What we read this week (28 June)

Infrastructure fiction, life lessons from Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard, Booz Allen and its relationship with US intelligence, barriers for growth in emerging markets and using data more effectively in marketing.

Quote of the week

Focusing on a clearly identified destination is highly overrated.

Adam Brault

We owned the devices, but they owned the servers. They won.

Shoshana Zuboff

Articles of the week

  • An Introduction To Infrastructure Fiction
    Writer, futurist and infrastructure researcher Paul Graham Raven in a piece for Superflux, in which he describes how the thought processes of design fiction can be used to work on serious, though perhaps less sexy, infrastructural problems, with the goal of creating a more sustainable way of living. Some great argumentation, complete with helpful Douglas Adams metaphors.
  • Six Things We Learned From Patagonia’s Founder Yvon Chouinard
    A refreshingly direct Chouinard on making the world better through pessimism, the importance of connecting to nature and taking things slow, avoiding consumerism and cheating, and other life lessons.
  • Booz Allen, the World’s Most Profitable Spy Organization
    More on the Snowden saga, this time with a portrait of the company he worked for, Booz Allen, its cooperation with government intelligence agencies, and how this relationship inadvertently made room for events like the recent leaks to happen.
  • Emerging Markets, Hitting a Wall
    “Sustained, meteoric growth in emerging economies may no longer be possible,” as this New York Times article explains, as a result of increased automation, global supply chains, greater economic gaps and aging populations, and why this all means that developing countries may never fully develop.
  • The ‘Big Data’ Fallacy
    Eoin Townsend makes the case for a operating system of sorts for marketing, which would combine Data Management Platforms (DMPs), Demand Side Platforms (DSPs) and other sources of data to ensure that the data isn’t simply collected, but put together in such a way as to be useful in developing strategies.

What we read this week (5 Apr)

On our varying perception of time, businesses within businesses, why we’re creeped out by the sound of our own voice, the Bitcoin bubble, and inventing jobs rather than searching for them.

Quote of the week

In a world of finite attention spans and seemingly infinite media, internet humour has a unique ability to break through the noise and tell an alternative to a dominant single story. While we are giggling at the jokes, we are also paying attention.

An Xiao Mina

Articles of the week

  • Contents Magazine: 10 Timeframes
    An excellent piece by Paul Ford on our variable and often confusing perception of time, and the control designers have over the way we interact with time.
  • Medium: A business within the business
    Dave Gray describes a way to give employees a greater sense of ownership and more agency within an organization through a change in structure that effectively creates miniature businesses within a business. “Podular” organizations, as he describes them, increase motivation and effectiveness in the long term.
  • NBC News: Why you hate the sound of your own voice
    Neuroscientist Jordan Gaines explains the science behind that cringey feeling you experience when hearing recordings of yourself.
  • Medium: The Bitcoin Bubble and the Future of Currency
    A long read by Felix Salmon on the current Bitcoin hype and why we should be less enthusiastic about it and more cautious.
  • New York Times: Need a Job? Invent It
    Education specialist Tony Wagner makes the case for using the education system to prepare people to create their own jobs. His key point: people should come out of school not with just a mass of information, but ready to use their knowledge and skills to create value.

What we read this week (31 Aug)

Where innovation ends and natural behavior begins, why targeted ads are so creepy, why young people aren’t buying cars, how we use our variety of screens for different purposes, and what design fiction is.

Quotes of the week

The act of writing is for many intrinsically tied to reading, mirroring the internet itself, with its ingrained expectations of interactivity.

James Bridle

Tech is not the answer to the problems of modern politics.

Alexis Madrigal

Articles of the week

What we read this week (15 June)

This week was all about speculations. Standing with one foot in the present and one foot in the future, we were reading about the downfall and rise of contemporary technologies, what science fiction has to do with economics, a futuristic urban art project and the digital metamorphosis of Starbucks.

Quotes of the week

The difference between reality and fiction? Fiction has to make sense.

Tom Clancy

Articles of the week

  • Chris Ziegler: Pre to postmortem: the inside story of the death of Palm and webOS
    The “international darlings” Palm and webOS disappeared in the sea of the global irrelevance within only 31 months. Read about the factors that undermined the foundations of the promising device and platform.
  • Wired: Economist Paul Krugman Is a Hard-Core Science Fiction Fan
    Paul Krugman: American economist, Professor at Princeton University and science fiction amateur. He claims that nothing else gives you more opportunities to think about possibilities than science fiction. In this interview conducted by Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy, Krugman talks about psychohistory, trends among fellow economists and his deep affinity for science fiction.
  • Under Tomorrows Sky with Liam Young
    Under Tomorrows Sky is a project initiated by Liam Young in collaboration with the 2013 Lisbon Architecture Triennale and a variety of inventive people such as scientists, digital poets or speculative gamers. It aims at developing a proposal for a future city with complete visionary structure. The project will be exhibited at MU art space in Eindhoven (NL) on August 10th.
  • Venture Beat: How Starbucks is turning itself into a tech company
    The biggest international coffee company and coffeehouse chain is turning the tide when it comes to running an expansive business today. The article explains, step-by-step, the digital success of Starbucks and why it should be perceived as a role model in digital engagement.
  • Splatf: Exploring The New Foursquare
    If we could say that growth is the new business currency, then we could say that Foursquare is becoming pretty rich. Last week, the new version of Foursquare was published. Its creators decided to slightly modify the concept behind the previous versions of Foursquare in order to improve the user experience and meet their new expectations.