This week, start with Dan Hill — whose first book was the inspiration for the title of the missive you’re now reading — and his sprawling, brilliant piece for Dezeen on energy, and the ways in which technology shapes cities (15 min). He makes the wonderful argument that Tesla’s much-hyped Powerwall product not only shapes the market for power storage (and hybrid cars), but also shifts the dynamics of cities and grids themselves in unexpected ways:

There is of course a new kind of resilience through decentralised systems, an intentional redundancy through replication of small pieces, loosely joined—akin to what Adrian Lahoud memorably called a ‘post-traumatic urbanism’. Yet there is also, currently, a lack of robustness, of security, when it comes to using IP backbone for core infrastructure, or when not working through interaction and service design work cogently enough.

This is a really important idea for anyone working with systems. Please read it — or, at least, bookmark it with the intent of returning.


What with Don Draper turning out to be DB Cooper sitting on a cliff in Big Sur finding the answers to it all, Audrey Watters’ outstanding piece for Hack Education on education-tech and the Californian ideology / Silicon Valley narrative (7 min) is perfectly timed.

A provocative thought: if Skype can translate everything for us on the fly (1 min), will learning foreign languages ultimately become as arcane as learning cursive?

The humblebrag, apparently, doesn’t really work (1 min). It does, though, serve as fodder for a 30 page scientific study by HBS researchers (too long).

Shaun McCormick wrote a great post a few weeks ago suggesting that the established organizational view of technical debt is wrong (6 min) — or, at least dated — particularly among startups and software firms. Be sure to read the comments.

Guess who doesn’t distinguish between ‘online’ and ‘offline’ (4 min): users. Only organizations do that.

There’s a good chance you’ve already read Paul Adams on why ‘mobile first’ is basically a dated approach (5 min, 45 if you read the comments). If you haven’t, put down that flat white and get to it:

What matters is screens, not devices

If you have an hour to give — and you do, really, because Halt and Catch Fire isn’t really that good — watch Ken Wong of UsTwo talk about the experience design that went into Monument Valley. Alternately, you could spend an hour playing Monument Valley.

Matt Edgar has written a smart piece with a really intriguing premise for both Libertarians and bureaucrats alike, namely: most of government is mostly service design most of the time (7 min). What if the same is actually true of management, as well?

This is fascinating: building dynamic time-lapse visualizations of popular destinations from large photo libraries (4 min). Basically, that photo you posted to Flickr of Mount Rushmore is now being used to illustrate erosion in the Black Hills. So, thanks.

We don’t need humans anymore, the video.
We dont need humans anymore, the terrifying essay (4 min).

To summarize: Google’s driverless cars are a gateway drug. Enjoy the rest of your week.


The Electronic Items tumblr by Guillaume Kurkdjian is magnificient — a collection of illustrations and animations of objects from a bygone era of consumer electronics. That, of course, recalls Michael Place’s legendary Dead Formats t-shirts.

Speaking of a bygone era: before you go, read the wonderful Quietus interview with Coldcut on the making of their 70 Minutes of Madness mix (28 brilliant minutes).