Visualization of the number of Monday checklists submitted to eBird in New York State from 2019–2021

A new generation of post-pandemic birders can change the way we see our cities

If you were to wake up tomorrow from sixteen months of fairy-tale sleep, you’d probably have a few questions. What the heck is a delta variant? What happened to restaurant menus? When did all of my friends become birdwatchers?

On the last Monday in May of this year, 1,046 birders in New York State submitted checklists to Cornell University’s wildly popular eBird project, counting 247 differently-feathered species. A lot of factors influence how many people come out to watch birds on a given day (the weather, the pace of seasonal migrations) but if we look at the ‘Mean May Monday’…


My son and I write Joseph Wilson’s name on the cobblestone sidwalk beside the Chrystie St. Playground in Chinatown.

This morning, my family and I walked over the Manhattan bridge to the Lower East Side, to write two names on the sidewalk in chalk: Joseph Wilson and Fannie Lansner. Both twenty-two when they died, both workers at the Triangle Shirtwaist factory, both Russian Immigrants, both living in the same low-rent neighbourhood near the foot of The Bowery. Both killed in a fire 110 years ago today.

The address where Joseph Wilson lived — 84 Christie — is now a park, so we wrote his name beside the playground. It’s a place where lots of people gather, so I think…


The Mueller report is 203,028 words long. Here’s a much shorter version, centered around its primary subject.

The President said, “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go.”
The President had not directed Flynn to discuss sanctions with Kislyak.
The President told White House Counsel Donald McGahn to stop Sessions from recusing.
The President took Sessions aside at an event and urged him to “unrecuse.”
The President was personally under investigation.
The President decided to terminate Comey.
The President had decided to fire Comey before hearing from the Department of Justice.
The President told Sessions, “I’m not going to…


Last month, IBM ran a minute-long ad during the Oscars, titled ‘Let’s Put Smart To Work.’ Backed by a dramatic string score, the spot features a sequence of famous people — singer and actress Janelle Monae, spelling bee champion Akash Vukoti, Open Source software advocate Bruce Perens, Me Too movement founder Tarana Burke, astronaut Buzz Aldrin… and for some reason Arianna Huffington.

In the ad, the celebrities We-Are-The-World their way through an ‘open letter to tech’. They start a few vague lines about tech’s faults (Are you working for all of us, or just a few of us?) and end…


Here’s a transcript from the latest episode of Artist in the Archive. You can listen to the full episode here.

Jer Thorp: Let’s start with a story about two men named Horace. One of them was Horace Walpole, son of the first British Prime Minister: parliamentarian, art collector, wanderer, man of letters, and the author of the first Gothic novel.

Jer Thorp: On January 28th 1754, this Horace wrote a letter to the other Horace … Mann, a diplomat living in Florence. …


Here’s a transcript from the latest episode of Artist in the Archive. You can listen to the full episode here.

David Brunton: 412,175,852 JPEG, 42,324,945 PDF, 11,854,378 TXT, 2,207,725 Word docs, 1,042,624 Excel files, 11,041,834 SWF, 6,722,968 MP4, 1,165,842 MPEG, 1,336,326 GZIP, 323,498 PowerPoint.

Jer Thorp: A year ago in the first episode of Artist in the Archive, I stood in front of one of the library’s huge old card catalogs in the basement of the Madison Building. I marveled both at the size of the catalog itself, I mean it’s a gigantic piece of furniture, and the scale of…


Illustration by Joe Kim

In Brussels he spoke of courage, of defending principles, of cultivating a ‘healthy suspicion of authority.’ He lavished praise on the GDPR, and called for a new comprehensive privacy law in the United States. He admonished the practice of collecting personal data and demolished big tech’s favorite talking point, that privacy for users needs to be weighed against profit. He quoted Thoreau. It wasn’t exactly the speech you might have expected from the CEO of the worlds’ most successful tech company.

Cook’s performance last month as tech’s valorous reformer might have been more believable had he not relied so heavily…


On Thursday November 8th, I’m taking over the Library of Congress’ Twitter feed for an experiment in collective serendipity. Any one can join in — our goal is to find as many interesting things as we can from the collection and to connect those items through vectors of chance, whimsy, and personal experience.

Here’s a short guide to finding interesting things amongst the Library’s 180M objects and 500M digital assets:

1. Use the search feature to surface shareable things:

The Library’s main search page at loc.gov is great, and it gives you access to all kinds of materials. However, lots…


How we moved a vanishing glacier to the center of Canada’s fastest growing city

This post documents some of the process behind Herald/Harbinger, a permanent public artwork located in Calgary, Alberta, created by Ben Rubin and Jer Thorp. The artwork sits on the traditional territories of the people of the Treaty 7 region in Southern Alberta, which includes the Blackfoot Confederacy, the Tsuut’ina First Nation, and the Stoney Nakoda. The City of Calgary is also home to Métis Nation of Alberta, Region III. The project’s glacial sensor station is located in the traditional territories of the Blackfoot Confederacy, the Ktunaxa Nation, and the Tsuut’ina First Nation.

“Glaciers and the mountains around them force the…


March 9th, 2017. It’s one of the first warm days of the year in St. Louis, and the doors to the gymnasium at Stevens Middle School are open to let the sun stream in. Stevens, built in 1964 a few blocks North of Delmar Boulevard, is one of thirty-two schools in the city that have closed in recent years, its front gates locked with heavy chains, its long hallways empty. The asphalt parking lot out back is cracked, tufts of sharp grass the first signs of a inevitable reclamation. …

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Jer Thorp is an artist, writer & teacher. He is Innovator-in-Residence at the Library of Congress. His book Living in Data will be published in 2020 by MCDxFSG.

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