- 18F, the digital services agency within the U.S. government is getting some pressure and criticism from tech industry interest groups, alleging that 18F has a conflict of interest, among other things. 18F is a new (about two years old) and ambitious project, aimed at reducing costs, improving design and enabling smaller firms to provide government services via reduced bureaucratic overhead.
- A decent argument that Snapchat is in the best position to capitalize on "mixed reality" technologies when they become widely available. Snapchat is funding the recently unveiled magazine Real Life, focused on the subject of living with technology (they also foot the bill for the annual Theorizing the Web conference). These are fairly unusual sponsorships to come from a big, flashy tech startup. It may be a glimmer of Snapchat's future plans to go beyond messaging/social towards some kind of new form - the sort of endeavor that requires more cultural powers than technological ones.
- Hope that VR can help elders fight depression, isolation and improve adherence to medication and activity regimens.
Technology as a Threat:
- A history of turning music into a tool of violence and control. While artists might be seeking the transcendent, others are interested in re-purposing art's emotionally resonant dimensions to earthly, ideological and militant ends. New technologies inspire thoughts of progress through the ability to amplify the voices of the oppressed or augment the powers of the weak. In practice the instrument (the "machine that kills fascists") can be wielded by the fascists to tragic effect.
- A fairly thorough look at the warehouse robotics companies that have sprung up to fill the gap left when Amazon purchased Kiva Systems (and more or less kept all the tech for themselves) back in 2012. Robots are still only one element of efficient distribution centers, in the meantime more and more humans are being employed for the sake of schlepping our stuff from shelf to shipment.
- Amazon's Dash buttons have received a lot of press, but few actual presses - it's estimated that less than half have actually used it. Despite this, Amazon seems to be the winner - brands that want the buttons pay Amazon $15 each plus a percentage of each sale, customers then pay $5 to get one for themselves.