technology & design — #
I won’t mince words: ProGlide FlexBall is a bad idea. A really bad idea. In fact, the razor represents everything terrible about America’s innovation economy.
technology & culture — #
And yet, I cannot get over what seems to me a tone-deaf approach by Google’s scientists. It also highlights Google’s fundamental challenge: it fails to think about people as people, instead it treats them as an academic or an engineering problem. Instead of trying to understand the needs of actual people, they emerge with an elegant technological solution.
It is not just this one time. Google+, their social network, is a fail because it fundamentally isn’t social or about people — it is an effort to solve Google’s need for social data for better advertising using machines. Similarly, Google Glasses are a cringe-worthy assault to the social interactions of normals, but because a certain subset of Googlers — including co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page — have a cyborg fetish, it is okay to make that design. It is frustrating for me to keep repeating this, because Google is a company with huge resources and those resources could be deployed more effectively and have a much more positive impact, more quickly. And to do that, the company needs to learn to be human and develop compassion for human condition.
business & technology — #
Charlie Stross: Why I want Bitcoin to die in a fire
To editorialize briefly, BitCoin looks like it was designed as a weapon intended to damage central banking and money issuing banks, with a Libertarian political agenda in mind—to damage states ability to collect tax and monitor their citizens financial transactions. Which is fine if you’re a Libertarian, but I tend to take the stance that Libertarianism is like Leninism: a fascinating, internally consistent political theory with some good underlying points that, regrettably, makes prescriptions about how to run human society that can only work if we replace real messy human beings with frictionless spherical humanoids of uniform density (because it relies on simplifying assumptions about human behaviour which are unfortunately wrong).
art & technology — #
design & technology — #
I’d probably start with aesthetics, because it’d be the thing I could see, and then hope it would eventually lead me somewhere deeper. As I look at the iconographic choices, color palette, and typography, there’s a tendency to overindulge in very visible ways (such as the bright, almost garish colors and the use of transparency and blurring) and undervalue more subtle ways of establishing graphic tone (such as the use Helvetica as the primary typeface instead of something with more character and better suited for interfaces). Basically, there’s not much nuance there, but there’s not much room for subtlety when one has to give the impression of stark newness. Maybe this lack of nuance also comes from Ive’s lack of familiarity with interface design? Usually expressive visual choices like these seem good in isolation, then become overbearing when viewed together. Experience gives a person the eyes to imagine their small choices in aggregate.
technology & culture — #
The Internet is a surveillance state. Whether we admit it to ourselves or not, and whether we like it or not, we’re being tracked all the time. Google tracks us, both on its pages and on other pages it has access to. Facebook does the same; it even tracks non-Facebook users. Apple tracks us on our iPhones and iPads. One reporter used a tool called Collusion to track who was tracking him; 105 companies tracked his Internet use during one 36-hour period.