A reminder of how great WiReD magazine was — and how often it was wrong — can be found in this great piece by Dave Karpf: A WIRED compendium.
I bought the first copy of WiReD when it came out, and was a buyer and collector for some time. It was everything I loved in a magazine: smart and stylish and full of ideas.
WiReD was a perfect title for it too. The publication was about how the world was becoming interconnected through the rapid build out of the Internet, but it was also about how our brains were changing as a result of it. It covered both of those areas well.
Dave’s piece also covers some of my favorite things it got wrong, from the promise of PUSH technology (companies HATED Pointcast for flooding their networks and soon worked to shut that it down) to digitally encoded smell (right?? yeah, no) to a cover on how Second Life was the future (hey, I thought that too).
WiReD got plenty right, too. But more than right or wrong, it captured the zeitgeist of the 90s and early 2000s and generally provided insights into how information technology was affecting us.
If you have only read the magazine recently, you might not get what the fuss was all about it. Check out that summary from Dave Karpf: you will get a history lesson and hopefully a glimpse of WiReD and why it was so great.
Posted onNovember 17, 2022|Comments Off on Ideas on furnishing and living in small spaces in the future
I suspect that living in smaller and smaller spaces is going to be the rule rather than the exception, as more people move to expensive cities. I think if that’s true, we need to think about how such spaces should be furnished.
Traditional furniture assumes a certain amount of room to move about. Those assumptions need to be challenged.
For example, this piece envisions a massive piece of furniture that combines a bed, storage and seating area into one (see below):
Or take this piece, which imagines everything within reach (see below):
I know, it’s not for everyone. But it may be the way things are going for many urban dwellers.
Posted onMay 19, 2021|Comments Off on On the limits of Elon Musk
In this piece, Elon Musk Shares Painfully Obvious Idea About the Difficulty of Self-Driving Cars, we have a good summary of the limits of Elon Musk. Not that we need reminding, since we can never seem to escape the publicity of the man. However now he is seen more as a a huckster and a clown and less of the visionary he once seemed to be. He’s gone from being like Edison to being like P.T. Barnum. It’s too bad, really. We need more visionaries: we have too many hucksters and clowns.
Here’s hoping he stops being foolish and starts being serious again.
I believe that soon everything you buy will come with computing built into it, by defaul. When this occurs,people may find it weird to think about non-digital devices, just like younger people might find it weird to see people working from previous generations doing work and not using computers.
Comments Off on Is there no limit to how small computers can get?
Posted onMarch 31, 2014|Comments Off on Robot Fast Food workers, automats, and food trucks: food of the future
Are low-wage workers going to replaced by robots? There are cases to be made for that happening, both here: The Shift From Low-Wage Worker to Robot Worker from FiveThirtyEight and from the recent book, The Second Machine age (pictured above). Indeed, some have argued that fast food restaurants are a form of manufacturing, and this makes the notion of replacing works with machines more plausible to me.
It is important not just to look at the future, but also the past, in particular, the history of the automat.
The automat was once the future too, and there are still vestiges of them around, but mainly they have died off. There were a number of reasons for this (see Automat – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia), but inflexibility was one of them. Right now fast food establishments thrive on inflexibility and low cost.That is also the way to compete with them. I can see how people can compete with that and win, and the way to do that is portable food (e.g., food trucks, food stalls). Barring bureaucratic costs, portable food is cheaper to deliver than traditional bricks and mortar establishments (even fast food ones). And portable food vendors can be much more flexible than fast food places can ever be.
The other way to compete with them is by being human and offering better service. No robot in the next century will be able to do that.
Posted onMarch 25, 2014|Comments Off on Robot Fast Food workers, automats, and food trucks: food of the future (some notes)
Are low-wage workers going to replaced by robots? There are cases being made for that happening, both here: The Shift From Low-Wage Worker to Robot Worker from FiveThirtyEight and from the recent book, The Second Machine age (pictured above). As well, some bloggers like Matt Yglesias have argued that fast food restaurants are a form of manufacturing, and this makes the notion of replacing fast food workers with machines more plausible to me.
However, in considering this, it is important to look not just to the future, but also to look to the past. In particular, the past that contained the automat.
The automat was once the future too. There are still vestiges of them around, but mainly they have died off. They collapsed for a number of reasons (see Automat – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia), but the chief reason was inflexibility.
Today’s fast food establishments thrive on inflexibility and low cost. One way people can compete with that and win is with portable food (e.g., food trucks, food stalls). Barring bureaucratic costs, portable food is cheaper to deliver than when it is delivered by traditional bricks and mortar establishments (even fast food ones) and portable food vendors can be much more flexible than fast food places can ever be. There might still be robots delivering portable food, just like there are vending machines that provide food. But they won’t have flexibility of humans, and they won’t be as cheap. Additionally, humans can offer human interaction: no robot in the near future will be able to imitate that.
I believe eating is a social act and a human act, and buying and selling food should be a social and human activity. We humans need to think about it in ways to provide it that doesn’t dehumanize ourselves.