Humino: Monitor Soil Humidity with an Arduino

Another thing I wanted to have since I was maybe 5 years old? PLANTS with MICROCHIPS! Probably the hardest part about keeping my green friends alive is making sure that they get enough water even when I am busy with other stuff, on vacation, etc etc. Now that there are cheap Arduinos to have it has gotten quite easy to realise this!

Metadata Petting Zoo

Cellphones make available large amounts of personal information about you in public airspace. I propose building a metadata petting zoo to raise awareness for this issue and some possible solutions. This broadcasting of metadata is a necessity for you using your phone. It cannot be disabled until cellphone technology is recreated from the ground up with privacy in mind. It doesn’t require hidden surveillance technology but makes use of the most common network systems such as Wifi, LTE, GSM and Bluetooth.

An Independent Blog using Hugo and Dat

Everyone should have a button on their computer that reads “make a new website”. This is one of the things that the Dat project is working on with the Beaker browser: Making it easy to self-publish content on the web without using centralized infrastructure services from the likes of Google and Amazon. As I create this blog using Hugo, a static site generator, I thought it should be pretty easy to make it available on Dat.

Privacy Friendly Blog

Vincent Bernat writes about the replacements he used to make his blog more privacy aware instead of relying on an abundance of external services. Whatever.

read A more privacy-friendly blog

High Modernism

Cal Newport beschreib Silicon Valley’s tiefen Glauben daran, dass man die Menschheit mithilfe von Technologie verbessern kann. Dabei geht es nicht nur darum, Leiden aus der Welt zu schaffen, sondern auch darum, das Gute im Menschen zu vervielfachen. Wenn Menschen Bekanntschaften knüpfen und sich vernetzen um gute Dinge zu tun, dann könne es nur gut sein, wenn man dieses ins Extreme katapultiert und alle Menschen miteinander verbindet. Er bezieht sich dabei auf ein Memo eines Facebook-Ingenieurs, in welchem dieser seine Beobachtung beschreibt, das genau dies Facebooks DNA ist, das undiskrimierende Vernetzen aller Menschen überhaupt.

I read these lines as arguing that the natural state of human interaction is hopelessly irrational and ineffective. Facebook hopes to replace this “fragmented” state of human sociality with something better; something that spans borders and languages; something that offers many more connections; something that can leverage big data and smart AI to direct our relationships in an optimal manner.

This vision is classic High Modernism — merely shifted from city cores and farm fields to the digital realm. It should, therefore, scare the hell out of us.

If you went back in time 15 years, and showed James Scott a draft of Boz’s vision, Scott would almost certainly warn you that an attempt to reshape something as fundamental and messy as human sociality with a “better” technological solution would backfire in unexpected, dark, and painful ways.

Problems with Pixel Art

It takes a lot of effort to explain how [an old game’s graphic art] is better than [a recent one’s]. However, it is easy to explain that the [recent game’s art] has a higher level of technology. To the average person, I’m sure it’s self-evident.

Writing Todo-Lists Helps Sleeping

Bedtime worry, including worrying about incomplete future tasks, is a significant contributor to difficulty falling asleep. Previous research showed that writing about one’s worries can help individuals fall asleep. We investigated whether the temporal focus of bedtime writing—writing a to-do list versus journaling about completed activities—affected sleep onset latency. Fifty-seven healthy young adults (18–30) completed a writing assignment for 5 min prior to overnight polysomnography recording in a controlled sleep laboratory.

Die Kontroversesten Fragen im Wahl-o-Mat

Der Konsens-o-Mat POC von Felix Bolte zeigt, dass der Fragenkatalog des Wahl-o-Mat nicht nur Kontroversen, sondern auch Übereinstimmungen der Parteien zeigen kann. Ich fand das interessant und habe eine Variation des Konzepts gebaut um zu sehen, welche Fragen zur Bundestagswahl 2017 besonders Kontrovers waren und in welchen die Parteien übereinstimmen. Es gibt drei Thesen, in denen alle großen Parteien (Union, SPD, AfD, FDP, Linke und Grüne) übereinstimmen: Kindergeld soll nur an deutsche Familien ausgezahlt werden.

Public Space Inc.

Pseudo-public space – squares and parks that seem public but are actually owned by corporations – has quietly spread across cities worldwide. As the Guardian maps its full extent in London for the first time, Jack Shenker reports on a new culture of secrecy and control, where private security guards can remove you for protesting, taking photos … or just looking scruffy

The insidious creep of pseudo-public space in London in the Guardian

Better Interfaces for Music Software

Arthur Carabott writes about his experiments to improve the user interfaces of software for making music:

The goal is to re-think many of the ways in which audio software is designed. […] The project is driven by these two design principles:

  1. If I weren’t interacting with a computer, how would I express this musical idea?
  2. As I am interacting with a computer, what can it do for me that traditional equipment can’t?

Example: Improve on Attack/Decay/Sustain/Release controls by constructing an envelope with your voice.

Read more: Musical User Interfaces