What we read this week (18 May)

This week’s reads: Quantified Self tools for brain activity, shirts that make you work harder, microloans and the Internet, the future of the digital arts, innovation explained in terms of evolution, and the impact of the Internet and social media on society.

Quotes of the week

Privacy is intrinsic to democracy; it is necessary for discourse to happen.

Lane DeNicola, on The Digital Human

I interface from a database, and my database is in cyberspace, so I’m interactive, I’m hyperactive, and from time to time, I’m radioactive.

George Carlin

Articles of the week

  • The Creators Project: Are Brands The New Medicis?
    The Creators Project is opening up a discussion about the digital arts, and whether the ‘cross-pollination between art and advertising’ can be profitable. An interesting exploration of the influence of branded projects on the evolution of new branches of art, and the relationship between brand and artist.
  • Matt Webb: FuelBand for alpha waves
    In this post, Matt Webb, co-founder of BERG, outlines his vision for a product that does for brain activity what the Nike FuelBand does for exercise – a brilliant line of thought.
  • Boston.com: Northeastern students create a shirt that knows when you’re slacking off on your workout
    As body sensors become more and more ubiquitous, we see them integrated in more day to day products and in some highly specialized niches. In this case, we see a prototype for a shirt that’s packed with sensors to monitor your body (heart rate and all) for further analysis. While for now this is aimed at elite athletes and other gym rats, we expect to see the technology trickle down to more consumer grade goods quite soon.
  • BrainJuicer: Insects, Innovation and Instagram
    For companies, ‘adapt or die’ is one of the guiding principles of the digital age. But since innovation is ‘really, really hard,’ suggesting adaptation is much easier said than done, as is illustrated here by way of bug-related metaphor.
  • Kiva: Annual Report
    Kiva is an organization that enables peer-to-peer lending. Users can give microloans to individuals and small businesses, see what they’ve helped to support, and finally get paid back. The annual report gives a great deal of insight into the nature of the market that Kiva is working in, and what can be achieved through this clever use of Internet manpower.

Also interesting: Aleks Krotoski is currently running a seven-part series on BBC Radio 4 called The Digital Human, addressing the impact of the Internet on society and human behavior. Three episodes are up online so far, and are well worth a listen.