What we read this week (22 November)

Our favorite articles of this week. Have a great weekend.

Articles of the week

  • What Screens Want
    Brilliant web essay by Frank Chimero, and not only because he features James Burke and The West Wing. I bet that this one will come up in a lot of conversations in the next months.
  • Prada Revolutionaries
    “Bright Green has become the left's version of right-wing transhumanism: an excuse to not solve today's problems, because tomorrow's technology will fix them for us.”
  • Tom Armitage » Driftwood
    “Driftwood is a talk I gave at Playark 2013. It was meant to be a talk about leftovers (the theme of the conference being ‘reclaim’), and about Hello Lamp Post. In the writing, it turned into a broader overview of my own work – on six years of projects around cities and play.”
  • Meet The ‘Assassination Market’ Creator Who’s Crowdfunding Murder With Bitcoins – Forbes
    “Assassination Market, a crowdfunding service that lets anyone anonymously contribute bitcoins towards a bounty on the head of any government official–a kind of Kickstarter for political assassinations.”
  • Ross Andersen – Humanity’s deep future
    "When we peer into the fog of the deep future what do we see – human extinction or a future among the stars?"
  • Bitcoin As Protocol | Union Square Ventures
    “There is no other widely used protocol in the world today that accomplishes this: with bitcoin anyone can make a statement (a transaction) and have this be recorded in a globally visible and fixed ledger.”
  • Content economics, part 4: scale | Felix Salmon
    "It’s almost impossible to overstate the importance of the CMS when it comes to the question of who’s going to win the online-publishing wars."
  • InMoov » Project
    "Here is “InMoov”, the first life size humanoid robot you can 3D print and animate. You have a 3D printer, some building skills, This project is for you!!"
  • Apple and Google Maps, and Defaults | Matt Mullenweg
    “If Microsoft did this a decade ago we’d call for the DoJ to reopen their investigation. Apple has the best phone, best tablet, and in many ways the best operating system — we should not give them a pass for this blatantly self-interested and user-hostile stance.”
  • Instagram and Youtube — Benedict Evans
    "WhatsApp and Instagram are not in different categories – they're direct competitors for time and attention." – This spot on.

What we read this week (19 Apr)

How social media use changes the concepts of authenticity and the self, how the UK’s Government Digital Service operates, the future of textiles and an unglamorous sea creature, Tumblr-inspired fashion, and a disturbing image of future cities compiled from tech company literature.

Quote of the week

So what is real about ourselves depends not some internal ability to think or feel something but the ability to externalize it as processable data. We surrender the prerogative of claiming to be self-created and learn to love the self the data tells us we are.

Rob Horning

Articles of the week

What we read this week (8 Mar)

A Weekly Reads tribute to Seed Magazine.

Quote of the week

Religion as augmented reality?

Justin Pickard

Articles of the week

We found this week that the great Seed Magazine is no longer running. Mysteriously, we couldn’t find any press releases or posts saying why or when this happened – content on the site just stops in early 2012. This is a Seed tribute edition of the Weekly Reads.

  • Seed Magazine: On Early Warning Signs
    Theoretical biologist George Sugihara talks about the intricate dependencies between systems in economics, biology and the climate, why instability is inevitable, and how complex systems show warning signs before huge changes happen.
  • Seed Magazine: Humans, Version 3.0
    On how culture will allow our abilities as a species to evolve, and on the processes of harnessing nature and recycling neurons.
  • Seed Magazine: World Wide Mind
    A beautifully written (and quite long) piece introducing a book on the possibilities that physical integration of the internet into human bodies could allow.
  • Seed Magazine: The Living City
    On defining and understanding cities, and the paradoxes of urban growth.
  • Seed Magazine: The Web is Not a Gadget
    A piece on Jaron Lanier’s controversial thesis that the web impedes human creativity.

What we read this week (29 Jun)

Computers recognizing cats, Bruce Sterling on the New Aesthetic, a primer on networked cities, the inner workings of Anonymous, and the Manufactured Normalcy Field.

Quotes of the week

Great collaborations don’t start in boardrooms.
They start in restaurants.


Articles of the week

  • Ideas for Dozens: Designing for and against the manufactured normalcy field
    Based on a Ribbonfarm article, which we featured a couple of weeks ago, NYU’s Greg Borenstein and BERG London’s Matt Webb ran a Foo Camp session, which Peter attended, on the so-called Manufactured Normalcy Field, and how it relates to designing everyday products. The post is a rough writeup, capturing the essence of the group brainstorm. Good stuff indeed.
  • David Albert Cox: Playfulness and Processuality
    Two and a half months ago, Bruce Sterling published his essay on the New Aesthetic and propelled it onto the big stage. Now, David Albert Cox catches up with Sterling to get his latest thoughts on the movement and James Bridle.
  • The Economist: The laws of the city
    Based on data collected about cities and the behavioral patterns of their inhabitants in broad terms, we’re able to learn about the way cities grow and change. This article offers a good general introduction to the theme of networked cities, and shows us some ways in which the increasing abundance of urban data is being put to use.
  • Wired: How Anonymous Picks Targets, Launches Attacks, and Takes Powerful Organizations Down
    This fascinating article by Quinn Norton on the inner workings of Anonymous and its involvement in politics offers insight into the evolution of both the movement and the internet culture. Should you like to read more on the subject, there is also an interesting writeup on the TED blog of observations made by Gabriella Coleman, an anthropologist who studied the group for years.
  • New York Times: How Many Computers to Identify a Cat? 16,000
    A network of 16,000 computer processors was fed 10 million random image thumbnails from YouTube videos. In an impressive feat of machine learning, the network “basically invented the concept of a cat,” says Dr Jeff Dean of Google’s X lab. One step close of computers emulating the human brain.

What we read this week (22 Jun)

The reads this week revolve around changing web culture (memes, the Slow Web and auto-generated e-books), and the morality and usefulness of collecting data on people (open city data and database marketing).

Quotes of the week

To be human is to tinker, to envision a better condition, and decide to work toward it by shaping the world around us.

Frank Chimero

Articles of the week

  • New York Times: You for Sale: Mapping, and Sharing, the Consumer Genome
    A chilling read about the company that has more data about people than any other company or institution out there. This article comes at a time when a similar German company called Schufa had to cancel its foray into finding out how to add Facebook data into its database after a huge public outcry. As Sam Seaborn said on West Wing: “The next two decades are going to be about privacy.”
  • Jack Cheng: The Slow Web
    Jack Cheng applies the principles of the slow food movement to the web and describes an approach that values timely over real-time, moderation over excess and knowledge over information.
  • Smithsonian: What Defines a Meme?
    Great excerpt from James Gleick’s The Information about the definition and the history of the meme. Essential reading for anyone involved in communications and the spread of ideas.
  • The Pop-Up City: Data-Driven Urban Citizenship
    This article lists many examples of projects that demonstrate developments, benefits and potential problems in the usage of urban data.
  • TRAUMAWIEN: Ghostwriters
    Artist coders set up bots that gathered YouTube comments and compiled them into mindless but fascinating e-books, which were then sold through Amazon. Amazon has since deleted the books, which raises further questions about what can and can’t be considered legitimate in online publishing. Excerpts from the books, including the brilliant Alot was been hard by Janetlw Bauie, can be read here.

Quantifying future

On Thursday, I was in Hamburg following the invitation by the lovely people from Brainjuicer to speak at their WINnovation event. I always enjoy an opportunity to go to Hamburg, so I went and talked about Quantified Self and Cities.

On Thursday, I was in Hamburg following the invitation by the lovely people from Brainjuicer to speak at their WINnovation event.

It was a last-minute kind of thing after David – the man with the Weavrs – arranged the conversation. Nonetheless, I always enjoy an opportunity to go to Hamburg and in this case I even was asked to talk about Quantified Self and Cities. In essence, it was a short talk version of the workshop David, Peter and I gave at PICNIC only a few of weeks ago. I wasn’t perfectly sure about the setup of the event – as I said, it was all very last-minute –, I really didn’t know what kind of a crowd would be there and on what level people would be on this topic. Hence I decided to go into a deep dive, offer the people who are already familiar with the topic a few insights and leave everybody else with enough ideas to build their questions. Seemingly, it all worked out fairly well.

Somebody told me later at the dinner that he didn’t fully understand the topic, but it seemed as if it showed a potential future. This made me smile, because that is exactly what we try to do at Third Wave.

This might sound a bit over-the-top, but all in all that it’s pretty much spot on. Not all our projects are based on the fringes, no. But we expect from ourselves that we know what is happening on those fringes, because every time we sit down to work on strategy for our clients, we can provide them with something that is not focused on the next few months, but actually can survive the next few years. In many cases, those fringe topics don’t have a big impact on our client’s business model (yet), but they might at some point – and being prepared for it helps in the long run.

There will be a video of the talk soon. Follow us on twitter (@thirdwaveberlin) and grab the link there.

Week 50

Last week was very good to us. Very good indeed. In Amsterdam, we gave a prototyping workshop on Quantified Self at PICNIC with our co-conspirator David Bausola, and on the way there we got some fantastic news.

Last week was very good to us. Very good indeed.

While Johannes stayed in Berlin, Peter and I went to Amsterdam for PICNIC11. Together with David Bausola we gave a workshop on Quantified Cities. We introduced the audience to city and quantified self based data, gave them our perspective on it and let people prototype services that would improve life in a city. Since time was an issue – we could give every group only 30 minutes to develop an idea and write it down – it was very important to us not only to get everybody in the room on the same page, but also give a very accessible toolset. So we handed out different data sources on paper – be it Foursquare data, Runkeeper data or Governmental data – and let people come up with ideas. You can take a look on our tumblr for the results.

Needless to say we had fun and happy that our workshop approach worked so well. The Quantified Self Conference, which will happen in November in Amsterdam, invited us to do something similar. Don’t miss to sign up and join us there.

While we were boarding the plane on our way to Amsterdam, we got great news. I would love to tell you all about it in detail, but unfortunately this will have to wait a bit longer. But let me put it this way: We worked hard and it paid out. Big time. A big client coming our way with work for at least 18 months. We have been hired to do research, develop a strategy and do some re-organization. It’s a nice present to ourselves for the upcoming first anniversary of Third Wave.

Week 49

A busy week of workshops and strategy work is behind us, so we move into a week all about the future of cities. Also, an overview of the events and projects we’re contributing to over the next few weeks: PICNIC, Social Media Week, People in Beta and Chefsache.

I couldn’t have asked for a better start into a week full of discussions on the future of cities: Right now I’m on my way to Frankfurt to visit the Audi Urban Future Summit which I was kindly invited to. The conference boasts quite a line-up of speakers including Carlo Ratti (MIT Senseable Cities Lab) and Chris Anderson (WIRED). Later this week Igor and I will be headed for Amsterdam to do a workshop with David Bausola (Weavrs). We’ll be prototyping concepts for mashups building on two huge bodies of data: human data (think Quantified Self) and city data (think Cognitive Cities). You can follow our progress on this QuantifiedCities tumblr, and we’ll be sure to follow up in next week’s weeknote.

What were we up to last week?

Johannes took part in a workshop about digital magazines at one of our clients. He provided some market overview and explored the continuous struggle of publishers to let go of their print heritage to embrace their customers’ new reading habits. Many publishers are still in that stage where they think about simply transferring their print content to new devices, but haven’t developed an understanding of how their customers actually use these devices. Fortunately, we can work with clients who are getting the hang of it.

I spent two days in Hamburg, both on client workshops and to meet up with a whole bunch of lovely people. It’s always great to be in Hamburg.

We also presented the social media strategy for a strong brand we all grew up with – internally for now, but maybe we can follow up on this more publicly soon.

Also, our friends Freunde von Freunden celebrated their international launch: Congratulations again!

In other news, we’re getting ready to move offices. Our office neighbors Gidsy need more space and so do we, so we’ll expand a little and set up our new HQ over the next few weeks. We were lucky: our address will stay the same.

So what’s up next?

At Social Media Week Berlin I’m looking forward to hosting a panel (Social Media Strategy and the Future). (Disclosure: I’m on the advisory board of SMW Berlin.)

On Saturday, Johannes will give a Pecha Kucha style talk at Chefsache Meets Berlin about how to cope with information overflow.

Betahaus invited us to be part of the People In Beta Festival (1 Oct 2011), which combines the best of maker, coworking and startup culture. We’re glad we can pitch in (among other things, Johannes will give a more in-depth presentation on information overflow, too). More on that soon.

Our travel schedules this week

Johannes will be embedded at a client most of the week. I’m in Frankfurt today. Igor and I will be at PICNIC in Amsterdam from Tuesday to Friday. (If you’re there, ping us!)

How does Science Fiction influence our cities?

How do you imagine the future of our cities? Flying cars like in 5th Element or maybe fully automatic car systems like in Minority Report? A lot of green spaces like on the Star Trek version of future Earth or maybe more like the dark, wet streets in Blade Runner? Currently, there is almost no topic discussed as intensely as the future of urban environments.

The headline of this blogpost is also the title of Igor’s talk at SXSW Interactive this year. But Igor isn’t just going to present by themselves – two fantastic co-panelists will be joining him: Adam Greenfield of Urbanscale fame (and one of our speakers at Cognitive Cities Conference) and Jo Guldi, a professor specializing in the history of infrastructure at U Chicago and Harvard.

So what are they going to be talking about exactly? This is the description that won the hearts & minds of the SXSW voting crowd:

How do you imagine the future of our cities? Flying cars like in 5th Element or maybe fully automatic car systems like in Minority Report? A lot of green spaces like on the Star Trek version of future Earth or maybe more like the dark, wet streets in Blade Runner? Will we live on a planet that resembles Star Wars’ Coruscant city-planet idea or will it be something stick to our mix of urban and rural environments? Is something like Cisco’s New Songdo in South Korea more fiction or reality? How would most people perceive IBM’s Smart Cities plans? Currently, there is almost no topic discussed as intensely as the future of urban environments. No wonder, since studies show the projection that by 2050 almost 75 percent of the then 9 billion people on this planet will live in megacities. We want to compare the current developments with the ones we know from fiction, because we’re highly influenced by those science fiction images that swirl in our heads.”

Urban futures haven’t just been on our minds since we decided to host Cognitive Cities Conference. In fact, over the last year or so we’ve given a number of talks and interviews about various aspects of the topic, including at re:publica, Sigint, Ignite Berlin and Convention Camp.

And that’s surely not the last we’ll be hearing and thinking about the future of cities. Now where are our jetpacks?