Weekly Reading: May 24th – 30th

Most first generation “smart” objects aren’t really smart, they’re chatty. They use sensors to describe their situation, but they’re not really analyzing or thinking about that data; they just measure and transmit. As traffic explodes and as these devices evolve, we will embed more and more intelligence in these end-points. Then, they won’t just measure and transmit, they’ll process, evaluate, synthesize. As objects get smarter they can become more independent and transmit less. They won’t just broadcast the conditions around them, they’ll make decisions independently and simply phone home to notify someone of what they did. (Ben Thompson | Verizon-AOL, Facebook Instant Articles, and the Future of Digital Advertising | Stratechery)


Bob Cratchit, the hero of Charles Dickens’s novel A Christmas Carol, is poor yet virtuous. He is honest, forthright, hardworking, clean, and articulate. He loves his family and is forgiving of those who oppress him. He is, in other words, easy to sympathize with. In the real world, however, the unfortunate may not be so likable. They may be stupid, dishonest, lazy, or mean. They may obfuscate, they may attack those weaker than themselves, they may claim their poverty is the fault of an unfair world, they may invent lives for themselves in which they are heroic sages, ahead of the curve. These negative qualities, in fact, may be the root cause of their misfortune.

But to love the unfortunate, it is not necessary to feel fond of them or tenderness toward them. (George Saunders | “Tent City, USA” | GQ)

There are two dozen platforms, Minkkinen explains, from each of which several different bus lines depart. Thereafter, for a kilometre or more, all the lines leaving from any one platform take the same route out of the city, making identical stops. “Each bus stop represents one year in the life of a photographer,” Minkkinen says. You pick a career direction – maybe you focus on making platinum prints of nudes – and set off. Three stops later, you’ve got a nascent body of work. “You take those three years of work on the nude to [a gallery], and the curator asks if you are familiar with the nudes of Irving Penn.” Penn’s bus, it turns out, was on the same route. Annoyed to have been following someone else’s path, “you hop off the bus, grab a cab… and head straight back to the bus station, looking for another platform”. Three years later, something similar happens. “This goes on all your creative life: always showing new work, always being compared to others.” What’s the answer? “It’s simple. Stay on the bus. Stay on the fucking bus.” (Oliver Burkeman | Helsinki Bus Station Theory | The Guardian)

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