This week, start here: Pplkpr is fascinating (6 min) — an application that uses wearable data to auto-manage a users’ social (and, ultimately, physical) relationships with others based upon the biofeedback generated by the device. While your authors acknowledge a real appeal in the auto-defriending of those who make us most physically anxious, Pplkpr (quite intentionally) raises some very real questions about the impending role that algorithms and personal data are going to play in our decision-making. These should, perhaps, begin with the question of who precisely owns the data about our relationships with others (especially in symmetrical networks like Facebook). Taken even further: perhaps it’s our underlying relationships with algorithms that bear investigation.


Ian Bogost, writing (11 min) for The Atlantic:

Here’s an exercise: The next time you hear someone talking about algorithms, replace the term with “God” and ask yourself if the meaning changes. Our supposedly algorithmic culture is not a material phenomenon so much as a devotional one, a supplication made to the computers people have allowed to replace gods in their minds, even as they simultaneously claim that science has made us impervious to religion.

Tip of the hat (2 min) to Neil Perkin for the link.

Thankfully, we can now annotate the entire web (4 min) — or, at least a few powerful media mavens can. So how does a new display layer we can’t control change the design of the content we can control?

Latest sign of the imminent design agency apocalypse: 8-page advertorial in the Sunday Times that will get readers going on development of their own apps.

If the first generation of APIs was about enabling infrastructure, then the next generation will be about enabling functionality in the interface itself (3 min), says Clement Vouillon.

Pointed out to us by Almighty alumnus Emily Cagwin*: people don’t screw up timesheets, email screws up timesheets (6 min).

According to the new media PR hype cycle Fast Company, the Upshot team at the New York Times is ‘redesigning news’ (7 min). Our lack of surprise at Fast Co’s race toward spirited hyperbole is tempered largely by the fact that Upshot looks a lot like FiveThirtyEight — which the Times once owned. #disruptionmeh

Irving Wladawski-Berger has written an exceptional piece on the leadership traits required for an age of large data sets and artificial intelligence (6 min) — and they skew heavily toward human traits, namely: The ability to ask good questions The capacity to attack problematic exceptions vigorously A nature that tolerates (a degree of) ambiguity Maximizing soft skills

Citylab has a great feature on wasted miles in trucking, and a startup called Transfix that’s looking to optimize the shipment of goods over our roads (5 min).

Lost in the furor over Uber and local politics is the reality that systems like these are about creating efficiencies in existing markets more than creating altogether new markets. Parking is up next (4 min).

You should read up on blockchains (6 min). Really.

IBM’s vision for rolling them out as the foundation for localized networks of connected devices (3 min) is a big idea, and worth understanding.

From Chris Bolman’s post on the Percolate blog extolling the organizational virtues of Uber and Buzzfeed (10 min), this gem of a thought:

As businesses and products become more digitally connected, the world’s best and fastest growing companies are the ones building these closed-loop systems, where software and data science are always optimizing for increasingly more customer value and organizational responsiveness.

For all the customer-centric organizations of the world, we give you a primer on correlation (7 min). Warning: includes some math.

Is innovation on the decline, or are we just innovating against lower-profile problems? Preach, Mr. Carr (6 min).

Dan Beckham’s piece on ‘big anthropology’ and the tenuous balance between the qualitative and quantitative (13 min) in health care culture translates well to almost any industry — including, and especially, yours.


Ashon Crawley’s sprawling essay on dance, hip hop and the decentralized strategy of race protest in America (12 min) makes for fascinating reading, even if it isn’t likely to help you get on the list for the Frog party at SXSW. Also: the honeymoon for young white retired hipsters (10 min) and their bikes in Portland, Oregon is coming to a close (9 min).

Until next week.