In my exploration of Heinrich Schliemann, a German archaeologist and businessman, I came across information about his involvement in funding the demolition of a medieval “Frankish tower” at the Acropolis of Athens. The transformation and adaptation of monuments under the prevailing zeitgeist is quite revealing. If you’re interested in the Acropolis changes, Dr. Rachel Kousser’s article on Khan Academy is worth a read.

Within and beyond the ancient world, the Parthenon had many lives. Rather than ignoring them, it is useful to acknowledge these lives as contributions to the building’s extraordinary continuing vitality. […] When contrasting its present-day state with the first photographs taken in the mid-nineteenth century, we can see how much has been intentionally removed: a Frankish tower by the entrance to the Acropolis, an Ottoman dome, mundane habitations. […] In its current iteration, the Acropolis has been returned to something resembling its pristine Classical condition […] This feels like a loss: a retardataire effort to reinstate a selective, approved version of the past and to erase the traces of a more difficult and complex history. As such it stands as an example, and perhaps also a warning, for our current historical moment.

An interesting “memory strategy” featured in this MIT Press Reader article draws inspiration from actors’ approaches to memorizing dialogue.

In describing how they remember their lines, actors are telling us an important truth about memory — deep understanding promotes long-lasting memories. […] Focusing on [the] visual, acoustic, and conceptual aspects […] correspond to shallow, moderate, and deep levels of processing, and the depth of processing that is devoted to an item or event affects its memorability. Memory is typically enhanced when we engage in deep processing that provides meaning for an item or event, rather than shallow processing. Given a list of common nouns to read, people recall more words on a surprise memory test if they previously attended to the meaning of each word than if they focused on each word’s font or sound.

The following video from “Le dessous des images” explores the popularity of cooking videos on platforms like TikTok. Those cooking videos offer a seductive experience with quick edits and a POV perspective. Furthermore, the video compares these new formats format by looking into the history of cooking shows on television. What crossed my mind was how those videos simplify the cooking process, making it seem easier for everyone. However, this approach also means that they omit many of the steps involved in cooking, especially in comparison to older educational cooking shows. One surprising example is the segment showcasing an old French show centred on rural cuisine, even showing the actual process of butchering a duck.

The MIT Press Reader shared an article excerpted from the book “Cultures of Contagion”. The article highlights how the study of radioactive particle movements worldwide during the 1950s and beyond has played a crucial role in shaping our understanding of global interconnectedness of our biosphere.

This new geophysical knowledge forms the foundation of our current global atmospheric and oceanic circulation models. Importantly, in tracking the diffusion of radionuclides both through the atmosphere and through plants, animals, and human populations, scientists could demonstrate the integration and interconnectedness of the entire biosphere.

While I was living in Bologna, I discovered a fantastic sweet fruity wine called a Romagna Cagnina (more specifically, a bottle of Terre Cevico Cagnina Dolce DOC). When I was living in Bologna, I discovered a fantastic sweet fruity wine called a Romagna Cagnina (more specifically, a bottle of Terre Cevico Cagnina Dolce DOC). While visiting nearby Ravenna and delving into its Byzantine history, I discovered an intriguing connection between the region’s wine and stonecutters and laborers from Istria. The grape variety used in the wine might have been brought to Ravenna by these workers, who also used Istrian stone in the construction of the city’s monuments. Here is a small excerpt from a webpage advertising the wine:

This wine has been talked about since the Byzantine era when the first vines arrived from Istria during the importation of limestone for the construction of churches, baptisteries and historical monuments of the Ravenna area. The name appears to derive from the slightly harsh characteristics of this ancient grape variety, as it was said to “bite the palate”.

A longer description about the wine can be found here.

The questions raised by Sisi Wei, editor-in-chief at The Markup, in a recent article shed light on the dilemmas faced by journalists when covering AI-generated pictures. She questions whether the news articles should contain the generated images and, if so, how to label them or what kinds of disclaimers to include. As she notes, this issue is difficult because readers may not pay attention to the caption. The following is a quote from the article.

There’s no question to me that anyone who comes into contact with the internet these days will need to start questioning if the images they’re seeing are real. But what’s our job as journalists in this situation? When we republish viral or newsworthy images that have been altered or were generated by AI, what should we do to make sure we’re giving readers the information they need? Doing it in the caption or the headline isn’t good enough—we can’t assume that readers will read them.

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of visiting the city of Ravenna and admiring its exquisite mosaics. The rich history of this city is eloquently encapsulated in a quote from the host of the Medievalists Podcast during an episode featuring a conversation with Judith Herrin on Ravenna’s history between 400 and 800 AD.

“[h]istory tends to get pulled through Ravenna rather than Ravenna pulling itself through history. [Ravenna] tends to fall into various cracks in the way we organize history.” (+- at 4')

Indeed, the city of Ravenna bears witness to the passage of various powers, each leaving behind remarkable buildings and works of art.

In recent news, the Italian region of South Tyrol (Alto Adige) has initiated a DNA profiling program to identify owners of dogs responsible for leaving excrement or those found as strays. While there have been challenges in convincing owners to submit samples, the program is set to launch this year. Local authorities plan to send these samples to a regional government agency. The applicability of this initiative beyond the region may be questioned, but it raises the possibility of future inter-regional or national interoperability even?

“Intendiamo così salvare i dati delle analisi del DNA nella banca dati centrale al fine di essere in grado, tramite appositi test del DNA, di individuare i responsabili di eventuali escrementi ed anche i proprietari di cani randagi”, così spiega le ragioni del provvedimento l’assessore provinciale Arnold Schuler, che oggi (31 agosto) lo ha illustrato in Giunta provinciale che lo voterà nella seduta della prossima settimana. Gli enti locali, gli enti pubblici e le forze dell’ordine potranno, così, presentare campioni biologici ai laboratori competenti per la profilazione genetica, e quindi chiedere al Servizio Veterinario dell’Azienda Sanitaria dell’Alto Adige la correlazione dei dati con quelli inseriti nella banca dati dell’anagrafe degli animali di affezione. La correlazione fra i dati è finalizzata all’esercizio di funzioni istituzionali e può essere richiesta esclusivamente dagli enti indicati." (source)

A company in the US is calling such technology PooPrints and “adheres to FBI protocol”…

Via Gary Max on the surveillance studies mailing list.

In this article, Ian Bogost discusses the introduction of email reactions and how they have evolved on the internet. As a user of dedicated email software (Thunderbird), I found it awkward when I first received a thumbs-up reply to an email. Although these reactions can be useful to indicate receipt of a message, I also agree with Bogost’s view that they can be futile and add work. Worse, it is often saddening when someone can’t respond more thoughtfully.

The arrival of reactions in our email, of all places, represents their final success and inevitable futility. Adding confetti to a Gmail conversation affirms that reactions underpin the internet—that online life has become reaction-driven in a deep sense. Much of what we make and share online is made or shared precisely in the hope of eliciting emoji. At this point, we’re so overrun with these attempts—with things to make us laugh or cry or throw confetti—that the very work of having a reaction may soon be obsolete.

An in-depth analysis of the floodings in Emilia-Romagna this year has been conducted by Corriere della Sera. The article provides useful information on the region’s structural problems that have worsened the floodings. Here are two interesting excerpts from the article:

La Romagna una volta era una palude, poi è stata bonificata e sulla ex palude si è costruito lo sviluppo. Dagli anni ‘40 in poi ogni metro quadrato si è trasformato in attività agricola, allevamenti, capannoni e abitazioni.

Negli anni ‘90 arriva la spinta federalista […] Il risultato è che se una Regione, per evitare allagamenti, deve rompere un argine che sta su un confine, l’altra Regione si oppone perché ritiene che i suoi campi siano più utili di quelli della Regione adiacente.