- focusmotion.io — the world’s first machine learning SDK to track, learn, and analyze human motion on any sensor, on any OS, on any platform. You (or your users) train it on what combination of sensor patterns to label as a particular gesture or movement, and then it’ll throw those labels whenever.
- How Maintainers, not Innovators, Make the World Turn (City Lab) — cf Deb Chachra’s Why I Am Not a Maker and everything Warren Buffett ever wrote about investing in boring businesses. It’s nice to realize that we’ve gone from “you’d be crazy to throw your career away and join a startup” to “hey, established industry isn’t bad, either, you know.”
- Google CS Education — all their tools and resources for CS education in one spot.
- Will The Proliferation of Affordable AI Decimate the Middle Class? (Alex Tabarrok) — I hadn’t heard this done before, but he steps away from the A in AI to ask whether greater natural intelligence would threaten the middle class in the same way—e.g., from rising India and China.
Notification centers and Apple Watches beg the question: what’s the best way to interrupt us properly?
We’ve been claiming information overload for decades, if not centuries. As a species, we’re pretty good at inventing new tools to deal with the problems of increasing information: language, libraries, broadcast, search, news feeds. A digital, always-on lifestyle certainly presents new challenges, but we’re quickly creating prosthetic filters to help us cope.
Now there’s a new generation of information management tools, in the form of wearables and watches. But notification centers and Apple Watches beg the question: what’s the best way to interrupt us properly? Already, tables of friends take periodic “phone breaks” to check in on their virtual worlds, something that might have been considered unthinkably gauche a few years ago.
Since the first phone let us ring a bell, uninvited, in a far-off house, we’ve been dealing with interruption. Smart interruption is useful: Stewart Brand said that the right information at the right time just changes your life; it follows, then, that the perfect interface is one that’s invisible until it’s needed, the way Google inserts hotel dates on a map, or flight times in your calendar, or reminders when you have to leave for your next meeting.
But all of this technology is interfering with reflection, introspection, and contemplation. In Alone Together, Sheri Turkle observes that it’s far easier to engage with tools like Facebook than it is to connect with actual humans because interactive technology’s availability makes it a junk-food substitute for actual interaction. My friend Hugh McGuire recently waxed rather poetically on the risks of constant interruption, and how he’d forgotten how to read because of it.
At work, modern productivity tools like Slack might do away with email conventions, encouraging better collaboration, but they do so at a cost because they work in a way that demands immediate attention, and that interrupts the natural rhythm we all need to write, to read, and to immerse ourselves in our surroundings. It’s hard to marinate when you’re being interrupted. Read more…
The success of Apple’s watch, and of wearables in general, may depend on brain plasticity.
Recently, to much fanfare, Apple launched a watch. Reviews were mixed. And the watch may thrive — after all, once upon a time, nobody knew they needed a tablet or an iPod. But at the same time, today’s tech consumer is markedly different from those at the dawn of the Web, and the watch faces a different market all together.
One of the more positive reviews came from tech columnist Farhad Manjoo. In it, he argued that we’ll eventually give in to wearables for a variety of reasons.
“It was only on Day 4 that I began appreciating the ways in which the elegant $650 computer on my wrist was more than just another screen,” he wrote. “By notifying me of digital events as soon as they happened, and letting me act on them instantly, without having to fumble for my phone, the Watch became something like a natural extension of my body — a direct link, in a way that I’ve never felt before, from the digital world to my brain.”
On-body messaging and brain plasticity
Manjoo uses the term “on-body messaging” to describe the variety of specific vibrations the watch emits, and how quickly he came to accept them as second nature. The success of Apple’s watch, and of wearables in general, may be due to this brain plasticity. Read more…