Nate Barksdale

Nate Barksdale is a writer and graphic designer based in Portland, Oregon. He is curator and a regular contributor to, bringing together inspiring and arresting words, images, and artifacts that highlight the goodness and challenges of creation and cultivation. In the past he’s edited theology and travel guides, taken buses and trains from Cape Town to Kampala, and circumnavigated the Sea of Galilee on a bicycle. He studied the history of science at Harvard, where he wrote his honors thesis about Swahili technical dictionaries, a surprisingly useful topic. His essays for Comment have been linked by blogs like LanguageHat, The Browser, and the New York Times Idea of the Day.

Prime Directives

What's interesting (and not) about Jordan's planned Star Trek theme park.


More From This Contributor

Prime Directives

What’s interesting (and not) about Jordan’s planned Star Trek theme park.


I sketched each day a photo of a person from each Wikipedia-sanctioned country. In the end, I found that in drawing as in life, repetition can sometimes create not depth, but only efficiency.

Citation Needed

It’s the mistakes, the slips in its institutional tone, that are the source of my deepest affections for Wikipedia. They remind me of what a human endeavour it all is, how even the barest, most technical of information, has a story behind it.

The Joys and Perils of Overlapping Reading

I find myself reading not books so much as suites of books, so that one book feels like an increasingly improbable continuation of a previous narrative—providing balance, connection, surprise.

My Charango

Long those days I waited for my charango to come. I surfed YouTube for some hint on how to play it when it arrived. There were clips aplenty, some demonstrative, precious few instructive. My favourites are by a masked man called “charango ninja” who plays at heavy-metal-solo speed.

The Stories of Scientists

“Suppose,” the Gospel says, “one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.'” Darn good advice.


We apologise for the fault in the subtitles. Those responsible have been sacked.

Grace Between the Cushions: A Love Letter to My College Couch

Gatsby really was a sad affair: flimsily crafted of foam rubber and cardboard, its upholstery fairly shredded, more a sofa-shaped object than a sofa itself. But we loved it, and one fateful day it came to represent four years of fun, friendship, inspiration and not-quite-stable comfort.

Tools and toys

Insatiable curiosity, and a love of convergence, connection, and cross-cultural coincidence.