Bic is crowdsourcing a universal font

Here are five things that could impact the way we live, work and play.

1. Creating a universal typeface. Via Wired:

Bic, the office supply company that makes the world’s most ubiquitous ballpoint pen, has launched a website that could prove to be excellent fodder for graphologists and scientists alike. The Universal Typeface Experiment lets anyone, from anywhere in the world, draw the letters of the alphabet and then submit them into a massive database. From each pool of letters, the software creates the mean letter shape—or, as BIC is calling it, the universal typeface. So far over 434,000 characters have been submitted from 99 different countries.

2. A computer program that can guess your age. From Tara Bahrampour:

Imagine that an insurance underwriter comes to your house and, along with noting your weight and blood pressure, snaps a photo of your face. And that those wrinkles, mottled spots and saggy parts, when fed into a computer, could estimate how long you will live.

Facial recognition technology, long used to search for criminals and to guess how a missing child might look as an adult, may soon become personal. A group of scientists is working on a system that would analyze an individual’s prospects based on how his or her face has aged. …

They have launched a Web site inviting anyone in the world to submit a photo. The database they are developing, called Face My Age, is expected to deliver increasingly more accurate assessments and predictions as more people participate. … Initially the site will deliver only one number — a person’s apparent age — but as it becomes more refined, it should be able to estimate a date of death based on the face.

3. Life as a vice president of trust and safety. A look at the Twitter employee with a tough job, via Forbes:

She’s more like Silicon Valley’s chief sanitation officer, dealing with the dirtiest stuff on Twitter: spam, harassment, child exploitation, threats of rape and murder. As Facebook and Twitter have become the public squares of the digital age, their censors now “have more power over the future of privacy and free expression than any king or president or Supreme Court justice,” writes constitutional scholar Jeffrey Rosen. … Harvey has an unusual background for someone with so much power over public speech. She isn’t a lawyer and won’t say if she graduated from college. Del Harvey is not her real name. She is secretive about her past.

4. When it takes 2 hours 42 minutes to make a six-second video. A behind-the-scenes look at the effort that goes into making a great Vine, via Business Insider:

Between the five, they have nearly 400,000 followers collectively, and each of their videos gets thousands of likes. And while the content of their videos varies — Sylvio’s Vines are an anthology of the gorilla’s antics, while Anne makes mostly stop-motion, GIF-inspired videos — they convened on Monday afternoon in this sweaty living room because of Vine, the platform where many of them met.

5. In defense of Facebook’s controversial study. Via the New York Times:

Studying how we use social media may provide important insights into some of the deepest mysteries of human behavior.

Facebook and much of the rest of the web are thriving petri dishes of social contact, and many social science researchers believe that by analyzing our behavior online, they may be able to figure out why and how ideas spread through groups, how we form our political views and what persuades us to act on them, and even why and how people fall in love. …

It is only by understanding the power of social media that we can begin to defend against its worst potential abuses. Facebook’s latest study proved it can influence people’s emotional states; aren’t you glad you know that?

Matt McFarland is the editor of Innovations. He's always looking for the next big thing. You can find him on Twitter and Facebook.
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