If you care about the ways ubiquitous photography, life logging, and sharing are changing our memories & relationships, I think you’d really enjoy the Black Mirror episode “The Entire History Of You,” available on YouTube (below) and Netflix. I don’t want to spoil anything, so I’ll just say watch.
Beyond the story & subject, I’ll note that I love the entirely matter-of-fact way that technology is handled here. Despite its life-changing impact, it’s never fetishized by the characters, never held up in some ooh-aah light. It’s the opposite of everything I’ve hated about one-note movies like Gattaca & In Time. “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic,” and with constant exposure, any magic becomes unremarkable pretty fast. Its effects, however, are anything but.
My 7yo son Finn is proving to be a huge fan of Adobe Photoshop Sketch (“Tell your friend Will [the PM] that Adobe Sketch is awesome!!”), particularly of the guides & French curves, which are proving great for drawing Ed Emberly-style animals (example). I enjoyed this weird little demo & learned a few things I’ll be sharing with the budding artist.
The object is to get Google’s neural computation algorithms to run locally on a device and therefore not have to rely on an internet connection. Current day approaches to photo recognition, like in Google Photos, are done by first uploading and analyzing everything in Google’s cloud. Movidius hopes that by being able to quickly analyze images and audio future devices can be more personalized and contextualized. The latter part fits in with Google’s goal of making virtual assistants that are more aware of what you’re doing and what you need.
Using cheap cardboard headsets, Android phones, and a teacher-operated tablet, Google Expeditions lets students experience 360-degree views of places like Machu Picchu, outer space, and caves in Slovakia. […] Google announced today that the Expeditions Program will be opening up beyond its current “sign up and wait for us to visit” status. Google will release a beta version of the Google Expeditions app for Android.
The team writes,
We’re looking to you to provide feedback about Expeditions while also spreading the word and teaching other educators about the product. If you’re selected, you will receive an email confirmation and instructions for how to download the app. We’re hoping you’ll help by providing feedback on what you like and on areas we need to improve!
The Creative Residency offers you a year to work on your creative passion project without distractions. As a Resident, you’ll receive a full salary and health benefits along with access to tools and mentorship to guide you along the way.
In 2-4 pages, tell us what you have in mind, and how you would bring it to life during your year in residency… We’ll be accepting submissions through February 29.
The feature, called “Donation Cards,” works like normal YouTube pop-up cards, but instead of suggesting you subscribe to a particular channel, these cards prompt you to do something more high-minded. They offer viewers the option to donate to a charitable organizations in $5, $10, $20, or fill-in-the-blank increments. If your bank account is already linked to your YouTube account via YouTube Red, the process is simple and close to instantaneous.
Passion has little to do with euphoria and everything to do with patience. It is not about feeling good. It is about endurance. Like patience, passion comes from the same Latin root: pati. It does not mean to flow with exuberance. It means to suffer.
Having just replaced a faulty washing machine, I have just one question: How did we not do this!?
In a similar vein, you know what’s good fun? High-speed cameras + doomed cameras + lawnmower blades. Of the video below, PetaPixel writes, “Everything was recorded with a Phantom V4.1 camera, a home-made camera, and a Panasonic TM700 digital camera.”
I’ve got styli on the brain, having just gotten my Apple Pencil & started putting it to work. Meanwhile the Phree stylus raised over a million bucks on Kickstarter to let you draw on just about any surface & have the results beamed into your mobile device. Funky—I’m not quite sure how to feel about this thing.
Once you’re gone you can never come back… — Neil Young
Luke Wroblewski (designer, writer, & coincidentally my boss) shares a bunch of interesting details on how best to ask users for their permission to access location, etc. (e.g. “The double dialog,” a decoy that gauges whether you’ll say no; if so they try again later)
However, in turn, BlindTool can be wrong. A lot. Walking around my apartment, it called my Christmas tree a feather boa, an ornament a bubble, a door an armoire. Sometimes the results were close, sometimes they were absurdly off. And that’s because the neural net was trained on what Cohen calls an “almost randomly chosen” collection of images—a hodgepodge of opensource work that’s not necessarily catered to the things you or any person would most commonly want identified in their home, commute, or place of work.
This talk from MIT’s Michael Hawley sounds interesting. You’ll be able to watch it live & ask questions here, or listen by calling (855) 870-5454 & using meeting ID 1005302015.
This talk is more history than future—more about picture hacking from the last 150 years than the last 15 or the next 100. But if you’re at all interested in photography and its futures, I can guarantee you will find something fun, interesting and new from the past.
Bio: Michael Hawley is an educator, artist, and researcher active in many facets of digital media. His research career includes pioneering work at Bell Labs in Murray Hill (computer systems), IRCAM in Paris (computer music), Lucasfilm in San Rafael (digital cinema), nearly two decades at MIT in Cambridge (at the Media Lab and Lab for Computer Science). He directs the EG conference (http://egconf.com), has been active as founder/advisor to numerous startup companies, and as an amateur pianist, won the Van Cliburn competition in 2002. Pertinent to this talk, he also served on the Board of Directors of Eastman Kodak during their demise (!); and as a researcher with interests in photography, invented GPS photography and produced the world’s largest published book (5×7′, 150lbs, on BHUTAN).
There is a crack, a crack in everything That’s how the light gets in — Leonard Cohen
Despite having heard the term, I didn’t know much about wabi-sabi until watching this short, nicely produced explanation.
At the heart of Japanese philosophy and wisdom lies a concept called ‘wabi-sabi’; a term which denotes a commitment to the everyday, the melancholic, the somewhat broken and the imperfect. It’s a term we need a lot more of in our lives.
“But the real future of the laptop computer will remain in the specialized niche markets. Because no matter how inexpensive the machines become, and no matter how sophisticated their software, I still can’t imagine the average user taking one along when going fishing…
Good stuff. The first portable Mac (all 16lbs. & $7,500 of it) was still four years in the future. Some 17 years after that, the iPhone arrived. Pretty sure people take them fishing. [Via Ross Hobbie]
I created this illustration/animation for a welcoming sequence in Google’s photo editing app, Snapseed. An increasing number of Android phones are now able to shoot photos in RAW. Snapseed offers full support for DNG RAW files.
An inspiration for this session was a conversation with my 3year old daughter while dressing up to go out: – Daddy, I don’t want to put this jacket on. – she moaned – Me too, darling but it is very cold outside. – I explained – How cold? and I had to figure out an interesting answer which would satisfy a preschooler’s curiosity, so I told her: – It is so cold that even soap bubbles freeze and it looks really beautiful, you know? I saw a sparkle in her eye so I promised to make a film to show her that. She was so excited about this idea that of course she forgot that she didn’t want to put her jacket on. It wasn’t easy to capture those bubbles because only around 5-10% of them didn’t break instantly and as you can imagine it was a challenge to be patient at -15 Celsius 😉 but it was worth it because now that my daughter has seen it, winter is magic for her.
Every school day since kindergarten, I have put a post-it note in my son’s lunch box with a half-finished cartoon and a half-completed caption. He finishes them and we post them on our blog, wandermonster.com (almost) daily.
No lens, no cry—at least for certain applications:
FlatCam, invented by the Rice labs of electrical and computer engineers Richard Baraniuk and Ashok Veeraraghavan, is little more than a thin sensor chip with a mask that replaces lenses in a traditional camera. […]
“We can make curved cameras, or wallpaper that’s actually a camera. You can have a camera on your credit card or a camera in an ultrathin tablet computer.”
I often let the perfect be the enemy of the good, failing to share a lot of good photos because I haven’t gotten enough time to winnow down a set & perfect them Lightroom. (If it weren’t for my wife’s fast, pitiless curation, I’d fail even more.) I don’t expect this to change vis-à-vis sharing as I go: I’m just not willing to dump out everything I shoot, and to do it in the buff.
What I’m finding, though, thanks to my single favorite feature in Google Photos—namely, daily throwbacks to memories from the same date—is that I’m not stressing about finding, sharing, and perfecting the “right” photos. Rather, I’ll get a little collage of moments (generally showing our kids as tots), then send the entire photo set from that day to my wife, my mom, and occasionally other friends. It’s actually more interesting to see all the in-between, throwaway moments than just the super-curated highlights.
So, what does this mean to you?
Back up all your stuff from all your devices. (It’s free & unlimited!)
Delete only the total crap.
Make sure you check your Assistant for these throwback cards.
Ten years ago today, Adobe released the first public preview of “Project Lightroom.” It was Mac-only, ultra lightweight, wildly incomplete, and very promising. Dizzy after blazing all over Europe previewing the app to journalists, here’s how I blogged it:
First, the product isn’t finished, and that’s a good thing. Letting a preview version into the wild now lets us engage the broad photography community in a new way. It’s the nature of the beast that just about any 1.0 product will have some shortcomings and rough edges. The thing is, we’re not going to start charging for ours until you’ve had plenty of time to kick the tires & help shape the feature set.
Amazingly, the demo video from that first post is still available, so I’ve stuck it onto YouTube for the occasion:
Looking back, my antipathy towards Apple (which had just released Aperture for $499 (!) at PhotoPlus in late October) was so clear. Your 1.0 is incomplete, too, I was saying, and we’re going to contrast your chutzpah with our humility.
Yet the best thing ever to happen to Lightroom was Aperture. It got us out of our heads & got the app into users’ hands. Before Aperture shipped, Adobe had spent three+ years running in circles on a great idea, not sure how to explain it to users, establish its value, and still protect Photoshop. Then Apple wrapped the Javitz Center in a 40-foot-high banner that said, “Everything you need after the shoot.” Bang, it was game on: a matter of weeks later, Lightroom had transformed from a pile of greasy parts on the garage floor to a useful, impressive beta. We never looked back, and over the following years, I loved writing about LR kicking Aperture’s ass among pros.
Now, let’s see what the next decade brings. 🙂 [YouTube]
There’s no combined feed. If someone wants to look at your s***, they have to click on you. There’s no public view count, follower count, likes count, or any other social dick-measuring contest. You can just put whatever you’re doing on Snapchat; if people don’t like it, who gives a f***, you’ll never know.
Also, everyone sucks together:
The content doesn’t have to be that good, because “it’s going to disappear anyways, and everyone else’s content isn’t that great either.”
The genius of Instagram was in helping regular people be better. The genius of Snapchat was in making people not care.
Google Cardboard looks like a set of big square goggles. Stick your iPhone inside and with the right app, you can see images in three-dimensional virtual reality.
Doctors at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami used the device to map out an operation they say they couldn’t have envisioned otherwise. […]
That’s where Google Cardboard proved advantageous over 3-D printing. The printer would have given Burke just her heart — but to access her heart surgically, he needed to be able to visualize it in context with her ribcage and other structures.
“Dopamine,” says Stanford professor Robert Sapolsky, “is not about pleasure; it’s about the anticipation of pleasure. It’s about the pursuit of happiness, rather than about happiness itself.”
From monkeys pressing buttons, to humans pulling slot machine levers, to careerism & belief in the afterlife, variable rewards & delayed gratification drive goal-directed behavior like mad. As Vincent Hanna would say, “All I am is what I’m going after.”
Spend five really interesting minutes with Professor Sapolsky, and if you’re interested in how to build addictive products based on these ideas, check out Nir Eyal’s Hooked.
The awkward part was that Ashley wasn’t there to celebrate with Buzzfeed. She was there to serve them. Not realizing that her handful of weekly waitressing shifts at Eveleigh paid most of her bills, a coworker from the video production site asked Ashley if her serving tray was “a bit.” It was not.
We’re all just a bunch of apes lekking around the water hole, aren’t we? “Facebook,” it’s been said, “is basically designed like a lobster trap with your friends as bait,” and the same holds for Instagram. You know it’s empty, often stressful calories—but you can’t get away.
Time is a big factor. Reactions are expected within minutes. (You can hear relief in the girls’ voices as the first likes roll in.)
Getting 150 likes on a selfie is normal. Nighttime is when you get the most.
Each person posts just a few times per week.
They reflexively like nearly everything in their feeds.
Commenting is more intimate than liking & carries more expectation of reciprocation.
Language choice is super important. There’s tons of repetition of “Gorgeous, Pretty, OMG, etc.,” though never “Sexy.”
Comments are a way to map & judge others’ relationships (who’s commenting, who isn’t).
“If I didn’t have it, I’d feel like I’m missing so much.” It’s a diagram of where people stand socially. Parsing this is where the most time goes.
The girls will preflight photos (sending them to close friends for review) before posting.
They know it’s shallow, but “It’s like free candy, so why not?”
“I’m a brand… Relevance is a big term right now. In middle school we were so relevant!”
Don’t get me wrong—I’ve enjoyed Instagram for 5+ years & would miss it deeply, even if I’m guiltier than I’d like of these pathologies. And still my mind turns endlessly to thinking about ways to foster more genuine, personal, enriching communications. Nobody said would be easy, but the desire is there.