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In the News 13.07.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

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In the News 13.11.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
@camillecharriere
In the News 13.11.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
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In the News 13.11.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
@londonispink

Our Homes Don’t Need Formal Spaces

For a recent study, UCLA-affiliated researchers in fields ranging from anthropology to sociology used cameras to record in great detail how 32 dual-income families living in the Los Angeles area used their homes. Their findings link real data to something about which I have been yelling into the void for years: Nobody is actually using their formal living and dining rooms. Families actually spend most of their time in the kitchen and the informal living room or den.

Yet we continue to build these wastes of space because many Americans still want that extra square footage, and for a long time, that want has been miscategorized as a need.

Any big-house ethnographer can see this in episodes of shows like House Hunters, where the prospective buyers will say infuriating things like, “I like having Thanksgiving at my house every other year, so I’m going to need a chef-level kitchen and a two-story deck.” This claim has about as much substance as another common House Hunters trope: “I like this house, but that easily repaintable green half-bath is a deal-breaker for me.”

Read the rest of this article at: Curbed

In the News 13.11.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Sex, Beer, And Coding:
Inside Facebook’s Wild Early Days

In the News 13.11.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

EVERYONE WHO HAS seen The Social Network knows the story of Facebook’s founding. It was at Harvard in the spring semester of 2004. What people tend to forget, however, is that Facebook was only based in Cambridge for a few short months. Back then it was called TheFacebook.com, and it was a college-specific carbon copy of Friendster, a pioneering social network based in Silicon Valley.

Mark Zuckerberg’s knockoff site was a hit on campus, and so he and a few school chums decided to move to Silicon Valley after finals and spend the summer there rolling Facebook out to other colleges, nationwide. The Valley was where the internet action was. Or so they thought.

In Silicon Valley during the mid-aughts the conventional wisdom was that the internet gold rush was largely over. The land had been grabbed. The frontier had been settled. The web had been won. Hell, the boom had gone bust three years earlier. Yet nobody ever bothered to send the memo to Mark Zuckerberg—because at the time, Zuck was a nobody: an ambitious teenaged college student obsessed with the computer underground. He knew his way around computers, but other than that, he was pretty clueless—when he was still at Harvard someone had to explain to him that internet sites like Napster were actually businesses, built by corporations.

But Zuckerberg could hack, and that fateful summer he ended up meeting a few key Silicon Valley players who would end up radically changing the direction of what was, at the time, a company in name only. For this oral history of those critical months back in 2004 and 2005, I interviewed all the key players and talked to a few other figures who had insight into the founding era. What emerged, as you’ll see, is a portrait of a corporate proto-culture that continues to exert an influence on Facebook today. The whole enterprise began as something of a lark, it was an un-corporation, an excuse for a summer of beer pong and code sprints. Indeed, Zuckerberg’s first business cards read, “I’m CEO … bitch.” The brogrammer ’tude was a joke … or was it?

Read the rest of this article at: Wired

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The Power Of Positive People

Are you spending time with the right people for your health and happiness?

While many of us focus primarily on diet and exercise to achieve better health, science suggests that our well-being also is influenced by the company we keep. Researchers have found that certain health behaviors appear to be contagious and that our social networks — in person and online — can influence obesity, anxiety and overall happiness. A recent report found that a person’s exercise routine was strongly influenced by his or her social network.

I was reminded recently of the power of the crowd during a wellness cruise sponsored by Times Journeys. The event attracted a group of like-minded travelers who, despite experiencing various levels of adversity in their lives, including cancer, vision loss and the recent loss of a loved one, were remarkably optimistic and upbeat. The group ranged in age from 17 to 90. One inspiring man, in his 80s, had adopted a vegan lifestyle and a strict exercise routine to control his diabetes. Another new friend, a woman in her 50s who had survived lung cancer, cheered me on and kept me going during a particularly difficult workout.

Read the rest of this article at: The New York Times

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The Rise And Fall Of The Family-Vacation Road Trip

In the News 13.11.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

The writer Richard Ratay was on the beach in Mexico several years ago, watching his kids play in the surf, when he started thinking about just how different vacations were for his kids than they had been for him when he was their age. Why? Chiefly because, unlike the vacations he’d taken as a kid growing up in Wisconsin, this vacation hadn’t required its participants to spend multiple days squeezed into a car. Instead, they’d flown.

In his new book, Don’t Make Me Pull Over!: An Informal History of the Family Road Trip, Ratay writes that throughout the 1960s and ’70s, America was at Peak Family Road Trip. The interstate-highway system was materializing from coast to coast at the same time automobiles were becoming a fixture parked in front of family homes; add a generation of dads who’d returned home from war bitten by the travel bug and a new, still-unreliable, prohibitively expensive air-travel industry, and you suddenly had a country full of families packing up their station wagons to go on vacation.

Among them was Ratay’s own family, and in Don’t Make Me Pull Over!, Ratay weaves in the history of American vacation culture with memories of the childhood years he spent traveling with his efficiency-minded dad, his beleaguered mom, his two teenage brothers, and a sister perpetually on the brink of puking all over the car. Ratay spoke to The Atlantic about the origins of the road trip, parenting on the interstate, and why the golden age of family road-tripping was a distinctly American phenomenon. An edited and condensed transcript of our conversation is below.

Read the rest of this article at: The Atlantic

The Quantified Heart

In the News 13.11.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

In September 2017, a screenshot of a simple conversation went viral on the Russian-speaking segment of the internet. It showed the same phrase addressed to two conversational agents: the English-speaking Google Assistant, and the Russian-speaking Alisa, developed by the popular Russian search engine Yandex. The phrase was straightforward: ‘I feel sad.’ The responses to it, however, couldn’t be more different. ‘I wish I had arms so I could give you a hug,’ said Google. ‘No one said life was about having fun,’ replied Alisa.

This difference isn’t a mere quirk in the data. Instead, it’s likely to be the result of an elaborate and culturally sensitive process of teaching new technologies to understand human feelings. Artificial intelligence (AI) is no longer just about the ability to calculate the quickest driving route from London to Bucharest, or to outplay Garry Kasparov at chess. Think next-level; think artificial emotional intelligence.

‘Siri, I’m lonely’: an increasing number of people are directing such affective statements, good and bad, to their digital helpmeets. According to Amazon, half of the conversations with the company’s smart-home device Alexa are of non-utilitarian nature – groans about life, jokes, existential questions. ‘People talk to Siri about all kinds of things, including when they’re having a stressful day or have something serious on their mind,’ an Apple job ad declared in late 2017, when the company was recruiting an engineer to help make its virtual assistant more emotionally attuned. ‘They turn to Siri in emergencies or when they want guidance on living a healthier life.’

Some people might be more comfortable disclosing their innermost feelings to an AI. A study conducted by the Institute for Creative Technologies in Los Angeles in 2014 suggests that people display their sadness more intensely, and are less scared about self-disclosure, when they believe they’re interacting with a virtual person, instead of a real one. As when we write a diary, screens can serve as a kind of shield from outside judgment.

Soon enough, we might not even need to confide our secrets to our phones. Several universities and companies are exploring how mental illness and mood swings could be diagnosed just by analysing the tone or speed of your voice. Sonde Health, a company launched in 2016 in Boston, uses vocal tests to monitor new mothers for postnatal depression, and older people for dementia, Parkinson’s and other age-related diseases. The company is working with hospitals and insurance companies to set up pilot studies of its AI platform, which detects acoustic changes in the voice to screen for mental-health conditions. By 2022, it’s possible that ‘your personal device will know more about your emotional state than your own family,’ said Annette Zimmermann, research vice-president at the consulting company Gartner, in a company blog post.

These technologies will need to be exquisitely attuned to their subjects. Yet users and developers alike appear to think that emotional technology can be at once personalised and objective – an impartial judge of what a particular individual might need. Delegating therapy to a machine is the ultimate gesture of faith in technocracy: we are inclined to believe that AI can be better at sorting out our feelings because, ostensibly, it doesn’t have any of its own.

Read the rest of this article at: aeon

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