What we read this week (14 June)

Impending doom for high-frequency trading and ebook DRM, impressive advances in medical 3D printing, James and his drones, and conversations in preparation for the robot future.

Quote of the week

I don’t want to live in a society that does these sort of things.

Edward Snowden

Articles of the week

  • How the Robots Lost: High-Frequency Trading’s Rise and Fall
    Matthew Philips follows the story of HFTs from their inception to the present, from raking in piles of cash to fighting each other for tiny scraps of profit.
  • What Amazon’s ebook strategy means
    How Amazon’s clever strategy and wild success is revealing its unsustainability in the book market (and others), and why this means that DRM on ebooks must die.
  • Children of the Drone
    Vanity Fair’s portrait of James Bridle and a review of the New Aesthetic’s evolution in its first two years as a concept, covering various perspectives that have surfaced in that time on what this “found art movement (but, confusingly, not a movement of found art)” is.
  • One day it will be possible to 3D-print a human liver
    A look into the current and future uses of 3D printing in medicine. Though it isn’t yet possible to print organs, we are actually surprisingly far along when it comes to implementing 3D printing in this area. Examples of applications range from converting MRI scans of pregnant women’s wombs to produce models of the fetus, to replacing a jawbone with a printed titanium substitute.
  • Will robots boost middle class unemployment?
    “Dinnertime conversation starters” from a roboticist’s point of view to get us thinking about how robots change the traditional relationship between productivity and employment, and another warning that we need to think critically in order to protect the existence of a middle class.

What we read this week (24 Aug)

Reads on the topics of robots replacing human precision, designing platform-specific e-books, setting the right pace for sharing and media consumption, what startup workers can learn from master craftsmen, and how the social sciences are changing.

Quotes of the week

I believe it’s time to envision another community of the future—one slightly less dystopian than all information and media pouring down on our heads, whether it be night or day, whether it makes sense for that content to travel at high frequencies or not.

Hannah Donovan

Articles of the week

  • Edge: A New Kind of Social Science for the 21st Century
    Nicholas Christakis discusses how the way we study people is changing as a result of “a biological hurricane, computational social sciences and the rediscovery of experimentation,” and how these factors may even be changing the people themselves.
  • Amy Hoy: Why Blacksmiths are Better at Startups than You
    Amy Hoy shows us, using the example of a BBC series called Mastercrafts, what psychological hurdles entrepreneurs have to overcome, why these obstacles exist, and what conclusions one has to reach to begin doing real work.
  • A List Apart: Everything in its Right Pace
    Hannah Donovan, designer of music products Last.fm and ThisIsMyJam.com, makes some great observations about the pace at which we process different kinds of information, and explains why slowing things down can create new value.
  • New York Times: Skilled Work, Without the Worker
    Machines – robots – aren’t a new phenomenon in manufacturing, but they are new to areas where they replace human precision. A whole new wave of robotic manufacturing is emerging.
  • Craig Mod: Platforming Books
    In this long, detailed and rather beautiful article, Craig Mod outlines the thought and execution processes behind designing platform-specific electronic editions of his book, Art Space Tokyo (co-written by Ashley Rawlings). He also gives his take on the state of e-publishing and what gaps he sees that should be filled.

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.

What we read this week (20 Apr)

Our articles of the week: why you might want to get some of your daily news from Fox, the twisted logic behind e-book publishing, an Ikea-made HD TV, democracies and internet freedom, and meme management as an emerging profession.

Quotes of the week

There are a great many bad people in the world, and if you are not offending them, you must be bad yourself.

Adrian Tan

More information does not make a more informed population.

danah boyd

Articles of the week

  • Cory Doctorow: A Whip to Beat Us With
    Author and digital rights activist Cory Doctorow sheds light on the twisted logic connecting publishers, e-books, DRM and certain platforms’ nasty habit of locking users in. For related material, see Charlie Stross’ related article on Amazon’s e-book strategy and its consequences.
  • Wired UK: Ikea’s “Uppleva” integrates TVs and sound systems into furniture
    Ikea is a great example of a company that knows how to extend their range of products. Their latest endeavor: making their own HD TVs. And it seems that they’ve done well on the product, too. This will be interesting to watch. On a grander scale, the company is also planning the construction of an entire neighborhood in East London.
  • The Boston Globe: How democracies clamped down on the Internet
    The openness of the Internet is threatened – unfortunately not only by nations and regimes that we expect to go against freedom, but also by democracies. This article is a good reminder that we can’t take the net for granted.
  • Mashable: Meme Management: Meet the man who reps internet stars
    In times when user-generated content can become more successful on the internet then professional productions, it probably shouldn’t be surprising that at some point they also get professionalized. Still, “meme manager” is a job title not many would have anticipated, and yet it is very much an expression of the zeitgeist.
  • danah boyd: Getting the News
    danah boyd, internet researcher, tells News.me how and where she gets her news fix every day. She discusses the importance of finding points of view as different as possible from one’s own, and what it means to be well informed.

Additionally, should you like to catch up on our series of articles on our social media strategy framework, the collection is now complete.