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Tanzima Chowdhury
Social Entrepreneur & Activist
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piqer: Tanzima Chowdhury
Sunday, 17 February 2019

Maria Popova: Cartographer of Meaning in a Digital Age

We never see the world exactly as it is. We see it as we hope it will be or we fear it might be. And we spend our lives going through modified stages of grief about that realization. We deny it, and then we argue with it, and we despair over it. But eventually — and this is my belief — that we come to see it, not as despairing, but as vitalizing. We never see the world exactly as it is because we are how the world is.

Maria Popova, the creator of the famous series "Brain Pickings," whose work is best described by host Krista Tippett: "She doesn’t merely curate; she cross-pollinates — between philosophy and design, physics and poetry, the scholarly and the experiential." 

Originally, "Brain Pickings" began as an email newsletter for a small group of friends and has now expanded into popular culture and taken a permanent place at the Library of Congress permanent web archive since 2012. Hailing from Bulgaria, which at the time of her birth was still communist, she references her heritage as the seed for her purpose when she comes across the journals of her great-grandfather, who had died six days before her birth: 

I felt this strange kinship with him through the years, through the cultures and the eras and these different media because what I do when I read is essentially what he did, which is, he wrote in the margins all these notes on things that he didn’t understand and wanted to understand. He underlined passages that he noted were beautiful language. And words that he didn’t know that he would look up in the dictionary, he would circle them and then write the translation. But it was this sort of intellectual dance with another mind that you could see in the margins of his books.

Similarly, Popova's creation is beyond providing musings or simply serving as an educational platform. It is tying, connecting and mapping together ideas, disciplines, and people across time and land into a web of meaning until what we slowly make sense of, is no less than magic. 

Maria Popova: Cartographer of Meaning in a Digital Age
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