Tag: culture

Google Arts & Culture

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I came across this site yesterday and spent an enjoyable time on it.

What is Google Arts & Culture?

This is what the ‘About’ section of the website states:

“Google Arts & Culture is a non-profit initiative. We work with cultural institutions and artists around the world. Together, our mission is to preserve and bring the world’s art and culture online so it’s accessible to anyone, anywhere.”

The initiative’s pitch to museums and cultural institutions is “We can help digitize, manage, and publish your collection online, for free. With our easy-to-use tools, your stories can be told beautifully to a global audience.”

In classic Google style, they present the results of these to the end user in a simple, elegant and beautiful manner. It definitely helps that they are presently leading with an article on the “Sphinx of Delft” – the Dutch master, Vermeer.

Scroll further down and you can explore architecture, food, music as well as indulge in virtual travel. There are also articles exploring concepts in science.

I have only just started scratching the surface of this and look forward to spending more time exploring it further!

 

 

Monday Reads – 10/02

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A mix of tech, culture and food in this week’s collection:

Tech in 2020: Standing on the Shoulders of Giants – What’s next in the world of tech, not that over 4 billion people have a smartphone? This is the question that tech analysts, Benedict Evans, attempts to answer in this presentation. A data point that was new to me – ‘China and India use more mobile data than the rest of the world combined‘.

Pop Culture’s Rate of Change May Mirror Organic Evolution – A fascinating research that compares the rates of evolution of certain cultural phenomena—pop music, automobiles, medical literature and 19th-century novels—with those of the scarlet tiger moth, the Darwin’s finches of the Galápagos Islands and two other well-studied creatures: a snail and another moth. And the conclusion is that “the evolutionary pace of modern culture is generally the same as that of many animal populations—which is to say, it is a lot slower than people think.

Inside Google’s Efforts to Engineer its Food for Healthiness – Almost everyone knows Google has a tech / data company. And almost everyone with some knowledge of the company would know that it’s very famous for its free food policy. I have been fortunate to have visited a couple of Google offices internationally. Our team would eagerly look forward to these visits as it was an opportunity to have the food there! This is an in-depth look at how Google is applying its famous policy of experimentation to get their employees, especially in the US, to eat healthier. “What Google is attempting here is culture change…And that’s the level we have to reach to transform behaviors and health for a lifetime.”

 

So in how many years does Pop Culture repeat itself?

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One of the ‘truisms’ of pop culture that I grew up accepting was that pop culture fashion reemerges every 20 years. Not that I analysed it or researched it, I just accepted it. One of the reasons could be that, the soundtrack to my growing up years in the 1990s was dominated by bands such as Led Zeppelin who dominated the airwaves in the 1970s. Followed by the sound of grunge music, which again, can be said to be a reinterpretation of the generally angry and pessimistic decade that followed the glorious 60s.

I dropped out of the pop culture bandwagon soon afterwards, when my taste in music settled into the classic rock of the 60’s and 70’s. But I just hung on to this belief as just something that pops out of my consciousness and goes back again.

Finally, today, I decided to do some research into this. Not a lot, just some casual search online (on a Search Engine that was getting popular 20 years ago). And, not really surprisingly, found that there is no real consensus on this topic. This article, one of the first I came across, perfectly encapsulates this uncertainty.

Digging further, another article confidently put it down as 30 years, backing it up with some interesting analysis. But hold on, it’s not 30, but 40, states this article with references to ‘Mad Men’ and other examples.

One thing of which there can be no doubt is that we are now living in the Digital Age. With attention spans getting shorter and shorter, this article puts out an interesting hypothesis. The age of 20 year cycles might be over, to be replaced by shorter, possibly 10 year cycles.

So what started out just as an exercise in curiosity turned into something more thought-provoking? Will the 20 (or 30, or 40) year cycle continue to hold true for future generations? Or would the rapid and on-going lifestyle changes, driven by the digital revolution, mean that cultural trends are going to be more unpredictable going forward? Just another of the glorious uncertainties of this Information Age that we are fortunate to be living in!  

The Geography of Culture

No sooner had I finished writing my previous article on the Geography of History than I came across a few articles that explore the Geography of Culture:

  1. A Painter on a Paris Pilgrimage – This article wonderfully explores the key role of Paris in the art movement of the last 19th and early 20th Centuries. I wish I had read about this before my visit to this City of Light. I had stayed very close to Montparnasse and would have loved to visit some of the places mentioned in this article.
  2. Sleuthing Through Feluda’s Kolkata – While Satyajit Ray is more famous globally as a cinema director, his books are equally famous in India. In this article, the author explores the different places in Kolkata mentioned in Satyajit Ray’s books about Feluda, the detective.
  3. Where James Bond Was Born – Though I cannot really be considered a fan of the famous British spy, I did not know till I read this article about the Portuguese connection that led to Ian Fleming creating the famous character.

 

 

 

 

Kalsi – Emperor Ashoka’s Rock Edict

I am familiar with the Rock Edicts of Emperor Ashoka, having been fortunate to have seen the one at Girnar in Gujarat. However, I happened to come across an article recently that mentioned another of Ashoka’s rock edicts, located in a place that I had not even heard the name of until then (I love my geography and traveling, so consider myself reasonably well aware of place names in India).

Kalsi is a small village in Uttarakhand state, located about 30 kilometres to the north of Dehradun (as the crow flies), very close to the bordering state of Himachal Pradesh. The village lies at the confluence of the Yamuna and Tons rivers. The rock edict of Ashoka located here is unique in that it’s the only major rock edict located in present-day North India.

Of the 14 major rock edicts in existence today, 3 are located outside present-day India (1 in Afghanistan and 2 in Pakistan). The rest are distributed across Western, Southern and Eastern India and can be found in the states of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Orissa, and the one in Kalsi, Uttarakhand.

Online research reveals a few articles that talk about this specific Rock Edict. It is believed to have been built around 450 BC, making it nearly 2,500 years old! Online pictures reveal the edict to be covered with a dome shaped monument, surrounded by well-maintained lawns at the foothills of the Himalayan range. It looks a very peaceful place.

Google Maps reveals only a little over 350 reviews for the monument, so this is clearly a very off-the-beaten-track place. I would like to think of this as a very important part of our cultural heritage and would be great if more people discover this valuable part of our history.