Weeknotes 164 – a meta week

Welcome in November! The end years rush has started for my feeling. Maybe extra the case as you organise a conference in December every year :) Check out the latest news on ThingsCon 2021 on our website. Will be updated with more content and new style later this week but I give you a sneak peek! And registration is open.

We tested last week the setup for the first time. Having an hybrid event with three separate locations and without budget for big TV-like production; I think it will be very nice!

Last week I was asked to join a team that organizes a workshop for a client of INFO to contribute with a look into the future and setup the workshop together. Always nice to do, though it messed up the planning a bit. One of the reasons this newsletter is a day too late.

For this week there is not that much on the event-agenda (or it did not find me). But I see Sensemakers has a DIY session this week. And -very nice- this Friday 5 November the third workshop on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in embodied AI is organised on Embodied AI and Race.

Let me point you to two events next week. IAM Internet has moved the conference this year to November and is held both on premise in Barcelona and online. IAM Weekend is held november 11-18. Eday is something I used to attend yearly before Covid to keep in touch of agency life of the Netherlands. This year it is fully online again.

Captured from the news last week…

Maybe first start with … Meta. It got a lot of attention, not only in the usual tech media, also in MSM. I did not watch it live and also did not rewatch the whole 90 minutes yet; I found it hard to stay engaged tbh. I am sure there are use cases for VR like experiences. And it at least interesting to follow the plans of worlds largest media company that don’t want to be a media company. There is soo much wrong with the company as is turning out again with the whistleblower files. The Metaverse is so much more than flying legless people (I will not link that to vapourware). I wrote some thoughts earlier this summer on relation of metaverse-thinking and cities of things. I was listening to the interview of the Zuck with Ben Thompson, definitely interesting as Ben has a certain look at business principles. It is striking how Zuckerberg is trying to downplay its role to say they are just one player in the metaverse as next iteration on the internet. And referring to the internet as an open place. Facebook is of course by far the biggest anti-open internet walled-garden. In the latest Dithering podcast Ben Thompson and John Gruber came back to the interview focusing on how Facebook-now-meta is going for the work environment leveraging our lockdown life. (Maybe we can seed the story on Facebook to conspiracy thinkers that the virus was a setup by Facebook,… not funny :)

One thing was interesting to see. In one of the numerous Dutch talkshows, a tech journalist was showing the new meeting room setting live on television with the host. And she genuine loved it. And so did other guests that tried. Is this a weak signal that there is a place for living in VR or just the same power of the new that we experienced with Second Life and Pokemon, etc.? Is it part of a slow but steady moving into our getting used to living from time to time in another world escaping from reality…? We’ll see…

An Interview with Mark Zuckerberg about the Metaverse – by Ben Thompson

Ben Thompson is a serious critic and did his job here in the interview with Zuckerberg. Not as sharp as Kara Swisher, but diving into the more business architecture and raison-de-etre of this Meta thing…

In other news last week…

Artificial networks learn to smell like the brain 

“Using machine learning, a computer model can teach itself to smell in just a few minutes. When it does, MIT researchers have found, it builds a neural network that closely mimics the olfactory circuits that animal brains use to process odors.”

Robot taxi boats take to the water in Amsterdam

Good to see, I have been following this Roboat project of AMS-institute since the start years ago, from plans to the first scale models. Not it is getting serious: “The autonomous Roboat is now ready to take on Amsterdam’s canals.”

Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences 

If you are into behavioral design this might be interesting for you. “Read the latest articles of Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences”

Manifesto for Digital Social Touch in Crisis 

Same for research on haptics: “This qualitative exploratory research paper presents a Manifesto for Digital Social Touch in Crisis – a provocative call to action to designers, developers and researchers to rethink and reimagine social touch through a deeper engagement with the social and sensory aspects of touch.”

Inside the machine that saved Moore’s Law 

“The Dutch firm ASML spent $9 billion and 17 years developing a way to keep making denser computer chips.”

Meet Snitch: the Small and Agile RISC-V Processor 

“Designed for machine learning and scientific computing workloads”

‘solar giraffe’ is a communal space to charge cellphones in mozambique

Urban Hubs in cities are often combinations of communal functions that fits a neighborhood (or intent to at least. This is another for; “the ‘solar giraffe’ includes a technical closet under its roof with 10 mobile charging outlets and a radio player for music and news.”

Firefighting Robots Go Autonomous 

Makes a lot of sence: “Scientific American is the essential guide to the most awe-inspiring advances in science and technology, explaining how they change our understanding of the world and shape our lives.”

Self-driving race cars make history in Indianapolis

I am not the biggest F1 follower, but know how winning is based on the combination of the best material (car), driver and tactics (pitstops and tires). How will that translate in an autonomous setup? 

“The winner was not a driver but an algorithm on Saturday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where the top car clocked an average speed of 218 km/h (135 mph), ushering autonomous vehicles into a new era.”

Video Friday: Robot Halloween

There is a thin line between the storytelling on robots to fear and horror, so let it be part of Halloween too then… “A weekly roundup of robotic videos, this week on Halloween robots”

So far for now; I hope that next edition is on time next Monday… Have a great rest of the week!

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I am a design director at Structural. I curate and organize ThingsCon Netherlands and I am chairman of the Cities of Things Foundation. Before I was innovation and strategy director at tech and innovation agency INFO, visiting researcher and lab director at the Delft University of Technology coordinating Cities of Things Delft Design Lab.