Building Things:  


  • Robots are great at performing highly routine tasks in controlled environments, but not so adept at dealing the messy variety of the world at large. This means that while factories around the world are integrating robotics at an amazing rate, applications for retail and domestic environments are still limited. A recent 'layoff' of robots at a Japanese hotel demonstrates that in many contexts, robots fail to increase efficiency or perform reliably enough to deliver on the frictionless expectations we have of them. 

Designing Space:  


  • The algorithm killed the blog-star. Caleb Crain writes about how search engine optimization over-indexing for recency leads to low-value content, and a general glut of temporarily relevant but hollow takes:  "A blogger who only posted a few times a month was doomed. Over the course of one fateful week, my visitors dropped away, day by day, as Google’s rankings of the pages on my blog were quietly recalculated...One’s only recourse was to post more content, faster! But the sweat-shopping of oneself can only be carried so far, and the psychological costs of trying to always have the latest, hottest take probably aren’t worth bearing." In the face of infrequent likes, retweets, or slackening traffic—how does one justify efforts (to themselves, to others) that appear more and more quixotic? For all pursuits that are not business, we must remind ourselves to resist the nudges of platforms designed for engagement at the expense of all else. Instead, we should revel in the pockets of meaning-making that the algorithms will never reward. Life is more qualitative than quantitative. 

More next week.