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10 random things I learnt in 2015

I’ve been meaning to do a list like this for a few years, and thought it was high time I started. It’s obviously not ALL I’ve learnt (or at least I hope not!) but it was actually HARD to put down in writing what exactly I could recall in terms of trivia gleaned from the year. In no particular order, here is a random list. Maybe there are things in there you weren’t aware of either?

I’ve decided to present them as Jeopardy-style questions.

  1. What are Fostat fragmentsHow did I come across this? The Fabric of India exhibition at the V&A Museum, London (on till January 10th, 2016)
  1. What is a cinquainHow did I come across this? While watching The West Wing, Season 4, Episode 14 (The Inauguration – Part 1). There are tons of things I learnt from this show – just didn’t note them all down, unfortunately!
  1. Why do most people suffer from the Barry Manilow effectHow did I come across this? While reading ‘Why we can’t get over ourselves’ in Nautilus.
  1. What is an infinite procedurally generated galaxy and how would it work? How did I come across this? At the Designs of the Year exhibition 2015, which featured the game No Man’s Sky developed by Hello Games, the most evolved example of this technology in action.
  1. What is zemblanity in the context of technology? How did I come across this? This is a HUGE one. I saw Venkatesh Rao speak about his work and theses Breaking Smart this year, where he explained it a bit (I haven’t even finished reading all of it, so this post serves as a useful reminder to myself to do that). Essentially zemblanity is the antonym of serendipity, if such a thing exists. His point was that we need to get to the best of technology by trying different things – if done right, we chance upon amazing things serendipitously, if we’re unlucky we find things that are not so great in an episode of zemblanity – which is when we should change course and use the technology for something else altogether. He created this useful list of links if you want to explore zemblanity and serendipity some more.
  1. What is sisuHow did I come across this? The aforementioned talk by Venkatesh Rao.
  1. Who created sanisettes, or superloos, on the streets of Paris and London? How did I come across this? A presentation by Mr. Jean-Charles Decaux, Co-CEO and part of the J.C. Decaux family, at a glitzy event earlier this year.
  1. What is Martian poetryHow did I come across this? While reading this interview with Martin Amis in the Paris Review.
  1. What is chaos defrostHow did I come across this? In this Guardian piece about microwaves.
  1. What is a Cadillac insurance planHow did I come across this? There was a lot of discussion this year about Obamacare, and it cropped up in many of the online reports, such as this one. And no, I hadn’t heard the term used before.
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