phiffer.org

Dan Phiffer Dan Phiffer is an Internet enthusiast based in Troy, NY

The Trouble with the “uber for…” Economymedium.com

Zeynep Tufekci on the broader little-u “uber for ____” economy.

What if the reason Uber raises so much ire and anxiety is not about whether Uber, the company, fails its drivers better or worse than medallion owners fail their own drivers, but because the “uber for …” economy is threatening to make the lousy conditions for taxi drivers, once seen as a temporary job for first generation immigrants, into the jobs of the future?

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Attention K-Mart Shopperswww.chartattack.com

A former employee has digitized and uploaded 56 cassette tapes from K-Mart’s in-store sound system.

“God, the internet is a wonderful place.”
“God, the internet is a wonderful place.”

Mark Davis worked behind the Service Desk at the Naperville, IL Kmart in the late ’80s and early ’90s. Every month, corporate office issued a cassette to be played over the store speaker system — canned elevator-type music with advertisements seeded every few tracks. Around 1991, the muzak was replaced with mainstream hits, and the following year, new tapes began arriving weekly. The cassettes were supposed to be thrown away, but Davis dutifully slipped each tape into his apron pocket to save for posterity. He collected this strange discount department store ephemera until 1993, when background music began being piped in via satellite service.

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Warm Focusbff.fm

A weekly internet radio show designed to help you focus. Streamed each Wednesday at noon, Pacific Time. Hosted by none other than Patrick Ewing (the game developer Patrick Ewing).

Each week we attempt to induce a two-hour state of Flow in the listener: the sense that your work is carrying you along effortlessly like a log in a stream. Long, uninterrupted sets of instrumental music carefully selected as a background for doing creative work. I aim to energize and focus the mind without ever feeling distracting or alienating.

Link via Robin Sloan

The original NPR mission statementwww.radiodiaries.org

The most recent episode of the Radio Diaries podcast has an interview with Bill Siemering, who wrote the original mission statement for NPR.


MP3 download

National Public Radio will serve the individual, it will promote personal growth, it will regard the individual differences with respect and joy, rather than derision and hate. It will celebrate the human experience as infinitely varied, rather than vacuous and banal. It will encourage a sense of active, constructive participation, rather than apathetic helplessness.

The total service should be trustworthy, enhance intellectual development, expand knowledge, deepen aural aesthetic enjoyment, increase the pleasure of living in a pluralistic society, and result in a service to listeners which makes them more responsive, informed human beings and intelligent, responsible citizens of their communities and the world.

It would speak with many voices and many dialects. The editorial attitude would be that of inquiry, curiosity, concern for the quality of life, critical problem solving, and life loving.

It’s interesting to know that the term broadcasting has its origins in agriculture, as in “scattering seeds.”

radio-diaries

See also: Radiotopia’s Fall 2015 fund drive.

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Raiders of the Lost Webwww.theatlantic.com

Somebody must have downloaded this, right? Anybody got a copy?

Many of the never-before-published documents and photographs Vaughan unearthed became key components of the web series, appearing only online and not in printed versions of the series. These weren’t just extras, but key chapters of the story, told digitally. And when the website disintegrated after the Rocky’s closure, these stories weren’t relegated to an old box on an unreachable shelf; they were gone.

If a sprawling Pulitzer Prize-nominated feature in one of the nation’s oldest newspapers can disappear from the web, anything can.

Link via Rose Eveleth

Economics of Climate Changewww.youtube.com

Mark Z. Jacobson, professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Stanford gave a talk at the New School in 2012 about the economics of renewable energy.

His part of the talk starts at 18:50.

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See also: his TED debate with Stewart Brand about nuclear energy.

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Renewables are winningwww.bloomberg.com

Bloomberg on some promising trends in U.S. energy production.

For the first time, widespread adoption of renewables is effectively lowering the capacity factor for fossil fuels. That’s because once a solar or wind project is built, the marginal cost of the electricity it produces is pretty much zero—free electricity—while coal and gas plants require more fuel for every new watt produced. If you’re a power company with a choice, you choose the free stuff every time.

It’s a self-reinforcing cycle. As more renewables are installed, coal and natural gas plants are used less. As coal and gas are used less, the cost of using them to generate electricity goes up. As the cost of coal and gas power rises, more renewables will be installed.

See also: a wonky financial analysis of the residential solar market.

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Refrigerator of the futurewww.psfk.com

From a concept kitchen developed by IKEA, IDEO, and design students from Lund University and Eindhoven University of Technology.

While we often see smart refrigerators as in concept kitchens, IKEA and the designer believe that fridges will become obsolete in the future due to their energy inefficiency. Rather, people will store food much as how they have done so in the past—using materials that are naturally insular, such as cooling ceramic, to keep items as fresh as possible. People will no longer buy groceries on a weekly basis, but with automatic delivery from drones and the like, fresh food will be just as easy to get on demand.

“Clear containers that display the state of food and serve as a visual reminder to eat before it goes bad.”
“Clear containers that display the state of food and serve as a visual reminder to eat before it goes bad.”

See also: MoMA’s 2010 design exhibition, Counter Space.

Link via Dan W

Chantal Akerman vs. Huluhyperallergic.com

From Hyperallergic:

The film world received dreadful news this week when it was discovered that the famed Belgian filmmaker and pioneer of modern feminist cinema Chantal Akerman had died. She is well known for her breakout film, directed at age 25, Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975), which depicts several hours in the domestic life of a single mother who is also a sex worker.

Mitigating the sad circumstance of Akerman’s passing, the Criterion Collection, an American film distribution company known for its discriminating supply of virtuoso filmmakers, has made its entire catalogue of Akerman’s work available for viewing on Hulu for free.

Do check out Jeanne Dielman. It’s very slow paced, but that pace feels deliberate and effective. The subtlety of the photography and sound design manages to hold your attention for 3-plus hours. However, you may want to seek out the film elsewhere if you don’t have a paid Hulu account. The relentless advertising significantly shifts the viewing experience. I appreciate the gesture of the Criterion Collection licensing this as they have, but such a quiet, poised film easily gets overwhelmed by schlocky ads.

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The Whalephiffer.org

As a coding exercise for a course I’m teaching this semester I created this single-serving site serializing Moby Dick into tiny individual texts. Remember single-serving sites? Sadly many of those domains have expired, but one of the best of them—Barack Obama Is Your New Bicycle—is still there, if a bit quaint. I ruthlessly stole the design.

the-whale

With apologies to Mat Honan. See also: Joshua Cohen serializing his novel PCKWCK (after Dickens’s Pickwick Papers) live on the Internet.

Link, source available on GitHub

Haunted by Datawww.youtube.com

Here’s Maciej Cegłowski giving a talk on the hazards of Big Data.

Video

The current model of total surveillance and permanent storage is not tenable.

If we keep it up, we’ll have our own version of Three Mile Island, some widely-publicized failure that galvanizes popular opinion against the technology.

At that point people who are angry, mistrustful, and may not understand a thing about computers will regulate your industry into the ground.

See also: the text version of the talk.

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Enchanting by Numberstoe.prx.org

Theory of Everything recently posted an addendum to last year’s Enchanting by Numbers. Both episodes are very worthwhile, and both include the same segment talking about how misunderstood Facebook algorithms are to most of its users.

Be sure to listen to the interview with Suw Charman-Anderson, founder of Ada Lovelace Day, which is today! That part starts at 14:30 in part 1.

Part 1


Download MP3

Part 2


Download MP3

Ada Lovelace created the first algorithm, and discovered the first computer bug.
Ada Lovelace created the first algorithm, and discovered the first computer bug. Source: Wikipedia

See also: Ada’s Algorithm, the author was also interviewed in the Ada Lovelace segment. And Betsy Morais’s New Yorker article.

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