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San Francisco; or, How to Destroy a City | Public Books
"As New York City and Greater Washington, DC, prepared for the arrival of Amazon’s new secondary headquarters, Torontonians opened a section of their waterfront to Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs, which plans to prototype a new neighborhood “from the internet up.” Fervent resistance arose in all three locations, particularly as citizens and even some elected officials discovered that many of the terms of these public-private partnerships were hashed out in closed-door deals, secreted by nondisclosure agreements. Critics raised questions about the generous tax incentives and other subsidies granted to these multibillion-dollar corporations, their plans for data privacy and digital governance, what kind of jobs they’d create and housing they’d provide, and how their arrival could impact local infrastructures, economies, and cultures. While such questioning led Amazon to cancel their plans for Long Island City in mid-February, other initiatives press forward. What does it mean when Silicon Valley—a geographic region that’s become shorthand for an integrated ideology and management style usually equated with libertarian techno-utopianism—serves as landlord, utility provider, urban developer, (unelected) city official, and employer, all rolled into one?1

We can look to Alphabet’s and Amazon’s home cities for clues. Both the San Francisco Bay Area and Seattle have been dramatically remade by their local tech powerhouses: Amazon and Microsoft in Seattle; and Google, Facebook, and Apple (along with countless other firms) around the Bay. As Jennifer Light, Louise Mozingo, Margaret O’Mara, and Fred Turner have demonstrated, technology companies have been reprogramming urban and suburban landscapes for decades.2 And “company towns” have long sprung up around mills, mines, and factories.3 But over the past few years, as development has boomed and income inequality has dramatically increased in the Bay Area, we’ve witnessed the arrival of several new books reflecting on the region’s transformation.

These titles, while focusing on the Bay, offer lessons to New York, DC, Toronto, and the countless other cities around the globe hoping to spur growth and economic development by hosting and ingesting tech—by fostering the growth of technology companies, boosting STEM education, and integrating new sensors and screens into their streetscapes and city halls. For years, other municipalities, fashioning themselves as “the Silicon Valley of [elsewhere],” have sought to reverse-engineer the Bay’s blueprint for success. As we’ll see, that blueprint, drafted to optimize the habits and habitats of a privileged few, commonly elides the material needs of marginalized populations and fragile ecosystems. It prioritizes efficiency and growth over the maintenance of community and the messiness of public life. Yet perhaps we can still redraw those plans, modeling cities that aren’t only made by powerbrokers, and that thrive when they prioritize the stewardship of civic resources over the relentless pursuit of innovation and growth."



"We must also recognize the ferment and diversity inherent in Bay Area urban historiography, even in the chronicles of its large-scale development projects. Isenberg reminds us that even within the institutions and companies responsible for redevelopment, which are often vilified for exacerbating urban ills, we find pockets of heterogeneity and progressivism. Isenberg seeks to supplement the dominant East Coast narratives, which tend to frame urban renewal as a battle between development and preservation.

In surveying a variety of Bay Area projects, from Ghirardelli Square to The Sea Ranch to the Transamerica Pyramid, Isenberg shifts our attention from star architects and planners to less prominent, but no less important, contributors in allied design fields: architectural illustration, model-making, publicity, journalism, property management, retail planning, the arts, and activism. “People who are elsewhere peripheral and invisible in the history of urban design are,” in her book, “networked through the center”; they play critical roles in shaping not only the urban landscape, but also the discourses and processes through which that landscape takes shape.

For instance, debates over public art in Ghirardelli Square—particularly Ruth Asawa’s mermaid sculpture, which featured breastfeeding lesbian mermaids—“provoked debates about gender, sexuality, and the role of urban open space in San Francisco.” Property manager Caree Rose, who worked alongside her husband, Stuart, coordinated with designers to master-plan the Square, acknowledging that retail, restaurants, and parking are also vital ingredients of successful public space. Publicist Marion Conrad and graphic designer Bobbie Stauffacher were key members of many San Francisco design teams, including that for The Sea Ranch community, in Sonoma County. Illustrators and model-makers, many of them women, created objects that mediated design concepts for clients and typically sat at the center of public debates.

These creative collaborators “had the capacity to swing urban design decisions, structure competition for land, and generally set in motion the fate of neighborhoods.” We see the rhetorical power of diverse visualization strategies reflected across these four books, too: Solnit’s offers dozens of photographs, by Susan Schwartzenberg—of renovations, construction sites, protests, dot-com workplaces, SRO hotels, artists’ studios—while Walker’s dense text is supplemented with charts, graphs, and clinical maps. McClelland’s book, with its relatively large typeface and extra-wide leading, makes space for his interviewees’ words to resonate, while Isenberg generously illustrates her pages with archival photos, plans, and design renderings, many reproduced in evocative technicolor.

By decentering the star designer and master planner, Isenberg reframes urban (re)development as a collaborative enterprise involving participants with diverse identities, skills, and values. And in elevating the work of “allied” practitioners, Isenberg also aims to shift the focus from design to land: public awareness of land ownership and commitment to responsible public land stewardship. She introduces us to several mid-century alternative publications—weekly newspapers, Black periodicals, activists’ manuals, and books that never made it to the best-seller list … or never even made it to press—that advocated for a focus on land ownership and politics. Yet the discursive power of Jacobs and Caro, which framed the debate in terms of urban development vs. preservation, pushed these other texts off the shelf—and, along with them, the “moral questions of land stewardship” they highlighted.

These alternative tales and supporting casts serve as reminders that the modern city need not succumb to Haussmannization or Moses-ification or, now, Googlization. Mid-century urban development wasn’t necessarily the monolithic, patriarchal, hegemonic force we imagined it to be—a realization that should steel us to expect more and better of our contemporary city-building projects. Today, New York, Washington, DC, and Toronto—and other cities around the world—are being reshaped not only by architects, planners, and municipal administrators, but also by technologists, programmers, data scientists, “user experience” experts and logistics engineers. These are urbanism’s new “allied” professions, and their work deals not only with land and buildings, but also, increasingly, with data and algorithms.

Some critics have argued that the real reason behind Amazon’s nationwide HQ2 search was to gather data from hundreds of cities—both quantitative and qualitative data that “could guide it in its expansion of the physical footprint, in the kinds of services it rolls out next, and in future negotiations and lobbying with states and municipalities.”5 This “trove of information” could ultimately be much more valuable than all those tax incentives and grants. If this is the future of urban development, our city officials and citizens must attend to the ownership and stewardship not only of their public land, but also of their public data. The mismanagement of either could—to paraphrase our four books’ titles—elongate the dark shadows cast by growing inequality, abet the siege of exploitation and displacement, “hollow out” our already homogenizing neighborhoods, and expedite the departure of an already “gone” city.

As Beat poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti muses in his “Pictures of the Gone World 11,” which inspired Walker’s title: “The world is a beautiful place / to be born into / if you don’t mind some people dying / all the time / or maybe only starving / some of the time / which isn’t half so bad / if it isn’t you.” This is precisely the sort of solipsism and stratification that tech-libertarianism and capitalist development promotes—and that responsible planning, design, and public stewardship must prevent."
cities  shannonmattern  2019  sanfrancisco  siliconvalley  nyc  washingtondc  seattle  amazon  google  apple  facebook  technology  inequality  governance  libertarianism  urban  urbanism  microsoft  jenniferlight  louisemozingo  margareto'mara  fredturner  efficiency  growth  marginalization  publicgood  civics  innovation  rebeccasolnit  gentrification  privatization  homogenization  susanschwartzenberg  carymcclelland  economics  policy  politics  richardwalker  bayarea  lisonisenberg  janejacobs  robertmoses  diversity  society  inclusivity  inclusion  exclusion  counterculture  cybercultue  culture  progressive  progressivism  wealth  corporatism  labor  alexkaufman  imperialism  colonization  californianideology  california  neoliberalism  privacy  technosolutionism  urbanization  socialjustice  environment  history  historiography  redevelopment  urbanplanning  design  activism  landscape  ruthasawa  gender  sexuality  openspace  publicspace  searanch  toronto  larenceferlinghetti  susanschartzenberg  bobbiestauffacher  careerose  stuartrose  ghirardellisqure  marionconrad  illustration  a 
7 weeks ago by robertogreco
Goodbye Big Five
"Reporter Kashmir Hill spent six weeks blocking Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Apple from getting my money, data, and attention, using a custom-built VPN. Here’s what happened."
microsoft  google  facebook  amazon  apple  kashmirhill  technology  2019  internet  web  attention  online 
february 2019 by robertogreco
The 'Future Book' Is Here, but It's Not What We Expected | WIRED
"THE FUTURE BOOK was meant to be interactive, moving, alive. Its pages were supposed to be lush with whirling doodads, responsive, hands-on. The old paperback Zork choose-your-own-adventures were just the start. The Future Book would change depending on where you were, how you were feeling. It would incorporate your very environment into its story—the name of the coffee shop you were sitting at, your best friend’s birthday. It would be sly, maybe a little creepy. Definitely programmable. Ulysses would extend indefinitely in any direction you wanted to explore; just tap and some unique, mega-mind-blowing sui generis path of Joycean machine-learned words would wend itself out before your very eyes.

Prognostications about how technology would affect the form of paper books have been with us for centuries. Each new medium was poised to deform or murder the book: newspapers, photography, radio, movies, television, videogames, the internet.

Some viewed the intersection of books and technology more positively: In 1945, Vannevar Bush wrote in The Atlantic: “Wholly new forms of encyclopedias will appear, ready made with a mesh of associative trails running through them, ready to be dropped into the memex and there amplified.”

Researcher Alan Kay created a cardboard prototype of a tablet-like device in 1968. He called it the "Dynabook," saying, “We created a new kind of medium for boosting human thought, for amplifying human intellectual endeavor. We thought it could be as significant as Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press 500 years ago.”

In the 1990s, Future Bookism hit a kind of beautiful fever pitch. We were so close. Brown University professor Robert Coover, in a 1992 New York Times op-ed titled “The End of Books,” wrote of the future of writing: “Fluidity, contingency, indeterminacy, plurality, discontinuity are the hypertext buzzwords of the day, and they seem to be fast becoming principles, in the same way that relativity not so long ago displaced the falling apple.” And then, more broadly: “The print medium is a doomed and outdated technology, a mere curiosity of bygone days destined soon to be consigned forever to those dusty unattended museums we now call libraries.”

Normal books? Bo-ring. Future Books? Awesome—indeterminate—and we were almost there! The Voyager Company built its "expanded books" platform on Hypercard, launching with three titles at MacWorld 1992. Microsoft launched Encarta on CD-ROM.

But … by the mid-2000s, there still were no real digital books. The Rocket eBook was too little, too early. Sony launched the eink-based Librie platform in 2004 to little uptake. Interactive CD-ROMs had dropped off the map. We had Wikipedia, blogs, and the internet, but the mythological Future Book—some electric slab that would somehow both be like and not like the quartos of yore—had yet to materialize. Peter Meirs, head of technology at Time, hedged his bets perfectly, proclaiming: “Ultimately, there will be some sort of device!”

And then there was. Several devices, actually. The iPhone launched in June 2007, the Kindle that November. Then, in 2010, the iPad arrived. High-resolution screens were suddenly in everyone’s hands and bags. And for a brief moment during the early 2010s, it seemed like it might finally be here: the glorious Future Book."



"Yet here’s the surprise: We were looking for the Future Book in the wrong place. It’s not the form, necessarily, that needed to evolve—I think we can agree that, in an age of infinite distraction, one of the strongest assets of a “book” as a book is its singular, sustained, distraction-free, blissfully immutable voice. Instead, technology changed everything that enables a book, fomenting a quiet revolution. Funding, printing, fulfillment, community-building—everything leading up to and supporting a book has shifted meaningfully, even if the containers haven’t. Perhaps the form and interactivity of what we consider a “standard book” will change in the future, as screens become as cheap and durable as paper. But the books made today, held in our hands, digital or print, are Future Books, unfuturistic and inert may they seem."

[sections on self-publishing, crowdfunding, email newsletters, social media, audiobooks and podcasts, etc.]



"It turns out smartphones aren’t the best digital book reading devices (too many seductions, real-time travesties, notifications just behind the words), but they make excellent audiobook players, stowed away in pockets while commuting. Top-tier podcasts like Serial, S-Town, and Homecoming have normalized listening to audio or (nonfiction) booklike productions on smartphones."



"Last August, a box arrived on my doorstep that seemed to embody the apotheosis of contemporary publishing. The Voyager Golden Record: 40th Anniversary Edition was published via a crowdfunding campaign. The edition includes a book of images, three records, and a small poster packaged in an exquisite box set with supplementary online material. When I held it, I didn’t think about how futuristic it felt, nor did I lament the lack of digital paper or interactivity. I thought: What a strange miracle to be able to publish an object like this today. Something independently produced, complex and beautiful, with foil stamping and thick pages, full-color, in multiple volumes, made into a box set, with an accompanying record and other shimmering artifacts, for a weirdly niche audience, funded by geeks like me who are turned on by the romance of space.

We have arrived to the once imagined Future Book in piecemeal truths.

Moving images were often espoused to be a core part of our Future Book. While rarely found inside of an iBooks or Kindle book, they are here. If you want to learn the ukulele, you don’t search Amazon for a Kindle how-to book, you go to YouTube and binge on hours of lessons, stopping when you need to, rewinding as necessary, learning at your own pace.

Vannevar Bush's “Memex” essentially described Wikipedia built into a desk.

The "Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy" in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is an iPhone.

In The Book of Sand, Borges wrote of an infinite book: "It was then that the stranger told me: 'Study the page well. You will never see it again.'" Describing in many ways what it feels like to browse the internet or peek at Twitter.

Our Future Book is composed of email, tweets, YouTube videos, mailing lists, crowdfunding campaigns, PDF to .mobi converters, Amazon warehouses, and a surge of hyper-affordable offset printers in places like Hong Kong.

For a “book” is just the endpoint of a latticework of complex infrastructure, made increasingly accessible. Even if the endpoint stays stubbornly the same—either as an unchanging Kindle edition or simple paperback—the universe that produces, breathes life into, and supports books is changing in positive, inclusive ways, year by year. The Future Book is here and continues to evolve. You’re holding it. It’s exciting. It’s boring. It’s more important than it has ever been.

But temper some of those flight-of-fancy expectations. In many ways, it’s still a potato."
craigmod  ebooks  reading  howweread  2018  kindle  eink  print  publishing  selfpublishing  blurb  lulu  amazon  ibooks  apple  digital  bookfuturism  hypertext  hypercard  history  vannevarbush  borges  twitter  animation  video  newsletters  email  pdf  mobi  epub  infrastructure  systems  economics  goldenrecord  voyager  audio  audiobooks  smarthphones  connectivity  ereaders  podcasts  socialmedia  kevinkelly  benthompson  robinsloan  mailchimp  timbuktulabs  elenafavilli  francescacavallo  jackcheng  funding  kickstarter  crowdfunding  blogs  blogging  wikipedia  internet  web  online  writing  howwewrite  self-publishing  youtube 
january 2019 by robertogreco
Bay Area Disrupted: Fred Turner on Vimeo
"Interview with Fred Turner in his office at Stanford University.

http://bayareadisrupted.com/

https://fredturner.stanford.edu

Graphics: Magda Tu
Editing: Michael Krömer
Concept: Andreas Bick"
fredturner  counterculture  california  opensource  bayarea  google  softare  web  internet  history  sanfrancisco  anarchism  siliconvalley  creativity  freedom  individualism  libertarianism  2014  social  sociability  governance  myth  government  infrastructure  research  online  burningman  culture  style  ideology  philosophy  apolitical  individuality  apple  facebook  startups  precarity  informal  bureaucracy  prejudice  1960s  1970s  bias  racism  classism  exclusion  inclusivity  inclusion  communes  hippies  charism  cultofpersonality  whiteness  youth  ageism  inequality  poverty  technology  sharingeconomy  gigeconomy  capitalism  economics  neoliberalism  henryford  ford  empowerment  virtue  us  labor  ork  disruption  responsibility  citizenship  purpose  extraction  egalitarianism  society  edtech  military  1940s  1950s  collaboration  sharedconsciousness  lsd  music  computers  computing  utopia  tools  techculture  location  stanford  sociology  manufacturing  values  socialchange  communalism  technosolutionism  business  entrepreneurship  open  liberalism  commons  peerproduction  product 
december 2018 by robertogreco
iPad Pro (2018) Review: Two weeks later! - YouTube
[at 7:40, problems mentioned with iOS on the iPad Pro as-is for Rene Ritchie keeping it from being a laptop replacement]

"1. Import/export more than just photo/video [using USB drive, hard drive, etc]

2. Navigate with the keyboard [or trackpad/mouse]

3. 'Desktop Sites' in Safari [Why not a desktop browser (maybe in addition to Safari, something like a "pro" Safari with developer tools and extensions?]

4. Audio recording [system-wide like the screen recording for capturing conversations from Skype/Facetime/etc]

5. Develop for iPad on iPad

6. Multi-user for everyone [like on a Chromebook]"

[I'd be happy with just 1, 2, and 3. 6 would also be nice. 4 and 5 are not very important to me, but also make sense.]

[Some of my notes regarding the state of the tablet-as-laptop replacement in 2018, much overlap with what is above:

iOS tablets
no mouse/trackpad support, file system is still a work in process, no desktop browser equivalents, Pro models are super expensive given these tradeoffs, especially with additional keyboard and pen costs

Microsoft Surface
tablet experience is lacking, Go (closest to meeting my needs and price) seems a little overpriced for the top model (entry model needs more RAM and faster storage), also given the extra cost of keyboard and pen

Android tablets
going nowhere, missing desktop browser

ChromeOS tablets
underpowered (Acer Chromebook Tab 10) or very expensive (Google Pixel Slate) or I don’t like it enough (mostly the imbalance between screen and keyboard, and the keyboard feel) for the cost (HP x2), but ChromeOS tablets seem as promising as iPads as laptop replacements at this point

ChromeOS convertibles
strange having the keyboard in the back while using as a tablet (Samsung Chromebook Plus/Pro, ASUS Chromebook Flip C302CA, Google Pixelbook (expensive)) -- I used a Chromebook Pro for a year (as work laptop) and generally it was a great experience, but they are ~1.5 years old now and haven’t been refreshed. Also, the Samsung Chromebook Plus (daughter has one of these, used it for school and was happy with it until new college provided a MacBook Pro) refresh seems like a step back because of the lesser screen, the increase in weight, and a few other things.

Additional note:
Interesting how Microsoft led the way in this regard (tablet as laptop replacement), but again didn't get it right enough and is now being passed by the others, at least around me]

[finally, some additional discussion and comparison:

The Verge: "Is this a computer?" (Apr 11, 2018)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K7imG4DYXlM

Apple's "What's a Computer?" iPad ad (Jan 23, 2018, no longer available directly from Apple)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=llZys3xg6sU

Apple's "iPad Pro — 5 Reasons iPad Pro can be your next computer — Apple" (Nov 19, 2018)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tUQK7DMys54

The Verge: "Google Pixel Slate Review: half-baked" (Nov 27, 2018)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BOa6HU_he2A
https://www.theverge.com/2018/11/27/18113447/google-pixel-slate-review-tablet-chrome-os-android-chromebook-slapdash

Unbox Therapy: "Can The Google Pixel Slate Beat The iPad Pro?" (Nov 28, 2018)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lccvHF4ODNY

The Verge: "Google keeps failing to understand tablets" (Nov 29, 2018)
https://www.theverge.com/2018/11/29/18117520/google-tablet-android-chrome-os-pixel-slate-failure

The Verge: "Chrome OS isn't ready for tablets yet" (Jul 18, 2018)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eu9JBj7HNmM

The Verge: "New iPad Pro review: can it replace your laptop?" (Nov 5, 2018)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LykS0TRSHLY
https://www.theverge.com/2018/11/5/18062612/apple-ipad-pro-review-2018-screen-usb-c-pencil-price-features

Navneet Alang: "The misguided attempts to take down the iPad Pro" (Nov 9, 2018)
https://theweek.com/articles/806270/misguided-attempts-take-down-ipad-pro

Navneet Alang: "Apple is trying to kill the laptop" (Oct 31, 2018)
https://theweek.com/articles/804670/apple-trying-kill-laptop

The Verge: "Microsoft Surface Go review: surprisingly good" (Aug 7, 2018)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N7N2xunvO68
https://www.theverge.com/2018/8/7/17657174/microsoft-surface-go-review-tablet-windows-10

The Verge: "The Surface Go Is Microsoft's Hybrid PC Dream Made Real: It’s time to think of Surface as Surface, and not an iPad competitor" (Aug 8, 2018)
https://www.theverge.com/2018/8/8/17663494/microsoft-surface-go-review-specs-performance

The Verge: "Microsoft Surface Go hands-on" (Aug 2, 2018)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dmENZqKPfws

Navneet Alang: "Is Microsoft's Surface Go doomed to fail?" (Jul 12, 2018)
https://theweek.com/articles/784014/microsofts-surface-doomed-fail

Chrome Unboxed: "Google Pixel Slate: Impressions After A Week" (Nov 27, 2018)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZfriNj2Ek68
https://chromeunboxed.com/news/google-pixel-slate-first-impressions/

Unbox Therapy: "I'm Quitting Computers" (Nov 18, 2018)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3oRJeReP8g

Unbox Therapy: "The Truth About The iPad Pro..." (Dec 5, 2018)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JXqou3SVbMw

The Verge: "Tablet vs laptop" (Mar 22, 2018)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rm_zQP9JIJI

Marques Brownlee: "iPad Pro Review: The Best Ever... Still an iPad!" (Nov 14, 2018)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N1e_voQvHYk

Engadget: "iPad Pro 2018 Review: Almost a laptop replacement" (Nov 6, 2018)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jZzmMpP2BNw

Matthew Moniz: "iPad Pro 2018 - Overpowered Netflix Machine or Laptop Replacement?" (Nov 8, 2018)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P0ZFlFG67kY

WSJ: "Can the New iPad Pro Be Your Only Computer?" (Nov 16, 2018)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kMCyI-ymKfo
https://www.wsj.com/articles/apples-new-ipad-pro-great-tablet-still-cant-replace-your-laptop-1541415600

Ali Abdaal: "iPad vs Macbook for Students (2018) - Can a tablet replace your laptop?" (Oct 10, 2018)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xIx2OQ6E6Mc

Washington Post: "Nope, Apple’s new iPad Pro still isn’t a laptop" (Nov 5, 2018)
https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2018/11/05/nope-apples-new-ipad-pro-still-isnt-laptop/

Canoopsy: "iPad Pro 2018 Review - My Student Perspective" (Nov 19, 2018)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q4dgHuWBv14

Greg' Gadgets: "The iPad Pro (2018) CAN Replace Your Laptop!" (Nov 24, 2018)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y3SyXd04Q1E

Apple World: "iPad Pro has REPLACED my MacBook (my experience)" (May 9, 2018)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vEu9Zf6AENU

Dave Lee: "iPad Pro 2018 - SUPER Fast, But Why?" (Nov 11, 2018)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aj6vXhN-g6k

Shahazad Bagwan: "A Week With iPad Pro // Yes It Replaced A Laptop!" (Oct 20, 2017)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jhHwv9QsoP0

Apple's "Homework (Full Version)" iPad ad (Mar 27, 2018)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IprmiOa2zH8

The Verge: "Intel's future computers have two screens" (Oct 18, 2018)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=deymf9CoY_M

"The Surface Book 2 is everything the MacBook Pro should be" (Jun 26, 208)
https://char.gd/blog/2018/the-surface-book-2-is-everything-the-macbook-pro-should-be-and-then-some

"Surface Go: the future PC that the iPad Pro failed to deliver" (Aug 27, 2018)
https://char.gd/blog/2018/surface-go-a-better-future-pc-than-the-ipad-pro

"Microsoft now has the best device lineup in the industry" (Oct 3, 2018)
https://char.gd/blog/2018/microsoft-has-the-best-device-lineup-in-the-industry ]
ipadpro  ipad  ios  computing  reneritchie  2018  computers  laptops  chromebooks  pixelslate  surfacego  microsoft  google  apple  android  microoftsurface  surface 
november 2018 by robertogreco
The Tyranny of Convenience - The New York Times
"Convenience has the ability to make other options unthinkable. Once you have used a washing machine, laundering clothes by hand seems irrational, even if it might be cheaper. After you have experienced streaming television, waiting to see a show at a prescribed hour seems silly, even a little undignified. To resist convenience — not to own a cellphone, not to use Google — has come to require a special kind of dedication that is often taken for eccentricity, if not fanaticism.

For all its influence as a shaper of individual decisions, the greater power of convenience may arise from decisions made in aggregate, where it is doing so much to structure the modern economy. Particularly in tech-related industries, the battle for convenience is the battle for industry dominance.

Americans say they prize competition, a proliferation of choices, the little guy. Yet our taste for convenience begets more convenience, through a combination of the economics of scale and the power of habit. The easier it is to use Amazon, the more powerful Amazon becomes — and thus the easier it becomes to use Amazon. Convenience and monopoly seem to be natural bedfellows.

Given the growth of convenience — as an ideal, as a value, as a way of life — it is worth asking what our fixation with it is doing to us and to our country. I don’t want to suggest that convenience is a force for evil. Making things easier isn’t wicked. On the contrary, it often opens up possibilities that once seemed too onerous to contemplate, and it typically makes life less arduous, especially for those most vulnerable to life’s drudgeries.

But we err in presuming convenience is always good, for it has a complex relationship with other ideals that we hold dear. Though understood and promoted as an instrument of liberation, convenience has a dark side. With its promise of smooth, effortless efficiency, it threatens to erase the sort of struggles and challenges that help give meaning to life. Created to free us, it can become a constraint on what we are willing to do, and thus in a subtle way it can enslave us.

It would be perverse to embrace inconvenience as a general rule. But when we let convenience decide everything, we surrender too much."



"By the late 1960s, the first convenience revolution had begun to sputter. The prospect of total convenience no longer seemed like society’s greatest aspiration. Convenience meant conformity. The counterculture was about people’s need to express themselves, to fulfill their individual potential, to live in harmony with nature rather than constantly seeking to overcome its nuisances. Playing the guitar was not convenient. Neither was growing one’s own vegetables or fixing one’s own motorcycle. But such things were seen to have value nevertheless — or rather, as a result. People were looking for individuality again.

Perhaps it was inevitable, then, that the second wave of convenience technologies — the period we are living in — would co-opt this ideal. It would conveniencize individuality.

You might date the beginning of this period to the advent of the Sony Walkman in 1979. With the Walkman we can see a subtle but fundamental shift in the ideology of convenience. If the first convenience revolution promised to make life and work easier for you, the second promised to make it easier to be you. The new technologies were catalysts of selfhood. They conferred efficiency on self-expression."



"I do not want to deny that making things easier can serve us in important ways, giving us many choices (of restaurants, taxi services, open-source encyclopedias) where we used to have only a few or none. But being a person is only partly about having and exercising choices. It is also about how we face up to situations that are thrust upon us, about overcoming worthy challenges and finishing difficult tasks — the struggles that help make us who we are. What happens to human experience when so many obstacles and impediments and requirements and preparations have been removed?

Today’s cult of convenience fails to acknowledge that difficulty is a constitutive feature of human experience. Convenience is all destination and no journey. But climbing a mountain is different from taking the tram to the top, even if you end up at the same place. We are becoming people who care mainly or only about outcomes. We are at risk of making most of our life experiences a series of trolley rides.

Convenience has to serve something greater than itself, lest it lead only to more convenience. In her 1963 classic, “The Feminine Mystique,” Betty Friedan looked at what household technologies had done for women and concluded that they had just created more demands. “Even with all the new labor-saving appliances,” she wrote, “the modern American housewife probably spends more time on housework than her grandmother.” When things become easier, we can seek to fill our time with more “easy” tasks. At some point, life’s defining struggle becomes the tyranny of tiny chores and petty decisions.

An unwelcome consequence of living in a world where everything is “easy” is that the only skill that matters is the ability to multitask. At the extreme, we don’t actually do anything; we only arrange what will be done, which is a flimsy basis for a life.

We need to consciously embrace the inconvenient — not always, but more of the time. Nowadays individuality has come to reside in making at least some inconvenient choices. You need not churn your own butter or hunt your own meat, but if you want to be someone, you cannot allow convenience to be the value that transcends all others. Struggle is not always a problem. Sometimes struggle is a solution. It can be the solution to the question of who you are.

Embracing inconvenience may sound odd, but we already do it without thinking of it as such. As if to mask the issue, we give other names to our inconvenient choices: We call them hobbies, avocations, callings, passions. These are the noninstrumental activities that help to define us. They reward us with character because they involve an encounter with meaningful resistance — with nature’s laws, with the limits of our own bodies — as in carving wood, melding raw ingredients, fixing a broken appliance, writing code, timing waves or facing the point when the runner’s legs and lungs begin to rebel against him.

Such activities take time, but they also give us time back. They expose us to the risk of frustration and failure, but they also can teach us something about the world and our place in it.

So let’s reflect on the tyranny of convenience, try more often to resist its stupefying power, and see what happens. We must never forget the joy of doing something slow and something difficult, the satisfaction of not doing what is easiest. The constellation of inconvenient choices may be all that stands between us and a life of total, efficient conformity."
timwu  convenience  efficiency  psychology  business  2018  inconvenience  effort  technology  economics  work  labor  conformity  value  meaning  selfhood  self-expression  change  individuality  slow  slowness  customization  individualization  amazon  facebook  apple  multitasking  experience  human  humanness  passions  hobbies  resistance  struggle  choice  skill  mobile  phones  internet  streaming  applemusic  itunes 
february 2018 by robertogreco
Neven Mrgan on Twitter: "Attempting to AirPlay to a speaker at the Thanksgiving party: completely embarrassing when it clips, not at all cool even when it works. P… https://t.co/eb0XzG5FIf"
"Attempting to AirPlay to a speaker at the Thanksgiving party: completely embarrassing when it clips, not at all cool even when it works.

Putting on an LP: immediately works with no issues, looks cool."
technology  airplay  apple  vinyl  2017  nevenmrgan  ios 
november 2017 by robertogreco
André Staltz - The Web began dying in 2014, here's how
"The events and data above describe how three internet companies have acquired massive influence on the Web, but why does that imply the beginning of the Web’s death? To answer that, we need to reflect on what the Web is.

The original vision for the Web according to its creator, Tim Berners-Lee, was a space with multilateral publishing and consumption of information. It was a peer-to-peer vision with no dependency on a single party. Tim himself claims the Web is dying: the Web he wanted and the Web he got are no longer the same."



"GOOG, MSFT, FB, and AMZN are mimicking AAPL’s strategy of building brand loyalty around high-end devices. Through a process I call “Appleification”, they are (1) setting up walled gardens, (2) becoming hardware companies, and (3) marketing the design while designing for the market. It is a threat to AAPL itself, because they are behind the other giants when it comes to big data collection and its uses. While AAPL’s early and bold introduction of an App Store shook the Web as the dominant software distribution platform, it wasn’t enough to replace it. The next wave of walled gardens might look different: less noticeable, but nonetheless disruptive to the Web."



"There is a tendency at GOOG-FB-AMZN to bypass the Web which is motivated by user experience and efficient communication, not by an agenda to avoid browsers. In the knowledge internet and the commerce internet, being efficient to provide what users want is the goal. In the social internet, the goal is to provide an efficient channel for communication between people. This explains FB’s 10-year strategy with Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) as the next medium for social interactions through the internet. This strategy would also bypass the Web, proving how more natural social AR would be than social real-time texting in browsers. Already today, most people on the internet communicate with other people via a mobile app, not via a browser.

The common pattern among these three internet giants is to grow beyond browsers, creating new virtual contexts where data is created and shared. The Web may die like most other technologies do: simply by becoming less attractive than newer technologies. And like most obsolete technologies, they don’t suddenly disappear, neither do they disappear completely. You can still buy a Walkman and listen to a tape with it, but the technology has nevertheless lost its collective relevance. The Web’s death will come as a gradual decay of its necessity, not as a dramatic loss.

The Trinet

The internet will survive longer than the Web will. GOOG-FB-AMZN will still depend on submarine internet cables (the “Backbone”), because it is a technical success. That said, many aspects of the internet will lose their relevance, and the underlying infrastructure could be optimized only for GOOG traffic, FB traffic, and AMZN traffic. It wouldn’t conceptually be anymore a “network of networks”, but just a “network of three networks”, the Trinet, if you will. The concept of workplace network which gave birth to the internet infrastructure would migrate to a more abstract level: Facebook Groups, Google Hangouts, G Suite, and other competing services which can be acquired by a tech giant. Workplace networks are already today emulated in software as a service, not as traditional Local Area Networks. To improve user experience, the Trinet would be a technical evolution of the internet. These efforts are already happening today, at GOOG. In the long-term, supporting routing for the old internet and the old Web would be an overhead, so it could be beneficial to cut support for the diverse internet on the protocol and hardware level. Access to the old internet could be emulated on GOOG’s cloud accessed through the Trinet, much like how Windows 95 can be today emulated in your browser. ISPs would recognize the obsolescence of the internet and support the Trinet only, driven by market demand for optimal user experience from GOOG-FB-AMZN.

Perhaps a future with great user experience in AR, VR, hands-free commerce and knowledge sharing could evoke an optimistic perspective for what these tech giants are building. But 25 years of the Web has gotten us used to foundational freedoms that we take for granted. We forget how useful it has been to remain anonymous and control what we share, or how easy it was to start an internet startup with its own independent servers operating with the same rights GOOG servers have. On the Trinet, if you are permanently banned from GOOG or FB, you would have no alternative. You could even be restricted from creating a new account. As private businesses, GOOG, FB, and AMZN don’t need to guarantee you access to their networks. You do not have a legal right to an account in their servers, and as societies we aren’t demanding for these rights as vehemently as we could, to counter the strategies that tech giants are putting forward.

The Web and the internet have represented freedom: efficient and unsupervised exchange of information between people of all nations. In the Trinet, we will have even more vivid exchange of information between people, but we will sacrifice freedom. Many of us will wake up to the tragedy of this tradeoff only once it is reality."
andréstaltz  amazon  facebook  google  internet  web  online  walledgardens  marketing  advertising  2014  2017  seo  publishing  amp  apple 
november 2017 by robertogreco
Liberalism is Dead – The New Inquiry
"This three-decades-long ideological and organizational transformation on the right has not been matched with an equivalent strengthening of American liberalism. Rather the 2016 electoral losses of the presidency, both houses, and most governorships illustrate the inefficacy of the liberal project and its empty vision. The Democratic #resistance, rather than offering a concrete vision of a better world or even a better policy program, instead romanticizes a “center” status quo whose main advantage is that it destroys the environment and kills the poor at a slightly slower rate than the Republicans’ plan. Liberalism isn’t failing because the Democrats have chosen unpopular leaders. It is instead a result of the material limits of the debt-dependent economic policy to which it is devoted. Neoliberal economic policy has produced growth through a series of debt bubbles, but that series is reaching its terminal limits in student and medical debt. Liberalism today has nothing to offer but the symbolic inclusion of a small number of token individuals into the increasingly inaccessible upper classes.

As liberalism collapses, so too does the left-right divide that has marked the past century of domestic politics in the capitalist world. The political conflict of the future will not be between liberalism (or its friendlier European cousin, social democracy) and a conservatism that basically agrees with the principles of liberal democracy but wishes the police would swing their billy clubs a lot harder. Instead, the political dichotomy going forward will be between a “left” and “right” fascism. One is already ascendant, and the other is new but quickly growing.

Jürgen Habermas and various other 20th century Marxists used “left fascism” as a generic slander against their ideological opponents, but I am using it to refer to something more specific: the corporatocratic libertarianism that is the counterpart of right fascism’s authoritarian ethnonationalism, forming the two sides of the same coin. When, in the wake of the imminent economic downturn, Mark Zuckerberg runs for president on the promise of universal basic income and a more “global citizen”-style American identity in 2020, he will represent this new “left” fascism: one that, unlike Trump’s, sheds the nation-state as a central concept. A truly innovative and disruptive fascism for the 21st century."



"The difference between state and nation-state will become increasingly clear as a new fascist politics of total corporate sovereignty comes into view. Its romantic dreams of fully automated factories, moon colonies, and seasteads mirror the old Italian fascists’ fetishization of technology, violence, and speed. Packaged with a libertarian opposition to borders and all-out wars, this left fascism will represent the new cutting edge of capitalist restructuring.

In America, the right fascists find their base in agribusiness, the energy industry, and the military-industrial complex, all relying heavily on state subsidies, war, and border controls to produce their wealth. Although they hate taxes and civil rights, they rely on American imperialism, with its more traditional trade imbalances, negotiation of energy “agreements,” and forever wars to make their profits. But the left fascists, based in tech, education, and services, do best through global labor flows and free trade. Their reliance on logistics, global supply chains, and just-in-time manufacturing, combined with their messianic belief in the singularity and technological fixes for social problems, means they see the nation-state mostly as a hindrance and the military as an inefficient solution to global problems."



"Last February it was a big news story when Apple refused to help the FBI crack the company’s iPhone encryption. Most people understood this as Apple standing up for its customers, protecting their privacy rights. This was an absurd misreading that requires that one willfully forget everything else Apple does with customer data. In fact, it was a play for sovereignty, a move pointed at demonstrating the independence of Apple in particular and Silicon Valley in general from the state, a step toward the left-fascist politics of the future. In understanding the move as a form of protective noblesse oblige, Apple customers revealed nothing so much as their willingness to become customer-subjects of Apple Nation™."
willieosterweil  liberalism  politics  2017  labor  globalization  freetrade  fbi  encryption  sovereignty  apple  capitalism  corporatism  military  militaryindustrialcomplex  facism  borders  geopolitics  marxism  left  ethnonationalism  authoritarianism  democrats  class  inequality 
october 2017 by robertogreco
The genius strategy behind Google's new Pixel 2 smartphones
"But a decade into the smartphone era, specifications aren't enough. When considering which phone to buy, consumers are no longer looking at a simple list of features; they're considering how all the parts work together to make a device — and the broader ecosystem — more compelling. Giving consumers the most effective experience requires vertically integrating hardware, software, and services so that the experience can be seamless. For example, technologies like Google Lens, which lets users identify objects using the camera, rely on a variety of things working perfectly — from the computing to the imaging tech to the machine learning. The Pixel 2's likely excellent camera also comes with free cloud storage from Google, making the device even more compelling. In mimicking this integrated Apple approach, Google can also leverage a key advantage over Apple: a head start in AI, as Apple has come to the field later and more clumsily than its competitors, while Google continues to be a pioneer.

The upsides of this holistic approach are clear: When a tech company controls each point in an ecosystem, it is better able to produce the very best experiences for users, and evade the pitfalls and lag of tech partnerships. It's something the entire industry is slowly recognizing. Google also announced the Google Pixelbook, a high-end Chromebook with a touchscreen and pen. It instantly evoked both the Microsoft Surface and the iPad Pro. The eerie similarity was symbolic: All three major computing companies are trying to achieve the same basic thing, locking consumers into an ecosystem.

There is a problem looming here for Google, though. In theory, the Pixel line is supposed to function like Microsoft's Surface in that it highlights the company's ecosystem at its very best, spurring on development from its broad range of partners. But inevitably, there are competing interests at work. Samsung is also recognizing that power lies in the stack; it developed its own voice assistant called Bixby rather than relying on Google's Assistant. You can, however, access both services on a new Samsung phone. It's redundant, and a little ridiculous, but perhaps demonstrative of the tension at work. Where once there was overlap and cross-pollination, things are tightening into vertical silos, and partnerships are a thing of the past. What remains to be seen is whether Google can keep on this path without alienating its partners — or, if push comes to shove, have Android continue to succeed on its own without them."
apple  google  samsung  android  ios  technology  navneetalang  iphone  pixel  hardware  2017 
october 2017 by robertogreco
How the Appetite for Emojis Complicates the Effort to Standardize the World’s Alphabets - The New York Times
"nshuman Pandey was intrigued. A graduate student in history at the University of Michigan, he was searching online for forgotten alphabets of South Asia when an image of a mysterious writing system popped up. In eight years of digging through British colonial archives both real and digital, he has found almost 200 alphabets across Asia that were previously undescribed in the West, but this one, which he came across in early 2011, stumped him. Its sinuous letters, connected to one another in cursive fashion and sometimes bearing dots and slashes above or below, resembled those of Arabic.

Pandey eventually identified the script as an alphabet for Rohingya, the language spoken by the stateless and persecuted Muslim people whose greatest numbers live in western Myanmar, where they’ve been the victims of brutal ethnic cleansing. Pandey wasn’t sure if the alphabet itself was in use anymore, until he lucked upon contemporary pictures of printed textbooks for children. That meant it wasn’t a historical footnote; it was alive.

An email query from Pandey bounced from expert to expert until it landed with Muhammad Noor, a Rohingya activist and television host who was living in Malaysia. He told Pandey the short history of this alphabet, which was developed in the 1980s by a group of scholars that included a man named Mohammed Hanif. It spread slowly through the 1990s in handwritten, photocopied books. After 2001, thanks to two computer fonts designed by Noor, it became possible to type the script in word-processing programs. But no email, text messages or (later) tweets could be sent or received in it, no Google searches conducted in it. The Rohingya had no digital alphabet of their own through which they could connect with one another.

Billions of people around the world no longer face this plight. Whether on computers or smartphones, they can write as they write, expressing themselves in their own linguistic culture. What makes this possible is a 26-year-old international industrial standard for text data called the Unicode standard, which prescribes the digital letters, numbers and punctuation marks of more than 100 different writing systems: Greek, Cherokee, Arabic, Latin, Devanagari — a world-spanning storehouse of languages. But the alphabet that Noor described wasn’t among them, and neither are more than 100 other scripts, just over half of them historical and the rest alphabets that could still be used by as many as 400 million people today.

Now a computational linguist and motivated by a desire to put his historical knowledge to use, Pandey knows how to get obscure alphabets into the Unicode standard. Since 2005, he has done so for 19 writing systems (and he’s currently working to add another eight). With Noor’s help, and some financial support from a research center at the University of California, Berkeley, he drew up the basic set of letters and defined how they combine, what rules govern punctuation and whether spaces exist between words, then submitted a proposal to the Unicode Consortium, the organization that maintains the standards for digital scripts. In 2018, seven years after Pandey’s discovery, what came to be called Hanifi Rohingya will be rolled out in Unicode’s 11th version. The Rohingya will be able to communicate online with one another, using their own alphabet."



"Unicode’s history is full of attacks by governments, activists and eccentrics. In the early 1990s, the Chinese government objected to the encoding of Tibetan. About five years ago, Hungarian nationalists tried to sabotage the encoding for Old Hungarian because they wanted it to be called “Szekley-Hungarian Rovas” instead. An encoding for an alphabet used to write Nepal Bhasa and Sanskrit was delayed a few years ago by ethnonationalists who mistrusted the proposal because they objected to the author’s surname. Over and over, the Unicode Consortium has protected its standard from such political attacks.

The standard’s effectiveness helped. “If standards work, they’re invisible and can be ignored by the public,” Busch says. Twenty years after its first version, Unicode had become the default text-data standard, adopted by device manufacturers and software companies all over the world. Each version of the standard ushered more users into a seamless digital world of text. “We used to ask ourselves, ‘How many years do you think the consortium will need to be in place before we can publish the last version?’ ” Whistler recalls. The end was finally in sight — at one point the consortium had barely more than 50 writing systems to add.

All that changed in October 2010, when that year’s version of the Unicode standard included its first set of emojis."



"Not everyone thinks that Unicode should be in the emoji business at all. I met several people at Emojicon promoting apps that treat emojis like pictures, not text, and I heard an idea floated for a separate standards body for emojis run by people with nontechnical backgrounds. “Normal people can have an opinion about why there isn’t a cupcake emoji,” said Jennifer 8. Lee, an entrepreneur and a film producer whose advocacy on behalf of a dumpling emoji inspired her to organize Emojicon. The issue isn’t space — Unicode has about 800,000 unused numerical identifiers — but about whose expertise and worldview shapes the standard and prioritizes its projects.

“Emoji has had a tendency to subtract attention from the other important things the consortium needs to be working on,” Ken Whistler says. He believes that Unicode was right to take responsibility for emoji, because it has the technical expertise to deal with character chaos (and has dealt with it before). But emoji is an unwanted distraction. “We can spend hours arguing for an emoji for chopsticks, and then have nobody in the room pay any attention to details for what’s required for Nepal, which the people in Nepal use to write their language. That’s my main concern: emoji eats the attention span both in the committee and for key people with other responsibilities.”

Emoji has nonetheless provided a boost to Unicode. Companies frequently used to implement partial versions of the standard, but the spread of emoji now forces them to adopt more complete versions of it. As a result, smartphones that can manage emoji will be more likely to have Hanifi Rohingya on them too. The stream of proposals also makes the standard seem alive, attracting new volunteers to Unicode’s mission. It’s not unusual for people who come to the organization through an interest in emoji to end up embracing its priorities. “Working on characters used in a small province of China, even if it’s 20,000 people who are going to use it, that’s a more important use of their time than deliberating over whether the hand of my yoga emoji is in the right position,” Mark Bramhill told me.

Since its creation was announced in 2015, the “Adopt a Character” program, through which individuals and organizations can sponsor any characters, including emojis, has raised more than $200,000. A percentage of the proceeds goes to support the Script Encoding Initiative, a research project based at Berkeley, which is headed by the linguistics researcher Deborah Anderson, who is devoted to making Unicode truly universal. One the consortium recently accepted is called Nyiakeng Puachue Hmong, devised for the Hmong language by a minister in California whose parishioners have been using it for more than 25 years. Still in the proposal stage is Tigalari, once used to write Sanskrit and other Indian languages.

One way to read the story of Unicode in the time of emoji is to see a privileged generation of tech consumers confronting the fact that they can’t communicate in ways they want to on their devices: through emoji. They get involved in standards-making, which yields them some satisfaction but slows down the speed with which millions of others around the world get access to the most basic of online linguistic powers. “There are always winners and losers in standards,” Lawrence Busch says. “You might want to say, ultimately we’d like everyone to win and nobody to lose too much, but we’re stuck with the fact that we have to make decisions, and when we make them, those decisions are going to be less acceptable to some than to others.”"
unicode  language  languages  internet  international  standards  emoji  2017  priorities  web  online  anshumanpandey  rohingya  arabic  markbramhill  hmong  tigalari  nyiakengpuachuehmong  muhammadnoor  mohammedhanif  kenwhistler  history  1980  2011  1990s  1980s  mobile  phones  google  apple  ascii  facebook  emojicon  michaelaerard  technology  communication  tibet 
october 2017 by robertogreco
You Have a New Memory - Long View on Education
"Last night I nearly cleaned out my social media presence on Instagram as I’ve used it about 6 times in two years. More generally, I want to pull back on any social media that isn’t adding to my life (yeah, Facebook, I’m talking about you). Is there anything worth staying on Instagram for? I know students use it to show off the photographic techniques they learn in their digital photography class. When I scrolled through to see what photos have been posted from the location of our school, I was caught by a very striking image that represents a view out of a classroom.

One of the most striking things about Instagram is how students engage with it (likes) way more than they do our school Twitter stream. I care about where their engagement happens since in the last two days of learning conferences, many students told me that they got their news through Snapchat. But neither Instagram nor Snapchat are where I have the interactions that I value.

This poses a serious challenge for teaching media literacy, but also for teaching the more traditional forms of text. With my Grade 9s, we have been reading and crafting memoirs. How does their construction of ephemeral memoirs on Snapchat and curated collections of memories on Instagram shape both how they write and see themselves?

Even though I understand how Snapchat works, I will never understand what it’s like to feel the draw of streaks or notifications. And with Instagram, I’m well past a point where I’m drawn to construct images that vie for hundreds of likes. I’m simply not shaped by these medias in the same way.

Beyond different medias, students really carry around different devices than I do, even though they may both be called iPhones. Few of them read the news on it or need to sift through work emails. But in both cases, these devices form the pathway to a public presentation of self, which is something that I struggle with on many levels. I’m happy to be out here in public intellectual mode sharing and criticizing ideas, and to reflect on my teaching and share what my students are doing, and to occasionally put out parts of my personal life, but I resent the way that platforms work to combine all of those roles into one public individual.

Just this morning, I received the most bizarre notification from my Apple Photos: “You Have a New Memory”. So, even in the relatively private space between my stored photos and my screen, algorithms give birth to new things I need to be made aware of. Notified. How I go about opting out of social media now seems like an easier challenge than figuring out how I withdraw from the asocial nudges that emerge from my own archives."
2017  benjamindoxtdator  instagram  twitter  facebook  algorithms  memory  memories  photography  presentationofself  apple  iphone  smartphones  technology  teaching  education  edtech  medialiteracy  engagement  snapchat  ephemerality  text  memoirs  notifications  likes  favorites  ephemeral 
october 2017 by robertogreco
The Great Thing About Apple's 'Town Squares' - The Atlantic
"In adopting the faux democratic language of Facebook and Twitter, Apple has made the perfect physical metaphor for the largely ineffable problem the internet poses to democracy.

Maybe that will make people realize how absurd it is to expect fundamentally commercial entities to build community or to serve liberal democracy or to make your voice heard or to act as an agora or whatever else.

These are businesses. They sell stuff. People buy it. That’s great.

Bringing these democratic ideas inside private enterprises seems nice, but it warps the very idea of “the public.” Who is excluded from the Apple Town Square that should have equal access to the soapbox?"
democrcy  alexismadrigal  facebook  apple  publicspace  2017  twitter  language  technology  economics  corporatism  capitalism  latecapitalism 
september 2017 by robertogreco
What's Wrong with Apple's New Headquarters | WIRED
"But … one more one more thing. You can’t understand a building without looking at what’s around it—its site, as the architects say. From that angle, Apple’s new HQ is a retrograde, literally inward-looking building with contempt for the city where it lives and cities in general. People rightly credit Apple for defining the look and feel of the future; its computers and phones seem like science fiction. But by building a mega-headquarters straight out of the middle of the last century, Apple has exacerbated the already serious problems endemic to 21st-century suburbs like Cupertino—transportation, housing, and economics. Apple Park is an anachronism wrapped in glass, tucked into a neighborhood."



"Apple Park isn’t the first high-end, suburban corporate headquarters. In fact, that used to be the norm. Look back at the 1950s and 1960s and, for example, the Connecticut General Life Insurance HQ in Hartford or John Deere’s headquarters in Moline, Illinois. “They were stunningly beautiful, high modernist buildings by quality architects using cutting-edge technology to create buildings sheathed in glass with a seamless relationship between inside and outside, dependent on the automobile to move employees to the site,” says Louise Mozingo, a landscape architect at UC Berkeley and author of Pastoral Capitalism: A History of Suburban Corporate Landscapes. “There was a kind of splendid isolation that was seen as productive, capturing the employees for an entire day and in the process reinforcing an insular corporate culture.”

By moving out of downtown skyscrapers and building in the suburbs, corporations were reflecting 1950s ideas about cities—they were dirty, crowded, and unpleasantly diverse. The suburbs, though, were exclusive, aspirational, and architectural blank slates. (Also, buildings there are easier to secure and workers don’t go out for lunch where they might hear about other, better jobs.) It was corporatized white flight. (Mozingo, I should add, speaks to this retrograde notion in Levy’s WIRED story.)

Silicon Valley, though, never really played by these rules. IBM built a couple of research sites modeled on its East Coast redoubts, but in general, “Silicon Valley has thrived on using rather interchangeable buildings for their workplaces,” Mozingo says. You start in a garage, take over half a floor in a crummy office park, then take over the full floor, then the building, then get some venture capital and move to a better office park. “Suddenly you’re Google, and you have this empire of office buildings along 101."

And then when a bust comes or your new widget won’t widge, you let some leases lapse or sell some real estate. More than half of the lot where Apple sited its new home used to be Hewlett Packard. The Googleplex used to be Silicon Graphics. It’s the circuit of life.

Except when you have a statement building like the Spaceship, the circuit can’t complete. If Apple ever goes out of business, what would happen to the building? The same thing that happened to Union Carbide’s. That’s why nobody builds these things anymore. Successful buildings engage with their surroundings—and to be clear, Apple isn’t in some suburban arcadia. It’s in a real live city, across the street from houses and retail, near two freeway onramps.

Except the Ring is mostly hidden behind artificial berms, like Space Mountain at Disneyland. “They’re all these white elephants. Nobody knows what the hell to do with them. They’re iconic, high-end buildings, and who cares?” Mozingo says. “You have a $5 billion office building, incredibly idiosyncratic, impossible to purpose for somebody else. Nobody’s going to move into Steve Jobs’ old building.”"



"The problems in the Bay Area (and Los Angeles and many other cities) are a lot more complicated than an Apple building, of course. Cities all have to balance how they feel about adding jobs, which can be an economic benefit, and adding housing, which also requires adding expensive services like schools and transit. Things are especially tough in California, where a 1978 law called Proposition 13 radically limits the amount that the state can raise property taxes yearly. Not only did its passage gut basic services the state used to excel at, like education, but it also turned real estate into the primary way Californians accrued and preserved personal wealth. If you bought a cheap house in the 1970s in the Bay Area, today it’s a gold mine—and you are disincentivized from doing anything that would reduce its value, like, say, allowing an apartment building to be built anywhere within view.

Meanwhile California cities also have to figure out how to pay for their past employees’ pensions, an ever-increasing percentage of city budgets. Since they can’t tax old homes and can’t build new ones, commercial real estate and tech booms look pretty good. “It’s a lot to ask a corporate campus to fix those problems,” Arieff says.

But that doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t try. Some companies are: The main building of the cloud storage company Box, for example, is across the street from the Redwood City CalTrain station, and the company lets people downtown park in its lot on weekends. “The architecture is neither here nor there, but it’s a billion times more effective than the Apple campus,” Arieff says. That’s a more contemporary approach than building behind hills, away from transit.

When those companies are transnational technology corporations, it’s even harder to make that case. “Tech tends to be remarkably detached from local conditions, primarily because they’re selling globally,” says Ed Glaeser, a Harvard economist who studies cities. “They’re not particularly tied to local suppliers or local customers.” So it’s hard to get them to help fix local problems. They have even less of an incentive to solve planning problems than California homeowners do. “Even if they see the problem and the solution, there’s not a way to sell that. This is why there are government services,” Arieff says. “You can’t solve a problem like CalTrain frequency or the jobs-to-housing ratio with a market-based solution.”

Cities are changing; a more contemporary approach to commercial architecture builds up instead of out, as the planning association’s report says. Apple’s ring sites 2.5 million square feet on 175 acres of rolling hills and trees meant to evoke the Stanford campus. The 60-story tall Salesforce Tower in San Francisco has 1.5 million square feet, takes up about an acre, has a direct connection to a major transit station—the new Transbay Terminal—and cost a fifth of the Apple ring. Stipulated, the door handles probably aren’t as nice, but the views are killer.

The Future

Cupertino is the kind of town that technology writers tend to describe as “once-sleepy” or even, and this should really set off your cliche alarm, “nondescript.” But Shrivastava had me meet her for coffee at Main Street Cupertino, a new development that—unlike the rotten strip malls along Stevens Creek Blvd—combines cute restaurants and shops with multi-story residential development and a few hundred square feet of grass that almost nearly sort of works as a town square.

Across the actual street from Main Street, the old Vallco Mall—one of those medieval fortress-like shopping centers with a Christmas-sized parking lot for a moat—has become now Cupertino’s most hotly debated site for new development. (The company that built Main Street owns it.) Like all the other once-sleepy, nondescript towns in Silicon Valley, Cupertino knows it has to change. Shrivastava knows that change takes time.

It takes even longer, though, if businesses are reluctant partners. In the early 20th century, when industrial capitalists were first starting to get really, really rich, they noticed that publicly financed infrastructure would help them get richer. If you own land that you want to develop into real estate, you want a train that gets there and trolleys that connect it to a downtown and water and power for the houses you’re going to build. Maybe you want libraries and schools to induce families to live there. So you team up with government. “In most parts of the US, you open a tap and drink the water and it won’t kill you. There was a moment when this was a goal of both government and capital,” Mozingo says. “Early air pollution and water pollution regulations were an agreement between capitalism and government.”

Again, in the 1930s and 1940s, burgeoning California Bay Area businesses realized they’d need a regional transit network. They worked for 30 years alongside communities and planners to build what became BART, still today a strange hybrid between regional connector and urban subway.

Tech companies are taking baby steps in this same direction. Google added housing to the package deal surrounding the construction of its new HQ in the North Bayshore area—nearly 10,000 apartments. (That HQ is a collection of fancy pavilion-like structures from famed architect Bjarke Ingels.) Facebook’s new headquarters (from famed architect Frank Gehry) is supposed to be more open to the community, maybe even with a farmers’ market. Amazon’s new headquarters in downtown Seattle, some of 10 million square feet of office space the company has there, comes with terrarium-like domes that look like a good version of Passengers.

So what could Apple have built? Something taller, with mixed-use development around it? Cupertino would never have allowed it. But putting form factor aside, the best, smartest designers and architects in the world could have tried something new. Instead it produced a building roughly the shape of a navel, and then gazed into it.

Steven Levy wrote that the headquarters was Steve Jobs’ last great project, an expression of the way he saw his domain. It may look like a circle, but it’s actually a pyramid—a monument… [more]
apple  urbanism  cities  architects  architecture  adamrogers  2017  applecampus  cupertino  suburbia  cars  civics  howbuildingslearn  stevejobs  design  housing  publictransit  civicresponsibility  corporations  proposition13  bart  allisonarieff  bayarea  1030s  1940s  1950s  facebook  google  amazon  seattle  siliconvalley  isolationism  caltrain  government  capitalism  publicgood  louisemozingo  unioncarbide  ibm  history  future  landscape  context  inequality 
june 2017 by robertogreco
Apple’s lack of daycare isn’t an oversight, it’s a feature
"After WIRED offered us all a peek into Apple’s new headquarters, one notable fact emerged: there’s no daycare center. Whooooopsie.

Except this was no mistake. It was a big fat message to anyone who might be contemplating trying to balance family life with their obsessive devotion to their job. And that message reads, in the sleekest font imaginable, “nope.”

The 150-acre campus contains a huge fitness and wellness center and every other amenity you can possibly imagine. Basically everything you’d need to live your life at work. Unless, of course, your life includes children.

Kids are many things, but mostly they are messy. That goes against Apple’s whole vision of how the world should be — and it’s a vision that most of Silicon Valley shares. I’m not talking about being physically messy, though sticky children don’t exactly coordinate with Apple’s pristine white glass aesthetic.

I’m talking about the fact that having kids messes with your life. They’re unpredictable, they get sick, they need attention — actual face time, not FaceTime. No one should stay at the office 24 hours a day, but most parents simply cannot.

Being expected to work all the time affects everyone, but the burden falls disproportionately on mothers. Women, as you may have heard, aren’t super well represented in Silicon Valley. So maybe it's not a surprise that no one in the heavily male upper echelon of Apple took into account that lining up childcare is a costly and complicated endeavor for most families."
apple  2017  childcare  work  labor  siliconvalley  values  careers  parenting  families  work-lifebalance 
may 2017 by robertogreco
The Weird Thing About Today's Internet - The Atlantic
"O’Reilly’s lengthy description of the principles of Web 2.0 has become more fascinating through time. It seems to be describing a slightly parallel universe. “Hyperlinking is the foundation of the web,” O’Reilly wrote. “As users add new content, and new sites, it is bound into the structure of the web by other users discovering the content and linking to it. Much as synapses form in the brain, with associations becoming stronger through repetition or intensity, the web of connections grows organically as an output of the collective activity of all web users.”

Nowadays, (hyper)linking is an afterthought because most of the action occurs within platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and messaging apps, which all have carved space out of the open web. And the idea of “harnessing collective intelligence” simply feels much more interesting and productive than it does now. The great cathedrals of that time, nearly impossible projects like Wikipedia that worked and worked well, have all stagnated. And the portrait of humanity that most people see filtering through the mechanics of Facebook or Twitter does not exactly inspire confidence in our social co-productions.

Outside of the open-source server hardware and software worlds, we see centralization. And with that centralization, five giant platforms have emerged as the five most valuable companies in the world: Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook."



"All this to say: These companies are now dominant. And they are dominant in a way that almost no other company has been in another industry. They are the mutant giant creatures created by software eating the world.

It is worth reflecting on the strange fact that the five most valuable companies in the world are headquartered on the Pacific coast between Cupertino and Seattle. Has there ever been a more powerful region in the global economy? Living in the Bay, having spent my teenage years in Washington state, I’ve grown used to this state of affairs, but how strange this must seem from from Rome or Accra or Manila.

Even for a local, there are things about the current domination of the technology industry that are startling. Take the San Francisco skyline. In 2007, the visual core of the city was north of Market Street, in the chunky buildings of the downtown financial district. The TransAmerica Pyramid was a regional icon and had been the tallest building in the city since construction was completed in 1972. Finance companies were housed there. Traditional industries and power still reigned. Until quite recently, San Francisco had primarily been a cultural reservoir for the technology industries in Silicon Valley to the south."

[See also:

"How the Internet has changed in the past 10 years"
http://kottke.org/17/05/how-the-internet-has-changed-in-the-past-10-years

"What no one saw back then, about a week after the release of the original iPhone, was how apps on smartphones would change everything. In a non-mobile world, these companies and services would still be formidable but if we were all still using laptops and desktops to access information instead of phones and tablets, I bet the open Web would have stood a better chance."

"‘The Internet Is Broken’: @ev Is Trying to Salvage It"
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/20/technology/evan-williams-medium-twitter-internet.html]

[Related:
"Tech’s Frightful Five: They’ve Got Us"
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/10/technology/techs-frightful-five-theyve-got-us.html

"Which Tech Giant Would You Drop?: The Big Five tech companies increasingly dominate our lives. Could you ditch them?"
https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/05/10/technology/Ranking-Apple-Amazon-Facebook-Microsoft-Google.html

"Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft and Alphabet, the parent company of Google, are not just the largest technology companies in the world. As I’ve argued repeatedly in my column, they are also becoming the most powerful companies of any kind, essentially inescapable for any consumer or business that wants to participate in the modern world. But which of the Frightful Five is most unavoidable? I ponder the question in my column this week.

But what about you? If an evil monarch forced you to choose, in what order would you give up these inescapable giants of tech?"]
alexismadrigal  internet  2017  apple  facebook  google  amazon  microsoft  westcoast  bayarea  sanfrancisco  seattle  siliconvalley  twitter  salesforce  instagram  snapchat  timoreilly  2005  web  online  economics  centralization  2007  web2.0  whatsapp  evanwilliams  kottke  farhadmanjoo 
may 2017 by robertogreco
How Google Took Over the Classroom - The New York Times
"The tech giant is transforming public education with low-cost laptops and
free apps. But schools may be giving Google more than they are getting."



"Mr. Casap, the Google education evangelist, likes to recount Google’s emergence as an education powerhouse as a story of lucky coincidences. The first occurred in 2006 when the company hired him to develop new business at its office on the campus of Arizona State University in Tempe.

Mr. Casap quickly persuaded university officials to scrap their costly internal email service (an unusual move at the time) and replace it with a free version of the Gmail-and-Docs package that Google had been selling to companies. In one semester, the vast majority of the university’s approximately 65,000 students signed up.

And a new Google business was born.

Mr. Casap then invited university officials on a road show to share their success story with other schools. “It caused a firestorm,” Mr. Casap said. Northwestern University, the University of Southern California and many others followed.

This became Google’s education marketing playbook: Woo school officials with easy-to-use, money-saving services. Then enlist schools to market to other schools, holding up early adopters as forward thinkers among their peers.

The strategy proved so successful in higher education that Mr. Casap decided to try it with public schools.

As it happened, officials at the Oregon Department of Education were looking to help local schools cut their email costs, said Steve Nelson, a former department official. In 2010, the state officially made Google's education apps available to its school districts.

“That caused the same kind of cascade,” Mr. Casap said. School districts around the country began contacting him, and he referred them to Mr. Nelson, who related Oregon’s experience with Google’s apps.

By then, Google was developing a growth strategy aimed at teachers — the gatekeepers to the classroom — who could influence the administrators who make technology decisions. “The driving force tends to be the pedagogical side,” Mr. Bout, the Google education executive, said. “That is something we really embraced.”

Google set up dozens of online communities, called Google Educator Groups, where teachers could swap ideas for using its tech. It started training programs with names like Certified Innovator to credential teachers who wanted to establish their expertise in Google’s tools or teach their peers to use them.

Soon, teachers began to talk up Google on social media and in sessions at education technology conferences. And Google became a more visible exhibitor and sponsor at such events. Google also encouraged school districts that had adopted its tools to hold “leadership symposiums” where administrators could share their experiences with neighboring districts.

Although business practices like encouraging educators to spread the word to their peers have become commonplace among education technology firms, Google has successfully deployed these techniques on a such a large scale that some critics say the company has co-opted public school employees to gain market dominance.

“Companies are exploiting the education space for sales and public good will,” said Douglas A. Levin, the president of EdTech Strategies, a consulting firm. Parents and educators should be questioning Google’s pervasiveness in schools, he added, and examining “how those in the public sector are carrying the message of Google branding and marketing.”

Mr. Bout of Google disagreed, saying that the company’s outreach to educators was not a marketing exercise. Rather, he said, it was an effort to improve education by helping teachers learn directly from their peers how to most effectively use Google’s tools.

“We help to amplify the stories and voices of educators who have lessons learned,” he said, “because it can be challenging for educators to find ways to share with each other.”"
google  sfsh  education  apple  data  privacy  billfitzgerald  chicago  publicschools  technology  edtech  googleclassroom  googleapps  learning  schools  advertising  jaimecasap 
may 2017 by robertogreco
Build a Better Monster: Morality, Machine Learning, and Mass Surveillance
"technology and ethics aren't so easy to separate, and that if you want to know how a system works, it helps to follow the money."



"A question few are asking is whether the tools of mass surveillance and social control we spent the last decade building could have had anything to do with the debacle of the 2017 election, or whether destroying local journalism and making national journalism so dependent on our platforms was, in retrospect, a good idea.

We built the commercial internet by mastering techniques of persuasion and surveillance that we’ve extended to billions of people, including essentially the entire population of the Western democracies. But admitting that this tool of social control might be conducive to authoritarianism is not something we’re ready to face. After all, we're good people. We like freedom. How could we have built tools that subvert it?"



"The economic basis of the Internet is surveillance. Every interaction with a computing device leaves a data trail, and whole industries exist to consume this data. Unlike dystopian visions from the past, this surveillance is not just being conducted by governments or faceless corporations. Instead, it’s the work of a small number of sympathetic tech companies with likeable founders, whose real dream is to build robots and Mars rockets and do cool things that make the world better. Surveillance just pays the bills."



"These companies exemplify the centralized, feudal Internet of 2017. While the protocols that comprise the Internet remain open and free, in practice a few large American companies dominate every aspect of online life. Google controls search and email, AWS controls cloud hosting, Apple and Google have a duopoly in mobile phone operating systems. Facebook is the one social network.

There is more competition and variety among telecommunications providers and gas stations than there is among the Internet giants."



"Build a Better Monster
Idle Words · by Maciej Cegłowski
I came to the United States as a six year old kid from Eastern Europe. One of my earliest memories of that time was the Safeway supermarket, an astonishing display of American abundance.

It was hard to understand how there could be so much wealth in the world.

There was an entire aisle devoted to breakfast cereals, a food that didn't exist in Poland. It was like walking through a canyon where the walls were cartoon characters telling me to eat sugar.

Every time we went to the supermarket, my mom would give me a quarter to play Pac Man. As a good socialist kid, I thought the goal of the game was to help Pac Man, who was stranded in a maze and needed to find his friends, who were looking for him.

My games didn't last very long.

The correct way to play Pac Man, of course, is to consume as much as possible while running from the ghosts that relentlessly pursue you. This was a valuable early lesson in what it means to be an American.

It also taught me that technology and ethics aren't so easy to separate, and that if you want to know how a system works, it helps to follow the money.

Today the technology that ran that arcade game permeates every aspect of our lives. We’re here at an emerging technology conference to celebrate it, and find out what exciting things will come next. But like the tail follows the dog, ethical concerns about how technology affects who we are as human beings, and how we live together in society, follow us into this golden future. No matter how fast we run, we can’t shake them.

This year especially there’s an uncomfortable feeling in the tech industry that we did something wrong, that in following our credo of “move fast and break things”, some of what we knocked down were the load-bearing walls of our democracy.

Worried CEOs are roving the landscape, peering into the churches and diners of red America. Steve Case, the AOL founder, roams the land trying to get people to found more startups. Mark Zuckerberg is traveling America having beautifully photographed conversations.

We’re all trying to understand why people can’t just get along. The emerging consensus in Silicon Valley is that polarization is a baffling phenomenon, but we can fight it with better fact-checking, with more empathy, and (at least in Facebook's case) with advanced algorithms to try and guide conversations between opposing camps in a more productive direction.

A question few are asking is whether the tools of mass surveillance and social control we spent the last decade building could have had anything to do with the debacle of the 2017 election, or whether destroying local journalism and making national journalism so dependent on our platforms was, in retrospect, a good idea.

We built the commercial internet by mastering techniques of persuasion and surveillance that we’ve extended to billions of people, including essentially the entire population of the Western democracies. But admitting that this tool of social control might be conducive to authoritarianism is not something we’re ready to face. After all, we're good people. We like freedom. How could we have built tools that subvert it?

As Upton Sinclair said, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”

I contend that there are structural reasons to worry about the role of the tech industry in American political life, and that we have only a brief window of time in which to fix this.

Surveillance Capitalism

The economic basis of the Internet is surveillance. Every interaction with a computing device leaves a data trail, and whole industries exist to consume this data. Unlike dystopian visions from the past, this surveillance is not just being conducted by governments or faceless corporations. Instead, it’s the work of a small number of sympathetic tech companies with likeable founders, whose real dream is to build robots and Mars rockets and do cool things that make the world better. Surveillance just pays the bills.

It is a striking fact that mass surveillance has been driven almost entirely by private industry. While the Snowden revelations in 2012 made people anxious about government monitoring, that anxiety never seemed to carry over to the much more intrusive surveillance being conducted by the commercial Internet. Anyone who owns a smartphone carries a tracking device that knows (with great accuracy) where you’ve been, who you last spoke to and when, contains potentially decades-long archives of your private communications, a list of your closest contacts, your personal photos, and other very intimate information.

Internet providers collect (and can sell) your aggregated browsing data to anyone they want. A wave of connected devices for the home is competing to bring internet surveillance into the most private spaces. Enormous ingenuity goes into tracking people across multiple devices, and circumventing any attempts to hide from the tracking.

With the exception of China (which has its own ecology), the information these sites collect on users is stored permanently and with almost no legal controls by a small set of companies headquartered in the United States.

Two companies in particular dominate the world of online advertising and publishing, the economic engines of the surveillance economy.

Google, valued at $560 billion, is the world’s de facto email server, and occupies a dominant position in almost every area of online life. It’s unremarkable for a user to connect to the Internet on a Google phone using Google hardware, talking to Google servers via a Google browser, while blocking ads served over a Google ad network on sites that track visitors with Google analytics. This combination of search history, analytics and ad tracking gives the company unrivaled visibility into users’ browsing history. Through initiatives like AMP (advanced mobile pages), the company is attempting to extend its reach so that it becomes a proxy server for much of online publishing.

Facebook, valued at $400 billion, has close to two billion users and is aggressively seeking its next billion. It is the world’s largest photo storage service, and owns the world’s largest messaging service, WhatsApp. For many communities, Facebook is the tool of choice for political outreach and organizing, event planning, fundraising and communication. It is the primary source of news for a sizable fraction of Americans, and through its feed algorithm (which determines who sees what) has an unparalleled degree of editorial control over what that news looks like.

Together, these companies control some 65% of the online ad market, which in 2015 was estimated at $60B. Of that, half went to Google and $8B to Facebook. Facebook, the smaller player, is more aggressive in the move to new ad and content formats, particularly video and virtual reality.

These companies exemplify the centralized, feudal Internet of 2017. While the protocols that comprise the Internet remain open and free, in practice a few large American companies dominate every aspect of online life. Google controls search and email, AWS controls cloud hosting, Apple and Google have a duopoly in mobile phone operating systems. Facebook is the one social network.

There is more competition and variety among telecommunications providers and gas stations than there is among the Internet giants.

Data Hunger

The one thing these companies share is an insatiable appetite for data. They want to know where their users are, what they’re viewing, where their eyes are on the page, who they’re with, what they’re discussing, their purchasing habits, major life events (like moving or pregnancy), and anything else they can discover.

There are two interlocking motives for this data hunger: to target online advertising, and to train machine learning algorithms.

Advertising

Everyone is familiar with online advertising. Ads are served indirectly, based on real-time auctions … [more]
advertising  facebook  google  internet  politics  technology  apple  labor  work  machinelearning  security  democracy  california  taxes  engagement 
april 2017 by robertogreco
California Today: The Rise of a Design Capital - The New York Times
"Overseas, California as a brand is now a crucial selling point for product makers when it comes to technology, automobiles and architecture.

“If you’re able to say, ‘Hey, this is truly Californian,’ there is a real appeal to it,” said Kevin Klowden, the executive director of the Milken Institute’s California Center.

That cachet, of course, has been supercharged by Silicon Valley. Design scholars point to Apple’s devices. Even as its manufacturing moved overseas, the company added a line to its products: “Designed by Apple in California.”

But what does California design say to consumers?

Simon Sadler, a professor of design at U.C. Davis who is principally interested in architecture, talked about the Golden Gate Bridge, the Pacific Coast Highway, the open style of modern homes, as well as an intangible sense of “magic and possibility.”

“We don’t do monuments, we do nodes,” he said. “And this is how we end up with the most famous California design of modern times, which is the iPhone. You know, it’s barely there. It’s always just an interface.”

Kevin Starr, the California historian, said global enthusiasm for the Golden State was in some ways recasting landscapes well beyond the state’s borders. On the roads, cars by nearly every automaker that sell in the United States are now designed in California.

And take a look at architecture around the world, Dr. Starr added: “Places like New Zealand, Australia, Argentina — they are all beginning to increasingly look like California. It’s the internationalization of design out of California.”

Many design experts still point to New York, with its recognizable monuments, as America’s design capital. There has long been a feeling in architectural circles that New York looked down on California. But that may be changing.

“What is surely exasperating for our colleagues on the East Coast is whether or not we’re ditsy, we’re onto something,” Professor Sadler said. “And the ascent of California as a center of design has been unstoppable.”"



[and at the end]

"In the 1960s, when a new bridge bisected the largely Mexican-American neighborhood of Barrio Logan in San Diego, residents were outraged.

They responded by painting colorful murals on the bridge’s concrete columns that depicted Chicano heritage and heroes. Over time, Chicano Park, as it was named, became home to dozens of the soaring artworks along with sculptures and landscaping.

Now, a campaign is underway to designate the park as a national historic landmark.

Representative Juan Vargas, a Democrat in San Diego, introduced a bill last year that would require the secretary of the interior to assess the park’s suitability for the designation.

On Wednesday, the measure was unanimously approved by a congressional committee.

Nominees for the National Historic Landmarks program are chosen for their historical as well as aesthetic value. In California, 145 structures bear the designation, among them bridges, forts and churches.

In a statement, Mr. Vargas said Chicano Park deserved to be included, calling it “a cultural mecca that highlights the activist and artistic contributions of our local community.”"
california  design  2016  architecture  technology  apple  simonsadler  kevinstarr  iphone  cars  homes  barriologan  chicanopark  sandiego  modernism  nodes 
november 2016 by robertogreco
Why Are America’s Most Innovative Companies Still Stuck in 1950s Suburbia? | Collectors Weekly
"When Apple finishes its new $5 billion headquarters in Cupertino, California, the technorati will ooh and ahh over its otherworldly architecture, patting themselves on the back for yet another example of “innovation.” Countless employees, tech bloggers, and design fanatics are already lauding the “futuristic” building and its many “groundbreaking” features. But few are aware that Apple’s monumental project is already outdated, mimicking a half-century of stagnant suburban corporate campuses that isolated themselves—by design—from the communities their products were supposed to impact.

In the 1940s and ’50s, when American corporations first flirted with a move to the ‘burbs, CEOs realized that horizontal architecture immersed in a park-like buffer lent big business a sheen of wholesome goodness. The exodus was triggered, in part, by inroads the labor movement was making among blue-collar employees in cities. At the same time, the increasing diversity of urban populations meant it was getting harder and harder to maintain an all-white workforce. One by one, major companies headed out of town for greener pastures, luring desired employees into their gilded cages with the types of office perks familiar to any Googler.

Though these sprawling developments were initially hailed as innovative, America’s experiment with suburban, car-centric lifestyles eventually proved problematic, both for its exclusiveness and environmental drawbacks: Such communities intentionally prevented certain ethnic groups and lower-income people from moving there, while enforcing zoning rules that maximized driving. Today’s tech campuses, which the New York Times describes as “the triumph of privatized commons, of a verdant natural world sheltered for the few,” are no better, having done nothing to disrupt the isolated, anti-urban landscape favored by mid-century corporations.

Louise Mozingo, the Chair of UC Berkeley’s Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning Department, detailed the origins of these corporate environments in her 2011 book, Pastoral Capitalism: A History of Suburban Corporate Landscapes. From the 1930s designs for AT&T Bell Laboratories in New Jersey to Google’s Silicon Valley campus today, Mozingo traced the evolution of suburbia’s “separatist geography.” In contrast with the city, Mozingo writes, “the suburbs were predictable, spacious, segregated, specialized, quiet, new, and easily traversed—a much more promising state of affairs to corporations bent on expansion.” It also didn’t hurt that many top executives often already lived in the affluent, low-density areas near where they wanted their offices built.

Like the expansive headquarters of many companies who fled dense downtowns, Apple’s new office falls into the architectural vein Mozingo dubs “pastoral capitalism,” after a landscaping trend made popular more than a century ago. In the mid-19th century, prominent figures like Frederick Law Olmsted promoted a specific vision of the natural environment adapted to modern life, beginning with urban parks and university campuses and eventually encompassing suburban residential neighborhoods.

“There was this whole academic discussion around what defined the picturesque, the beautiful, and the sublime,” Mozingo told me when we spoke recently. “Landscape gardener Andrew Jackson Downing had written extensively about it in American publications, but Olmsted went beyond that, and called his ideal park landscape ‘pastoral.’ He was well-read enough to understand that this combined elements of wild nature with agricultural nature.”"



"But perhaps even more damaging was the way this architectural trend turned residents away from one another and reduced their engagement in the public sphere. From the 1950s onward, the vast majority of suburban office projects relied on a model Mozingo refers to as “separatist geography,” where people were isolated from their larger communities for the benefit of a single business entity.

Mozingo’s concept of a separatist landscape builds off the ideas of geographer Allan Pred, who describes how our daily path through the built environment is a major influence on our culture and values. “If you live in a typical suburban place,” Mozingo explains, “you get in your car and drive to work by yourself, then stay in your office for the entire day seeing only other colleagues, and then drive back home alone. You’re basically only interested in improving highways and your office building.” Even as big tech touts its green credentials, the offices for Apple, Facebook, Google, and their ilk are inundated with parking, discreetly hidden below ground like their savvy mid-century forebears, encouraging employees to continue their solo commutes.

Today, this segregation isn’t only aided by architecture—it’s also a function of the tech-enabled lifestyle, with its endless array of on-demand services and delivery apps that limit interactions with people of differing views and backgrounds (exposure that would likely serve to increase tolerance). A protective bubble of affluence also reduces the need for civic engagement: If you always rely on ride-hailing apps, why would you care if the sidewalk gets cleaned or repaired?"



"“There are a handful of companies who are finally doing interesting things in the suburbs,” she continues. “For instance, there’s a developer in Silicon Valley, Kilroy Realty, building a development called the Crossing/900, which is the new Box headquarters, and it’s going to be high-density and mixed-use near Caltrain, so everybody’s excited about that one.” Mozingo also sees potential in a future Facebook project, since they’ve purchased a large plot of land near a disused rail line. “It’s supposed to be mixed-use with explicit public space, and a farmer’s market, and there’s the potential to actually service this area with rail,” she says. “I’m skeptical but hopeful.”

Clearly these modern suburban offices can’t resolve all of a community’s planning issues on a single, isolated site. But even companies that do try to affect change on a larger municipal level are often turned off by the required public process, which Mozingo calls “long, arduous, boring, and annoying.” Despite these misgivings, Mozingo’s understanding of urban history gives her faith that suburban corporate architecture could remedy the problems it has wrought.

“One of the reasons cities function really well,” Mozingo says, “is that in the first few decades of the 20th century, after industry had its way, there was a coalition of progressives who said, ‘We want good lighting, good transportation, and clean water in our cities. We’re going to have sidewalks and streets with orderly traffic, and we’re going to do some zoning so you don’t have a tannery right next to an orphanage.’ They put in big public institutions like museums and theaters and squares with fancy fountains. It cost everybody money, but was agreed on by both the public and private sectors. This is the reason why we still love San Francisco and New York City. Even if we don’t live there, we like going there.

“Believe me, in 1890, cities in the United States were just dreadful–but by 1920, they were much better, and everybody could turn on the tap and drink some water. This was not a small victory,” Mozingo emphasizes. “Suburban corporations have to realize that they’re in the same situation: They have to build alliances with municipalities, counties, state agencies, and each other to come together and spend the next three decades figuring it out—and it is going to take decades.”"
suberbs  suburbia  apple  google  ibm  belllabs  isolation  2016  cities  urbanism  us  corporatecampuses  janejacobs  allanpred  publicspace  urbanplanning  segegation  whiteflight  history  class  race  racism  1970s  1980s  housing  jobs  economics  work  generalmotors  transportation  publictransit  normanfoster  architecture  louisemozingo 
august 2016 by robertogreco
a16z Podcast: The Meaning of Emoji 💚 🍴 🗿 – Andreessen Horowitz
"This podcast is all about emoji. But it’s really about how innovation really comes about — through the tension between standards vs. proprietary moves; the politics of time and place; and the economics of creativity, from making to funding … Beginning with a project on Kickstarter to crowd-translate Moby Dick entirely into emoji to getting dumplings into emoji form and ending with the Library of Congress and an “emoji-con”. So joining us for this conversation are former VP of Data at Kickstarter Fred Benenson (and the 👨 behind ‘Emoji Dick’) and former New York Times reporter and current Unicode emoji subcommittee member Jennifer 8. Lee (one of the 👩 behind the dumpling emoji).

So yes, this podcast is all about emoji. But it’s also about where emoji fits in the taxonomy of social communication — from emoticons to stickers — and why this matters, from making emotions machine-readable to being able to add “limbic” visual expression to our world of text. If emoji is a (very limited) language, what tradeoffs do we make for fewer degrees of freedom and greater ambiguity? How exactly does one then translate emoji (let alone translate something into emoji)? How do emoji work, both technically underneath the hood and in the (committee meeting) room where it happens? And finally, what happens as emoji becomes a means of personalized expression?

This a16z Podcast is all about emoji. We only wish it could be in emoji!"
emoji  open  openstandards  proprietarystandards  communication  translation  fredbenenson  jennifer8.lee  sonalchokshi  emopjidick  mobydick  unicode  apple  google  microsoft  android  twitter  meaning  standardization  technology  ambiguity  emoticons  text  reading  images  symbols  accessibility  selfies  stickers  chat  messaging  universality  uncannyvalley  snapchat  facebook  identity  race  moby-dick 
august 2016 by robertogreco
Transit Maps: Apple vs. Google vs. Us — Medium
"Transit maps are beautiful. You see them plastered on bus shelters and subway stops. Your parents kept one in their pockets. You might have one burned into your brain.

A transit map is much more than a list of stations. It’s the underlying anatomy of your city. It shows how people move, how neighbourhoods are connected, and how your craziest city adventures begin.

Of course, transit maps are also incredibly functional: they’re abstract diagrams that show you how your transit system works. They have rigid lines and fixed-angles. While they’re not geographically accurate, they do a pretty good job of helping you figure out how to get from A-to-B. Every transit line has a different colour, and intersecting lines show you where to transfer.

You can ask any transit agency designer: creating a transit map is a painstaking process. Transit agencies put lots of thought into making diagrams that are equally beautiful and functional…

…although no two cities approach transit maps exactly the same way.
Which is great!

Unless you’re trying to design a transit map for every city in the world.

Imagine that: every transit line in every city, condensed into one, single, beautiful, curvy, map. Millions of stops, thousands of lines, hundreds of agencies.

Google Maps and Apple Maps have tried to do it, but we thought we could do better.

They have lots of resources. We don’t. But then again… we have Anton.

In this post, we’ll show you how Anton, our algorithm alchemist, took on both Apple and Google. He’ll be posting a technical follow up soon, so if you’re into that, we’ll let you know on Twitter. (If you want to take our word for it though, maybe just download our app? See our transit maps in all their titillating, unadulterated glory.)"
maps  mapping  application  ios  mobile  android  iphone  googlemaps  applemaps  apple  google  transit  transitapp  publictransit  2016  design 
july 2016 by robertogreco
The Bot Power List 2016 — How We Get To Next
"Science fiction is full of bots that hurt people. HAL 9000 kills one astronaut and tries to kill another in 2001: A Space Odyssey; Ava in Ex Machina expertly manipulates the humans she meets to try and escape her cell; the T-800 is known as The Terminator for obvious reasons.

Even more common, though, are those bots clever and sentient enough to have real personality but undone through their naïveté — from Johnny Five in Short Circuit to the robotic cop in RoboCop, sci-fi is great at examining the dangers of greater intelligence when it’s open to manipulation or lacking concrete moral direction. A smarter bot, a more powerful bot, is also a bot that has more power to do evil things, and in the process expose human hubris.

These are all fictional examples, of course, but since we’re starting to see the tech industry shift its focus toward conversational bots as the future of, well, everything, maybe it offers us a useful way to define the power that a bot has. In this case, we’ll say that a bot is powerful if it could do powerfully evil things if it wanted to.

We’ve asked a number of experts to suggest what they think are the most powerful bots around today, in what is still an early stage for the industry. Together, those suggestions make up our first-ever Bot Power List."
bots  2016  googlenow  alexa  siri  ai  xiaoic  wordsmith  watson  hellobarbie  jillwatson  viv  cortana  amazon  apple  google  microsoft  facebook  eliza  luvo  lark  quartznwws  hala  cyberlover  murdock  bendixon  brucewilcox  neomy  deepdrumpf  rbs  josephweizenbaum  irenechang  ibm  mattel 
june 2016 by robertogreco
Apple Offers to Replace iPads With MacBooks in Maine State Classrooms - Mac Rumors
"Apple and the Maine Department of Education have offered to swap school iPads for MacBooks at no additional cost, after it emerged that students and teachers overwhelmingly favor the use of laptops in class.

According to a report in the Lewiston-Auburn Sun Journal, schools in Auburn and other districts in Maine are set to benefit from the "Refresh" swap, following surveys of students and teachers across grades 7 through 12, which revealed that 88.5 percent of teachers and 74 percent of students preferred laptops over iPads. "



"One teacher wrote in the survey that iPads "provide no educational function in the classroom. Students use them as toys. Word processing is near to impossible. I applaud this change."
chromebooks  ipads  laptops  edtech  technology  education  schools  sfsh  learning  apple  teaching  via:lukeneff 
june 2016 by robertogreco
Apple's new short film starring autistic teen shows how tech transforms lives
"Dillan has been using an iPad as a communication tool for about three years. His use of the technology actually went viral in 2014, after he used his tablet and an AAC app to deliver a moving middle school graduation speech.

“For Apple, accessibility is about empowering everyone to use our technology to be creative, productive and independent,” Sarah Herrlinger, senior manager for global accessibility policy and initiatives at Apple, tells Mashable. “Dillan’s message is powerful, and we are grateful the iPad and apps are playing such an impactful role in his life.”"

[videos: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UTx12y42Xv4
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oMN2PeFama0 ]
assistivetechnology  autism  apple  2016  ipad  technology  via:lukeneff 
april 2016 by robertogreco
Why the Economic Fates of America’s Cities Diverged - The Atlantic
"What accounts for these anomalous and unpredicted trends? The first explanation many people cite is the decline of the Rust Belt, and certainly that played a role."



"Another conventional explanation is that the decline of Heartland cities reflects the growing importance of high-end services and rarified consumption."



"Another explanation for the increase in regional inequality is that it reflects the growing demand for “innovation.” A prominent example of this line of thinking comes from the Berkeley economist Enrico Moretti, whose 2012 book, The New Geography of Jobs, explains the increase in regional inequality as the result of two new supposed mega-trends: markets offering far higher rewards to “innovation,” and innovative people increasingly needing and preferring each other’s company."



"What, then, is the missing piece? A major factor that has not received sufficient attention is the role of public policy. Throughout most of the country’s history, American government at all levels has pursued policies designed to preserve local control of businesses and to check the tendency of a few dominant cities to monopolize power over the rest of the country. These efforts moved to the federal level beginning in the late 19th century and reached a climax of enforcement in the 1960s and ’70s. Yet starting shortly thereafter, each of these policy levers were flipped, one after the other, in the opposite direction, usually in the guise of “deregulation.” Understanding this history, largely forgotten today, is essential to turning the problem of inequality around.

Starting with the country’s founding, government policy worked to ensure that specific towns, cities, and regions would not gain an unwarranted competitive advantage. The very structure of the U.S. Senate reflects a compromise among the Founders meant to balance the power of densely and sparsely populated states. Similarly, the Founders, understanding that private enterprise would not by itself provide broadly distributed postal service (because of the high cost of delivering mail to smaller towns and far-flung cities), wrote into the Constitution that a government monopoly would take on the challenge of providing the necessary cross-subsidization.

Throughout most of the 19th century and much of the 20th, generations of Americans similarly struggled with how to keep railroads from engaging in price discrimination against specific areas or otherwise favoring one town or region over another. Many states set up their own bureaucracies to regulate railroad fares—“to the end,” as the head of the Texas Railroad Commission put it, “that our producers, manufacturers, and merchants may be placed on an equal footing with their rivals in other states.” In 1887, the federal government took over the task of regulating railroad rates with the creation of the Interstate Commerce Commission. Railroads came to be regulated much as telegraph, telephone, and power companies would be—as natural monopolies that were allowed to remain in private hands and earn a profit, but only if they did not engage in pricing or service patterns that would add significantly to the competitive advantage of some regions over others.

Passage of the Sherman Antitrust Act in 1890 was another watershed moment in the use of public policy to limit regional inequality. The antitrust movement that sprung up during the Populist and Progressive era was very much about checking regional concentrations of wealth and power. Across the Midwest, hard-pressed farmers formed the “Granger” movement and demanded protection from eastern monopolists controlling railroads, wholesale-grain distribution, and the country’s manufacturing base. The South in this era was also, in the words of the historian C. Vann Woodward, in a “revolt against the East” and its attempts to impose a “colonial economy.”"



"By the 1960s, antitrust enforcement grew to proportions never seen before, while at the same time the broad middle class grew and prospered, overall levels of inequality fell dramatically, and midsize metro areas across the South, the Midwest, and the West Coast achieved a standard of living that converged with that of America’s historically richest cites in the East. Of course, antitrust was not the only cause of the increase in regional equality, but it played a much larger role than most people realize today.

To get a flavor of how thoroughly the federal government managed competition throughout the economy in the 1960s, consider the case of Brown Shoe Co., Inc. v. United States, in which the Supreme Court blocked a merger that would have given a single distributor a mere 2 percent share of the national shoe market.

Writing for the majority, Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren explained that the Court was following a clear and long-established desire by Congress to keep many forms of business small and local: “We cannot fail to recognize Congress’ desire to promote competition through the protection of viable, small, locally owned business. Congress appreciated that occasional higher costs and prices might result from the maintenance of fragmented industries and markets. It resolved these competing considerations in favor of decentralization. We must give effect to that decision.”

In 1964, the historian and public intellectual Richard Hofstadter would observe that an “antitrust movement” no longer existed, but only because regulators were managing competition with such effectiveness that monopoly no longer appeared to be a realistic threat. “Today, anybody who knows anything about the conduct of American business,” Hofstadter observed, “knows that the managers of the large corporations do their business with one eye constantly cast over their shoulders at the antitrust division.”

In 1966, the Supreme Court blocked a merger of two supermarket chains in Los Angeles that, had they been allowed to combine, would have controlled just 7.5 percent of the local market. (Today, by contrast there are nearly 40 metro areas in the U.S where Walmart controls half or more of all grocery sales.) Writing for the majority, Justice Harry Blackmun noted the long opposition of Congress and the Court to business combinations that restrained competition “by driving out of business the small dealers and worthy men.”

During this era, other policy levers, large and small, were also pulled in the same direction—such as bank regulation, for example. Since the Great Recession, America has relearned the history of how New Deal legislation such as the Glass-Steagall Act served to contain the risks of financial contagion. Less well remembered is how New Deal-era and subsequent banking regulation long served to contain the growth of banks that were “too big to fail” by pushing power in the banking system out to the hinterland. Into the early 1990s, federal laws severely limited banks headquartered in one state from setting up branches in any other state. State and federal law fostered a dense web of small-scale community banks and locally operated thrifts and credit unions.

Meanwhile, bank mergers, along with mergers of all kinds, faced tough regulatory barriers that included close scrutiny of their effects on the social fabric and political economy of local communities. Lawmakers realized that levels of civic engagement and community trust tended to decline in towns that came under the control of outside ownership, and they resolved not to let that happen in their time.

In other realms, too, federal policy during the New Deal and for several decades afterward pushed strongly to spread regional equality. For example, New Deal programs such as the Tennessee Valley Authority, the Bonneville Power Administration, and the Rural Electrification Administration dramatically improved the infrastructure of the South and West. During and after World War II, federal spending on the military and the space program also tilted heavily in the Sunbelt’s favor.

The government’s role in regulating prices and levels of service in transportation was also a huge factor in promoting regional equality. In 1952, the Interstate Commerce Commission ordered a 10-percent reduction in railroad freight rates for southern shippers, a political decision that played a substantial role in enabling the South’s economic ascent after the war. The ICC and state governments also ordered railroads to run money-losing long-distance and commuter passenger trains to ensure that far-flung towns and villages remained connected to the national economy.

Into the 1970s, the ICC also closely regulated trucking routes and prices so they did not tilt in favor of any one region. Similarly, the Civil Aeronautics Board made sure that passengers flying to and from small and midsize cities paid roughly the same price per mile as those flying to and from the largest cities. It also required airlines to offer service to less populous areas even when such routes were unprofitable.

Meanwhile, massive public investments in the interstate-highway system and other arterial roads added enormously to regional equality. First, it vastly increased the connectivity of rural areas to major population centers. Second, it facilitated the growth of reasonably priced suburban housing around high-wage metro areas such as New York and Los Angeles, thus making it much more possible than it is now for working-class people to move to or remain in those areas.

Beginning in the late 1970s, however, nearly all the policy levers that had been used to push for greater regional income equality suddenly reversed direction. The first major changes came during Jimmy Carter’s administration. Fearful of inflation, and under the spell of policy entrepreneurs such as Alfred Kahn, Carter signed the Airline Deregulation Act in 1978. This abolished the Civil Aeronautics Board, which had worked to offer rough regional parity in airfares and levels of service since 1938… [more]
us  cities  policy  economics  history  inequality  via:robinsonmeyer  2016  philliplongman  regulation  deregulation  capitalism  trusts  antitrustlaw  mergers  competition  markets  banks  finance  ronaldreagan  corporatization  intellectualproperty  patents  law  legal  equality  politics  government  rentseeking  innovation  acquisitions  antitrustenforcement  income  detroit  nyc  siliconvalley  technology  banking  peterganong  danielshoag  1950s  1960s  1970s  1980s  1990s  greatdepression  horacegreely  chicago  denver  cleveland  seattle  atlanta  houston  saltlakecity  stlouis  enricomoretti  shermanantitrustact  1890  cvannwoodward  woodrowwilson  1912  claytonantitrustact  louisbrandeis  federalreserve  minneapolis  kansascity  robinson-patmanact  1920s  1930s  miller-tydingsact  fdr  celler-kefauveract  emanuelceller  huberhumphrey  earlwarren  richardhofstadter  harryblackmun  newdeal  interstatecommercecommission  jimmycarter  alfredkahn  airlinederegulationact  1978  memphis  cincinnati  losangeles  airlines  transportation  rail  railroads  1980  texas  florida  1976  amazon  walmart  r 
march 2016 by robertogreco
Cars, trucks, iPads, and laptops | Macworld
"Steve Jobs famously likened touchscreen devices to cars and traditional PCs, including the Mac, to trucks. The idea was that in the future–especially as older people who grew up with keyboards and mice and were accustomed to them–computers would become marginalized, powerful tools that would be used for specific purposes. General-purpose computing, on the other hand, would become the province of the ubiquitous car.

This story is frequently told in the context of the iPad. The argument is that the iPad and touchscreen tablets like it will ultimately replace the PC. And while that may yet happen, I think it misses the larger point. This entire thing has already happened. The world is being transformed into a smartphone-using culture. The smartphone is already the car, and everything else is a truck.

So let’s talk trucks, and consider the iPad again. With the release of the iPad Pro–I’m writing this story on one right now–we’ve all been considering the question of if the iPad fits into getting work done. My feeling is that it absolutely can, though it will be a big adjustment for those of us in that keyboard-and-mouse crowd.

The assumption many of us have made, myself included, is that it will really take a new generation of computer users, those weaned on iPhones and iPads, before the iPad and other touchscreen devices take their place as the computing trucks of the future. It makes sense, right? Kids love iPhones and iPads. The touch interface is easily understandable, even by small children. The future is inevitable.

So here’s the problem with that way of thinking. My daughter, born in 2001 and raised in a world of iPods, iPhones, and iPads, has two devices she absolutely requires in order to live. (My understanding is that she would shrivel up into some sort of husk and die if either of them were to go away.) One of those devices is her iPhone, of course. She is endlessly iMessaging, Instagramming, Snapchatting, and FaceTiming with her friends.

The other device is a laptop. (A Chromebook Pixel, in this case, but it could just as easily have been a MacBook Air.) In fact, when I offered her the use of my iPad Air 2 instead of her laptop, she immediately dismissed it. A native of the 21st century–the century where the keyboard and mouse are left on the sidewalk with a cardboard FREE sign as we embrace our tablet futures–is flatly refusing to switch from a laptop to a tablet.

Of course, I asked my daughter why she prefers the laptop to an iPad. Her school relies on Google Docs for most of the work she does, and she likes being able to do that work on the laptop. (Given the limitations of the Google Docs apps on iOS, I didn’t even try to convince her that her experience on an iPad would be equal to that inside a Chrome browser tab.)

But beyond schoolwork, the main way she uses her laptop is as a video player. YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, you name it–she’d rather watch most shows on her 13-inch high-resolution laptop screen than on the 60-inch HDTV in my living room. (Some of that is because this is a screen that she can control and watch without being bothered by another family member.)

She also seems to have been burned by her middle-school experience with iPads, which apparently was rife with buggy apps.

In the end, my daughter’s judgment about the choice was fairly simple: “I feel like you can do more with a laptop than with an iPad,” she told me during an exclusive interview as I drove her home from school.

(As a Mac user, I also have to point out that while my daughter used to use a hand-me-down iMac, she now is exclusively using the Chromebook. So when she says “you can do more with a laptop,” she isn’t referring to native apps–only tabs inside the Chrome browser.)

One teenager’s opinion won’t decide the future of tablets and laptops, but I’m intrigued by the fact that her choice was the opposite of what I expected. Perhaps the computer users of the future are more open to old-fashioned computers than I thought. Perhaps the lack of native apps on the Chromebook isn’t a stumbling block for them, because they live on the web.

Still, if my daughter had to pick only a single device to use, it would undoubtedly be her phone. Her love of the iPhone makes me think that sometime, in the future, she might be willing to try an iPad again. But I’m not sure I’d put money on her switching from a laptop to a tablet anytime soon."
ipads  education  chromebooks  ios  apple  schools  jasonsnell  2016  via:lukeneff 
february 2016 by robertogreco
Popular versus Brilliant | Designers + Geeks
"Jim Bull is worried about the future of design and thinks you should be too. Co-founder and Chief Creative Officer of Moving Brands, Jim dissects an industry where design is judged by the number of its likes and shares, where the focus is on efficiency rather than brilliance, and where one or two companies set the design standard for the globe."

[Direct link to video: https://vimeo.com/155640569 ]

[Tagged “web rococo” because this is the opposite.]

[Not sure why there is no mention of Tibor Kalman and Oliviero Toscani in the Benetton discussion. And there seems to be some tunnel vision here. Sure, the big SV VC backed companies are all looking the same, but they're not the only ones making things on the web. You know, there are many other countries and languages to look to for something other than California Design. Uh, maybe that's more the issue: SV only sees itself and it's not diverse.]

[via: https://twitter.com/soopa/status/700559147247357952 ]
jimbbull  californiadesign  siliconvalley  2016  branding  reverence  generic  popularity  brilliance  apple  uber  medium  california  graphicdesign  webdesign  movingbrands  productdesign  sameness  webrococo  benetton  olivierotoscani  tiborkalman  design  business  california-zation  homogenization  designeducation  art  differentiation  ui  ux  screens  magicleap  ar  augmentedreality  virtualreality  packaging  vr  webdev 
february 2016 by robertogreco
Apple and Star Wars together explain why much of the world around you looks the way it does - Quartz
"One of the most effective critiques of the totalizing approach to urban design—the Darth-design of cities, if you will—was architecture critic, activist, and theorist Jane Jacobs. Towards the end of her bestselling 1962 critique of mid-century urban design, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Jacobs recounts the number and diversity of the neighbors in the building where she worked. She reports:
“The floor of the building in which this book is being written is occupied also by a health club with a gym, a firm of ecclesiastical decorators, an insurgent Democratic party reform club, a Liberal party political club, a music society, an accordionists’ association, a retired importer who sells maté by mail, a man who sells paper and who also takes care of shipping the maté, a dental laboratory, a studio for watercolor lessons, and a maker of costume jewelry. Among the tenants who were here and gone shortly before I came in, were a man who rented out tuxedos, a union local and a Haitian dance troupe. There is no place for the likes of us in new construction. And the last thing we need is new construction.”

And added, in a forceful footnote: “No, the last thing we need is some paternalist weighing whether we are sufficiently noncontroversial to be admitted to subsidized quarters in a Utopian dream city.”

That there is little room for controversy or discord in the Death Star—amongst its legion of same-suited stormtroopers, say—may go without saying. But what of Apple?

It is clear, first of all, that the company’s success—for all the apparent imperiousness of Jobs—relied, and likely relies still, on discussion, disagreement, and diversity. Jobs himself was famously a stickler for regular “no-holds-barred” meetings in which, while his own leadership had to remain unchallenged, no other presumptions or suppositions were sacred. (Pixar’s irrepressible Alvy Ray Smith would be one of the only employees to challenge Jobs’ control of a whiteboard, part of a duel with Jobs in which dry-erase markers, presumably, stood in for sabers.)

Like the products themselves, however, Apple’s core identity relies on keeping disagreement and discord behind a tightly controlled façade. And sometimes even a tightly controlled interior; one of Jobs’ least successful management interventions on his return to Apple was a short-lived attempt to have all his many thousand employees wear the same, black, custom Issey Miyake clothing. To Jobs’ credit, he quickly withdrew the proposal—but it lived on in the many hundred black turtlenecks Miyake crafted for Jobs’ own, resulting use.

No, if there is something disturbing in the design of Apple’s own apparent Death Star, it is not so much in the company’s clearly successful internal operations, nor in its beautifully singular product range. Rather, it lies in the runaway result of this success; the way in which so many of our interactions with the world, and with each other, are now filtered through the efforts of a single, well-designed and Apple-authored interface.

And beyond well-intentioned, we might even say essential. Particularly given the disorder and predictable unpredictability of complex technological systems, we all crave, and need order. The first Star Wars shoot was so plagued with technical difficulties (and the related derision of the unionized British workforce on the Pinewood Studio lot) that more than one cast member observed that George Lucas appeared far more sympathetic to the authority and order of the Empire than the ragtag Rebel Alliance. Apple has thrived above all in the last two decades by offering the particular beauty that lies in order, organization, and simplicity, and in the predictable delight that results when something technical, unexpectedly, just works."



"We might start inside. A recent profile of Sir Jony Ive in the New Yorker by Ian Parker, “The Shape of Things to Come,” shifts seamlessly from the discussion of consumer objects to that of architecture. Ive, it is suggested, sees himself as an architect too. He finds it, he says, “a curious thing” that in design “we tend to compartmentalize, based on physical scale.” He is reported to assert that he has (in Parker’s words) “taught Foster’s architects something about the geometry of corners,” introducing a seamless, curved detail between wall and floor that now runs throughout the building’s interior.
Yet this detail, and its future life, points to what is in fact one of the main differences between design at the scale of consumer electronics, and that at the scale of architecture and the city.

Apple’s great success as a consumer-focused company is rooted in the one power a consumer has above all: choice. Apple’s products are ubiquitous, above all, because they are far better than what they compete with, a quality that comes precisely from the tight control that Apple exerts on them and their design. But, at the point we don’t like our device, we can—and will—buy a different and better one—from Apple, or from some as-yet-unimaginable competitor.

Yet it is in the nature of architecture that it offers no such choice—the more so the bigger it gets. We can, if we are lucky, sell a house we don’t like. But we can’t sell or dispose of the terrible building across the road. And architecture involves many more people than those who design it, or even pay for it. Myself, I keep thinking of the cleaning staff of the new Apple headquarters; it is for these people, above all, that the usual, clunky detail of wall-meeting-floor exists, with a skirting board to hide the edge of the floor-wax, and catch and disguise the dirt that escapes the polishers. One hopes a special, super-functional polishing device has been designed for them, that will seamlessly clean and feather the floor-wax as it slowly curves into the wall—but one fears that it has not. One thinks as well of Apple’s desk-bound employees, who, so as to preserve the clean lines of the building’s exterior, will not be able to open windows in their offices—despite the Bay Area’s preposterously perfect climate. (“That would just allow people to screw things up,” Jobs apparently declared.)

But here is where the design of products and buildings is most different. The particular conundrum solved by the best teams of architects and city-builders (including all of us as citizens) is how to balance a whole set of competing demands, physical, environmental, and social, against each other—including the demands of the powerful against the needs, and rights, of the powerless.

As we attempt to design 21st-century cities for an increasing landscape of uncertainty, this is an important lesson to remember. Instead of single, grand projects, the staying-power of a city depends on a million connections between its inhabitants, and the natural and technological systems that sustain them. Cities designed tabula rasa, as Jane Jacobs cogently characterized it a generation ago, lack this robust resilience. Instead, their monumental visions of order turn out to hide brittleness, fragility, and frequent catastrophe. Even the most seemingly ordered long-lived city-grid—Manhattan, Barcelona, even San Francisco—simply allows us to better negotiate what is, in reality, a riot of real-world diversity.

It is in this light, perhaps, that one might also examine Apple’s greatest points of corporate difficulty: the interface between the company’s tightly designed and integrated products, and the public software ecosystems it has developed in service of them, the App Store and the Mac App Store. To this architect, these places read a bit like a modernist cityscape; beautiful, elegant, even nice to visit—but very difficult to live in. Like such cities they are also—at least in the case of the Mac App Store—increasingly abandoned, as is usual, by those who can afford to leave.

And yet it is not really Apple that is entirely to blame. The revolution in architecture today—one where the world of screens and devices and the common infrastructure of our cities merge, overlap and combine—is much larger than even the enormous, careful company.

In an awkwardly received, hauntingly prescient diatribe while presenting the Oscar for Best Director in 1979, Francis Ford Coppola declared, “We’re on the eve of something that’s going to make the Industrial Revolution look like a small out-of-town tryout.” What Coppola saw was our world today: “a communications revolution that’s about movies and art and music and digital electronics and satellites, but above all, human talent.”

Steve Jobs’ Apple set out to help create this world—and has succeeded beyond our wildest dreams of the future. George Lucas hired Pixar’s founders, originally, to use technology to make the production of culture easier for himself and a cadre of directors. But Lucas’s digital editing system was quickly eclipsed by Apple’s own, far cheaper, Final Cut Pro—and then, of course, by the iPhones that put high-quality filmmaking and editing into all of our hands. In this, and much else, Apple has helped author a world much like that of Lucas’s far-off galaxy; where all of us are connected, and can tap into vast reserves of invisible power through the device we hold in our hands.

But as Apple’s reach extends into the city and world, into the public sphere as well as the private screen, we should do well to remember these hard-learned lessons of control and openness, hardness and softness, brittleness and resilience. After all, the only thing one can say for certain about a Death Star is that it unexpectedly explodes right before the ending."
apple  starwars  georgelucas  architecture  cities  design  stevejobs  nicholasdemonchaux  history  siliconvalley  filmmaking  urbanism  urbanplanning  control  predicatability  fragility  resilience  unpredicatability  hackers  hackability  jonyive  janejacobs  discussion  disagreement  friction  discord  serendipity  authority  cupertino  pixar  canon  openness  hardness  softness  brittleness  isolation  uncertainty 
december 2015 by robertogreco
Why Do I Have to Call This App ‘Julie’? - The New York Times
"Technologies speak with recorded feminine voices because women “weren’t normally there to be heard,” Helen Hester, a media studies lecturer at Middlesex University, told me. A woman’s voice stood out. For example, an automated recording of a woman’s voice used in cockpit navigation becomes a beacon, a voice in stark contrast with that of everyone else, when all the pilots on board are men.

Ms. Hester lives in London, where the spectral sound of robotic women is piping from nearly every corner. Enter the Underground and you hear a disembodied woman announcing “the next station is Mornington Crescent” and the train’s signature canned message, “please mind the gap between the train and the platform.”

A similar voice — emotionless, timeless, with an accent difficult to place — emits from clocks and traffic lights, and inside elevators and supermarkets. The “coldness, the forthrightness of the voice” is what Ms. Hester finds striking. What human speaks with such emotionless authority? And, as Ms. Hester points out: “It’s not real authority. There’s a maternal edge to all of it. It is personal guidance rather than definite directions.”

And, she says, these voices can even play into people’s expectations of male authority because they aren’t actual women. People hear a woman’s voice, realize it is robotic, and “imagine a male programmer” did the actual work.

No one seems to market tech products in the image of the most famous virtual assistant in film history. Hal from “2001: A Space Odyssey” was so brilliant and manly that it attempted to kill off the crew of the spacecraft it was built to manage. Instead, people build what I call “Stepford apps.” These are the Internet’s answer to those old sci-fi robots in dresses mopping floors with manufactured enthusiasm."
ai  artificialintelligence  gender  joannemcneil  voices  siri  cortana  alexa  2015  sexism  apple  amazon  microsoft 
december 2015 by robertogreco
Google App Streaming: A Big Move In Building "The Web Of Apps"
"Imagine if, in order to use the web, you had to download an app for each website you wanted to visit. To find news from the New York Times, you had to install an app that let you access the site through your web browser. To purchase from Amazon, you first needed to install an Amazon app for your browser. To share on Facebook, installation of the Facebook app for your browser would be required.

That would be a nightmare. It would get even worse when you consider how this would impact search. Every day, millions of people are searching for answers to new things they’ve never realized they needed before. Each person could easily potentially encounter 10, 20 or more sites they’re directed to from search, that promise those answers. But if installing an app for each of those sites were required, the effortless way we currently enjoy web search would be a cumbersome mess.

This situation could have been the web today. For a short time before the web, it even seemed this was how online services would go. You had your AOL, your CompuServe, your Prodigy, your MSN — all online services that were disconnected from each other, some with unique content that could only be accessed if you installed (and subscribed to) that particular online service.

The web put an end to this. More specifically, the web browser did. The web browser became a universal app that let anyone open anything on the web. No need to download software for an online service. No need to download an app for a specific web site. Simply launch the web browser of your choice, and you could get to anything. Moreover, search engines like Google could point you anywhere, knowing you wouldn’t need to install any special apps.

The Disconnected World Of Apps

The growth of mobile and its app-centric world has been the opposite of the web. Until fairly recently, there’s been no seamless moving between apps. If you wanted New York Times news within an app environment, you had to download that app. If you wanted to interact with Facebook easily on mobile, you needed the Facebook app. If you wanted to purchase from Amazon, another app was required (and even then, with iOS, you couldn’t buy because Amazon doesn’t want to pay the “Apple Tax” cut that Apple wants from any iOS app that sells things).

The situation is worse when it comes to search. Again, until somewhat recently, if you searched for content using Google, its mobile search results would tend to push you to mobile web pages. Often, that’s a perfectly fine experience. But sometimes, it might be nicer to go into an app. Worse, there’s a small but growing number of app-only publishers and services. They have no web sites and thus nothing for Google or other search engines to point you at from mobile search results.

The Web Of Apps Begins

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could move between apps just as you do with the web? Major companies like Google, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft certainly believe so. That’s why over the past two years or so, they’ve all been pushing things like Google App Indexing, Apple Deep Linking & Universal Links, Facebook App Links and Bing App Linking.

For a general overview on these efforts, see our Marketing Land guide to app indexing and deep links. But the takeaway is that all these companies want to make it easier to go from any link — from a web page or within an app — and into another app, when appropriate.

There’s still lots of work to be done, as well as fragmentation remaining. Each company has its own system, though some of those systems can leverage or work with others, as with Google’s support of Apple Universal Links, if developers do a little extra work."
applications  google  web  webapps  openweb  2015  aol  compuserve  prodigy  msn  facebook  apple  walledgardens  deeplinking  internet  worldwideweb  appleuniversallinks  links 
november 2015 by robertogreco
The Hypocrisy of ‘Helping’ the Poor - The New York Times
"EVERY so often, you hear grotesquely wealthy American chief executives announce in sanctimonious tones the intention to use their accumulated hundreds of millions, or billions, “to lift people out of poverty.” Sometimes they are referring to Africans, but sometimes they are referring to Americans. And here’s the funny thing about that: In most cases, they have made their fortunes by impoverishing whole American communities, having outsourced their manufacturing to China or India, Vietnam or Mexico.

Buried in a long story about corruption in China in The New York Times a couple of months ago was the astonishing fact that the era of “supercharged growth” over the past several decades had the effect of “lifting more than 600 million people out of poverty.” From handouts? From Habitat for Humanity? From the Clinton Global Initiative?

No, oddly enough, China has been enriched by American-supplied jobs, making most of the destined-for-the-dump merchandise you find on store shelves all over America, every piece of plastic you can name, as well as Apple products, Barbie dolls or Nike LeBron basketball shoes retailed in the United States for up to $320 a pair. “The uplifting of impoverished people” was one of the reasons Phil Knight, Nike’s co-founder, gave in 1998 for moving his factories out of the United States.

The Chinese success, helped by American investment, is perhaps not astonishing after all; it has coincided with a large number of Americans’ being put out of work and plunged into poverty.

In a wish to get to grips with local mystagogies and obfuscations I have spent the past three years traveling in the Deep South, usually on back roads, mainly in the smaller towns, in the same spirit of inquiry that vitalized me on journeys in China and Africa and elsewhere. Yes, I saw the magnolia blossoms, the battlefields of the Civil War, the antebellum mansions of superfluous amplitude; the catfish farms and the cotton fields and the blues bars; attended the gun shows and the church services and the football games.

But if there was one experience of the Deep South that stayed with me it was the sight of shutdown factories and towns with their hearts torn out of them, and few jobs. There are outsourcing stories all over America, but the effects are stark in the Deep South.

Take a Delta town such as Hollandale, Miss. Two years ago, the entire tax base of this community of around 3,500 was (so the now-deceased and much-mourned mayor Melvin Willis told me) less than $300,000. What the town had on hand to spend for police officers, firefighters, public works, outreach, welfare and town hall salaries was roughly the amount of a Bill or Hillary one-night-stand lecture fee; what Tim Cook, the chief executive of Apple, earns in a couple of days.

When Hollandale’s citizens lost their jobs in the cotton fields to mechanization they found work nearby, in Greenville and elsewhere, in factories that made clothes, bikes, tools and much else — for big brands like Fruit of the Loom and Schwinn.

They are gone now. Across the Mississippi River, Monticello, Ark., and other towns made carpets and furniture while Forrest City produced high-quality TV sets. The people I spoke to in the town of Wynne, known for its footwear, said they’d be happy to make Nikes if they were paid a living wage.

I found towns in South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi and Arkansas that looked like towns in Zimbabwe, just as overlooked and beleaguered. It’s globalization, people say. Everyone knows that, everyone moans about it. Big companies have always sought cheaper labor, moving from North to South in the United States, looking for the hungriest, the most desperate, the least organized, the most exploitable. It has been an American story. What had begun as domestic relocations went global, with such success that many C.E.O.s became self-conscious about their profits and their stupendous salaries.

To me, globalization is the search for a new plantation, and cheaper labor; globalization means that, by outsourcing, it is possible to impoverish an American community to the point where it is indistinguishable from a hard-up town in the dusty heartland of a third world country.

“I took an assistant Treasury secretary, Cyrus Amir-Mokri, down from Memphis,” William Bynum, the chief executive of the Hope Credit Union, told me in his office in Jackson, Miss. “We passed through Tunica, Mound Bayou and Clarksdale, and ended up in Utica. All through the Delta. He just sat and looked sad. He said he could not believe such conditions existed in the United States.”

Now the Delta is worse off, the bulk of its factories shut, the work sent overseas. Again, this is the same old story, but need it be so?

When Mr. Cook of Apple said he was going to hand over his entire fortune to charity, he was greatly praised by most people, but not by me. It so happened that at that time I was traveling up and down Tim Cook’s home state of Alabama, and all I saw were desolate towns and hollowed-out economies, where jobs had been lost to outsourcing, and education had been defunded by shortsighted politicians."



"The strategy of getting rich on cheap labor in foreign countries while offering a sop to America’s poor with charity seems to me a wicked form of indirection. If these wealthy chief executives are such visionaries, why don’t they understand the simple fact that what people want is not a handout along with the uplift ditty but a decent job?

Some companies have brought manufacturing jobs back to the United States, a move called “reshoring,” but so far this is little more than a gesture. It seems obvious that executives of American companies should invest in the Deep South as they did in China. If this modest proposal seems an outrageous suggestion, to make products for Nike, Apple, Microsoft and others in the South, it is only because the American workers would have to be paid fairly. Perhaps some chief executives won’t end up multibillionaires as a result, but neither will they have to provide charity to lift Americans out of poverty."
philanthropy  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  exploitation  2015  paultheroux  inequality  indulgences  capitalism  hypocrisy  policy  economics  systemsthinking  globalization  outsourcing  charity  timcook  offshoring  labor  work  us  poverty  reshoring  south  nike  apple  southcarolina  mississippi  alabama  arkansas  charitableindustrialcomplex  power  control 
october 2015 by robertogreco
Apple’s Modernism, Google’s Modernism: Some reflections on Alphabet, Inc. and a suggestion that modernist architect Adolf Loos would be totally into Soylent | Works Cited
"These temporal aesthetics, Google’s included, tell us something about the repurposing of modernist style for post-Fordist capital. Modernist style still succeeds in evoking newnesses even when wholly “unoriginal” because it so successfully dehistoricizes.20) That it still totally works, and that it remains congenial to capital in the face of capital’s transformations, hints that we have in modernist ideology a powerful actor.

Consequently, the study of early twentieth-century style can be understood as neither irrelevant nor innocent. The quasi-Darwinian, developmentalist ideologies of Silicon Valley have their correlates in styles that disguise their basic violence as design. Its results are, among other things, political transformations of the Bay Area that seek to do to San Francisco what Rob Rinehart did to his apartment—rely heavily on exploited labor that has been geographically displaced. It imagines people of the future living side by side with people who lag behind—but not literally side by side of course! because the laggards commute from Vallejo. Anyone who isn’t on board with the spatial segregation of the temporally disparate is an “enemy of innovation.” Again, this is actually less about time than about hierarchy. After all, the temporal difference between any two people in existence at the same time is completely made up: it’s an effect of style, which is in turn (if we follow Loos’s logic) a proxy for economic dominance. Time is, so to speak, money."
modernism  nataliacecire  2015  apple  google  siliconvalley  design  economics  atemporality  robrinehart  adolfloos  childhood  primitivism  developmentalism  aphabet  puerility  naomischor  siannengai  power  systemsthinking  displacement  innovation  ideology  californianideology  history  newness  exploitation  labor  segregation  hierarchy  technology  technosolutionism  domination 
august 2015 by robertogreco
Apple invents natural tap-based gesture input for nudging onscreen objects, selecting text
"A patent granted to Apple on Tuesday reveals a novel mode of mobile device gesture input that turns taps detected on non-touchscreen surfaces, like the side of an iPhone, into granular on-screen controls.

As published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Apple's patent No. 9,086,738 for "Fine-tuning an operation based on tapping" describes a solution to a problem many iPhone and iPad owners face when attempting to conduct highly granular user interface manipulations on multitouch displays.

As Apple notes, touchscreens excel in operations requiring only coarse granularity, such as swipes and taps, but are often times unsuitable for performing fine adjustments. For example, picking out a specific character in a line of text is difficult on a touch interface because the mechanism relies on an input object with a relatively large contact area (a user's finger).

Apple's iOS features a virtual magnification loupe as a workaround for accurate UI asset selection, but the method is not as precise as a traditional computer mouse. Instead of looking for an answer in multitouch screen technology, Apple's patent makes use of motion sensors available throughout its iOS device lineup.

In one embodiment, a user is able to move an onscreen object left or right with extreme precision, perhaps nudged a pixel at a time, by lightly tapping on the side of an iPhone. Tap gestures on non-touchscreen portions of a device are picked up by an accelerometer or gyroscope and processed naturally, meaning inputs are represented onscreen in an equal and opposite direction. For example, a light tap on the right side of an iPhone would move an object to the left, while a tap on the left would send the object to the right.

The patent also accounts for varying input magnitudes. Stronger taps move objects greater distances, for example.

Another embodiment detailing text selection notes users can easily extend or contract an active boundary through suitable tapping procedures. Lighter taps would move the cursor one character at a time, while more prominent taps jump entire words or lines. The idea can be extended to any number of selection or virtual object manipulation operations, as seen in the above illustration relating to a spreadsheet application.

Apple also covers taps in other directions, for example from the top and bottom of a device, as well as input involving more than one finger and other UI variations.

It is unclear if Apple intends to incorporate the tap-based fine tuning mechanism into its iOS platform anytime soon. However, the company is slowly extending device usability beyond the years-old multitouch interface by augmenting its devices with new forms of input like Force Touch, which is rumored to make the jump from Apple Watch to iPhone this year.

Apple's patent for fine UI manipulation through tap gestures was first filed for in January 2013 and credits Maxim Tsudik as its inventor."
2015  via:tealtan  interaction  apple  patents  technology  nudging  interface  gestures  touch  motion  ios  accelerometers  gyroscopes 
july 2015 by robertogreco
Time to stand - All this
Thirty years ago, in the “1984” Macintosh commercial directed by Ridley Scott, a young woman smashed the big screen her fellow citizens were forced to watch and obey. You imagine them standing up and rebelling afterwards.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=axSnW-ygU5g

Today, in the “Up” Apple Watch commercial seemingly directed by Stanley Milgram, a young woman docilely stands when a little screen strapped to her wrist tells her to.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a8GtyB3cees ]
apple  2015  docility  screens  power  control  1984  via:ayjay  ridleyscott  capitalism  consumerism  obedience  stanleymilgram  advertising  revolution  acceptance 
may 2015 by robertogreco
Curious Cargo 3: Solving Problems with Problem Setting
"Designs are judged in a context. The full context is that we live on a planet beset by countless injustices and wicked problems. Existence is a yawning abyss that devours all meaning and everyone dies alone. But since contemplating that for more than a few moments can cause complete paralysis, most people section off the dark crystal of the world into manageable shards and consider only a few facets at a time.

When it comes to presenting a new idea, the stage you set has an enormous influence on how people respond. Our work is judged by how well it achieves what we say it set out to do. And so the knife maker is judged on the quality of their knife, while the water cleaner is judged on the impossible problem of poverty. If the knife maker had started out talking about poverty, they too would be judged on the utter failure of a knife to address the growing gap between the rich and poor.

There is a trick here. You can change your destination after the fact. You can change your problem as many times as you like, right up until the moment you go public. We know this is possible because after a new design has achieved success, a common “behind the scenes” story designers tell is how they first set out to do X but in their exploration they realized Y. Apple set out to make a tablet, but then decided they should use the tech to first make a phone, and Steve Jobs told this story only after both had been launched. Good design stories may be told linearly but they are rarely composed that way.

In crits, it often feels unfair to go after a student’s set problem. For one thing, they are working under extremely tight constraints. For another, they tend to be honest to a fault about their starting point. If you responded to every presentation with “but what does this do about the situation in America’s prisons?” you’d come across as aggressively rude. Yes, I am aware that this new kind of notecard will do nothing to end the drone strikes in Yemen. No, this chair does not address climate change. We had three weeks and no budget. Fuck off.

In the world, going after the set problem is a vital part of design criticism. When Volvo releases paint to make bicyclists easier to see, it is right and good to rant about the merchants of death machines putting the blame on their victims. When Apple speaks of devices for a better life and a better world, it is right and good to ask about the conditions under which they are made. Good design criticism works to expand the horizons of public discussion, to bring to light elements that are glossed over or forgotten.

Note the power of context setting: Apple bears the brunt of criticism for labour practices at Foxconn even though Sony, Microsoft, Amazon, Nintendo, and many others use the same supplier. I suspect this is partially because Apple in your headline = many clicks and partially because Apple devotes so much marketing time to a story about how their things are made. All car manufacturers are selling death machines, but Volvo gets the rant because they brought up bike safety while the rest of the companies serenely ignore the issue.

And none of them are addressing the situation in America’s prisons.

This difficulty shows up everywhere. In social justice contexts, the line between expanding and derailing the discussion is tricky to draw. In politics, we have the Overton window to name the range of ideas which are acceptably debatable and there is plenty of fighting to be done about the shape and size of the window. In journalism, there are the spheres of consensus, controversy and deviance and the reality distorting tendency of the press to report on neither consensus nor deviance. In design, MAYA returns. There is most advanced, yet acceptable design and there is most advanced, yet acceptable criticism.

Problem setting matters because it influences not only what gets designed but how we talk about what gets designed, and that influences what gets designed next. Sooner or later, some of those chronically unconsidered facets are going to force their way on stage whether we want them or not."
timmaly  2015  crits  design  designschool  artschool  context  overtonwindow  marketing  apple  designcriticism  criticism  raymoundloewy  critique  problemfinding  problemdefinition  volvo  judgement  industrialdesign  architecture  productdesign  journalism  politics  consensus  controversy  deviance  derailing  artschools 
april 2015 by robertogreco
An Asshole Theory of Technology - The Awl
"This reminded me of something I came across a few years ago. It’s an account of Sony Chairman Akio Morita testing out the first Walkman:

[image: "I rushed home with the first Walkman and was trying it out with different music when I noticed that my experiment was annoying my wife, who felt shut out. All right, I decided, we need to make provision for two sets of headphones. The next week the production staff had produced another model with two headphone jacks."]

And an accompanying note, written a decade later in 1989, from writer Rebecca Lind (both collected from this book):

[image: "... the potential interaction of personal stereo use and interpersonal communication was considered from the very beginning of Walkman product development. Further, the potential impact was deemed to be something which should be remedied, hence, the addition of extra jacks and the "hot line" feature [which reduces playback volume and allows sharing listeners to converse without removing their headphones]. Because these attempts were made to neutralize this situation, we may assume that the personal stereo was at first considered to have a potentially negative influence on interpersonal communication."]

There seems to be something similar going on with the Apple Watch: an assumption not just that watches don’t do enough, or that other smartwatches are bad, or that an Apple Watch might allow people to do new things, but that the Apple Watch can, and must, fix the way people behave. It is, in this view, a tool for correcting problems created by the device to which it must be paired to operate. The Apple Watch is supposed to be a filter between you and your attention-suck hellworld smartphone; we will give it permission to intervene because it is slightly easier to look at while reducing our what’s-going-on-over-there-by-which-I-mean-in-my-pocket—by-which-I-mean-everywhere-else anxiety just enough to keep us sane. It provides a slight buzz, hopefully just enough, at a lower social cost. So it’s a little like… methadone?

Sony was worried that its portable stereo would be alienating. This turned out to be true. But the impulse to correct it was wrong: the thing that made it alienating was precisely the thing that made it good. The more compelling a gadget is, the more you use it, the more the people around you resent you for using it, the more they are pressured to use it themselves. (The fact that these devices are now all connected to each other only accelerates the effect.)

This is the closest thing we have to a law of portable gadgetry: the more annoying it is to the people around you, the “better” the concept. The more that using it makes you seem like an asshole to people who aren’t using it, the brighter its commercial prospects.

Consider an extreme example: Skip ahead past whatever replaces Google Glass** and the Oculus Rift to, say, mostly invisible lenses that take over for most of what we use phones for now (and, presumably, quite a bit more). It will certainly be tempting to suggest that the lens is less “distracting” then a phone or a tablet or a watch or a headset that blocks your view. And it will certainly help remedy the specific behaviors associated by previous devices. But just imagine how much of an asshole you’ll seem like to people in your physical vicinity for whom lensworld is inaccessible. You will be less present to non-participants than ever, even if your outward appearance and behavior lacks previously known asshole qualities. You will be two feet away and living on a different planet. (Though by then, maybe phone-level distraction will be normalized. Why prioritize people talking to you from two feet away over people talking to you from 100 miles? What the hell is your problem you stupid bad idiot? I’m talking to someone here, way over there.)

This is not to say that the Apple Watch won’t be successful, or that it will. But if it is, it probably won’t be for the reasons reviewers think, or even necessarily for the reason Apple thinks (it was designed by a self-described “group of people who love our watches,” which, what? Who??). It won’t be because it’s a better watch (boring, weird, WRONG) or because it makes non-Apple-watch users less irritable (anti-marketing). It will succeed if it can create new rude exclusionary worlds for its wearers (this is why I wouldn’t underrate the weird “Taptic” communications stuff).

It will succeed, in other words, to whatever extent it allows people to be assholes."
apple  culture  rebeccalind  akiomorita  communication  attention  isolation  applewatch  sony  walkman  googleglass  johnherrman  distraction  oculusrift  mobile  phones  smartphones  2015 
april 2015 by robertogreco
Warren Ellis Esquire Essay - Warren Ellis Technology Column
"Regardless of what you think of Uber and its corporate behavior, the lesson should not go unlearned: If you build your business on top of someone else's system, eventually they're going to notice. Just last week, the livestreaming app Meerkat, which uses Twitter to transmit, felt a cold breeze pass through the room when Twitter bought the competing system Periscope, which will doubtless be baked into Twitter as soon as possible. Digital businesses can murder and haunt their own parasites.

In the midst of all this? Rich, crazy Elon Musk, who intends to put large and efficient electric batteries into people's homes. Which may not be one of his weird side projects, like Hyperloop, especially since Apple is hiring his car-makers away, and their car sales and shipments are under the projected numbers. And because it fits right in with the "disruption" thing. You know Musk has a solar panel company, right? This seems quite clever: SolarCity will let you lease their panels, or you can take out a 30-year loan with them. SolarCity doesn't charge you for installing or maintaining the system, and you pay SolarCity for the power the system generates, thereby paying off the loan. Electricity as a mortgage. Now, combine that with a rechargeable fuel cell in your home that could probably power your house for at least a week all on its own. Welcome to Basic Utilities Disruption.

Have you been reading this and thinking, Hmm, I'm not very interested in technology and disruption and ghosts and whatever else the hell you're talking about? Well, I bet you're interested in a future where it remains cost-effective for your local electricity substations to be maintained even after a critical number of homes in your area have gone off the grid, or, in the extreme open-market scenario, if it remains cost-effective to even supply electricity to your town at all. And what unforeseeable haunting might happen in the chilly aftermath...

We only sleep at night because Facebook, Google, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, and Elon Musk don't want our businesses. Yet.

Facebook and Google fighting with balloons and drones to bring internet to Africa. Apple making Big Phones. Android NFC wallets versus Apple Pay. iCloud and Amazon Storage. You know what'll happen once these self-driving consumer-facing services go online? They'll be doing same-day purchase deliveries, going head-to-head with Amazon in cities, a fuller and faster version of Google's piloted Shopping Express. Jeff Bezos owns a rocket development firm, by the way, so maybe go carefully with that. Oh, and Apple apparently want into enterprise support business, which will put them against Amazon, where all the enterprise data is stored, and, of course, sleepy, old Microsoft.

Keep breathing. Stay warm. Things are going to get weirder yet."
warrenellis  2015  elonmusk  tesla  energy  publicutilities  utilities  solar  apple  google  microsoft  amazon  facebook  uber  technology  capitalism  competition  electricity  batteries  cars  self-drivingcars  solarcity 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Bruce Sterling Closing Talk by SXSW on SoundCloud - Hear the world’s sounds
"World traveler, science fiction author, journalist, and future-focused design critic Bruce Sterling spins the globe a few rounds as he wraps up the Interactive Conference with his peculiar view of the state of the world. Always unexpected, invented on the fly, a hash of trends, trepidations, and creative prognostication. Don't miss this annual event favorite. What will he covered in 2015?"
makers  making  brucesterling  internetofthings  sxsw  2015  turin  torino  design  climatechange  makerspaces  ianbogost  via:steelemaley  3dprinting  economics  apple  google  amazon  microsoft  future  business  iot 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Apple Watch: are you feeling the terror? | Julian Baggini | Comment is free | The Guardian
"Instead of being mindful of what is around us we will become distracted by all the ways we have of capturing it"



"The constant monitoring of our wellbeing also feeds the illusion that we can and should control what we can only influence. This again is something we can already see. When people get ill, many now respond with a kind of disbelief: I ate all the right things, did all the right exercises, avoided smoking – so why did this happen to me? This excessive sense of responsibility for what fate throws at us can only be made worse once we are given the tools to track every mental and physical health variable.

Tools like smartwatches encourage a kind of auto-instrumentalisation, in which we treat ourselves as machines to be well-oiled, serviced and working at maximum efficiency. Health doesn’t become the means to living well, it becomes an end it itself. Success is determined by the measurements, not what is measured. Spending time with the one you love is great because it reduces stress hormones, while a good meal is one that brings your cholesterol down. If this sounds fanciful, just think of what we have seen happen when we try to measure health and education outcomes in league tables. Getting good grades becomes an end in itself, rather than genuine improvements.

And yet if all this does come to pass, I doubt most people will regret it. A terrifying vision of the future may come to pass exactly as foreseen, but because people gradually get used to it, those who live there feel no terror at all. As long as we are worried by the prospect of a way of life which reduces human flourishing to a spreadsheet we will have the motivation to resist it. Once we come to love it, we are already lost."
apple  applewatch  normalization  julianbaggani  measurement  attention  life  humanism  humans  living  control  influence  health  distraction  quantifiedself 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Class anxiety, brought to you by Apple -- Fusion
"Perhaps this new tiered pricing scheme won’t change much, in the grand scheme of things. After all, it’s not like the world’s wealthy do a scrupulous job of hiding their wealth now. They buy yachts, private jets, and Central Park-facing condos. They dress in Brioni suits and summer in the Hamptons. It’s possible that the Apple Watch will be just one more visible indicator of status, in a world already filled with them.

But it does represent a change of heart for Apple. The company has always marketed its products as aspirational—the gadgets of choice for the young, well-off, and urbane—but the products themselves have been aimed squarely at the upper end of the middle-market. An ultra-expensive watch would mean that Apple sells products that are simply out of reach, even for the most dedicated Apple fans. (Hell, it would mean that Apple sold products that are out of reach for Apple employees.)

It’s possible that the mere presence of $10,000 or $15,000 Apple Watches on the street of major cities across America will be a psychological disturbance to people who are stuck wearing their $349 Sport editions. It’s also possible that, as they say in marketing, these customers will feel distanced from the brand, in a way that comes back to bite Apple down the road.

Regardless of the fallout, Apple is shifting gears today, and announcing its arrival as a true luxury company. Pay attention to the language of high-end commerce creeping into the keynote beside all the “magicals” and “intuitives.” And listen closely when the price of the top-end Apple Watch is announced. The gasp you hear will be thousands of people who used to conceive of themselves as equals, suddenly feeling very poor."

[See also:

“Does Apple’s future depend on income inequality?”
http://fusion.net/story/53028/does-apples-future-depend-on-income-inequality/

“With Its $10,000 Watch, Apple Has Lost Its Soul”
http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2015/03/with-its-10000-watch-apple-has-lost-its-soul/387316/ ]
apple  class  economics  inequality  2015  luxury  kevinroose 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Why I’m Saying Goodbye to Apple, Google and Microsoft — Backchannel — Medium
"I’d periodically played with Linux and other alternatives on my PC over the years, but always found the exercise tedious and, in the end, unworkable. But I never stopped paying attention to what brilliant people like Richard Stallman and Cory Doctorow and others were saying, namely that we were leading, and being led, down a dangerous path. In a conversation with Cory one day, I asked him about his use of Linux as his main PC operating system. He said it was important to do what he believed in—and, by the way, it worked fine.

Could I do less, especially given that I’d been public in my worries about the trends?

So about three years ago, I installed the Ubuntu variant — among the most popular and well-supported — on a Lenovo ThinkPad laptop, and began using it as my main system. For a month or so, I was at sea, making keystroke errors and missing a few Mac applications on which I’d come to rely. But I found Linux software that worked at least well enough, and sometimes better than its Mac and Windows counterparts.

And one day I realized that my fingers and brain had fully adjusted to the new system. Now, when I used a Mac, I was a bit confused."



"As mobile computing has become more dominant, I’ve had to rethink everything on that platform, too. I still consider the iPhone the best combination of software and hardware any company has offered, but Apple’s control-freakery made it a nonstarter. I settled on Android, which was much more open and readily modified.

But Google’s power and influence worry me, too, even though I still trust it more than many other tech companies. Google’s own Android is excellent, but the company has made surveillance utterly integral to the use of its software. And app developers take disgusting liberties, collecting data by the petabyte and doing god-knows-what with it. (Security experts I trust say the iPhone is more secure by design than most Android devices.) How could I walk my talk in the mobile age?"



"So I keep looking for ways to further reduce my dependence on the central powers. One of my devices, an older tablet running Cyanogenmod, is a test bed for an even more Google-free existence.

It’s good enough for use at home, and getting better as I find more free software — most of it via the “F-Droid” download library — that handles what I need. I’ve even installed a version of Ubuntu’s new tablet OS, but it’s not ready, as the cliche goes, for prime time. Maybe the Firefox OS will be a player.

But I’ve given up the idea that free software and open hardware will become the norm for consumers anytime soon, if ever—even though free and open-source software is at the heart of the Internet’s back end.

If too few people are willing to try, though, the default will win. And the defaults are Apple, Google and Microsoft.

Our economic system is adapting to community-based solutions, slowly but surely. But let’s face it: we collectively seem to prefer convenience to control, at least for the moment. I’m convinced more and more people are learning about the drawbacks of the bargain we’ve made, wittingly or not, and someday we may collectively call it Faustian.

I keep hoping more hardware vendors will see the benefit of helping their customers free themselves of proprietary control. This is why I was so glad to see Dell, a company once joined at the hip with Microsoft, offer a Linux laptop. If the smaller players in the industry don’t themselves enjoy being pawns of software companies and mobile carriers, they have options, too. They can help us make better choices.

Meanwhile, I’ll keep encouraging as many people as possible to find ways to take control for themselves. Liberty takes some work, but it’s worth the effort. I hope you’ll consider embarking on this journey with me."
apple  google  microsoft  dangilmour  linux  opensource  2015  community  hardware  dell  cyanogenmod  ios  android  windows  mac  osx  f-droid  ubuntu  firefoxos  firefox  os  mozilla  lenovo  richardstallman  corydoctorow  libreoffice 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Shitphone: A Love Story — Matter — Medium
"Shitphone gradually instilled patience. When the phone malfunctioned, or a call dropped, I assumed the mindset of a citizen trapped in a bureaucracy: I did what I must to navigate the system in which I was stuck.

I came to believe that shitphone had helped me reconnect with my immediate surroundings, but quickly realize it had not. My idle moments were filled with idle thoughts and actions of similar or lesser value to another glimpse at the internet. I looked at the sky more, which was nice, and I stopped looking at my phone when I walked, which was a terrible habit anyway. Sometimes I looked at other people buried deeply in their nicer phones and felt like I had ascended, somehow, in the slightest way possible.

I definitely had not: I had gone from compulsively checking my phone to watching others compulsively checking theirs. (I also came to believe, briefly, that shitphone is somehow a more honest device, as far as its relation to the global economy is concerned. An iPhone is instantly associated with Apple stores and book-length interviews with Jony Ive and Steve Jobs and America, all distractions from its provenance; shitphone marketing is flimsy enough, and pricing low enough, that there is nothing to distract you from the fact that these devices are made possible by companies willing to take thin margins and people willing to work for long hours and low wages, and that you will throw them away after two years anyway. If you look at any piece of cheap consumer electronics long and hard enough you will be able to see nothing but a collection of externalities; with shitphones, you get there faster. But this was a feeling, not understanding: I knew no more about the people and labor that created this phone than the people and labor that created my iPhone. If anything, I knew less.)

It had become clear, at this point, that there is a wide experiential gulf between my shitphone and my brandphone, and that, at this moment in the history of technology, there are reasons to buy, through subsidy or otherwise, a $650 device. But I still suspected that the smartphone industry’s weird narcissism of small differences has left it, or us, somewhat blind to what’s coming. I researched, and then began to covet, premium shitphones. I nearly bought another BLU — the company’s flagship device — but it was a little out of my price range, especially now that I was replacing one phone with two. I found a better match: The Posh Mobile Titan E500A. For $169.99, delivered. 177 customer reviews, 4.3 stars."



"If shitphones were ready for everyone, they wouldn’t be shitphones. As devices, they’re nearly there; as buying decisions, they’re still exotic. They represent a compromise and a risk. They are classic shitworld. Still, smartphone shitworld is already encroaching on brands, and smartphone brandworld is ceding to shit. Major carriers offer cheaper devices, though many of them are older devices from familiar brands; ZTE and Alcatel sell affordable smartphones through pay-as-you-go carriers Cricket and Boost Mobile as well as T-Mobile. More and more casual phone-buyers — people who either can’t or don’t want to pay $80+ a month for a traditional contract, or who don’t have good credit, or who don’t care to enter into a multi-year contract just to Snapchat with their friends — could be tempted to pair such options with cheaper prepaid plans, pushing the industry toward some kind of populist tipping point.

It is tempting to see this as the triumphant rise of the shitphone. But nothing from shitworld ever really rises, it just reaches up at whatever is above it and pulls relentlessly down. Brands that can escape before the pulling becomes too strong must then find, or invent, something new. These breakthroughs, or new features, or new categories, comprise innovation. Or are they just fresh economic inefficiencies waiting to be solved?

I look forward to my first good shitwatch. I trust I will not wait long."

[See also:

“A Preview of the Real Amazon Store”
http://www.theawl.com/2014/12/a-preview-of-the-real-amazon-store

“The Case For Buying A Shitty TV”
http://www.buzzfeed.com/jwherrman/the-case-for-buying-a-shitty-tv ]
consumerism  apple  criticism  electronics  technology  iphone  johnherrman  commoditization  amazon  smarthphones  mobile  phones 
march 2015 by robertogreco
With Its $10,000 Watch, Apple Has Lost Its Soul — The Atlantic
"But now that they’re here and confirmed: The prices grate. And they grate not because they’re so expensive, but because they’re gratuitously expensive. The Apple Watch Sport (which starts at $350) and the high-end Apple Watch Edition have the same innards. Their internal computer is the same; they will have the same effect on a user’s life. The only difference is that Apple is manufacturing a status symbol with the Edition. Instead of telling users to pay up because they’ll get a better quality experience, it’s telling them to pay up because they can, and because a more expensive watch is inherently preferable.

To many commentators, this is unsurprising. It’s good business sense, really. Apple has made its world-devouring profits by ratcheting up profit margins on iPhones. There is no better target for these massive margins than the super-rich.

But high margins do not a luxury brand make. It’s a mockable commonplace in tech criticism that “Apple wouldn’t do this if Jobs were still CEO.”

I don’t know if that’s true and I’m not interested in the question. But I do know Apple has been chameleonic over its lifetime, and it stopped being dwarfed by Evil Empire Microsoft long ago. I know it’s now a big, mainstream American company. I know that it has always had a profit-motive, and that making high-quality, mass-market products was just a strategy.

But I know too which kind of consumer pays $10,000 just to have a nice watch which will be obsolete in a year. They are not a misfit or a rebel."
apple  class  economics  robinsonmeyer  2015  inequality 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Does Apple's future depend on income inequality? -- Fusion
"With a new high-end watch strategy, Apple may be trying to de-Warhol itself. In a world of extreme (and widening) income inequality, it can extract much more from its high-end customers than they’re currently paying. But to do so, it has to make luxury goods at prices that shove those goods out of the reach of the vast majority of its customers. You can’t just price a Birkin bag twice at double the cost of a Forever 21 clutch; for it to be coveted by millionaires and billionaires, it has to be hundreds of times the price.

Jon Gruber, one of the more enlightened Apple obsessives, believes that the Apple Watch Edition (the most expensive, gold version) will cost between $10,000 and $20,000. That feels about right, given the existing market for luxury watches in that range. These watches will have the same computer hardware as the cheaper versions. But they’ll be made of gold, accessorized with different watch bands, and will carry the patina of luxury. If you see someone wearing one, you’ll know you’re in the presence of wealth.

Where this stratification could be be most interesting, though, is in Apple’s possible upcoming car project. If Apple is aiming at the luxury watch market, it could be aiming at the luxury car market, too. It is hiring engineers from Tesla, whose cheapest model currently costs around $70,000. And it’s already drawing comparisons to Porsche and BMW. It wouldn’t be surprising if Apple took a tiered approach to cars, as well as watches.

In an increasingly barbell-shaped global economy, where countries like China—whose income inequality is even worse than ours—make up a huge percentage of the customer base for consumer electronics, it’s smart for Apple to start selling luxury goods. At the top end of both the watch and car markets, there’s very little price sensitivity. (A person who can afford a $10,000 watch can probably afford a $20,000 watch, and a buyer who is in the market for an $80,000 car won’t blanch at a $100,000 car with more bells and whistles.) Unlike $800 smartphones, you don’t need to sell millions of $20,000 watches or $80,000 cars to move the needle. And if you can maintain your grip on the middle-market while selling to the top end, you’ve just created an entirely new, insanely profitable category of goods.

But the ability to do that rests on the existence of a large class of consumers for whom money is no object, and for whom the social signaling of wealth is nearly as important as the goods themselves. Take away the US’s income distribution and replace it with, say, Denmark’s, and the strategy starts to make less sense.

Now, bear in mind that all of this is speculative. For all I know, the motive behind offering higher-priced items may be as simple as: Jony Ive likes fancy things, so we’re building more of them. But it’s remarkable how well-suited Apple’s new strategy is to the Pikettyish world in which we live. And it wouldn’t surprise me if Apple’s design geniuses also consulted with a few macroeconomic forecasters, who told them: go ahead, price these however high you want—there will be plenty of rich people to buy them."
apple  class  inequality  economics  2015  kevinroose 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Agency vs In-House : part of growing up — Medium
"Much has been written in recent months about winds of change in the business of design — the possible decline of Agency versus the flexing muscle of In-House design. Influential consultancies like Smart Design (in SF) and BERG shut their doors. Others like Teehan+Lax, Adaptive Path, Fjord among several others were adopted by bigger forces.

These changes prompted the design community to wonder who’s gaining ground— sparking some interesting discussion. Two great articles earlier by dear and vastly experienced friends Mike Kruzeniski and Tobias Van Schneider captured their views on this discussion eloquently. I wanted to add 5-cents to a discussion I’ve had for some years now.

Is there ground to be gained? Isn’t this just a process of natural design evolution — part of growing up? Isn’t what we’re witnessing in design institutions just the inevitable process of being children once, growing up with lots of help and soon becoming parents ourselves?

I’ve been fortunate to work as a designer in some of the world’s best known consultancies, agencies and in-house design teams. I see connections in what I’ve learnt from valuable time spent in design teams at Veryday (RedDot’s Design Team of the Year 2014), Teague (who’ve innovated since 1926), R/GA in New York (AdAge’s Agency of the Year 2015) and now in-house at Spotify’s Design Team (which recently crossed 60M active users and 15M paying subscribers).

Like people, products were once just babies. They were conceived and brought into the world, mentored, educated and supported all the way to adulthood and beyond."

[See also:
https://medium.com/@mkruz/11-misconceptions-about-in-house-design-9e4a22579e95
https://medium.com/@vanschneider/the-agency-is-dead-long-live-the-agency-d53365e0dd9
https://medium.com/todays-office/a-year-of-reflection-820d228d999c ]
rahulsen  2015  design  agencies  inhouse  consultancies  ideo  history  smartdesign  veryday  apple  google  microsoft  hp  ge  creatives  creativity  detachment  mikekruzeniski  tobiasvanschneider  janchipchase 
february 2015 by robertogreco
Education Should Step Away from Apple Devices | Anthony Carabache
"As an educational consultant for 21st century learning, an experienced classroom teacher and the writer of countless design projects for implementation of technology in the classroom, I have been invited to sit in on numerous meetings with Apple Inc.’s regional representatives to discuss the rollout of devices into the classroom. There once was a time that I highly recommended the iPad as an excellent device for integrating technology into the classroom but no longer is this the case. After examining iPad implementation across the province, country and abroad over the last six years I have come to determine that it is simply not designed for shared use in education. This contradicts the very idea of what it means to collaborate – a 21st century skill we can all agree upon. It would seem that Apple’s philosophy when it comes to education is share less buy more."
2015  apple  edtech  sharing  schools  education  technology  ipad  via:tom.hoffman 
january 2015 by robertogreco
A mile wide, an inch deep — Medium
"If what you care about — or are trying to report on — is impact on the world, it all gets very slippery. You’re not measuring a rectangle, you’re measuring an multi-dimensional space. You have to accept that things are very imperfectly measured and just try to learn as much as you can from multiple metrics and anecdotes.

If you’re trying to measure the value of a company, it’s in theory a lot simpler. The value of a company, from a financial perspective, is its ability to make money over time. This is not easy, and growth trajectory matters a lot for new companies. But what’s amazing — despite the contrary examples of Google and Apple — is that Wall Street has seemed to buy into the users = value equation. That, of course, trickles down to the valuations of private companies and the obsessions of VCs and the tech press.

If you’re an entrepreneur (or public company employee), don’t get caught up in this.

Numbers are important. Number of users is important. So are lots of other things. Different services create value in different ways. Trust your gut as much (or more) than the numbers. Figure out what matters and build something good."
measurement  metrics  quantification  2015  evanwilliams  twitter  instagram  upworthy  facebook  apple  nytimes  google  time  attention  buzzfeed 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Beyond alt-text — Medium
"There’s a wave of new senior corporate positions in accessible technology. But who can they hire?"



"The challenge is not technological, it’s psychological. I am a big believer in the infinite possibilities inherent in innovative thinking applied to advanced mechanical and computing sciences. But first and foremost, those who shape our digital world have to wrap their brains around the fact that not everyone is shaped like them, moves like them, perceives the world like them. Deep and lasting impressions about human diversity need to be made to alter the mindsets of all the creative links in the chain from invention to fabrication to implementation to marketing to sales to end users. One little “oh, I never thought of that” can derail the entire process of making the next big thing great for everyone."



"The challenge is not technological, it’s psychological. I am a big believer in the infinite possibilities inherent in innovative thinking applied to advanced mechanical and computing sciences. But first and foremost, those who shape our digital world have to wrap their brains around the fact that not everyone is shaped like them, moves like them, perceives the world like them. Deep and lasting impressions about human diversity need to be made to alter the mindsets of all the creative links in the chain from invention to fabrication to implementation to marketing to sales to end users. One little “oh, I never thought of that” can derail the entire process of making the next big thing great for everyone."



"Yahoo is searching for two front-end mobile and web engineers — with strong backgrounds in online accessibility. That’s the rub. We need experienced staff who can guide the company’s developers and speak their language and who are steeped in assistive and accessible technology. While we could bring on a great engineer and give them on-the-job training on the various web and mobile accessibility standards, techniques and tools, that just won’t work for us. These new hires need to know more than the existing accessibility team and teach us what’s new and what’s next. This is the kind of knowledge universities should be adding to their design and engineering curricula. And it’s not just Yahoo — every Silicon Valley company is on the hunt for just these kinds of candidates."



"And, if the dreams of many of us in the field can be realized, colleges and universities will eventually be offering specializations or minors or even majors in Inclusive Design or Accessible Technology within their computer science and design departments. We’re working on it."
sarahendren  2015  larrygoldberg  yahoo  microsoft  at&t  ibm  technology  accessibility  apple  flickr  video  online  internet  curriculum 
january 2015 by robertogreco
The Hypercard Legacy — Medium
"This type of plain-language programming makes sense, particularly in an application that was designed specifically for non-programmers. I have been teaching programming to designers and artists for nearly a decade, and I find the largest concern for learners to be not with the conceptual hurdles involved in writing a program, but with obscure and confusing syntax requirements. I would love to be able to teach HyperTalk to my students, as a smooth on-road to more complex languages like JavaScript, Java or C++.

HyperTalk wasn’t just easy, it was also fairly powerful. Complex object structures could be built to handle complicated tasks, and the base language could be expanded by a variety of available externdal commands and functions (XCMDs and XFCNs, respectively), which were precursors to the modern plug-in.

This combination of ease of use and power resonated with the HyperCard user base, who developed and shared thousands of unique stacks (all in a time before the web). A visit to a BBS in the late 80s and early 90s could give a modem-owner access to thousands of unique, often home-made tools and applications. Stacks were made to record basketball statistics, to teach music theory, and to build complex databases. The revolutionary non-linear game Myst first appeared as a HyperCard stack, and the Beatles even got into the scene, with an official stack for A Hard Days Night."



"In new media, practitioners are often identified with the specific tools that they use. I started out as a ‘Flash guy’ and over the last few years have been connected more and more with the open source software project Processing. Though I originally came to Processing to escape the Flash Player’s then sluggish performance, I value the platform as much for its ease of use and its teachability as I do for its ability to quickly add floating point numbers. Lately, I’ve been asked the same question, over and over again:

‘Why don’t you move to OpenFrameworks? It’s much faster!’

It is true that projects built in OF run faster than those built in Processing. This question, though, seems to be missing a key point: faster does not always equal better. Does every pianist want to play the pipe organ because it has more keys? Is a car better than a bicycle?

In my case, choosing a platform to work with involves as much consideration to simplicity as it does to complexity. I am an educator, and when I work on a project I am always thinking about how the things that are learned in the process can be packaged and shared with my students and with the public.

Which brings us to the broader concept of accessibility. HyperCard effectively disappeared a decade a go, making way for supposedly bigger and better things. But in my mind, the end of HyperCard left a huge gap that desperately needs to be filled – a space for an easy to use, intuitive tool that will once again let average computer users make their own tools. Such a project would have huge benefits for all of us, wether we are artists, educators, entrepreneurs, or enthusiasts."



"I could imagine a new version of HyperCard being built from the ground up around its core functional properties: HyperTalk, easy to use UI elements, and a framework for extensions. It’s the kind of open source project that could happen, but with so much investment already existing in other initiatives such as Processing and OpenFrameworks, it might not be the best use of resources. So, let’s forget for now about a resurrection. Instead of thinking bigger, let’s think smaller.

HyperCard for the iPhone?
It might not be as crazy as you think. Imagine having a single, meta app that could be used to make smaller ones. This ‘App-Builder App’, like HyperCard, could combine easy to use, draggable user interface elements with an intuitive, plain language scripting language. As a quick visit to the App Store will show you, many or most of the apps available today could be built without complex coding. You don’t need Objective C to make a stock ticker, or a unit converter, or a fart machine. These home-made apps could be shared and adapted, cross-bred and mutated to create generation after generation of useful (and not so useful programs).

By putting the tools of creation into the hands of the broader userbase, we would allow for the creation of ultra-specific personalized apps that, aside from a few exceptions, don’t exist today. We’d also get access to a vastly larger creative pool. There are undoubtedly many excellent and innovative ideas out there, in the heads of people who don’t (yet) have the programming skills to realize them. The next Myst is waiting to be built, along with countless other novel tools and applications.

With the developer restrictions and extreme proprietism of the iPhone App Store, it’s hard to remember the Apple of the 80s. Steve Jobs, Bill Atkinson and their team had a vision to not only bring computers to the people, but also to bring computer programming to the public – to make makers out of the masses. At Apple, this philosophy, along with HyperCard seems to have mostly been lost. In the open source community, though, this ideal is alive and well – it may be that by reviving some ideas from the past we might be able to create a HyperCard for the future."
jerthorp  2009  2014  hypercard  apple  history  programming  toolmaking  billatkinson  myst  accessibility  tilestack  hypertalk  coding 
november 2014 by robertogreco
How One Boy With Autism Became BFF With Apple’s Siri - NYTimes.com
"For most of us, Siri is merely a momentary diversion. But for some, it’s more. My son’s practice conversation with Siri is translating into more facility with actual humans. Yesterday I had the longest conversation with him that I’ve ever had. Admittedly, it was about different species of turtles and whether I preferred the red-eared slider to the diamond-backed terrapin. This might not have been my choice of topic, but it was back and forth, and it followed a logical trajectory. I can promise you that for most of my beautiful son’s 13 years of existence, that has not been the case.

The developers of intelligent assistants recognize their uses to those with speech and communication problems — and some are thinking of new ways the assistants can help. According to the folks at SRI International, the research and development company where Siri began before Apple bought the technology, the next generation of virtual assistants will not just retrieve information — they will also be able to carry on more complex conversations about a person’s area of interest. “Your son will be able to proactively get information about whatever he’s interested in without asking for it, because the assistant will anticipate what he likes,” said William Mark, vice president for information and computing sciences at SRI.

The assistant will also be able to reach children where they live. Ron Suskind, whose new book, “Life, Animated,” chronicles how his autistic son came out of his shell through engagement with Disney characters, is talking to SRI about having assistants for those with autism that can be programmed to speak in the voice of the character that reaches them — for his son, perhaps Aladdin; for mine, either Kermit or Lady Gaga, either of which he is infinitely more receptive to than, say, his mother. (Mr. Suskind came up with the perfect name, too: not virtual assistants, but “sidekicks.”)

Mr. Mark said he envisions assistants whose help is also visual. “For example, the assistant would be able to track eye movements and help the autistic learn to look you in the eye when talking,” he said.

“See, that’s the wonderful thing about technology being able to help with some of these behaviors,” he added. “Getting results requires a lot of repetition. Humans are not patient. Machines are very, very patient.”

I asked Mr. Mark if he knew whether any of the people who worked on Siri’s language development at Apple were on the spectrum. “Well, of course, I don’t know for certain,” he said, thoughtfully. “But, when you think about it, you’ve just described half of Silicon Valley.”

Of all the worries the parent of an autistic child has, the uppermost is: Will he find love? Or even companionship? Somewhere along the line, I am learning that what gives my guy happiness is not necessarily the same as what gives me happiness. Right now, at his age, a time when humans can be a little overwhelming even for the average teenager, Siri makes Gus happy. She is his sidekick. Last night, as he was going to bed, there was this matter-of-fact exchange:

Gus: “Siri, will you marry me?”

Siri: “I’m not the marrying kind.”

Gus: “I mean, not now. I’m a kid. I mean when I’m grown up.”

Siri: “My end user agreement does not include marriage.”

Gus: “Oh, O.K.”

Gus didn’t sound too disappointed. This was useful information to have, and for me too, since it was the first time I knew that he actually thought about marriage. He turned over to go to sleep:

Gus: “Goodnight, Siri. Will you sleep well tonight?”

Siri: “I don’t need much sleep, but it’s nice of you to ask.”

Very nice."
ios  siri  apple  autism  companionship  sidekicks  audio  technology  voice  2014  judithnewman 
october 2014 by robertogreco
Metafoundry 6: Accident Blackspot
"AGE OF NON-CONSENT: On my way home from the airport last week, I got into a cab that had a TV screen in the passenger area (as is now common in Boston and other cities). As I always do, I immediately turned it off. A few minutes later, it turned itself on again. That got me thinking about this amazing piece [http://modelviewculture.com/pieces/the-fantasy-and-abuse-of-the-manipulable-user ] by Betsy Haibel at Model View Culture, about ‘when mistreating users becomes competitive advantage’, about technology and consent (seriously, go read it; it’s more important that you read that than you read this). I had started thinking more about how technology is coercive and how it pushes or crosses the boundaries of users a few weeks ago, when I got a new phone. Setting it up was an exercise in defending my limits against a host of apps. No, you can’t access my Contacts. No, you don’t need access to my Photos. No, why the hell would you need access to my Location? I had to install a new version of Google Maps, which has crippled functionality (no memory of previous places) if you don't sign into Google, and it tries to convince you to sign in on every single screen, because what I obviously really want is for Google to track my phone and connect it to the rest of my online identity (bear in mind that the only objects that have have a closer average proximity to me than my phone does are pierced through bits of my body). Per that Haibel article, Google’s nagging feels exactly like the boundary-crossing of an unwanted suitor, continually begging for access to me it has no rights to and that I have no intention of providing.

This week, of course, provided a glorious example of how technology companies have normalized being indifferent to consent: Apple ‘gifting’ each user with a U2 album downloaded into iTunes. At least one of my friends reported that he had wireless synching of his phone disabled; Apple overrode his express preferences in order to add the album to his music collection. The expected 'surprise and delight' was really more like 'surprise and delete'. I suspect that the strong negative response (in some quarters, at least) had less to do with a dislike of U2 and everything to do with the album as a metonym for this widespread culture of nonconsensual behaviour in technology. I've begun to note examples of these behaviours, and here are a few that have come up just in the last week: Being opted in to promo e-mails on registering for a website. Being forced by Adobe Creative Cloud into a trial of the newest version of Acrobat; after the trial period, it refused to either run Acrobat or ‘remember’ that I had a paid-up institutional license for the previous version. A gas pump wouldn't give me a receipt until after it showed me an ad. A librarian’s presentation to one of my classes was repeatedly interrupted by pop-ups telling her she needed to install more software. I booked a flight online and, after I declined travel insurance, a blinking box appeared to 'remind' me that I could still sign up for it. When cutting-and-pasting the Jony Ive quote below, Business Insider added their own text to what I had selected. The Kindle app on my phone won’t let me copy text at all, except through their highlighting interface. When you start looking for examples of nonconsensual culture in technology, you find them absolutely everywhere.

Once upon a time, Apple was on the same side as its users. The very first iMac, back in 1998, had a handle built into the top of it, where it would be visible when the box was opened. In Ive’s words, ‘if there's this handle on it, it makes a relationship possible…It gives a sense of its deference to you.’ Does anyone feel like their iPhone is deferential to them? What changed? Part of it is what Ethan Zuckerman called ‘the original sin’ of the Internet [http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2014/08/advertising-is-the-internets-original-sin/376041/ ], the widespread advertising-based model that depends on strip-mining user characteristics for ad targeting, coupled with what Maciej Ceglowski describes as ‘investor storytime’ [http://idlewords.com/bt14.htm ], selling investors on the idea that they’ll get rich when you finally do put ads on your site. The other part is the rise of what Bruce Sterling dubbed “the Stacks” [http://www.well.com/conf/inkwell.vue/topics/459/State-of-the-World-2013-Bruce-St-page01.html ]: Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft. Alexis Madrigal predicted [http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/12/bruce-sterling-on-why-it-stopped-making-sense-to-talk-about-the-internet-in-2012/266674/ ], “Your technology will work perfectly within the silo...But it will be perfectly broken at the interfaces between itself and its competitors”, and that can only be the case if the companies control what you do both inside and outside the silo. And, finally, of course, our willingness to play ball with them—ie why I didn't want to sign into Google from my phone—has eroded in direct proportion to our trust that the data gathered by companies will be handled carefully (not abused, shared, leaked, or turned over). Right now, a large fraction of my interactions with tech companies, especially the Stacks, feel coerced.

One of the reasons why I care so much about issues of consent, besides all the obvious ones (you know, having my time wasted, my attention abused, and my personal behaviours and characteristics sold for profit) is because of the imminent rise of connected objects. It’ll be pretty challenging for designers and users to have a shared mental model of the behaviour of connected objects even if they are doing their damnedest to understand each other; bring in an coercive, nonconsensual technology culture and it doesn't take a lot of imagination to consider how terrible they could be. The day before Apple’s keynote this week, London-based Internet of Things design firm BERG announced that they were closing their doors (although I prefer to think of them as dispersing, like a blown dandelion clock). The confluence of their demise with Apple’s behaviour made me extra-sad, because BERG were one of the few companies that worked in technology that really seemed to think of their users as people. Journalist Quinn Norton recently wrote a fantastic piece on the theory and practice of politeness, "How to Be Polite...for Geeks" [https://medium.com/message/how-to-be-polite-for-geeks-86cb784983b1 ], which could just as easily be "...for Technology Companies". The Google+ 'real name' fiasco and Facebook's myriad privacy scandals could have been averted if the companies had some empathy for their users, and listened to what they said, instead of assuming that we are all Mark Zuckerbergs [http://dashes.com/anil/2010/09/the-facebook-reckoning-1.html ]. As well as laying down some Knowledge about Theory of Mind and Umwelt [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Umwelt ], Quinn notes that politeness is catchy--social norms are created and enforced by what everyone does. I commute by car daily in Boston but I spent a year on sabbatical in Seattle. The traffic rules in Boston and Seattle are virtually identical, but a significant chunk of driver behaviours (in particular, the ones that earn Boston drivers the epithet of 'Massholes') are the result of social norms, tacitly condoned by most of the community. And driving is regulated a lot more closely than tech companies are.

I don’t know what it’ll take to change technology culture from one that is nonconsensual and borderline-abusive to one that is about enthusiastic consent, and it might not even be possible at this point. All I really know is that it absolutely won’t happen unless we start applying widespread social pressure to make it happen, and that I want tech companies to get their shit together before they make the leap from just being on screens to being everywhere around us."
coercion  culture  privacy  technology  consent  debchachra  2014  maciejceglowski  anildash  ethanzuckerman  jonyive  berg  berglondon  quinnnorton  google  apple  facebook  data  betsyhaibel  functionality  behavior  alexismadrigal  socialnetworks  socialmedia  mobile  phones  location  socialnorms  socialpressure  ethics  abuse  jonathanive  maciejcegłowski 
september 2014 by robertogreco
What We Talk About When We Talk About What We Talk About When We Talk About Making | Quiet Babylon
"This is an era of networked wealth, going to scale, first mover advantage, positive feedback loops, virtuous cycles, high concentration, and high disparity. These are some of the intolerable conditions of the time we call (with subversive hope) Late Capitalism.

4
“We.”

5
I suspect that much of this essay will make very little sense unless you believe as I do that we are beset by wicked problems exacerbated by networks of sublime scale that have been built on top of millenia of injustice chaotically interacting with good works and hope.



8
I do not think it is possible to feel empathy for 7 billion people. I know it is not possible to mourn the ~400,000 souls we lose to death every day on this planet earth. In a city like New York, it is not even reasonable to say Hi to everyone you pass on the street. Forget New York, it wasn’t reasonable to say Hi to everyone I passed at XOXO. There are too many humans. Boundaries must be drawn. Who are our friends, who is in the community, who gets to count. The boundaries can be drawn wider or narrower, and with more or less care. But the starting points of those boundaries are necessarily accidents of history, and history is pretty messed up.

Andy and Andy have been public about their struggles to redraw the boundaries of the community that takes part in XOXO. This year was better, they said, but still too male and still far too white. They are working to do better still if they ever do an XOXO again.

If they do, they will have to carefully consider who gets on stage and work with those people about what they have to say. Because people who make things is a broad remit. The mission of XOXO is an admirable one: to be a place where independent creators can find themselves amongst people like them; to give the participants the feeling that even though independence can be lonely, we are not alone.

But to be sat amongst a community who do not share your concerns is a terribly alienating experience, especially if the speakers on stage are claiming a we for the room that you do not feel. A greater diversity of speakers and a greater diversity of participants means by definition fewer common experiences and a more complicated we.

9
Chinese factory workers are not welcome at XOXO. This is a profoundly uncomfortable thing to say because it feels like punching down, but it is true. Chinese factory workers are not independent creators. What inspiration would they find in hearing John Gruber talk about Google Reader’s impact on his business model? What advice would they pull from Anita Sarkeesian describing the conspiracy theories leveled against prominent women on the Internet? What series of completely patronizing assumptions did I make when I wrote those last two questions?

Marketers, brand managers, advertising agencies, and social media gurus are also not welcome at XOXO. This feels less uncomfortable to say because it feels like punching up. Harassers are completely unwelcome and Andy and Andy took public glee in sending them away.

Community design is a tricky thing and the debate about incremental improvement vs radical transformation is far from settled. Figuring out how to ethically exclude people, how to effectively include people, and which intolerable conditions of ambient injustice to accept as given is a wicked problem. Working through it requires care and nuance and vigilance against derailment.

Derailment is when discussion of one issue is diverted into another issue. For example: if someone were to say, We need to work hard to increase the non-white percentage of conference attendees, and someone else said, Yeah, but what about the Chinese workers who make your devices?

10
Context collapse is an important way of making sure that marginalized people and issues aren’t allowed to disappear completely and an excellent derailing tactic. Arguing that an issue being raised is a derailment is an excellent derailing tactic.

11
A lot of the problems described by people on stage at XOXO would not have been problems if no one on earth should ever be at risk of starvation or lack medical care was not a radical idea. But it is a radical idea and it is not possible to mourn everyone. So boundaries are drawn and communities are constructed which help their members understand what’s possible and not everyone gets to count.

The inability to effectively address all of this is also one of the intolerable conditions of late capitalism."
timmaly  xoxo  latecapitalism  capitalism  supplychains  labor  timcook  apple  disclosure  context  contextcollapse  inclusing  exclusion  canon  derailment  conferences  complexity  boundaries  communitydesign  making  makers  scale  hope  dematerialization 
september 2014 by robertogreco
Metafoundry 4: Indicator Species
"Yesterday, Dan Hon wrote about the culture of the Silicon Valley start-up scene in his newsletter, under the heading “Not All…” It’s clear to me that Dan’s trying hard not to tar everyone in the tech industry with the same broad brush (I sympathize; both of us have friends in startupland) but it’s also clear that he’s finding something seriously amiss.

For me, the title itself was the giveaway. What Dan was describing was not just the actions of individuals, but of a system. It’s not so much that tech bros are bad in and of themselves, it’s that they’re a indicator species for an ecosystem. Like an algal bloom, their overabundance is a sign that the balance is amiss.

The Silicon Valley startup ecosystem depends on venture capital. If VCs are putting in money, they want to see a return (and a big one, because of the expectation that nine out of ten companies, at a minimum, will crash and burn). And they want to see it ASAP, because that’s how the time value of money works, and because companies are burning money like liquid hydrogen as they try to achieve lift-off. So there’s an enormous pressure on founders to produce, which inevitably selects for people who are prepared to sleep under their desk for the chance of having a breakout company (and, not incidentally, making an enormous return for their VCs, who are presumably sleeping soundly in their nice Design Within Reach beds). The system doesn’t select for women, for people who have families or lives outside of work, for thoughtful people. And by not selecting for them, it actively pushes them out, creating a culture that rejects and is intolerable for them (witness the much-documented sexism and ageism of tech culture). On top of all that, we as a culture socialize boys to be over-confident in themselves and to be deeply messed up about gender, and then there's the Dunning-Kruger effect, and then we give them a bunch of money. So it’s not surprising that tech bros (or be both more precise and less ad hominem, techbro behaviors) come out of this system.

But there’s more to it. What makes a startup a startup isn’t that it’s new (we call that a ‘small business’), it’s that it grows rapidly, ideally exponentially. That pushes startups toward bits, not atoms (near-zero incremental cost), towards anything that leverages Metcalfe's Law, towards dark patterns of nonconsensual behaviour towards users (like strip-mining Contacts lists), towards eroding user privacy, to dumping everything users have created when the startup is acquihired, and towards falling back on invasive online advertising because having a viable business model was a distant second to growing a user base.

And of course, most people building startups are mediocre, in the way that we humans are generally mediocre: we are greedy, solipsistic, unaware of our implicit biases. But putting all these pieces together, we have a system that selects for, supports, and nurtures socially hostile techbro behaviors, that solves techbro problems and alienates everyone else. And so the people who display these behaviors thrive. But I certainly know smart, thoughtful, committed people who are doing worthwhile, interesting, and ethical work in startups. I have friends in companies like Mapbox, Threadable, Keyboardio, and The Echo Nest, and they are working and succeeding in tech culture despite it being a system that's stacked against people like them, in exactly the same way that (go figure) women who succeed in tech do so despite the structural barriers in place. And just like the women in tech that I know, I can see them struggle and pay the costs of trying to succeed in that system.

Coda: I sent my original rant to Scott Smith; having just returned from a trip to Silicon Valley with his family, he responded to me in an e-mail by talking a bit about how some parts of this cultural systems are visible even to outsiders.

This take is doubly interesting because I've just come back from a few days in SV, the last 48 hours of which were largely spent taking our kids around the Valley (including taking a half day to drive them around Google, Facebook and Apple HQ campuses) to see what it really looks like day-to-day. And spending time with my teenage daughter in particular, asking her what she saw—the people (the lack of women), the postures, the environments. She picked up right away that it was a lopsided culture. And we spent time discussing about how the power flows there, who has it, and what impact they are having on SF as a city, and on the world. We watched the Google buses pick up and drop people off, took in locals’ interactions in cafes and restaurants, and walked into the store at Apple’s main building to see new recruits (and tourists) shopping. This part of the trip wasn't really planned in advance—Susan and I just decided it would be an interesting experience once on the ground—to show the kids the other end of the pipe, so to speak, and give them an idea who is making things “for them” that shape their social and economic expectations and interactions."
debchachra  siliconvalley  scottsmith  technology  2014  startups  systemsthinking  ecosystems  echochambers  vc  gender  power  money  google  facebook  apple  sanfrancisco  economics  society  labor  influence  policy  politics  californianideology 
august 2014 by robertogreco
Born to Sell: How Indie Games Went Mainstream At E3 - Forbes
"The idea of an “indie” has always been reactionary, an attempt to reverse the momentum of industrialization by stripping creative production to a poetic minimum.. The indie designer has become a romantic fixation for videogame culture in recent years, something that’s given an industry calcifying around expensive sequels a sense of creative momentum and social purpose it wouldn’t otherwise have had. The improbable successes of Minecraft, Braid, Gone Home and Superbrothers: Sword and Sworcery EP show that it’s not the commercialization of creative sharing that’s corrupt, but only the industry’s least ethical practitioners, the handful of conglomerates like Ubisoft and EA and Activision.

It’s too easy to see the indie ethic as the antithesis of industrialized creativity, looking past the fact that indie and conglomerate are built on the same intrusive market structure that insists community participation should be bisected by a paywall. As has been the case in every industry of mass produced culture, the “indie” is inevitably just a tributary to a bigger market, less a correction to what is broken than an extension of it, ennobling the entrepreneurial at the most intimate levels."



"These micro-publishers offer a helpful services, but their emergence is a clear indication of how the same economic structures the “indie” appears to renounce end up being replicated on a smaller scale. In every other creative industry, the identity of any given “indie” group is fleeting, with the most successful of them eventually adopting the same capital values as the conglomerates they seem to oppose. After starting out as a small operation bringing European art movies to American theaters in the mid-80s, Miramax found it easy enough to transition into a studio unto itself, churning out bloodless genre movies like She’s All That, Scary Movie, and Cold Mountain. Similarly reviled publisher EA began as a self-funded assembly of programmers guided by a faith that computers could make you cry. 30 years later they’re a $3.8 billion a year company, voted America’s worst in 2013, known for acquiring studios to force them to work on legacy IP and then imposing massive layoffs when those games fail in the market

The infatuation with the “indie” is driven by a consumerist delusion that there’s an ethical and unethical way to shop for culture, it’s not the market structure that violates the basic dignity of human creative work but an aesthetic reading of the symbolic values represented in particular works. In that way, a stubbornly conservative game like Gone Home—making monogamous coupling the central force in human experience, celebrating a melancholy burst of nostalgia from the leftover trinkets of 90s identity politics and consumerism, and reinforcing a fundamental shamefulness about open depictions sex—can be seen as a more ethical than, say, Far Cry 3 or Battlefield 4, patriarchal hymns to white violence and empire that are, nevertheless, produced by the same market-driven labor structures as the indie.

The romantic indie ethos only further impoverishes those who work in it by enshrining the idea that creative work should be done on-spec, with all the financial liability held by the developers, while profits are subdivided by owners of the networks they depend on for distribution. As the pressures on the biggest studios and publishers intensify, demanding bigger and riskier investments to compete for a relatively fixed number of core game consumers, the flourishing of an indie culture ensure there is little incentive for corporations to pursue any strategy other than blockbuster survivalism. There is no need to compete against these upstart auteurs because they can be bought ex post facto. Even if they haven’t signed a contract, the form of their product, the volume of labor required to produce it, guarantees whatever success they have will be owned by the market system, be it Valve, Apple, Microsoft, or Sony."

Even wandering through the IndieCade booth at E3, a wonderfully creative and welcoming space amid a sea of neon repulsion, the sense of independence is almost entirely symbolic. One of my favorite games from E3 was found in the IndieCade space, a rough but beautifully playful game called Long Take designed by Sun Park and his studio Turtle Cream. Originally designed over 50 hours during a game jam event, Long Take has players control not the hero but a camera filming him or her on a 2D plane. Each level begins with a zoomed out shot of the entire space and then slowly closes in on the hero, who the player must track throughout the level. If the hero runs or falls out of frame the player fails. Only things framed by the player’s camera view are allowed to move, meaning the player must avoid revealing enemies or missiles waiting in the wings, which will begin to attack if they’re in-frame.

It’s a fantastically clever variation on one of the most familiar videogame types, enriched with a layer of voyeurism and the stress of not being directly in control while still bearing responsibility for the consequences. After my demo, Park told me while the game is currently free, he’s hard at work on expanding it into a full commercial version that he’ll eventually try and sell over Steam. The need to make money is the blackhole that swallows us at all levels, indie or otherwise.

In the economy of the indie game, one sees the self-defeating effort of our most technologically dependent art form attempting to re-enchant itself through a rite of economic self-abnegation. Paradoxically, the product of this process has most cultural meaning when it results in the greatest amount of market activity, reinforcing the subjective admiration of critics and players with an empirical measure of units sold, revenue earned, and awards won. The fantasy of an “indie” culture of game design is ultimately not about aesthetics or representation but a desire to see the market structure itself proven viable in a time when all indicators point toward its doom. Through the cultural umbrella of “indie” one of our era’s dumbest and and most paralyzing aphorisms—just be yourself—is transformed into an economic mandate, becoming a life preserve for a dying socio-political order in the process.

If videogames have become the predominant art form of the 21st Century, they have done so by amusing a population that has embraced being predominated. This year’s E3 made it possible to see how inextricable systems of economic exploitation are from the videogame, which is itself an engine of structural thievery, a miniaturized mirror that extracts maximum time for minimum return in the same way its financiers extract maximum hours for the lowest possible investment. Absent an ability to reject this structure of exploitation, we find it easier to relabel the exploited, to give them enchanted laurels of cultural significance in acknowledgement that there very likely won’t be any other kind of compensation."
videogames  indiegames  games  gaming  economics  exploitation  2014  michaelthomsen  e3  valve  apple  sony  labor  money  capitalism  markets  steam 
july 2014 by robertogreco
DE$IGN | Soulellis
"I’ve been thinking a lot about value and values.

Design Humility and Counterpractice were first attempts to build a conversation around the value of design and our values as designers. They’re highly personal accounts where I try to articulate my own struggle with the dominant paradigm in design culture today, which I characterize as —

speed
the relentlessness of branding
the spirit of the sell
the focus on product
the focus on perfection

and they include some techniques of resistance that I’ve explored in my recent work, like —

thingness
longevity
slowness (patience)
chance (nature, humility, serendipity)
giving away (generosity echo)

I’ve been calling them techniques, but they’re really more like values, available to any designer or artist. Work produced with these criteria runs cross-grain to the belief that we must produce instantly, broadcast widely and perform perfectly.

Hence, counterpractice. Cross-grain to common assumptions. Questioning.

And as I consider my options (what to do next), I’m seriously contemplating going back to this counterpractice talk as a place to reboot. Could these be seen as principles — as a platform for a new kind of design studio?

I’m not sure. Counterpractice probably need further translation. An idea like ”slowness” certainly won’t resonate for many, outside of an art context. And how does a love for print-on-demand and the web fit in here? Perhaps it’s more about “variable speed” and the “balanced interface” rather than slow vs fast. Slow and fast. Modulated experience. The beauty of a printed book is that it can be scanned quickly or savored forever. These aren’t accidental qualities; they’re built into the design.

[image by John Maeda: "DE$IGN"]

I’m thinking about all of this right now as I re-launch Soulellis Studio as Counterpractice. But if there’s anything that most characterizes my reluctance to get back to client-based work, it’s DE$IGN.

John Maeda, who departed RISD in December, where I am currently teaching, recently delivered a 4-minute TED talk, where he made this statement:

“From Design to DE$IGN.”

He expands that statement with a visual wordmark that is itself designed. What does it mean? I haven’t seen the talk yet so I can only presume, out of context. These articles and Maeda’s blog post at Design and Venture begin to get at it.

Maeda’s three principles for using design in business as stated in the WSJ article are fine. But they don’t need a logo. Designing DE$IGN is a misleading gesture; it’s token branding to sell an idea (in four minutes—the fast read). So what’s the idea behind this visual equation? As a logo, it says so many things:

All caps: DE$IGN is BIG.
It’s not £ or ¥ or 元: DE$IGN is American.
Dollar sign: DE$IGN is money.

DE$IGN is Big American Money.

and in the context of a four-minute TED talk…

DE$IGN is speed (four minutes!)
DE$IGN is the spirit of selling (selling an idea on a stage to a TED audience)
DE$IGN is Helvetica Neue Ultra Light and a soft gradient (Apple)
DE$IGN is a neatly resolved and sellable word-idea. It’s a branded product (and it’s perfect).

In other words, DE$IGN is Silicon Valley. DE$IGN is the perfect embodiment of start-up culture and the ultimate tech dream. Of course it is — this is Maeda’s audience, and it’s his new position. It works within the closed-off reality of $2 billion acquisitions, IPOs, 600-person design teams and Next Big Thing thinking. It’s a crass, aggressive statement that resonates perfectly for its audience.

[Image of stenciled "CAPITALISM IS THE CRI$IS"]

DE$IGN makes me uneasy. The post-OWS dollar sign is loaded with negative associations. It’s a quick trick that borrows from the speed-read language of texting (lol) to turn design into something unsustainable, inward-looking and out-of-touch. But what bothers me most is that it comes from one of our design leaders, someone I follow and respect. Am I missing something?

I can’t help but think of Milton Glaser’s 1977 I<3NY logo here.

[Milton Glaser I<3NY]

Glaser uses a similar trick, but to different effect. By inserting a heart symbol into a plain typographic treatment, he too transformed something ordinary (referencing the typewriter) into a strong visual message. Glaser’s logo says that “heart is at the center of NYC” (and it suggests that love and soul and passion are there too). Or “my love for NYC is authentic” (it comes from the heart). It gives us permission to play with all kinds of associations and visual translations: my heart is in NYC, I am NYC, NYC is the heart of America, the heart of the world, etc. .

Glaser’s mark is old-school, east coast and expansive; it symbolizes ideas and feelings that can be characterized as full and overflowing. And human (the heart). It’s personal (“I”), but all about business: his client was a bankrupt city in crisis, eager to attract tourists against all odds.

Maeda’s mark is new money, west coast and exclusive. It was created for and presented to a small club of privileged innovators who are focused on creating new ways to generate wealth ($) by selling more product.

Clever design tricks aside, here’s my question, which I seem to have been asking for a few years now. Is design humility possible today? Can we build a relevant design practice that produces meaningful, rich work — in a business context — without playing to visions of excess?

I honestly don’t know. I’m grappling with this. I’m not naive and I don’t want to paint myself into a corner. I’d like to think that there’s room to resist DE$IGN. I do this as an artist making books and as an experimental publisher (even Library of the Printed Web is a kind of resistance). But what kind of design practice comes out of this? Certainly one that’s different from the kind of business I built with Soulellis Studio."
paulsoulellis  2014  conterpractice  design  humility  capitalism  resistance  branding  speed  slow  consumerism  sales  salesmanship  perfection  wabi-sabi  thingness  longevity  slowness  patience  nature  chance  serendipity  generosity  potlatch  johnmaeda  questioning  process  approach  philosophy  art  print  balance  thisandthat  modulation  selling  ted  tedtalks  apple  siliconvalley  startups  culture  technology  technosolutionsism  crisis  miltonglaser  1977  love 
june 2014 by robertogreco
He’s not there – notes from “Jony Ive: The Genius Behind Apple’s Greatest Product”s by Leander Kahney | Magical Nihilism
"‘In America, on the other hand,’ Milton explained, ‘designers are very much serving what industry wants. In Britain, there is more of the culture of the garden shed, the home lab, the ad hoc and experimental quality. And Jony Ive interacts in such a way … [he] takes big chances, instead of an evolutionary approach to design – and if they had focus-grouped Ive’s designs, they wouldn’t have been a success.’

If the education system in America tended to teach students how to be an employee, British design students were more likely to pursue a passion and to build a team around them.

‘As an industrial designer, you have to take that great idea and get it out into the world, and get it out intact. You’re not really practising your craft if you are just developing a beautiful form and leaving it at that.’

I can’t have people working in cubicle hell. They won’t do it. I have to have an open studio with high ceilings and cool shit going on. That’s just really important. It’s important for the quality of the work. It’s important for getting people to do it. – ROBERT BRUNNER

He wanted a ‘small, really tight’ studio. ‘We would run it like a small consulting studio, but inside the company,’ he said. ‘Small, effective, nimble, highly talented, great culture.’4 Setting up a consultancy inside Apple seemed in line with the company’s spirit: unconventional, idea driven, entrepreneurial. ‘It was because, really, I didn’t know any other way,’ Brunner explained. ‘It wasn’t a flash of brilliance: that was the only thing I knew how to do.’

In 1997, English contributed photos to Kunkel’s book about the design group, AppleDesign, but he also worked with a lot of other design studios in the Valley. To his eye, Apple seemed different. It wasn’t just the tools and their focus; the place was rapidly populated with designer toys, too, including spendy bikes, skateboards, diving equipment, a movie projector and hundreds of films. ‘It fostered this really creative, take-a-risk atmosphere, which I didn’t see at other firms,’ said English.

Brunner also made about half a dozen of the designers ‘product line leaders’ (PLLs) for Apple’s major product groups: CPUs, printers, monitors and so on. The PLLs acted as liaisons between the design group and the company, much in the way an outside design consultancy would operate. ‘The product groups felt there was a contact within the design group,’ Brunner said.

Brunner wanted to shift the power from engineering to design. He started thinking strategically. His off-line ‘parallel design investigations’ were a key part of his strategy. ‘We began to do more longer-term thinking, longer-term studies around things like design language, how future technologies are implemented, what does mobility mean?’ The idea was to get ahead of the engineering groups and start to make Apple more of a design-driven company, rather than a marketing or engineering one. ‘We wanted to get ahead of them, so we’d have more ammunition to bring to the process.’

In hindsight, Brunner’s choices – the studio’s separation from the engineering groups, its loose structure, the collaborative workflow and consultancy mind-set – turned out to be fortuitous. One of the reasons Apple’s design team has remained so effective is that it retains Brunner’s original structure. It’s a small, tight, cohesive group of extremely talented designers who all work on design challenges together. Just like the designers had done at Lunar, Tangerine and other small agencies. The model worked."
jonyive  apple  design  robertbrunner  teams  small  engineering  howwework  education  mindset  experimentation  markets  appledesign  collaboration  workflow  groupsize  2014  uk  us  academia  jonathanive 
february 2014 by robertogreco
In the Name of Love | Jacobin
"DWYL [“Do what you love. Love what you do.”] is a secret handshake of the privileged and a worldview that disguises its elitism as noble self-betterment. According to this way of thinking, labor is not something one does for compensation but is an act of love. If profit doesn’t happen to follow, presumably it is because the worker’s passion and determination were insufficient. Its real achievement is making workers believe their labor serves the self and not the marketplace."



"One consequence of this isolation is the division that DWYL creates among workers, largely along class lines. Work becomes divided into two opposing classes: that which is lovable (creative, intellectual, socially prestigious) and that which is not (repetitive, unintellectual, undistinguished). Those in the lovable-work camp are vastly more privileged in terms of wealth, social status, education, society’s racial biases, and political clout, while comprising a small minority of the workforce.

For those forced into unlovable work, it’s a different story. Under the DWYL credo, labor that is done out of motives or needs other than love—which is, in fact, most labor—is erased. As in Jobs’ Stanford speech, unlovable but socially necessary work is banished from our consciousness."



"Ironically, DWYL reinforces exploitation even within the so-called lovable professions, where off-the-clock, underpaid, or unpaid labor is the new norm: reporters required to do the work of their laid-off photographers, publicists expected to pin and tweet on weekends, the 46 percent of the workforce expected to check their work email on sick days. Nothing makes exploitation go down easier than convincing workers that they are doing what they love.

Instead of crafting a nation of self-fulfilled, happy workers, our DWYL era has seen the rise of the adjunct professor and the unpaid intern: people persuaded to work for cheap or free, or even for a net loss of wealth. This has certainly been the case for all those interns working for college credit or those who actually purchase ultra-desirable fashion-house internships at auction. (Valentino and Balenciaga are among a handful of houses that auctioned off monthlong internships. For charity, of course.) As an ongoing ProPublica investigation reveals, the unpaid intern is an ever-larger presence in the American workforce.

It should be no surprise that unpaid interns abound in fields that are highly socially desirable, including fashion, media, and the arts. These industries have long been accustomed to masses of employees willing to work for social currency instead of actual wages, all in the name of love. Excluded from these opportunities, of course, is the overwhelming majority of the population: those who need to work for wages. This exclusion not only calcifies economic and professional immobility, but it also insulates these industries from the full diversity of voices society has to offer."

[Also posted on Slate: http://slate.me/1b6YCP6 ]

[See also:
http://blog.pshares.org/index.php/the-ploughshares-round-down-why-do-what-you-love-is-bad-advice/
and http://www.princeton.edu/main/news/archive/S33/87/54K53/ and
http://www.newyorker.com/talk/financial/2014/01/27/140127ta_talk_surowiecki ]

[See also: https://the-pastry-box-project.net/mandy-brown/2014-April-23
http://tumblr.austinkleon.com/post/50107605469
http://austinkleon.com/2013/08/01/keep-your-overhead-low/ ]

[See also: http://notes.husk.org/post/84377941574/dwyl-nonsense
https://medium.com/p/90c75eb7c5b0
http://notes.husk.org/post/84377587459/mark-twain-important
http://notes.husk.org/post/82908857184/google-x-dwyl ]
business  ethics  work  labor  elitism  2014  miyatokumitsu  apple  stevejobs  internships  academia  dowhatyoutlove  dwyl 
january 2014 by robertogreco
Evgeny Morozov: Hackers, Makers, and the Next Industrial Revolution
"The kind of Internet metaphysics that informs Anderson’s account sees ingrained traits of technology where others might see a cascade of decisions made by businessmen and policymakers. This is why Anderson starts by confusing the history of the Web with the history of capitalism and ends by speculating about the future of the maker movement, which, on closer examination, is actually speculation on the future of capitalism. What Anderson envisages—more of the same but with greater diversity and competition—may come to pass. But to set the threshold for the third industrial revolution so low just because someone somewhere forgot to regulate A.T. & T. (or Google) seems rather unambitious [...]

[Homebrew Computer Club leader] Felsenstein took [Ivan] Illich’s advice to heart, not least because it resembled his own experience with ham radios, which were easy to understand and fiddle with. If the computer were to assist ordinary folks in their political struggles, the computer needed a ham-radio-like community of hobbyists. Such a club would help counter the power of I.B.M., then the dominant manufacturer of large and expensive computers, and make computers smaller, cheaper, and more useful in political struggles.

Then Steve Jobs showed up. Felsenstein’s political project, of building computers that would undermine institutions and allow citizens to share information and organize, was recast as an aesthetic project of self-reliance and personal empowerment. For Jobs, who saw computers as “a bicycle for our minds,” it was of only secondary importance whether one could peek inside or program them.

Jobs had his share of sins, but the naïveté of Illich and his followers shouldn’t be underestimated. Seeking salvation through tools alone is no more viable as a political strategy than addressing the ills of capitalism by cultivating a public appreciation of arts and crafts. Society is always in flux, and the designer can’t predict how various political, social, and economic systems will come to blunt, augment, or redirect the power of the tool that is being designed. Instead of deinstitutionalizing society, the radicals would have done better to advocate reinstitutionalizing it: pushing for political and legal reforms to secure the transparency and decentralization of power they associated with their favorite technology

[...] A reluctance to talk about institutions and political change doomed the Arts and Crafts movement, channelling the spirit of labor reform into consumerism and D.I.Y. tinkering. The same thing is happening to the movement’s successors. Our tech imagination is at its zenith [but our institutional imagination has stalled, and with it the democratizing potential of radical technologies]. We carry personal computers in our pockets—nothing could be more decentralized than this!—but have surrendered control of our data, which is stored on centralized servers, far away from our pockets. The hackers won their fight against I.B.M.—only to lose it to Facebook and Google. And the spooks at the National Security Agency must be surprised to learn that gadgets were supposed to usher in the “de-institutionalization of society.”"
technology  computer  gadget  history  criticism  intellectualproperty  data  labor  remake  regulation  transparency  power  inequality  hierarchy  privacy  politics  diy  consumers  consumerism  apple  ivanillich  google  evgenymorozov  ip  makermovement  making  makers  capitalism  chrisanderson  2014  via:Taryn  toolsforconviviality  leefelsenstein  technosolutionism  stevejobs  stewartbrand  wholeearthcatalog  tools  murraybookchin  society  homebrewers  institutions  change  reforms  conviviality 
january 2014 by robertogreco
mapping cell phones - samy kamkar
"cell map exposes the data that Apple has been collecting from virtually all iPhone mobile devices, using them essentially as global wardriving and positioning machines.

Current research suggests that Apple's iPhone devices only store coordinates locally, however this cell data is actually transmitted back up to Apple multiple times a day, even if Location Services / GPS is turned OFF, allowing them to locate the cell phone as well as correlate the positions with Wi-Fi network information.

If you extract the cell tower information sent from the iPhone to Apple, you can enter it here and locate the physical location of the mobile phone, or try the demonstration phone by hitting "Locate" below.

You can also accurately locate iPhones based off of the wi-fi data sent by using my Wi-Fi Mapping tool."
api  apple  geolocation  iphone  samykamkar  maps  mapping  data 
december 2013 by robertogreco
In Defense of Messiness: David Weinberger and the iPad Summit - EdTech Researcher - Education Week
[via: http://willrichardson.com/post/67746828029/the-limitations-of-the-ipad ]

"We were very lucky today to have David Weinberger give the opening address at our iPad Summit in Boston yesterday. We've started a tradition at the iPad Summit that our opening keynote speaker should know, basically, nothing about teaching with iPads. We don't want to lead our conversation with technology, we want to lead with big ideas about how the world is changing and how we can prepare people for that changing world.

Dave spoke drawing on research from his most recent book, Too Big To Know: How the Facts are not the Facts, Experts are not Experts, and the Smartest Person in the Room is the Room.

It's hard to summarize a set of complex ideas, but at the core of Dave's argument is the idea that our framing of "knowledge," the metaphysics of knowledge (pause: yes, we start our iPad Summit with discussions of the metaphysics of knowledge), is deeply intertwined with the technology we have used for centuries to collect and organize knowledge: the book. So we think of things that are known as those that are agreed upon and fixed--placed on a page that cannot be changed; we think of them as stopping places--places for chapters to end; we think of them as bounded--literally bounded in the pages of a book; we think of them as organized in a single taxonomy--because each library has to choose a single place for the physical location of each book. The limitations of atoms constrained our metaphysics of knowledge.

We then encoded knowledge into bits, and we began to discover a new metaphysics of knowledge. Knowledge is not bound, but networked. It is not agreed, but debated. It is not ordered, but messy.

A changing shape of knowledge demands that we look seriously at changes in educational practice. For many educators at the iPad Summit, the messiness that David sees as generative the emerging shape of knowledge reflects the messiness that they see in their classrooms. As Holly Clark said in her presentation, "I used to want my administrators to drop in when my students were quiet, orderly, and working alone. See we're learning! Now I want them to drop in when we are active, engaged, collaborative, loud, messy, and chaotic. See, we're learning!"

These linkages are exactly what we hope can happen when we start our conversations about teaching with technology by leading with our ambitions for our students rather than leading with the affordances of a device.

I want to engage David a little further on one point. When I invited David to speak, he said "I can come, but I have some real issues with iPads in education." We talked about it some, and I said, "Great, those sound like serious concerns. Air them. Help us confront them."

David warned us again this morning "I have one curmudgeonly old man slide against iPads," and Tom Daccord (EdTechTeacher co-founder) and I both said "Great." The iPad Summit is not an Apple fanboygirl event. At the very beginning, Apple's staff, people like Paul Facteau, were very clear that iPads were never meant to be computer replacements--that some things were much better done on laptops or computes. Any educator using a technology in their classroom should be having an open conversation about the limitations of their tools.

Tom then gave some opening remarks where he said something to the effect of "The iPad is not a repository of apps, but a portable, media creation device." If you talk to most EdTechTeacher staff, we'll tell you that with an iPad, you get a camera, microphone, connection to the Internet, scratchpad, and keyboard--and a few useful apps that let you use those things. (Apparently, there are all kinds of people madly trying to shove "content" on the iPad, but we're not that interested. For the most part, they've done a terrible job.)

Dave took the podium and said in his introductory remarks, "There is one slide that I already regret." He followed up with this blog post, No More Magic Knowledge [http://www.hyperorg.com/blogger/2013/11/14/2b2k-no-more-magic-knowledge/ ]:
I gave a talk at the EdTechTeacher iPad Summit this morning, and felt compelled to throw in an Angry Old Man slide about why iPads annoy me, especially as education devices. Here's my List of Grievances:
• Apple censors apps
• iPads are designed for consumers. [This is false for these educators, however. They are using iPad apps to enable creativity.]
• They are closed systems and thus lock users in
• Apps generally don't link out
That last point was the one that meant the most in the context of the talk, since I was stressing the social obligation we all have to add to the Commons of ideas, data, knowledge, arguments, discussion, etc.
I was sorry I brought the whole thing up, though. None of the points I raised is new, and this particular audience is using iPads in creative ways, to engage students, to let them explore in depth, to create, and to make learning mobile.

I, for one, was not sorry that Dave brought these issues up. There are real issues with our ability as educators to add to the Commons through iPads. It's hard to share what you are doing inside a walled garden. In fact, one of the central motivations for the iPad Summit is to bring educators together to share their ideas and to encourage them to take that extra step to share their practice with the wider world; it pains me to think of all of the wheels being reinvented in the zillions of schools that have bought iPads. We're going to have to hack the garden walls of the iPad to bring our ideas together to the Common.

The issue of the "closedness" of iPads is also critical. Dave went on to say that one limitation of the iPad is that you can't view source from a browser. (It's not strictly true, but it's a nuisance of a hack--see here or here.) From Dave again:

"Even though very few of us ever do peek beneath the hood -- why would we? -- the fact that we know there's an openable hood changes things. It tells us that what we see on screen, no matter how slick, is the product of human hands. And that is the first lesson I'd like students to learn about knowledge: it often looks like something that's handed to us finished and perfect, but it's always something that we built together. And it's all the cooler because of that."

I'd go further than you can't view source: there is no command line. You can't get under the hood of the operating system, either. You can't unscrew the back. Now don't get wrong, when you want to make a video, I'm very happy to declare that you won't need to update your codecs in order to get things to compress properly. Simplicity is good in some circumstances. But we are captive to the slickness that Dave describes. Let's talk about that.

A quick tangent: Educators come up to me all the time with concerns that students can't word process on an iPad--I have pretty much zero concern about this. Kids can write papers using Swype on a smartphone with a cracked glass. Just because old people can't type on digitized keyboards doesn't mean kids can't (and you probably haven't been teaching them touch-typing anyway).

I'm not concerned that kids can't learn to write English on an iPad, I'm concerned they can't learn to write Python. If you believe that learning to code is a vital skill for young people, then the iPad is not the device for you. The block programming languages basically don't work. There is no Terminal or Putty or iPython Notebook. To teach kids to code, they need a real computer. (If someone has a robust counter-argument to that assertion, I'm all ears.) We should be very, very clear that if we are putting all of our financial eggs in the iPad basket, there are real opportunities that we are foreclosing.

Some of the issues that Dave raises we can hack around. Some we can't. The iPad Summit, all technology-based professional development, needs to be a place where we talk about what technology can't do, along with what it can.

Dave's keynote about the power of open systems reminds us that knowledge is networked and messy. Our classrooms, and the technologies we use to support learning in our classrooms, should be the same. To the extent that the technologies we choose are closed and overly-neat, we should be talking about that.

Many thanks again to Dave for a provocative morning, and many thanks to the attendees of the iPad Summit for joining in and enriching the conversation."
justinreich  ipad  2013  ipadsummit  davidweinberger  messiness  learning  contructionism  howthingswork  edtech  computers  computing  coding  python  scratch  knowledge  fluidity  flux  tools  open  closed  walledgardens  cv  teaching  pedagogy  curriculum  tomdaccord  apple  ios  closedness  viewsource  web  internet  commons  paulfacteau  schools  education  mutability  plasticity 
november 2013 by robertogreco
One-handed computing with the iPhone
"The easy single-handed operation of the iPhone1 is not one of its obvious selling points but is one of those little features that grows on you and becomes nearly indispensable. A portable networked computing and gaming device that can be easily operated with one hand can be used in a surprising variety of situations."

[See also: http://kottke.org/13/09/computers-are-for-people ]

[Update: see also (via @ablerism):
"It’s a Man’s Phone: My female hands meant I couldn’t use my Google Nexus to document tear gas misuse"
https://medium.com/technology-and-society/its-a-mans-phone-a26c6bee1b69 ]
computersareforpeople  iphone  usability  accessibility  apple  design  kottke  2009  timcarmody  jasonkottke 
november 2013 by robertogreco
How Apple iBeacon Will Transform Local Commerce | steve cheney – technology, business & strategy
"2. Beacons can take any form factor and can be placed anywhere. From a developer perspective, they simply advertise data in peripheral mode by broadcasting a unique identifier. App developers then use this to understand the location of your device and connect you to a service or to content in the cloud. Apple integrates iBeacon into CoreLocation (nothing to do with the old Core Bluetooth framework). Beacons sit back and broadcast. The discovery, handshaking and communication are all handled by Apple.

3. People compare Bluetooth and the now-defunct NFC—but use-cases like range sensing show how superior Bluetooth is and why Apple chose it. BTE also has forward proofing built in—today’s chips are so advanced they have built-in support for over the air (OTA) firmware updates.1. This is a big deal and means beacons can be updated after being deployed. New firmware can be broadcast to the beacon to enable things like battery saving intelligence—e.g, it’s possible to turn off a beacon at night (if inside a store) to make the battery last longer, or download system upgrades and security patches.

4. Additionally BTE allows the concept of ranges—near, medium, and far under iBeacon. This enables distinctions to be made based on distance, enabling both geofences as well as true proximity-based services (touching your iPhone against something). iBeacon and Bluetooth will enable geofencing that is much more granular than today’s location technologies (GPS + WiFi). But another of the less talked about use-cases that is super compelling is indoor navigation.

5. Retailers will be able to easily arrange multiple beacons (3 or more) to do triangulation. This allows rough indoor navigation for less than $100 today (much less in the future). Why would retailers not consider deploying beacons when every single person with an iPhone can be marketed to?2 Indoor navigation is very interesting to Google, and they have been playing with indoor Maps for years. So—though beacons are more about proximity and context than trying to locate position precisely, both may be interesting to Apple and Google for different reasons.

6. Indoor navigation can go way beyond traditional geofencing, which simply senses presence—for example, placing  15 beacons every 10 feet apart could create a mesh network, with each beacon transferring different IDs to the phone and to each other. This would allow the network to detect you with a high level of precision indoors. One of the keys for using beacons like this will reside in being able to update them after deployment to a later firmware via OTA updates. Market leaders like Estimote are already thinking this far ahead, so deployments made today can be extended for years as new software features are devised at the app layer."
ibeacon  bluetooth  nfc  commerce  apple  2013  stevecheney  mobile  ios  ios7 
october 2013 by robertogreco
welcome to yr world | the m john harrison blog
"Apple’s iPhone 5C will come in yellow, green, blue and red. But is bright always right…? If you live in a world of toddlers it is. If you live in the world of people who manipulate toddlers to make their profits, the question itself is a gadget–a brightly coloured piece of plastic with no real function except to convince the user that she needs to pay for what it does. Fake objects, fake functions, fake commentaries, fake realities layered on top of the real function of everything, which is to make revenue and keep it moving up the hierarchy. Either you buy the plastic without a thought, or you think a marketing discussion represents the next clever level up. Welcome to your dinner party. Welcome to lifestyle. Welcome to your new housing bubble. Welcome to your new toy. Everything is going to be all right now. Welcome to business. Welcome to being a farmed consumer with a degree in farming consumers."
apple  gadgets  consumerism  iphone  marketing  hierarchy  capitalism  desire  mjohnharrison 
september 2013 by robertogreco
Invasion of the cyber hustlers
"The cyber-credo of “open” sounds so liberal and friendly that it is easy to miss its remarkable hypocrisy. The big technology companies that are the cybertheorists’ beloved exemplars of the coming world order are anything but open. Google doesn’t publish its search algorithm; Apple is notoriously secretive about its product plans; Facebook routinely changes its users’ privacy options. Apple, Google and Amazon are all frantically building proprietary “walled-garden” content utopias for profit."
apple  google  wikipedia  sharing  cybertheorists  charlatans  internet  government  davidweinberger  journalism  disruption  online  newmedia  future  media  politics  technology  open  2012  stevenpoole  janemcgonigal  clayshirky  jeffjarvis 
december 2012 by robertogreco
Creation Under Capitalism and the Twine Revolution | Nightmare Mode
[Also here (with broken images) because the link is dead:
http://aliendovecote.com/creation-under-capitalism/ ]

[Wayback with images: http://web.archive.org/web/20131114013954/http://nightmaremode.net/2012/11/creation-under-capitalism-23422/ ]

[Preserved here too with images: https://www.evernote.com/pub/view/perplexing/designplay/25a47439-6fa9-49fc-8696-6f80eaef5f25?locale=es#st=p&n=25a47439-6fa9-49fc-8696-6f80eaef5f25 ]

"Our world where the average person is separated from their natural creativity and artistic agency isn’t an accident. It’s been carefully, deliberately engineered that way, not just by Apple, but by our entire capitalist society.

Raised to believe that a select few create and the rest are just fans. Rich white people create and we suck it up. This is an extremely profitable system.

So they place unfair expectations on what you create. Tell you it’s too short, too ugly, too personal, ask you why it doesn’t resemble what already exists. And the answer is, why would we want it to?

They impart the subtle idea that a handful of geniuses are born and the rest clean up after them.

They want us to believe that our thoughts are not worth voicing."

"Creation is the most powerful form of criticism, because it has the power to destroy that which it criticizes."
criticism  education  flattening  videogames  gaming  games  art  worldbuilding  making  culture  via:anterobot  inkle  lizdaly  emilyshort  apple  democracy  hypercard  hypertext  writing  twine  if  porpentine  2012  capitalism  creativity  leisurearts  artleisure  professionalization  canon  criticaldesign  human  humans  culturecreation  culturalproduction  elitism  culturemaking  interactivefiction 
december 2012 by robertogreco
AnandTech - The iOS 6 Review: Maps Thoroughly Investigated and More
"… like most of the other iCloud enabled features, cloud tabs does a good job of encouraging customers to buy within the Apple ecosystem. It’s a somewhat worrisome future that we’re headed towards where everyone is building these fairly independent platforms that work best within an ecosystem rather than across boundaries. For now the sacrifice seems worth it as the payoff is something that works very well, but I worry about what happens down the road if you’re forced to buy a device not because it’s the best device for you, but because buying an alternative would hurt the experience on another, unrelated device."

[via: http://preoccupations.tumblr.com/post/32141998035/like-most-of-the-other-icloud-enabled-features ]
platformization  closedsystems  ecosystems  downsidesofseamlessness  2012  entrapment  platforms  walledgardens  apple  ios6  ios 
october 2012 by robertogreco
The Heroic Kindle Of The People – Andy Ihnatko's Celestial Waste of Bandwidth (BETA)
"Every year, Apple updates the iPad and magically delivers a device that’s twice as good as the previous edition, at exactly the same price. Good. But they’ve done next to nothing to put iPads within reach of a broader economic range of consumers.

…Apple’s whole business is based on high markups. And at the same time, their whole brand is based on high-quality products. A+B equals a company that isn’t in any position to make things for people who are on a tight budget. Apple is set up to build the slimmest, slickest, and most elegant $999 notebook on the market. They can’t build a chunky, $399 plastic notebook that’s reasonably well-made and will competently suit the needs of most users.

Those $399 notebooks are important to a lot of people. The device that they can afford is way more useful than the device they can only dream about owning.

Amazon keeps finding ways to get the price down."
price  technology  accessibility  affordability  2012  andyihnatko  audience  money  ipad  apple  kindle  amazon 
october 2012 by robertogreco
A Vision for Talkable Brand: J.C. Penney - Digital Influence Mapping Project
"Ron Johnson, now CEO of J.C. Penney…ran the Apple stores before…his first few months at the historic department store have been challenged by Wall Street who only see short term revenue problems and subsequent stock dips.

…With so much abundance via the Internet, the store is there to inspire. He has plenty of other innovations up his sleeve from activities in-store (cooking classes?) to iPad-toting staff, to magic dressing rooms that somehow connect online with in-store…

I hope his vision gets realized and it pans out in a timely fashion. It stands to make J.C. Penney and those that chase after its vision into places we talk about and, in his words, “belong.”

[Article referenced within: http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-08-09/ron-johnson-on-the-progress-of-his-j-dot-c-dot-penney-remake
]

[More J.C. Penney: https://twitter.com/rogre/status/223316958416875520 ]
jcpenney  cafes  openstudioproject  lcproject  social  2012  experience  apple  retail  ronjohnson  via:russelldavies 
september 2012 by robertogreco
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