- Liz Bowen with a roaming, thoughtful piece on design, disability, and avoiding the worst Darwinist impulses of short-sighted, inhumane technologists: "The ideal disability society, however, is the one envisioned by universal design, a contemporary architectural and educational movement aimed at making social environments accessible to all kinds of bodies and minds."
- The bulk of design discourse found online is (perhaps unsurprisingly) shallow.
- After billions of dollars in funding, and years of development, tech journalists are finally getting their hands on Magic Leap's AR technology. The product is real, but also isn't yet living up to the hype.
- Two perspectives on the increasing capabilities of robots, and how humans relate to them: Joi Ito argues that the Western adversarial approach to robots is based in philosophical differences, while Sherry Turkle cuts down the notion that intimacy, or any true salve for loneliness can come from digital beings. Both seem to be in agreement that our understanding of these machines is off-base, rooted in human projections of our hopes and fears, rather than blueprints for how a future society filled with clever machines will pan out.
- Tech platforms for ‘gig economy' work tout the freedom of choosing where, when, and how to work as unique benefits to platform workers, unavailable in conventional 9-to-5 employment, but in that trade workers find themselves subject to intense scrutiny and tracking. Caroline O'Donovan writes about how UpWork, among others, are in the surveillance business as much as they are in the business of connecting buyers and sellers of labor.
- Manual labor jobs all produce a certain level of bodily wear and tear, but professions like construction, agriculture, or fishing carry greater risks of serious on-the-job injury. Those injuries can land workers in a hospital or clinic, with a prescription to opioid painkillers, substantially increasing their risk of developing addictions over their white-collar peers.
- On modularity as a particularly modern condition, and how that modularity hides (sometimes troubling) complexity, via an examination of global supply chains and logistics.
- An article on the slight resurgence of repair shops with the observation that repair efforts begin at the birth of a product: "Buy-in from the major retailers is key, because the repair process actually starts long before a product breaks. It begins on the assembly line. Many corporations still pursue a strategy of planned obsolescence, designing a product to break so consumers need to buy more. Others build in ways to repair the product easily."
- A hopeful story of finding better ways to live while wasting less: "Combined with rules that limit outdoor watering and pricing that incentivizes conservation, Santa Fe has reduced its per capita consumption from 168 gallons per day in 1995 to 90 today." The prospect of living in desert regions of the world as droughts grow in length and intensity seems untenable, but smart choices at the community level can raise the bar on conservation. Beyond the personal anecdotes and policy tidbits, the story provides a sketchy prototype for how to live with the looming threat of destruction, how to build solutions for yourself and your neighbors, even as your national government goes astray.