Cosmic View, Cosmic Zoom, Cosmic Eye

After paging through Kees Boeke’s Cosmic View …

Available for free on archive.org

You can’t help but think about how the Eames totally ripped off the idea in their Powers of Ten film.

While looking deeper into the Cosmic View and the Powers of Ten, I found this app/video work called Cosmic Eye.

There’s also something called Cosmic Zoom from 1968 which was also based upon the Cosmic View book.

This was all precipitated by buying the original Cosmic View book by Kees Boeke in an auction which again … you can enjoy on archive.org.

Instrumentation and Erika Hall’s Admonition

“The hunger for quantitative data—trying to turn everything into a measurement before considering what it means—is at the heart of a lot of ethical issues we’re facing in design and technology.”

Erika Hall
Continue reading “Instrumentation and Erika Hall’s Admonition”

Talk data to me. Or, First Party Data vs Second Party Data vs Third Party Data

I got lost down a rabbit hole with respect to data terminology. To get this all straight, here’s my take on the matter:

  1. First party data is what you collect and control. It’s the data that you grow yourself, or to use a produce analogy it’s your backyard garden.
  2. Second party data is what someone else collects and controls. Or said differently, someone else’s “first party data.” In the post-GDPR world, second party data is considered much more healthy than third party data. It’s like buying produce directly from the farm instead of through a supermarket or foodstore chain.
  3. Third party data is the stuff that’s aggregated and comes from gigantic data aggregators out there. This is the kind of run-of-the-mill data that anybody with a wad of cash can buy, and doesn’t provide an unfair advantage. In the post-GDPR world, third party data is under greater scrutiny — in other words it needs to use a produce analogy it needs to be sure that the data doesn’t include salmonella.

60mph versus the speed of light

I wanted to know how many Moore’s Law-style doubling cycles it would take to make 60mph as fast as the speed of light. Apparently in 1899 an electric (!) car broke the 60mph barrier. So if we calculate this a bit, I found that between 23 and 24 doubling cycles is when it would have gone at light speed. That places it somewhere in 1922 if you believe in doubling every year or 1934 if you believe in doubling every 1.5 years. So let’s call it at 1925.

“In 1925, due to exponential advances in vehicle technology a car handily broke the lightspeed barrier.”

—Purely fictional
Continue reading “60mph versus the speed of light”

In Praise of Incrementalism (It Depends)

It was a few months after I arrived in Silicon Valley when I posted the following on the Internet: 

Incrementalism is a winning strategy when you totally forget to stop.

[1]

It was counter to what I knew from my time in the research world as espoused to me that same month by my former boss and mentor Nicholas Negroponte:

“Incrementalism is the enemy of creativity.”

[2] 

And so I began to wonder whether I should listen to the founder of the Media Lab and a card-carrying member of the Temple of Design? Or do I listen to the folks in Silicon Valley whizzing about in autonomous vehicles and annoying scooters? Fortunately, HR came to my rescue — well metaphorically and not directly. Because an HR leader had this habit of answering all of my tough questions with a smile and telling me compassionately that:

It depends.

[3]

So it depends. It depends upon what point you are at when seeking to disrupt an industry or when sustaining your leading position in the industry. When first starting out to disrupt an industry, you need to eschew incrementalism and seek the unusual and unsafe path. When leading an industry you need to incrementally hop forward faster than your competition. And if you’re lucky to be an industry leader and you have excess resources to re-invest in ways to disrupt yourself, then all might be well for you when you do so. But in all timings and all cases, there is no success that can be guaranteed and you need to rely on being lucky, or as the late General Douglas MacArthur once said:

“The best luck of all is the luck you make for yourself.”

[4]

[1] Twitter (2014)

[2] Twitter (2014)

[3] “New Design Religion” https://design.google/library/john-maeda-interview-new-design-religion/

[4] “Luck Trends” https://maeda.pm/2019/04/20/luck-trends/

US Patent 4,058,672 and Voice Prompting (1976)

I think that clause 25 is where the action’s at:

25. A packet-switched communications system in accordance with claim 16, further comprising: means controlled by said first and second processing means for generating audible voice prompting at selected terminal devices in response to stored data; and means for accessing said stored data. 

“The present invention comprises a data communications system for providing compatible communication between a plurality of data terminal devices at a plurality of locations utilizing communications at a plurality of switching sites, both packet-switching and store-and-forward switching, to insure maximum utilization of the transmission network. The present invention further comprises apparatus and method for implementing packet and message switched communication between dissimilar terminals having differing modes of operation, and in a particular embodiment between dissimilar facsimile machines. Data and facsimile messages are transmitted and received, digitized, temporarily stored at switching nodes in a communications network on a scheduled or priority basis, formatted into a system-wide compatible protocol at local data processing sites and subdivided into packets of message data and transmitted in such packets dynamically and independently through at least one switching center or node. The packets are then retransmitted on the network either to another switching node or processor at which point the packets are reassembled into the original message or a portion thereof, converted into a mode compatible with the characteristics of the receiving terminal, and coupled to such terminal.”

USPTO Abstract