Dark Matter: 27 July 2017

A handful of readers responded to my call for job postings. Several of them have been posted at the end of this week’s wordy missive. As there seems to be some demand, keep them coming.

The Interwebs contained multitudes this week. Strap in.


This week in eugenics and the Internet des choses

Have a look at Beijing’s unmanned convenience store, where facial recognition gets you in the door and checkout takes place via WeChat. Novel, sure — but also a wee bit sad?

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Related: is Venmo making friendship a little too transactional? (4min) An excerpt:

“It’s making people less generous and chivalrous,” Ms. Pennoyer said. “It used to be you’d go to a restaurant, and you’d put down your credit cards and split it 50-50, even if one person had steak and one had chicken. But now people pay exactly to the cent.”​

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The Indian Times has a fascinating, if completely unsettling, piece on the pursuit of “uttam santati” — a perfect, “customized child” (4min). Brace yoursel:

the project was inspired by Germany, which they claimed had “resurrected itself by having such signature children through Ayurvedic practices within two decades after World War II. The parents may have lower IQ, with a poor educational background, but their baby can be extremely bright. If the proper procedure is followed, babies of dark-skinned parents with lesser height can have fair complexion and grow taller,” said Dr Hitesh Jani, national convener, Arogya Bharati.

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This is heartbreaking, and wonderful: the BBC has constructed a brilliant bit of storytelling from the contents of abandoned phones owned by three recently-deceased teenage ISIS fighters (11min). This raises some fascinating questions about privacy and content ownership that I’d love to see addressed publicly at greater length by the publisher. If you know of a citation, please pass it along.

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From Dean Vipond’s thoughtful essay on finding solace in the collecting of postage stamps (5min), this:

You see, I realised that stamps, for the most part, are about Good Things. They celebrate the wonders of the natural world — trees, mountains, birds, insects! They examine the fantastic achievements of individuals — scientists, artists, inventors, architects, social reformers! And they also celebrate great feats of co-operation — sporting events, world fairs, education, the United Nations, space travel! So many Good Things.

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Apropos of nothing, I really loved Colin Nagy’s interview with Mark Cho (3min) of The Armoury for Leanluxe. More than a few good lessons inside for anyone who likes to prattle on about ‘customer experience’ and ‘authenticity’.

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I came across several people, from Chris Butler to Dan Williams, this week talking about Minitel — sort of a French pre-Internet with elegant (natch) terminals. From a history of the Minitel (9min) posted last month in IEEE’s Spectrum:

For small business owners, this flexibility transformed the Minitel terminal into a low-cost point-of-sale system. And long before the Internet of Things, Minitel was incorporated into a variety of home-automation schemes, allowing remote control of heaters, VHS recorders, security alarms, and sprinklers.​

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@MachinePix is the best Twitter account of all the Twitter accounts ever. Somehow, ‘Stunt pilot Melissa Andrzejewski flies under highliner Andy Lewis while motocross rider Jimmy Fitzpatrick backflips over the plane’ looks even better than it sounds.


This week in playing chess with Alan Turing in Rastan-on-croan

Broadly speaking, I’m not a fan of the proliferation of threaded Twitter essays. Adam Ludwin’s thread on cryptocurrencies and the forces that drive value in decentralized applications is absolutely worth spending a few minutes with. Come for the thread, stay for the replies.

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Please read Julian Togelius’ piece on advice for journalists writing about AI (5min), as it’s probably good remedial material for generic non-journalist agency (and in-house) types, as well:

Recommendation: Don’t use the term “an AI” or “an artificial intelligence”. Always ask what the limitations of a system is. Ask if it really is the same neural network that can play both Space Invaders and Montezuma’s Revenge (hint: it isn’t).

Related: John Robb has quite a good piece for The Future of Work on common approaches to crowdsourcing AI training (3min). He makes an interesting note I’d not considered on the barriers created by the cost of processing power — and the extent to which this plays to the existing strengths of large technology companies.

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Dan Hon was already Internet famous before he trained a neural net to come up with British placenames (3min), and now he’s even more Internet famous.


This week in lossy futures and the Maidstone Saveloy:

I absolutely loved Matthew Sheret’s piece last week on designing for trust (5min) — specifically the idea that we can isolate the technical characteristics of trust. This, a thousand times over:

Consumer advocacy organisations and state bodies are starting to ask questions about how they can hold services to account for the way they use and store data. Services should be built in a way that makes it possible to do that.

Please read his whole post. It’s quite timely stuff.

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I loved tripping across Bristol Braille — a non-profit enterprise that’s built Canute, a high-end Braille reader on top of open-source firmware. So good.

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Take a few minutes with John Willshire’s post on the Time Capsule Retrieval Service (11min) — a speculative design exercise undertaken with — among others — Scott Smith, for the Emerging Technologies team at the Royal Society. It’s elegant design, and delightfully low-tech.

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All of the Space Invaders tiles in Paris are belong to Michael Surtees.


This week in the annals of supercompensation:

Tim Malbon’s piece based upon his recent Google Firestarters talk, ‘WTF is Product-Led Digital Transformation, Anyway’ (6min), is magnificent. This is one of the truer things I’ve read this week:

Working together in the right way, and delivering something exceptional leaves a permanent mark. It changes the way people work and think. Doing it is a powerful way of learning it. The way we partner to co-design and collaborate very closely across every stage of the lifecycle through ideas, insights, design, prototyping, making, scaling and operating is an incredibly powerful learning experience. You don’t get this if your partner works inside a black box, or handles the engagement in a top-down way.​

While you’re at it, Tim had an especially provocative thought this week in response to a Gizmodo piece on ad hoc social networks springing up from Amazon Echo owner contact data (4min):

Things stay connected to the company you bought them from, which means the company can change them into other things​

That’s a really important thought, and one that we’re not talking about nearly enough. We give space in our lives to a collection of known brands (and known ethe) whos principles are, all too frequently fluid.

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Finally, bookmark John Cutler’s piece for Hacker Noon on 40 ways to build resilience into (mostly, though not exclusively, design and development) teams (4min).


What I’m reading right now:

Way back in 2009, Adam Greenfield published a brilliant collection of 100 propositions for the intersection of networked technologies and urban spaces, cleverly-if-you’re-into-the-Futureheads-titled The City is Here for You to Use (7min). The first of those propositions feels like a siren’s call to government digital bureaus everywhere:

“The advent of lightweight, scalable, networked information-processing technologies means that urban environments around the world are now provisioned with the ability to gather, process, transmit, display and take physical action on data.”

He also posted a wonderful accompanying bibliography — one that’s kept me (and, I assume, others) occupied for years. Bookmark it.

Eight years later, I’m reading Greenfield’s latest book, Radical Technologies. It feels very much like a follow on to The City— particularly in the sense that it’s not nearly so much a book on technology as it is a treatise on us coming to terms with technology atop the infrastructure of daily life. A favorite excerpt, from a chapter on Augmented Reality, p79: –

Watch what happens when a pedestrian first becomes conscious of receiving a call or a text message, the immediate disruption they cause in the flow of movement as they pause to respond to it. Whether the call is made hands-free or otherwise doesn’t really seem to matter; the cognitive and emotional investment we make in it is what counts, and this investment is generally so much greater than that we make in our surroundings that street life clearly suffers as a result.


Jobs for Misfit Toys:

Ben Thompson on the Twitters, winning the week:

Hiring is probably the single largest arbitrage opportunity available. Letting degrees/admissions committees make choices for you is dumb.​

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The team at Protaventures is hiring for two (remote!) positions:

  1. Visual designers with product experience who “can write CSS/Sass like a boss” and aren’t afraid to work in the Rails/Redux/React/ReactNative stack
  2. Rails developers who enjoy writing JavaScript, specifically Redux/React/ReactNative.
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Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners is hiring a senior strategist to work on ‘one of the agency’s high profile accounts’, presumably on-site in Sausalito, California.

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Made by Many is hiring both a Senior Strategist and a Product Manager, for roles on-site in London. Your author gently suggests that you apply.

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London-based agritech startup Fieldmargin is hiring a mid-weight Android dev and a mid-weight iOS dev to build tools that help farmers manage their businesses and collaborate with their teams.

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Finally, for students working at the intersection of public policy and the Interwebs, the Google Policy Fellowships in Africa and Europe are accepting applications. Get on it.


Dark Matter: 20 July 2017

Dark Matter is growing at a pretty fast clip these days — and that growth has had me thinking about how to transfer the value of scale to you, the readers (see also: Metcalfe’s Law). Stealing a turn from Anjali Ramachandran’s wonderful ‘Other Valleys’ newsletter, I’ve decided to try something new:

If you’re trying to fill a job in your organization, let me know and I’ll post the role to Dark Matter. Several thousand misfit toys around the world subscribe.

There is no charge. Reply to this email with details, ping iandfitzpatrick at gmail, or DM me on the Twitters (@ianfitzpatrick). I reserve the right to edit for reason and decency. We’ll see how this goes.


This week in talking leisure communism with Ayn Rand:

Distinguished fella (and Dark Matter subscriber) Chris Butler has a new podcast, The Liminal, focused on the in-between states of our lives. It covers extraordinary ground over the first two episodes, from Charles Fort to binaural beats.

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Three standouts from ’26 Things I learnt in India’, by Martin Weigel (4min):

  • Your ideas about the primacy of the individual and the nobility and urgency of seeking ‘self-actualisation’ do not wash here, buddy.
  • You’re an employee. Pretty much everybody here is a business owner.
  • People are aware of the price the West pays for its untrammelled, selfish conception of individuality.  Having seen the consequences, they’re not convinced they want to pay it.

The whole list is fantastic, because of course it is, because Martin. He’s got a fair amount to say about the value of distancing oneself from the routine and familiar, from contexts, and from ideas of ‘old’ and ‘new’. More immediately, a simple reminder: our generalizations about the world reflect a need to, paraphrasing Anais Nin, “see the world not as it is, but as we are”.

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Unrelated/completely related: work is underway on the development of Amaravati (14min) — an Indian city being designed and constructed from the ground up, projected to house a population of 11 million by 2035.

Consider the implications of this idea on what you do (they almost certainly exist):

If anything, the focus of inspiration for what makes a good city has shifted from West to East. For centuries the great cities of Western Europe, and then the big cities of the United States, were the aspirational reference points for any up-and-coming metropolis. Now Asian city planners are mostly seeking models elsewhere in Asia, for the simple reason of scale. “There is no city in Europe that has the density of Bombay or Beijing or Shanghai,” Chua told me. “You use the Amsterdam model, you would be dead. You can no longer look to Europe and America for any lessons.”

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Now, pair that shift with median age by continent, via the wonderful @Amazing_Maps account


This week in fake news of the near future:

You’ve likely seen the work done by a research team at the University of Washington in fabricating new video clips of President Barack Obama (6min) using small snippets of recorded text and a neural net to dynamically generate realistic mouth movements. It’s fascinating, terrifying, brilliant work. An especially-potent excerpt from the university’s own website:

Previously, audio-to-video conversion processes have involved filming multiple people in a studio saying the same sentences over and over to try to capture how a particular sound correlates to different mouth shapes, which is expensive, tedious and time-consuming. By contrast, Suwajanakorn developed algorithms that can learn from videos that exist “in the wild” on the internet or elsewhere.

“There are millions of hours of video that already exist from interviews, video chats, movies, television programs and other sources. And these deep learning algorithms are very data hungry, so it’s a good match to do it this way,” Suwajanakorn said.

Put another way: the full history of recorded video is potential training data for new footage of each of us expressing ideas we’ve never had. The implications are staggering.

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When you’re done there, read Kenneth Stanley on Neuroevolution (7min). Neuroevolution?

Put simply, neuroevolution is a subfield within artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) that consists of trying to trigger an evolutionary process similar to the one that produced our brains, except inside a computer. In other words, neuroevolution seeks to develop the means of evolving neural networks through evolutionary algorithms.

When you’re done there, Kernel.

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Surveyor, by the New York Public Library, is spectacular: a higher-tech Mechanical Turk for mapping the locations of archival city photographs. You’ve been warned: it’s an absolute rabbit hole.

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Do read Jeffrey Inscho’s piece for The Studio on mobile usage benchmarking at the Carnegie museums (7min). There’s nothing especially novel in the findings, but his team’s approach is absolutely worth replicating. Fundamentally, organizations and institutions of all stripes are still really awful about benchmarking customer and user behavior.


This week in building your own Accenture with Raspberry Pi:

I was exchanging Tweets recently with Farrah on the possibilities presented by the phrase ‘how might we?’, increasingly pervasive in organizations of a certain disposition. I suggested a simple modification, replacing the word ‘how’ with ‘in what ways’, the latter being divergent, the former driving convergent thinking.

I was reminded of that distinction this week in Scott Smith’s wonderful piece on the power of Future Design to align perspectives (6min). He writes:

As is often the case in structured explorations of the future, the teams’ sharing of their own future maps—and sense opportunities and concerns in their own words—allowed new understanding to surface. By making their own forecasts and insights visible to the other team, and by taking the time to debate differing data and understandings, each group deepened their own pool of possible strategic pathways.

Which, in turn, reminded me of this gem from Nick Harkaway’s The Gone-Away World:

“You dont make strategy so that there’s one path to victory; you make it so that as many paths as possible lead to something which isn’t loss.”

Quote originally plucked by Mr. Davies.

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Definitely read Eric Karjaluoto on starting a design studio (4min), even if you won’t be starting a design studio. The advice is evergreen, especially this:

Be easy to hire. I have a friend who’s smart and well qualified, but he can’t find steady work. My hunch is that no one hires him because he makes the process unnecessarily difficult. He complains about their HR software. He questions whether their interest is legitimate. He gets frustrated when the process carries on. Don’t fall into this trap. Make it easy for clients to try you out, see how you work, and get comfortable.

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While you’re at it, read Tom Critchlow on organizational grain, and the need for consultants to work within it (6min), even if you won’t be starting a consultancy.
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I read Patrick Tanguay’s piece on platform organizations (6min) a few days ago and it hasn’t really left my mind since. He begins with Simone Cicero’s ace point that:
Platforms are not technologies but scalable collaboration agreements.
and runs with it, applying the ideal to internal collaboration models and product development cycles. This, in particular, has been fun to play with:
an interesting shift in understanding this idea of platform happens when you start thinking of the organization as a platform for collaboration and knowledge creation between team members and contributors. In other words, applying this model to any company, as a way of framing and structuring it, using platform design thinking ideas instead of hierarchies. Extending the model beyond its original use in creating and understanding Marketplace Platforms
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Don’t forget to send along those job listings. As always, have a great week.

Dark Matter: 13 July 2017

This week’s a bit lighter on links than usual, as I’ve been completely consumed by both work and Mike Bise’s incredible archive of GAP in-store playlists — which reveals considerably more Saint Etienne than I recall overhead in the halcyon days of early-90’s New Hampshire.

Thanks, as always, to those of you who share Dark Matter with others. If you’re the thoughtful sort, a request: reply to this email with a succinct one-to-two sentence description of the newsletter.

I’ve been working, slowly, diligently through Jan Chipchase’s extraordinary Field Study Handbook, which arrived along with a smaller, paper-bound book called Sustainable Data. Over the last week or so, I’ve returned several times to this passage from the latter:

“As more data comes on stream, revealing what people are doing and how, there is a growing danger of people being treated as little more than lines in a database, stripped of personality and context, there solely to be mined and monetized. The massive scale of wholesale data collection has allure, particularly at the organizational level, coddled by numbers. Unaware that there’s little more to life than what they are able to measure, over time, the organization’s palette becomes calibrated to bland food.”


This week in you’re over-using the word ‘liminal’:

From a Creative Review interview with photographer Gregory Crewdson (6min — you absolutely should read it in full), this gem:

“It’s not entirely fictional and it’s not entirely truthful. It’s consciously taking places that mean something to me and have connections to my life but also working with a theatrical set of conventions and cinematic images and use of heightened colour and light … all that’s put into a mix to create some kind of ‘subject of truth’, I would call it. It’s not evidential truth – it would do you no good in the court room, but does you well in the gallery.”

which, in turn, reminded me of this from Russell Davies in 2011:

“Because that’s what we need to add to so many things, to give them that extra neccesary magic. A pretending layer. So it’s not just a useful or beautiful or functional object – it’s got some little nod to who we’re pretending to be when we’re using it.”

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Mark Pollard, Aussie, gentleman, on the Twitter:

“Young strategists start out like young rappers — they put words together because they can. After a while, they start with a point and then find the words.”

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There’s a teaching moment for young designers and strategists in BlueCross’ ill-conceived notion of sending marketing materials in a USB-powered direct mail piece (3min). Really.

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All the service framework Reddit channels are belong to Made by Many, who have launched a professional service and product design development program (7min) that resembles a hybrid of A Book Apart and IDEO’s Human Centered Design framework. Sadly, it’s not yet available for public purchase.

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Building on a post I shared a few weeks ago: do read Robin Wong on slow innovation and the three parts of the newsroom (5min): factories, workshops, and labs. It’s a piece that Richard Sennett could be proud of.


This week in wait until Kaytranada gets his hands on scikit-learn:

A bot called ‘My Handy Design’ is creating and marketing cell-phone cases on Amazon using random stock and rights-managed imagery. Items appear to be removed for copyright on a near-constant basis. As a bot, My Handy Design is tireless in its Negativland-like pursuit of trademark infringement.

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A lovely piece from Robert Ito for Google on the important role that gender balance plays in machine learning (12min). To excerpt liberally:

“Programmers give virtual assistants a female voice because, well, men and women alike tend to prefer one. “But it perpetuates this idea that assistants are female, so when we engage with these systems, it reinforces that social bias,” says Chou. Many of the field’s best minds worry about what’s going into real-life AI systems—and thus what’s going to emerge. That’s where the push for greater diversity in AI comes in. Little of this will be easy. But its proponents are smart, resourceful, and committed to the cause.​”

Google also just launched PAIR: People + AI Research Initiative, which is worth a look if you’ve not seen it.

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John Robb’s written a short piece on ways in which AI creates new jobs (4min). Some are obvious, others not so readily apparent.

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Artificial Intelligence Now is especially interesting: an initiative from Kate Crawford and Meredith Whittaker with a focus on four areas of learning:

  1. the role of AI in rights and liberties
  2. the relationship between labor and automation
  3. how AI impacts bias and inclusion
  4. the impact to safety of AI deployments in institutional technology infrastructure

This week in a future gleaned from a childhood spent playing Fatal Frame 2:

From Lewis Gordon’s meandering, spectacular review of the new game The Signal From Tölva (9min), in Heterotopiaszine:

Tölva’s derelict industrial spaces feel similarly empty. But there’s another symptom of neoliberal economic policy that the game touches upon. There might not be a single human in the game but there are robots. Many of them. The game’s workforce is entirely automated aside from you, the player, who has managed to hack into the Surveyor network, able to assume control of a drone and exercise some semblance of agency roaming the wilds of the planet.​

Read it. Really. Please.

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Adapted from a talk at SXSW, a New Inquiry piece by Joerg Blumtritt, Simone Browne, and Heather Dewey-Hagborg on ‘subverting biopolitics’ (8min) makes for excellent reading. This, in particular, stuck with me:

This biopunk future will come in three ages:

  1. Quantified bio: 23andme-like diagnostics become available at grocery rates for everybody. Just as the iPhone tracks every step I take, people will have their genomes continuously monitored, including their microbiome and all microorganisms around their house, gardens, pets and cattle.
  2. Evolution as will and representation: Genetic modifications are commoditized. Sanitation, hygiene, and most of medicine has moved from chemistry to biology, substituting hydrochloric acid or isopropyl alcohol with enzymes and phages.
  3. Siphonophora humanity: Our modified bodies are enhanced with all kinds of additional bio-receptors. These work similarly to taste buds in their method of gathering information about our environment and people within smelling distance while we pass by, without any need of cognitive processing, will feed directly into our metabolism.
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How many unintended micro-aggressions will I perpetrate against the machines? wonders Matt Jones. This is brilliant.

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Finally, from a CBC article on a small Canadian town that depends almost exclusively on Amazon Prime for supplies of commercial goods (4min):

Canada Post says the Iqaluit post office is one of the busiest in the country and parcel shipping to the remote office is increasing at two to three times the national average. In the first five months of 2017, the post office delivered 88,500 parcels. That’s an increase of 27 per cent over last year and averages out to around 12 packages per person in Iqaluit. While those numbers aren’t specific to Amazon orders, Marineau-Plante, peeking behind the post office counter, estimates 80 to 90 per cent of the parcels bear the Amazon logo.

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Until next week. Be well to one another.


Dark Matter: 6 July 2017

A day late this week because America’s born day. Thanks, as always, to those of you who’ve shared Dark Matter with friends, followers, and colleagues. I appreciate it profoundly.

This week in text-to-speech engines with native Nadsat support:

If you work in a service firm, spend a few minutes with Peter Parkes’ (Made by Many) excellent piece for Creative Review on client/firm co-location models and principles (5min). I’ve long felt that agencies/studios/firms dramatically undervalue co-location as an asset to both speed and client satisfaction, usually due to the cost implications of this sort of arrangement. Peter, brilliant as always, has some thoughtful ways for navigating that particular obstacle.

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I’ve featured a handful of pieces lately on sound design. Two more to bookmark and read at your leisure:

  1. Will Littlejohn of the Facebook design team on some basic sound interaction principles and the Facebook interaction sound library (7min) How very Teehan+Lax of them.
  2. The BBC R&D lab has posted a wonderful piece outlining the internal prototyping of a voice-powered product (10min) with the BBC Children’s team. It’s a pretty involved overview, and makes for great reading. I wish deeply that more organizations would open up this part of their product development process.
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Addy Drencheva linked to a piece in ArchDaily on designing city streets and thoroughfares for an age of public protest (8min). 2 questions related to the historic intent of urban street design:
  1. Was this street designed to embrace protest or squash it?
  2. Was it made more for protecting the government or for creating a place for its people?
Fascinating stuff, really. As usual, stick around for the comments.
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Colin Nagy published a quick, smart piece in Skift on startups innovating at travel’s in-between interactions and waiting periods (3min). Give it an equally quick read.

This week in Neal Stephenson was the original woke bae:

The wonderful Anab Jain points us toward speculative machinery designed to obfuscate tracking/personalization algorithms. I’m reminded of the words of Tom Armitage, probably cited here before, who wrote in 21st Century Camouflage (3min) (2012) that:
The camouflage of the 21st century is to resist interpretation, to fail to make mechanical sense: through strange and complex plays and tactics, or clothes and makeup, or a particularly ugly t-shirt. And, as new forms of prediction – human, digital, and (most-likely) human-digital hybrids – emerge, we’ll no doubt continue to invent new forms of disguise.
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As someone with a non-fiction habit in need of breaking (as advised by Mr. Weigel, among others), this makes me sad: Ben Malbon points out that we appear to be less interested in what might be, through the demonstrable decline in search volume for ‘sci-fi’ as illustrated in Google Trends.
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One of the best things I’ve read in a while: an extensive thread in Stack Exchange’s ‘Workplace’ community that seeks to address the question: ‘Is it unethical for me to not tell my employer that I’ve automated my job?’

My hot take (echoed in some of the threads) is this: this gets to the heart of value-based pricing vs. time and materials models, making it a relevant question for agencies and firms, as well. If we’re paid for the value/productivity we generate, then the ethical dilemma disappears. As hourly workers, delivering LABOR, the question is a lot more complex. Tip of the hat to Tom Hulme for the link.

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An eye-popping figure from a Business of Fashion piece on the burst of the pop-up bubble (8min):
“Retail leases in traditional high street shops are getting shorter every year. They’ve gone from about 25 years [to just] three years,” says Ross Bailey, founder and chief executive of Appear Here. “And in places like New York at the moment, there is a huge amount of vacancy, and we’ve seen a massive price discrepancy.”
Pop-ups have been a novel means for lease-holders to manage distressed inventory in urban real-estate markets, but it feels like we’re at the precipice of a massive re-think around those spaces. What happens when leases are measured in days, or even hours? Thanks to Brianna for the link.
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Sam Ford and Grant McCracken’s journey through artisanal systems takes them this week to a flash ethnography of a Kentucky convenience store (5min), delivering this gem:
The RC Cola and the Charleston Chew serve as tokens in a larger exchange system, an indirect form of payment for the unofficial services the store offers: the daily labor of preserving, maintaining, and solidifying a community, relationships forged one at a time.
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Matthew Trinetti asked 13 people the hardest question in the world to answer succinctly: “what do you do?” (7min) My favorite response, courtesy of Brene Brown:
“I actually have two answers. One if I want to keep talking, one if I don’t. If I don’t want to keep talking I’ll usually just say I’m a shame researcher, and usually that scares people. If I’m in a normal conversation I’ll say that I study vulnerability and courage, shame and worthiness.”
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This is pretty fascinating: an Atlantic piece on a question posed by ex-DARPA head Arati Prabhakar to the audience at the Aspen Ideas Festival on the coming age of neuro-enhancements (4min):
“Do you think the future we’re going to live in a society where neuro-enhancements will be a privilege? Will they be a right? Might they be a mandate? Or maybe the whole idea is gonna creep us out so much that we won’t want anything to do with it.”

This week in everyone who pretended to like Ethereum is gone:

Fodder for the next trends deck you present to a room of generally underwhelmed junior marketing clients: AI vs. human performance in image recognition, chess, book comprehension, and speech recognition — courtesy of Chris Dixon.
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The basic premise of the argument is that network effects make it hard for consumers to switch to new entrants. Switching costs was the basis of mobile number portability but there were not the network effects issues as you could call anyone on any network. Facebook is a different story. If you were to switch to another social network, let’s call it Newbook, you could not read your friends posts on that network and your friends could not read your posts on Facebook. Not surprisingly, that is a big problem for Newbook’s ability to compete and Newbook — even if it were far superior to Facebook for some (or all) consumers — would not get many (or any) customers.
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This is amazing: Sam Lavigne created a programmatic hack called The Inifinite Campaign that creates ‘portraits of Twitter users generated according to the fantasies by which Twitter understands us’. Read all about it in The New Inquiry (5min).
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Finally, this frame-by-frame look at the opening credits of Silicon Valley (7min) is glorious. Until next week.