The webcomic XKCD holds a special place in the hearts of nerds throughout the internet-land due to its delicate balance of science jokes, programming jargon, weird ideas, and sincere romantic statements. Turns out the rest of the world loves XKCD and its creator, Randall Munroe, too, as publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt plans on putting images from Munroe’s recent book The Thing Explainer into a number of upcoming science textbooks.
The site can be a hilarious source of technological and scientific knowledge if you take the time to delve into its depths.
Who knew we were this smart and this dumb at the same time? Well, anyone who uses Twitter probably. Still, it’s easy to imagine all sorts of useful information that could be harvested from our public posts on unusual events. Actually this sort of thing is how Google Correlate works, a data tool that was created to help track disease outbreaks through Google users’ symptom-related searches. This comic is a great example of Randall Munroe’s penchant for pointing out interesting ironies in how we use modern technology.
Taking complex ideas and making them accessible would seem to be the point of bringing XKCD into the classroom. Sometimes the choice is simply between something that barely works as an illustration and raw, unforgiving math models. Munroe clearly gets how difficult a line this is to walk in educating students on seemingly dry subjects.
“Correlation” is an oldie but a goodie. Some might say it’s a masterpiece. Heavily shared, this comic is simple, elegant, and able to somehow take both sides in a correlation-versus-causation argument at the same time. As with many XKCD comics, it’s worth checking out the mouseover text, which you can check out on the original comic.
So head over to XKCD to see what all the fuss is about. Be sure to “
waste” [editor’s note: judiciously spend] hours hitting the RANDOM button to land on all sorts of interesting comics from years past. Also check out the amazing What If section exploring the strange scientific implications of the absurd questions readers send in, which also got its own book.
Featured Image Credit: XKCD
Image Credits: XKCD Thing Explainer