A look at the names of classes taught at ITP is both intriguing and confusing. Some class names are puns, like â€œCloud Commuting,â€ or â€œDrawing on Everything.â€ Some are poetic, like â€œCabinets of Wonder,â€ â€œSensitive Buildings,â€ and â€œTalking Fabrics.â€ And some are downright incomprehensible, like â€œCooking with Sound,â€ and â€œLean Launchpad.â€ One ITP class, called â€œRedial,â€ teaches students how to hack the phone system and requires them to sign a legal waiver before enrolling.
This playful, project-based approach to teaching tech literacy is how ITP itself operates. â€œIâ€™ve always felt youâ€™re going to get further with whimsy and hope, rather than fear,â€ Oâ€™Sullivan said. The challenge is to get the students to ignore their fear of failure and try as many new things as possible during their four semesters. â€œThe key thing about play,â€ Oâ€™Sullivan said, â€œis that it makes failure look like a good thing.â€
The trend among the students is to take not only what theyâ€™ve learned, but how theyâ€™ve learned it, package it as a gadget or an app, and release it to the world.
2. How Magic Leap Is Secretly Creating An Alternate Reality
With The Google Glass experimentÂ winding down for an eventual retooling and Oculus Rift almost ready to make it’s appearance, the next generation is quietly toiling away to make something even cooler.
“It’s not holography, it’s not stereoscopic 3-D,” he says. “You don’t need a giant robot to hold it over your head, you don’t need to be at home to use it. It’s not made from off-the-shelf parts. It’s not a cellphone in a View-Master.”
The best description we have so far comes from the company’s press release: “Using our Dynamic Digitized Lightfield Signalâ„¢, imagine being able to generate images indistinguishable from real objects and then being able to place those images seamlessly into the real world.”
In an article that largely flew under the radar, John Markoff ofÂ The New York TimesÂ actually went to see the technology in personÂ back in July. He wrote that he did indeed see a 3D creature floating in midair, through “an elaborate viewer that resembles something from an optometrist’s office.” It’s big, in other words. Markoff also confirmed that the device projects digital light fields onto the viewer’s retina.
3. Fitbit Takes The Stand As Expert Witness
The first known court case using Fitbit activity data is underway. A law firm in Canada is using a clientâ€™s Fitbit history in a personal injury claim. The plaintiff was injured four years ago when she was a personal trainer, and her lawyers now want to use her Fitbit data to show that her activity levels are still lower than the baseline for someone of her age and profession to show that she deserves compensation.
Medical research on the relationship between exercise, sleep, diet, and health is moving extremely rapidly. The decisions about what is â€œnormalâ€ and â€œhealthyâ€ that these companies come to depends on which research theyâ€™re using. Who is defining what constitutes the “average” healthy person? This contextual information isnâ€™t generally visible. Analytics companies arenâ€™t required to reveal which data sets they are using and how they are being analyzed.
The current lawsuit is an example of Fitbit data being used to support a plaintiff in an injury case, but wearables data could just as easily be used by insurers to deny disability claims, or by prosecutors seeking a rich source of self-incriminating evidence. As the CEO of Vivametrica, Dr. Rich Hu, toldÂ Forbes, insurers canâ€™t force claimants to wear Fitbits. But they can request a court order from anyone who stores wearable data to release it. Will it change peopleâ€™s relationship to their wearable device when they know that it can be an informant? These devices can give their own interpretation of your daily activity, sleep, and moods, and that analysis may be seen to carry more evidentiary weight than the ownerâ€™s experience.
4. Flowing With The Stresses Of Others
Imagine youâ€™re rowing a boat on a foggy lake, and out of the fog comes another boat that crashes into you! At first youâ€™re angry at the fool who crashed into you â€” what was he thinking! You just painted the boat. But then you notice the boat is empty, and the anger leaves â€¦ youâ€™ll have to repaint the boat, thatâ€™s all, and you just row around the empty boat. But if there were a person steering the boat, weâ€™d be angry!
Hereâ€™s the thing:Â the boat is always empty. Whenever we interact with other people who might â€œdo something to usâ€ (be rude, ignore us, be too demanding, break our favorite coffee cup, etc.), weâ€™re bumping into an empty boat. We just think thereâ€™s some fool in that boat who should have known better, but really itâ€™s just a boat bumping into us, no harm intended by the boat.
Thatâ€™s a hard lesson to learn, because we tend to imbue the actions of others with a story of their intentions, and how they should have acted instead. We think theyâ€™re out to get us, or they should base their lives around being considerate to us and not offending us. But really theyâ€™re just doing their thing, without bad intent, and the boat just happens to bump into us.
“Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers” – VoltaireÂ