What we read this week (22 November)

Our favorite articles of this week. Have a great weekend.

Articles of the week

  • What Screens Want
    Brilliant web essay by Frank Chimero, and not only because he features James Burke and The West Wing. I bet that this one will come up in a lot of conversations in the next months.
  • Prada Revolutionaries
    “Bright Green has become the left's version of right-wing transhumanism: an excuse to not solve today's problems, because tomorrow's technology will fix them for us.”
  • Tom Armitage » Driftwood
    “Driftwood is a talk I gave at Playark 2013. It was meant to be a talk about leftovers (the theme of the conference being ‘reclaim’), and about Hello Lamp Post. In the writing, it turned into a broader overview of my own work – on six years of projects around cities and play.”
  • Meet The ‘Assassination Market’ Creator Who’s Crowdfunding Murder With Bitcoins – Forbes
    “Assassination Market, a crowdfunding service that lets anyone anonymously contribute bitcoins towards a bounty on the head of any government official–a kind of Kickstarter for political assassinations.”
  • Ross Andersen – Humanity’s deep future
    "When we peer into the fog of the deep future what do we see – human extinction or a future among the stars?"
  • Bitcoin As Protocol | Union Square Ventures
    “There is no other widely used protocol in the world today that accomplishes this: with bitcoin anyone can make a statement (a transaction) and have this be recorded in a globally visible and fixed ledger.”
  • Content economics, part 4: scale | Felix Salmon
    "It’s almost impossible to overstate the importance of the CMS when it comes to the question of who’s going to win the online-publishing wars."
  • InMoov » Project
    "Here is “InMoov”, the first life size humanoid robot you can 3D print and animate. You have a 3D printer, some building skills, This project is for you!!"
  • Apple and Google Maps, and Defaults | Matt Mullenweg
    “If Microsoft did this a decade ago we’d call for the DoJ to reopen their investigation. Apple has the best phone, best tablet, and in many ways the best operating system — we should not give them a pass for this blatantly self-interested and user-hostile stance.”
  • Instagram and Youtube — Benedict Evans
    "WhatsApp and Instagram are not in different categories – they're direct competitors for time and attention." – This spot on.

Week 128

On giving presentations and on patient management in hospitals.

On presentations

Last Thursday I gave a presentation to a group of design students from the University of Applied Sciences in Rotterdam. They were visiting Berlin, and their teachers had picked out some companies for them to visit. They were interested in hearing about what we do and how we work.

I was very pleased with how it went, since the students seemed genuinely interested and the presentation worked well, even though it consisted of me talking, with a little input from the group, for about an hour with a small page of notes I’d made up quickly, and some pointing around the room. This informal setup was the least demanding on time, but also on nerves, since there’s not much risk of anything going wrong.

Presentations frighten me to death, generally mostly beforehand though, thankfully, and not so much during. This applies even when there is no obligation towards the audience, only satisfying their curiosity. It helps the nerves a great deal, once you’ve started talking, to know what you’re talking about, and in which order. Working at Third Wave, fortunately, makes it relatively easy to talk about working at Third Wave, since no speculation or research is required, but structure is more abstract, not as apparent. I spent about 15 minutes making keywords organized into categories on a piece of paper, since I’ve made the mistake before of thinking I could figure the structure out as I went along, and though this sometimes goes well, it’s not at all a safe bet. A structure is necessary for peace of mind, even if it’s very rudimentary and not beautifully thought out. People need to have boxes to put things in, and any boxes at all will do better than no boxes.

There were around 15 students and two teachers in our office, which is normally occupied by 5 people, so there weren’t enough chairs for us, and so everyone including myself was standing. If you can get a small audience to stand in front of you, it’s difficult for things to go awry, because you can see them at all times, and the feedback you get from their facial expressions will tell you whether you’re on the right track or not at any given moment. I found these cues very helpful, and guided what I elaborated on and what I didn’t.

I thank the students and their teachers for their unusually full attention, for being such gracious guests, despite the lack of seating, and for giving me an opportunity to practice presenting.

A thought on hospitals and technology

I had a couple doctor friends visiting this past weekend. They told me about their work in their respective hospitals in Britain, and I was a little surprised at the stumbling blocks they constantly have to work around, and how (seemingly) easily technology could solve their problems.

When beds in one hospital ward fill up, any additional patients are still considered part of that ward, but are moved to another ward where there is more space. A cardiology patient could then wind up on the orthopedic ward, for instance. This causes big problems, because these patients become a case of out of sight, out of mind. The orthopedic team wouldn’t be responsible for the cardiology patient, but cardiology might forget that the patient is there, or where he is. Of course, the hospital tried to put in screens that show where these patients are, but the information they draw on is not always up to date, and often unhelpful or confusing, and so the screens aren’t really used.

Several of their problems seemed to come from different groups of people not having access to the same set of information at any given time. Another major issue was how to make one department ultimately responsible for a patient when many departments were involved, since in particularly complex medical cases, it often happens that no department accepts responsibility for the patient, at least initially. These are problems all organizations encounter to one extent or another: making sure there is a project lead who checks on progress regularly, making sure everyone stays informed on progress and changes. Perhaps there are useful solutions designed for businesses that hospitals could adapt for their own use.

After a bit of googling, it seems hospitals are a huge area of research for IoT and sensor technology applications, so perhaps my friends’ woes are already on their way to being solved.

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.

What we read this week (11 May)

This week, we read about a new approach to the alarm clock, shopping by Facebook Likes, considering the opportunities and dangers of the IoT, what a networked city of the future might look like, and James Bridle’s thoughts on digital culture.

Quotes of the week

The internet is human fanfiction.

-James Bridle, at NEXT12

Geography is now only about how far your body is away from your phone.

-Alexander Bard, at NEXT12

Articles of the week

  • Huffington Post: An Interview With James Bridle of the New Aesthetic
    James Bridle coined the term “New Aesthetic,” and so is the appropriate person to approach about what it means. For exactly a year, he used a tumblelog by the same name to collect examples of where the virtual overlapped with the tangible to form a new aesthetic. He tells Robert Urquhart of the Huffington Post about his observations in digital culture.
  • Deutsche Welle: The Internet of Things and sustainability
    Our friend Martin Spindler, a freelance IoT consultant, tells the Deutsche Welle about what IoT can do for us, and why it’s important to explore the benefits of possible implementations before dismissing them as being too risky in terms of privacy and data security.
  • design mind: The Networked Urban Environment
    Jan Chipchase, chief researcher at frog, gives a great primer on networked cities in this article. He shows the opportunities but also explains the questions we have to ask about all the data creation and the involvement of private companies in our shared city lives.
  • Selectism: UNIQLO Wake Up App
    Japanese apparel producer UNIQLO shows how brands can add both value for, and touchpoints with, their customers. In this case, they built a gorgeous multi-platform wake up app that pulls in live ambient data to create customized wake up ring tones.
  • The Verge: Real-time Facebook ‘likes’ displayed on Brazilian fashion retailer’s clothes racks
    C&A is experimenting with live data in Brazil. They’ve equipped their clothes hangers with a display that tells shoppers how many Facebook likes an item of clothing has received, in real time. It will be interesting to see how this feature affects consumer behavior and whether it catches on. A good example of how IoT might be integrated into everyday life.

What we read this week (Dec 16)

This week we read about smart homes, customer service, remix culture as the new prohibition, patents, Facebook’s revenues and ROI in Social Media Marketing.

Quotes of the week

It’s an incredibly exciting time to be creating things on the web. This year’s advances in browsers, standards, and smart thinking have enabled us to finally begin to web design. We’re no longer forced to think of the web as a digital reproduction of physical pages, but rather to finally embrace it as its own thing.

Dan Cederholm

The hardest thing to do, and I think the most important, is for agency leaders to unlearn everything we’ve been taught over the years. It’s very hard for people my age to admit they don’t know anything. Fact is, when I was young, I asked older people for advice. Now I’m old, and I ask younger people for advice. Our role as leaders is no longer to be the experts.

Clark Kokich, Razorfish

Articles of the week

  • Can’t get no satisfaction: Why service companies can’t keep their promises
    Dave Gray of Dachis again with another look at the service economy and the foundations for a decent customer service.
  • Homesense Final Report
    Georgina Voss and Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino ran the Homesense project for two years, and helped a number of households enhance their homes through networked technology. (No internet fridges, though!) Here’s the final report with their key findings.
  • Waxy: No Copyright Intended
    “Remix culture is the new Prohibition, with massive media companies as the lone voices calling for temperance.” – A wonderfully insightful article by Andy Baio about a generation of people growing up without even understanding the fundamental concept of copyright.
  • TechCrunch: Apple Made A Deal With The Devil (No, Worse: A Patent Troll)
    Especially over the course of the last 12 months, we have seen an increase in the number of lawsuits targeting manufacturers of Android-based devices. Some of them came from Microsoft, some from Oracle, but mostly it was Apple who was trying to prevent others from competing with their products. In an unusual journalistic quality, Jason Kinacid from TechCrunch depicts how Apple transferred valuable patents to a company that can only be described as a patent troll to increase the opportunity for lawsuits. While the use of patents in general is debatable, it becomes obvious that Apple is using those tactics not to protect their assets, but to hinder innovation.
  • Business Insider: Facebook’s Revenue Numbers Just Leaked, And The Numbers Look Underwhelming
    An interesting glimpse into what seem to be Facebook’s revenues. Let’s just say: Facebook is definitely turning a solid profit, but failing the high expectations. Read the full article for some more concrete meat.
  • What I Learned When I Started a Design Studio
    Khoi Vinh with valuable insights that apply to many more businesses than just design studios.
  • There is No ROI in Social Media Marketing
    Sean Jackson, CFO of Copyblogger, says that asking for the RoI of social media is like asking for the RoI of your employees using email. Marketing is not an investment but an essential communication tool.

Week 62

Where we welcomed Maddie to our team, sent Igor to Umeå and worked on our own near future.

We’re in a bit of an end of year sprint that will last till the end of next week. After that, we’ll wrap up for the rest of the year and enjoy the holidays. So: one more week, go!

Welcome Maddie!

As of last Thursday, Maddie Maher will be working with us. Well, half with us, half with VCCP. We will try to guide her on the way to becoming a digital strategist, and she will help us out with a few projects. Expect her name to show up on our blog more regularly. Also, we did a little introduction interview with Maddie.

IoT2011 at Umeå

Igor was invited to join a fantastic conference, Critically Making the Internet of Things at Umeå, Sweden. It was a great occasion to meet some of the smartest folks out there, in an intimate setting in the middle of nowhere in north Sweden. Bruce Sterling, Molly Steenson, Anne Galloway, Johanna Drucker and Chris Speed were all there, just to name drop a few. More on that soon.

Next Berlin

Our track curation for Next Berlin is coming together nicely. Just having the chance to invite all these great people to speak is quite neat, so in fact my track is filling up quickly. I might have to slow down a bit to leave some space for last minute recruiting. We’re also slowly inching towards a couple more events next year, so follow this blog and our Twitter accounts closely for updates and announcements.

Have a good week & enjoy the holiday season.