Eliot Peper

A Portrait of Tenochtitlan

Remarkable project that juxtaposes a 3D reconstruction of Tenochtitlan in 1518 with Mexico City in 2023—an eye-popping, mind-expanding window into the capital of the Aztec empire. This is a great example of the frequently talked about but rarely achieved promise of internet multimedia, an amalgam of diverse formats that creates an emotional impact greater than the sum of its parts.

Stock and flow

Speaking of internet multimedia, this little blog post from novelist and media experimenter Robin Sloan offers a surprisingly versatile lens for making sense of making things online that is at least as relevant today as when it was published in 2010. It has influenced how I write and publish as deeply as Kevin Kelly’s seminal 1,000 True Fans.


A profound synthesis of philosophy and biology that explores what science has learned about the evolutionary basis for subjective experience in order to ask better questions about consciousness. By closely examining the lives of shrimp, fish, octopuses, and many more of our animal cousins, Peter Godfrey-Smith illuminates countless subtle truths about what it means to be human. Learning how biological intelligence works is especially valuable when everyone’s talking about artificial intelligence, but, most importantly, this book will help you better understand yourself and the people you love.

The Egg

This thought-provoking short story by Andy Weir—of The Martian fame—is a gem. Fiction rarely finds much of an audience online, but this particular story seems to go viral on Reddit every few years, and mega-YouTuber Kurzgesagt adapted it into a beautiful animated video.


I’m biased because my wife wrote it, but this natural history of watermelons reveals so many fascinating aspects of one of my favorite fruits that I can’t help but recommend it. Next time you’re enjoying a juicy slice at a BBQ, remember that watermelons are a survival technology developed by desert dwellers and that you’re enjoying the benefits of ancient bioengineering.

Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth

In this six-part PBS series originally broadcast in 1988, Bill Moyers interviews Joseph Campbell about the power of myth and how humanity forges meaning from life. Now you can watch the whole thing on YouTube, and, seriously, you really should. Campbell dedicated his life to excavating the common narrative anatomy underlying the mythological traditions of cultures scattered across time and geography, and his ideas have deeply influenced modern storytellers, especially in Hollywood.

The Tail End

This is one of those blog posts that continues to loiter in a dark corner of my mind years after I read it. By mapping out the rest of your life with emojis representing how many more times you’ll swim in the ocean and the number of dumplings you have left to eat, Tim Urban challenges you to face your own mortality in a way that is simultaneously cheeky and sobering. I share this link often with friends and family.

Convenience Store Woman

Sayaka Murata’s novella does that special thing that prose fiction, at its best, does so well: invite you inside someone else’s head. In this particular case, it invites you inside the head of someone who’s never been able to fit in, who struggles to navigate social norms despite how keenly she observes them, who looks at the world differently. In a world largely determined by opaque systems, she finds a place for herself working in a Tokyo convenience store, but when they hire a difficult new employee who also approaches reality from an unusual angle, she’s forced to reassess the life she’s built for herself. Funny, engaging, and rich with psychological and sociological insight, this story will weird you out in the best possible way, broadening your understanding of what it means to be human.

Chemical scum that dream of distant quasars

Physicist David Deutsch journeys from from deep time to the far future, and from quanta to quasars, to show you that the search for better explanations is the key to human progress and that big problems are simultaneously inevitable and soluble. Delivered in 2005, this was a TED Talk before TED Talks were “TED Talks,” and the looser structure and production values are, frankly, part of its charm—a ramble worth rambling.

He’s Still Neutral

In what immediately became one of my all-time favorite podcast episodes, an Oakland resident installs a Buddha statue on his block in a quirky bid to stop illegal dumping. Not only did it work, it changed the neighborhood and became a new focal point for the community. The story is a testament to finding creative ways to take action on the kinds of things most of us merely complain about because they feel so far outside our control. The world is more malleable than you think, especially if you’re willing to experiment.