Web Curios 25/05/18

Web Curios 25/05/18
Insert your own tedious joke about GDPR here (don't worry, there are a few of my own buried in the prose, I wouldn't want you to feel left out, after all).  SO HERE WE ARE AGAIN! HI EVERYONE! Another week of school shootings and failed diplomacy and a country that continues to lurch, wetly towards an uncertain and threatening future! We don't ...
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Robots in the warehouse: how Ocado is becoming a leader in the automation of retail

Robots in the warehouse: how Ocado is becoming a leader in the automation of retail Ocado
​The reputation of Ocado as being a weird-Waitrose-delivery-service-but-not-Waitrose is changing. It's been a slow burn since its creation during the dot com era, but the company is now doing a great job with what is becoming its core business: a retail automation dynamo. A glimpse into Ocado's Andover warehouse is, perhaps, a glimpse into all our ...
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Digital tumbleweed

Digital tumbleweed Studland Beach, Wikipedia
​The Verge ​ has a good, thoughtful piece on the almost-empty digital spaces left behind when brands and services suddenly become less popular. These spaces, "Internet Ghost Towns" as the article puts it, take on a new life, and one which serves a very different purpose to that originally intended.   The greatest joy of LiveJournal, and other ...
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Fake it 'til you make it: Deep Video experiments impersonate real people

Fake it 'til you make it: Deep Video experiments impersonate real people
If you saw the recent BuzzFeed promotion where Barack Obama talks about... well, all sorts of non-presidential stuff, then you may have wondered how it was produced. It's through a technique called  ​Deep Learning ​, demonstrated to quite an effect at SIGGRAPH 2018. The technique reproduces a real face and "takes control" of it, simulatin...
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AR in retail - almost always, never quite

AR in retail - almost always, never quite Mallsecrets, CC licence https://www.flickr.com/photos/mallsecrets/6148146159
ABI Research has launched a report on the current and potential uses of Augmented Reality in bricks-and-mortar retail. It's refreshingly honest. Nick Finill, ABI Senior Analyst said  "For consumers in brick and mortar stores, however, AR can disrupt the customer journey and provides little additional value overall." However, for employees, AR ...
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One Question: this year's event, with discount tickets

One Question: this year's event, with discount tickets
 One Question is an event which is all about exactly that: offering the opportunity to explore and maybe answer one simple question each time. It brings out the deep and creative thinkers, and gives delegates the chance to delve into a contemporary topic rather than experience yet another skim-show-and-tell endemic in marketing events. The nex...
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TV: another sector that Amazon is totally disintermediating

TV: another sector that Amazon is totally disintermediating Karlis Dambrans, CC licence https://www.flickr.com/photos/janitors/21025996740
​Variety ​ magazine this morning reports on Amazon Channels, a service where customers can order TV channel subscriptions  direct from the Bezos empire, as part of their Prime subscription. It may not be well-known, but it has collared 55% of the TV channels market in the US: Sources at participating video providers have long told Variety...
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The enfant terrible of Artificial Intelligence

The enfant terrible of Artificial Intelligence ITU, CC licence https://www.flickr.com/photos/itupictures/34343384393/in/photostream/
This is a typically excellent  ​Bloomberg Businessweek ​ piece on  Jürgen Schmidhuber and his formidable AGI (Artificial General Intelligence) startup Nnaisense, based in the south-eastern, Italian-speaking city of Lugano in Switzerland: The modest, quiet office doesn't look like a buzzing AI superpower, but Schmidhuber's team regula...
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The new trend in fiction: overpopulation

The new trend in fiction: overpopulation Endlisnis, CC licence https://www.flickr.com/photos/endlisnis/458894421/
​Overpopulation has bubbled up as a topic in recent years, but is now becoming  ​de rigeur ​ in contemporary visual fiction: In Steven Spielberg's 2018 film Ready Player One, the inhabitants of a metropolis of slum housing escape into a VR landscape called the OASIS, where they can live with a freedom denied them in their cramped reality. Alex...
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Web Curios 18/05/18

Web Curios 18/05/18
I tell you, I've been so EXCITED this week - so flapping, so beside myself, so  unnecessary! -  that I've barely been able to concentrate enough to cobble together the few hundred links needed (noone needs them, but let me lie to myself one last time) to make Curios happen. It was TOUCH AND GO, I tell you.  I imagine you're really ex...
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Feeling twitch-y

Feeling twitch-y Lydia, CC licence https://www.flickr.com/photos/lydiashiningbrightly/4435556041/
​Just as you were getting used to using emojis and Twitter-derived slang without feeling slightly uncomfortable about it, along comes a whole new dimension of emotional signifiers ("emotes") from the users of Amazon's gaming website Twitch. Emotes have their ups and downs. Some, like Kappa, are used to help people communicate with one another durin...
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Sorry seems to be the hardest email

Sorry seems to be the hardest email H. Grobe
A piece of email-based fiction hits  ​Electric Literature:  ​a beautifully-written exchange of texts between... well, you'll just have to read it.   As accusations of sexual harassment and abuse playout in the court of social media, the context for Lynn Coady's "Someone is Recording" changes daily, possibly hourly. The story is hyper...
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Fifa Fan Fiction

Fifa Fan Fiction Bago, CC licence https://www.flickr.com/photos/bagogames/14244165745
​There's plenty of fanfic online, with book series such as Harry Potter giving fans the ability to extend the fictional world with their own imaginations. This excellent article on Kotaku details how someone has done the same with the FIFA series of console/computer football games. The article interviews wwesmudge, who has spent many years building...
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Lovely but depressing article on friendships in 2018

Lovely but depressing article on friendships in 2018
This is a really nice article, although the basic tenet is pretty obvious: people have more friends (which, in part, is due to Facebook and other social media using the term "friends" and stretching its definition) but the quality of the interaction is much less than, say, 25 years ago. "You've got enough friends, a new one is bad for you," says a ...
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A big future-gaze to 2020

"The Wedding at Cana", Paolo Veronese, 1562 "The Wedding at Cana", Paolo Veronese, 1562
​Ustwo founder Jules Erhardt has written the third in the series of the company's  ​State of the Digital Nation ​ tomes on what life would be like in the (near) future. It's all about agencies, clients, and the marketing sector in general, so many of you will find something in it. (And, at 69 minutes long in Medium read length terms, it's chun...
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The Internet of choice paralysis

The Internet of choice paralysis
​You can now do pretty much everything you ever wanted, and learn anything, and meet anyone, online. But does that lead to a paralysis of choice, and that scarcity invites luxury - the ability to waste time on just a few known sites? In the decade since I took that computer class, the web browser has taken over the entire computing experience. Ther...
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DJ Roomba: fun with the Internet of Things

DJ Roomba: fun with the Internet of Things
The Roomba has had a bad press ( some would say rightly ) for a while, so hacking it to bits seems like the best course of revenge... in the nicest way possible. Taking its cues from the DJ Roomba device in  ​ Parks & Recreation ,  This is a cracking, fun article: tinkering, failure, and finding fun things to do with IOT devices. ...
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Is marketing ruining the English language?

Is marketing ruining the English language? Lukabon via Wikipedia
​Calvin once said to Hobbes:  ​" Verbing weirds language " ​. What their creator, Bill Waterson, would make of the absolute nonsense that purports itself to be contemporary advertising slogan writing is a mystery. However, here's a general view: it's bullshit . Look at some of the examples in this article: Baffling slogans have become the new ...
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Back to basics

Back to basics
Anil Dash on the base technologies and services underpinning the web as we know it: At a time when millions are losing trust in the the web's biggest sites, it's worth revisiting the idea that the web was supposed to be made out of countless little sites. Here's a look at the neglected technologies that were supposed to make it possible. Anil ...
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Cambridge Analytica’s closure is a pyrrhic victory for data privacy

Alexander Nix, former CEO Web Summit, CC licence https://www.flickr.com/photos/websummit/37576109284
Just 46 days after revelations that Cambridge Analytica harvested millions of Facebook profiles to predict and influence voters in the US election and Brexit referendum, the data analytics company has announced it will close. So too will its parent company, SCL Elections. Some may see this as a victory in the fight against covert or unacceptable me...
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