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artistry and technology

Many years ago I found myself at the swedish head quarter for ABB in Västerås. ABB, founded back in 1883, is one of the leading makers of advanced robots, amongst other things, focusing on process productivity and the reduction of negative environmental impacts (energy saving etc).

You are greeted by an army of robots, most of them in typical ABB orange, exhibited like pieces of art in glass cases where they showcase advanced operations and exact movements. They are used in the auto industry for example, but play a key role in many other industries where automated processes are needed. The over-all feeling you get is exactly that; heavy industry, factories, big facilities and more than one Terminator flash back.

But art, artists and artistry really make the perfect partnership when it comes to humanising technology and/or showcasing technological capabilities. Add an artist and an idea, and you don’t loose any of the functional capabilities of this robot, but you gain a great deal of emotions. Knowing how much that matters in business (no, humans), it’s easy to see something like this being successful at a trade show.

Artist Alex Kiessling with ABB robot, via post at creative applications

Another (successful at that) example is of course Volvo Trucks and ballerina.

And on the humanizing robots note, here’s what happens when you attribute human characteristics to machines (anthropomorphism).

“but those little bastards can develop a personality, and they save so many lives.”

do you still rss?

IFTTT trigger service

These two posts:
Douglas Rushkoff – Not Out, Through: The Best Way to Deal With the Onslaught of Technology
Russell Davies – Big up to the rss massive

made me think about me being one of those who’s had to have a good think about what to do after a Google Reader shutdown. I’ve not worried about not finding a good alternative (although probably not as good as the original reader pre-gplus integration). It’s all sorted out-

RSS is one of the best web technologies, if you will, that never hit the masses, and now it seems even more unlikely. When, in fact, it should be the opposite. It’s very much the solution to volumes of crap, irrelevance and time consuming sifting through.

“I love blogging without tweeting about it. I know who I’m talking to – you lot who still do RSS. You’re my people.”

– Russell Davies

I like these things (www.ifttt.com), that I’ve just started mucking about with. A more consumer friendly version of Yahoo Pipes in a sense. If/Then sentences and triggers – the most low-level form of programming. That, I think many people who are unknowing, would actually love and benefit from, and now it’s getting simple and hence useful.

Delicious to Evernote trigger

another kind of 2.0

I’ve recently come across quite a few articles and posts about technology, social media and how we use it and how it effects us. Not seldom in a negative way. Unsurprisingly there’s an upswing at the end of a year and beginning of a new. Wise to stop, and reflect over life in general. How to get more time over. Stay in better contact. Or the opposite. There’s this post (swedish) about digital downshifting and how it’s a trend and this post about Adam Brault quitting Twitter for a month, reflecting over the Dunbar number and how twitter is “outsourced schizophrenia”.

Twitter is outsourced schizophrenia. I have a couple hundred voices I have consensually agreed to allow residence inside my brain

In conversations about interfaces, interaction and the roll of the internet in peoples’ lives, I keep arguing that the most used interaction method will be close to invisible. I don’t agree with those saying “touch is the ultimate method” because it demands of me that I’m interested in interacting.

Walking around on a sunday thinking about maybe going to the modern museum doesn’t mean that I want to interact with my fingers – all I want to know is the opening hours and what exhibitions are on. All I need is an answer. In a far future, when a chip is in my brain, and the internet knowledge is indistinguishable from my “flesh knowledge” questions thought are questions asked – and answered. Internet – interacting.

So I found this film very interesting. A very true 2.0 about technology is more about it being a bit boring. It’s when most of it is invisible. When it’s so obvious that we all can do almost everything but why should we.

Connecting (Full Film) from Bassett & Partners on Vimeo.

urbanized technology

Some interesting thoughts, on the urban design note, from this year’s Picnic festival; urbanized technology. How cities “hack” technology that doesn’t take the context, i.e. city, into account. One example being the car, which isn’t utilized in the city in a way that the technicians behind it would have prescribed, if you will. Kind of makes sense. The new cars of today, the hybrids and the electrical ones, can be said to much better take this context into account. A hybrid runs on batteries in city environment and city driving; made possible not only because we have to cut down on fossil fuel usage, but because we know what city driving is like and so technicians and engineers take that into account.

It feels like much of the technological advancements we’re making today is about urbanizing technology. Or perhaps better explained; making technology contextually interactive. Giving data based on usage, and taking in data based on context. Urbanized technology is kind of the next step in every technology used. So we haven’t failed before, we just haven’t been there. Technology has been sand-boxed, whereas now it’s acting in an “object oriented programming” type of way. Manipulating other objects, and being manipulated by them.

real-time translation technology and implications

Ray Kurzweil on Translation Technology from Nataly Kelly on Vimeo.

From Singularity Hub

I wonder if we have any idea (well we have some) of the possible implications of this? I mean, the obvious ones are, well, obvious. But what about the role language plays in keeping societies and cultures intact. That is, actually feeling like a specific culture as opposed to all other cultures. In socialization and learning a language amongst other things, you get spoon fed your culture (albeit small spoons). What you say where and to whom and in which situation is different between cultures, so imagine instant translation amongst foreigners. It’s bound to have an effect. Imagine not being able to keep things from foreigners?

It’s like the equivalent of people mistakenly posting a little too much on Facebook and hence to everyone, but in use of language. Instant translation gadgets would effectively force you to mind your every word and not just your every Facebook post. Ubiquitous real-time translation that you might not even be aware of in any given situation. Oops.

the side effects of new technology

modern day knitting

When trying to make sense of new technology and use it the right way for all different purposes, it’s important to look deeper than the visible technology and go for the behavior underneath. Technologies change fairly quickly, but the needs, and however those are met, behaviors, stay. We update our means to our ends.

At the same time, new technologies have brought about new behaviors as well. It didn’t bring about socializing, but it did bring about the swiping of the thumb and tapping of the index finger to socialize. And knitting has been around for a long time, but not knitting with headphones. That’s big in the 21st century.

nerd pride at Manchester’s FutureEverything festival

IMG_0269.jpg

A lot of internet loving and opinions about where it is and where it’s headed at the FutureEverything festival in Manchester. The best presentation I heard was that of Bill Thompson, technology writer for BBC, titled And To Those Left Behind. He said that getting him (if anyone could force him, as not even a vacation can) offline is like “cutting off parts of my mind…”, arguing that with him, it’s a steady and constant stream of consciousness that affected when coming in contact with twitter, Facebook, blogs etc. I can agree with that, but in my opinion, there’s probably a needed presentation titled “To Those Trapped Within”. How many times have you worked with, or seen, people completely controlled by their gadgets?