- Documenting the designs of municipal trashcans in the U.K., among the most humble, common, and critical classes of objects in daily life.
- Smartphone selfies distort how we see ourselves (literally).
- How we perceive ourselves, and see that self fitting into the larger world has always been influenced by religious theory, philosophy, and technological trends. Jared Keller at Pacific Standard puts Facebook and its ilk in the context of the mind-body problem, and how even our most self-aware attempts to construct our virtual selves are undermined by our unconscious impulses and automatic stirrings.
- Full automation of manufacturing processes is notoriously difficult, and the costs involved to even begin such a journey are significant, which is why many production processes still have a fair number of humans involved along the way. The automaker Tesla has pursued a more ambitious program of automation than their more established industry peers, but now that approach is being blamed for Tesla's lackluster production numbers.
- While there have been many attempts to paint a picture of a smooth-running, internet-enabled world of manufacturing laden with sensors and big data analytics and call it Industry 4.0, there are legitimate reasons that manufacturers keep their machines off the grid as much as possible. An article from the Seattle Times examines Boeing's recent firestorm with managing the WannaCry hitting their system. For now, in many enterprises, the risks of costly shutdowns and IP leaks outweigh the benefits of building out a more connected production system.
- The concerns over data-brokering by Facebook and manipulative tactics by Cambridge Analytica has reached a fever pitch, with senators calling on Mark Zuckerberg to testify before congress on the matter. All of that unsavory public attention equating Facebook with the darker sins of surveillance capitalism seems to have scrambled the social media giant's plans for a smart home device, with reports that the project has been delayed.
- Trade agreements like NAFTA put a big dent in communities across the midwestern U.S., changing demographics and regional economies as manufacturing jobs went to lower bidders abroad. For those with means and education, subsequent tech booms held enough promise that picking up and starting over seemed worthwhile, or the idea of returning home after college unreasonable. One outcome of those slow-burning trends is that many midwestern markets currently face a shortage of workers. Production facilities have enough demand to warrant multiple shifts, but only enough workers to keep the lines running for one.
- Unsurprisingly, workers are more effective when they have stable, predictable schedules.