Category Archives: Stray Voltage

What would a Web site be without some white space for author to ruminate about the world around them? Hello? Is anyone there? Anyone?

Thinking About Nonsense Jobs

Be forewarned: this piece is not nearly as DomestiTechy as much as it is future- and forward- leaning. It was prompted by the last piece about the savings and costs of more artificial intelligences in our daily lives. After I hit publish, I thought back to an article that I really enjoyed in The Sydney Morning Herald this past September: “The modern phenomenon of nonsense jobs” (though the way the title appears in the browser’s tab is better). In it, David Graeber, a professor at the London School of Economics, asks why, despite monumental advances in technology, haven’t we achieved the 15-hour work week anticipated by John Maynard Keynes in 1930. His answer: the rise of “bullshit jobs.” What can I possibly say after something like that other than “Go read the piece. It’s worth it.”

You Are What You Print: 3D Printing and Food

3D printing is one of those technologies that I am fascinated by but have yet to find a practical day-to-day application for (read: I do not need another flat surface on which to pile and eventually accumulate so much paper that it is disturbingly reminiscent of a hoarder). As I continue to follow the technology, though, one of the applications that really resonates with me is printed foods. While I already consume more than enough processed foods, 2013 has been a pretty big year for movement in this space and I wonder what the remainder of the year (and 2014) will hold.

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Integrated Aquaponics and Intrinsic Motivation

I am not sure how it happened but I stumbled across Kyle Chayka’s article “‘Farmscrapers’ could turn future cities green” over at Salon the other day. Despite the scale of architect Vincent Callebaut‘s “Asian Cairns” concept, I focused more on the (re)integration of agriculture back into our lives. In many ways, it is surprising that this re-integration is not more common: it seems to be easy, the cost of food (particularly fresh fruits and vegetables) is on the rise, and some industrial farming practices seem to incur significant environmental costs (e.g., colony collapse disorder). I walk out of this meandering thought wondering what might it look like when an ancient technology like agriculture gets more seamlessly integrated into our modern lives.

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Wearable Computing: Shoes, Bloks, and Boards

I have been thinking about¬†Genevieve Bell’s recent statement: “Smartphones only got interesting when people stopped thinking of them as phones.” for the past couple days. This evening, while browsing Reddit, I came across a link to Dominic Wilcox’s “No Place Like Home GPS Shoes.” Now, the shoes definitely remain shoes…but Wilcox’s prototype is interesting in that it put existing technologies into a familiar form with an innovative result.

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Mapping Physical Spaces and Seeing Virtual Ones

Despite the numerous questions that we all had upon leaving Prometheus (perhaps best covered in this video by the guys over at Red Letter Media), the idea of mapping space in three dimensions in real time was pretty cool. The funny thing is that research in this area at MIT predated the movie, and remains active. What surprised me, though, was when I watched the video for Occipital’s Structure Sensor, which aims to bring the technology into the commercial space….and began thinking about the larger issue of augmented reality.

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Two Articles: Wearable Computers and Robots

Two articles crossed my radar screen today that I thought were interesting. The first essentially killed an article on (the perceived necessity of) smart watches that I was drafting (lesson learned: write faster) and the second, on human-robotic interaction, is spurring me to organize some thoughts about robots (beyond the Roomba) that have been swirling around for a bit. So, in case you are looking for a couple tl;dr summaries to read before calling it a day, here you go.

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Twinkle, Twinkle, Little…Nanocopter?

The rapid advance of microcopters is one of those trends that I watch with a certain amount of curiosity and envy. I find them interesting is because, despite their small size, folks are doing interesting things to make them increasingly capable and versatile. As with a lot of the technologies that we look here at Domestitech, the very near future is likely to be an interesting convergence of ancillary and complementary technologies as well as a morass of policy and security concerns. Continue reading