The future is happening, and soon. That’s because in the near future a small swarm of flying robots (or maybe just two) will stack polystyrene bricks at the FRAC center into a small structure. The stack’s height might be modest, but this wavy and wonky wall will feature the computational complexity typical of Gramazio and Kohler. The Swiss team has partnered with Raffaello D’Andrea (if you haven’t seen his Robotic Chair, do yourself a favor and click here) to realize this installation that resembles a marriage of architecture and science fiction. The exhibition Flight Assembled Architecture, and the future, start tomorrow.
I’ve been wanting to write a post about Instagram for a while, as it’s probably the one app I use most. For a long time there were a number of people talking about how iPhone photos, and Instagram photos in turn, weren’t “real”, basically that they held no value. I say bullshit. Instagram has opened up a new world of art and community that couldn’t have existed without the iPhone or app culture.
When I read this article by Nate Bolt over on Techcrunch it was basically all of my thoughts wrapped up into one, concise article. Nate does a great job of outlining what makes Instagram special: Quality, Audience, Access, Immediacy and Constraints. The final point, Constraint, is exactly why Instagram works, here’s what Nate has to say:
It might seem trivial, but showing one photo at a time is a design decision that creates more value for each image, and enhances your viewing experience. Plus it doesn’t hurt to have the images trapped inside a beautiful iPhone screen. It almost doesn’t matter who you follow—their photos probably look better one at a time. From a UX perspective, we keep learning that interfaces with constraints are successful, and it seems like such a straight-forward principle (140 characters, ahem), but it’s kind of worthless on it’s own. Obviously you can’t introduce constraints without other elements, which is why this is the last point. There’s something enticing about knowing that most Instagram photos are created on the iPhone, since it introduces a NASCAR-like equality. That makes it fun to see what other people can create with the same technical constraints you have. Photography has always been all about the equipment, and not at all about the equipment. Knowing millions of people are creating with roughly the same camera and app as you makes it exciting creatively. So constraints, combined with quality and an audience are what makes Instagram so addictive.
Above is a photo I took of Los Angeles and the Hollywood Reservoir. If you look in the back you can see a thin white line, which is actually the Pacific Ocean. The camera is on the iPhone 4 is amazing, and the social aspect of Instagram allows me to share this amazing site with my friends. Be sure to read Nate’s article, it’s a winner, and if you’re not on Instagram, what are you waiting for?
I’ve a lot of love for LEGO, and so when I saw Swedish programmer Hans Andersson‘s Time Twister clock I just knew I’d have to share it. His creation is noisy, slow and indeed the epitome of chunkiness, and yet it’s a beautiful creation.
For me, the raw simplicity of Andersson’s design is really attractive and the way in which his creation goes about slowly-revealing each of it’s digits is almost hypnotic. When I watched the video above, showing his design in motion, I was shocked at how much anticipation and excitement I felt just simply watching the time being revealed.
Hans has also built some other amazing creation including two puzzle-solving robots which are pretty incredible. One can solve sudokus and an other one can solve a rubik’s cube. Both are well worth checking out.
I feel I should preface this post with, “I hate gift guides.” When a blog or website does a gift guide, most of the time they’re sponsored, and if they’re not, the person writing them is usually trying to get something free for writing it. In my opinion the gift guide has become the infomercial of our time, a way of saying that you don’t know how to buy gifts for the people you know best, so here’s a bucket of items to consume.
That said, I love what The Daily has done with their Gift & Gadget Guide app. To be honest, I didn’t spend a lot of time really looking through the app, though it seemed well put together and pretty fun to flick around on the iPad. What I enjoyed the most though were the awesome illustrations by Matthew Lyons, who helped bring across the theme of the guide, which was retro futurism. He’s a fantastic illustrator and it’s always great to see him doing work, especially on something special like this. The app is free, so for those of you with iPads I suggest giving it a spin, it’s a fun experience all around.
I had several people criticize my recent post about Steve Jobs, my thoughts on how he effected my life. I deleted them all, because soem of them were nasty or otherwise just negative in general and have no place on this blog. These comments though came to mind as I watched the video above, a recording of the keynote Steve Jobs gave from the Apple World Wide Developer Conference back in 1997. I hadn’t ever seen this before, but I was riveted as if it were being broadcast today.
To give a little backstory, Steve Jobs had been previously kicked out of Apple, that is until 1996 the company he started in the interim, NeXT, was purchased by Apple of nearly $500 million and Jobs was brought back into the company. At the time of the taping of this video his position was fuzzy at best, although he was still extremely opinionated. The video sounds like it wouldn’t be that interesting, it’s essentially him answering people’s questions for a solid hour, giving his opinion on the state of Apple and the future of the company and technology in general… which is exactly why I’m posting it.
To show you what I mean, here’s my favorite line from the video, as well as the most prescient one. I’ve paraphrased it slightly for clarity.
To me, what I want is this little thing I carry around with me, it’s got a keyboard on it – to do email you need a keyboard, until you perfect speech recognition, you don’t sit there and write stuff, you need a keyboard. And, you need to be connected to the net, so if someone would just make a little thing, where you’re connected to the net all the time… my god I’d love to buy one.
In 1997, he was describing the iPhone. Nearly 10 years later, he released the iPhone. I’m not sure how many people, technologists or otherwise, have made such a prediction and actually followed through with it.
It’s interesting that he mentions speech recognition, especially in regards to the recently announced Siri. You can read John Gruber’s review of Siri which gives a good look at how it works and what you can expect from it. To me it seems that speech recognition is the next step in Apple’s course. Earlier tonight I tried out the the existing voice commands on my iPhone 4, and the results, as they’ve always been, were miserable. I asked my phone to “play Radiohead” and it started to call a random contact from my address book. This has always been my experience with the voice commands, they’ve never worked. There are other phones that have voice recognition voice commands built in, though I doubt that any of them will match the quality and precision of Siri, and that’s where Apple will excel, because they do things better.
It’ll be interesting to see the mobile computing market (let’s stop calling them phones) in the next couple of years. Apple has made it clear that Siri is in beta, which means that it’s not perfect, and it’s certainly has room for improvement. Like the original iPhone, it lacks a certain polish and refinement, but it will surely be leaps and bounds ahead of what others have to offer. In the coming years the refinement will be there, and with it a slew of competitors trying to meet that seem quality, though trying to play catch up, just like what’s happened with the iPad. Pundits and analysts will, as usual, try to analyze what makes Apple work, and espouse their opinions on how things Apple should do to become “truly successful” and end up giving more awful advice.
The thing is, I think Steve Jobs has had a course charted for Apple for longer than any of us can possibly imagine, and that we’re all still in for a very long, exciting journey.