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 (1 Mar)

Culture’s effects on cognition, “good smart” vs “bad smart” technology, the Borg Complex, print-digital hybrids in publishing and tiny chips and the Internet of Things.

Quote of the week

There is absolutely no inevitability as long as there is a willingness to contemplate what is happening.

Marshall McLuhan

Articles of the week

  • Pacific Standard: We Aren’t the World
    A long and fascinating read about how culture affects cognition, and how the research of three academics is calling some of social science’s fundamental principles into question. The upshot: We are perhaps not all as alike as we think.
  • Wall Street Journal: Is Smart Making Us Dumb?
    Evgeny Morozov classifies sensor technologies into “good smart,” which usually simply provide information and allow us to make our own decisions, and “bad smart,” which use external forces like peer pressure to push us to make certain choices. Here he describes his worries about “bad smart” tech, and what implications might arise as these types of product become more common.
  • The Borg Complex: Borg Complex Symptoms
    Michael Sacasas recently defined the Borg Complex for “self-appointed evangelists of technological assimilation” who “would have us all abandon any critique of technology and simply adapt to the demands of technological society.” This list of symptoms is a good guideline and yes, we can see traits of the complex in ourselves. Acceptance is the first step…
  • desktop: New Publishing Hybrids
    An interview with Dan Hill on the merging process of digital and print media, and the design considerations that need to go into media that move between physical and digital.
  • Wired: Freescale’s Insanely Tiny ARM Chip Will Put the Internet of Things Inside Your Body
    Freescale makes tiny, tiny computer chips, that may have some interesting applications in a field that sounds a little outlandish: swallowable computing.