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January 19, 2015
Interesting Things on the Internet: January 19th 2015
- The Toxoplasma Of Rage. Divisiveness and trolling on the Internet is nobody's fault, it's just an emergent effect of the systems we've built. An illuminating angle on why social (and traditional) media can become so polarized. I wonder how we break the cycle?
- Towards the sociocratic museum. What should our modern museums and cultural institutions look like? How should they work? What should we be preserving? Some interesting food for thought.
- The Cathedral of Computation. Here’s an exercise: The next time you see someone talking about algorithms, replace the term with “God” and ask yourself if the sense changes any.
- The Data Sublime. Maybe the risk of our increasingly computer-directed future isn't that some big corporation will be in control, but rather that they will just look like they are.
- Among the Disrupted "Here is a humanist proposition for the age of Google: The processing of information is not the highest aim to which the human spirit can aspire, and neither is competitiveness in a global economy."
- A Basic Income Guarantee. I think this is a good idea. It would definitely let lots more people pursue their business ideas.
- To Fall in Love With Anyone, Do This "It’s astounding, really, to hear what someone admires in you. I don’t know why we don’t go around thoughtfully complimenting one another all the time."
Blog All Dog-eared Pages: The Death and Life of Great American Cities
Jane Jacobs is, rightly, regarded as a defining influence in human-centred urbanism or city planning. Her first book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities is considered a classic and so was required reading for someone like me, with an interest in how we look to affect our cities.
It's a bit of a behemoth - almost 600 pages in the edition I have - and took me a while to work through. I'm not sure how much of a feel you'll really get for it from these notes, but it's a really interesting and thought-provoking read. It's taken me quite some time to get my notes written up (I finished the book sometime in 2013!) but that's because of the sheer density of notes I made through the book.
I didn't agree with absolutely everything in it, but we could learn much about how to improve our towns and cities, and how to improve the way we go about "regenerating" them if more planners, politicians, and citizens had read this.Continue reading "Blog All Dog-eared Pages: The Death and Life of Great American Cities"
January 12, 2015
Interesting Things on the Internet: January 12th 2015
- Why This Shepherd Loves Twitter. Connecting interesting people and their experiences to the rest of us. What has always been a great thing that "social media" can do.
- On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs. "what does it say about our society that it seems to generate an extremely limited demand for talented poet-musicians, but an apparently infinite demand for specialists in corporate law?"
- We need more rubbish on the internet. A great riposte to the "I don't know why people share what they had for breakfast online" crowd.
- What I Learned about Strangers from Jane Jacobs on my Winter Vacation. I like the idea of designing for strangers. "Is it really necessary for visitors to share their life stories with each other? Is it OK for them to just share a pair of scissors?"
- The Life Behind the Lifestyle Blog. Frank and interesting interview with Ben Hammersley about his life and finances.
January 05, 2015
Interesting Things on the Internet: January 5th 2015
- Governing through unhappiness. Audit, targets and managerialism as tools to control and emasculate. We need to start setting different parameters for success, ones that can't easily be quantified.
- On Nerd Entitlement. Such a shame that the alternate response to the geeks inheriting the earth hasn't won out, that we remember what it's like and help those less powerful.
- Inadvertent Algorithmic Cruelty and then Eric's follow-up post Well, That Escalated Quickly. A sobering warning that algorithms can easily go wrong. More diversity in our teams will help mitigate, although not eliminate, this sort of thing. "Move fast and break things" is just a fun quote until you realise the things being broken are people. (Like Eric, I don't think this is just a problem with Facebook, it's just unfortunate for them that their famous quote explains the problem so aptly).
- City link, co-determination, and destiny. Interesting thoughts from Matt Webb about the new forms of firm that it turns out aren't quite so new (I don't know how long City Link have been going, but they pre-date Uber by quite some time...). It often feels like unions and the traditional left/right politics are fighting an old, long-gone battle, and this sort of thing shows that to be true. It's not about workers vs. bosses any more, but still about asymmetry of power, and finding ways to challenge that.
- In 2015, we’ll need different words to talk about the future. Words are important.
- How To Pay Attention: 20 Ways To Win The War Against Seeing. Some good exercises to do in that. It reminds me a bit of Noticings.
- Really Bad Powerpoint. Good presentation tips from Seth Godin.
- How My Mom Got Hacked. Welcome to the new normal. We need more geeks working out how to combat this.
And this week, an excellent video of Eric Rodenbeck talking about running his data-viz agency Stamen:
December 29, 2014
Winter Stroll Around Scammonden Water
In the run up to Christmas I was meant to catch up with one of my mates, who lives over in Yorkshire. Luckily, in hindsight, for a number of reasons that didn't happen, and got rescheduled to the Saturday between Christmas and New Year. That meant that we headed out onto the hills for a walk the day after the snow had swept across the country.
I'd found this walk around Scammonden Water which turned out to be almost the perfect route: up on the moors but easy to get to from Huddersfield (which is easy to reach by train from Liverpool), not too strenuous or long, and - apart from a short stretch alongside the M62 - lovely views.
There were a good three or four inches of snow, which made everywhere look fantastic and provided good yomping. A perfect way for us to catch up on life and build our appetite for a trip to the curry house later. Recommended.
There are a few (not particularly great) photos in my Scammonden Water walk album.
Interesting Things on the Internet: December 29th 2014
- Trending Market Forces: Women in Tech. More progress needed, obviously, but we're heading in the right direction.
- HAPPIDROME - Part One. Adam Curtis on good form. Could the Internet remove our hierarchical control systems and lead to a better future, or are we just being controlled and kept happy and sedate by a technocratic elite?
- Dada Data and the Internet of Paternalistic Things. A great snapshot of a potential vision of an IoT future, although not a good future. I (and we, collectively) need to work on better visions for IoT.
December 22, 2014
Interesting Things on the Internet: December 22nd 2014
- The secret to the Uber economy is wealth inequality. Who's the Boss? "The Elf on the Shelf" and the normalization of surveillance. Normalising acceptance of the panopticon, and no technology in sight.
- Have fun and be silly. I brought this up in class but it bears repeating. If you are working on something and its not fun, take that as a sign that you should try something else.
- Apache (and other foundations) considered useful. What new institutions do we need for the new open-source, Internet age?
December 15, 2014
Interesting Things on the Internet: December 15th 2014
- Start-ups and Emotional Debt That is, treating “the money problem” as a strict subset of “the life problem” is a mistake. As tempting as it is for programmers, it’s impossible to divide-and-conquer the good life. Like it or not, “the money problem,” “the love problem,” “the friendship problem,” and “the true-passion-in-life problem” are all intertwined, and they develop together. That’s part of what makes life so interesting.
- Stewart Lee: “I don’t mind causing offence when I intend to, but I don’t like causing it accidentally”. Great interview on all sorts of topics like social mobility and politics.
- What I Learned From Building An App For Low-Income Americans.
- Why I Joined The New Artists’ Union. In the recent art project I've worked on about 30 years since the Miners' Strike there's been some thought-provoking discussion about the place of unions; whether I'd strike if the same situation arose; and which union I'd be part of. So it's interesting to see that there is a fledgling union for artists. Not that I'm sure that I'd qualify.
- Inside the brain of a designer. A lovely video showing the (/a) creative process.
- Sarah Churchwell: why the humanities matter Let me answer the question: what’s all this art for? It’s for us.
December 01, 2014
Interesting Things on the Internet: December 1st 2014
- The End of Imagination. A wonderful short story about the future.
- Is saving Newcastle a mission impossible?. Distressing reading, as it brought home that this isn't just happening in Liverpool but across the country. It'd divide and conquer politics, and the challenge is finding a way beyond that, to counter it.
November 24, 2014
Interesting Things on the Internet: November 24th 2014
- 44 engineering management lessons. Lot of good advice, some of which I manage to follow...
- It’s hard to build a good web. It's good to see some of the people building decent web "properties" exploring ways to thrive. Go support them.
- Metafoundry 15: Scribbled Leatherjackets. A good critique of Making. I'm not sure I agree with all of it, although I agree with some of it. It is always about the people, not the things. Maybe if more people answered "a difference", or "a community", or "I make do (and mend)" to the question "What do you make?" then we'd be moving in the right direction. But she's right, the celebration of Making is really just railing against the busywork and churn of making things of no (real) value in order to further line the pockets of the rich. Making isn't really the right term to latch onto, as many people make the world a worse place. It's tricky to find a better alternative though.