Weeknotes 213; silly web3 products

Hi all. This newsletter might be a bit shorter than usual as some deadlines exist. I think I captured enough news items to make a complete newsletter, though.

And more, in general, there is a lot to do on the Twitter saga, of course. Many people are moving towards Mastodon to try out if that can be a replacement. I made my account there back in 2016 but did not use it a lot, to be honest, in the last years. But I am also giving it a new chance. It is nice to start fresh with a clean sheet but that is also the drawback of course. Not all people that I follow on Twitter posting interesting news are moved (yet) so for now, it remains two parallel channels for me. It also is not always possible to check other’s list of following people; a way to find new people to follow, depending on the server they are on. If you want to find me, my address is @iskandr@mastodon.social

Also, a possible fall-out of Postmusk Twitter is the shutting down of Revue, the tool I use for publishing this newsletter. It is still a rumor I think but repeated quite often. I guess it will be announced in advance; I am considering what possible alternatives are. Substack, Tinymail, etc.

Anyway, on to the newsletter…


The Arch Linux developers published an announcement about the end of 32-bit support. On Feb 29, 2020, they will stop providing 32-bit bootstrap ISOs, the archive will not contain 32-bit packages anymore and the official wiki and forums will be

Hmm. You might find this an odd paragraph, and I agree. I got access to the new AI writing tool Lex. They promise to inspire you as soon as you get stuck with writing. So I thought, let’s try here. It produced the Italic part. Not sure if this is an inspiration that makes sense :-) On the other hand, maybe it had figured me out that I needed a weird example to beef up the newsletter…

So, anyway, on to the event calendar for the coming week.

  • I totally missed last week that IoT 2022 Conference was starting this week in Delft at this very moment. I announced it months ago when it requested papers. It is an academic conference focusing more on technical aspects, but you can still check it out. Otherwise, you might find some interesting papers.
  • Mentioned earlier: Design for Planet Festival (in London)
  • The Hmm (in Amsterdam)

And not for the coming week, but let me announce it here: we are planning a ThingsCon unconference on 9 December in Rotterdam. We will start sending out more information later this week. You can keep an eye on the website.

The news of last week

Bits of generative ai, robots, political star wars, and silly Web3 products.

OpenAI debuts DALL-E API so devs can integrate its AI artwork into their apps AI
FOR LIFE – Expect even more weird images “OpenAI offers integrated AI image generation on demand—for 2 cents an image.”arstechnica.com  •  Share
Invasive Diffusion: How one unwilling illustrator found herself turned into an AI model 
GENERATIVE AI – This kind of stories might happen more: “Last weekend, Hollie Mengert woke up to an email pointing her to a Reddit thread, the first of several messages from friends and fans, informing the Los Angeles-based illustrator and character designer that she was now an AI model.”waxy.org  •  Share
“Adaptive WiFi” wants to learn your habits
NEGOTIATING LIFE – This seems like a typical new product video sketching a future where problems are solved that might never exist, nevertheless I triggered my attention as a representation of a near future that is apparently starting now where we live in an environment where we are continuously negotiating with the service systems we use. Based on protocols of agreements…www.youtube.com  •  Share
These robot legs are made for walkin’ me to the shops 
BOOSTED HUMAN – I think my first shares on restarted Mastodon this week, with a nice DALLE image. Matt does a great job again unhiding an emerging trend, I think. We see examples of exoskeletons for years and I shared quite some in this newsletter, but there is a silent shift happening so it seems. Both as the usefulness is growing fast with the addition of AI and as it becomes almost like a fashion item.interconnected.org  •  Share
‘Like the iPhone did, robots will open a new market’
ROBOTICS – This can be read as some tech-driven futurism finding the business rationale. Otoh, if you take robots as intelligence supporting human actions, I think it might be true… “The next revolutionary technology will be led by robots, (…), if they provide breakthrough services that cater to “human desires” just like the first iPhone did 15 years ago.“www.koreaherald.com  •  Share
Web3 allows companies to look more like economies, like mini-nations – Rest of World
WEB3 – “Yat Siu: I would pay particular attention to the evolution of decentralized autonomous organizations [DAOs], as they point to a future of community-governed entities that are the next logical step after the establishment of digital property rights.”Indeed, the fall-out of Web3 might be the most impactful DAOs as a counter to a collapsing world order. Potentially, and no guarantees…restofworld.org  •  Share
Severance UI Design 
BACK TO THE FUTURE – The series is praised for its visually stunning style (and storytelling). Reading this article, I had to think about a niche trend of people buying high-quality physical keyboards. And the fact that this series is in the Apple context; might be a nice niche product for the brand. In a different form…www.hudsandguis.com  •  Share
The best retro sci-fi on Netflix reveals a worrying scientific debate
NOSTALGIC AI – “Could Knight Rider become a reality? Here’s what experts say.” With nice images. And apparently possible to watch the series on Netflix; wonder how slow that feels now…www.inverse.com  •  Share
Meta’s AI-powered audio codec promises 10x compression over MP3
LEAN AI – There will probably be a constant level of bandwidth use even with this kind of new techniques. The optimalisation might be used for more functionality, not for less footprint… “Technique could allow high-quality calls and music on low-quality connections.”arstechnica.com  •  Share
New Mac app wants to record everything you do—so you can “rewind” it later [Updated] 
REVERSE BUSINESS – This is sold as a logging mechanism for your life, but might become a surveillance machine for BYOD workstations? The compression is stunning of course. “Find “anything you’ve seen, said, or heard” using “3,750x” compression.“arstechnica.com  •  Share
3 ways AI is scaling helpful technologies worldwide
AI FUTURES – Always interesting to read what Google is up to in using AI in their services. The third new way might feel a bit cynical, as we hear more and more how the server parks push the energy use through all AI calculations… “Decades of research have led to today’s rapid progress in AI. Today, we’re announcing three new ways people are poised to benefit.”blog.google  •  Share
‘Star Wars: Andor’ Gets Political 
SCIFI MIRRORS – There might be some Star Wars fans here (pretty sure), I still need to watch Andor, getting curious: “Andor is perhaps the most sophisticated attempt to give the world of Star Wars its own internal political coherence.”And with this it also fits quite well to (one of the) returning themes of this newsletter: “It isn’t the science, aliens, and all that kind of stuff that I get focused on,” Lucas told AMC in 2018. “It’s how people react to all those things.”www.theatlantic.com  •  Share
‘metavertu’ web3 smartphone turns photos or videos into NFTs with one touch
HYPE3 – I belief in the potential of Web3 principles for certain use cases. I don’t know ig a Web3 phone that is capturing the world in NFTs is one of them…. “Vertu is back on the market with its ‘Metavertu’, a revolutionary mobile phone that claims to be the world’s first Web3 phone.”www.designboom.com  •  Share
More Than 500,000 Black LEGO Structure Ekow Nimako’s Vast Afrofuturistic Cityscapes
BRICKED – Some eye candy. I always liked the white LEGO architecture models, but these black ones are maybe even more impressive.www.thisiscolossal.com  •  Share
Elon Musk Has Fired Twitter’s ‘Ethical AI’ Team 
POST ELON – This might all be different now… But in the first week the decay seems to have started “As part of a wave of layoffs, the new CEO disbanded a group working to make Twitter’s algorithms more transparent and fair.”www.wired.com  •  Share
Radar Trends to Watch: November 2022 
ICYMI – The monthly newsletter with a great overview of “Developments in AI, Programming, Quantum Computing, and More”www.oreilly.com  •  Share

Paper for the week

I am not 100 percent sure I have shared this before, but alas…

Social dreaming together: A critical exploration of participatory speculative design

In order to gain a better understanding of this ostensible ‘participatory turn’, this paper presents an initial exploration of participatory speculative design based on a pilot survey of re- cent projects. Using a sample of projects we develop an 8-step hierarchical taxonomy of participation in speculative design that moves from ‘spectatorship’ to ‘reflection’, ‘inspiration’, ‘generative reflection’, ‘shared creativity’, ‘shared authorship’, ‘initiative’ and, finally, ‘ownership’.

Farias, P. G., Bendor, R., & Van Eekelen, B. F. (2022, August). Social dreaming together: A critical exploration of participatory speculative design. In 17th Participatory Design Conference-Embracing Cosmologies: Expanding Worlds of Participatory Design, PDC 2022 (pp. 147-154). Association for Computing Machinery (ACM).


See you next 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.