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Romancing the Thread: the Story of Dyneema®

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I was asked to write the story of Dyneema®. As world’s strongest, lightest fiber, this plastic works to stop bullets, moor oil rigs and repair human joints. It’s also been behind some of the more iconic images of recent times: upturning the stranded cruise ship Costa Concordia in Italy, placing the crown on the Freedom Tower in NYC, and the tethering of satellites in outer space.

As I talked to the various players behind its decades-long march to market, I discovered that chemistry can be a very rock’n'roll game: “involving multiple co-inventors, dismissive managers, happy accidents, quantum technological leaps, commercial innovations and a few experiments that under current regulations would be considered safety violations.”

One killer quote: “One Saturday I remember asking someone to go get us some coffees but he couldn’t walk because the rubber of his shoes had partially dissolved and he was glued to the floor.”

Another killer quote: “Excuse me, could you please tell me what the value is of a cooked soldier?”

And a third: “It’s funny to think it all just started with some stirring in a pot.”

Read the full feature HERE.


(Thanks to DSM-Dyneema and Super Stories for arranging the access. I learned stuff!)

Posted: March 30, 2016 at 11:02 am.

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How to be a dictator and sell cola at the same time

DUF is a Dutch-language book-magazine for 12- to 18-year-olds. It’s a ‘cluster bomb’ of text and visuals. Edition three is out now and acts as a primer in navigating our world’s media insanity. Buy it. It’ll blow your mind and your kid’s. There’s even dirty pictures. Below is my contribution in its original English.

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COLA & PROPAGANDA

Do you want to lord over your friends, parents and – why not? – the whole freaking world? Learn now how you can become a dictator and sell cola at the same time! In seven easy lessons!

by Steve Korver, for DUF 3 (2012)

What is the difference between advertising and propaganda? Um, good question. Advertising aims to sell a service or product (‘Mmm that’s the best cheeseburger ever!’). Propaganda aims to sell a particular ideology (‘Yippee, we’re the happiest country in the world!’) or goal (‘This war is justified.’) Meanwhile in most Spanish-speaking countries, when people say ‘propaganda’ they mean ‘advertising’.

Both advertising and propaganda tries to influence human behaviour – to get you to open your wallet for a cheeseburger, or to sign along the dotted line at an army recruitment office. They both play on your emotions and not your intelligence. So it’s not ridiculous that both dictators and marketeers use the same box of tricks.

BIG SECRET NUMBER 1:
People are sooooooooo stuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuupid! But…
‘There’s a sucker born every minute,’ the American circus showman PT Barnum allegedly said. And it’s true. So keep it simple. But remember that people NEVER consider themselves as stupid. Half the time they are not even aware they are being brainwashed. Yes, humans suffer from overconfidence.

So it’s very important to not make your target audience feel stupid otherwise they will find someone else to get brainwashed by. The easiest way to do this is by dumbing down. Be folksy. Be a regular person who represents regular wants and needs. Be the Joneses or be Henk & Ingrid. In short: posh it down and sincere it up! Continue Reading…

Posted: November 29, 2012 at 3:44 pm.

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CODE’s ‘edit and reconstruct’ issue

CODE21LR-379x469The spring/summer 2012 issue of CODE magazine has been out for a while.

Besides managing as managing editor, I wrote a travel feature about grey – but mighty and magical – Kaliningrad. This city-formerly-known-as-Königsberg is now a dislocated blob of Russia in the heart of the EU, and offers crash courses in Teutonic Knights, WWII, the Cold War and how to build arts scenes out of freaking nothing. It’s also got killer beaches and drunken pine trees.

I also had the honour of interviewing Magnum Force of Street Style (and cover boy) Nick Wooster, as well as the Dutch artist/designer Joep van Lieshout. As founder of Atelier van Lieshout, Joep has brought the world fully-realised ‘Free States’, slave camps and rectum bars. Now he’s just come out with a line of unisex handbags. So I asked him if he was undermining his past work, playing with people’s minds or just being hilarious – he definitely proved to be hilarious. He also had interesting things to say about order vs. chaos.

This issue also has features from two of my favourite writers: Sarah Gehrke (on Noses) and Floris Dogterom (on doodle tattoos). And the design is by the inspired lads of Het Echte Werk. So check, check, check it out. It’s now available at the world’s better mag shops – including Athenaeum Nieuwscentrum in Amsterdam.

Read about CODE’s ‘2012 Survival Kit’ issue here.

Posted: June 4, 2012 at 11:54 am.

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CODE’s ’2012 Survival Kit’

CODE_20_COVERRecently I acted as managing editor for the fall/winter issue of a fashion magazine. Yes, I entered the world of style.

[I’ll pause for effect...]

Of course this gig should come as no surprise to those who already know that I get my savvy selection of seasonal clothes here and my 1960s welfare-recipient glasses here. But for some reason whenever I mention this whole ‘Steve in fashion land’ concept, friends generally break down into hysterical laughter. Why do they do that? During the whole process, there were really only a few moments of complete Mr Bean-like slapstick.

But anyway, the periodical is CODE (‘documenting style’), and the issue’s theme is an enticing one: ‘2012 Survival Kit’. It poses the question ‘What would you design for a hypothetical toolbox meant to help you survive the apocalypse?’ It’s also an international creative call to artists, architects and designers of all stripes to come up with their own ultimate survival products. The results of this ‘co-creation’ will be touring the world as an exhibition through 2012 – from Amsterdam to Kobe, Japan. You can find more information about the project and how to get involved here.

The issue’s main features focus on the survival tactics of sideshow circus freaks, new agers, off-grid pioneers, emerging tech gurus, urban warfare clothing designers and the brave and delightfully eccentric characters who fish off the decaying piers of Brooklyn.

CODE’s ‘Survival Kit 2012’ magazine is distributed worldwide (check out this week’s window display at Athenaeum in Amsterdam). 

See you in the hills! Looking sharp! And sustainable!

Posted: October 10, 2011 at 12:53 pm.

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Unfold Amsterdam hits the streets

Unfold_Vol01_01_COVERUnfold Amsterdam has officially hit the streets. Every two weeks, Amsterdammers will be able to pick up this free English-language poster/mag highlighting the work of local artists/designers and covering the best of what’s going down around town. Hopefully it will fill the gap left since the demise of alternative weekly Amsterdam Weekly. In fact, Unfold Amsterdam arises from the luminous efforts of some of the more luminary ex-Weekly staff and freelancers. So I dig it indeed. Especially this edition’s poster by Simon Wald-Lasowski. So check, check, check it out — or at least put your finger on the pulse by checking regularly at their sweet-looking website.

Also keep your eyes out for the Unfold special edition covering the mighty Klik Amsterdam animation festival coming up on 15-19 September.

Posted: September 15, 2010 at 10:00 am.

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400 Years of Newspapers

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Pretty amazing. Via the Royal Dutch Library one can now search, or just browse through, the most important newspapers in the Netherlands  between 1618 and 1995, including ones from the former Dutch East Indies (Indonesia), Suriname and the Antilles. If you search for ‘kaas‘ (cheese) you get a total of 94 763 hits…  Mmm cheese.

Posted: May 28, 2010 at 2:43 pm.

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San Francisco Panorama

panoramaYesterday I bought a Sunday paper that should last me quite a few Sundays. It’s the one-off San Francisco Panorama brought to you by the always inspired folks behind McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern. It’s pretty old already but I think it took until their third run until there were enough copies leftover to make it to Amsterdam’s Athenaeum. (But I guess I could have also just ordered it here.)

Anyway, it’s pretty mindblowing. Basically they wanted to present the relevance a paper newspaper can still have in our internet world: so it’s all in-depth journalism by amazing writers complete with high quality art, photography and design. They even give a run-down of the budget to inspire others to come up with their own daily newspaper. It actually comes across as a cross between a (really really nice) Sunday paper and a  (really really nice) alternative weekly. And certainly, if I was still the editor of an alternative weekly, I’d definitely steal — I mean, get inspired by — some of their ideas. It’s really, really that great. Gotta bless those paper products!

Posted: April 20, 2010 at 12:28 pm.

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Rocket to Russia

homewithvictorandvalentinaWe just returned from a profound week in Moscow reinvigorating our Yuri Gagarin project. We met some profound cosmonauts, space psychs, arctic survivalists  and regular good ol’   folk — all of whom knew how to toast us into submission. A big story is coming out of this and we shall return soon! So stay tuned… Space is indeed the place!

Posted: February 28, 2010 at 8:56 am.

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Architecture of Happiness

Allain de Botton visits the artificial residental island of IJburg outside Amsterdam.

Posted: January 21, 2010 at 12:56 pm.

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Breakfast Machine


via videosift.com

Mmmm. Breakfast.

Posted: January 21, 2010 at 12:40 pm.

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