I’ve been blogging both on Medium and on Blogger for some time.

Medium’s subscription system means I am not sure people always get to access the content, but I think some folks follow me here and are perhaps paying Medium for the privilege.

The interface for Medium is getting more annoying, so I expect I’ll stop making the effort to cross post here. You can find my main blog at lbj20.blogspot.com and subscribe via RSS.

A recent edition of the Kneeling Bus looks at the void left behind when products and services cease to be. Blockbuster went away, but was replaced by Netflix etc, arguably improvements. Spotify has replaced CDs, and many people don’t have them any more. If/when Spotify goes away, will there be something better?

Several people linked to this New Republic article on the internet and climate change. …

Maybe we’ve had the wrong visions of the future, argues Max Read. What if we aren’t being accelerated into a cyberpunk future so much as thrown into some fantastical premodern past? This article covers bewitched ‘smart’ objects and the feudalism of big tech platforms:

Looking around lately, I am reminded less often of Gibson’s cyberpunk future than of J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantastical past, less of technology and cybernetics than of magic and apocalypse. The internet doesn’t seem to be turning us into sophisticated cyborgs so much as crude medieval peasants entranced by an ever-present realm of spirits and captive to distant…

Starting with a perceptive and interesting idea from incredible women:


Doteveryone released a report on Better care in the age of automation. It’s a stonker — lots of really insightful points (and worth reading the detail)

Superflux produced an accompanying video which illustrates one possible care future. It doesn’t go where you’d expect the story to end up. Recommended. (Find out more about the film.)
There’s a short video featuring some of the experts involved in the report — including carers and those receiving care.

Dan Hon looks into StreetScore as an example of machine learning, the way papers are…

The latest and third edition of the Fairphone was announced. Looks like another solid Android phone, as Fairphone 2 was. Nothing fancy in terms of ‘conventional’ specs — screen resolution, camera, some processors — although the dual SIM and replaceable battery are nice features. You buy Fairphones for other specs — fairly traded minerals, decent working conditions, repairability — and in this edition, recycled materials, too. I plan to replace my Fairphone 2 — it’s given good service, but has also seen heavy use and is starting to show some signs that it may be wearing out. A lifetime of…

Last Friday was the Festival day at Wuthering Bytes, and for the third time I was the compere. Andrew Back did an excellent job curating a great range of speakers as ever.

I’ve written up a few notes on what struck me as most interesting below.

The diverse talks managed to weave together several common threads. Community came up in many talks — communities around local projects, building guitars, designing satellites. Some communities are made of citizen scientists measuring air quality, tracking satellites, and even testing genetically modified seeds. Technology in our homes, in our local areas, in our…

A highlight from this year’s Wilderness Festival was Arcadia Spectacular — a small portion of the show was Lords of Lightning.

Lords of Lightning — Musical Tesla from Arcadia Spectacular on Vimeo.

Looking forward to more Tesla coil action at Wuthering Bytes festival day in a couple of weeks — as ever, a stunning line up of talks on all kinds of science, tech and culture topics. Grab a ticket now and join us in Hebden Bridge for the most authentic tech festival in the UK!

An interview with Martin Kleppmann, on formal verification and distributed systems. Formal…

Doteveryone has published our “definition of done”. What does it mean to finish a piece of work? What does good advocacy, protest or resistance work look like now? It turns out clear communication is important.

Don Norman on replacing “Yes, and” with “Yes, but, and” -

Note that the “but” anticipating the “and” is essential. In order to build on your idea, your colleague does not just add a new improved proposal. First, she provides a critique, which enables you to receive precious and specific information, see weaknesses in your half-backed idea you couldn’t spot yourself, and therefore learn. You…

I’ve had Steven Jackson’s paper on repair in my reading stack for months. I think I first came across it via Lee Vinsel’s Maintainers graduate seminar syllabus. It situates maintenance within socio-technical studies, examining the broken world, the role of the fixer as distinct from the user or designer in innovation, and the risks of focussing on nostalgia or heroism as frames for maintenance.

Secondly, attention to maintenance and repair may help to redirect our gaze from moments of production to moments of sustainability and the myriad forms of activity by which the shape, standing, and meaning of objects in…

Laura James

Engineer and more. Several hats. Also https://lbj20.blogspot.com if Medium doesn’t work for you.

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