Category Archives: Inspiration


Staying Human In The Machine Age

In this inter­view with media the­o­rist Dou­glas Rushkoff pro­mot­ing his lat­est book Throw­ing Books At The Google Bus: How Growth Became the Ene­my of Pros­per­i­tyhe notes that shar­ing prof­its with your employ­ees is just good busi­ness.

“This is not bad busi­ness; this is not char­i­ty. This is using the prin­ci­ple of plat­form coop­er­a­tivism to end up with wealth­i­er mar­kets, wealth­i­er employ­ees, wealth­i­er sup­pli­ers. The wealth­i­er the peo­ple are around you, then the wealth­i­er you get to be.” — Dou­glas Rushkoff

This thought­ful inter­view cov­ers a lot of the altru­is­tic ter­ri­to­ry sug­gest­ed by the 99% — except Dou­glas has the his­tor­i­cal mus­cle to back up his claims. Refer­ring to new tech­nolo­gies as a renais­sance of old­er, more repressed approach­es, he pro­vides thought­ful prose and a look towards a more hope­ful future — for us all. Worth a read.


Throwing Rocks At The Google Bus: How Growth Became The Enemy of Prosperity
The Stanley Parable

The Stanley Parable (and more…)

The Stan­ley Para­ble (adapt­ed from the free orig­i­nal Half-Life 2 mod) is an explo­ration of sto­ry, games, and choice. Except the sto­ry doesn’t mat­ter, it might not even be a game, and if you ever actu­al­ly do have a choice, well let me know how you did it.

It was a col­lab­o­ra­tion between Dav­ey and UK design­er William Pugh, work­ing togeth­er as Galac­tic Cafe. The game expand­ed sub­stan­tial­ly upon the mod ver­sion, adding sub­stan­tial amounts of new con­tent, new end­ings, a com­plete over­haul of the visu­al designs, and new voice­work from Kevan Bright­ing.

The game was one of the first to be approved for Steam via the Green­light com­mu­ni­ty fea­ture. It went on to sell over a mil­lion copies, win such awards as the IGF 2014 Audi­ence Choice award, and be fea­tured in schools and muse­ums all over the world.

A free demo and the full ver­sion can be pur­chased here.

The Beginner’s Guide is a nar­ra­tive video game for Mac and PC. It lasts about an hour and a half and has no tra­di­tion­al mechan­ics, no goals or objec­tives. Instead, it tells the sto­ry of a per­son strug­gling to deal with some­thing they do not under­stand. It can be pur­chased here.

Dr. Langeskov, The Tiger And The Ter­ri­bly Cursed Emer­ald: A Whirl­wind Heist is a free-to-play “15 minute heist game” in which you’ll become a mas­ter thief, bur­glar­iz­ing his way across the hottest sum­mer in Europe. It fea­tures voice act­ing by British come­di­an Simon Amstell, for­mer­ly the host of Nev­er Mind the Buz­zcocks, who seems to be hav­ing a bit of a stress­ful time explain­ing exact­ly what it is you’ll be doing on this job.

The GyroGlove from GyroGear

GyroGlove: Solutions can come from any perspective

GyroGlove is a glove designed to sup­press hand tremors caused by Parkinson’s dis­ease. Instead of using drugs to coun­ter­act the effect of the dis­ease, which have a finite lifes­pan and some­times sig­nif­i­cant side effects, Joon Faii Ong (a med­ical stu­dent at Impe­r­i­al Col­lege Lon­don) worked with a team of engi­neers, design­ers and medics to cre­ate a glove that would direct­ly sta­bilise the hands of some­one suf­fer­ing from tremors, by using gyro­scopes.

First nom­i­nat­ed as a final­ist in the AXA PPP Health Tech & You Awards, and now on tar­get to launch at the end of 2016.

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The Genius of Claude Shannon

I’ve always been a fol­low­er of Claude Shan­non and the incred­i­ble work he did regard­ing Com­mu­ni­ca­tion The­o­ry (i.e. signal/noise) while at Bell Labs. He knew enough to refrain from over-expla­na­tions — and in doing so he also invent­ed the broad­er dis­ci­pline of Infor­ma­tion The­o­ry. He coined the term ‘bit’, and was just as influ­en­tial to com­put­ers and infor­ma­tion net­works as Alan Tur­ing. He built the first jug­gling robot.

I just fin­ished read­ing a quite com­pre­hen­sive his­to­ry of this sub­ject — The Infor­ma­tion by James Gle­ick. From Amazon’s descrip­tion: “We live in the infor­ma­tion age. But every era of his­to­ry has had its own infor­ma­tion rev­o­lu­tion: the inven­tion of writ­ing, the com­po­si­tion of dic­tio­nar­ies, the cre­ation of the charts that made nav­i­ga­tion pos­si­ble, the dis­cov­ery of the elec­tron­ic sig­nal, the crack­ing of the genet­ic code. In ‘The Infor­ma­tion’ James Gle­ick tells the sto­ry of how human beings use, trans­mit and keep what they know. From African talk­ing drums to Wikipedia, from Morse code to the ‘bit’, it is a fas­ci­nat­ing account of the mod­ern age’s defin­ing idea and a bril­liant explo­ration of how infor­ma­tion has rev­o­lu­tionised our lives.”

There’s also a great (and great­ly sim­pli­fied) video essay below about his work by the fan­tas­tic Adam West­brook.

April 30th 2016 marks the cen­te­nary of his birth, and there are a num­ber of cel­e­bra­tions mark­ing this event. Many of his sem­i­nal papers (includ­ing the cru­cial A Math­e­mat­i­cal The­o­ry of Infor­ma­tion) are avail­able here.

Admit­ted­ly, his work sounds a lit­tle dry, how­ev­er — along with John von Neu­mann and George Boole — his work ush­ered in the dig­i­tal rev­o­lu­tion as we know it today, and will con­tin­ue to influ­ence how we think about com­put­ers well into the future.

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Freevolt™ — making electricity from thin air

Lord Drayson recent­ly unveiled Free­Volt, a rev­o­lu­tion­ary new tech­nol­o­gy that har­vests elec­tric­i­ty from air gen­er­at­ed by mobile phone and TV trans­mit­ters. If this new inno­va­tion takes off, it will pow­er sen­sors and con­nect­ed devices in smart homes and cities across the world. This could spell the end for bat­ter­ies and cum­ber­some charg­ers.

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Keeping streets clean: vote with your butt

We all want clean and safe spaces around us. Pub­lic polling dis­cov­ered that a stag­ger­ing 86% of peo­ple think lit­ter­ing is a dis­gust­ing habit yet only 15% of us would actu­al­ly con­front some­one and tell them that. Tak­ing pride in the areas we live and work in helps to build bet­ter com­mu­ni­ties, and saves mon­ey.

This is why from May to Octo­ber, UK crowd­fund­ing net­work Hub­bub tri­alled a new approach to tack­ling lit­ter­ing on Vil­liers Street, West­min­ster, using the lat­est think­ing on behav­iour change and aware­ness rais­ing from around the world.

Hubbub’s 5 point lit­ter man­i­festo:

We think that every­one can work togeth­er to make local spaces clean­er, safer and more invit­ing. Let’s all put lit­ter in its place:

  • Gov­ern­ment: Don’t loi­ter on lit­ter. Cre­ate a strat­e­gy that has teeth.  Show lead­er­ship by pro­vid­ing or stim­u­lat­ing fund­ing.  Engage with the sig­na­to­ries of the Lit­ter Pre­ven­tion Com­mit­ment and oth­er impor­tant stake­hold­ers to cre­ate a robust plan win­ning wide­spread sup­port.
  • Busi­ness­es, NGO’s and Local Author­i­ties: Act with a uni­fied voice to raise lit­ter up the agen­da with gov­ern­ment and the pub­lic. Share bright ideas and sup­port inno­v­a­tive, col­lab­o­ra­tive behav­iour change schemes nation­wide.
  • Local Organ­i­sa­tions: Work to cre­ate new coali­tions, tak­ing local action on lit­ter. Busi­ness Improve­ment Dis­tricts take a lead­er­ship role and share results so that suc­cess­es can be repli­cat­ed else­where.
  • Media! You have a role too. Help bring this issue seri­ous­ly back into pub­lic debate. Cap­ture the imag­i­na­tion of the pub­lic, pro­mot­ing pride in local areas.
  • Every­one: Lit­ter is in your hands, and will only change if we change our behav­iours. Let’s wise up and bin it. Tak­ing pride in our neigh­bour­hoods will save mon­ey and help build bet­ter com­mu­ni­ties.

Inspired to run your own cam­paign? Click here for more infor­ma­tion on repli­cat­ing Neat Streets.

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Giorgia Lupi @ Accurat

Gior­gia Lupi is an infor­ma­tion design­er in Brook­lyn, New York. Her work and research chal­lenges the imper­son­al­i­ty that data might com­mu­ni­cate, design­ing engag­ing visu­al nar­ra­tives able to con­nect num­bers to what they stand for: knowl­edge, behav­iors, peo­ple. She is co-founder and design direc­tor at Accu­rat, a data dri­ven research-design and inno­va­tion firm. She has been draw­ing week­ly data as 1/2 of Dear Data from New York.


Optical Data Storage Squeezes 360TB on to a Quartz Disc — Forever

Researchers at Southamp­ton Uni­ver­si­ty in the UK have now writ­ten a series of major works to small glass discs— includ­ing the Uni­ver­sal Dec­la­ra­tion of Human Rights, Newton’s Opticks, the Magna Car­ta and the Kings James Bible. The den­si­ty of the data aboard these discs sug­gests that they could squeeze a total of 360 ter­abytes onto a sin­gle piece of quartz. They also point out that the data is extreme­ly sta­ble: It could endure for as long as 13.8 bil­lion years at tem­per­a­tures up to 350 degrees Fahren­heit.


Overpass Light Brigade

In Wis­con­sin the gov­ern­ment is try­ing to pri­va­tise water — there are many prob­lems with this.

The Over­pass Light Brigade was forged in the activist cli­mate of the Wis­con­sin Upris­ing. Our mes­sages shine at night over high­ways and oth­er pub­lic spaces. We believe in the pow­er of com­mu­ni­ties com­ing togeth­er in phys­i­cal space, as well as the impor­tance of vis­i­bil­i­ty for grass­roots and pro­gres­sive caus­es. We are a loose and inclu­sive affil­i­a­tion of peo­ple ded­i­cat­ed to the pow­er of peace­ful protest and art­ful activism.

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Have We Been Interpreting Quantum Mechanics Wrong This Whole Time?

Par­ti­cles at the quan­tum scale seem to do things that human-scale objects do not do. They can tun­nel through bar­ri­ers, spon­ta­neous­ly arise or anni­hi­late, and occu­py dis­crete ener­gy lev­els. This new body of research reveals that oil droplets, when guid­ed by pilot waves, also exhib­it these quan­tum-like fea­tures.

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Design principles for reducing cognitive load


Every time you vis­it a web­site, a process of learn­ing is ini­ti­at­ed in the brain. Whether it’s the nav­i­ga­tion, lay­out, or that auto-rotat­ing image slid­er on the home­page, your brain has to learn how to use the site while keep­ing track of the rea­son you came there in the first place. The men­tal effort required dur­ing this time is called cog­ni­tive load.

via the remark­able

Brandalism: 600 ad takeovers in Paris before the COP21 Climate Conference

Chal­leng­ing the cor­po­rate takeover of the Paris cli­mate talks. Two days before the launch of the UN COP21 Cli­mate Con­fer­ence, 600 posters were installed by the Bran­dal­ism project in out­door media spaces across Paris. 82 Artists from 19 dif­fer­ent coun­tries made art­works to chal­lenge the cor­po­rate takeover of COP21 and to reveal the con­nec­tions between adver­tis­ing, the pro­mo­tion of con­sumerism and cli­mate change. The artists includ­ed Neta Harari, Jim­my Cau­ty, Banksy-col­lab­o­ra­tor Paul Insect, Escif and Ken­nard Phillips – many of whom fea­tured at Banksy’s Dis­ma­land exhi­bi­tion in Eng­land this sum­mer.

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Pi Zero computer so cheap it comes free with magazine


The Pi Zero is a ful­ly fledged com­put­er which mea­sures just 6.5cm by 3cm. Made in Wales, it sells for just £4 in the UK and $5 in the US. Rasp­ber­ry Pi is also giv­ing the device away for free with the pur­chase of its £5.99 month­ly mag­a­zine, The Mag­Pi.

How­ev­er, it’s not the only kid on the block. The C.H.I.P. (from Next Thing Co.) launched ear­li­er this year has a sim­i­lar form fac­tor and sim­i­lar price. Here’s a blow-by-blow com­par­i­son — but it’s dif­fer­ent strokes for dif­fer­ent folks.

Either way, these sub £10 com­put­ers will dis­rupt many exist­ing busi­ness mod­els (and cre­ate a few new ones, as well).


Smart products, smart makers


The inter­net of things will strength­en man­u­fac­tur­ers’ hands in the bat­tle for cus­tomer loy­al­ty. A com­mod­i­ty ought to be “a very triv­ial thing”, Karl Marx argued in Cap­i­tal, and “eas­i­ly under­stood”. But in fact it is the oppo­site: “a very queer thing, abound­ing in meta­phys­i­cal sub­tleties and the­o­log­i­cal niceties.”


Light Painting Enters The 21st Century

The Air Pen­cil from Adtile lets any­one cap­ture freeform move­ment in space using their mobile device. Air Pen­cil taps into a smartphone’s native micro-elec­tro-mechan­i­cal sys­tems (MEMS) — name­ly the three-axis mag­ne­tome­ter, three-axis accelerom­e­ter and three-axis gyro­scope. It then calls on sophis­ti­cat­ed Adtile-designed algo­rithms to reli­ably infer the pre­cise move­ments of the user based on sen­sor data.


A 3D Fractal Artist Is Building an ‘Interstellar’ Inspired VR World

Film­mak­er Julius Horsthuis, the fre­quent explor­er of frac­tal­ized cav­erns and end­less alien plan­ets, has begun a line of com­put­er-gen­er­at­ed exper­i­ments that could let us explore our own Inter­stel­lar-like mul­ti­di­men­sion­al real­i­ties. His impres­sive series of sweep­ing frac­tal vis­tas, begin­ning with Geiger’s Night­mare near­ly a year ago, has giv­en him a wealth of knowl­edge about mak­ing gor­geous frac­tals. Now, he has chan­neled that expe­ri­ence into build­ing Hall­way 360VR, the first in a line of 360-degree vir­tu­al real­i­ty ani­ma­tions.