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Yule Heibel

Yule Heibel's Public Library

01 Apr 14

"That the financial value of your personal data is unstable, fluctuating based on your location, health and social status, means the spirit of speculation will not just invade our everyday life but will also make self-surveillance of our “data portfolios” highly appealing. We will resemble the confused analysts of the US National Security Agency: unsure of the future value of the data we generate, we will opt to store them for posterity. And, unsure of how to maximise that value, we will keep adding data streams in the vain hope that the value of our data portfolio (the sum total of our life) will rise.

The hope that such precarious data entrepreneurship can mitigate the problems of automation or ease our growing reliance on debt is the utopian conceit of the digital elites. Just because the World Economic Forum argues that personal data are emerging as a new asset class, that does not make it a natural or irreversible development. Nor is this development driven solely by technological innovation: like financialisation, mediatisation is primarily a failure of regulation."

12 Feb 14

Must-watch.
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David Simon, creator of the TV series ‘The Wire,’ talks with Bill about America’s capitalism crisis. It’s a reality check from a journalist who uses TV drama to report on America from the bottom up. "The horror show is we are going to be slaves to profit. Some of us are going to be higher on the pyramid and we'll count ourselves lucky and many more will be marginalized and destroyed."
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12 Feb 14

Ugh. And also: If my data is so valuable (and it is!), why should I get paid a measly $8 per month for it? Hmm?
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But Hogan claims that what Datacoup collects can be especially useful to advertisers because few data providers can combine traces of a person’s online activity with a record of their spending activity. “Both of those are valuable; when you layer one on the other you unlock more value, and there’s no way to do that other than from the user themselves,” he says. Validation for this idea—and competition for Datacoup—comes from Twitter and Facebook, which work with data broker Datalogix to link people’s social media activity and the things they buy (see “Facebook Starts Sharing What It Knows About You”).
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12 Feb 14

Good stuff.
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“In 1981,” explains Giordano, “LEGOs were ‘Universal Building Sets’ and that’s exactly what they were…for boys and girls. Toys are supposed to foster creativity. But nowadays, it seems that a lot more toys already have messages built into them before a child even opens the pink or blue package. In 1981, LEGOs were simple and gender-neutral, and the creativity of the child produced the message. In 2014, it’s the reverse: the toy delivers a message to the child, and this message is weirdly about gender.” (...)
“Because gender segmenting toys interferes with a child’s own creative expression. I know that how I played as a girl shaped who I am today. It contributed to me becoming a physician and inspired me to want to help others achieve health and wellness. I co-own two medical centers in Seattle. Doctor kits used to be for all children, but now they are on the boys’ aisle. I simply believe that they should be marketed to all children again, and the same with LEGOs and other toys.”
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10 Feb 14

This is great: curb extensions or neckdowns are ways to make streets safer for pedestrians. With the many snowfalls we've had this winter, it's possible to document how plowed snow creates neckdowns, called sneckdowns (and documented via hashtag on Twitter), proving that streets don't need to be as wide as they all too often are.
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Way back in 2006, New York–based Clarence Eckerson of Streetfilms shot a video showing how heavy snowfall creates natural neckdowns, as plows push snow to the curb and cars take only the space that they need — leaving the untouched snow to mark the space that maybe isn’t all necessary for cars. He expanded on the concept in another film in 2011. Then, this winter, thanks to frequent heavy snowfalls across most of the country, Eckerson and a few like-minded people started talking about the concept again. They decided that they needed a catchy name for the snowy neckdowns in order to help spread the concept on social media. Soon enough, a hashtag was born.
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10 Feb 14

Our relationship to the present does seem altered by the omni-availability of the past...
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This omnipresence of the past has weird effects on contemporary culture. Take any genre of music, from death metal to R&B to chillwave, and the cloud directs you not just to similar artists in the present but to deep wells of influence from the past. Yes, people still like new things. But the past gets as much preference as the present—Mozart, for example, has more than 100,000 followers on Spotify. In a history glut, the idea of fashionability in music erodes, because new songs sit on the same shelf as songs recorded five, 25, and 55 years ago, all of them waiting to be discovered. In this eternal present, everything can be made contemporary.
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09 Feb 14

Zoning.
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As mechanization of transit made it ever cheaper, safer, and cleaner, reformers and idealists seeking to overcome the "congestion evil" pushed for lower residential densities and deliberate suburbanization for more than a century. In 1909, at the First National Conference on City Planning and the Problems of Congestion, speaker after speaker advocated the introduction of zoning ordinances and the extension of transit routes to outlying areas, hoping to lower urban densities by enabling people to travel longer distances to work.
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09 Feb 14

This is reason #9, and it seems the most compelling.
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Zoning laws. There are many differences between land-use planning systems in the United States and Europe. Europeans tend to allow a greater mix of uses in their residential zones, thus keeping trip distances shorter. For example, in Germany, a residential zone can include doctors' offices, cafes, corner stores, or apartment buildings. By contrast, single family residential zones in the United States typically forbid those uses. Zoning in Germany also occurs for smaller land areas—almost at the block level—facilitating shorter trips than in U.S. cities, where zones tend to be much larger. And while most U.S. zoning codes still require a minimum number of parking spots, many European countries operate with maximum numbers to limit parking.
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03 Feb 14

Fascinating (and not too surprising).
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Apparently there is something about typing that leads to mindless processing. And there is something about ink and paper that prompts students to go beyond merely hearing and recording new information -- and instead to process and reframe information in their own words, with or without the aid of asterisks and checks and arrows.
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03 Feb 14

"Structured" parking as an alternative to the awful parking lot? Good idea. Not so sure about the "horizontal skyscraper" idea, aka the "fatscraper"...
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Building structured parking is thus seen as an intermediary step in that process. In the ParkingPLUS Design Challenge, architectural firms were asked to be creative in their designs, to conjure places that would not simply store the cars, but open up new possibilities for public use of the space. Roger Sherman Architecture + Urban Design envisioned a "horizontal skyscraper" relating to Main Street in Ronkonkoma; dub Studios submitted a shared parking scheme in Patchogue; LTL Architects rendered a parking garage with a landscaped terraced rooftop cascading towards the rail line in Westbury.
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29 Jan 14

Wow... Interesting implications also (aside from data/ algorithms) for online v. "irl" shopping/ consumption/ commerce.
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...would it be worth it for businesses to subsidize the trips of individual customers? That's exactly what Google has invented, an algorithm that determines "the cost of transportation and the potential profit from a completed transaction using a number of real-time calculations." According to the patent, it would determine that using information like the customer's location, the customer's route to the store and most likely form of transportation needed to get there, and the price competitors are willing to pay to get customers in their stores.
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29 Jan 14

Well, debates about gentrification aside, it's clear that SF certainly did NOT build enough housing to accommodate the influx of new residents. (Note: in the article, the paragraph below is studded with links to sources.)
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Gentrification, the term of art for an influx of new residents into an urban neighborhood that typically drives up rents, is controversial in many wealthy cities. It’s often blamed for driving out poorer residents. But when researchers try to prove it, facts are hard to find. Any number of outlets have reported on studies by Columbia University’s Lance Freeman and researchers at the University of Colorado and Duke University who find that gentrification doesn’t drive out a rising neighborhood’s former residents. It even stands to benefit them financially.
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27 Jan 14

Excellent piece from Morozov.
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...as everything becomes interconnected – with tiny sensors and modems – “the Internet” will literally be everywhere. But if one accepts the thesis that the “Internet” is just a never-ending exercise in purification, whereby domains that were previously contentious and political are converted into uncontroversial technological domains that are supposed to behave in accordance with the out-of-control logic of the “Internet”-- it’s not so hard to see what awaits us: the end of politics altogether, as the only remaining reason for regulating this newly “interconnected world” would be to promote “innovation” (a nice euphemism for the business interests of Silicon Valley) rather than an ambitious social and political agenda. When “the Internet” is everywhere, politics is nowhere.
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...the only way to promote alternative uses of ebooks or search engines or social networks in ways that would not depend too heavily on the seemingly free services offered by Silicon Valley is by developing a new industrial policy that would inject billions of dollars into public information infrastructure. And we don't want that infrastructure to be managed by the same oligopolies only with European names; it has to be run in a decentralized and civic manner, with citizens owning their own data from the start. It’s not digital optimism that we must cultivate – rather, it’s optimism in public institutions and a renewed faith in politics. Not exactly a very popular messages during the times of austerity.
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24 Jan 14

This article is about an expressway in Toronto, but Christopher Hume's closing sentences apply to so many other places and situations: low expectations, self-perpetuating, lack of will to re-invest...
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A reason was the low expectations Torontonians had for that part of town. It is viewed as a wasteland, largely because that’s what it has been for so long. Ironically, the Gardiner is at least responsible for that.

But as the waterfront comes back to life, it’s time to demand more. People now live in neighbourhoods that until recently were industrial.
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24 Jan 14

A Circular economy: selling a product's benefits instead of the product itself...
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With this in mind, my company is redesigning its products and considering how to capture their residual value. At the same time, it is shifting from a transaction- to a relationship-based business model – one that entails closer cooperation with customers and suppliers. And it is changing its corporate culture to emphasize long-term solutions. None of these changes is easy to implement, but all of them are necessary.
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24 Jan 14

Interesting historical background here:
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Economists think German housing policy struck a much better balance between government involvement and private investment than in many other countries. For instance, in the UK, when the government gave housing subsidies to encourage the building of homes after the war, only public-sector entities, local governments, and non-profit developers were eligible for them. That effectively squeezed the private sector out of the rental market. In Germany, “the role of public policy was to follow a third way that involved striking a sensitive balance between ‘letting the market rip’ in an uncontrolled manner and strangling it off by heavy-handed intervention,” wrote economist Jim Kemeny, of the German approach to housing policy.
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23 Jan 14

Ok, but we're still being mediated *by* technology, subtly primed to respond to its dictates. Would be interesting to think about how that manifests in a supposedly more people-oriented computer technology as depicted in Her... (I'm just thinking about this in the terms laid out by Ursula M. Franklin, viz. growth-oriented and production-oriented technologies, whereby the former is holistic, people-centered, and the latter is geared toward efficiency and fulfilling the needs of production.)
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It’s not just that Her, the movie, is focused on people. It also shows us a future where technology is more people-centric. The world Her shows us is one where the technology has receded, or one where we’ve let it recede. It’s a world where the pendulum has swung back the other direction, where a new generation of designers and consumers have accepted that technology isn’t an end in itself–that it’s the real world we’re supposed to be connecting to.
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23 Jan 14

Is it true?
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The Atlantic has called "peak car"—not once but twice. We have repeatedly explained why young Americans "don't care about owning" a vehicle. We predicted a long-term decline of auto sales, and, in a dramatic moment, essentially announced "the end of car ownership," generally.

We had strong data. Perhaps we had strong biases, too.
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15 Jan 14

Depressing. Who are these judges?
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The theoretical downside is that the Internet devolves into a kind of “pay to play” system, with smaller companies tending to be squeezed out, and prices tending to rise overall.

That is the dystopia envisioned by people like Susan Crawford, a visiting professor of law at Harvard University and a co-director of Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society. “We’ve got very powerful market actors in America who want to make more money from the same infrastructure, without expanding it,” Crawford says. “The way they do that is to divide markets and then steadily charge more. And on the other side, they want to charge people who want to reach subscribers different rates.”
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14 Jan 14

What with Google buying Nest (learning about people's private preferences for how they heat or cool their homes – potential privacy invasion, much?), and apps like this (NameTag), you have to wonder where we're headed. Creepy creepy.
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Perhaps the most cynical part of the whole idea, though, is that the creators do plan to offer people a way to avoid being face-scanned like this—but it looks like you have to sign up to their site to do it. “People will soon be able to login to www.NameTag.ws and choose whether or not they want their name and information displayed to others,” Tussy explained in the release. Is the true idea behind NameTag, then, a social network that you have to opt out of?
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