Wednesday News: Amazon, Riad Sattouf, free MMofA images, and seeing hearts
With Amazon Books, Jeff Bezos Is Solving Digital Retail’s Biggest Design Flaw – Remember when the first brick-and-mortar Amazon bookstore opened and people were kind of flummoxed at the eclectic selection of books and the way all the books faced outward? Well, this article from Fast Company suggests that the Amazon bookstore is all about discoverability. This is not the traditional brick-and-mortar bookstore where you browse the shelves for hours, but rather a data-driven experience intended to highlight popular and highly rated books.
Technically the stores are still an experiment. But after visiting one it’s clear that this is in some ways an ingenious refinement of the bookstore idea—what Warby Parker is to eyeglasses and Shake Shack is to fast food, Amazon Books is to Barnes & Noble. The store solves one of the biggest problems with online shopping: discoverability. The solution isn’t derived by stocking an infinite number of books; it’s just the opposite—this bookstore uses data-driven design to increase the likelihood that you will pick up a book that you didn’t know you wanted to read. And it’s part of a larger push within Amazon to reinvent the way physical retail works that includes the automated Amazon Go convenience store. – Fast Company
The Future is Here: An Interview with Riad Sattouf, Author of “The Arab of the Future” – Fascinating interview with Riad Sattouf, including insights into his process (e.g. he envisions a whole book at once), the political context of his work, and his own childhood, of course, which is featured in the graphic memoir. It is difficult to excerpt any of the quotes from the interview without context of other quotes, so here is a summary of Sattouf’s work, in case you are not familiar with him:
Sattouf was in Los Angeles to speak at ALOUD (a series of conversations, readings, and performances at the downtown Central Library) to promote the second volume of his critically acclaimed graphic memoir, The Arab of the Future, a best seller in France. In Volume I, his father Abdel-Razak, a pan-Arabist with dreams of a different life, moves his family from France to the Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab State, and then to his ancestral village, Ter Maaleh, near Homs, Syria. Writing from the perspective of his childhood self, Sattouf shows the idiosyncrasies and absurdities of the forces that shape his family and the worlds they inhabit. He depicts his sense of dislocation and the differences between his various homes through the use of vivid, sensual colors, tinting each country’s landscape with the colors of its national flag. Volume II focuses on his family’s time in Ter Maaleh during the reign of Hafez al-Assad in the mid-1980s. Riad struggles with adolescence; he’s taunted as a “filthy Jew” at school, because of how he looks, and generally feels out of place in the country’s increasingly religious and nationalist atmosphere. Sattouf displays his skills as a master cartoonist — he narrates and draws with indelible tenderness, humor, nuance, and honesty. Alison Bechdel has called the work “beautiful, funny, and important,” and Zadie Smith recently commented that she “tore through” both volumes. It’s no wonder that these stories are so engrossing; Sattouf says these were the books he wanted to write before he died. There is urgency and fearlessness in his storytelling. – Los Angeles Review of Books
The Metropolitan Museum of Art Makes 375,000 Images of Fine Art Available Under a Creative Commons License: Download, Use & Remix – This is a remarkable rejection of the trend to further narrow public access to creative works (from which even more creativity flows):
What do you need to make art? Why, art, of course: the works that have come before provide inspiration, establish a tradition to follow and expand, and now, in our digital age, even provide the very materials to work with. The Metropolitan Museum of Art has assured us that we should feel free to “use, remix, and share” their latest batch of 375,000 digitized artworks of a variety of forms and from a variety of eras in any which way we like. In partnership with Creative Commons, they’ve released them all under the latter’s CC0, or “no rights reserved” license, which places them “as completely as possible in the public domain, so that others may freely build upon, enhance and reuse the works for any purposes without restriction under copyright or database law.” – Open Culture