Weekly Newsletter

Design #

UX and the Civilizing Process
Another piece from the author of last week’s 4-part series that took us through the theories of Julian Jaynes. This piece focuses on similarities between User Experience design, which aims to create seamless interactions between humans and products, and etiquette. My super-secret goal for the newsletter has always been to find at least one article my sister will genuinely enjoy and I may actually have a winner with this one.

On a related note, I’ve been reading through Jaynes tome, The Origin of Consciousness and the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, and it’s pushed my thinking about consciousness quite a bit. Jaynes melds historical analysis with empirical argument in a way I’ve never seen before. Jaynes’ theory explains (using entirely materialist science) how in the past prophets communicated with their gods and received direction for their lives.

Surveillance #

If You’re Not Paranoid, You’re Crazy
An author details his developing fears surrounding the surveillance state. I found the author’s self-awareness of his paranoia the most compelling but harrowing part of the article.

Internet Reputation #

OpenBazaar, a peer-to-peer marketplace, provides a fairly technical rundown of their vendor-buyer ratings system. This article caught my eye initially because OpenBazaar’s system tackles similar problems that Repcoin aimed to solve – how do we know who to trust on the internet?

Superhuman Mental Abilities #

World’s fastest numbers game wows spectators & scientists
I’m always intrigued by seemingly impossible mental feats. In this case, competitors race to see who can calculate the results for a series of math problems by visualizing an abacus. Reading about this case of internalizing the functionalities of a simple tool makes me wonder if similar skills could be cultivated in other areas. I need to develop my thinking on this further before I can come up with specific proposals. Memory palaces are another good example of the type of thing I’m talking about.

Politics #

Help, I’ve Been Making Hyper-real Political Campaign Simulators for 15 Years
Profiles a game creator’s realistic political simulator.

Other Contributions #

The Drone Papers (Will Baird)
Will sent me the article with the following note:

“This series from The Intercept is based on documents supplied by one of the first whistleblowers (if not the very first) to come to Glenn Greenwald following the Snowden revelations. As the first article notes, “the secret documents lead to the conclusion that Washington’s 14-year high-value targeting campaign suffers from an overreliance on signals intelligence, an apparently incalculable civilian toll, and – due to a preference for assassination rather than capture – an inability to extract potentially valuable intelligence from terror suspects. They also highlight the futility of the war in Afghanistan by showing how the US has poured vast resources into killing local insurgents, in the process exacerbating the very threat the US is seeking to confront.” I highly recommend reading all of the articles.”