A Note on Forgotten Favorites

I’ve done a pretty good job of removing things that remind me of my past relationship.  Moments after we broke up, I changed my Facebook status.  A day later, I removed that happy picture of us from a frame.  I did all the things I was supposed to do.  Well, at least I thought I did.

A few weeks ago, I realized he was still listed in my iPhone’s Favorites.  I have never felt more betrayed by a piece of technology.  Phone! How could you do this to me?! Haven’t you realized that we haven’t called each other in weeks? That he’s not texting me every day? He is not my favorite anymore. You can tell me if it’s raining at Stonehenge, but you can’t realize that this person is not my favorite anymore? Sigh.

So today, I finally removed him. I’m not sure what took me so long, but it just felt like it wasn’t doing any harm keeping him there so I just left it there.  But now I know that I need to make room for a new favorite.  Or a few more favorites. 


Fresh Air tech contributor Alexis Madgrigal writes that Pinterest could be a competitor with Google search: 

Pinterest is mostly known as a place people go to find things to buy or make. The company likes to say that Pinterest is about planning your future, but it’s also just about seeing – visually — a bunch of interesting stuff on a theme, all in one place. So there are boards for wedding planning and child rearing and men’s linen suits, but also for kittens and model airplanes and mountains. Some boards are just a mood like “monumental” or “cute” or “adventurous.”

Despite this popularity, Pinterest has never attracted the same kind of press or adulation as the companies that grew up around the same time — businesses like Instagram, Uber or even Dropbox. Pinterest just isn’t seen as a hardcore technology company that will follow the path of Google and Facebook. To some people, it doesn’t feel like a world-shaping product. “It’s just a digital scrapbook,” people say.

But Internet companies are valuable in large part because of the kind of data that they possess. And Pinterest possesses some really, really interesting data. The first part of it is that they are a repository of things that people would like to have or do. They’re a database of intentions. And that has got to be valuable to marketers and advertisers.

But it goes deeper than that. What Pinterest has created — almost unintentionally — is a database of things in the world that matter to human beings. While Google crunches numbers to figure out what’s relevant, Pinterest’s human users define what is relevant for a given topic. And because of that, they could become a legitimate competitor to Google, the world’s most valuable Internet company.

Read the full essay

People like to say that we cannot witness evolution because it occurs over timescales immensely greater than our lifetime. That’s incorrect. We can witness evolution all we want, in our lifetime, by watching other things that change and morph freely – for example the evolution of sports, or the evolution of technology. Evolution in technology is the same as the evolution of a biological species. The ‘organism’ in this case is the human-and-machine species. Machines do not happen by themselves; they are created by humans, because of human needs, and it is humans that add the abilities of their creations to their own in order to improve them – to make their bodies move more easily, or more economically, more safely, or further over the earth. More technology tends towards more and better life. Evolution is about facilitating flow, the movement of one thing over or past another. Flow systems, the designs created by this evolutionary process, change freely over time. As such, evolution is a physical phenomenon, not just a biological one. The changing organisational structures that facilitate greater and better flow are physical objects, whether animate or inanimate.
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Rapper & actor Childish Gambino aka Donald Glover gives his fans the best advice you’ll hear all day: learn to code.

Vision-correcting display makes reading glasses so yesterday

What if computer screens had glasses instead of the people staring at the monitors? That concept is not too far afield from technology being developed by UC Berkeley computer and vision scientists.

The researchers are developing computer algorithms to compensate for an individual’s visual impairment, and creating vision-correcting displays that enable users to see text and images clearly without wearing eyeglasses or contact lenses. The technology could potentially help hundreds of millions of people who currently need corrective lenses to use their smartphones, tablets and computers. One common problem, for example, is presbyopia, a type of farsightedness in which the ability to focus on nearby objects is gradually diminished as the aging eyes’ lenses lose elasticity.

More importantly, the displays could one day aid people with more complex visual problems, known as high order aberrations, which cannot be corrected by eyeglasses, said Brian Barsky, UC Berkeley professor of computer science and vision science, and affiliate professor of optometry.

"We now live in a world where displays are ubiquitous, and being able to interact with displays is taken for granted," said Barsky, who is leading this project. "People with higher order aberrations often have irregularities in the shape of the cornea, and this irregular shape makes it very difficult to have a contact lens that will fit. In some cases, this can be a barrier to holding certain jobs because many workers need to look at a screen as part of their work. This research could transform their lives, and I am passionate about that potential."

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