- Apple's position as a consumer tastemaker remains strong, with multiple brands picking up the "notch" look that was maligned by tech critics in the earliest days of the iPhone X.
- It's awfully hard to solve a problem originated by a tech widget, by designing an alternative widget. A tech reporter tried out the intentionally de-featured Light Phone and found it didn't remedy bad habits any more than taking a mindful audit of our actions can.
- John Maeda's 2018 Design in Tech Report is out. This year it's heavily loaded with stats and thoughts on the growth of "computational design," though it's thin and a bit misleading on how that term connects to the world of physical goods: a digital plotter and a desktop vacuum forming machine are tagged as "...low cost, sophisticated computational design tools" despite being only marginally different from product offerings that have existed for decades. The content on inequality, conversational interfaces, and the increasing usage of machine learning for designing objects and images rings true, and are among the more certain cultural waves set to significantly impact people and work in the coming years.
- A really interesting behind-the-scenes at the desktop milling machine company Bantam Tools (formerly Other Machine Co.), that was acquired by Bre Pettis. Both Bantam's founder Danielle Applestone and Bre Pettis came to the world of tech through circuitous paths, excited about the possibilities of what more accessible fabrication tools could do to transform the landscape of opportunities for others.
- An update on Liquidmetal Technologies, the metallic molding company that has struggled to match the reality of their business position with the hype surrounding their manufacturing process.
Roadmapping the Future:
- Using scrappy prototypes to drive towards global sustainability goals in a more rapid, concrete, localized way. Among the provocations in the article is the idea that a more ad-hoc and participatory style of building can help to avoid the negatives of a global, top-down approach (erasure of minority cultures, prescriptive technocratic values that ignore the complexity of human life, etc): "Transformed into an open culture, prototyping instead becomes a convivial activity for community building and alliance formation. This means bringing people together around a shared concern, and exploring new norms and mobilising relationships through prototypes; building alliances for new institutions more than portable innovations; negotiating political programmes and managing conflicts over social changes more than managing innovation; mapping pathways for dynamic, adaptable routines rather than rolling out standard models."