- A fun and informative late summer post from designer-engineer Mario Bollini on how he went about putting together the perfect adventure bike. It's a good reminder that the market is pretty bad at providing the level of specificity real people want from the objects in their lives, and that we can and should augment, alter, and add affordances to our fabricated world as we see fit.
- WBUR peers into the the New England grid's latest addition: a whole heap of lithium-ion batteries intended to help smooth the peaks and valleys of electricity supplied by renewable tech like solar and wind power.
- A tale of two eras from the New York Times, and how the upward mobility of labor has been choked down by enterprise-level efficiency squeezing out the space that once served as a tiny foothold on the corporate ladder for ambitious workers.
- DuPont is stepping back from the plastics that helped them build their massive multinational chemical conglomerate.
- More and more, fading software-support is leading to tangible things having their value suddenly slashed. Spotify stopped supporting a wireless speaker we used for years at the office, and Microsoft ending support for their Windows Phone 8.1 is impacting 36,000 devices for the NYPD. It's reflective of the great promise gap between software PR and end-user reality: software companies speak of unlocking more and more value by moving bits, but when the overhead costs of product support swells, they're perfectly willing to render some atoms worthless. While it's easy to blame these stories on corporate greed and planned obsolescence, that's not always the case. Even the best intentions of designed longevity can go awry, as demonstrated by Fairphone's recent decision to end support (including repair/replacement module sales) for their first phone. A better, more easily maintained and improved future of technology likely won't come from big companies down to individual consumers, it will have to be a conscientious effort of people and communities to develop their own alternatives.
- Increasingly, hardware startups with billion-dollar(+) valuations are based not in Silicon Valley, but in Shenzhen. For anyone who has been following hardware and manufacturing for the past decade, it's not at all surprising that the workshop of the world could quickly transform into the design and product marketing shop of the world as well. It's easy to imagine that in the not-too-distant future, some coveted, high-end tech object will be sought out because of its Made in China markings, not in spite of it.