“Science fiction” provides but a tiny porthole onto the vast strangeness of the future. When we imagine a “science fiction”-like future, I think we tend to picture completed worlds, flying cars, the shiny, floating towers of midcentury dreams.
We tend, in other words, to imagine future technological systems as readymade, holistic products that people will choose to adopt, rather than as the assembled work of countless different actors, which they’ve always really been. The futurist Scott Smith calls these ‘flat-pack futures,’ and they infect “science fictional” thinking.
“This is as good a time as any to point out that Bush painted his portraits, not just from photographs—a common enough practice as well as a long-established conceptual strategy, though I think only the former pertains here—but from the top search result on Google Images. Many photos were taken from the subject’s Wikipedia entry. Bush based his paintings on the literally first-to-surface, easiest-to-find photos of his subjects.”—
“There are two different elevator museums in the city–the Long Island City Elevator Historical Society and The Museum–both totally different but equally worthy of perusal. However, how would you distinguish one elevator museum from the next? Having been to both, I’ll say this: it all depends on whether you want to learn about elevators or have your understanding of their function revolutionized.”—Sharon Wong for Untapped Cities: A Tale Of Two Elevator Museums.
“If we didn’t have elevators…we would have a megalopolis, one continuous city, stretching from Philadelphia to Boston, because everything would be five or six stories tall.”—Daniel Levinson Wilk quoted by Leon Neyfakh in How the elevator transformed America for The Boston Globe.
“according to Wilk, the automobile and the elevator have been locked in a “secret war” for over a century, with cars making it possible for people to spread horizontally, encouraging sprawl and suburbia, and elevators pushing them toward life in dense clusters of towering vertical columns.”—Leon Neyfakh quoting Daniel Levinson Wilk in How the elevator transformed America for The Boston Globe.
“Outback Steakhouse had no HR department before 2008 but created one not long after the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued the restaurant chain for sex discrimination. In 2009, Outback paid $19 million to settle the case and agreed to add an executive-level HR position.”—Lauren Weber and Rachel Feintzeig in Companies Say No to Having an HR Department for the Wall Street Journal
“Martin Cate’s popular tiki bar Smuggler’s Cove goes through a treasure chest worth of limes every day. “We’re in a particularly scary place,” he says. Like Jossel, he’s going to try to ride out the storm, essentially operating his bar at cost for the time being. Last week, he paid $95 per case, but more disconcerting was that his supplier didn’t have enough.”—Restaurateurs squeezed by shortage of limes (via iamdanw)
“Zach Verdin, the CEO of a publishing platform called NewHive, later went beyond simple product testing in his bizarre analysis of the lessons evolutionarily advanced humans can learn from homeless peoples’ shopping carts. “Like #Hashtags on Twitter homeless people have re-imagined how to use the product and have turned Shopping Carts into mobile storage units, houses, fire pits, plant beds, and so many other things,” he wrote. “By taking shopping carts, personalizing them, and walking the streets they’re actively encouraging other homeless people to use shopping carts.” The takeaway? “Get people to create content that they’re proud of and when they do that it’s natural that they want people to see it.””—Atossa Araxia Abrahamian for Dissent Magazine in Let Them Eat Code (via buzz)
“Nothing sums up their deplorable attitude better than another episode flying under the radar this week: former CIA director Leon Panetta indisputably leaked classified information to the Zero Dark Thirty filmmakers, however, only the people who may have leaked the information that Panetta leaked information are under investigation – and now the intelligence agency’s internal whistleblower advocate may lose his security clearances.”—Leak the CIA report: it’s the only way to know the whole truth about torture (via iamdanw)
“Any culture that celebrates the loss of sleep as a virtue must inevitably become a backwater of degraded thoughts and fragile idealism that can’t survive without the struts of venture capital, eager to inflate market value to the point of IPO or acquisition before moving on to the next dim widget that seems like it’s come from two years in the future but arrives seeming like salvage work from five years past.”—Michael Thomsen in Forbes: How Sleep Deprivation Drives The High Failure Rates of Tech Startups
“Jonathan Ive, the much-feted British-born designer of the iPod, iPad, iPhone and other Apple gizmos appeared, larger than life, on the screen. “Thank,” he said at the end of his two-minute message of congratulations. Before he could add “you”, the screen froze and the limits of nascent digital technology and design left poor Ive’s face stuck in a ginormous gurn.”—
“I heard recently that as many as 50 per cent of people in the UK have to turn down or turn off their heating, making a ‘heat or eat’ choice," said Veron [Head of Product Marketing at Nest]. "That’s a real problem, and a real problem with energy pricing. We believe that this product can help some people.”—
Spend £200+ up-front to combat fuel poverty? Mmhmm. Maybe insulation would be a better use of money? Shame the government killed that programme in December because they feared trying to regulate the energy market.
“This internship is unpaid, but interns will receive school credit and unlimited Pepsi products during their internship. Interns will also have the opportunity to take three (3) selfies with Beyoncé over the course of the internship.”—Apply Now To Intern For Beyoncé This Summer! (via iamdanw)
“The post-internet art object looks good in the online installation view, photographed under bright lights in the purifying white space of the gallery (which doubles the white field of the browser window supporting the documentation), filtered for high contrast and colors that pop. The post-internet art object looks good online in the way that laundry detergent looks good in a commercial. Detergent doesn’t look as stunning at a laundromat, and neither does post-internet art at a gallery. It’s boring to be around. It’s not really sculpture. It doesn’t activate space. It’s frontal, designed to preen for the camera’s lens.”—
The article is worth reading not just to expand on the above (which Droitcour does very well, including the dig “If it’s on a cool Tumblr I can’t be bothered.”) but for the explanation of his use of “post-Internet”:
Post-modernism doesn’t mean that modernism is gone. It means that modernism is familiar. It’s complete. It’s still alive but its features are recognizable, and that’s precisely why it can be repeated and reused. Scholars may continue to argue about the particulars of modernism, about the facts of its infancy, but they can do so because they have a handle on its general contours, which are out in the world in plain sight.
Post-internet says the same thing about the internet that post-modernism says about modernism.
and his conclusion:
Post- presupposes finitude, closure, knowing retrospection. Proto- points to multiplicity and possibility. An art that is proto- would approach the internet’s ubiquity not as a boring given but as a phenomenon ripe with transformative potential for the mediation of people and art (or people and people), for the creation of new genres from the microforms of texts or tweets, or from game design, from karaoke and fan art, and so on. Proto- is okay with not knowing or not working. As Epstein says, we don’t what proto- is a preface to, and so there’s no way to append it to a root and complete a buzzword.
“3-D animation cannot render such textures very well yet. In this era of drone pilots and the quantified self, perhaps it does not need to. The kind of work we do watching Gravity resembles the work many of us do at our desks every day: We devour and analyze images, at the expense of our bodies.”—Mal Ahern in Body Mass Index, a review of Gravity, for The New Inquiry.
“For many years, NSA has been recycling official paper waste through a pulping operation, thus rendering the waste unclassified. Although the workforce calls this “the burn bag process,” the process has not involved burning the paper in many years; today, it is pulped in a machine similar to a giant blender. Each year nearly 1,750 tons of paper is recycled into paper pulp which is used to make a wide variety of paper products such as cardboard boxes, egg cartons, and gift boxes, to name just a few.”—NSA Recycles, Refurbishes, and Reuses (via, via)
“I don’t think that some developing nations will like a drone flying over their head for a reason of delivering internet services; in Africa & MiddleEast a drone is seen as something that the western super power uses to spy and destroy…I think the Google Balloon will be easily accepted in faith and with excitement…just my opinion!!”—Joel Yakubu Okama in a comment on Mark Zuckerberg’s latest post about internet.org, describing “some details of the work Facebook’s Connectivity Lab is doing to build drones, satellites and lasers to deliver the internet to everyone.”