What we read this week (12 Oct)

This week we read about Google’s neural network research, Nokia’s maps, “internet addiction,” K-pop, and the gendered side of the Quantified Self.

Quotes of the week

We often think we’ve solved a problem when we’ve merely come up with good answer to the wrong question.

Aza Raskin

Both coffee and naps can improve mood; combined they’re magical.

Vanessa Gregory

Articles of the week

  • Technology Review: Google Puts Its Virtual Brain Technology to Work
    Elaborating on the story of a couple months back, in which Google’s neural network of 16,000 computers succeeded in recognizing cats on YouTube, this article gives more insight into how the operation works, what else it’s capable of, and how this variety of AI is being applied in a commercial context.
  • The Atlantic: The Forgotten Mapmaker: Nokia Has Better Maps Than Apple and Maybe Even Google
    While jokes about maps in iOS 6 abound, The Atlantic addresses the “third horse” in the tech company maps race, Nokia, and points out just how great of an asset these maps could be.
  • New Yorker: Factory Girls
    This is a brilliant piece of journalism on the making of the K-pop phenomenon and its widespread cultural influence. Along the way, it nicely puts “Gangnam Style” into context. A long, but very worthwhile read.
  • Mindhacker: Why there is no such thing as internet addiction
    Internet addiction, Vaughan Bell argues, is logically impossible. His fundamental argument: “‘Internet addiction’ researchers conceive of the internet as if it were a set of activities when, in fact, it’s a medium for communication. […] You can be no more addicted to the internet than you can to language or radio waves.”
  • danah boyd: omg girls’ bodies are fascinating: embracing the gendered side of quantified self
    A perceptive piece on monitoring hormonal cycles, and our attitudes toward gendered applications for technology. An avid self-quantifier, Danah explains how cultural norms and her own prejudices prevented her from studying this aspect of her body’s behavior earlier on, and how enlightening her findings were once she started.