I want to suggest that web design has, as a practice, become industrialized, and I want to look at how that will change the nature of our work in the months and years to come. I want to talk about how the web has always excelled at creating new kinds of work, before rendering that work—and its workers—invisible. […]
As more people use a technology, standards are established, and infrastructures are put in place to support that new technology. There’s also a shift in the relationship between a technology, and the people who use it. In the first phase, the user is intimately involved with the technology, and may have a great deal of control over it; in this phase, however, that control is lessened, and the role of people—whether users or workers—is drastically reduced.
An icon in the menu bar (or press a hotkey) to switch to the AirPods.
A museum of software interfaces.
In reality, Uber’s platform does not include any technological breakthroughs, and Uber has done nothing to “disrupt” the economics of providing urban car services. What Uber has disrupted is the idea that competitive consumer and capital markets will maximize overall economic welfare by rewarding companies with superior efficiency. Its multibillion dollar subsidies completely distorted marketplace price and service signals, leading to a massive misallocation of resources. Uber’s most important innovation has been to produce staggering levels of private wealth without creating any sustainable benefits for consumers, workers, the cities they serve, or anyone else. […]
Starting in 2015, Uber eliminated most of the incentives it had used to attract drivers and unilaterally raised its share of passenger fares from 20 percent to 25–30 percent. Almost all of Uber’s margin improvement since 2015 is explained by this reduction of driver compensation down to minimum wage levels, not by improved efficiency. These unilateral compensation cuts resulted in a direct wealth transfer from labor to capital of over $3 billion. Comparable cuts at Lyft resulted in a labor-capital wealth transfer of $1 billion.
“If it’s ‘out there’, don’t we own it?”
Well, it depends. To claim a ‘level of distinctiveness’, it’s usually down to time, and the rule of thumb is seven years. Use a logo for that amount of time, consistently, that people can see and recognise and you begin to establish some ownership of that idea. There are certain ways around this, usually for global brands that can establish a new ‘look’ quite fast. British TV channel, Channel Four, were initially faced with issues because on paper, ‘channel four’ is a generic name, so inherently hard to register. But they were granted an exemption because they were quickly able to demonstrate ownership.
We’ve long conceived of our cities as knowledge repositories and data processors, and they’ve always functioned as such. Lewis Mumford observed that when the wandering rulers of the European Middle Ages settled in capital cities, they installed a “regiment of clerks and permanent officials” and established all manner of paperwork and policies (deeds, tax records, passports, fines, regulations), which necessitated a new urban apparatus, the office building, to house its bureaus and bureaucracy. The classic example is the Uffizi (Offices) in Florence, designed by Giorgio Vasari in the mid-16th century, which provided an architectural template copied in cities around the world. “The repetitions and regimentations of the bureaucratic system” — the work of data processing, formatting, and storage — left a “deep mark,” as Mumford put it, on the early modern city. […]
Why should we care about debunking obviously false metaphors? It matters because the metaphors give rise to technical models, which inform design processes, which in turn shape knowledges and politics, not to mention material cities. The sites and systems where we locate the city’s informational functions — the places where we see information-processing, storage, and transmission “happening” in the urban landscape — shape larger understandings of urban intelligence.
There are about 5.3bn people on earth aged over 15. Of these, around 5bn have a mobile phone.
Have you ever wondered why, if Dark Mode is such a revelation, it took Apple 35 years after the first Macintosh to revert to the look of the light-on-dark CRT-based monitors of the Apple ][ and IBM PC era? Were those green-on-black and amber-on-black screens really so wonderful?
No, they weren’t, and one of the Mac’s most significant design decisions back in 1984 was an interface that put black text and graphics on a white screen, just as had been done in books for hundreds of years.
Accretive projects are everywhere: Museums, universities, military bases – even neighborhoods and cities. Key to all accretive projects is that they house an institution, and key to all successful institutions is mission. […]
So, why do cathedrals take so long to build? Because the finish line is besides the point. Cathedrals are so compelling because they make visible the continued commitment that every building, city, and institution requires of their participants if they are to survive. Cathedral building ritualizes construction; they are compelling because they are never finished.
Near-realtime Earth observation resources.