How the World Talks and Sees

Curated by CLAI

7 LANGUAGE MAPS: Chinese has more native speakers than any other language, followed by Hindi and Urdu, which have the same linguistic origins in northern India. English comes next with 527 million native speakers. Arabic is used by nearly 100 million more native speakers than Spanish.

  • If you randomly select two people in Cameroon, there is a 97% likelihood that they will have different mother tongues. In the United States, there is only a 33 percent likelihood that this is going to happen.
  • Most languages are spoken only by a handful of people. That’s why about half of the world’s languages will disappear by the end of the century. About 3% of the world’s population accounts for 96% of all languages spoken today. Out of all languages in the world, 2,000 have fewer than 1,000 native speakers.

VERTICAL VIDEOS: We live in a horizontal world, and most action happens from left to right. Vertical videos feel claustrophobic, because often they feature one or two people occupying the full frame, and not much of the landscape to show what lies beyond. Our eyes are horizontal: the human field of vision is wider than it is tall, so it is only natural that our videos match that shape.

  • Our eyes may be horizontal, but our hands are best suited to holding objects vertically, which is why phones, tablets and, in the predigital age, our books and other documents were usually oriented in portrait mode. Watching horizontal video on a phone’s vertical screen is a minor annoyance. With a horizontal video, you have to awkwardly flip your phone sideways so the entire image fills the screen, or you can keep your phone vertical and tolerate the huge black bars displayed above and below the picture.
  • Many people didn’t reorient their phones to watch horizontal videos in full-screen mode. They found it so uncomfortable to hold the phone the other way, and they didn’t want to keep switching their phones back and forth.
  • We live in the era of personal video. Shouldn’t we celebrate videos that match the shape of our bodies?

Dude – Close Your Legs. Speak Spanish Fluently – Even When You Don’t

Curated by CLAI

MANSPREADING ON THE SUBWAY: The targets of the MTA campaign, those men who spread their legs wide, into a sort of V-shaped slouch, effectively occupying two, sometimes even three, seats are not hard to find. Whether they will heed the new ads is another question.

Now passengers who consider such inelegant male posture as infringing on their sensibilities — not to mention their share of subway space — have a new ally: the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

Read More: A Scourge is Spreading: MTA’s Cure, “Dude, Close Your Legs” (NYTIMES)

Metropolitan Transportation Authority manspreading ad. (Metropolitan Transportation Authority)

INSTANT TRANSLATOR: Skype is launching a translator that provides automated, nearly simultaneous translation between Spanish and English during video calls. Basically, you just have your conversation as normal and the program will convert your words between languages automatically. You also get a written transcript of your conversation as you go.

To show off the tool, Skype set up a game between two elementary school classes: one in Tacoma, Wash. and one in Mexico City. The two groups had to figure out, Twenty Questions-style, where the other classroom of kids lived.

Read More: Skype’s New Tool Will Let You Translate Your Video Call Almost in Real Time (WAPO). And check out the YoutTube video below!

Skype Translator preview opens the classroom to the world (Skype)

Vacation Bragging & Cheaper Flights

Curated by CLAI

VACATION BRAGGING: Had an amazing experience that no one else has had before? Better keep it to yourself. Post-event social encounters are built on commonality. People are more likely to enjoy talking about an ordinary experience they have all had rather than hearing about the fabulous one they didn’t. So sharing the details of your singular experience in a social setting can indeed backfire, leading to feelings of being excluded.

Read more: Great Vacation? Don’t Brag to Your Friends (New York Times)

Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu (Credits: John Yoo)

FAKE LOCATION – CHEAPER FLIGHTS: Flights are cheaper when bought from a certain location. For example, use Google ITA to buy a flight from Bogota to Cartagena and save $75. Same with routes from Santiago to Easter Island when bought in “Santiago” instead of New York City.

Read more: Fake Location. Cheaper Tickets (

ZIP Codes: What Does it Say About You? West v. East Germany

Curated by CLAI

ZIP CODE DEMOGRAPHICS AND LIFESTYLE: Want to know what your zip code says about you? Learn about the people and culture of an area with ZIP Lookup.

  • Arlington, VA: 56% Metro Renters & 44% Laptops and Lattes. We’re affluent, well-educated singles or partner couples, who hold professions in business, finance, legal, computer, or entertainment. Young, mobile, or still in school, we live along or with a roommate in rented apartments. Long hours and hard work don’t deter us. Most of our income goes to rent, fashions, and latest technology. We live close to our jobs, so we can either walk or take a cab. We practice yoga, go skiing, and attend Pilates.
  • Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, NY: Asians, particularly Chinese, are concentrated here. Nearly half are foreign born and 1/3 don’t speak English. Long commutes are the way of life. Spending is careful; we’re not brand loyal and use coupons when we can. Dancing, casino gambling, eating out at our favorite restaurants consume our leisure time.
Income distribution in Arlington, VA.

Income distribution in Arlington, VA. (ESRI)

West & East Germany: Those in West Germany have greater disposable income, lower rates of unemployment, more young people, more foreigners, and more trash. East Germans have more childcare, bigger farms, and higher flu vaccination rates.

Disposable income in West Germany v. East Germany (WAPO)

German statistical office. Visualization: Gene Thorp, WAPO.

Selfie Makovers and Facebook Backburners

Curated by CLAI

SELFIE MAKEOVER APP: If you haven’t been hitting the gym lately, Photox can add six-pack abs ($3.96), give you skinny legs ($3.96) or bulk-up your arms ($2.97). If it’s a dermatologist you desire, the app can also minimize wrinkles ($2.97), lighten skin ($3.96) and remove acne (99 cents). Photox is connects people with a team of experienced photo editors who can alter images as quickly and naturally as possible.

Developed by a No. Virginia professional, Photox allows users to submit photos for an editing makeover. (Courtesy of Photox)

DIGITAL INFIDELITY: Facebook users in relationships frequently use the site to keep in touch with “back-burners” — exes or platonic friends they know they could connect with romantically, should their current relationships go south.

  • Men have back-burners at roughly twice the rate of women.
  • On average, respondents in relationships said they had romantic or sexual conversations with two people (!) besides their current partner.