- We live in an era where information overflows the vessel of our attention; an endless glut of "content" pushed out through dozens of platforms, some physical, some digital, some algorithmic bubbles, some self-selected . Lisa Maria Martin makes an argument that designers are responsible for making information legible and honest - that information literacy is inherently a design problem. Filter bubbles and fake news present a huge problem for society and everyone involved will need to make sure their professional efforts work to disarm those traps, rather than playing into them for the sake of clicks and dollars.
- LiDAR, (a method of sensing distance and three-dimensional forms with light) is essential for best practices in everything from surveying, agriculture, robotics and self-driving cars but these sensor systems are driven by some fairly expensive precision technology. The company Velodyne says they can change all that with some new fabrication methods that output solid state LiDAR sensors - for less than $50 per device.
- The New Yorker takes a look at software and robotics devouring jobs and disrupting economies. There's a lot of familiar ideas and data in the piece, but enough good analysis, interesting anecdotes and clever writing to make it worth a read. Lines like "Picture the entire Industrial Revolution compressed into the lifespan of a beagle" stand out as instances of a writer flexing their uniquely human mind to stay ahead of the automation onslaught.
- For the nerdier, dirtier, deeper dive into what's happening with remapping human / machine relationships in labor and automation, here's a talk from Leif Jentoft of RightHand Robotics, discussing the high costs of system integrators (an aspect seldom mentioned in media coverage of automation tech outside of industry publications) as well and how human behavior encourages spending on predictable robotic solutions (e.g. significantly higher absenteeism following a major sports event or over a weekend).
Just a Game:
- A little history of the marketplaces for virtual goods in videogames, and some commentary on how the digital products gamers were shelling out money for had more to do with aesthetic value than "utility" (think costumes instead of stronger weapons). The article goes back to the late 1990s, the days of Ultima: Online and Diablo, but the human tendencies driving these behaviors go back to the earliest points in our history: adorning ourselves with unique objects to project an inner sense of ourselves out into the world to dazzle and impress others. While it seems unusual to pay "real" money for immaterial goods, it's a sliver of economic activity that keeps growing, and companies involved in augmented reality (like Snap Inc.) are placing some big bets on it becoming more significant in years to come.
Roadmapping the Future:
- Voice-driven interfaces are growing fast, and Amazon has a strong lead with over 6 million U.S. homes using some version of it's Alexa-enabled Echo products. While millennials are parodied as a screen addicted, hyper-socially networked generation, future generations might be known for a more hermetic flavor of consumer solipsism. If it gets us further away from advertising and attention economies, maybe that's not a bad thing.