More efficiency, more consumption?

Developers of technology pursue efficiency relentlessly.  This is done for a variety of reasons: Efficiency is readily quantified and lends itself to comparison between designs; a preference for efficiency seems simply rational (who wouldn't prefer a more efficient car over a less efficient one?); increases in efficiency increase sustainability.

What is a gimmick?

Posts in this blog sometimes relate to a some design and pose the question, "Is this a gimmick?"  A recent example concerned a speaker-battery combination pack for electric bikes.

GMO agriculture 2.0?

I was interested to read in a recent Nature Genetics editorial that maybe the public could participate directly in pursuit of the genetic editing of agricultural crops.

This statement, in particular, is striking:

Eyeglasses are not just for seeing

One of the most famous dictums associated with Modernist design is that "Form follows function."  Typically, what modernists mean by this expression is that the design of a product should be dictated by the job it is to perform for users—and nothing else!

However, Modernists tended to take a narrow view of what a function is.  In their view, this was limited to physical services that a product might perform for its users. 

Should the Indian flag be a Canadian doormat?

Amazon Canada got into some trouble recently when it was found that a vendor was using its web service to sell doormats decorated with the Indian flag.  India's external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj was alerted to the matter by vigilant Twitter users, who consider this usage an insult to their national flag.

Should a fitness tracker look like a ring?

For our first posting of 2017, consider a new fitness tracking device in the form of a finger ring.  The Motiv Ring tracks sleep patterns, heart rate, steps and other activities, all while looking chic.  It will officially debut at this year's Consumer Electronics Show and is priced at $199 (USD).

The Ring contains some technological innovations, including optical heart rate tracking and impressive miniaturization. 

In the mobile age, does it still matter where you are?

One of the predicted consequences of the global village was the fading importance of place.  After all, if everyone can talk to and look in on everyone else regardless of location, through the miracle of telephones and TV and Internet, then location would become irrelevant.

We do not yet live in that world.  Many people continue to commute to work, for example, to be in the same building with their colleagues.

Fake news, hoaxes, lies, misinformation, and errors

Will Oremus at Slate has written an interesting piece on the semantic spread of the term "fake news."  The term recently came to prominence over the propagation of fraudulent news items as a tool of persuasion in the recent US election.

Facebook, misinformation and censorship

Three recent New York Times articles illustrate some issues facing information providers like Facebook when it comes to dealing with potentially harmful content being shared through its service.

A tale of two robots

Today brings another pair of interesting news items to compare.  The first concerns an automated vehicle that delivers hot food.  The second concerns an automated vehicle that delivers hot lead.  (Some lines just write themselves!)

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