Friction Everywhere

Yes, I skipped last week's newsletter due to travel, so catching up this week. Wherever you are, I ho
Changeist
Friction Everywhere
By Changeist • Issue #6
Yes, I skipped last week’s newsletter due to travel, so catching up this week. Wherever you are, I hope you’re 1) safe, 2) warm, but not too warm (that rules out most of the Eastern US), and 3) not injured due to the acquisition of new technology (see below). 
With Changeist’s Thingclash project, we focus primarily on the frictions created when rapidly emerging classes of technologies collide with slower moving social, economic or cultural values. Christmas 2015 has delivered frictions galore. It’s the first big holiday for the hoverboard, and the first one where drones are truly mainstream. On my journey back to the US for the holiday period, I passed countless displays of both being hawked to travelers. In an electronics supermart I entered in one city (helping a relative try to buy a TV), both were stacked to the proverbial ceiling, and shopping carts exiting the building were full of them. Yet, their future owners probably had zero preparation to manage either (true of many technologies). The results, as they say, speak for themselves below. 
There’s something about the scale and physical nature of these new technologies that make them slightly more problematic out of the box, akin to what we’re seeing now with self-driving cars, for example. A new game console or smartphone requires more personal scale adaptations, around things like privacy or public noise levels or use of cameras. Things that move, and move us, become more complex. We have no norms for them yet, much like those afflicted with the first automobiles had to deal with. Both may yet turn out to be revolutionary and useful, but we’re getting a few bumps and bruises along the way. As other kinetic devices emerge, and erupt quickly from rapid-fire supply chains, we’ll see more of these derp moments.  

What We've Been Up To
Honestly, very little that can be discussed publicly at the moment. There are a few talks coming up in early 2016, and a stack of short essays due to be written during the final days of 2015. 
Two bits of year-end housekeeping are worth mentioning, however. As I said in the first edition of this newsletter, I would look at folding our quarterly Tinyletter into this weekly one. That will be the case going forward, as will be announced to subscribers on that list shortly. Hopefully most readers will find this shift of value. I’m far happier with Revue as a tool so far, and it’s that much less administrative frustration.
Secondly, the decision was taken to bundle various essays from various blogs into a Medium publication, which we’re calling Phase Change. Medium also has its rough spots, but discoverability has improved a great deal, and the publishing tool has also gotten better. Phase Change will include pieces from me, Susan, Natalie, and hopefully other guest contributors. I will also try to continue the interview feature from time to time, having also migrated that from the Changeist website. 
Feedback always welcomed. 
Friction Everywhere
Hoverboards are a fascinating indicator species for future consumer tech: sudden, relatively unregulated in their production, for which the implications are fairly unpredictable. Several weeks back I posted a great article on the supply-side Shenzen chaos surrounding hoverboards—this looks at the equally chaotic user side…  
…meanwhile, drones aren’t going to be left out. 
Too focused on consumer tech, but Mossberg will at least stand up and say something hyped by the tech press didn’t pan out.
Where you self-drive may depend on where you sit. This issue, faced by citizens of Hong Kong, harkens back to Amazon’s unilateral deletion of e-books, or more recent remote disabling of cars due to late loan payments. This isn’t the last we’ll hear of this sort of selective control of tech, though.
The passive-aggressive push-pull between technology creators and users is creating a growing level of distrust and paranoia not just around how data is collected and used, but to what manipulative end. The burning question is increasingly “will we even notice?” 
Then there is the question of who’s fooling whom? For each manipulation, there may be a deception. Sometimes, that deception involves an unbathed lhasa apso. 
The Network
Friends Nat Buckley and Dan Williams made a lovely thing for the holidays. Nice departure from screen-based interactions, and I for one appreciate its static nature. Looking forward to seeing what comes next from BW. 
Meanwhile, all the best to you and yours. We’ll see you next week, in 2016.
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