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February 11, 2014

Doge linguistics. Many learnings. Very thinking. Wow

Such thinkings:

A minimal doge utterance contains at least two but often three 2-word doge phrases, followed by a single-word doge phrase (most commonly wow). Additional phrases and variants can be added, especially for the sake of cultural references, such as can't believe it's not doge or dogeway to heaven but they are not what makes an utterance recognizably doge.

So wow.


Lunchtime viewing: Selfie

A sobering look at the potential downsides of the Selfie culture...

January 22, 2014

Stop working so damn hard

Salary Men You shouldn't put in so many hours working. Why?

The perplexing thing about the cult of overwork is that, as we've known for a while, long hours diminish both productivity and quality. Among industrial workers, overtime raises the rate of mistakes and safety mishaps; likewise, for knowledge workers fatigue and sleep-deprivation make it hard to perform at a high cognitive level. As Solomon put it, past a certain point overworked people become "less efficient and less effective."

If anyone thinks that our current working culture is rational, remember that any business that expects regular long hours and overwork is ignoring all the scientific research on productivity.

Photo by Evan Blaser and used under a Creative Commons licence

January 9, 2014

Do you aspire to dress like a blogger?

I got an e-mail from Next (the clothes and homewares people, not the conference people) earlier. This is what it looked like:

NEXT to blogging

Yes, Next is selling "blogger style" as a look.

Is there any other industry where blogging has been so throughly assimilated into the way it operates as fashion? Tech, I suppose. But other than that?

December 16, 2013

Investigating the impact of Data & Society

Well, this looks very interesting:

Data & Society is currently looking to assemble its inaugural class of fellows. The fellowship program is intended to bring together an eclectic network of researchers, entrepreneurs, activists, policy creators, journalists, geeks, and public intellectuals who are interested in engaging one another on the key issues introduced by the increasing availability of data in society. We are looking for a diverse group of people who can see both the opportunities and challenges presented by access to data and who have a vision for a project that can inform the public or shape the future of society.

It becomes even more interesting when you know that danah boyd is behind it...

There's an awful lot of hand-waving and received "wisdom" around issues where tech and culture meets. Anything that contributes to more rigorous research has to be good news.

December 3, 2013

Life through Instagram: the movies

I like this:

Lovely example of both how similar photos taken of certain sights can end up, even when "filtered" by Instagram, but also the creative potential of this vast online wealth of creative material we're building up.

[Found via Neil Perkin's e-mail newsletter]

Here's another example in a similar vein:

September 23, 2013

The importance of (mental) bandwidth

Christine has reviewed Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means So Much:

To put it simply, one must have a lot of bandwidth and little-to-no financial scarcity to think about saving for college or retirement. The peace-of-mind expendable income brings allows a person to think about and build up rainy-day savings. The poor are too busy putting out budgetary fires to think about retirement. They have too little bandwidth, or “slack,” in their minds and their budgets to entertain such a long-term idea. They are worrying about rent and car repairs. Their tunnel-focus on those immediate costs render the poor unable to look far ahead or plan for the future. Anything that lies “outside the tunnel,” as the authors say, gets ignored.

This, coupled with what I've already heard about the book, makes it sound like a compelling read. I'll be grabbing a copy.

September 5, 2013

A tipping point in mobile phone etiquette?

iPhone and Champers Interesting idea in a New York Times Bits blog interview with the woman behind the I Forgot My Phone video:

Ms. deGuzman’s video may have landed at one of those cultural moments when people start questioning if something has gone too far and start doing something about it.

Last week, the Unsound music festival in Poland banned fans from recording the event, saying it did not want “instant documentation” and distractions that might take away from the performances. In April, during a show in New York City, Karen O, the lead singer of the rock band the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, told audience members to put away their phones (using an expletive to emphasize her point).

(Worth watching the video, if you aren't familiar with it)

There's historical precedent for this:

In the late 1950s, televisions started to move into the kitchen from the living room, often wheeled up to the dinner table to join the family for supper. And then, TV at the dinner table suddenly became bad manners. Back to the living room the TV went.

As ever people rush to blame tech for ruining some aspect of our lives. The tech has no will, no agenda. It's us - and the fact that it takes us time to adapt to new tools that creates the problem.

May 13, 2013

#RSAcommunity - Zachary Neal and the problem of diverse communities

Zachary Neal

Liveblogged notes of Zachary Neal's talk on community integration and cohesion at the RSA.

In this talk he's going to focus on micro networks. Are diverse communities possible? Tha answer's grim: no. But there is a bright side...

He's been thinking about community policy in the US; it's fragmented and piecemeal. It's more clearly articulated in the UK. In 2001 the Home Office came out with a report on community cohesion, which lead to the Commission on Integration & Cohesion. In 2010, the Cabinet Office made it clear it was important as part of the Big Society rubric. 

This is the right direction - but there's a hidden problem, a policy paradox. It's not clear how integration and cohesion interlock. Are more integrated communities more cohesive? Or are more integrated communities less cohesive?


In segregated communities, similar people live near one another.  In integrated communities, different sorts of people are more evenly mixed through the neighbourhood. 

Social networks

In fragmented communities, people have disconnected social networks. In cohesive communities, people have dense special networks. 

Continue reading #RSAcommunity - Zachary Neal and the problem of diverse communities.

April 15, 2013

Is this the future of fashion?

I've been mildly obsessed by the work of Continuum Fashion since I saw Mary Huang speak at NEXT Berlin last year. In particular, their Constrvct service looks to me far more like the future of fashion in a digital age than the current model, which is just the old mail order catalouge rethought for the online era. I've been blogging about it on and off for NEXT Berlin since I backed their kickstarter.

This video neatly captures what it is, and the possibilities inherent in the system:

Custom designed fabric? Made to measure? Unique garments posted to your house, at less than designer prices? So much potential here...

April 3, 2013

Under threat: the movies of the 80s

Adam Tinworth on holiday in the 1980s

Ah, the 1980s. Digital watches*. Shoulder pads. Big glasses. And great, if cheesy movies. Recent enough that our cultural record of it is safe, right? 

The movies of my teenage years are under threat. Actor James Woods writing for Den of Geek:

My career peak chronologically occurred in the 80s and 90s, naturally enough because those were my 30s through 50s, the 'right' age for leading roles. It has come to my attention that many of the films made during that era were independently produced films. Because of an anomaly in current world copyright laws, 'authorship' of a film is held by any person or company owning the negative. Sadly many great films of that era have been butchered to fit television broadcast schedules and negatives lost forever. Independent films remain particularly vulnerable as those negatives and rights are not protected by powerful studios. Often times the original production entities no longer even exist and the principals may be dead.

Something must be done. It'll probably include a montage sequence to an upbeat 80s number...

*Yes, that is me in the 80s wearing a digital watch in the photo

October 11, 2012

Andrew Keen and the death of privacy

KeenHas social become a disturbing orthodoxy? Andrew Keen thinks so… And he's kicking off an event called Creative DigiFest 2 at the University of Southampton 

He's a fan, as he outlined in the Cult of the Amateur, of the world of the gatekeeper, of those who create being an elite, professional call. As media has been democratised, the world has become a Hitchcock movie, we've slipped into noir…. The amount of personal data travelling over the network is rapidly growing - and he's painting a picture of where that's used to identify the stranger next to you, to give you as much information is available. In Hitchcock's Vertigo, the detective knows nothing of the woman he's been paid to follow - there's no Twitter or Facebook to look her up. The film is a wonderful warning about falling in love with something that isn't true, can't be true, that can't exist… There's this idea that the internet is bringing the human race together, based on the idea that the network is liberating. It's a similar idea to Marx's idea that the industrial age would allow humanity to achieve its potential. 

Sean Parker - one of the early investors in Facebook and co-founder of Napster - wants to eliminate loneliness. That's what he said when he launched his newest startup. It's become the defining characteristic of Silicon Valley. Collectively, the grouping of apps and sites that make up social media are progressively destroying any idea of privacy. He cites everything from Waze (which I used to get here) through to the obvious ones like Twitter. There's a social reading site, which he considers a contradiction in terms. He has a go at Yammer - which allows the end of loneliness in the workplace. 

Highlight is a "fun way of learning about people nearby". That mean learning about strangers. That means doing away with loneliness. The Truman Show is a classic warning about where we are going. The destruction of privacy which seems so absurd in that film, is being celebrated in Silicon Valley. Mark Zuckerberg has said that we have only one identity (and Keen thinks he wants to own it). He's wrong. We have many identities. Keen asks us to declare that we want to live without privacy, to return to the world of the interdependent village, where all business was public business. 

Most of us are mini-celebrities, but we can't handle it. We make fools of ourselves, we humiliate ourselves. Technology isn't doing this to us - technology is reflecting us. Narcissism has always existed, but the internet is enabling it. The internet is like a huge pile of free drugs in the middle of the world.

Yet, any writer that isn't on Twitter should have his hands chopped off… Visibility, you see, is a necessity, but also a trap. The price of these services is our data, and the new oil barons of the information age ar ethe founders of Facebook and LinkedIn et al. Free is the great seduction. As value and reputation migrate to the network, we are paying a heavy price for free. We need data literacy, not tech literacy. Social media helped trigger the Arab Spring, but it's also being used by governments to spy on their people. 

Big brother is gone. It has been replaced with little brother. We're all little brothers now. Perhaps we now need an On Digital Liberty. He recommends Quiet, a celebration of the introvert, and the ability to create separation. 

We need to:

  • Fight the economy of free. It's destroyed the entertainment industry, now it's destroying us. What I had for breakfast isn't something that Zuckerberg should be able to sell to Kellogs. 
  • We need to focus on the economic value of privacy - it's something that will have appeal to consumers if presenting the right way
  • We need technology to forget. Data should degenerate as our bodies degenerate. What make sue human is our ability to forget. 
  • We need to see government as a solution not a problem, curbing the market's data abuses.
  • We need to become data literate, to manage our reputations, and learn to lie when we need to. 

Mark Zuckerberg wants to own the narrative of our lives - that's why he invented Timeline - but we need to reinvent dark rooms to protect ourselves from that. 

Q. Are these just teething problems? 

A. Possibly - but possibly not. I hope they are - that's the point of my work and the work of others. 

Q. What are the consequences of embedding the right to be forgotten in law?

A. The other side of the argument is losing heritage for future generations. It's very complicated, and their could be unintended consequences. One of the great issues of our age is 'are we all public figures now?' - if so, we have a responsibility to leave our data to others. I don't think we do…


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