- A wonderful profile of Claire Evans, an early pioneer in building out the creative digital projects that eventually informed internet culture as a whole. Tech media has long had a bias for covering the highly visible men, building highly visible companies as the generative forces behind tech's march to mass market, but those narratives leave out the brilliant work of people like Claire Evans and Susan Kare: the artists that bring cultural insights to bear on tech, and in doing so help people connect with what otherwise would be cold and utilitarian, unlikely to break through to popular usage.
- Two great long reads on authenticity, aesthetics, and the breakdown of truth in memes, media, and culture: one from Toby Shorin and the other from Jay Owens.
- Mass-customization is one of the more stable themes in stories on the value of 3D printing for the average consumer. The promise boils down to a mix of utility and aspiration: something built just for you that fits you better, both physically and psychologically. As the cost of additive fabrication tools fall, and quality of parts from those machines increases, new applications open up. Where once high cost made bespoke printed objects only practical for things like prosthetics, the current state of the art has a number of companies (Formlabs with New Balance, Carbon with Adidas, and now Voxel8, with a yet-to-be-signed company) pursuing projects to create custom goods for the mass market. The fact that such an application is desirable enough for a company like Voxel8 to pivot their entire business towards it suggests these ideas have matured beyond speculative marketing projects, and are now considered as serious options for how large companies might capture more value through custom options.
- Poor material choices for children's playgrounds dangerously increase temperatures. As climate change contributes to hotter summers, designers must carefully consider the likely challenges of tomorrow's seasons and plan for it now.
Just A Game:
- The U.S. continues to struggle with gun violence, both as day-to-day tragedy and singular, theatrical tragedies that spur on their horrific reboots days or weeks later. Throughout these grim events, more or less the same debates drone on. Blame is levied at the same handful of suspects: poor parenting, lax gun control, mental illness, societal decay, or violent media. While the specific type of media blamed varies with the era, video games have been under scrutiny since the Columbine shooting in 1999. There's little to no evidence that violence in video games translates to real world harms, but we should still carefully consider how violence is turned into (often callous) entertainment.
- "Getting attention on social media platforms requires creating content designed to perform well within their ecosystems. Everything must contort to please the almighty Algorithmic Gods." Joe Veix writes about how those algorithmic forces push aesthetics through a series of mutations that become contagions, infecting anyone willing to suppress their own stylistic desires in favor of the needs of the platform.
- Kyle Chayka on algorithmic fashion, mediated through hardware devices like the Amazon Look.
- Isabel Munson writes on a similar subject, the slipperiness of identity and subcultural styles when performed through social media: "Likes and comments guide users on the efficacy of their content — styles, captions, angles, lighting, subject matter — letting them know what to do more or less of. There will never be enough: the self never arrives at a fixed destination; it is always further optimizing for what performs best.."