January 28, 2019

Interesting Things on the Internet: January 28th 2019

  • How To Pay Attention. Lots of good techniques to steal here. My #inthesaddle bike photos practice is pretty much the "spot something new every day" strategy.
  • The Secrets of Lyndon Johnson’s Archives. A wonderfully-written article by Robert A. Caro about his research in writing the biography of Lyndon B. Johnson. I really enjoyed his biography of Robert Moses—The Power Broker. At some point there'll be a blog all dog-eared pages post for that, once I've written up the many notes from the 1100+ pages...
  • Co-ops Need Leaders, Too. Useful reminder that co-operatives aren't completely different from other organisations.
  • Brexit and Singapore-on-Thames. A reminder that Britain is being run for the benefit of finance, and the rest of us are just seen as unfortunate baggage.
  • Refusal after Refusal. An essay rejecting the current social view of work. Ostensibly about architecture, I think it applies just as well to the rest of life (definitely tech, at least).
  • When Automation Bites Back.
  • Money laundering 101. A good look through money laundering and how it winds up distorting the property market.
  • Building Acid Communism. Some food for thought, particularly the workshop questions in the latter half.
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January 26, 2019

Blog All Dog-eared Pages: Smarter Homes by Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino

Good friend of mine Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino has taken her experience at the leading edge of the Internet of Things and with projects such as The Good Home and used it to inform a book that both looks back over the history of technology in the home and examines the recent developments and future trends in what our homes might look like and more importantly should look like.

Smarter Homes is a very readable take on how technology infuses our home lives. Hopefully my notes will give you a flavour of it.

Page 48
The phone directory became the first physical companion to a completely intangible interaction and the first home database. It was able to create a map for the community that was no longer defined by personal interactions but by how bold their name was or whether they'd bought advertising space.

Page 53
Apartment hotels were common in the late 1800s in cities across America, offering bedsits to young, unmarried, white collar professionals. In Paris they would be called "la chambre de bonne" and were often in the attic. Apartment hotels often focused on offering some level of bespoke services, with meals delivered by dumb waiters and laundry services delivered to the room.

Page 61, on the corporate visions of homes of the future
You could have progress but not social progress. The Summer of Love was around the corner, but in 1967, it was still important for a woman to play the role of the main consumer and curator of home experiences.

Page 67
Interior decor and food preparation are almost the only ways an owner can claim "ownership" and therefore identity-building inside a home. The [modern digital] technologies that are purchased have tended toward uniformity across all homes, especially the devices we have described so far: appliances, televisions, radios, and telephones. They denote access to enough capital to afford them but are not in themselves reflective of their owner's personality and impact.

Page 76
The 1988 book Smart House ends with a chapteron the potential applications in a Smart House,
and it's almost shocking to see how little has changed since those ideas were put down on paper.

Page 99
The idea that sharing something on the internet is enough illustrates a reality constructed by a culture of CAD and not a culture of manufacturing realities.

Page 139
Much of the new trends in home living are also a reflection of affluent, often white, middle class, childless people with more capital than their peers and mobile employment, which enables them to build completely different relationships with their homes than parents with young children or a retired person. These new bohemians emulate the 1970s hippy movement without needing to sacrifice on quality of life.

Page 143
Or perhaps the notifications now created by the multiplicity of mobile apps connected to the physical home space create a new landscape of attention and decision-making with which we can distract ourselves, or as Neil Postman would have it, amuse ourselves to death.

Page 146
The problem with this approach is that emergency situations happen in such a variety of ways that it is virtually impossible to get the right technology to help unless the home becomes a military zone. At worst, the family of an elderly person becomes a low-level ethnographer, trying to identify "unusual behaviour" in their elderly family member and dealing with the stress of plenty of false-positives. This can become more taxing than actually caring for them in person.

Reading the book, I was reminded of this song from the 60s, by Ninette...

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January 07, 2019

Interesting Things on the Internet: January 7th 2019

  • Librariness. Lovely exploration of what an investment/reimagining of New York's libraries could look like. A more architectural companion to my Making Digital Libraries talk from a few years back.
  • Open Source Company Gives Us A Peek At Financial Innards. As this article points out, open hardware isn't just about allowing people to build and remix your product, it also allows better traceability of supply chains and sharing knowledge of the normally hidden parts of manufacturing.
  • Made in Britain. I've often lamented how we don't celebrate, or even know about!, the middle-scale manufacturers in this country. So it's great to see ITV making a series that does just that, showing behind-the-scenes at a bunch of manufacturers.
  • The Philosopher Redefining Equality. "we shouldn’t commit ourselves to an ideal system of any sort, whether socialist or libertarian, because a model set in motion like a Swiss watch will become a trap as soon as circumstances change. Instead, we must be flexible. We must remain alert. We must solve problems collaboratively, in the moment, using society’s ears and eyes and the best tools that we can find."
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