kenyatta
I get the anger. I personally loathe Facebook and I have for a long time, even as I appreciate and study its importance in people’s lives. But on a personal level, I hate the fact that Facebook thinks it’s better than me at deciding which of my friends’ posts I should see. I hate that I have no meaningful mechanism of control on the site. And I am painfully aware of how my sporadic use of the site has confused their algorithms so much that what I see in my newsfeed is complete garbage. And I resent the fact that because I barely use the site, the only way that I could actually get a message out to friends is to pay to have it posted. My minimal use has made me an algorithmic pariah and if I weren’t technologically savvy enough to know better, I would feel as though I’ve been shunned by my friends rather than simply deemed unworthy by an algorithm. I also refuse to play the game to make myself look good before the altar of the algorithm. And every time I’m forced to deal with Facebook, I can’t help but resent its manipulations.

What does the Facebook experiment teach us? — The Message — Medium (via iamdanw)

The challenge that Facebook has is that the root cause of having a cluttered feed is really the underlying social network that one constructs—it’s the core of their product. 

They’ve made small attempts to address that, like introducing asymmetric following, but I can’t imagine that has been all that effective given their size.  (Overhauling your product when you’re at the scale of Facebook is incredibly hard, and they’ve succeeded in many cases, which is an impressive feat.)

In Facebook’s mission to connect everyone, the product doesn’t allow the individual to control their proximity to people in the way that we naturally do in real life.  The answer isn’t to give users more control, since having knobs (i.e. Google+ Circles) is too onerous (most people won’t customize).  And since they’re too big to re-architect the product (probably not a good idea) they’re understandably left playing whack-a-mole with the symptoms, instead, which is suboptimal.

Thus, we’re stuck with this socially awkward dinner party host who is trying to make sure everyone is only talking to the people who they’re likely to want to talk to, resulting in an overly socially sterile environment that feels more like a chaperoned dance than a party.

Outside of defensive reasons, it makes a ton of sense that the company is splitting out its service into discrete apps, and buying up anyone who is exhibiting growth, especially on mobile and especially systems like chat that have a different social network architecture.

sayangel

"When you assume…

sayangel:

You make an ass out of u and me." -Oscar Wilde

At this Monday’s Orbital class we went over our projects’ assumptions, which was a helpful exercise in gaining a perspective on where I’m going with vrban and what I need to do to get there. As Gary mentioned, it can be dangerous to buy into a big vision and build it without tackling the small assumptions supporting your vision. Before we even had time to think about our assumptions I already knew the biggest bet I was making… that VR will gain the traction necessary for vrban to thrive.

This is certainly one of the assumptions I’ve thought about a lot since beginning this project and likely what keeps me up at night sometimes. It’s a difficult one to test because all VR is in a development stage right now and it’ll be a while before consumers have access.

Luckily, I was able to visit the Oculus Rift HQ in Irvine, CA this weekend and get a sense for where they’re going and the steps being taken to ensure there is content by the consumer release. I also came across this recently: First Steps for VR on the Web, which reassured my philosophy (and assumption) of sticking to VR via the web to provide a “plug-n-play” experience. They also discuss VR on the web as the first steps toward the metaverse… and what better way to start building another universe than having cities for people to thrive in?

For now, I can only show people what I’m doing with urban environments and VR and get their feedback on the value of this method of visualization. There are also other assumptions to test and NYC is a great place to do it. Do urban designers really need this tool? And would they pay for it? Is my primary audience even city governments? How will consumers use vrban and do they actually need it?

In a week I’ll also be at the Esri User Conference as part of their Startup Zone where I’ll get a chance to meet people interested in geo visualization and hearing their thoughts on VR and vrban. It’ll be a good place to test some of my assumptions with an interested audience. 

If only I could test assumptions in virtual reality…

tl;dr:

image

mostlysignssomeportents

NSA considers anyone who researches Tor or Tails to be a target for ongoing suspicion

mostlysignssomeportents:

America’s National Security Agency gathers unfathomable mountains of Internet communications from fiber optic taps and other means, but it says it only retains and searches the communications of “targeted” individuals who’ve done something suspicious. Guess what? If you read Boing Boing, you’ve been targeted. Cory Doctorow digs into Xkeyscore and the NSA’s deep packet inspection rules.

Read more…

This is one of the biggest NSA stories yet. Please reblog!

kenyatta
The biggest obstacle to creativity is attachment to outcome. As soon as you become attached to a specific outcome, you feel compelled to control and manipulate what you’re doing. And in the process you shut yourself off to other possibilities.

I got a call from someone who wanted me to lead a workshop on creativity. He needed to tell his management exactly what tools people would come away with. I told him I didn’t know. I couldn’t give him a promise, because then I’d become attached to an outcome — which would defeat the purpose of any creative workshop.’

It’s hard for corporations to understand that creativity is not just about succeeding. It’s about experimenting and discovering.
kenyatta
disabilityhistory:

shrinkrants:

- Laura Nader quoted from “Up the Anthropologist: Perspective Gained from Studying Up” at Upward Anthropology Research Community.
(thanks to protoslacker for calling attention to this article)

Image description: Text that reads, “If we look at the literature based on field work in the United States, we find a relatively abundant literature on the poor, the ethnic groups, the disadvantaged; there is comparatively little field research on the middle class and very little first-hand work on the upper classes. Anthropologists might indeed ask themselves whether the entirety of field work does not depend upon a certain power relationship in favor of the anthropologist, and whether indeed such dominant-subordinate relationships may not be affecting the kinds of theories we are weaving. What if, in reinventing anthropology, anthropologists were to study the colonizer rather than the colonized, the culture of power rather than the culture of the powerless, the culture of affluence rather than the culture of poverty?”
I recommend Karen Ho’s Liquidated: An Ethnography of Wall Street, which does exactly that.

Karen!

disabilityhistory:

shrinkrants:

Laura Nader quoted from “Up the Anthropologist: Perspective Gained from Studying Up” at Upward Anthropology Research Community.

(thanks to protoslacker for calling attention to this article)

Image description: Text that reads, “If we look at the literature based on field work in the United States, we find a relatively abundant literature on the poor, the ethnic groups, the disadvantaged; there is comparatively little field research on the middle class and very little first-hand work on the upper classes. Anthropologists might indeed ask themselves whether the entirety of field work does not depend upon a certain power relationship in favor of the anthropologist, and whether indeed such dominant-subordinate relationships may not be affecting the kinds of theories we are weaving. What if, in reinventing anthropology, anthropologists were to study the colonizer rather than the colonized, the culture of power rather than the culture of the powerless, the culture of affluence rather than the culture of poverty?”

I recommend Karen Ho’s Liquidated: An Ethnography of Wall Streetwhich does exactly that.

Karen!

sofiaquintero

…We could bear any amount of nerdiness if someone was truly smart. What we couldn’t stand were people with a lot of attitude. But most of those weren’t truly smart, so our third test was largely a restatement of the first.

When nerds are unbearable it’s usually because they’re trying too hard to seem smart. But the smarter they are, the less pressure they feel to act smart. So as a rule you can recognize genuinely smart people by their ability to say things like “I don’t know,” “Maybe you’re right,” and “I don’t understand x well enough.”

rosematsa

Orbital Boot Camp

rosematsa:

This started out as a sketching blog when I needed a space to upload some drawings a few months back, for the purpose of sharing them.

I have the bad habit of starting things and leaving them unfinished, hence the five or so drawings, and then… silence.

But I have a stronger purpose now, and it’s called Orbital Boot Camp. The person behind the 12-week long course is Gary Chou, who teaches Entrepreneurial Design at the School of Visual Arts, at the MFA level. The SVA course is also the inspiration behind the boot camp.

Orbital Boot Camp is not a startup incubator, in the traditional sense, and it’s not an accelerator. It’s a an opportunity for independent creators with very diverse interests to take their side project from idea to launch. It’s a learning experiment where the process matters just as much as, or more than, the end-result.

It’s exactly what I didn’t know I needed.

I will be blogging in this space about my project, and my overall experience at the boot camp, which has been fantastic so far.

Woot!

seamlesstl

Humble Beginnings

seamlesstl:

Entrepreneur -

person who organizes and manages any enterprise, especially a business, usually with considerable initiative and risk.

I’ve had this entrepreneurial itch for as long as I can remember.  I remember my early risk-taking days, selling slice pops (those were lollipops shaped like delicious fruit) in the common areas of my suburban middle school to any classmate in need of a sugar fix.  

Each weekend, I would travel to the local corner stores in the heart of Hartford, CT to purchase the discounted candies for a dime a piece - 10 cents lower than the cost at the suburban candy stores.  And each school day, my peers gladly shoved their quarters in my clear plastic bag in exchange for my prohibited treats.  

Even in a tax and competition free environment, there were high risks.  Being caught with candy at any time would result in immediate confiscation of goods and a hefty fine - two days detention.  

Did I ever get caught? Sure.  How did I feel? Devastated.  But each time that I was marched to a room to sit for hours and stare at my lost inventory, all I could think of was how I could sell smarter the next time around.  And which relative I would ask to fund my next stockpile of flavors.  

It’s always great to hear how people start out.