Blog posts

  • Andrea Leadsom is the leader of an am-dram peasants' revolt

    Never let it be said that the Current Situation in the UK doesn't have a bright side. It's giving Marina Hyde so much material to work with:

    As for the rest of us, it's hard to imagine where we were before Andrea was deemed a breakout star of the referendum campaign. Yet we still know so tantalisingly little about her. After all, as a junior minister in Her Majesty's government, Andrea enjoyed the sort of anonymity you'd hope for in one of the better witness protection programmes.

    Even the verdicts of her friends tend toward the confusing. "She has steel," blethered Iain Duncan Smith, "but there is a velvet glove of compassion." Oh Iain! God knows I've learned to manage my expectations as far as IDS is concerned. But I would like a secretary of state who understood a basic despot metaphor before he accidentally deployed it.

  • Pathetic.

    I really wasn't expecting to start my day with a belly laugh at a post on Hacker News in honour of Pinboard turning seven. 1 Well played, firebones.

    [Via @pinboard]

    1. Context, for the weak.

  • On The Moral Economy of Tech

    Maciej Cegłowski, talking sense in his Remarks at the SASE Panel On The Moral Economy of Tech:

    The first step towards a better tech economy is humility and recognition of limits. It's time to hold technology politically accountable for its promises. I am very suspicious of attempts to change the world that can't first work on a local scale. If after decades we can't improve quality of life in places where the tech élite actually lives, why would we possibly make life better anywhere else?

    We should not listen to people who promise to make Mars safe for human habitation, until we have seen them make Oakland safe for human habitation. We should be skeptical of promises to revolutionize transportation from people who can't fix BART, or have never taken BART. And if Google offers to make us immortal, we should check first to make sure we'll have someplace to live.

    […]

    Engineer's Disease is a hell of a thing.

  • Magnets and Marbles!

    The patience required to set all those dominoes up at just the right angle and distance to allow the magnets and marbles to connect the way they did is astounding.

    [Via swissmiss]

  • The Shape of Things

    Tom Coates has posted a slightly edited 1 version of his Webstock 2016 talk on The Shape of Things, which was about the challenges he sees in making the Internet of Things a useful service, as opposed to an excuse for an endless running joke about internet-enabled fridges:

    Today I'm going to be talking about the thinking we've been doing at Thington about the right and wrong ways to interact with a world of connected objects, and some of the problems we've been trying to solve. In particular I want to talk about the relationship we're starting to build between physical network-connected objects and some kind of software or service layer that sits alongside them, normally interacted with via a mobile phone.

    And I'm going to talk a bit about how there's a push in the design community to find a different model, dissolving the top layer here into the object itself through (a) tangible, physical computing, or through (b) metaphors of enchantment or magic […]

    I thought it was just the sort of thoughtful, insightful talk it would have been worth travelling to New Zealand for 2 if you're in the IT business. If Tom Coates and people who think like him end up defining how the Internet of Things ends up being implemented then it might actually turn out to be a very good thing. But then I think about stories about security flaws in everything from cars to bathroom scales and I wonder if we really want to connect every damned object we own to the internet just yet.

    1. Specifically, he's removed jokes that would only have made sense to those actually in attendance at Webstock, where he gave the talk back in February 2016.

    2. No offence to our Antipodean cousins. All I'm getting at is that I'm round here on the other side of the planet in the UK so from where I'm sitting it'd be quite a long journey.

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