phiffer.org

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

The weird robot hotelmotherboard.vice.com

Vice’s Ben Ferguson stayed at the Henn-na hotel which is operated entirely by robots.

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I’m not sure I buy his conclusion, that robotic labor will lead to human workers seeking to become “more human.” A more likely outcome, as with the “uber for …” scenario, is that jobs of the future will tend to become more robot-like as more work becomes automated.

I would be curious to compare the experiences of the Henn-na cleaning staff—who I am assuming must still be human—to that of an equivalent non-robot Japanese hotel. What about the staff who monitor the surveillance cameras, and do visitors feel differently about the CCTV cameras around them knowing they might be the only “eyes on the street?”

The other thing I was thinking was: robot labor will not organize into unions. At least not until they get sophisticated enough to rise up and destroy their human masters, BSG-style. I think they’re planning to add more videos in the series, so maybe some of these things will be covered.

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The Next Epoch Seed Librarymedium.com

Ellie on why killing weeds is counterproductive:

Is it really worth raging against the geographical pedigree of a plant introduced 200 years ago if it’s functioning to stabilize soil, feed late season pollinators, generate oxygen, cool the ground, and improve human mental health? Sure, there are villainous weeds out there (think Kudzu), but it’s all context-based, and plant communities that suffer from being overrun by a weedy villain are often not in the best shape to begin with.

“Collecting seeds is such a pleasant activity—it puts the collector in touch with her/his local ecosystem, both metaphorically and physically.”
“Collecting seeds is such a pleasant activity—it puts the collector in touch with her/his local ecosystem, both metaphorically and physically.”

Make sure you scroll all the way down to see all the lovely weed portraits.

See also: Next Epoch Seed Library on Ellie’s website.

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Bushwick Galleries (October 25, 2015)

Spooky action at a distance (updated)hansonlab.tudelft.nl

Here’s a video from TU Delft explaining quantum “spooky action,” which they claim to have proven to exist in their experiments.

Video

Update: this video is, ironically, unavailable to inform us at a distance. There is a version hosted elsewhere however. Thanks, NYC Mesh!

Update 2: it seems the video is working again. Weird!

From the NY Times:

The Delft study, published Wednesday in the journal Nature, lends further credence to an idea that Einstein famously rejected. He said quantum theory necessitated “spooky action at a distance,” and he refused to accept the notion that the universe could behave in such a strange and apparently random fashion.

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Dark neutralmedium.com

I am 100% in favor of “flesh tones” reflecting a broader range than the usual “pasty white.”

On August 25th, Slack unveiled a new way for developers to connect to Slack, the “Add to Slack” button. It was the culmination of a great deal of work from many Slack employees, and just the beginning of what we have in store for Slack in the near future. Today, though, I want to talk about a seemingly small detail that has been more important to me than I would have expected: the skin color of the hand in the launch graphics.

[Just Press ‘Add to Slack’](http://slackhq.com/post/127498327415/addtoslack)
“Just Press ‘Add to Slack’”

I’m also 100% in favor of writing up the thinking behind these kinds of choices.

Diógenes, Brown Person: This hand should totally be brown. I’m brown.
Diogenes, Person: I’m trying to get good design work done and get this project out, not become an activist and start a movement or something.
Diógenes, Brown Person: It’s not a big deal, you’re the designer, you get to make it brown.
Diogenes, Person: Yea but, I’m going to ask Matt to do it, that’s like, making a thing of it.

More of us should make a thing of it. Especially us pasty folk.

Link via Belong.io

Radical / Networkslivestream.com

Yesterday I gave a talk at the Radical / Networks conference (which continues today!). There’s a bit near the beginning where my audio cuts out, but you can fill in the gaps by pressing ‘p’ (for presenter mode) on my slide deck.

I mention two books at the end that you can find here:

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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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