Shanty Mega-Structures by Lekan Jeyifo.

These images juxtapose sites of privileged and much coveted real-estate throughout Lagos, Nigeria with colossal vertical settlements, representing marginalized and impoverished communities. The images consider how slums are frequently viewed as unsightly eyesores to be inevitably bull-dozed, leaving their inhabitants completely displaced.

Razing the homes and settlements of marginalized people is a practice that occurs from Chicago to Rio de Janiero, and throughout the world. So in this instance the dispossessed are given prominence and visibility albeit through a somewhat Dystopian vision that speaks to the fact that these communities often suffer from a lack of appropriate sanitation, electricity, medical services, and modern communications.

See also

Shape of things to come

Shanty mega-structures

“These images juxtapose sites of privileged and much coveted real-estate throughout Lagos, Nigeria with colossal vertical settlements, representing marginalized and impoverished communities.”

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Russian designer Evgeny Kazantsev has created a series of surreal illustrations that imagine what the world would look like once natural disasters and technology drastically alter human existence.

See also

Shape of things to come

Artist illustrates how technology might doom and save the planet

In ‘Cataclysm Happens’, Kazantsev constructs an eerie picture of the effects of climate change on humanity. In ‘Past in the Future’, he goes on to imagine a world in which humans have used technology to transcend the constraints of nature and—quite literally—engineer new and improved lives.

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The ethical dilemma of self-driving cars

Self-driving cars are already cruising the streets today. And while these cars will ultimately be safer and cleaner than their manual counterparts, they can’t completely avoid accidents altogether. How should the car be programmed if it encounters an unavoidable accident? Patrick Lin navigates the murky ethics of self-driving cars.

(via Laughing Squid)

FaceDirector: Continuous Control of Facial Performance in Video

Disney Research Hub: We present a method to continuously blend between multiple facial performances of an actor, which can contain different facial expressions or emotional states. As an example, given sad and angry video takes of a scene, our method empowers a movie director to specify arbitrary weighted combinations and smooth transitions between the two takes in post-production.

FaceDirector

(via)

Kangaroo PC
Shape of things to come

Kangaroo: a $99 Windows 10 pocket PC

Kangaroo is a $99 ‘mobile desktop’ that runs the full Home edition of Windows 10.

VentureBeat: The pitch is simple: Kangaroo offers the power of a cheap full-sized computer with the convenience and mobility of a cell phone. The black satin aluminum device is powered by an Intel Cherrytrail (Z8500) SOC, 2GB of RAM, 32GB of storage (only about 18GB is free when you first start it, but storage is expandable via a microSD card), and an on-board battery (up to four hours of “casual use”). The standalone Kangaroo Dock, which you can swap out for other future docks, includes an HDMI port and two USB ports.

Kangaroo PC

Windows Hello integration means the fingerprint reader on the side of the Kangaroo lets you log in without a password or PIN.

Kangaroo PC with dock

The included Dock is supposed to let you connect the Kangaroo to PC monitors, big screen TVs, projectors, or even Apple’s iPad.

Kangaroo PC connected

Aside from slow Wi-Fi in some cases and some cropping issues depending on the type of screen you’re plugging the Kangaroo into, this is definitely worth the $99. InFocus plans to unveil more products and accessories at CES 2016 in an attempt to build a Kangaroo ecosystem: A Kangaroo monitor, dedicated storage expansion, and various port expansion docks are all in the works.

VentureBeat: Kangaroo is an amazing $99 Windows 10 portable PC

See also

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Covers – A series of 55 animated vintage book graphics

How would these great book covers from the past look like when set in motion?

Perhaps a glimpse at our eBook future?

(via)

Silent Circle logo

Silent Circle Blackphone 2

On the surface, the phone looks like your standard 5.5-inch screened smartphone—the same size as the iPhone 6 Plus. The original Blackphone had an odd rounded back cover and “Blackphone” embossed into its plastic, and the Blackphone 2 is almost anonymous by comparison. The Silent Circle and Blackphone logos are subtly printed on its back and easily covered by a case for those who prefer not to drop a phone that screams, “I am carrying a secure phone!” into a security checkpoint x-ray machine basket.

[…] it might not have a stylus, the fastest processor, or the most powerful graphics engine, but it will serviceably perform as a smartphone while not giving you up to surveillance. The Blackphone 2 is the phone your chief information security officer will want your CEO to carry.

See also:

Shape of things to come

Paranoid Android: Silent Circle’s Blackphone 2

“Silent Circle—founded by Phil Zimmerman (creator of PGP), former Entrust Chief Technology Officer John Calas (the man behind much of the security in Mac OS X and iOS), and former Navy SEAL and security entrepreneur Mike Janke—bought out Geeksphone and absorbed the joint venture. The company hired a new CEO (former Entrust CEO and Nortel President Bill Conner), renamed and rebuilt its Android-based operating system, upgraded the infrastructure of its encrypted voice and text communications network, and built an entirely new hardware platform based on a somewhat more industry-standard chipset. All of that has led the team toward Blackphone 2.” — Ars Technica

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Shape of things to come

Essential reading on the subject of our future

Four essential reads on the future of the web, business and our planet:

The end of capitalism has begun

The end of capitalism has begun

Paul Mason: New forms of ownership, new forms of lending, new legal contracts: a whole business subculture has emerged over the past 10 years, which the media has dubbed the “sharing economy”. Buzzwords such as the “commons” and “peer-production” are thrown around, but few have bothered to ask what this development means for capitalism itself.

I believe it offers an escape route – but only if these micro-level projects are nurtured, promoted and protected by a fundamental change in what governments do. And this must be driven by a change in our thinking – about technology, ownership and work. So that, when we create the elements of the new system, we can say to ourselves, and to others: “This is no longer simply my survival mechanism, my bolt hole from the neoliberal world; this is a new way of living in the process of formation.”


The Web We Have to Save

Hossein Derakhshan: Six years was a long time to be in jail, but it’s an entire era online. Writing on the internet itself had not changed, but reading — or, at least, getting things read — had altered dramatically. I’d been told how essential social networks had become while I’d been gone, and so I knew one thing: If I wanted to lure people to see my writing, I had to use social media now.

So I tried to post a link to one of my stories on Facebook. Turns out Facebook didn’t care much. It ended up looking like a boring classified ad. No description. No image. Nothing. It got three likes. Three! That was it.

Illustration by Tim McDonagh

The Stream now dominates the way people receive information on the web. Fewer users are directly checking dedicated webpages, instead getting fed by a never-ending flow of information that’s picked for them by complex –and secretive — algorithms.


Is Advertising Morally Justifiable?

Thomas Wells: Advertising is a natural resource extraction industry, like a fishery. Its business is the harvest and sale of human attention. We are the fish and we are not consulted.

Our right to preserve our own attention and to make our own decisions about how we spend it and with whom our personal information is shared must become part of the political agenda. We need a legal and policy response to the market failures of the advertising industry, and we need it soon.


The Freakish Year in Broken Climate Records

Tom Randall: The annual State of the Climate report is out, and it’s ugly. Record heat, record sea levels, more hot days and fewer cool nights, surging cyclones, unprecedented pollution, and rapidly diminishing glaciers.

The Freakish Year in Broken Climate Records

Last year was the hottest in 135 years of modern record keeping

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The Big Mac index was invented by The Economist in 1986 as a lighthearted guide to whether currencies are at their “correct” level.

The Big Mac index - 2015

Burgernomics was never intended as a precise gauge of currency misalignment, merely a tool to make exchange-rate theory more digestible.

This adjusted index addresses the criticism that you would expect average burger prices to be cheaper in poor countries than in rich ones because labour costs are lower.

Shape of things to come

The Big Mac index

The Big Mac index is based on the theory of purchasing-power parity (PPP), the notion that in the long run exchange rates should move towards the rate that would equalise the prices of an identical basket of goods and services (in this case, a burger) in any two countries. — The Economist

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What’s Up in the Solar System?
A diagram by Olaf Frohn, updated once a month, of active space missions traveling beyond Earth orbit.

What's Up in the Solar System diagram by Olaf Frohn (updated for July 2015)

Shape of things to come

What’s up in the Solar System?

A diagram by Olaf Frohn, updated once a month, of active space missions traveling beyond Earth orbit. Released under a generous Creative Commons licence with an archive going back to October 2010.

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I was struck by how many smartwatch features considered groundbreaking today were around in some form years or decades ago.

“It was certainly intriguing not only to see an unparalleled array of gadgetry on display, but to hear the corporation responsible say it didn’t have much interest in adding to the list.”

…more on The Verge.

See also: Casio F-91W: terrorist watch

Shape of things to come

Casio’s original smartwatches

“Casio is showing off its rich history of unusual wristwatches, which range from the forward-thinking to the bizarre. It’s a pretty amazing collection, with features I never knew existed in digital timepieces.” — The Verge

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International Flag of Planet Earth
Shape of things to come

The Flag of Planet Earth

Oskar Pernefeldt’s graduation project at Beckmans College of Design is a flag for our world, “to remind the people of Earth that we share this planet, no matter of national boundaries”.

Astronaut portrait

Centered in the flag, seven rings form a flower – a symbol of the life on Earth. The rings are linked to each other, which represents how everything on our planet, directly or indirectly, are linked. The blue field represents water which is essential for life – also as the oceans cover most of our planet’s surface. The flower’s outer rings form a circle which could be seen as a symbol of Earth as a planet and the blue surface could represent the universe.

International Flag of Planet Earth construction

Construction animation of The International Flag of Planet Earth by Johan Fredriksson


Inspired by this work, Wired has taken a look at other alternative flags for Earth as designed by visionaries and hippies

I particularly like this design by redditor ‘thefreck’ who designed an extensible flag that can be updated as humans colonise other planets…


Finally, Roman Mars gave a great TED talk recently based on an episode of his radio show/podcast 99% Invisible about flags: Why city flags may be the worst-designed thing you’ve never noticed

In this surprising and hilarious talk about vexillology — the study of flags — Mars reveals the five basic principles of flag design and shows why he believes they can be applied to just about anything.

Give him a few minutes to warm up as it turns into a great talk.

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Mind Wizards – The Mystical Universe of Magic: The Gathering

Wizards, demons and goblins collide in the world’s first trading card game Magic: The Gathering, affectionately dubbed “cardboard crack” by its 10+ million diehard obsessives. From dank, wood-paneled basements to international big money pro tournaments, Magic continues to flourish since its phenomenal debut in 1993.

Magic is one of those things that theoretically I think I would love, but I’ve never gotten into.

ZXX_ABC

z-x-x.org – an experimental typeface designed by Sang Mun to raise awareness of surveillance issues.

The name ZXX comes from the Library of Congress’ Alpha-3 ISO 639-2 — codes for the representation of names of languages. ZXX is used to declare No linguistic content; Not applicable.

“Just like the animals we need to start adopting new ways to conceal ourselves from the autocratic predators, in this case governments and corporations.”

See also:

Shape of things to come

ZXX: A typeface to open up governments

“Over the course of a year, I researched and created ZXX, a disruptive typeface. I drew six different cuts (Sans, Bold, Camo, False, Noise and Xed) to generate endless permutations, each font designed to thwart machine intelligences in a different way. I offered the typeface as a free download in hopes that as many people as possible would use it.” – Sang Mun

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Sam Harris
Shape of things to come

Sam Harris on the problem of artificial intelligence

“The fact that we seem to be hastening towards some sort of digital apocalypse poses several intellectual and ethical challenges. For instance, in order to have any hope that a super-intelligent AGI would have values commensurate with our own we would have to instil those values in it, or otherwise get it to emulate us. But whose values should count? Should everyone get a vote in creating the utility function of our new colossus?

“If nothing else the invention of an AGI would force us to resolve some very old and boring arguments in moral philosophy.

“It’s interesting that once you imagine having to build values into a super-intelligent AGI, you then realise that you need to get straight about what you think is good, and I think the advent of this technology would cut through moral relativism like a laser. I mean, who is going to want to engineer into this thing the values of theocracy?”

Sam Harris in the most recent episode of his podcast.

See also: Sam Harris on the mechanics of defamation and other posts tagged ‘philosophy’

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Pantone Minion Yellow
Shape of things to come

Pantone announces new colour: ‘Minion Yellow’

PANTONE Minion Yellow Swatch Card The press release is pretty hilarious too, and not in a deliberate way:

“Just as the sun’s rays enliven us, PANTONE Minion Yellow is a color that heightens awareness and creates clarity, lighting the way to the intelligence, originality and the resourcefulness of an open mind – this is the color of hope, joy and optimism,” said Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director, Pantone Color Institute.

“An extroverted hue, it projects playfulness and warmth and is suggestive of intellectual curiosity and enlightenment.”

Pantone Announces PANTONE Minion Yellow


Now I’m no colour expert at the Pantone Color Institute®, but this officially licensed hue seems a little too pale to my eye. You only have to look at these images of the Minions themselves holding up the Pantone swatch card to see that they’re not exactly the same colour.

Via the highly technical process of using Photoshop’s blur and colour dropper tools for a few minutes I’ve sampled what I think looks like a more Minion-y yellow.

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This Is Why You Overshop in Ikea

How IKEA gets us to buy more than we need, explained by TIME writer Josh Sanburn.

IKEA “When the question is why do we have so much stuff, one reason is because we can,” says Annie Leonard, executive director of the environmental group Greenpeace USA and the creator of The Story of Stuff, an animated video about excessive consumerism. “For a huge percentage of this country, there is no longer an economic obstacle to having the illusion of luxury. It’s just that this stuff is so cheap.”

The Story of Stuff →

Wired has some gorgeous UI graphics in its feature on the Apple Watch

In a sense the first true Apple Watch prototype was, like 10,000 Kickstarter projects, just a weird iPhone case with a strange accessory sticking out of it.

On such a small display, small things assume outsize importance, and the human interface team designed some novel ways of interacting with the device. There’s the digital crown, of course, and also the so-called Force Touch that lets you press a little harder on the screen to access hidden menus. They also designed an entirely new typeface, called San Francisco, which is more readable on a small display than Apple’s standard Helvetica. The letters are more square, Dye says, “but with gentle, curved corners,” mimicking the Watch’s case. It’s wide and legible at small sizes, but when it gets larger the letters tighten up a little more.

Options were central to the plan from the beginning: two sizes, three tiers, easily interchangeable straps, and tons of watch faces and so-called complications, digital add-ons that show relevant information like the weather and your activity level, to make your Watch uniquely yours. (The term complication is a nod to high-end watchmaking and refers to a function a watch performs beyond telling the hour and minute.)

Personal note →

Shape of things to come

A close look at the interface design of the Apple Watch

“Questions started coalescing around the idea of a watch: What could it add to people’s lives? What new things could you do with a device that you wear? Around this time, Ive began a deep investigation of horology, studying how reading the position of the sun evolved into clocks, which evolved into watches. Horology became an obsession. That obsession became a product.” –Wired

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Artist rendering of New Horizon over Pluto

On July 14, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft will fly past Pluto, and we will map that distant world and its moons for the first time.

The New Horizons team plans to assign names to the features on the maps of Pluto and its large moon Charon, once we have seen them in sharp detail this summer.

At the Our Pluto site you can suggest your ideas for names and vote for your favourites. The ballot closes on 7th April 2015, so get in there quickly!

Continue reading

Shape of things to come

Help name the new places NASA will discover on Pluto and Charon!

At the Our Pluto site you can suggest names for the features that will soon be discovered by NASA’s New Horizons probe.

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The recreated ZX Spectrum is a flawless copy of the original device, and will ship some time later this year with a companion app for iOS and Android, as well as a number of ZX Spectrum games such as Chuckie Egg — one of the machine’s greatest hits. The games work on both smartphones and tablets, but the device itself also functions as a straightforward Bluetooth keyboard.

Pre-order at sinclairzxspectrum.elite-systems.co.uk

The original ZX Spectrum

An issue 2 1982 ZX Spectrum

The original ZX Spectrum is remembered for its rubber keyboard, diminutive size and distinctive rainbow motif. It was originally released on 23 April 1982 with 16 KB of RAM for £125 or with 48 KB for £175.
Wikipedia

Shape of things to come

Gorgeous Bluetooth keyboard replica of the ZX Spectrum

I find this amusing. The squishy rubber keyboard was apparently the worst feature of the Spectrum. This product is an admirable reproduction and I can certainly see the nostalgic appeal, but I think I’ll pass. It may be a gorgeous replica, but I doubt it’s a good keyboard.

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The Artiphon Instrument 1 has already raised over $600k of its $75k goal on Kickstarter, with 31 days still to go!

A guitar is designed to be strummed; piano keys are pressed; drum pads are tapped; violins are bowed. But what if a single instrument could be played with any of these techniques? That’s exactly what we’re creating – one instrument that lets you be the whole band.

Artiphon Instrument 1

It works with any music creation software that uses the MIDI standard, which is the universal language of digital music. MIDI has been around for over 30 years, and lets electronic instruments tell each other what notes to play and how they should sound. But don’t worry: we’ve made it easier than ever to get started making digital music; no acronyms required.

Artiphon

  • Play any instrument, style, and sound with a single device that connects directly to your smartphone, tablet, or computer.
  • Our patented multi-instrument technology transforms the INSTRUMENT 1 into a guitar, violin, bass, piano, drum machine… it’s any instrument you want it to be.
  • Plug in and play 100’s of apps like GarageBand with universal musical gestures: strumming, tapping, bowing, sliding, and more.
  • Digital string-like interface works with any MIDI-compatible software.
  • The unique ergonomic design can be held in multiple positions, and is fully ambidextrous.
  • Design new instruments and custom tunings via the Artiphon companion app.
  • It’s compact, portable, durable, self-powered, and simple.
  • Designed and engineered in Nashville, TN.

(via fubiz)

Shape of things to come

The Artiphon multiple instrument

“A guitar is designed to be strummed; piano keys are pressed; drum pads are tapped; violins are bowed. But what if a single instrument could be played with any of these techniques? That’s exactly what we’re creating – one instrument that lets you be the whole band.”

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Jumping to the End — Practical Design Fiction

Matt Jones: This talk summarizes a lot of the approaches that we used in the studio at BERG, and some of those that have carried on in my work with the gang at Google Creative Lab in NYC.

Unfortunately, I can’t show a lot of that work in public, so many of the examples are from BERG days…

(via O’Reilly Radar)

Shape of things to come

Anti-paparazzi dazzle scarf

The Flashback Collection: garments made from highly reflective thread — perfect for anyone who doesn’t want his or her picture taken, or for photobombers who really want to make a lasting impression.

A collaboration between DJ Chris Holmes and Betabrand, where this Flashback range is currently being crowdfunded.

Unisex Reflective Scarf

(via)

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Raspberry Pi 2
Shape of things to come

The new Raspberry Pi 2

Raspberry Pi 2 on sale now for $35, featuring a 900MHz quad-core ARM Cortex-A7 CPU (~6x performance), 1GB LPDDR2 SDRAM (2x memory) and complete compatibility with the Raspberry Pi 1.

Raspberry Pi 2 board

Because it has an ARMv7 processor, it can run the full range of ARM GNU/Linux distributions, including Snappy Ubuntu Core, as well as Microsoft Windows 10. Says Eben Upton:

“I think it’s a usable PC now. It was always the case that you could use a Raspberry Pi 1 as a PC but you had to say ‘this is a great PC in so far as it cost me 35 bucks’. We’ve removed the caveat that you had to be a bit forgiving with it. Now it’s just good.”

Compared to the Model B it has:

  • More GPIO. The GPIO header has grown to 40 pins, while retaining the same pinout for the first 26 pins as the Model A and B.
  • More USB. We now have 4 USB 2.0 ports, compared to 2 on the Model B, and better hotplug and overcurrent behaviour.
  • Micro SD. The old friction-fit SD card socket has been replaced with a much nicer push-push micro SD version.
  • Lower power consumption. By replacing linear regulators with switching ones we’ve reduced power consumption by between 0.5W and 1W.
  • Better audio. The audio circuit incorporates a dedicated low-noise power supply.
  • Neater form factor. We’ve aligned the USB connectors with the board edge, moved composite video onto the 3.5mm jack, and added four squarely-placed mounting holes.

In-depth with the Raspberry Pi 2

Make interviews Eben Upton of the Raspberry Pi foundation about the new board and all of its technical details.

Windows 10 for Raspberry Pi 2

In addition the Raspberry Pi 2-compatible version of Windows 10 will be available free of charge to makers.

See also: Other posts tagged Raspberry Pi.

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This tutorial will teach you how to create your own handheld linux terminal with built in screen, QWERTY thumb keyboard and battery. It has four passive USB ports for expansion and extra connectivity. It’s super portable and is about the size of a Nintendo DS (if slightly thicker).

(via The Next Web)

See also

Shape of things to come

Make a Raspberry Pi-powered handheld Linux terminal

“It’s basically a full handheld linux system that can do almost everything a normal sized computer can do. It’s not going to destroy any benchmark tests, so it’s best suited to command line stuff. Since this is the case, it’s actually a pretty good tool for learning the command line interface as well as basic scripting.” — n-o-d-e.net

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Roli Seaboard Grand

The Seaboard is a radically new musical instrument that reimagines the piano keyboard as a soft, continuous surface. In realising this powerful concept as a refined product, we have brought together years of innovation on several fronts. The Seaboard’s polyphonic pitch bend, vibrato and per-note dynamic changes are all available at your fingertips, marrying the intuitiveness of a traditional instrument with the versatility of digital technology.

Seaboard GRAND Studio

More videos →

(via The Loop)

Though race is one of those seismic issues—the stuff of movements and monuments and multiday conferences at top universities—the moments revealed in the six-word submissions are smaller in nature and much more intimate:

Brown-skinned mothers who are mistaken as the nannies of their lighter skinned children.

Blue-eyed teenagers who grow outsize afros to win easy (or at least easier) acceptance on the basketball court.

Asians with Irish last names who delight at seeing the faces of potential employers when they show up for job interviews.

And blonde women who understand why their children choose to identify as “Black-tino” out of cultural convenience but quietly die inside because they feel rejected or left out. This is all part of the crazy quilt of America. Our diversity is the marvel of the world and represents one of our greatest strengths as a nation. It heralds progress but not without pain for those who live on the knife-edge of multiple cultures.

(via @picpedant)

Humans and other animals, Shape of things to come

Visualising race, identity and change

“Official statistics can paint a useful picture. Appearance is an important aspect of the story. But to understand race—and more specifically racial ambiguity—it helps to understand those whose lives are defined by it.” — National Geographic

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Wanderers – a short film by Erik Wernquist

Wanderers is a vision of humanity’s expansion into the Solar System, based on scientific ideas and concepts of what our future in space might look like, if it ever happens. The locations depicted in the film are digital recreations of actual places in the Solar System, built from real photos and map data where available.

Without any apparent story, other than what you may fill in by yourself, the idea with the film is primarily to show a glimpse of the fantastic and beautiful nature that surrounds us on our neighboring worlds – and above all, how it might appear to us if we were there.

(via @neilcocker)

Shape of things to come

Wanderers

“In ancient greek, the planets visible in the sky were collectively called “aster planetes” which means “wandering star”. It also refers to ourselves; for hundreds of thousands of years – the wanderers of the Earth. In time I hope we take that leap off the ground and permanently become wanderers of the sky. Wanderers among the wanderers.” — Erik Wernquist

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Enchanted Objects poster

“I am confident that enchanted objects will change how we live. They will change health. They will change transportation. They will change housing. They will change how we understand our own habits around energy and resource conservation, and they will even help us with creativity and expression. I’m confident there’s a promising future in terms of this new way of interacting and positioning ourselves relative to technology. I think one of the biggest challenges is to not think about this as computing. I don’t think there is a ‘future of computing’.”
David Rose on the IoT’s impact on our relationship with technology.

Amazon: Enchanted Objects: Design, Human Desire, and the Internet of Things by David Rose.

Life on the Internet, Shape of things to come

Enchanted Objects

An infographic by David Rose organising the ‘internet of things’ by human desires: Omniscience, telepathy, safekeeping, immortality, teleportation and expression.

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