A positive spin on thinking about our own collapse, from an article by Thomas Moynihan who wrote a book an how humanity only recently started to think about its own extinction/collapse:

Only very recently in human history did people realize that Homo sapiens, and everything it finds meaningful, might permanently disappear. Only recently did people realize the physical universe could continue — aimlessly — without us. However, this was one of the most important discoveries humans have ever made. It is perhaps one of our crowning achievements. Why? Because we can only become truly responsible for ourselves when we fully realize what is at stake. And, in realizing that the entire fate of human value within the physical universe may rest upon us, we could finally begin to face up to what is at stake in our actions and decisions upon this planet. This is a discovery that humanity is still learning the lessons of — no matter how fallibly and falteringly.

In this article I also learned about the 1755 Lisbon earthquake which apparently which apparently lead scientists to study the phenomena, leading to modern seismology and earthquake engineering.

Two interesting pieces on the dangers and uselessness of blockchains:

Clive Thompson makes some interesting remarks about the story of the Google engineer Blake who became convinced that Google’s conversation technology LaMDA. In a blog post he references the work of Sherry Turkle who showed how humans perceive robots as more real when robots seem needy:

This is something I’ve learned from the work of Sherry Turkle, the famous MIT scientist who studies the relationship between humans and machines. Turkle has studied a ton of robot-human interactions, and talked to a lot of users (and designers) of robots that are designed for human companionship— i.e. toy-robot babies, or toy-robot animals.

One thing she noticed? The more that a robot seems needy, the more real it seems to us.

Interessant artikel van Bruzz over het toenemend fenomeen van coliving in Brussel en de gerelateerde sociale problemen. Gespecialiseerde bedrijven kopen gebouwen om en vormen deze om tot gewilde kamers van jonge en vaak internationale mensen in de start van hun carrière:

Bij coliving kopen of huren gespecialiseerde start-ups gebouwen, bij voorkeur langs mooie lanen en straten. Ze maken er acht tot vijftien slaapkamers in en voorzien in ruime gemeenschappelijke ruimtes: een grote woonkamer, open keuken en een tuin, maar vaak ook een sport- of filmzaal, een spelletjeskamer of een coworking_space. Prijzen voor de kamers variëren tussen 550 en 750 euro per maand, vaak nog exclusief kosten.

A quick link to a fascinating and thorough look by David Henkin at the diffusion of the week as a way of organizing social life.

In an article at the New York Times, Stuart A. Thompson reports on how conspiracy theorists turn to different search engines to find and point to misinformation. The author mentions the difficulty of “data voids” with trending topics.

Newer and more esoteric conspiracy theories are far more likely to return misleading results because of the so-called data void. Conspiracy theorists tend to publish content about new ideas long before mainstream sources, dominating search results as the terms begin spreading online. Other topics never grab the attention of mainstream sources, giving the conspiracy theorists a long-term presence in search results.

The following video is a short excerpt from a PBS documentary about the history of blue jeans.

Where did blue jeans begin? This iconic American garment can be traced to fabrics woven in India, France and Italy and a knowledge of indigo dying from Africa and brought to the colonies in the trade of enslaved people. Blue jeans’ roots are as deep and entangled as the nation’s.

Artist Sarah Ross created some interesting designs of clothes to circumvent cities’ hostile architecture:

Archisuit consists of an edition of four leisure jogging suits made for specific architectural structures in Los Angeles. The suits include the negative space of the structures and allow a wearer to fit into, or onto, structures designed to deny them.

Via Kottke.org.

From a short article by Jan-Jaap Oerlemans on the privacy risks of automated open source intelligence:

[T]raditional OSINT has evolved into a professional and intrusive practice. With the use of tools hundreds of online sources can be queried simultaneously. These sources are diverse and can range from publicly available data on social media services, to location data generated by advertisements on apps on mobile phones, to leaked user data. Automated OSINT interferes with the right to privacy and the right to the protection of personal data more seriously than before.

The current move towards vaccination certificate mandates risks excluding certain people. As Alyna C Smith, Deputy Director at PICUM, explains this approach for increasing vaccination rates risks having other side-effects.

[T]hey also create a genuine risk of deepening mistrust and exclusion for undocumented people, while failing to address the underlying reasons for disparate vaccine uptake. Just as worrying, the heightened policing that inevitably comes with the widening use of certificates is likely to push undocumented people further into the margins.

The following is a video from Youtube channel Pop Culture Detective discussing the recruitment methods used by the US in Holywood films:

The sequel to the 1996 mega-blockbuster “Independence Day” hit theaters this summer but there was something a little strange about many of the trailers. What looks like a clever marketing campaign centered on joining the fictional “Earth Space Defense” was actually a cross-branded recruitment tool for the US Army. It’s part of a multi-million dollar joint advertising venture between 20th Century Fox and the United States Military.

In this older article from Dave Young he writes about the change of how we interact with computers and their filesystems. He notes how the hierarchical structure of files and folders is being replaced by an app-centric interface.

In the present though, it has become increasingly clear that the interface bias of the smart OS prioritises data-access and content-delivery, focusing on consumption rather than production […] we can’t easily understand the behaviour of an app and the data it produces/accesses, we can’t explore what logs exist on our devices, and what personal data is potentially exposed to typical threats such as viruses, malware, hacks, and thieves. The perspective we have is simplified, and in this case, to simplify is to remove options, alternatives, and user-agency. The use-possibilities of our devices are parametrised, governed, and constrained by the overarching system of app-centricity, while opportunities for subversive intervention and creative misuse are reduced as we are obliged to act and respond within the increasingly powerful context of app store regimes.

This reminds me of a Twitter thread I recently saw in which teachers were complaining about their students no longer having enough knowlegde about “traditional” file management using hierarchical file systems. There seems to be a major paradigm shift in file retrieval: from knowing where your files are located (and using our own file structures), to retrieval through the use of search.