Monthly Archives: December 2003

Found this comment on sound and interaction design by Hans Samuelson on the Ivrea Hub, which helped me understand in part why my Skype cold-calling experience made me have such a knee-jerk reaction:

“the public nature of sound – it projects and radiates, it is an active expression against which there is little defense. It’s essentially impossible to shut your ears; eyelids are a last line of defense against visual noise, but there is no equivalent for touch, or even sound. The always-on world…”

I think I just got telemarketed over Skype.

Someone I don’t know from Sweden called me and said that he’d made a music track he wanted to play me. I declined as politely as I could and then altered my preferences so that only my buddylist can call me.

As I clicked to confirm I felt a pang of remorse. Maybe this was just a budding musician reaching out across a rich-media-enabled social network to someone he didn’t know to form a connection for a temporary shared enjoyment of some music. It would be ludicrous to think this was some kind of conscious telemarketing effort? What if there is some enterprising Scandinavian marketing services firm clicking down through the public Skype directories calling people up and giving them the sell?

The “media-bleed” from the legacy of phone and telephone marketers coupled with the immersion and intimacy I associated with the acoustic space (computers, desk, chair, speakers, screen) had created a knee-jerk reaction in me.

I felt uncomfortable that I’d felt uncomfortable.

But I didn’t change my preferences back.

Russell Beattie:

“This morning on #mobitopia we were talking about our WiFi day and I said, “I can’t think of anything to write about WiFi.” Then I started thinking and realized that it’s been a “just” a year using the technology and it’s gone from being Cool, New and Amazing, to just Plumbing I use without thinking about it. I’m actually writing this in the living room connected to the router in the bedroom via WiFi. I hadn’t noticed until I started writing this piece.

That in itself is probably the most amazing part of WiFi now. “

I like the title. “From amazing to plumbing” is probably the dream goal for a lot of conscientious experience designers, but a nightmare of commoditisation for any company.

Unless of course they can be confident in the value of great design to create positive lock-in; come up with amazing, delightful plumbing, cf. Apple.

» Russell Beattie: From Amazing to Plumbing: A year of WiFi


I was obsessed with AeroGel back in the summer. A succinct and surprising summary of it in The Guardian today [my emboldening]:

“One of the most beautiful of modern inventions is aerogel. This eerie stuff is a jelly made with air instead of water. A sheet of it can support 4,000 times its own weight. It is one of the great insulators, as well as a great soundproofer. It is uncannily light. It looks like frozen smoke. And pretty much its only use so far is aboard a spacecraft called Stardust, which is preparing to sail through the tail of a comet and catch its dust with a trap made of the stuff. Aerogel sounds like the last word in materials science, but in reality it has been around since 1933.

The article itself is focussed on LED technology, which is cool… but not as cool as AeroGel. For instance, here’s some AeroGel art by April Debra Tsui.


Real-time patterns of wifi usage at Carnegie-Mellon University are plotted on this map.

I’m intrigued by the brave souls who appear to be using their wireless devices outside the shelter of the buildings, as current weather in Pittsburgh doesn’t seem too compatible with alfresco work…

» All Connected WiFi Users::Carnegie Mellon Campus
[found via the still-chugging-along-nicely]

New(-to-me) blog on mind and idea stuff found via Seb’s Open Research, which I gravitated towards purely because of the nostalgia-value of the URL, but stayed for stuff like this:

“Modern preconceptions have it that simply by applying our brains and concentrating hard enough on a problem (e.g. a crossword clue), we should be able to see the solution. This is the “Hare brain” approach.

The book says that there are two types of solution moments. Yes, one is when we sit down and just think hard. But there is another solution moment which comes seemingly out of nowhere, when we’ve been staring out the window, or having a shower, going for a walk. This is the tortoise mind approach. This is a result of a) having done the hare brain thinking in the first place and b) just relaxing your frontal lobes, and letting the rest of your brain “background render” the solution.

» Monkeymagic: December 2003 Archives


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