This week, start here:
On one hand: this week, a handful of powerful players like Samsung and Nest got behind a new low-power standard for in-home mesh networking called Thread. Essentially, Thread is designed as a ground-up replacement for the use of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth as a standard for device-to-device networks in consumer goods. If this is all a bit heady or technical for you, we can relate. Still, it’s really important stuff — maybe you should start with a quick primer on mesh networking.

On the other: Jacob Silverman published a well-penned essay in The New Inquiry this week titled ‘The Lights are On But Nobody’s Home’, in which he questions whether the oft-promised Internet of Things is a necessary end or the corporatization of the nanny state (your authors suspect that it will be neither, but we digress). A particularly tantalizing excerpt:

On a more prosaic level, “smart” has been cast as the logical, prudent alternative to dumb. Sure, we don’t need toothbrushes to monitor our precise brushstrokes and offer real-time reports, as the Bluetooth-enabled, Kickstarter-funded toothbrush described in a recent article in The Guardian can. There is no epidemic of tooth decay that could not be helped by wider access to dental care, better diet and hygiene, and regular flossing. But these solutions are so obvious, so low-tech and quotidian, as to be practically banal.

An interesting contrast, in the least.

Now: on to shorter articles less-likely to use words like ‘quotidian’…

“I’m adding a meeting” should really be “I’m subtracting an hour from your life.”

Easy bet that this is the most-clicked and shared item in this week’s edition: Mike Monteiro wrote a piece on the tyranny of calendars that poses a rather practical question we find ourselves asking with great frequency these days: why aren’t our calendars filled with ‘working’ time?

Your Dark Matter authors owe a debt of gratitude to Jenny Toomey and Kristin Thomson who, way back in the 1990’s, published The Mechanic’s Guide — an instruction manual for those who wanted to start their own record labels. An entire generation of brilliant indie labels was born from those pages.

In the same spirit, Peter Bihr (a force behind ThingsCon) and Max Krüger have published TICOH — The Indie Conference Organizer’s Handbook — a comprehensive guide to putting on your own event from the ground up. It’s really quite a smart book(let), and carries with it more than a little wisdom on topics from location scouting to speaker selection to swag bags. Here’s hoping it has a similar impact.

Pass it around, won’t you?

Several great pieces worth sharing on conducting user research this week, from some familiar and unfamiliar sources:

Anna Cecilia Santos of Made by Many (they’re so hot right now) wrote a really smart piece on their blog on conducting in-depth user interviews. We’re particularly partial to her suggestion of asking subjects to diagram their thinking — delivering both a rigorous bit of thinking and an artifact worth returning to.

Google Ventures, which has had a great focus on user research lately, published a smart piece on some simple approaches to ensuring that research subjects actually show up for your studies . Most of the ideas are, frankly, useful for ensuring that people show up to all manner of your programs and events.

Finally, it won’t be terribly new to some of you, but Michael Blanding’s piece for HBR Working Knowledge this week onthe value of examining/auditing the behaviors of extreme use cases and customers is really thoughtful. If you’re beginning to work more in-depth with personas and archetypes in your organization, then this is worth circulating internally (or, at least, bookmarking).

File under ‘we were promised jetpacks': Kyle Chayka wrote a rather great piece for Pacific Standard that looks at the history of the wallet, and examines why it is that we’re not all using mobile payments yet .

Finding video loops for clever animated GIFs is hard, time-consuming work. Fortunately, Collin Burger of the Interactive Art & Computational Design program at Carnegie Mellon has devised Loop Findr — an algorithm that finds near-identical frames in video sequences that can be exported into loops for your Tumblr.

Of course, building a GIF that’s better than Eddie Vedder falling down is a tall order, even for a well-formed algorithm.

If you’ve not seen it, the flipbooks that STABILO created highlighting the best goals of the 2014 World Cup is really, really fantastic. They’ve put together a wonderful minute-long video compiling the books into a single stream with synced audio from in-game coverage, that’s essential viewing. Your authors are partial to the van Persie header against Spain at 0:38.