Technology

Hit the Brakes on Killing People & Animals

Curated by CLAI

½ WORLD’S ANIMALS DEAD: We’ve killed roughly half of the world’s non-human vertebrate animal population since 1970. Tropical areas saw greater declines, while temperate regions – like North America – saw lesser drops. Habitat-wise, land and saltwater species saw declines of roughly 39 percent. But freshwater animals – frogs, fish, salamanders and the like – saw a considerably sharper 76 percent drop. Habitat fragmentation and pollution (think algae blooms) were the main killers of freshwater species.

Decrease of vertebrate species populations since 1970 (World Wildlife Fund/WAPO)

Decrease of vertebrate species populations since 1970 (World Wildlife Fund/WAPO)

NO TEXTING AND DRIVING APP: Katasi, installed under a car, stops all incoming and outgoing text from those in the driver’s seat.

  • The telematics box sends a wireless message that the car is moving. The phone sends its own message about its location. Both sets of information — from the car and phone — are sent to Katasi’s servers.
  • Then, an algorithm weighs the incoming data with other information, like the location of the phones belonging to all the people who drive the car and the starting point of the trip; if the trip starts at Junior’s high school, and mom and dad’s phones are at work, the driver has been identified — Junior is driving.
  • So what happens when husband and wife share a car and Katasi’s servers say that both are in the car at the same time with their phones? Which one is driving? At that point, Katasi generally doesn’t block the messages on the assumption that the passenger will prevent the driver from texting. The system is capable of blocking calls, email and other data, but initially the plan was to block texts.

 

Humblebrag: Faking Your Vacation

Curated by CLAI

Projecting an enhanced reality is nothing new. Paintings flatter their subjects like Napoleon Crossing the Alps did, presenting a better and rosier version of reality. Now, we just can do it faster and better on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. While I don’t like to admit it, I, myself, am guilty of humblebragging. “Finished my master’s application on Waikiki!” Woohoo, look at how efficient I am when tanning on the beach! I crave that pat on the back that I did a good job – external support and approval. Nonetheless, it’s what makes us human.

Projecting a believable alternate is something new. The ability to use technology to manipulate what you see, so that everyone believes you are in one place while you are not. Check out the “Faking Your Vacation” story below.

HUMBLEBRAG:  Outright bragging expects to be met with awe, but humblebragging wants to meet with awe and sympathy. It asks for two reactions from its audience, and in so doing makes fools of its beholders twice over. There’s nothing new about false modesty, nor its designation as a form of bad manners. But the prevalence of social media has given us many more canvases on which to paint our faux humility — making us, in turn, increasingly sophisticated braggers.

  • “My emails send so slowly over here in Cannes! So frustrated!”
  • “Why do men hit on me more when I’m in sweat pants?”
  • “Mother of God. Tornado coming. Hide in my wine cellar or my theatre? Or my gym.”
  • “Totally walked down the wrong escalator at the airport from the flashes of the cameras… Go me.”
Faking your vacation to Phuket using your local pool and Photoshop

Faking your vacation to Phuket using your local pool and Photoshop (Zilla van der Born, NYTIMES)

 FAKING YOUR VACATION: We create an online world which reality can no longer meet. We filter and manipulate what we show on social media to distort reality.

  • She spent 5 weeks traveling through Southeast Asia and documented the trip in photos on Facebook. She posed for pictures while dining on dumplings, snorkeling among colorful fish in azure waters and visiting ornately decorated Buddhist temples.
  • In reality, she never left her home city, Amsterdam. Each photograph was expertly contrived through photoshopping local temples, restaurants, and a pool.

Geeks Win! CDs Still Reign in Japan

Curated by CLAI

What’s out may stay be in and what was out is now in. It sounds like fashion, but today we are talking about CDs and geeks.

The CD is still popular! In Japan. Maybe I’m nostalgic, but in such an intangible world of SnapChats and Vines, I love flipping through a book or admiring a CD cover (because someone actual put thought behind creating the art). It’s real and touchable. Though let’s see how long the CD will last compared to the cassette tape.

And geek culture is now in??? Movies like 21 Jump Street where Channing Tatum doesn’t get the girl and 17-year old millionaires who built and sold apps have made being smart and intelligent something to aspire to. Will magazines now start focusing on brains instead of brawn? Probably not. Sex sells.

GEEK CULTURE MAINSTREAM: Never before has the boundary between geek culture and mainstream culture been so porous. Becoming mainstream is the wrong word; the mainstream is catching up. Growing up, pre-Internet, possession of knowledge was such an identifier. That is no longer true; the Internet flattens things out. From gadgets to social networks to video games, the decision not to embrace the newest technology is a choice to be out of the mainstream.

  • With millions watching via computer, Tim Cook, the Apple chief executive, who has an industrial engineering degree, unveiled three versions of the watch, hoping to broaden the appeal of a fashion accessory traditionally worn by the calculus crowd.
  • With millions watching via computer, Tim Cook, the Apple chief executive, who has an industrial engineering degree, unveiled three versions of the watch, hoping to broaden the appeal of a fashion accessory traditionally worn by the calculus crowd.
Don't That Geek

Don’t That Geek

CDs STILL ALIVE IN JAPAN: Japan may be one of the world’s perennial early adopters of new technologies, but its continuing attachment to the CD puts it sharply at odds with the rest of the global music industry.

  • While CD sales are falling worldwide, including in Japan, they still account for about 85% of sales here, compared with as little as 20% in some countries, like Sweden, where online streaming is dominant.
  • Japanese consumers’ love for collectible goods. Greatest hits albums do particularly well in Japan, because of the elaborate, artist-focused packaging.

Bye Bye iPod. Bye Bye Cereal.

Curated by CLAI

1,000 SONGS IN YOUR POCKET: $400 was more than my car payment, but I didn’t care. This iPod — whatever that meant — was beautiful, and I wanted it bad. It promised the never-ending mix tape, the opportunity to program a radio station that served a market of one: Fountains of Wayne to Janet Jackson to Nirvana to Alan Jackson to the Pretenders? No problem.

Breakfast (Catherine A Cole, NYTimes)

SNACK CRACKLE POP: Cereal, that bedrock of the American breakfast, has lost some of its snap, crackle and pop. For the last decade, the cereal business has been declining, as consumers reach for granola bars, yogurt and drive-through fare in the morning.

  • The drop-off has accelerated lately, especially among those finicky millennials who tend to graze on healthy options.
  • Birthrate is declining — and children traditionally have been the largest consumers of cereal.
  • Many surveys have shown that Latinos and Asians prefer other breakfast foods.
  • General Mills is marketing its iconic cereals as family brands in an appeal to nostalgia: Adults account for almost half of the consumption of Cinnamon Toast Crunch.

Extravagant Happiness, Emails on Holiday Mode

Curated by CLAI

EXTRAVAGANT V. ORDINARY HAPPINESS: Extraordinary experiences bring great joy throughout life. No surprise there. But the older people got, the more happiness ordinary experiences delivered. In fact, the happiness-making potential of everyday pursuits eventually grows equal to that of ones that are rarer.

Extraordinary v. ordinary happiness

Extraordinary v. ordinary happiness (Robert Neubecker, NYTIMES)

EMAILS ON HOLIDAY MODE: At Daimler, the German automaker, employees can set their corporate email to “holiday mode” when they are on vacation.  Anyone who emails them gets an auto-reply saying the employee isn’t in, and offering contact details for an alternate, on-call staff person. Then poof, the incoming email is deleted — so that employees don’t have to return to inboxes engorged with digital missives in their absence.

  • Volkswagen and Deutsche Telekom have adopted policies that limit work-related email to some employees on evenings and weekends. If this can happen in precision-mad, high-productivity Germany, could it happen in the United States?
  • White-collar cubicle dwellers spend 28% of their workweek slogging through email. They check their messages 74 times a day, on average. 38% check work email “routinely” at dinner peeking at the phone under the table