"It’s hard not to hear cultural ruin, melodramatic as that may be, in every interrupting chirp and chime of a phone receiving a text or a call or blasting a video through its speakers on a packed subway train. The citizen in me, greedy for chances at quiet reflection and, frankly, to be left in peace from unwelcome noises, shudders and laments. But the artist in me, the writer, asks a more probing question, if not necessarily more optimistic: what might I do with all this?" Novelist Steve Himmer explores how to write about our increasingly interconnected world in "Reader, I Muted Him: The Narrative Possibilities of Networked Life."
At this point I believe it might be better to dump the container of smartphones into the ocean than to dump them onto the Ebola emergency response. The leader of UNICEF's innovation unit explains why Amazon's offer to donate unsold Fire phones to West Africa will likely cause more harm than good.
In 1984, Mike Lazaridis, an engineering student at the University of Waterloo, and Douglas Fregin, an engineering student at the University of Windsor, founded an electronics and computer science consulting company called Research In Motion, or RIM. For years the company tinkered in obscurity, until it focused on a breakthrough technology: an easy, secure, and effective device that allowed workers to send and receive e-mails while away from the office. They called it the BlackBerry.
Combining famous historical paintings with images of 21st century technology, Art X Smart has transported them into another time. [more inside]
An examination of how near-ubiquitous internet connectivity has reshaped our public spaces and social mores--and what to do about it: "It would be unfair to say [a person consulting her smartphone] isn’t engaged in the city; on the contrary, she may be more finely attuned to neighborhood history and happenings than her companions. But her awareness is secondhand: She misses the quirks and cues of the sidewalk ballet, fails to make eye contact, and limits her perception to a claustrophobic one-fifth of normal. Engrossed in the virtual, she really isn’t here with the rest of us."
Blackberry will be harvested by a private equity firm for US $4.7 billion. Generally blamed for their own decline by disdaining the massive rush of popularity of competing smartphones and becoming increasingly well-known for the bizarre behavior of their leadership, Blackberry hoped to turn things around by ejecting their co-CEOs, rebranding from Research In Motion to the name of their sole product, and launching a new spate of products: OS 10, new generation of touchscreen phones, and planning a second attempt at tablets. In spite of some misguided punditry predicting a new era, they won no love from either the reviewers or the public. [more inside]
Louis C.K. explains to Conan O'Brien why he hates smartphones. "You need to build an ability to just be yourself and not be doing something. That's what the phones are taking away, is the ability to just sit there. That's being a person." (via)
"How do we engage technology sustainably and in a way that supports creativity and freedom?... One of the things I try to do... is to somehow interrupt the use of [new and emerging] technologies so that it causes people [an] unexpected and renewed awakening or sensibility of those devices being in our lives." [more inside]
"We comb our hair each morning. We pick you up from school. We would always send you a birthday card. But it’s not enough.” Nokia's President and CEO Stephen Elop opened Nokia World with this frank assessment of his company - although he has been known for franker assessments in the past. Despite having created the most popular operating systems in the world for dumbphones (S40) and smartphones (S60), the Finnish giant has been a cause for concern in recent years, withdrawing from the lucrative US smartphone market and struggling to profit from sales of inexpensive phones to the developing world, while reviewers lamented the wasted opportunities in the form factor and hardware quality of phones like the Tron-tastic N8. [more inside]
Starting Tuesday, AT&T and T-mobile subscribers will be taking their calls on the subway platforms, and possibly, on the train itself. Subscribers riding along the 14th Street corridor should be able to use their phones on the A, C, E, F, L, M, No. 1, 2 and 3 platforms. There is also expected to be service on the C and E platforms at 23rd Street. It it not clear yet if service will also work between stations, but we're sure we'll all find out soon enough. All stations are expected to be outfitted with cell service by 2016.
Essays on mining and its environmental and human health costs in the Fall 2010 Virginia Quarterly Review: Digging Out; Tin Fever; The Pit; Here Everything is Poison, The Solution: Bolivia's Lithium Dream; The Underground Giant: Life in the Hard Rock Mines of Quebec and Ontario; Jharia Burning; Mother of God, Child of Zeus. Editorial: The Price of the Paperless Revolution.
Nokia and Microsoft Corp announce a strategic partnership which will see Windows Mobile becoming the system of choice on all Nokia smartphones. While not entirely unexpected, this move appears to smack of desperation. Is it a clever marriage of convenience, or a shotgun wedding doomed to failure? Comments on the Nokia Developer's Forum suggest the latter.
Electronics companies all over the world are increasingly reliant on certain rare metals, most of which are mined in China, which controls 97 per cent of the global supply. The Chinese government has promised to slash export quotas to ensure future sustainability of the world's supply of rare metals. China will drop its quota by 35 per cent in the first half of this year as compared with the same time last year. But despite its escalating consumption of rare metals and the need for future sustainability, the West's electronics industry is mistrustful of China's motives and claims that the move has more to do with the mainland's desire to dominate electronics manufacturing than ensuring the future sustainability of the world's supply of rare metals. ~ Greening conscience or resource checkmate? The rare earth trilogy covers eWaste harvesting, restarting interest in mines and dithering around trade regulations, all in one neat package. [more inside]
Stephen Fry just started blogging. His first post? A post on the iPhone, the history of PDAs and the nature of technological innovation and desire, that's roughly the length of a medium-sized novella.