Information is perhaps the rawest material in the process out of which we arrive at meaning: an undifferentiated stream of sense and nonsense in which we go fishing for facts. But the journey from information to meaning involves more than simply filtering the signal from the noise. It is an alchemical transformation, always surprising. It takes skill, time and effort, practice and patience. No matter how experienced we become, success cannot be guaranteed. In most human societies, there have been specialists in this skill, yet it can never be the monopoly of experts, for it is also a very basic, deeply human activity, essential to our survival. If boredom has become a sickness in modern societies, this is because the knack of finding meaning is harder to come by.

It is only fair to note that the internet is not altogether to blame for this, and that the rise of boredom itself goes back to an earlier technological revolution. The word was invented around the same time as the spinning jenny. As the philosophers Barbara Dalle Pezze and Carlo Salzani put it in their essay ‘The Delicate Monster’ (2009):
Boredom is not an inherent quality of the human condition, but rather it has a history, which began around the 18th century and embraced the whole Western world, and which presents an evolution from the 18th to the 21st century.

For all its boons, the industrial era itself brought about an endemic boredom peculiar to the division of labour, the distancing of production from consumption, and the rationalisation of working activity to maximise output.

My point is not that we should return to some romanticised preindustrial past: I mean only to draw attention to contradictions that still shape our post-industrial present. The physical violence of the 19th-century factory might be gone, at least in the countries where industrialisation began, but the alienation inherent in these ways of organising work remains.

When the internet arrived, it seemed to promise a liberation from the boredom of industrial society, a psychedelic jet-spray of information into every otherwise tedious corner of our lives. In fact, at its best, it is something else: a remarkable helper in the search for meaningful connections. But if the deep roots of boredom are in a lack of meaning, rather than a shortage of stimuli, and if there is a subtle, multilayered process by which information can give rise to meaning, then the constant flow of information to which we are becoming habituated cannot deliver on such a promise. At best, it allows us to distract ourselves with the potentially endless deferral of clicking from one link to another. Yet sooner or later we wash up downstream in some far corner of the web, wondering where the time went. The experience of being carried on these currents is quite different to the patient, unpredictable process that leads towards meaning.

Dougald Hine, The problem with too much information

A Toaster That Begs You to Use It: Welcome to the Bizarro Smart Home | Wired Design | Wired.com


See on Scoop.it - Cyborg Lives
Brad, a toaster susceptible to peer pressure, is the star of “Addicted Products,” a design experiment recently named Best in Show at the 2014 Interaction Awards.


His name is Brad, and he’s an addict. And a toaster.

Brad is the star of “Addicted Products,” a design experiment recently named Best in Show at the 2014 Interaction Awards. As a connected toaster, he’s in constant contact with other connected toasters like him–and thus keenly aware of how much action they’re getting. If he’s not being used as much as his friends, Brad gets upset. He’ll wiggle his little handle to get your attention, begging you to make some toast or at least to give him a reassuring pat on the side. Ignore him long enough, and he’ll take a more drastic measure: pinging a network of potential owners to find a new home. Hey, at least he didn’t burn down your kitchen.

Conceived by Italian designer Simone Rebaudengo, Brad is a glimpse into a bizarro near-future, one where the internet of things leads not to harmoniously interconnected gadgets but rather a house full of junkies–appliances hopelessly addicted to being used. The fanciful premise evolved from a simple idea: What if the smart objects of the future aren’t just smart, but also potentially jealous, petty or vindictive? What if, connected to and benchmarked against their peers, their relationships with each other start to inform their relationships with us?

See on wired.com

Socialogy Interview: Philip Sheldrake

I Think Twitter Should Buy Nuzzel Immediately, Before Yahoo or Flipboard Does

I got access to Nuzzel today, and it is going to immediately join Flipboard as one of the few apps I religiously use everyday to make sense of my Twitter flow. Nuzzel cross-tabulates my incoming stream of tweets, and yields the stories that a whole bunch of my scene are talking about in Twitter. Nuzzel is the best social news feed I’ve seen, to date.


This is a much better realization of what I have been using Flipboard to do for me with my Twitter feed there. This aggregates dozens of tweets about a hot story — like Jennifer Bell’s Journalism startups aren’t a revolution if they’re filled with all these white men — and allows me to wander through aggregation from my friends — those who I follow directly — and from my friends of friends — which truly is my social scene. (I’m betting that swarm is something like a few hundred thousand to a million people, based on each of the 1500 folks I follow following a few hundred people each.)

Nuzzel also suggests stories I might have missed, and keeps track of what i have read — just that last feature along is a product I need regularly.

Check out my public Nuzzel feed at nuzzel.com/stoweboyd.

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