Design:

  • Apple has substituted the revolver gun emoji with a squirt gun. While there are unicode standards, what appears is up to individual companies to decide - leading to a sort of visual dialect that is reflective of particular corporate viewpoints on aesthetics, meaning and sometimes the carefully considered political implications behind the symbols. 

 

Building Things: 

  • The political and popular focus of creating manufacturing jobs in the U.S. is wrongheaded in many ways. The New York Times has a good analysis of why Americans are nostalgic for industrial jobs, even when it makes little sense to be. Automation has made manufacturing at volume possible with far fewer human hands and the value we derive from digital products gives us more utility with less material consumed/fewer devices. These are ultimately positive trends in many ways, but in the face of rising inequality and stagnating real wages for the working classes, there's a desire for a labor panacea that looks like something like mid-20th century manufacturing. It's clear now that those factory jobs are never coming back and we will need to figure out a more sensible focus for driving employment in the 21st century. There are few obvious candidates for labor intensive growth that are purely private - but major reworking and repair of failing infrastructure (bridges, water supply systems, etc.) would both solve real issues and create a large number of jobs, many of which would require fewer skills upfront and the variety of tasks required makes the work extremely difficult to automate. 
  • Facebook's hardware lab is getting a fresh wave of press - our best guess is they're looking to promote the opportunities there in order to draw talented designers and engineers with experience building physical systems from places like the R&D labs of Google and Amazon. Facebook certainly has the deep pockets and well equipped shops to build almost whatever they want, less clear is the larger philosophy driving the technology that will come out of their lab and how they will manage project teams. Connecting the world has always been the main tag of Facebook's mission statement, but we don't know yet if the tech projects coming out of their lab will always be bound to the same goal (with or without the aspect of monetizing through advertising). 

 

Upgrading Ourselves:

  

Shaping Cities:  

 

More next week. 

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