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The Week in Ideas (7/10)

Posted by Josh Rothman  July 10, 2012 08:29 AM

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When computers listen to music, what do they hear? Leon Neyfakh on the new, data-driven musicology. It's an"new kind of thinking about music -- one built on the idea that by taking massive numbers of songs, symphonies, and sonatas, turning them into cold, hard data, and analyzing them with computers, we can learn things about music that would have previously been impossible to uncover."

Dunkin' Donuts' executive chef: Chris Berdik talks with Stan Frankenthaler, who was a high-end, award-winning chef in Boston before he became a fast-food innovator. What are some of the challenges he faces? "Well, the Big N’ Toasted breakfast sandwich took a couple of years."

Jacques Ellul, technology doomsdayer before his time: Doug Hill on the French social theorist who "argued that the takeover by machines is actually happening, and that it’s much further along than we think." Marginalized in part because of today's pro-technology climate, Ellul argued that "the character of technique is ruthless.... Because human beings are hopelessly inefficient by technique’s exacting standards, they must be forced or seduced into conforming more precisely to its demands."

Plus: Kevin Lewis on how men and women show love differently.

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About brainiac Brainiac is the daily blog of the Globe's Sunday Ideas section, covering news and delights from the worlds of art, science, literature, history, design, and more. You can follow us on Twitter @GlobeIdeas.
Brainiac blogger Kevin Hartnett is a writer in Columbia, South Carolina. He can be reached here.

Leon Neyfakh is the staff writer for Ideas. Amanda Katz is the deputy Ideas editor. Stephen Heuser is the Ideas editor.

Guest blogger Simon Waxman is Managing Editor of Boston Review and has written for WBUR, Alternet, McSweeney's, Jacobin, and others.

Guest blogger Elizabeth Manus is a writer living in New York City. She has been a book review editor at the Boston Phoenix, and a columnist for The New York Observer and Metro.

Guest blogger Sarah Laskow is a freelance writer and editor in New York City. She edits Smithsonian's SmartNews blog and has contributed to Salon, Good, The American Prospect, Bloomberg News, and other publications.

Guest blogger Joshua Glenn is a Boston-based writer, publisher, and freelance semiotician. He was the original Brainiac blogger, and is currently editor of the blog HiLobrow, publisher of a series of Radium Age science fiction novels, and co-author/co-editor of several books, including the story collection "Significant Objects" and the kids' field guide to life "Unbored."

Guest blogger Ruth Graham is a freelance journalist in New Hampshire, and a frequent Ideas contributor. She is a former features editor for the New York Sun, and has written for publications including Slate and the Wall Street Journal.

Joshua Rothman is a graduate student and Teaching Fellow in the Harvard English department, and an Instructor in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He teaches novels and political writing.


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