What we read this week (8 Feb)

This week we read about Internet-centrism, questionable visions for education’s future, how music recommendation works, why Amazon wants its own currency, and how the way we buy things today is changing the way brands work.

Quote of the week

Culture isn’t just one aspect of the game, it is the game.

Louis Gerstner

Articles of the week

  • New Republic: Up for Debate: Can Social Media Solve Real-World Problems?
    Evgeny Morozov and Steven Johnson battle it out over “Internet-centrism,” or whether the patterns in the way things work on the internet can be generalized to the rest of life. An intense debate, with some critical thoughts on the role and nature of the internet, as well as some fantastic name-calling.
  • The Awl: Venture Capital’s Massive, Terrible Idea For The Future Of College
    In this long and brilliant piece, Maria Bustillos gets to the core of what learning really is as she documents and contributes to the currently raging debates over MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) and what exactly they can or cannot contribute to education. Also have a look at Clay Shirky’s reply.
  • Brian Whitman: How music recommendation works — and doesn’t work
    Brian Whitman of The Echo Nest goes into great detail on the complex subject of how good music recommendations are made, what these recommendations are good for, and where there is room for improvement in this field.
  • The Verge: Why Amazon wants its own currency
    Amazon has announced a new virtual currency, Amazon Coins, that will be an alternative to credit card payment in-app purchases for the Kindle Fire. Adrianne Jeffries questions the motives behind this move, explains how it will work, and concludes that the goal is “to shore up loyalty…and maybe avoid some taxes.”
  • Harvard Business Review: The Rise of the Unbrand
    On the trend of products that are less reliant on “brand”, and more reliant on quality, individualization and usefulness. But in the end, a brand without a logo/name is still a brand.

What we read this week (27 Jul)

Our reads this week delve into mobile identity, our feelings towards our work stations, the great gadget-addiction question, a future of 3D printing, and a promising deal between BitTorrent and a musician.

Quotes of the week

I think the space between a person and a typewriter is better than the space between a television and its viewer.

David Banks

Articles of the week

  • Rebekah Cox: Mobile Identity
    An important, thoughtful post by Quora’s lead designer on how identity and your phone go together. It’s one of those articles that will be referred to for the next few years.
  • Cyborgology: Against The Minority Report Computer
    David Banks passionately disagrees with the future vision of computers in Minority Report, because it fails to take into account our emotional attachment to our work stations. Here he describes why this vision undermines our relationship with desktop technology.
  • The Atlantic: Are We Addicted to Gadgets or Indentured to Work?
    In a response to a recent New York Times article on the popular topic of gadget addiction, Alexis Madrigal finds that it is not our use of technology that is making life increasingly stressful, but our relationship with work.
  • Rhizome: The Shape of Shaping Things to Come
    In this article, Adam Rothstein takes the reader onto a journey into the future, where ‘physibles’, 3D-printed objects, have become normality. He develops a mindblowing outlook, extrapolating the current social phenomena of hackers, early adopters and retro-fetishists, and brings them into a place where limits are set by time and creativity rather than resources.
  • GigaOM: DJ Shadow becomes first artist to get paid by BitTorrent
    In an industry first, DJ Shadow struck a deal with BitTorrent Inc, the filesharing company. For every download of a DJ Shadow bundle including some songs and a special software – on which the details are somewhat fuzzy at this point – BitTorrent and DJ Shadow share the revenue generated through that software. It’s an interesting step forward, and surely all eyes in the music industry are on this deal.

Moby, not at all destroyed

While we are not in the music business and this is certainly not the place to get tips on the latest scoop on new releases, I couldn’t resist on pointing towards Moby’s newest.

Yes, we are certainly not objective when it comes to Soundcloud – many of our friends are employed by this up and coming startup -, but there is no doubt that they are gaining some well deserved attention. It feels almost as no day passes by anymore without a big new releases that is being powered by Soundcloud. Moby’s release is no exception.

While we are not in the music business and this is certainly not the place to get tips on the latest scoop on new releases, I couldn’t resist on pointing towards Moby’s newest.

Yes, we are certainly not objective when it comes to Soundcloud – many of our friends are employed by this up and coming startup -, but there is no doubt that they are gaining some well deserved attention. It feels almost as no day passes by anymore without a big new releases that is being powered by Soundcloud. Moby’s release is no exception. But in this case, it merges Soundclouds music quality with Instagram‘s passion for visual exploration.

Take a look at this album release page: http://destroyed.moby.com/

i don’t sleep very well when i travel. and as a result, i tend to be awake in cities when everyone else is asleep. that’s where this album, and the pictures that accompany it come from. it was primarily written late at night in cities when i felt like i was the only person awake (or alive), a soundtrack for empty cities at 2 a.m, at least that’s how i hear it. the pictures were taken on tour while i was writing the album. i wanted to show a different side of touring and traveling. a side that is often mundane, disconcerting, and occasionally beautiful – moby

The music is being powered by Soundcloud’s API, the photos are being aggregated from Instagram. Some are from Moby himself, but every Instagram user can add new ones by using #destroyed as the hashtag. Moby managed not only to release a new album, but create a completely different experience around his music by using the best and latest technology. Music, visual impressions and storytelling.

I’m very impressed.