Ten Stories We Have Enjoyed This Week

29th April 2017

The first blockchain book? This bizarre digital book requires you destroy it before sharing. What sets A Universe Explodes apart is how you access it. “We wanted to see if we could make a limited edition digital book,” says Anna Gerber, co-founder. ‘This idea stands at odds with how the internet usually works. Most content on the web is open to whoever wants to access it. If it’s not, then it’s usually locked down, accessible by password only. A Universe Explodes sits somewhere between these two. Anyone can read the book, but only a select number can own it.

Perhaps a little ironically, some tech giants are looking to make recommendations for our reading list. Facebook , which has long been accused of exacerbating the effect of the filter bubble, (and despite the fact that Zuck has said that it doesn’t exist) is now seeking to reverse this effect.  ‘Facebook will start adding “related” articles from different publications underneath a news post about a trending topic in your News Feed.Facebook says the goal of the update is to help “support an informed community,” which is another way of saying it wants to offer users alternative news sources.‘ Sounds like just a bigger or different shaped ‘bubble’, but we shall see.

A lot of bad press regarding the Gig Economy this week. From @NYT : ”The promises Silicon Valley makes about the gig economy can sound appealing. Its digital technology lets workers become entrepreneurs, we are told, freed from the drudgery of 9-to-5 jobs. In reality, there is no utopia at companies like Uber, Lyft, Instacart and Handy, whose workers are often manipulated into working long hours for low wages while continually chasing the next ride or task.’

Although not a new idea, this is a nice summarisation of how older generations, often through their use of technology, are now staying younger and staying more similar to younger generations, than ever before. Increasingly the days of targeting media and products at people based on their age is over. Meet the Perennials.

Brilliant (and slightly unnerving) from @wired  – ‘Forget drones, deliveries could soon be made by robotic ‘dogs’. Boston Dynamics’ robotic dog has been put to work delivering packages to people’s homes.’The Google-owned firm is well known for its lifelike (read: terrifying) robots, including Spot the four-legged canine-like machine, on display at the TED2017 conference.’

Although the above represents incredibly impressive automation, there is one area of human endeavour that robots are struggling with. In the area of shoe production, they are unable to tie shoe laces. 

Looks pretty busy up there?  A new plane tracking app shows the air traffic that is moving above our heads.

As the NFL Draft kicks off in Philadelphia, an interesting piece on the NFL’s racial divide. ‘According to the annual racial and gender report, the NFL is almost 70 percent black, and only 12.5 percent of running backs are white; while the inverse is true for the special teams positions of kicker and punter, where 97.8 percent of players are white.’

Since the days of Knight Rider, the Hoff has always been in tune with technology. Scroll forward 35 years and in this bizarre short film It’s No Game, we meet the Hoffbot, whose lines are entirely written by an algorithm.

Quite some play. A Blue Jays baseball player scores with anacrobatic flying dive over the catcher. And finally, The Simpsons celebrate Donald Trump’s first hundred days in office. ‘We’re 6.8% of the way home’.