- Airbnb has risen to success in part by rendering the complexities of culture and geography into safe, aestheticized set-dressing for one's wanderlust to take place in. In 2017, the manmade borders of the world seem deadly sharp, social landscapes slipping from wondrous mélange into hateful nationalism. So it should come as no surprise that the shimmering surfaces of Airbnb's platform are an insufficient masking to those tumultuous changes. Rosie Spinks writes of the fading magic of using Airbnb for Quartz.
- Jony Ive is moving back to day-to-day management of the design team at Apple.
- We've written previously of how precarious and performative making a living out of creative work done in the semi-public sphere of platforms like Patreon can be. Patreon just announced a change to their pricing model, with adjustments sure to make life harder for the creators with smaller followings (basically 98% of Patreon). For a look at what the experience of working within a platform like Patreon is really like, check out the firsthand account of Brent Knepper, via The Outline.
Machines for Moving:
The massive mining company Rio Tinto has invested heavily in similarly massive autonomous vehicles to roam their extraction sites in hopes of cutting labor costs enough to protect the company from the inevitable bust phase of mining market cycles.
- Recycling is not the environmental panacea to rampant consumption it is often painted to be. The economics are difficult, the value of materials tends to fall sharply upon first reprocessing, and the recycling stream itself can be incredibly messy with poorly sorted materials, food debris, and other foulings contaminating what were planned as neat and tidy systems. China has been a significant recycler of U.S. materials, but with a recent ban on various foreign waste products, that relationship is changing abruptly, leaving many U.S. recycling programs scrambling for alternatives.
Amazon's high-volume, low-margin model has found like-minded partners in the consumer electronics world, leading to semi-generic brands touting bargain priced but effective tech to rival the likes of Nest and GoPro. One of the forces driving this trend is Amazon's own depth and breadth of reviews, effectively de-risking unknown companies for customers, which in turn may drive midlevel name brands to switch up their strategies and total ad spend. Amazon has made side-by-side comparison possible on a massive scale only dreamt of by malls or big box retailers, and in doing so has revealed just how few goods escape existing as simple commodities, despite being dressed up in elaborate branding efforts. Name recognition still matters, of course, but the pricing premium that familiarity once commanded seems to be dropping rather quickly.
- Embedding the DNA of others into the skin via tattooing.