page 144) projects on building stilts, desk, bench, bar, sun canopy etc etc
* (page 168) a drum that allows color processing in 8 minutes (that's one more for the time capsule!)

hehehh you can see I'm a facts and news junkie. And that was not bad at all for an issue that's nearly 50 years old! And great value for money: I paid all of ... $0!! That 1964 issue of Popular Science is available at both Google Books and the magazine's website. At PopSci.com/archives, you can search Popular Science's 138-year archive, and read articles and back issues free.

You can read a lot of stuff for free at Google Book Search. You can get access to books and the back issues (some more recent than others) of a bunch of other magazines like these:

Liberty magazine via Google Books
Life magazine via Google Books

Los Angeles magazine via Google Books
New York magazine, via Google Books

This was actually only the first part of a much longer post about Google Books, copyright and plagiarism but I haven't had time to finish it and then I got another postcard and package from Lynn today!! So I thought I'd better post this first, I'll write about the other stuff separately and include photos of what Lynn sent me as well next time.



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by liberal sprinkles

April 20, 2011

What's on the menu - A New York Public Library project


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menu from dinner held at Republican House
in Milwaukee, 1900
via New York Public Library
What's On The Menu project
Cafe Luncheon at Hotel Marlborough
in New York, 1900
via New York Public Library
What's On The Menu project

In 1900 at the Hotel Marlborough in New York, you could have had a sumptuous meal for Fifty Cents.  Soup, fish, choice of 3 entrees, vegetables, dessert, coffee/tea/milk (I don't know if the milk is for the coffee and tea or served on its own :-0 ). The proof is in the white menu above from the New York Public Library's Rare Books Division.

The New York Public Library's restaurant menu collection is one of the largest in the world: There are about 40,000 menus from the 1840s to the present. Until now, it has been impossible to search the menus to see what people were eating when they ate out in their days. So the library has launched a crowdsourced project, What's On The Menu, to transcribe the menus in its collection. Crowdsourced means you can help! It's very easy, you just have to click on the menus in progress, click on the dishes and type in what you see.

I put a little time into transcribing some dishes today. This is a sample of what I worked on:

1900 menu from Gould's Hotel Cafe in Boston
via New York Public Library
What's On The Menu project

from the wine list in the March 29, 1900 menu of Gould's Hotel Cafe in Boston. Fancy list. It also includes champagne like these:

1900 menu from Gould's Hotel Cafe in Boston
via New York Public Library
What's On The Menu project

Have you ever wondered when pizzas first appeared in menus, or apple pie, or oyster stew? Or how much corned beef hash cost in 1900? (browned: 30 cents, with egg 40 cents, at the Hotel Marlborough in New York).  Imagine if you had a database from which to look all that up. As of Wednesday April 20, 4,443 dishes have been transcribed from 68 menus in the NYPL's menu collection. The list is growing, it could grow quicker with your help.

There are many benefits to be derived from the project. As Laura Shapiro, culinary historian and author of Perfection Salad: Women and Cooking at the Turn of the Century, says on the What's On The Menu site: "This project will open up the menus and all they can tell us about ingredients, dishes and meal structure, about the economics and sociology of eating out, about the very language of food."

Adds Paul Freedman, author of Out of the East: Spices and the Medieval Imagination, and editor of Food: The History of Taste (California Studies in Food and Culture: "How people socialized, what they ate, how things change over time and the actual experience of people living in the United States in the past 170 years can be made vividly alive with these materials."


It really would be like bringing history to life!


Related links
What's on the Menu? @twitter
About the project What's on the Menu
Related posts
illustrated recipes blog They Draw and Cook (interviews)


If you liked this post, please
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by liberal sprinkles

April 15, 2011

illustrated recipes blog They Draw and Cook, plus interviews


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{ first posted April 15, edited April 18/20 to include Mentaiko Kimchi Udon and Pretty Cupcakes }

My stomach's been growling since I discovered They Draw and Cook. With appetizing recipes like this peppering the site, who wouldn't be?

pizza with goat's cheese and fig tapenade by Louise Norman
Louise is a UK artist with a whose portfolio includes works on paper art, paintings, sculptures,
installations, as well as design work and illustrations. Visit her at her website Louise Norman.
[ all photos courtesy of artists and used with permission ]

They Draw and Cook is a food blog with a difference. You won't find beautifully styled photos and temperamental chefs showing off their chops. What you'll see is an splendid visual feast: fun, colorful and artful recipes illustrated with at times a generous pinch of cuteness, other times a serving of slick design and oftentimes a double dose of whimsy. Dig in and you may discover a little more than just cooking tips.

Take Alyssa DeGeorge's recipe. The Kent State University student can tell you all about catching a lobster and cooking it as she's spent summers doing just that with her father off Newburyport. "I love the idea of getting a lobster straight from the ocean and cooking it right on the boat to eat. A day of lobstering is a relaxing, unique adventure I wanted to share through my work," she told liberal sprinkles. So for a class project for They Draw and Cook, she created this illustration peppered with instructions for catching a lobster and, look closely, she even tells you how to check if it's a girl or boy!

Fresh New England Lobster illustrated recipe by Alyssa DeGeorge, via They Draw and Cook
see more of Alyssa DeGeorge's works at Behance

I love this illustration, it reminds me of a vacation in New England I took a few years ago. It was fall, the colors were beautiful and I ate lots of seafood was in Maine. I stayed at a lovely studio apartment overlooking a bay on Mount Desert Island, home to Acadia National Park. There are a bunch of lobster restaurants along the bridge leading to the island where you can also buy live lobsters and seafood. I ate at several including the Trenton Bridge Lobster Pound of course, and took home a 3 pound lobster one night. I'd never cooked lobster before but it's pretty easy. You just throw it in a pot of boiling water and cook it until it turns red. yummmy...

Fettucine and Fig Pasta illustrated recipe by Salli Swindell, via TheyDrawAndCook.com

The illustration above is the one that started it all. The "aha" moment, as co-founder Salli Swindell puts it. Sister/brother design team Salli Swindell and Nate Padavick of Studio SSS are the brains behind They Draw and Cook. During a family vacation, while Nate was trying to recreate a favorite dish - fettucine with figs in a balsamic butter sauce - Salli was painting the figs with her watercolors. Thus was born the idea of illustrating food.

They started by trying to get recipes from artist friends for a self-published book but when they didn't get enough, they started the blog, with just 8 recipes. That was in February 2010. Well, they cooked up a terrific winning recipe. Today, They Draw and Cook is a resource for about 1,300 illustrated recipes by 750 contributors - professional illustrators and practising artists, as well as people who are just "passionate doodlers and drawers", as the site states.

Salli was sweet enough to reply to some questions liberal sprinkles asked.  "Nate and I are still completely thrilled every single time a new recipe is submitted. We love that the site feels like a party with lots of new faces, food and drink showing up all the time! There is such a great collective energy on TDAC.  Many of the artists have made connections with new clients via TDAC which is so exciting and was actually one of our goals from the start."

They Draw and Cook book, coming in October 2011
And there's more on the horizon. Not only has the site's success led to a children's blog, Kids Draw and Cook (very cute!), the new illustrated maps blog They Draw and Travel ( I adore this one, each illustration tells so many fantastic stories!) , a 224-page book of 107 recipes is now in the works as well. The photo on the left shows the cover, which was designed by Nate and based on his recipe for Curry Cabbage. They Draw & Cook is already available for pre-order at Amazon. Click here!

I asked Salli how the book project came about. "From the very beginning, They Draw and Cook really felt like a book. A super cool book full of humor and beauty and yumminess with the recipes and the artwork. This kind of cookbook puts the fun back into cooking.  It's very interesting to see how all of the artists tell the story of a recipe." The book, published by Weldon-Owen, will hit the bookshelves in October.

And that's not all.
liberal sprinkles:  The site is a great showcase for not only artists but anyone who likes to draw, do you have any plans to develop the project further, maybe set up a shop to sell the designs, convert them into kitchen towels, aprons etc? 

Salli: Absolutely!  I have a studio full of notes, sketches, ideas and lists of the many ways we would like to expand TDAC.  This will be a great opportunity for the artists to make some money.
How cool is that? Maybe we can soon wear our favorite recipes while preparing them! Let's take a look at a couple of my favorites (although I've only got to about 100 of those wonderful illustrations so far).

Salsa Verde illustrated recipe by Geninne Zlatkis, via They Draw and Cook

I love everything about this illustration, it's so cute, happy and colorful. I also love the hat! I've followed Geninne's Art blog for a few months now but didn't see this illustration until I discovered They Draw and Cook. Geninne is a wonderful artist based in Querétaro, Mexico. You have to see her gorgeous creations.


Figs and Strawberries Mix by Meta Wraber via They Draw and Cook

This salad recipe was drawn by Slovene Meta Wraber from Ljubljana, Slovenia, who tells me: "It is not a particularly Slovene recipe, I guess it's a mixture of few different fig recipes I know, and I always add or skip a certain ingredient...so it might always be a little bit different. And that is my approach to illustrating food, I like to mix, collage and just see what happens with a composition. My illustrations are therefore very floaty, ethereal, unpredictable."

I love her process. I'm very much like that when I cook (and in other things too), I may look at a recipe but unless it's baking, I pretty make it my own depending on what or what else I have in the kitchen and I always add more of what I like. You can see some of Meta's lovely watercolors at her blog metamundus.

Pretty Cupcakes by Joana Faria via TheyDrawAndCook.com
OK, who dares tell me they don't love this? I fell head over heels for this when I saw it. I'm not at all girlie or feminine but this is sooooo lovely, sooooo sweet, soooo cute and... you get the picture. I love it so much I'm editing the post to include it after getting permission today to use the illustration. Brazilian-born illustrator Joana Faria, who now lives in Portugal, created this beauty and if you are wondering why she didn't get back to me earlier, it's because she was visiting Tajikistan. WOW! You can read a pre-trip post at her blog.

Joana explains why this is not a traditional recipe: "When I was illustrating, I thought it was important to show the ingredients, but that's about it. I decided not to focus on the recipe instructions and instead, try to create a magical place where cupcakes just happen to exist! Wouldn't that be wonderful."

Yes! We all need a little magic in our lives sometimes (all the time would be better but I shouldn't be greedy) and this artwork makes me feel really good in a fairy tale princess sort of way. I love Joana's drawing style, which she calls "girlie". This is how she goes about creating her pieces:
"I rarely ever plan my compositions. I just go for it. I usually start sketching in pencil and then when I'm happy with the general feel and layout of the piece, I re-do it in fine point black marker. That's my favorite part and then I start filling in all the details. With this illustration specifically, I wanted it to be rich and busy, so I drew for hours and hours... After it was done, I scanned it and added color digitally."
I wish I had magic fingers but I'll just have to admire the work of real artists instead. For more "girlie" illustrations, go on over to Joana Faria's blog or website. You won't be disappointed!

On to the next course: how to cook up a storm by a boy and his little blue friend...

Rigatoni With Figs And Curry by Tomek Giovanis via They Draw and Cook

This pasta recipe was among the suggestions I got when I tried out the Find A Recipe option at TDAC. You just have to pick your ingredients or meal types, or if you're more adventurous, an illustration style. Among the 13 choices: "awww - so cute", "fresh and hip" and "illustrated with great characters". I chose "totally hilarious" and bing, got this funny piece by artist/illustrator Tomek Giovanis from Athens, Greece. The illustration won first place in They Draw and Cook's Year of the Fig Recipe Contest. You can see more of Tomek's cartoons and cool stuff at his website Tomek, blog Tomek & and other ... things!!! and comic fanzine comic fanzine Hehe, which he co-founded.

The story behind the recipe in Tomek's words:
It's the only recipe I know with figs. Hahaha. But it's very special. Many years ago I was at some kind dinner party and all the people sat outside in the garden, so I went to the kitchen to watch a man making this "strange" recipe. Few days later I tried it at home and that's all, I just loved it! 

Tomek drew another illustration for TDAC before Rigatoni with Figs.

linguini with grilled tomatoes and feta cheese, illustrated recipe by Tomek Giovanis, via TDAC.com

There's the same chef and his blue sidekick! I love the story behind his characters. "I use a funny couple, a kid as Chef and a blue bean creature as his assistant. I want to show to people (and kids) how simple these two recipes are that two little and foolish guys can do it. But it's funny, little bit surrealistic and at the end everything works perfect," Tomek says.

Yup, kids can do it too, don't forget to check out the Kids Draw and Cook blog. And here's more stuff for your kids to play with (and admit it, you want to join in the fun! well, I do!).

World's Best Play Dough, illustrated recipe by Martha Plank via They Draw and Cook

Wow, what a fabulous non-food recipe! Don't you just love the layout? Bet Leonardo da Vinci would think so and agree with his muse Mona Lisa about therapeutic art. Cleveland-based graphic designer Martha Plank of Compelling Design tells liberal sprinkles where the idea for the "world's best play dough" came from:
"Since I have never been known for my cooking, I decided to play up my weakness! One is far more likely to find paint in my kitchen sink or kids science experiments on my counters than actual food! This play dough recipe was passed to me from my mother–out–law (my daughter’s fabulous grandmother) and over the years the girls and I have had so much fun making this recipe. Amazingly resistant to drying out and experimenting with all different color results is fun" 
I think I could get into some messy fun :) And did you notice she credits her "mother-out-law"? I love that! Martha's blog is Square Peg Symposium, where you can see some of her cool design work.


Great Beer Bread by Natalie Shenker in Tel Aviv, Israel

OK, this beer bread recipe is something I really want to try although I've baked bread only a couple times, like 20 years ago. I love all those cute little beer bottles, the dripping butter and the sugary fonts... *me drooling*  The genius behind this work of art is freelance illustrator Natalie Shenker from Tel Aviv, Israel. I wanted to know if it was an Israeli recipe.
Natalie: "I don't think it is necessarily an Israeli recipe...just one I got once from a friend and added touches of my own! It is just a fun recipe suited for gatherings, afternoon parties and so on. I make it a lot of times when I'm invited to a friend's house and asked to bring something to eat (and I'm too lazy to make something complicated). In accordance with the recipe and the situations in which I usually make it-, I wanted the illustration to be fun and easygoing too."

There's plenty of fun at TDAC for sure. Apart from the colorful recipes, there are also some awesome black and white illustrations. This is one that caught my eye.

Mentaiko Kimchi Udon by Stephanie Le via They Draw And Cook
mentaiko = marinated roe of pollock, a common ingredient in Japanese cooking
kimchi = traditional Korean fermented vegetables; there are loads of
different types of kimchi and they are used in all sorts of dishes
udon = a type of Japanese fat noodles

Isn't it just kawaii ("kawaii" means "cute" in Japanese). I love the use of black and white, the style and the subject. Noodles!! I love noodles, I could eat noodles for every meal. Seriously. I also love both Japanese and Korean food so when I saw this drawing, I just had to look into it.

It was drawn by Stephanie Le from Vancouver, Canada. She said she chose to draw this recipe after trying the dish at a favorite Japanese restaurant. Stephanie has an interesting blog momofukufor2, where she chronicled her adventures as she cooked her way through the
Momofuku Cookbook by David Chang and Peter Meehan (what a great idea for a blog!). Chang, who made it to Time magazine's 100 Most Influential People 2010 list (under artists - coz food is art, no?), owns the Momofuku restaurant chain, one of which earned 2 Michelin stars in 2009. 

Here's one last recipe I'm sharing that spells delicious promise from They Draw and Cook. It's from co-founder Salli.

Chick Pea Dip by Salli Swindell , co-founder of They Draw and Cook

I'm so glad Salli sent me this illustration to include. Why did she? "Because I would love to see a coloring cookbook!" ahhhh, I think that means we can take out our color pencils and crayons soon :) Of course you can do it already. There is a "print this recipe" button for the illustrations at They Draw and Cook, love that! The features at the blog make it even more fun than the burst of colors, creativity and inspiration that's aplenty. Apart from Find A Recipe, there's the world map that shows you where recipes have been submitted from, and the very cool Dial-A-Dinner. Give the slot machine a spin and see what three-course meal Salli and Nate are cooking! 

Thank you to all the artists who were so kind to let me use their great artworks and answer my questions!

A shorter version of this article was first published as
Where Food is Art, and Art is Food for the Eyes on Technorati


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already available for pre-order at Amazon.com!
They Draw and Cook: 107 recipes illustrated by artists from around the world

OK, Quakebook is not a recipe or food book. But it's for a great cause. Stories and reflections on the Japan earthquake and tsunami disaster, sourced via Twitter and produced in ONE week. 100% of proceeds to the Japanese Red Cross Society!


Related links
Illustrated recipes (Google images)
Another artist who creates art good enough to eat is Dawn Tan. Her illustrated recipes are gorgeous and are now available as tote bags, tea towels and posters at her shop Dawn Tan with Harvest Textiles. You can read about her life and see her creative art at her blog handmadelove.






by liberal sprinkles