My parents went to CES and all they bought me was this lousy t-shirt.

Physical Web (3min) is a thoughtful approach to a fundamental technological truth: many of our critical needs are so mundane that they scarcely necessitate a brand-provided solution. To wit:

The Physical Web approach unlocks use cases that would never be practical if a dedicated app were required:

  • A cat collar can let you call to find the owner
  • A bus can tell you its next stop
  • A parking meter can let you pay using your phone and the cloud
  • Any store, no matter how small, can offer an online experience when you walk in
  • A shared car service can broadcast a signup page, allowing you to immediately drive away
  • Industrial equipment can offer diagnostics

Each of these examples, taken by itself, is modestly useful. Taken as a whole, however, they imply a vast “long tail” where anything can offer information and utility.

* * *

Bots are back (17min). Big time. #becauseSlack

* * *

Two fascinating pieces on game design and development this week: The Paris Review interviewed ‘The Witness’ designer Jonathan Blow for a fantastic piece on ‘enacting, instead of simply describing’ ideas (9min). Meanwhile, the Reply All podcast has a mesmerizing episode on Ryan Green’s hyper-personal game, ‘That Dragon, Cancer’ (30min).

* * *

“Scholars and cultural critics assume algorithms are all about code. They’re actually about culture. (12min)”

GIFs of Lady Gaga snubbing Leo, and other things essential to life in 2016:

An app called Humans (5min): designed to “slow down the consumption of status updates, tweets, selfies and photos of all kinds.”

* * *

Read Nicholas Carr vs. the persistent, if mythical, narrative that the youth of today don’t want (and don’t buy) cars (4min).

* * *

Richard Pope has three very different, and very good, stories on ways in which trust is established through doing (3min).

* * *

Sergio Guttierez wrote a fantastic piece for the American Marketing Association on Italian marketplace Eataly, and the way in which it manifests itself as a “third place” (3min) — an adaptive, egalitarian experience.

A defining characteristic of a third place is the loyalty of regular customers. Eataly provides a wide variety of experiences that use food and drink as a bonding mechanism to encourage a continued experience over time. For example, cooking classes and bocce games are regular occurrences at Eataly. Every experience can be different, but the at the core remains the intent to promote a social experience that brings people back again and again, becoming regular participants in the experience.

Real-world org change vs. Fast Company org change

Michael Blanding has a smart piece for Harvard Business Review on organizational loyalty (7min) — ostensibly a highly-desirable trait, though one that frequently makes teams blind to ethical mis-steps:

“We provided evidence suggesting loyalty can be a good thing, but there is a big caveat, which is beware when you tell people what their loyalty demands because that can have a strong blinding aspect to it.”

* * *

Closely-related: great stuff from Percolate co-founder Noah Brier on the normalization of deviance (4min):

deviant behavior slowly slips in and over time becomes more and more acceptable, meaning that the intensity can also increase. In the case of meetings what starts as a one-off meeting to discuss something, becomes a weekly meeting for 15 minutes, eventually with more people involved, and eventually you have 15 people spending an hour together without any real sense for what they’re talking about or why.

* * *

Embedded in Adrian Ho’s post on organizational structure and the creation of value (6min), this on the nature of the agency:

While there’s a great deal of talk about innovation, this industry has also traditionally created the majority of its value through consistent delivery of its product. Agencies were asked to deliver consistent creativity or consistent effectiveness, while consultancies were asked to deliver consistent top-line growth or bottom-line savings. And because consistency has been the fundamental driver of value, most marketing services companies are built, very fundamentally, around the delivery of consistency.

Making stuff for people is much, much harder than our culture cares to admit.

Adam Greenfield publishes rarely these days. When he does, though, as in this piece on commons and the sharing economy (8min), he slays:

There is a deeper challenge to the broader adoption of informal sharing services, which is that this is how poor people have always lived — both in the favelas and slums of the “developing world,” and in the deprived communities of our own cities. (They don’t call it “social innovation,” by the way; they just get on with it.) And I have doubts about the degree to which significant numbers of people raised in Western culture’s last full flush of middle-class prosperity will adopt ways and means of daily survival they’ve been taught to associate with poverty, until and unless they have no choice in the matter.

* * *

“Forget the rise of robots and the distant threat of automation. The immediate issue is the Uber-izing of human labor (4min), fragmenting of jobs into outsourced tasks and dismantling of wages into micropayments.”

* * *

Develop3D has a wonderful piece on ways in which price drops in the CNC (computer numerically controlled) machining space have opened up radical new means of prototyping for small studios and shops.

* * *

Until next week.