Suspended at a junction in time: Australia, Silent Running, The Drowned World and the University of Queensland


As with elsewhere in Brisbane — say the heavy-bricked Tudorbethan houses in New Farm’s Abbott Street — an imported, imposed European sensibility always hangs a little askew here. The artificiality of a giant ornamental pool of water, carefully scooped out of sweeping lawns, in a city with an apparently permanent water shortage, is exaggerated by the sight of giant lizard, lying in the sun, perfectly still, delighting a small child. A turtle is equally static atop its manhole cover island. You half expect a couple of squat robots to come waddling round the corner, ready to trim the herbaceous borders.


See The Music: The Evolution of Visual Albums


Musicians today understand the need to create “events” around their albums, capturing our digital “fomo” and giving us reasons to interact. It’s why we’re dealing with an exhaustive number of surprise albums — they force us to pay attention, at least for now.
But Beyoncé changed the conversation by making her latest album a must-watch event, not a must-listen. It may seem obvious, but it’s an important distinction. By capitalizing on our obsession with TV, Lemonade was treated to the same coverage you’d expect to see for Game of Thrones.
Though visual albums have existed conceptually for the past half-century, we’ve never truly defined what these albums actually consist of. The VMA’s clunkily-named “Breakthrough Long Form Video” is a testament to the cultural impact of Lemonade and provides us with an opportunity to understand and appreciate how visual albums have evolved over time.


Dozens of massive cargo ships and tankers - some weighing up to 300,000 tons - are anchored outside the Port of Tanjung Priok in…


Dozens of massive cargo ships and tankers - some weighing up to 300,000 tons - are anchored outside the Port of Tanjung Priok in Jakarta, Indonesia. The facility is the country’s busiest and most advanced seaport, handling more than 50% of Indonesia’s trans-shipment cargo. The port is also among the least efficient in all of Southeast Asia, due to slow customs handling and limited docking capacity.

6.104°S 106.8865°E


Mr Ichikawa slides across a picture of a 300-year-old wooden house in Kumamoto that has been gorgeously restored and invisibly…

Mr Ichikawa slides across a picture of a 300-year-old wooden house in Kumamoto that has been gorgeously restored and invisibly fortified by Sumitomo. As a consequence, it survived April’s earthquake.

This, he acknowledges, is at the highest end of what Sumitomo can do for Japan’s millions of ageing — often abandoned — wooden houses. With a little renovation, he suggests, you could be looking at a vast new stock of Airbnb properties.

Out of the woods: an old-economy stalwart pivots in Japan (viaiamdanw)

No shades of gray. How social media drives us to the extremes.


Yes, there is a data revolution. But we are not seeing the knowledge revolution of e.g. super-educated people because machines are living the knowledge revolution, while we get distracted with hyped facts on social media they feed us. In a growing ocean of data, we are drowning of very shallow waters.


Amateur Rocketeers Are Keeping the Space Age Spirit Alive


Which is more beautiful, or more inspiring: a private company bidding for a contract to send resupply rockets to the International Space Station, or a former Hollywood stuntman building a rocket from scratch and sending it into space for the hell of it? I ask this because, lately, it feels like the way we talk about space has been changing. It’s less about exploration, and more about money. Space has become privatized. Proposals to land on and mine asteroids are justified less for being audacious, and more for being economical. While NASA’s budget for longer-term exploration is squeezed, the organization hands over its more regular work with satellites and space stations to for-profit companies, even when looking to design new ISS compartments. Just this month, the FAA gave clearance for a private company to put a lander on the Moon for the first time. These are all technically impressive things, but they are not necessarily wondrous in the way things used to be wondrous. My hunch is that the old spirit of exploration is still alive and well. It’s just not in the same places it used to be.


Corresponding with a Friend, in Pictures


Over the past few months, the photographer Anton Kusters and I have been having a conversation on Instagram and on our respective websites, under the hash #image_by_image. Our original idea came out of a sense that we both wanted an open, playful space for ideas. We decided to simply write to each other in public, and see what might happen. We added the constraints of one image and a tight character limit per post, and no more than one post per day, no less than one per week.


’Facebook fires trending team, and algorithm without humans goes crazy’ - The Guardian Just months after the discovery that…

algorithms, facebook, human input, news, trending


Facebook fires trending team, and algorithm without humans goes crazy’ -The Guardian

Just months after the discovery that Facebook’s “trending” news module was curated and tweaked by human beings, the company has eliminated its editors and left the algorithm to do its job. The results, so far, are a disaster.

Over the weekend, the fully automated Facebook trending module pushed out a false story about Fox News host Megyn Kelly, a controversial piece about a comedian’s four-letter word attack on rightwing pundit Ann Coulter, and links to an article about a video of a man masturbating with a McDonald’s chicken sandwich.

The dismissal of the trending module team appears to have been a long-term plan at Facebook. A source told the Guardian the trending module was meant to have “learned” from the human editors’ curation decisions and was always meant to eventually reach full automation.

Things Find Their Own Uses for Streets

Medium, Scott Smith, futures, infrastructure, roads, streets, machine readable, legiblity

As we progress to a point where fewer people are needed to pilot vehicles, and more roads become “robot readable,” we will inevitably see new uses being found for roads, and road infrastructure changing to optimize for machine, not human, legibility and use. Given the substantial role human roads play in shaping our social and commercial environments, like rivers and rails before them, streets, buildings, and towns and cities will gradually reshape to reflect machine uses.


Amnesia leads to despair in many ways. The status quo would like you to believe it is immutable, inevitable and invulnerable,…

hope, unknown, amnesia, change, dynamics

“Amnesia leads to despair in many ways. The status quo would like you to believe it is immutable, inevitable and invulnerable, and lack of memory of a dynamically changing world reinforces this view. In other words, when you don’t know how much things have changed, you don’t see that they are changing or that they can change.”

Rebecca Solnit, ‘Hope is a​n embrace of the unknown’ (2016)

The War on Cash

banking, economics, cash

The shadow economy is not just ‘poor’ people. It’s potentially anybody who hasn’t internalised the correct state-corporate narrative of normality, and anyone seeking a lifestyle outside of the mainstream. The future presented by self-styled innovation gurus has no scope for flexible, unpredictable or invisible people. They represent analogue backwardness. The future is a world of endless consumer choice built upon an inescapable digital uniformity of automated rules, a matrix outside which you can neither exist nor think. Back in Amsterdam I hang out with Ancilla van de Leest of the Netherlands Pirate Party. She only visits establishments that accept cash, true to her political belief in individual privacy from prying eyes. It would be wrong to assume, however, that Ancilla’s primary concern involves surveillance by a Big Brother-style bogeyman. It’s true that your spending patterns reveal much about how you actually live, and the privacy implications of having these recorded in searchable database format are only starting to be uncovered. We know that targeted individual surveillance of payments occurs by the likes of the FBI and NSA, but routinised mass surveillance could become a norm. Imagine automatic flagging systems triggered by anyone engaging in a combination of transactions deemed subversive. Tax authorities are bound to be building systems to flag discrepancies between your spending patterns and your declared profits. It’s also true that at London fintech gatherings the excited visions of cashless society now occasionally come with a disclaimer that we should think about the power granted to those who control the system. Not only can payments intermediaries see every time you buy access to a porn site, but they have the ability to censor your transactions, like Visa, PayPal and MasterCard attempting to choke WikiLeaks by refusing to process people’s donations. We could imagine some harsh sci-fi scenario in which a theocratic regime issues decrees to payments processors to block anyone buying books deemed sexually deviant. Such decrees could be automatically enforced via code, with subroutines remotely triggering smart locks to place the offending miscreant under house arrest while automatically deducting a fine from their account.


Using a ‘ball and cup’ analogy to explain the transition of the earth system from the Holocene Epoch to a new Anthropocene…

climate change, Anthropocene, Holocene


Using a ‘ball and cup’ analogy to explain the transition of the earth system from the Holocene Epoch to a new Anthropocene Epoch- from ‘Stratigraphic and Earth System approaches to defining the Anthropocene’ by Will Steffen et al.

This is a useful tool to counter arguments that attribute climate change concerns to natural variability in the Earth’s climate, rather than taking into account human driven contributions from man-made carbon emissions. 

Our planet shifts within the ‘cup’ of the current geological age from natural climatic and biosphere variability (marked by the broken green ‘Holocene envelope of natural variability’ line). Additional drivers from early agriculture and the onset of the industrial revolution have pushed the planet to a state, that while beyond the limits of natural variability, has still been relatively stable and which the natural controls (negative feedbacks) of the planet have been able to (generally) dampen (indicated by the red line of the ‘Holocene basin of attraction’).

However, and linked to significant shifts in the nature, rate and magnitude of human and technological development occurring since around 1950 (known as the ‘Great Acceleration’), the Earth is being pushed beyond these limits- and outwith the Holocene boundaries, and potentially into a new geological age (ie the Anthropocene).

Visualizing the Crisis

Medium, design, crisis, finance, economics, politics, infoviz

When we started to think of a possible topic for this year’s Information Design course at IUAV, Venice (after exploring the world’s technology and networks in two consecutive editions of an illustrated Atlas of the Contemporary) we realised that in trying to understand how — and if — this crisis would have unfolded, there was a great potential for design to help illuminate this conjuncture. Given the increasing importance of economical data and the financial landscape over our lives, the lab was then established as an ongoing, real-time workshop in data-visualisation, which would track and explain the crisis that the analysts predicted for 2016. Its purpose was to better understand the broader network of causes and implications which every financial turmoil exists within, providing context to economic reports, and looking at the socio-political framework of news stories. From a design perspective, the intention was to develop new ways for visualizing financial news, in order to move from the rather bi-dimensional and dispassionate language of bar and pie charts, into a richer territory made up of maps, cartograms, illustrations and diagrams.


As Hannah Arendt argued decades ago, political efficacy requires concerted action, or praxis — so what kinds of action does…

“As Hannah Arendt argued decades ago, political efficacy requires concerted action, or praxis — so what kinds of action does infrastructural literacy beget? Scott admits that it’s “hard, maybe even impossible, to know exactly if, when, and how critical thinking will translate into action, or take some tangible form.””

Infrastructural Tourism (viaiamdanw)

July was ‘absolutely’ Earth’s hottest month ever recorded NOAA and NASA data reveal the Earth’s temperature reached its…


July was ‘absolutely’ Earth’s hottest month ever recorded

NOAA and NASA data reveal the Earth’s temperature reached its highest point in 136 years of record-keeping during July.

“July 2016 was absolutely the hottest month since the instrumental records began,” tweeted Gavin Schmidt, who directs NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, which is responsible for temperature measurements.

It was the 15th straight month of recording-breaking temperatures in NOAA’s analysis and 10th-straight in NASA’s, passing the previous hottest Julys by substantial margins.

“It’s a little alarming to me that we’re going through these records like nothing this year,” said Jason Furtado, a professor of meteorology at the University of Oklahoma.

“Each month just gives another data point that makes the evidence stronger that we’re changing the climate,” added Simon Donner, professor of climatology at the University of British Columbia.

July is usually the hottest month of the year, as it coincides with the peak of summer in the Northern Hemisphere. But this July was more than 1.5 degrees above average in both NOAA and NASA’s analyses.

“July 2016 was the 379th consecutive month with temperatures at least nominally above the 20th century average,” NOAA said.

Aricle: WaPo

The Field of Mind

Medium, mind, Eris, L. Ron Hubbard, J. R. Bob Dobbs

One evening L. Ron Hubbard and Bob Dobbs were discussing the Secret of Power over a joint and a bottle of cognac. (Or perhaps it was Alan Watts and Bob Wilson…Let’s just say it was Hubbard and Dobbs for now). As Hubbard took a long deep draw from the spliff of fine Lebanese boo Dobbs asked him, “But what even is the mind, Ron? Clearly it’s not inside the brain, you and I have personally opened up enough of those to know that much. Clearly the mind is something immaterial. But what exactly is it?”


Alaska Native Village Votes to Relocate

Medium, climate change, relocation, alaska, inuit

The coastal village of Shishmaref, Alaska, voted Tuedsay to relocate due to climate change-induced rising sea levels, according to city council secretary Donna Burr. The community is home to about 600 people, most of whom are Inupiat Inuit, and welcomed votes from tribal and non-tribal residents alike. This isn’t the first time the village has voted to relocate. In 2002, residents chose to leave for the mainland, but a lack of federal funds made that impossible. The U.S. Department of the Interior has made $8 million available for all tribes seeking relocation — that’s far short of the estimated $200 million the village needs to move.


If Correlation Doesn’t Imply Causation, Then What Does?

Medium, logic, statistics, correlation, causation, causality

We’ve all heard in school that “correlation does not imply causation,” but what does imply causation?! The gold standard for establishing cause and effect is a double-blind controlled trial (or the AB test equivalent). If you’re working with a system on which you can’t perform experiments, is all hope for scientific progress lost? Can we ever understand systems that we have limited or no control over? This would be a very bleak state of affairs, and fortunately there has been progress in answering these questions in the negative! So what is causality good for? Anytime you decide to take an action, in a business context or otherwise, you’re making some assumptions about how the world operates. That is, you’re making assumptions about the causal effects of possible actions.


The meaning of trust in the age of Airbnb

trust, economics, community, collaboration, culture, prosperity

Since Germany is one of the most successful economies in the world and Bavaria is one of the most successful economies in Germany, the thought did cross my mind that trust might be one of the secrets of economic success. Steve Knack, an economist at the World Bank with a long-standing interest in trust, once told me that if one takes a broad enough view of trust, “it would explain basically all the difference between the per capita income of the United States and Somalia”. In other words, without trust — and its vital complement, trustworthiness — there is no prospect of economic development. Simple activities become arduous in a low-trust society. How can you be sure you won’t be robbed on the way to the corner store? Hire a bodyguard? (Can you trust him?) The watered-down milk is in a locked fridge. As for something more complex like arranging a mortgage, forget about it. Prosperity not only requires trust, it also encourages it. Why bother to steal when you are already comfortable?


The spatial implications of chronophotography—which visually shatters the passage of time into a series of discrete moments…

photography, time, chronophotography

“The spatial implications of chronophotography—which visually shatters the passage of time into a series of discrete moments extracted from an event-sequence of otherwise unfixed length and duration—leads to a reference, in a text on Chard’s website, to the fact that criminologists, physicists, and even paranormal investigators all also began to use “the emerging potential of photography to further their research.” In the process, those researchers “developed new sorts of architecture particular to the demands and opportunities of the medium and the way they were using [them]. There are many research institutions that display the emergence of a new architecture with very little typological precedent.””

Time, Photography, and Spatial Devices (viaiamdanw)

Blockchain: Overview, Technology, Application Areas and Use Cases

blockchain, finance, introduction, overview

Everyone is talking about blockchain, the new technology in the FinTech Industry. The concept of blockchain has energized the financial services industry globally. The concept has already brought a disruption in the financial industry. LTP brings to you the overview, technology, application areas and use cases of blockchain.


Startups vs. Systems: Why Doing Good with Tech is Hard

Medium, systems, technology, social, social-enterprise

It’s not easy to make social change with technology. There’s excitement around bringing “innovation” to social problems, which usually means bringing in ideas from the technology industry. But societies are more than software, and social enterprise doesn’t have the same economics as startups.