I admit, like a lot of others, I’ve found myself with a bit of a bitcoin obsession lately. I find the vast amount of effort it takes to create something that doesn’t actually exist, completely fascinating. So I decided to find out how much computing…
“Henceforth, our authenticity is no longer a retreat from the mandatory fakeness [of the workplace], but the very medium through which work squeezes the life out of us.”—
Carl Cederström and Peter Fleming, Dead Man Working
I stumbled across this quote in Paul Myerscough’s Short Cuts from the London Review of Books (3 January 2013) which is a solid indictment of the new abnormal in retail chains. He writes of Pret-a-Manger working conditions:
Pret workers aren’t supposed to be unhappy. They are recruited precisely for their ‘personality’, in the sense that a talent show host might use the word. Job candidates must show that they have a natural flair for the ‘Pret Behaviours’ (these are listed on the website too). Among the 17 things they ‘Don’t Want to See’ is that someone is ‘moody or bad-tempered’, ‘annoys people’, ‘overcomplicates ideas’ or ‘is just here for the money’. The sorts of thing they ‘Do Want to See’ are that you can ‘work at pace’, ‘create a sense of fun’ and are ‘genuinely friendly’. The ‘Pret Perfect’ worker, a fully evolved species, ‘never gives up’, ‘goes out of their way to be helpful’ and ‘has presence’. After a day’s trial, your fellow workers vote on how well you fit the profile; if your performance lacks sparkle, you’re sent home with a few quid.
This winnowing process is designed to select for workers who will feed the ‘Pret Buzz’. ‘The first thing I look at is whether the staff are touching each other,’ Clive Schlee, chief executive of Pret since 2003, told theTelegraphin March last year. ‘Are they smiling, reacting to each other, happy, engaged? … I can almost predict sales on body language alone.’ What Pret has understood, and its competitors haven’t (or not yet), is how much money there is to be made from what radical left theorists have been referring to since the 1970s as ‘affective labour’. Work increasingly isn’t, or isn’t only, a matter of producing things, but of supplying your energies, physical and emotional, in the service of others. It isn’t what you make, but how your display of feeling makes others feel. This won’t be news to mothers, nurses and prostitutes, but the massive swelling of the service economy means that emotional availability can no longer be dismissed as women’s work; it must be seen as a dominant commodity form under late capitalism.
The tyranny of hiring to the ‘fit’ of the organizational culture carried to the extreme, where our emotional inclinations and body language is as much of a job requirement as numeracy and communication skills. This, then, is one of the reasons that Marissa Mayer wants all the troops in the building: so that they can be observed for the right sorts of emotionality, and so emotion orientation can be weighed as an asset, transformed to commodity, and paid for.
“The app’s technology forms part of Google’s wider strategy for updating its search algorithm. All searches are now responded to as if a human were answering your query, rather than just returning searches on individual keywords. And, that’s effectively the essence of Google Now; a “mini human” living inside your smartphone, guiding, advising, and playing all-around personal assistant. Now there’s an idea we could certainly get onboard with. (The Daily Mail)”—An App That Can Read Your Mind? Google Says It’s Possible… (via futuristgerd)
Paul Higgins: I am one of the Tumblr tech curators/editors and I am not sure about how I feel feel regarding advertising on the curated areas of Tumblr. On the one hand I can understand the appeal and like Stowe have made looking at the curated areas part of my daily information practice. I can also understand that the service needs to make money to sustain itself and I am supportive of that as long as it is done in a way that is not intrusive on the reader/community. On the other hand I am somewhat leery of Tumblr/Yahoo making money on top of my voluntary efforts. I would need to balance off that against my view of my contribution to the community and also any value I feel the extra profile of a public and promoted page may do for me and our business.
This is the delicate balance of some of these new business models where the community is producing the product. Too delicate an economic business model may imperil the economic viability of the service, and too intrusive a model may damage the goodwill of the community and therefore make the whole thing evaporate or at least to a level that is non viable. Fundamentally I think that this is easier outside of a large company where transparency can allow the community to make finer grained judgements about the economic model and what it is delivering as long as it is transparent. That is much harder inside a larger company that tends not to publish data on the individual performance of its parts in a way that is clear for everyone to see. I would be interested in comments.
Hamish McKenzie noted that Medium had become significantly more of a curated experience in its recent facelift. But I think in his positioning of Medium and Flipboard as two competitors for our attention, he misses something important. He wrote,
Smartphones will soon be able to predict a consumer’s next move, their next purchase or interpret actions based on what it knows, according to Gartner, Inc. This insight will be performed based on an individuals data gathered using cognizant computing - the next step in personal cloud computing.
RANONG, Thailand (Reuters) - One afternoon in October, in the watery no-man’s land between Thailand and Myanmar, Muhammad Ismail vanished.Thai immigration officials said he was being deported to Myanmar.
Last month Citigroup placed an unusual job advertisement. The bank was seeking an analyst able to crunch the numbers on an obscure financial security: synthetic collateralised debt obligations. Four weeks later, job applicants would find the
A new study from U.S. PIRG gives us perhaps the most detailed yet look at the “peak car” phenomenon whereby America’s passenger-miles driven keeps falling. As Ashley Halsey writes, perhaps the most important contention of the report is “data that show the cities with the biggest drop in driving suffered…
Detroit’s formal bankruptcy this week showed not just how a once mighty city can fail, but how nothing is safe from the debt collectors and the solemn promises politicians once made, Neil Macdonald writes.
The Justice Department has just obtained documents showing that JPMorgan Chase, Wall Street’s biggest bank, has been hiring the children of China’s ruling elite in order to secure “existing and potential business opportunities” from Chinese government-run companies. “You all know I have always…
Paul Higgins: Very funny given I have just finished reading The Everything Store which in part looks at the relationship between Walmart and Amazon
Bentonville, AR — Walmart today announced plans to install mini surface-to-air missile batteries on the rooftops of all 4,786 store locations across the United States. The missiles will exclusively target Amazon Prime Air drones. The new concept called…
“Big companies want to be more like startups, seeing innovation as vital to future profits. Young says they’ll want “corporate disorganizers” who can introduce a little “organized chaos.” Young says: “The disruptor will be tapping into the new systems of the collaborative economy, creating greater fragmentation and a more distributed ecosystem.”—8 New Jobs People Will Have In 2025 (via futuristgerd)
What’s going on in the world today? It’s hard to keep up. Some facts are familiar to anyone who reads the news. Unemployment is high. Growth is slow. Shale gas is a big deal. But beyond the caps-lock headlines, subtler, but no less significant, shifts are changing the U.S. via Pocket
University of Cambridge theoretical physicist Damien George has built a tiny microcontroller that is more powerful than Arduino and far simpler than the Raspberry Pi. Just funded on Kickstarter, the £24 board runs an adapted version of Python known as Micro Python and will allow users to simply paste lines of text code onto the board to make it work.
“I have this new initiative in my life, and I’m trying to push my colleagues to do it, too, where I want to work less and think more. In a given month, I do a lot of very mediocre stuff, but once in a while I come up with a really good idea. Maybe I’ll come up with two in a month. Those two inevitably happen when I’m either falling into a nap, or coming out of a nap, or waking up slowly on a Saturday morning. I’m trying to engineer more of those in my life. I’m trying to encourage more people to have naps because, hopefully, more people will have these brilliant ideas.”—
Brian Halligan, CEO of Hubspot, in an interview by Adam Bryant
I also find the interstitial time between waking and sleeping to be the source of insights and creative ideas.
“The big question that I posed to the group was about Regulation 2.0. The idea that, given the huge volume of real-time data produced by modern web services and the potential for radical transparency based on that, there is an opportunity to explore completely new regulatory approaches. Approaches that, rather than make up-front decisions about an activity (say, ride-sharing or peer-to-peer apartment renting), as we do in a “1.0” regulatory regime, we can instead be more permissive on the front-end, while at the same time introducing increased accountability through transparency. If this kind of approach worked, it would theoretically be simpler and cheaper to operate, while at the same time allowing for more new kinds of activities to be explored without fear of regulatory shut-down.”—Nick Grossman’s Slow Hunch: The Regulation 2.0 Challenge (via garychou)
We’re all created unique, and soon our 3D printed skin grafts will reflect that.
Researchers at the University of Liverpool, U.K. are taking the first step toward individualized, natural looking 3D printed skin. It’s a daunting undertaking, since each person’s skin has a unique smattering of freckles, wrinkles and veins coursing through it. But the project’s leader, Dr. Sophie Wuerger, has high hopes.
Dr. Wuerger and her group are working on a system which will tailor-print skin to match individual patients. To do this, the team is first developing a 3D scanning camera which will construct 3D images of a patient’s skin in varying light levels. The data from these scans will then be used to print patient-specific skin grafts.