July 18, 2019

News ⚡ — Friday, July 19

Elon Musk unveils Neuralink’s plans for brain-reading ‘threads.’ Amazon accidentally sold $13,000+ camera gear for $100 on Prime Day. K-Swiss and IGC “MIBR ONE TAP” e-sports sneaker.

1. 🧠 Elon Musk unveils Neuralink’s plans for brain-reading ‘threads’
The proposed future technology Neuralink intends to make, a module that sits outside the head and wirelessly receives information from threads embedded in the brain. Mind blown.

2. 🤦🏻 Amazon accidentally sold $13,000+ camera gear for $100 on Prime Day
Photographers scored what may be the best deals of their lives. Thanks to a pricing error, many people were able to purchase high-end camera gear bundles, some worth over $5,000, for just around $100. 93% Off.

3. 🎮 K-Swiss and IGC “MIBR ONE TAP” e-sports sneaker
The “ONE-TAP” was designed in partnership with the Immortals Gaming Club, who specialize in Counter Strike and Overwatch. However, for what it is, do gamers really need “performance footwear?” Dubious.

4. 🌲 Saint Laurent incident underlines environmental cost of fashion shows
After being denied a permit by the local government, Saint Laurent staged a beachside runway show in Malibu that violated a host of environmental regulations, the city says. Out-of-line.

5. 🔏 FaceApp responds to privacy concerns over its ownership of 150 million faces
The app, which has some far reaching terms of service,  is responsible for the deluge of selfies of older versions of people, and it does that by uploading user photos to the cloud for processing instead of on their device. AI food.

6. 👩🏻‍⚖️ Ai Weiwei wins a legal battle with Volkswagen over an ad that featured his refugee-themed art installation without permission
As compensation, the artist will receive $260,000 from the company as ordered by a Copenhagen court, after the artist tried unsuccessfully to sue the car company for over a year. Served.

7. 🗻 Companion stops off in Japan as part of its Asian KAWS:HOLIDAY tour
Unveiled at the Fumotoppara Camping Ground near Mt. Fuji, KAWS’ iconic figure will remain on view through July 24. Snooze.

8. ❄️ Scientists propose pumping 74 trillion tons of artificial snow onto to the west antarctic ice sheet to stop its collapse
Previous wild thought experiments for how to deal with this include a proposal for a massive underwater berm to stop warm water from intruding beneath the glaciers. But the new study looks at another avenue of saving the glaciers by increasing snowfall onto the surface to thicken the ice. The process that could in theory stabilize them by adding heft that would push the grounding line—where the ice, seafloor, and ocean meet—further out to sea. Hollywood Grade.

9. ❌ Netflix lost US subscribers for the first time ever
Despite hoping to add about 300,000 subscribers in the past quarter, Netflix actually lost Instead, 126,000 US subscribers in the second quarter, which ended June 30. The streaming landscape is about to get a whole lot more competitive so this could be a warning sign for investors. Flixed out.

See all our recent News ⚡ updates here.

 

Update Log
v8 (current): Added an intro paragraph, not that it needed it but it makes it easier for us to share quickly to social media (which we were slacking on). Added an OptaJoe-inspired one-word conclusion. Inspired.
v7: <h2> gone, that was real quick (one flash). We’re testing <strong> instead for headlines
v6: Highlighted the titles as <h2> headers. Not sure we like it…
v5: Changed the order of the update entries (recent to oldest). A photo now accompanies the News ⚡ as prior there were issues with not having an image preview on social media.
v4: Went from 5 links to somewhere under 10.
v3: changed the URL slug from the emoji to flash.
v2: added a short one-liner to add a bit more context.
v1: numbered list, with emojis and a headline. Decided on five links for brevity and focus.

July 17, 2019

News ⚡ — Wednesday, July 17

Apple to fund exclusive podcasts to challenge Spotify. National Geographic Magazine’s August “Migration” issue focuses on refugees. Converse Chuck Taylor 70 gets customized by Chinatown Market and Joshua Vides.

1. 🍎 Apple will reportedly fund exclusive podcasts to challenge Spotify
Word has it Apple is planning to fund a set of exclusive podcasts that will set its own iOS and macOS apps apart, a surprisingly belated decision given the company’s 14-year history with the podcasting medium. Competition.

2. 🌐 National Geographic Magazine’s August “Migration” issue will focus on refugees
Emmet Smith highlights the striking, full-bleed photography that depicts these people, while the typography of the headlines flows off and on to the page, symbolising a “borderless world.” Movement.

3. 🔥 Converse, Joshua Vides and Chinatown Market explore the bounds of customization with the Converse Chuck 70
The Converse Chuck 70, built from the 1970 version the Converse Chuck Taylor All Star, has solidified a reputation as a designer favorite. For Los Angeles-based artist Joshua Vides and Chinatown Market’s Michael Cherman, the shoe is also an invitation for hands-on experiences. Classic.

4. 🤷🏻‍♂️ American kids would much rather be YouTubers than astronauts
The Apollo program’s effect of inspiring America’s children to pursue careers in STEM fields is one of the most powerful lasting legacies of the Moon race. Unfortunately, this effect seems to be coming to an end. Dreams.

5. 💰 Creator-centric companies closing rounds of fundraising including Landr, Substack, and Patreon.
Newsletter platform Substack nabs $15.3 million in funding while Landr raised $26 million for AI-powered music creation tools and Patreon, which claimed $60M. Funded.

6. 📸 Sony a7RIV: First impressions and the first JPEGs taken in the real world
Photographer Albert Dros, who is also a Sony Global Ambassador of Imaging, gives the recently announced camera a test run. Some key specs include a massive 61 MP sensor. Megapixels.

7. 🔍 ‘Fake News’: Why Snopes prefers not to say it anymore
The phrase “fake news” was in and out of Snopes’ style guide before it was common parlance. The website now reveals why. “Junk News”.

8. 🈚 Why Muji is struggling despite making a global name for itself
The retailer is one of a small crop of Japanese brands that have succeeded in winning a worldwide following. It turns out, though, that its “less is more” has its limits as a business strategy. Local produce.

9. 😮 Consumers will spend more than $3 billion on single-use outfits this summer, alone.
London-based survey consultancy Censuswide revealed this week in a study it produced with British charity Barnardo’s, the single-use fashion market – one that sees consumers scooping up outfits that they wear once before ultimately discarding them – is worth billions of dollars, and it’s growing. Wasteful.

See all our recent News ⚡ updates here.

Update Log
v8 (current): Added an intro paragraph, not that it needed it but it makes it easier for us to share quickly to social media (which we were slacking on). Added an OptaJoe-inspired one-word conclusion. Inspired.
v7: <h2> gone, that was real quick (one flash). We’re testing <strong> instead for headlines
v6: Highlighted the titles as <h2> headers. Not sure we like it…
v5: Changed the order of the update entries (recent to oldest). A photo now accompanies the News ⚡ as prior there were issues with not having an image preview on social media.
v4: Went from 5 links to somewhere under 10.
v3: changed the URL slug from the emoji to flash.
v2: added a short one-liner to add a bit more context.
v1: numbered list, with emojis and a headline. Decided on five links for brevity and focus.

July 17, 2019

Making It Up 095: Instagram combats bullying and the millennial art market

On Making It Up 095, Charis and Eugene discuss measures Instagram as a platform is taking to combat bullying and more generally what bullying looks like. They also talk about how the art market is changing to attract younger collectors, as well as the company Otis which is about investing in “alternative assets.”

July 16, 2019

News ⚡ — Tuesday, July 16

The adidas Archive visualizes the brand’s history through 357 pairs of sneakers. Is “washless” clothing actually odor-resistant and good for the environment? I’m Back unveils a cheap digital back for old medium format cameras.

1. 👟 The adidas Archive visualizes the brand’s history through 357 pairs of sneakers
Taschen and authors Christian Habermeier and Sebastian Jäger take readers through adidas designs both classic and modern, telling the brand’s story through the shoes that continue to plant their flag throughout the fashion and sneaker landscape. History.

2. 🤢 Is “washless” clothing actually odor-resistant and good for the environment?
Brands that market their clothing as odor-fighting almost always attribute it to the fabric’s supposed antimicrobial qualities. But according to one professor, this can be misleading. Stank.

3. 📸 I’m Back unveils a cheap digital back for old medium format cameras
I’m Back, the company behind the popular Digital Back for old 35mm SLRs, is funding an affordable digital back designed for old medium format cameras from Hasselblad, Bronica, Pentax, Mamiya and more. Backed.

4. 🐄 The global beef trade is being supplied by illegally deforested land and is destroying the Amazon
JBS is the single biggest supplier of beef, chicken and leather globally, and exports fresh beef to Europe. In 2017, JBS said it had stopped buying Santa Barbara cattle, after it was fined $7.7 million for buying cows raised on illegally deforested land — but an investigation shows that is no longer the case. At the root of this is a complicated dilemma. How do emerging countries balance growth and environment? Challenging.

5. 🤴🏿 Giannis Antetokounmpo unveils his ‘Coming to America’ collection with Nike
An official collaboration with Paramount Pictures, the collection is a tribute to the Eddie Murphy film of the same name and incidentally, the Milwaukee Bucks MVP’s favorite. The Prince.

6. 🍽️ Noma x Dr. Martens exclusive footwear created for restaurant staff
With Dr. Martens supplying the footwear, fellow Copenhagen-based label Norse Projects supplied the women’s uniforms for the front of house team. The soon to be closed Noma is currently ranked number two in the world. Threads.

7. 😮 Barneys New York explores options that include bankruptcy
Sources say that the U.S. luxury department store operator is considering filing for bankruptcy as it struggles with high rents and changing consumer tastes. Times.

See all our recent News ⚡ updates here.

Update Log
v8 (current): Added an intro paragraph, not that it needed it but it makes it easier for us to share quickly to social media (which we were slacking on). Added an OptaJoe-inspired one-word conclusion. Inspired.
v7: <h2> gone, that was real quick (one flash). We’re testing <strong> instead for headlines
v6: Highlighted the titles as <h2> headers. Not sure we like it…
v5: Changed the order of the update entries (recent to oldest). A photo now accompanies the News ⚡ as prior there were issues with not having an image preview on social media.
v4: Went from 5 links to somewhere under 10.
v3: changed the URL slug from the emoji to flash.
v2: added a short one-liner to add a bit more context.
v1: numbered list, with emojis and a headline. Decided on five links for brevity and focus.

July 15, 2019

What are the immediate benefits and challenges of remote and distributed teams?

Source:

Now that it’s easier than ever to assemble teams of talented people across the world—without having to even share an office—what are some of the benefits and challenges faced by these technologically-enabled work arrangements?

 The new normal

In 2013, Scott Berkun authored a book called The Year Without Pants in which he shared his experience working remotely for WordPress. Since then, these non-traditional work arrangements have become the norm at many companies. They are categorised within 3 broad groups:

  • Fully Distributed: Where team members rarely come into the office and work almost exclusively through the Internet, such as WordPress when it first started.
  • Semi-Distributed: Where some of the roles such as leadership or management are staffed at a headquarters that manage distributed team or teams (Hashicorp, Mattermost).
  • Small Offices: Often new offices can be created to start and host functional teams such as support or sales development.

The challenges

While versatile, there are certainly challenges with having an arrangement like this. This includes ensuring good communication strategies across geographies, especially in cases where the team is distributed. In addition, it’s important to share valuable knowledge or decisions made in person by one part of the team across the network. Finally, the largest challenges can sometimes center around hiring and compensating contractors and employees in these teams, especially ensuring that a company’s practices comply with local laws.

Speaking from experience

While technology and global connectivity have made previously unheard of work arrangements possible, the versatility for both the company and the individuals involved (who often enjoy flexible schedules) does come at a price. For distributed teams in creative companies especially, one of the biggest challenges is creating and maintaining a passionate work culture despite a lack of in-person face time with which to exchange ideas on the fly.

What’s more is where dedicated operational personnel is lacking, this chemistry and synergy needs to be maintained through reliable systems that can account for complex detail-oriented creative work. This doesn’t just mean individual programs (such as if a team is sharing an Adobe CC license) but how the myriad of programs in a team’s chosen tech stack play together. In short, for these distributed creative companies to thrive, they must properly use location-freeing technologies. The tech must have limited energy-sapping snags to keep creative juices flowing.

– Nate Kan

July 15, 2019

News ⚡ — Monday, July 15

Some of America’s most iconic brands are losing their luster. WSJ Magazine launches stand-alone monthly magazine in China focused on fashion. The Federal Trade Commission fines Facebook $5 billion following the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

1. 📉 Some of America’s most iconic brands are losing their luster
From Oscar Mayer and Campbell’s to Clairol and CoverGirl, some of America’s most famous global supermarket and drug store brands are losing market share as consumers’ tastes and shopping habits change. Inevitable.

2. 😮 WSJ Magazine launching a stand-alone monthly magazine in China
The first WSJ China issue releases next month through a five-year licensing deal with Huasheng Media and will be a stand-alone monthly magazine sold on newsstands and sent to subscribers. The publication is aiming for a male audience and will feature high-end men’s fashion along with lifestyle and business content. Anticipation.

3. 💸 The Federal Trade Commission fines Facebook $5 billion following the Cambridge Analytica scandal
For Facebook, which drew about $55 billion in profit last year, the fine would need to be combined with robust regulations or oversight rules to actually affect how it does business and treats its users’ information. Despite the size of the fine, many suggest this is still not enough. Insufficient.

4. 🏀 NBA superstar duos remake the league
Superteams are being phased out for dynamic duos. The NBA has fractured into an assortment of superstar tag teams vying for basketball’s biggest prize, while general managers keep their eyes peeled for who is next to ask out. It’s not the Avengers fighting Thanos anymore — Batman and Robin are taking on Poison Ivy and Mr. Freeze. Chemistry.

5. 💻 The new 1.4 GHz entry-level MacBook Pro is probably faster than you would expect
The newly-announced $1299 MacBook Pro adds Touch ID, Touch Bar, and the latest 8th-gen Intel CPUs but sufficiently zippy performance despite the low-end designation. Unexpected.

6. 😵 Your bingeing of Netflix and porn is contributing to millions of tons of emissions a year
The Shift Project, a Paris-based think tank, reported that all online videos from around the world—or rather, the power needed for the data centers that handle them—cause over 300 million tons of carbon dioxide a year or 1 percent of the total annual global emissions. NoFap.

7. 🍀 Mainstream retail’s move into CBD could create $24 billion industry
Initially, sales of CBD products were generally limited to cannabis-specific companies, including vaping and hemp shops, but in Q2 retailers like CVS and Walgreens moved into the space. Green Revolution.

8. 📝 An open letter to Vladimir Putin, from Pussy Riot
The Russian feminist protest punk rock group and art collective released a new music video “Black Snow” along with the letter, which calls for greater oversight of corporations that pollute. Blood Rain.

9. 👟 Sotheby’s offers 100 pairs of the rarest sneakers ever produced
The top lot of the collection—curated by Stadium Goods, a sneaker and streetwear marketplace that’s now part of online luxury fashion retail platform Farfetch—is a pair of the 1972 Nike Waffle Trainer “Moon Shoe,” estimated to realize in the region of $110,000 to $160,000. Shoppable Museum.

See all our recent News ⚡ updates here.

Update Log
v8 (current): Added an intro paragraph, not that it needed it but it makes it easier for us to share quickly to social media (which we were slacking on). Added an OptaJoe-inspired one-word conclusion. Inspired.
v7: <h2> gone, that was real quick (one flash). We’re testing <strong> instead for headlines
v6: Highlighted the titles as <h2> headers. Not sure we like it…
v5: Changed the order of the update entries (recent to oldest). A photo now accompanies the News ⚡ as prior there were issues with not having an image preview on social media.
v4: Went from 5 links to somewhere under 10.
v3: changed the URL slug from the emoji to flash.
v2: added a short one-liner to add a bit more context.
v1: numbered list, with emojis and a headline. Decided on five links for brevity and focus.

 

July 12, 2019

News ⚡ — Friday, July 12

Legal cannabis appears to boost snack sales. AI destroys 5 poker champs simultaneously. Gucci pivots to gaming with new arcade-based gaming app.

1. 😋 Not surprising: legal cannabis looks to be boosting snack sales
Nielsen data shows that over the past 52 weeks (ending April 27, 2019), salty snacks reached sales of $29.9 billion and sweet snacks reached $6.5 billion.” Calories.

2. 🤖 AI smokes 5 poker champs at a time in no-limit Hold’em with ‘relentless consistency’
Pluribus was trained, like many game-playing AI agents these days, not by studying how humans play but by playing against itself and weighing other ways it could have played after playing a hand. Monte Carlo tree.

3. 🕹️ Gucci pivots to gaming with new Arcade app that includes two titles
Gucci Bee is a Gucci-clad Pac-Man-lookalike bee, while Gucci Ace sees the player traversing a trio of levels that skip through gaming history from the early 8-bit days to the mobile-dominated present. Fashion and gaming are arguably two important facets of culture today, making this a fascinating development. Quirky.

4. 🏀 NBA partners with game-changing HomeCourt AI training app
The game-like app is backed by the likes of Steve Nash, Jeremy Lin, and Joe Harris, as well as Alibaba, Mark Cuban, and is meant to help with scouting talent. This could open the doors for passionate individuals who may lack the initial coaching to advance to the next level. Gamify-ified.

5. 📸 The Sigma fp is the ‘world’s smallest’ full-frame mirrorless camera
The camera still offers features that you’d expect from a full-frame camera such as 3.2-inch touchscreen, an SD card slot, HDMI port, and support for external flash sync, mic, headphone, and remote shutter. Scalable.

6. 😻 This Hello Kitty-inspired art exhibition celebrating her 45th anniversary promises to be the most adorable show of the summer
In honor of her birthday, the Los Angeles-based Corey Helford Gallery has invited more than 100 artists to contribute to a group show dedicated to the beloved mouthless cat. Are these licensed/brand-driven shows interesting or lazy? Adorbs.

7. 💡 A look inside SCAD’s 2019 grad show
The show focused on new design solutions with this year’s projects including toys that teach death, furniture made from motorcycle parts and modular ballet shoes. Whoa.

8. 📱 IBM patents smartwatch that folds out into a smartphone and tablet
Filed for a patent back in 2016, the wearable device features a total of eight unfolding displays, each one measuring 2 x 3 inches. Multitask.

9. 🤾🏻‍♂️ Nike Air Manufacturing Innovation expands to Arizona with new facility
Located in the city of Goodyear, the expansion is expected to generate more than 500 full-time jobs and result in an investment of at least $184 million. It’s to be seen how proximity to R&D between Portland’s HQ and the new facility will change how products are made. Domestic production.

See all our recent News ⚡ updates here.

Update Log
v8 (current): Added an intro paragraph, not that it needed it but it makes it easier for us to share quickly to social media (which we were slacking on). Added an OptaJoe-inspired one-word conclusion. Inspired.
v7: <h2> gone, that was real quick (one flash). We’re testing <strong> instead for headlines
v6: Highlighted the titles as <h2> headers. Not sure we like it…
v5: Changed the order of the update entries (recent to oldest). A photo now accompanies the News ⚡ as prior there were issues with not having an image preview on social media.
v4: Went from 5 links to somewhere under 10.
v3: changed the URL slug from the emoji to flash.
v2: added a short one-liner to add a bit more context.
v1: numbered list, with emojis and a headline. Decided on five links for brevity and focus.

July 11, 2019

News ⚡ — Thursday, July 11

A$AP Rocky being held in “inhumane conditions” in Sweden following fight in Stockholm. Yayoi Kusama show coming to the Bronx next spring. Lady Gaga is launching a makeup brand exclusively on Amazon.

1. 😧 A$AP Rocky being held in “inhumane conditions” in Sweden, U.S. State Department “actively monitoring” situation
The artist is being held in pre-trial detention on suspicion of assault after he got into a fight in Stockholm after performing at the Smash hip-hop festival. Unsettling.

2. 🎃 Yayoi Kusama is coming to the Bronx for an expansive show next spring
She will host her exhibition at the New York Botanical Garden where she will also be creating new works for that show. Mirrors.

3. 💄 Lady Gaga is launching a makeup brand
Haus Laboratories, debuting in September, will be the first major beauty brand to be sold exclusively on Amazon. Mid-Tier.

4. ⚽ Nike Women x Gurls Talk: “Spit Fire, Dream Higher” (watch)
Adwoa Aboah, Gurls Talk founder and narrator of the film, presents the story through a pro-footballer’s lens while Nike athlete and PSG striker Nadia Nadim epitomizes the fighting spirit of female footballers. Ascent.

5. 👟 New Balance Runs in the Family
The new campaign video was created to promote the new 997S and features some of the most iconic members of the NB fam including Kawhi Leonard, Sadio Mané, Jaden Smith, Sydney McLaughlin, Jamie Foy and Francisco Lindor. Kicks.

6. ❌ Nicki Minaj cancels Saudi Arabia performance citing human rights concerns
After facing heated criticism from human rights groups, Minaj has pulled out of the July 18 event, citing her commitment to women’s rights, the LGBTQ community, and freedom of expression. Swayed.

7. 💥 Video game promotional stunt tricks New Yorkers into thinking they blew up a cop car
The campaign involved a real-life model of a gun from free-to-play science fiction shooter Warframe. GTA.

8. ⚡ Don’t panic about Bitcoin’s energy consumption
A new International Energy Agency analysis shows most of the mining is happening in parts of China with ample renewable energy sources. Relief.

See all our recent News ⚡ updates here.

Update Log
v8 (current): Added an intro paragraph, not that it needed it but it makes it easier for us to share quickly to social media (which we were slacking on). Added an OptaJoe-inspired one-word conclusion. Inspired.
v7: <h2> gone, that was real quick (one flash). We’re testing <strong> instead for headlines
v6: Highlighted the titles as <h2> headers. Not sure we like it…
v5: Changed the order of the update entries (recent to oldest). A photo now accompanies the News ⚡ as prior there were issues with not having an image preview on social media.
v4: Went from 5 links to somewhere under 10.
v3: changed the URL slug from the emoji to flash.
v2: added a short one-liner to add a bit more context.
v1: numbered list, with emojis and a headline. Decided on five links for brevity and focus.

July 11, 2019

How will immersive new media push the evolution of usability?

Jakob Nielsen’s 10 Usability Heuristics for Interface Design (1994) remain relevant today even for UI in modern software, websites, apps and even video games. We’re no stranger to these guidelines being bent or broken for artistic or commercial merit, but how will the playing field change when the interfaces they were designed for eventually evolve to become us?

The Original Heuristics

For reference, heuristics are “any approach to problem solving or self-discovery that employs a practical method, not guaranteed to be optimal, perfect, logical, or rational, but instead sufficient for reaching an immediate goal.” These can also be used to decrease the cognitive load on a person to speed decision-making. Here is a brief summary of Nielsen’s original 10:

  • Visibility of system status: The system gives users feedback about what is going on.
  • Match between system and the real world: The system favors language and concepts familiar to the user and real-world conventions.
  • User control and freedom: Users have the freedom to undo or exit functions executed by mistake.
  • Consistency and standards: No guesswork as to whether different words, situations, or actions mean the same thing.
  • Error prevention: Careful design that eliminates the potential for errors.
  • Recognition rather than recall: Visuals are used extensively and instructions accessible to minimize the user’s memory load.
  • Flexibility and efficiency of use: Expert users can access accelerators, unseen to novices, that speed up interaction.
  • Aesthetic and minimalist design: Information provided is inconspicuous, relevant and efficient.
  • Help users recognize, diagnose, and recover from errors: Errors identified in plain language (no codes), and constructive solutions are offered.
  • Help and documentation: Easy to search, focused on completing the user’s task and of appropriate length.

The spectrum of immersiveness and user agency

While the above guidelines make perfect sense, developers have always interpreted or flouted them for commercial, artistic or other intentions in social media, video games, apps, websites or any other kind of interactive software.

For one, some games such as Wild West-themed Red Dead Redemption 2 offer the option of switching off the heads-up display (HUD) that includes the map, meaning players have to rely on landmarks and directions from non-player characters to find their way (just like we used to).

If you’ve mistakenly clicked into a 3rd party site when simply trying to clear a pop-up ad, there’s a good chance you’ve gotten a taste of Dark UX to use a less colorful term. Some are not as downright manipulative to squeeze that one-time action out of you, but rather are a combination of more subtle interface design decisions meant to loosen our purse strings or keep us engaged with—or dependent on—a given digital medium.

Depending on the creator’s intentions, we the users will find ourselves falling somewhere on a spectrum with every digital medium we experience, where total unconscious immersion lies at one end and complete freedom and control at the other.

Tomorrow’s interfaces and the blurring of reality

As we get closer to developing better and better media forms that involve the user on a deeper level, many of the above heuristics may become locked to certain benchmarks and inseparably merged as part of a new standard for user experience: total immersion.

Nielsen’s original usability heuristics were created in 1994 and certainly remain relevant beyond the software they were intended for originally. Today, the boundaries between software, apps and websites are constantly being blurred depending on how and how much the user can interact with them. Even though we’ve come a long way from a time when the only input devices were mouse and keyboard, and we’re still busy exploring the potential of capacitive surfaces beyond the touch screen, the interface and user remain separated at the hands.

But because the 10 heuristics have always favored the user anyway—their end goal is to reduce cognitive load and ease decision making—the interface will eventually do away with separate peripherals and the user will become the input device.

When eye movements, speech, and even thought become an industry standard input for interfaces, we’re going to reach a point where the usability of all apps, sites and software is going to be evaluated on the by-then increased user expectations (for example “the program responds quickly to my gestures in the air, moves the displayed area with my eye movements or pauses when my mind is focused elsewhere.”)

By this time, anything that delays this or responds in a non-intuitive way will effectively “break” the immersion, violating several heuristics in one fell swoop and thus affect a program’s usability—what we’d currently call “buggy” or laggy controls.

Art and industry

Regardless of whether an app, program, game or simulation is for commercial or artistic purposes, a creator’s goal is always strong user engagement whether that be evaluated in how often they revisit it or how long they spend with it. Just as long-form journalism, feature length films and perhaps eventually even podcasts decline in popularity, creators need to keep asking themselves how their respective arts and industries might change as attention spans shift and shrink while the path of least resistance shortens.

When VR and other yet to be defined new mediums reach a high enough standard to become widespread and normalized in our everyday lives (we’re getting there), we will have to figure out how we address the divide between this world and the creator’s. Photographer, artist and VR filmmaker Julia Leeb uses VR to so that her audiences can experience the terror of war in an uncomfortable but physically safe manner. What are the implications of future artists that remove user agency to execute their visions? How will industry standards evolve to address Dark UX in commercial VR apps? Should we establish upper limits—a “no go” zone—for how immersive something can be? Or will we simply treat new mediums as just another field of rabbit holes, each of which we impressionable humans can get lost in, as we have tended to do?

You might say we’ve watched one episode of Black Mirror too many, but it never hurts to be mindful of how we use the new things we create, but also how we can be used by them in return.

July 10, 2019

News ⚡ — Wednesday, July 10

Inside Kanye’s billion-dollar empire. How a memo at FIFA created a diversity movement at EA games. BMW takes on competitors with an electric Mini Cooper.

1. 📈 Kanye’s Second Coming: Inside The Billion-Dollar Yeezy Empire
Forbes gives a comprehensive look back on his road to success starting with music and leading back to his most profitable venture, sneakers. Insight.

2. ⚽ How female characters in FIFA led to a diversity movement at EA
In 2017, game designer Katie Scott shared a memo about FIFA’s diversity with eight colleagues and bosses. It reached the highest levels of the company, and it spurred changes across all of EA’s games. Ripples.

3. 🚙 BMW takes on VW and Tesla with $36,400 electric Mini Cooper
The battery Mini is BMW’s second all-electric car after the i3 city car, sales of which have been disappointing since its 2013 debut. Competition.

4. 🏍 Akira director Katsuhiro Otomo announces sequel TV series and new film
He announced his Akira sequel anime series and Orbital Era, his third anime feature film, at this year’s Anime Expo in L.A. Projects.

5. 😠 White man followed a black teen into a store and cut his throat because his rap music made him feel “unsafe”
Michael Adams, released from prison two days earlier, killed 17-year-old Elijah Al-Amin after he had finished a late shift at his summer job. Senseless.

6. 💻 Apple significantly lowers Mac SSD upgrade pricing, 1 TB MacBook Air now available
Apple’s SSD price drops are comprehensive, applying to Apple’s notebooks and desktops. The general pattern is that the first upgrade still costs the same, with price reductions applied to the bigger capacities. Options.

7. 🤝 Jay-Z named chief brand strategist for cannabis consumer products company Caliva
In this position, Jay-Z will focus on and work to increase the economic participation of citizens returning from incarceration—many of who are not seeing the monetary benefits of legalization—through advocacy, job training, and overall employee and workforce development. Mobilization.

8. 🚫 Google Chrome’s built-in ad blocker rolls out globally today—and there’s a new one in the works
Chrome has begun filtering ads on sites globally that repeatedly violate industry standards and continue to show intrusive, annoying ads to people that visit their websites. Improvements.

9. 🌼 The Art of Bloom is Long Beach’s first immersive pop-up exhibit
The pop-up focuses on the special relationship between humans and nature and uses real flowers, light, and AR interactions that blend both the physical and digital. Amazing.

See all our recent News ⚡ updates here.

Update Log
v8 (current): Added an intro paragraph, not that it needed it but it makes it easier for us to share quickly to social media (which we were slacking on). Added an OptaJoe-inspired one-word conclusion. Inspired.
v7: <h2> gone, that was real quick (one flash). We’re testing <strong> instead for headlines
v6: Highlighted the titles as <h2> headers. Not sure we like it…
v5: Changed the order of the update entries (recent to oldest). A photo now accompanies the News ⚡ as prior there were issues with not having an image preview on social media.
v4: Went from 5 links to somewhere under 10.
v3: changed the URL slug from the emoji to flash.
v2: added a short one-liner to add a bit more context.
v1: numbered list, with emojis and a headline. Decided on five links for brevity and focus.

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