Guerilla apps from IranCubator

An NGO called United for Iran has undertaken a project called IranCubator.  The purpose of IranCubator is the development of apps that provide Iranians with relevant information that they may otherwise find hard to get given government censorship.

IranCubator takes the form of an ongoing contest in which app developers consider suggestions for app designs and implement the ones that they like best.  The effort has resulted in several recent app releases.

Political campaigning and culture

A piece by Mark Scott in the New York Times states that efforts by the American alt-right to support Marine Le Pen's campaign for President of France have fallen flat.  Tactics that worked in the American campaign for Donald Trump do not "translate."

One tactic has been to spread memes, that is, posters featuring a picture, often of Emmanuel Macron, Ms. Le Pen's rival, and a clever caption.  Such efforts have encountered two problems.

Emoji architecture :) or :(

In a Wired article, Sam Lubell describes a building that incorporates emojis into its exterior.  Dutch architect Changiz Tehrani decided to enliven the facade of an apartment building in Vathorst by having emojis molded in relief in intersections of its surface elements.

Transparency and legitimacy in Ontario elections using e-voting

Many Ontario municipalities are currently involved in debates over the adoption of e-voting.  I recently wrote a report that I submitted to the City Council of Guelph (where I live) urging against its adoption here.  I also delegated to the Council on this issue (24 April).  Since other speakers were covering matters such as security and accessibility, I decided to use my five minutes to raise the issue of transparency. 

New book: Design and society

My new book is now out!  The full title is, "Design and Society: Social issues in technological design."  The book was written for the STV 202 course but is also suitable for a general audience since it is non-technical and assumes no previous familiarity with the topic.  It is also brief, at under 250 pages, and contains numerous, practical examples of concepts discussed.

Ethics in technological design

The theme of CSTV's Design & Society course is "good design".  When I ask students what this expression means, they tend to think, first of all, about technical matters, e.g., efficiency, cost, usability, and so on.  However, as the course progresses, we come to ethical issues, e.g., is the design "good" for people, and in what sense?

Fair algorithms

An interesting piece by Matt Reynolds in New Scientist describes work that aims to make algorithms fair.  A team of computer scientists at the Alan Turing Institute in London defines a fair algorithm as follows:

[a fair algorithm is] one that makes the same decision about an individual regardless of demographic background.

Why have augmented reality on a smarphone?

Mark Sullivan at FastCompany reports that Apple is planning its entry into the augmented reality market.  In rough terms, augmented reality (AR) involves layering computer-generated graphics over live views of a given scene.

Seats for disabled passengers

An interesting post by Áine Pennello in CityLab discusses how disabled passengers may find seating on public transit.  There is often not enough seating for everyone, so the matter of who sits becomes an important issue. 

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