- Music production programs may contain the most intensely (and anachronistically) skeuomorphic interface designs of any professional software class. While the "honesty" of flat design has swept across many domains, music software remains a stubborn holdout that feels baroque in its artificial depth and rich gradients. While the current UI trend is minimal, flat, and loaded with white space, it seems wrong to dismiss these highly textured interfaces as bad just because they are swimming against the aesthetic currents of the moment. If it adds to confusion, then sure, those are bad interfaces - but in many cases the homogeneity of flat designs can be equally confounding. Rather than subscribing to any one set of visual conventions, designers should focus on making products and services work well for their users.
Machines for Moving:
- Germany's Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure put out an ethics report on what actions autonomous vehicles should be able to take. Among the forbidden: in the case of an unavoidable accident, the decision-making software can't take into account age, gender, race or class of the potential victims. Also interesting is their position that liability concerns emerging from autonomous vehicle operation should put accountability on the product maker, which is basically in line with product liability standards for non-autonomous vehicles.
- There's a new augmented reality app that will show you your dead loved ones at their gravesite. While it might feel a bit jarring as a sort of posthumous Pokémon Go, humans have always used their latest and greatest technologies to pay tribute to, and remember the dead. Social media platforms have struggled with the continued representation of the dead, whose portraits and vacation photos remain networked even after their corporeal body has been interred or turned to ash. Maybe it seems a bit crass to pay a monthly service fee to see the AR deceased hover above their own grave, but an internet that eventually forgets and fades the departed is in some ways more true to life: no matter how solid the monument or how significant the legacy, every life lost eventually fades to make room for the new ones.
- Motion sickness is a big problem for widespread virtual reality adoption and content creators: to ensure users don't get ill, game designers have to dial down the most powerful effects. To avoid the predicament of thrilling many while sickening some, researchers are working on a "nausea dial" that would allow people to tune the VR experience to fit their particular physiological reaction. Let's hope they don't connect this dial to the internet..
- How Instagram's purposeful damming up of content flow ("link in bio") arguably makes for a better experience.
- Nicole Nguyen at Buzzfeed looks at big U.S. tech companies attempting to bring high speed internet to every human on earth. It's not a new story, but she explains the subject exceptionally well (mostly in the video, FYI) and helps to tell the story of the many tangible tissues of wire, towers, and satellites that make up the ephemeral-feeling internet.
- Dragon Innovation, a manufacturing and logistics consulting services company in the Boston area, has been acquired by the electronics component distributor Avnet. It suggests that companies that have built their market power by supplying a handful of giant corporations are looking for ways to hedge their bets against those same giant customers being disrupted by scrappier, faster moving hardware startups. It's getting harder and harder to ignore the proverbial little guys.