- In what seems like a dramatic overreach of intellectual property laws, the UK has extended copyrights for manufactured object designs to the life of the the designer plus 70 years. While it's good for designers to have some time to profit from their creative labors, 100 years of copyright protections makes all kinds of innovation and remixing impossible. It's also a blow to the small but positive trend of people using 3D printing to replace components and keep their appliances or furniture in good repair when manufacturers stop supporting old models. We believe that society should be moving to more open-source and publicly accessible versions of technologies and design over time, instead of entrenching the powers of broken models that were won long ago.
- The BBC on why the textiles that clad mass transit seats are ugly.
- While the marketing language around the gig economy emphasizes freedom, flexibility and implausibly optimistic earnings for any hard hustling Horatio Alger types, the reality can be one of continual precarity. In an unusual and maybe unprecedented take on an old labor tactic, a crowdfunding campaign has been set up to fund a strike by gig economy workers upset with sudden changes in how and how much delivery drivers are paid. While the broad reach of networks might help finance strike activities, it also allows companies to source replacement workers with exceptional ease and speed.
- Two stories from DEFCON on how the internet of things brings new vulnerabilities into play: a hack to install ransomware on a "smart" thermostat - threatening to raise your home's temperature to 99° F unless you pay some amount of bitcoin to the hijacker. While this exploit required physical access, the fact that an electrical engineer found it relatively easy to hack 12 out of 16 connected door locks might make that a less daunting task.
- Living in the most surveilled era of human history has demonstrable effects on personal expression and cultural production. In the case of social media context collapse we self-edit for our real or imagined audiences composed of friends, co-workers, bosses, ex-lovers and would-be clients. While the consequences of poor personal editorial oversight might be losing followers or losing a job, the stakes are even higher for people who have been processed through the prison system. When it's a choice between physical freedom and freedom of expression, artists respond in various ways - in some cases completely switching up styles or abstaining from content that was once the mainstay of their work. Fader looks at the impact of prison and parole on the artistic output of several rappers, with the implication that all those eyes on our actions may be depriving us of more than we can ever know. When judgement fueled by scraps of information abounds, we lose the opportunity to hear certain stories, try out new ideas or more fully comprehend the not-safe-for-social media aspects of one another.