I endorse this statement.
These pictures really capture the vibe of this year’s lovely UX London event.
A good looking artifact too early in the process gains buy-in too quickly and kills discovery.
No matter what a specific technology does — convert the world’s energy into gambling tokens, encourage people to live inside a helmet, replace living cognition with a statistical analysis of past language use, etc., etc. — all of them are treated mainly as instances of the “creative destruction” necessary for perpetuating capitalism.
Meet the new hype, same as the old hype:
Recent technological pitches — crypto, the “metaverse,” and generative AI — seem harder to defend as inevitable universal improvements of anything at all. It is all too easy to see them as gratuitous innovations whose imagined use cases seem far-fetched at best and otherwise detrimental to all but the select few likely to profit from imposing them on society. They make it starkly clear that the main purpose of technology developed under capitalism is to secure profit and sustain an unjust economic system and social hierarchies, not to advance human flourishing.
Consequently, the ideological defense of technology becomes a bit more desperate.
Once a privately owned, centralized platform closes its public APIs, the platform will invariably lose any usablity except for people who publicly or privately admire Hitler.
I wish more publishers and services took this approach to evaluating technology:
We scrutinize third-party services before including them in our articles or elsewhere on our site. Many include trackers or analytics that would collect data on our readers. These may be standard across much of the web, but we don’t use them.
Some great ideas for view transitionts in here! Also:
If you look at any of the examples on a browser that does not support them, the pages still function just fine. The transitions are an extra that’s layered on top if and when your browser supports them. Another concrete example of progressive enhancement in practice.
Considering the average website is less than ten years old, that old warning from your parents that says to “be careful what you post online because it’ll be there forever” is like the story your dad told you about chocolate milk coming from brown cows, a well-meant farce. On the contrary, librarians and archivists have implored us for years to be wary of the impermanence of digital media; when a website, especially one that invites mass participation, goes offline or executes a huge dump of its data and resources, it’s as if a smallish Library of Alexandria has been burned to the ground. Except unlike the burning of such a library, when a website folds, the ensuing commentary from tech blogs asks only why the company folded, or why a startup wasn’t profitable. Ignored is the scope and species of the lost material, or what it might have meant to the scant few who are left to salvage the digital wreck.
Better Living Through Algorithms by Naomi Kritzer : Clarkesworld Magazine – Science Fiction & Fantasy
This short story feels like a prequel to Maneki Neko.
Even without specialized syntax, you can do a lot of what the usual frontend framework does—with similar conciseness—just by using
In some ways, the fervor around AI is reminiscent of blockchain hype, which has steadily cooled since its 2021 peak. In almost all cases, blockchain technology serves no purpose but to make software slower, more difficult to fix, and a bigger target for scammers. AI isn’t nearly as frivolous—it has several novel use cases—but many are rightly wary of the resemblance. And there are concerns to be had; AI bears the deceptive appearance of a free lunch and, predictably, has non-obvious downsides that some founders and VCs will insist on learning the hard way.
This is a good level-headed overview of how generative language model tools work.
If something can be reduced to patterns, however elaborate they may be, AI can probably mimic it. That’s what AI does. That’s the whole story.
There’s very practical advice on deciding where and when these tools make sense:
The sweet spot for AI is a context where its choices are limited, transparent, and safe. We should be giving it an API, not an output box.
Bosses have certain goals, but don’t want to be blamed for doing what’s necessary to achieve those goals; by hiring consultants, management can say that they were just following independent, expert advice. Even in its current rudimentary form, A.I. has become a way for a company to evade responsibility by saying that it’s just doing what “the algorithm” says, even though it was the company that commissioned the algorithm in the first place.
I’m not very convinced by claims that A.I. poses a danger to humanity because it might develop goals of its own and prevent us from turning it off. However, I do think that A.I. is dangerous inasmuch as it increases the power of capitalism. The doomsday scenario is not a manufacturing A.I. transforming the entire planet into paper clips, as one famous thought experiment has imagined. It’s A.I.-supercharged corporations destroying the environment and the working class in their pursuit of shareholder value. Capitalism is the machine that will do whatever it takes to prevent us from turning it off, and the most successful weapon in its arsenal has been its campaign to prevent us from considering any alternatives.
This anthology of Steve Jobs interviews, announcements and emails is available to read for free as a nicely typeset web book.
I not only worry that “cli-fi” might not be an effective form of environmental expression – I have come to believe that the genre might be actively dangerous, stunting our cultural ability to imagine a future worth living in or fighting for.
In design, both in the digital and physical worlds, color should never be the sole indicator of meaning. A simple test: if your work was converted to grayscale, would it still be usable?
Andy describes life online with deuteranopia and dispenses some practical advice for designers:
If there’s any uncertainty, adding labels, icons, or textures to each meaningful color of your design will make it accessible to many more people, regardless of their ability to perceive color.
A lovely bit of real-time data visualisation from Robin:
It’s a personal project created at home in Wales with an aim to explore and visualise renewable energy systems. Specifically, it aims to visualise live generation from renewable energy systems around Great Britain and to show where that generation is physically coming from.
How browser fingerprinting works and what you can do about it (if you use Firefox).
Oliver asked me some questions about my upcoming talk at Pixel Pioneers in Bristol in June. Here are my answers.