— I absolutely love this conversation between political scientist P. W. Singer and journalist Matthew Power we published today on the TED Blog. Too many great, thought-provoking quotes to choose from to feature… Far-ranging and fascinating.
I’m sure this will be everywhere, but Allan Chochinov from Core77 just sent it my way and, well, I think it’s charming so am happy to be part of the cacophony. The “Adjustable Clampersand" (geddit?) was designed by Tony Ruth of Lunch Breath, mechanical design was by Tim Haley of Tangible, while the clamp is manufactured in Chicago.
— Great quote from a great piece by sci-fi author, Daniel Suarez: The Automation Age: Daniel Suarez on why drones + “Narrow AI” make us nervous
DRONES! I’m overseeing a package about the good and the bad of drones on ted.com this week. *Super* excited about it… such great content to come. And the team cut together this trailer, featuring previous speakers who’ve touched on the topic on the TED stage. How cool/scary/terrifying is this?
When HCI people debug their code, it’s like an art show or a meeting of the United Nations. There are tea breaks and witticisms exchanged in French; wearing a non-functional scarf is optional, but encouraged. When HCI code doesn’t work, the problem can be resolved using grand theories that relate form and perception to your deeply personal feelings about ovals. There will be rich debates about the socioeconomic implications of Helvetica Light, and at some point, you will have to decide whether serifs are daring statements of modernity, or tools of hegemonic oppression that implicitly support feudalism and illiteracy. Is pinching-and-dragging less elegant than circling-and-lightly-caressing? These urgent mysteries will not solve themselves. And yet, after a long day of debugging HCI code, there is always hope, and there is no true anger; even if you fear that your drop-down list should be a radio button, the drop-down list will suffice until tomorrow, when the sun will rise, glorious and vibrant, and inspire you to combine scroll bars and left-clicking in poignant ways that you will commemorate in a sonnet when you return from your local farmer’s market.
This is not the world of the systems hacker."
— I am not a systems engineer, so I remain unconvinced I understood all the references in The Night Watch, a piece by Microsoft researcher, James Mickens. Nonetheless I found it a hilarious, excellent read, with some sharp observations of the pecking order within computer science.
— Jeremy Hammond’s sentencing statement to the court, after being tried for hacking activities. He got ten years.
Well, this is just devastating. Two other details stand out in this incredible NYT magazine story about asylum-seekers braving horrific conditions to escape from their homes in Iran, Afghanistan and elsewhere to try for a good life in Australia.
1. Writer Luke Mogelson describes that one way to measure the success of the US-led war in Afghanistan is by the current exodus of citizens from the country, pointing out “the first “boat people” to seek asylum in Australia were Vietnamese, in the mid-1970s, driven to the ocean by the fallout from that American withdrawal.” So there’s another unintended consequence of another war in the name of freedom and liberty. Nice one.
2. The detail of an Iranian father who is hesitant to destroy his son’s passport just about finished me off. "When the scissors came his way, he carefully cut out the photo on the first page and slipped it in his wallet." Damn.
I have a fundamental problem with a man who sits on a golden throne and lectures us about spending less, like a modern-day, white-tie clad sheriff of Nottingham. And all around him, the insidious stain of austerity creeps across the country, manifesting in the bedroom tax, rising tuition fees and the closure of public services that vulnerable people depend on.
Each of us has just one chance at existence, and so many people’s lives are being blighted by these cuts. If this is the cruel and damaging reality of permanent austerity, then we should be telling Mr Cameron we don’t want it."
— Ruth Hardy, who waited tables at an event at which British Prime Minister David Cameron spoke, airs her double take at the disconnect between what he was saying and where he was saying it. It was hard to stomach David Cameron preaching austerity from a golden throne. Indeed.
Keiichi Matsuda got in touch to remind me about a post about his work I wrote back in 2010… and to tout his new Kickstarter campaign. He wants to create a “science fiction short for our time.” Augmented reality… design fiction… the city of the future… What’s not to like?
— Really love that Google lets its employees speak their mind (or at least doesn’t seem to take issue after the fact). Here, security engineer Mike Hearn issues “a giant FUCK YOU” to NSA, GCHQ and others.
Functioning “mechanical gears” seen in nature for the first time. Deep science with an added dash of art and community collaboration. Charming.
What I hope for you:
That you combine that edgy mixture of self-confidence and doubt.
That you have enough self-confidence to try new things.
That you have enough self doubt to question.
That you think of technology as a verb, not a noun; it is subtle but important difference.
That you remember the issues are usually not technical.
That you create opportunities to improvise."
— Facebook’s Margaret Stewart remembers ITP’s Red Burns, who used to welcome students with a list of things she wanted them to know… and things she hoped for them. Pretty lovely and a salient message for us all.
— Let the Data Speak — great interview with data visualizer, Jer Thorp.
— Reading Born Again in Jail, by Barrett Brown, the Anonymous-related writer who’s “facing decades in prison” is a hilarious but sobering review of a book from the Nixon era that seems somehow quaint by today’s standards. Brr.