- [from julienorvaisas] Invasion of the body hackers [FT.com / FT Magazine] – [Opportunities for data visualization abound! I find these trends simultaneously compelling and terrifying.] Over the last weekend of May, in the heart of Silicon Valley, 400 “Quantified-Selfers” from around the globe have gathered to show off their Excel sheets, databases and gadgets. Participants are mostly middle to upper class, mostly white. Europe is well represented. There are plenty of nerdy young men, nerdy older men and extremely fit men and women with defined muscles and glowing skin. There is also a robust contingent of young urban hipsters in military boots, hoodies and elaborate tattoos. A quiet middle-aged man walks around with a pulse monitor clipped to his earlobe, a blood pressure cuff on his arm and a heart rate monitor strapped around his chest, all feeding a stream of data to his walkie-talkie-like computer. Someone from the UK unrolls a 12ft line graph charting the fluctuations in his mood over the previous year.
- [from steve_portigal] Taking Web Humor Seriously, Sort Of [NYTimes.com] – [Another great Rob Walker piece deftly unpacks Internet culture] The more traditional pundits and gurus who talk about the Internet often seem to want to draw strict boundaries between old mass-media culture and the more egalitarian forms taking shape online and between Internet life and life in the physical world. Sometimes the pointless-seeming jokes that spring from the Web seem to be calling a bluff and showing a truth: This is what egalitarian cultural production really looks like, this is what having unbounded spaces really entails, this is what anybody-can-be-famous means, this is what’s burbling in the hive mind’s id. But the real point is that to pretend otherwise isn’t denying the Internet it’s denying reality. Trickster expression, intentional or otherwise, doesn’t propose a solution but jolts you to confront some question that you might prefer to have avoided. Like what, exactly, am I laughing at?
- [from steve_portigal] Microsoft’s proprietary BlueTrack™ Technology works on more surfaces than both optical and laser mice – [Technology solves problems we didn't know we had, like, mousing on carpet! Thanks, Microsoft!] Now track more accurately on: Granite, Carpet, Wood.
- FedEx Launches SenseAware, a device/service with GPS (and other) sensors – While FedEx does a poor job of describing in the blog post (watch the video instead), this is a brilliant addition to their existing offering: a sensor that customers (initially ultra-high-end shippers like organs – the body part kind) drop into their package to provide status data (including location, temperature, light, etc.) online via the cell network. If their current tracking data isn't sufficient, here's a premium version (at premium prices: $120/month). Mostly, though, I love the expansion of the FedEx offering in a consistent but novel way.
- Paul Graham on the "social norm" problem with the Segway – This is a point I made in my interactions column "Some Different Approaches To Making Stuff" – Kamen is the genius who got it wrong, because he focused only on technology and not on culture and behavior.
"The Segway hasn't delivered on its initial promise, to put it mildly. There are several reasons why, but one is that people don't want to be seen riding them. Someone riding a Segway looks like a dork.
My friend Trevor Blackwell built his own Segway, which we called the Segwell. He also built a one-wheeled version, the Eunicycle, which looks exactly like a regular unicycle till you realize the rider isn't pedaling. He has ridden them both to downtown Mountain View to get coffee. When he rides the Eunicycle, people smile at him. But when he rides the Segwell, they shout abuse from their cars: "Too lazy to walk, ya fuckin homo?"
Why do Segways provoke this reaction? The reason you look like a dork riding a Segway is that you look smug. You don't seem to be working hard enough."
- Like Nike+ for happiness, iPhone app is data collection for PhD thesis – "At repeated periods throughout the day you'll be pinged by your iPhone either by email or by SMS, and prompted to answer a short one-minute survey. This one asks how happy you are, what you're doing (yes, "making love" is an option, though hopefully it's an activity you'd prioritize over doing some science) whether you exercised recently, whether you're alone, who you're talking to and what you're thinking about." Essentially a "beeper study" but somehow a more viral story ("iPhone"!) than normal.
- 'True Blood' Beverage – "Inspired by HBO's hugely successful vampire drama series, True Blood, Omni Consumer Products struck a deal with the network's licensing division to releasing 'Tru Blood' the actual beverage..a drinkable product inspired by a beverage meant to taste like blood so that fake vampires from a pay-cable TV show can survive without having to resort to feasting on humans."
BusinessWeek describes a curious design research initiative. A UK home builder has a family living in a sensor-filled concept house, where the people are all RFID-tagged. They’ll collect usage data for six months and then use the resulting who/where/when/how-long data to improve the home’s design. Just like using weblogs to redesign a website – you know what people have been doing, but you have no idea why. Unless you ask. And the families in this project will be extensively interviewed by a “consumer researcher” so we figure they’ll get that piece of the puzzle too.