What does the Amazon Prime Air experiment say about the future of work? - Stowe Boyd — Gigaom Research -
I scratched my head a little after watching the Amazon Prime Air video (see here), and considered the impact of delivery drones and autonomous vehicles on the future of work:
[…]the big question about drones and autonomous vehicles in general is about the impact on work. Right off the bat, the several million people (mostly men) employed as truck and delivery drivers will be out of a job. Yes, some of them might get work in the Amazon warehouses, but as soon as AI and robots are up to it, those jobs will be gone too.
This won’t be limited to megacorporations like Amazon, although Amazon might be planning to leverage this as an additional industry disruptor, like they’ve done with Amazon’s elastic computing technologies. Imagine a local florist, Bette, in downtown Beacon NY (my home) wanting to make a delivery to a local customer’s home. No longer reliant on Ralph, her former part-time driver, she simply logs into Amazon Prime Air, types in some details, and twenty minutes later a drone touches down in the loading zone outside her store, picks up the flowers for Mrs Johnson, and takes off for North Brett Street.
Of course, her flowers arrive by an autonomous truck three times weekly, and her Samsung Smart Pallet communicates with the truck, gathers her flowers, and brings them to her cold room, without the services of Sheila, her former part-time assistant.
But Ralph and Sheila are off starting microbusinesses, where autonomous vehicles make the economics work.
Read the rest.
The Future of the Book
As someone who made the leap from print to electronic publishing over thirty years ago people often ask me to expound on the “future of the book.” Frankly, I can’t stand the question, especially when asked simplistically. For starters it needs more specificity. Are we talking 2 years, 10 years or 100 years? And what does the questioner mean by “book” anyway? Are they asking about the evolution of the physical object or its role in the social fabric?
It’s a long story but over the past thirty years my definition of “book” has undergone a major shift. At the beginning I simply defined a book in terms of its physical nature — paper pages infused with ink, bound into what we know as the codex. But then in the late 1970s with the advent of new media technologies we began to see the possibility of extending the notion of the page to include audio and video, imagining books with audio and video components. To make this work conceptually, we started defining books not in terms of their physical components but how they are used. From this perspective a book isn’t ink on bound paper, but rather “a user-driven medium” where the reader is in complete control of how they access the contents. With laser videodiscs and then cd-roms users/readers started “reading” motion pictures; transforming the traditionally producer-driven experience where the user simply sat in a chair with no control of pace or sequence into a fully user-driven medium.
This definition worked up through the era of the laser videodisc and the cd-rom, but completely fell apart with the rise of the internet. Without an “object” to tie it to, I started to talk about a book as the vehicle humans use to move ideas around time and space.
People often expressed opposition to my freewheeling license with definitions but I learned to push back, explaining that it may take decades, maybe even a century for stable new modes of expression and the words to describe them to emerge. For now I argued, it’s better to continuously redefine the definition of “book” until something else clearly takes its place. —
Bob Stein, The Future of the Book is the Future of Society
Now that we can easily create, manage, and share chunks of ‘content’ — writing, images, video, commentary, and metadata — digital books and other digital containers for information start to smell a lot alike.
Perhaps a better question is ‘what is the future of…’ for the constituent activities, like the future of poetry, or fiction, or erotic photography. The containers will increasingly be soft copy.
In an era where the coffee table has a touch screen, the idea of coffee table ‘books’ will be just a rendering on the screen of these works, that can be opened and read on the table, or on the visitor’s personal tablet.
Stein goes on in this essay to discuss this new sort of book as becoming social objects, where readers can participate in public or private communities commenting on a work, such as in classrooms, the workplace, or the open web.
This is where books blend and intermix with other web-based and digital forms of information, and where our intentions in the use of the objects is shown as the only consideration that matters, not the historical meaning of something like a ‘book’.
The medium, or process, of our time — electric technology — is reshaping and restructuring patterns of social interdependence and every aspect of our personal life. It is forcing us to reconsider and re-evaluate practically every thought, every action, and every institution formerly taken for granted. Everything is changing: you, your family, your education, your neighborhood, your job, your government, your relation to “the others”. And they’re changing dramatically. — Marshall McLuhan, The Medium is the Message
I recently wrote about my use of Workflowy in my, er, workflow (see Small pieces, even more loosely joined), and noted that the tool lacks a bookmarklet.
Imagine that I am reading an article by Richard Florida, and I want to save snippets of it in my Workflowy. If Workflowy had a bookmarklet — which is a strange omission — I would click on it, and it would do the following:
- Capture the URL of the page
- Capture the title of the article (if possible)
- Capture any selected text
- Place these in three appropriately labeled and editable fields
- Display some mechanism for indicating where the new item should be nested in my Workflowy
- Show an ‘Add’ button, which I’d press to add after selecting a location.
As a fallback, I’d like a bookmarklet that captures title, URL, and any selected text in a single text string, so I can cut and paste to Workflowy.
I’ve been using my Todoist bookmarklet, but it is less than optimal, since it places the URL first in the edit buffer and the page title second, in parens, for its own task creation purposes.
The good news is that I found a bookmarklet that was almost what I wanted, and I hacked it to be workable.
The original bookmarklet is from 5typos.net, and created a three line text string with the page title, the URL, and any selected text from the page. Here’s it is, unescaped:
The problem is that the newlines (‘/n’ in the script) cause a problem: when I copy the text and paste to Workflowy it creates three outline items, when I really want one.
So I hacked the script, replacing the newlines with blanks:
BBC News - Amazon testing drones for deliveries
Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer, is testing unmanned drones to deliver goods to customers, according to Chief Executive Jeff Bezos.
The drones, called Octocopters, could deliver packages weighing up to 2.3kg to customers within 30 minutes of them placing the order, he said.
However, he added that it could take up to five years for the service to start.
The US Federal Aviation Administration is yet to approve the use of unmanned drones for civilian purposes.
Previous New Aesthetic posts on Amazon.
While hard work may not guarantee success, not working hard almost always guarantees failure. — Charles Blow, For Some Folks, Life Is a Hill
If there’s no constructive conflict, if people don’t feel comfortable publicly disagreeing, you’re never going to get great ideas. — Adam Bryant interviews Dolf van den Brink of Heineken USA, on Transparency
1. Find a subject you care about.
2. Do not ramble, though.
3. Keep it simple.
4. Have the guts to cut.
5. Sound like yourself.
6. Say what you mean to say.
7. Pity the readers. — Kurt Vonnegut
Google released transit locations on Google Maps today. (Seems to include a lot of museums in the US.)
Here’s Mexico City’s airport:
I hope they are going to show where the power outlets are.
Better to read one good book well than a hundred poorly. — Paul Harding
(Source: , via explore-blog)