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else 12.2: “Anchoring digital existence in the physical world”

By - December 01, 2013

This week we get creative with 3D self-portraits, drones deliver in 30 minutes or less, we play Moneyball with job performance, 23andMe’s FDA troubles point to emerging data literacy problems, and language artifacts emerge. Because internet.

As always, if you want to keep up with what we’re reading/thinking about on a weekly basis, the best way is to subscribe to the “else” feed, either as an email newsletter or through RSS. And tweet us links!

Look at This Lady’s Amazing 3-D Printed Selfie – Wired
Artists take up 3D printing as the latest medium for self portraiture. The artist’s statement resonates with some of the themes we are exploring in the book: “I wanted to explore our transition between both the material and immaterial world and the traces we leave…With 3-D printers, we are no-longer limited by our screens, the digital world begins to merge and integrate itself into physical existence.”

Lorna Barnshaw’s 3D printed self-portrait

Amazon Unveils Futuristic Plan: Delivery by Drones – 60 Minutes
Last night Charlie Rose was taken by surprise with Bezos’ thinly veiled press release plan for drone delivery via Amazon Prime Air “octocopters.”

They’re Watching You at Work and Your Job, Their Data: The Most Important Untold Story About the Future - The Atlantic
The Atlantic magazine has a big feature about the ways employees are being monitored in the workplace, the ultimate in the latest development of managerial science and Tayloristic quantification. Alexis Madrigal puts it in perspective, but takes a more skeptical view: “when we look back in 20 years about what has changed in our lives, we will be able to find this thread of data-driven personnel decision making as the thing that’s changed people’s lives the most.”

23andMe Is Terrifying, But Not for the Reasons the FDA Thinks – Scientific American
The FDA letter halting 23andMe’s marketing of direct-to-consumer genetic tests hinges around the ability (or lack thereof) for consumers to understand and digest risk-based projections of genetic predispositions toward disease. To me, this is a story about data legibility, and the increased need to develop new literacies as consumers of data. But as this article argues, the more pressing concern lies with the subsidization of the test itself in order to gather a massive genetic database of all its customers/donors. It’s hard for the FDA to know how to regulate these hybrid entities that handle our data in new and interesting ways.

Bra Sensors Could Monitor Overeating – Mashable
Interesting combination of live sensor data and research-based intervention to combat stress-related overeating. The protoype tracks”heart rate and respiration with an EKG sensor, skin conductance with an electrodermal activity sensor, and movement with an accelerometer and gyroscope.”

With Flexible Circuits, Wearable Electronics Gain Uses – Singularity Hub
Sure, it starts with high-performance athletic tracking, but these flexible sensors look promising for more integrated and less invasive wearables.

English Has a New Preposition, Because Internet – The Atlantic
We’ve been toying with the idea that  language is one of the ultimate cultural artifacts. As a former English major, the recognition of “because” as a preposition, or the “because-noun,” is a really interesting example of how quickly usage patterns change with a mass-medium like the internet. But I’m also interested in how a construction like this forecloses reasonable discussion, because it stands in for something taken for granted as an all encompassing explanation for something, like “Because science.” And now that your attention has been drawn to it, you will see it everywhere. Because internet.

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