What we read this week (12 Oct)

This week we read about Google’s neural network research, Nokia’s maps, “internet addiction,” K-pop, and the gendered side of the Quantified Self.

Quotes of the week

We often think we’ve solved a problem when we’ve merely come up with good answer to the wrong question.

Aza Raskin

Both coffee and naps can improve mood; combined they’re magical.

Vanessa Gregory

Articles of the week

  • Technology Review: Google Puts Its Virtual Brain Technology to Work
    Elaborating on the story of a couple months back, in which Google’s neural network of 16,000 computers succeeded in recognizing cats on YouTube, this article gives more insight into how the operation works, what else it’s capable of, and how this variety of AI is being applied in a commercial context.
  • The Atlantic: The Forgotten Mapmaker: Nokia Has Better Maps Than Apple and Maybe Even Google
    While jokes about maps in iOS 6 abound, The Atlantic addresses the “third horse” in the tech company maps race, Nokia, and points out just how great of an asset these maps could be.
  • New Yorker: Factory Girls
    This is a brilliant piece of journalism on the making of the K-pop phenomenon and its widespread cultural influence. Along the way, it nicely puts “Gangnam Style” into context. A long, but very worthwhile read.
  • Mindhacker: Why there is no such thing as internet addiction
    Internet addiction, Vaughan Bell argues, is logically impossible. His fundamental argument: “‘Internet addiction’ researchers conceive of the internet as if it were a set of activities when, in fact, it’s a medium for communication. […] You can be no more addicted to the internet than you can to language or radio waves.”
  • danah boyd: omg girls’ bodies are fascinating: embracing the gendered side of quantified self
    A perceptive piece on monitoring hormonal cycles, and our attitudes toward gendered applications for technology. An avid self-quantifier, Danah explains how cultural norms and her own prejudices prevented her from studying this aspect of her body’s behavior earlier on, and how enlightening her findings were once she started.

What we read this week (27 Jul)

Our reads this week delve into mobile identity, our feelings towards our work stations, the great gadget-addiction question, a future of 3D printing, and a promising deal between BitTorrent and a musician.

Quotes of the week

I think the space between a person and a typewriter is better than the space between a television and its viewer.

David Banks

Articles of the week

  • Rebekah Cox: Mobile Identity
    An important, thoughtful post by Quora’s lead designer on how identity and your phone go together. It’s one of those articles that will be referred to for the next few years.
  • Cyborgology: Against The Minority Report Computer
    David Banks passionately disagrees with the future vision of computers in Minority Report, because it fails to take into account our emotional attachment to our work stations. Here he describes why this vision undermines our relationship with desktop technology.
  • The Atlantic: Are We Addicted to Gadgets or Indentured to Work?
    In a response to a recent New York Times article on the popular topic of gadget addiction, Alexis Madrigal finds that it is not our use of technology that is making life increasingly stressful, but our relationship with work.
  • Rhizome: The Shape of Shaping Things to Come
    In this article, Adam Rothstein takes the reader onto a journey into the future, where ‘physibles’, 3D-printed objects, have become normality. He develops a mindblowing outlook, extrapolating the current social phenomena of hackers, early adopters and retro-fetishists, and brings them into a place where limits are set by time and creativity rather than resources.
  • GigaOM: DJ Shadow becomes first artist to get paid by BitTorrent
    In an industry first, DJ Shadow struck a deal with BitTorrent Inc, the filesharing company. For every download of a DJ Shadow bundle including some songs and a special software – on which the details are somewhat fuzzy at this point – BitTorrent and DJ Shadow share the revenue generated through that software. It’s an interesting step forward, and surely all eyes in the music industry are on this deal.