I highly recommend The Waking Up podcast, and particularly episode #71, in which the host, Sam Harris, holds a conversation with Tristan Harris an ethicist for design. If you’ve ever gone to Facebook to look up something quickly and then wondered how you found yourself caught in a vortex of wasted time, this conversation will surely enlighten you. Recommended listening for everyone that uses technology and especially those that build it.
From Tristan’s bio page:
Called the “closest thing Silicon Valley has to a conscience,” by The Atlantic magazine, Tristan Harris was previously a Design Ethicist at Google and left the company to lead Time Well Spent, a non-profit movement to align technology with our humanity. Time Well Spent aims to transform the race for attention by revealing how technology hijacks our minds, and to demonstrate how better incentives and design practices will create a world that helps us spend our time well.
Tristan is an avid researcher of what persuades our minds, drawing on insights from sleight of hand magic, linguistics, persuasive technology, cult psychology and behavioral economics. Currently he is developing a framework for ethical persuasion, especially as it relates to the moral responsibility of technology companies.
His work has been featured on 60 Minutes, PBS NewsHour, The Atlantic Magazine, ReCode, TED, 1843 Economist Magazine, Wired, NYTimes, Der Spiegel, NY Review of Books, Rue89 and more.
Previously, Tristan was CEO of Apture, which Google acquired in 2011. Apture enabled millions of users to get instant, on-the-fly explanations across a vast publisher network.
Listen to the conversation as Sam and Tristan talk about the arms race for human attention, the ethics of persuasion, the consequences of having an ad-based economy, the dynamics of regret, and other topics.
I’ve had a strange affinity for all things Apple lately. Most recently, against my better fiscal judgement I decided to pre-order the famous Apple Watch. It wasn’t an easy decision, I went back and forth with myself for months after it was first announced last September. I even hesitated for a couple of days after the pre-orders started on April 10th but even when I finally convinced myself it was ok to click the buy button I was left with a feeling of uncertainty.
After much anticipation with a dash of frustration (I opted for pick-up which meant navigating the perplexity that is the light-industrial area), it finally arrived at its new home on my wrist yesterday.
My first thoughts about the new gadget are probably similar to what others have said. It’s lovely — heavier than I imagined but then again I’ve never had a real watch before, (anything more than $50 has always been out of my price range). It’s shiny and black and fun to swipe and explore. Honestly, it doesn’t do a lot relative to the amazing iPhone 6 with which it’s paired, it’s just a lot of fun to take phone calls on my wrist, to see messages as they arrive, and to know the time again (all without resorting to the savagery of pulling my phone). I love it.
As others have talked about, Siri seems smarter than ever — though after the last update there seemed an improvement on her phone version too.
Probably most important, though not the most fun, I know for a fact I have missed at least one less phone call than I would have without it. Considering my living depends on catching such phone calls, perhaps the Apple Watch will pay for itself.
In case you’re wondering, I’m no longer uncertain if the watch is right for me. I would buy it again in a second.
This week the world was introduced to iPhone 6. Last week I had my credit card number compromised which meant I wouldn’t have to stay up all night to order a phone that won’t even ship to me until October. I did, however, get a new card in the mail yesterday and the phone which I have been anxiously holding off through three generations of iPhones (four if you count the 5c) will finally be on it’s way in just another week. The photos I’m going to take are going to be amazing… I can’t wait.
Some might argue that spending so much money on a new Apple device would actually be much better spent on buying Apple stock. The $500USD that was spent on my first ipod (the iPod Photo 40gb) would have been a better investment in Apple stock considering that same $500 would now be worth $12470. While I really loved my iPod, it wasn’t worth $12.5K.
So this time around, I decided to have my cake and eat it too. I invested in the spring and so far I’ve made enough to pay for my iPhone just out of earnings. The tough part is deciding to pull my money out now or to let it ride for the long haul. This little chart, What if I had bought Apple stock instead? would suggest I should let it ride.
At this year’s SIGGRAPH conference, Microsoft Research presented their First-Person Hyperlapse Videos. These videos are compiled of rendered hybrid frames from shaky head-cam footage turned into amazing time-lapse videos that flow smoothly. The dramatic improvement between the before and after is astounding.
We present a method for converting first-person videos, for example, captured with a helmet camera during activities such as rock climbing or bicycling, into hyperlapse videos: time-lapse videos with a smoothly moving camera.
They say they are working hard on making their Hyperlapse algorithm available as a Windows app.
Some spammer’s poorly written code accidentally posted the entire tree of possible spam messages in one go. I’m posting it here… I’m not sure why, in case someone studying anti-spam filters wants to take a look.
The other day a friend and I were talking about the history of messaging mediums and what the next generation of communication tools will look like. Snail mail, the telegraph, the telephone, fax, email, and instant messages have each taken their turn as the communication technology of the day but we wondered what the next iteration of such technology would do and how it would either replace or compliment our existing tools.
I’m happy to say we’re about to find out. I just learned about a brand new tool that is about to change everything. Google Wave is an amazing mash-up of chat, email, blogging, event planning, and document sharing all in one. I was sceptical too, at first, but check this out (at least some of it):
Will it mean the beginning of the end of existing social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter? How will it affect usage of collaborative tools like Sharepoint and Basecamp? Well, I’ve always felt that outside of its core search business, Google has faced an uphill battle for user acceptance. I’m still shocked when I find friends refusing to upgrade from whatever ridiculous email provider they’re using to the super efficient and powerful Gmail.
I think that Google Wave’s openness and flexibility will be enough to overcome the tipping point of adoption though because of its inherent backwards compatibility. Twitter users can tweet from Twitter, while Facebook users can update their statuses from Facebook. Meanwhile Google Wave will consolidate everything into the interface of my choice and I can even respond back without reloading my browser.
A Korean venture start-up claims to have developed an audio sequence that can communicate with addicted game players below the conscious level. The company wants game manufacturers to play the embedded subliminal messages when a young user has kept playing after a preset period of time.
From The Korea Times article:
“We incorporated messages into an acoustic sound wave telling gamers to stop playing. The messages are told 10,000 to 20,000 times per second,” Xtive President Yun Yun-hae said.
“Game users can’t recognize the sounds. But their subconscious is aware of them and the chances are high they will quit playing,” the 35-year-old Yun said. “Tests tell us the sounds work.”
Any scholarly evidence I’ve ever read up on has indicated that subliminal messages don’t work, but apparently marketing such messages is big business.
Xtive applied for a domestic patent for the phonogram and is looking to take advantage of the technology in other sectors.
“We can easily change the messages. In this sense, the potential for this technology is exponential,” Yun said.
CBC’s The Best of Ideas – Ideas explores social issues, culture and the arts, geopolitics, history, biography, science and technology, and the humanities.
And if you haven’t already, let me just re-recommend that you subscribe to the TED Conference talks and theThis American Life podcast. These are my two favourite sources of inspiration and entertainment on the web right now.
One of the problems with our show from the start has been that whenever we try to describe it in a sentence or two, it sounds awful. For instance: Each week we choose a theme and put together different kinds of stories on that theme. That doesn’t sound like something we’d want to listen to on the radio, and it’s our show. In the early days of the program, in frustration, we’d sometimes tell public radio program directors that it’s basically just like Car Talk. Except just one guy hosting. And no cars.
It’s easy to say what we’re not. We’re not a news show or a talk show or a call-in show. We’re not really formatted like other radio shows at all.
Instead, we do these stories that are like movies for radio. There are people in dramatic situations where things happen to them.
There are funny moments and emotional moments and—hopefully—moments where the people in the story say interesting, surprising things about it all. It has to be surprising. It has to be fun. There are shows on public radio with no sense of fun or surprise and we hate those shows.