🗿 the isolated language.

on the agenda this week: pandemic home selling, wikipedia's birthday and why snapchat will pay you millions.

📖 reading time: 4m 09s.

hi, happy monday!

stay safe and mask up. look after yourselves and thanks for reading.

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👂 earworm: listen to nina cobham.

📚 word of the week:


turbulent, stormy, as the sea.

a cloud of adversity so gloomy and procellous, has rarely overshadowed a military leader.

- charles caldwell, 1819

🧠 brain candy:

🏡 how the pandemic has and will change how we buy homes.

🖥 wikipedia turned 20-years-old on friday, read their own take on becoming the largest collection of open knowledge in history.

🗼 the mayor of paris has approved a dramatic makeover of the city’s most famous avenue, the champs elysées. the $305 million plan will halve the space for cars.

🇺🇸 ahead of biden’s inauguration on wednesday, the national guard are stationing at least 25,000 troops in washington. that number is more than three times the number of american troops in iraq, afghanistan, somalia and syria.

📝 words are powerful. describe crime in a city as a "beast preying on the city" vs. a "virus infecting the city" and you get very different recommendations for addressing the crime.

📸 dollar street visited 264 families in 50 countries and collected 30,000 photos. they sorted the homes by income, from left to right. you can compare teeth by income, for example.

🤪 mildly humorous:
💡 longer reads:

👨‍💻 snapchat wants to pay you millions.

snapchat—once viewed as a failed social media app—refuses to die. they’re now paying some creators to stay, and paying well too.

in late november, cam casey, a tiktok star with over seven million followers, was relaxing at home when he decided to upload a video of a science experiment that resulted in a coca-cola bottle exploding to snapchat.

mr. casey, 19, had read that the company had introduced a new tiktok-like feature called spotlight within the app where users could share short-form videos. he wondered if some old videos from his camera roll could get traction.

two weeks later, snapchat came calling: mr. casey was one of the top performers on the platform and was going to make hundreds of thousands of dollars.

encouraged by his early success, he began posting more videos — sometimes up to 120 per day — uploading fresh content every few minutes from 8 a.m. to midnight.
as of tuesday, he had been paid nearly $3 million by the company for content that went viral.

mr. casey is one of thousands of people around the world now amassing small fortunes through snapchat. the company debuted spotlight in november and is “distributing over $1 million usd every day to snapchatters,” a spokesperson said. (the company did not specify an end date for distributing this much money per day.) many of these new snapchat tycoons are famous tiktok stars and gen z influencers, but average users are also striking internet gold after their videos go viral.

👉 read more via the new york times.

🗿 the isolated language.

the undecipherable rongorongo script of easter island.

of all the literatures in the world, the smallest and most enigmatic belongs without question to the people of easter island. it is written in a script—rongorongo—that no one can decipher. experts cannot even agree whether it is an alphabet, a syllabary, a mnemonic, or a rebus. its entire corpus consists of two dozen texts. the longest, consisting of a few thousand signs, winds its way around a magnificent ceremonial staff. the shortest texts—if they can even be called that—consist of barely more than a single sign. one took the form of a tattoo on a man’s back. another was carved onto a human skull.

where did the rongorongo script come from? what do its texts communicate? no one knows for sure. the last easter islanders (or rapanui) familiar with rongorongo died in the nineteenth century. they didn’t live long enough to pass on the secret of their writing system, but they did leave a few tantalizing clues. the island’s spoken language, also called rapanui, lives on, but today it is written in a latin script and its relationship to rongorongo is unclear. so far at least, no one has successfully connected one with the other. to this day, rongorongo remains a puzzle, an enigma, and a mirror for the folly of those who try to solve it.

rongorongo is the only script native to the pacific. like so much else, it makes easter island unique. it is the most isolated inhabited place in the world; an old name for it, te pito ‘o te henua, means either “navel of the world” or “end of the world.”1 it is over a thousand miles from the nearest speck of land. the prevailing winds could make a sea voyage to central polynesia a journey of over ten thousand miles. only sixty-three square miles, the tiny island is a triangle with a base of fourteen miles and a height of eight. it can be circumambulated in a day. to the people of easter island, the universe was an ocean, and the earth a speck of land on top of it.

👉 read more via the new york times.

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