Previously: Bernard Vonnegut, sociopathic dating, a Facebook camera (f/e 9 July)

11.15, Friday 9 Jul 2021

Six recommended blog posts from the archives, originally published this fortnight in years past.

(I’m enjoying rediscovering old posts, but these “Previously” summaries were coming up too regularly. So I’m switching them from weekly to fortnightly.)

1 year ago

Space, weather, and other novel battlegrounds (30 June 2020).

I guess what I’m just realising is that, at some point, someone had to realise that “cyberwar” could be a thing. And what was that process like, exactly? Did some bright kid write a memo that got the attention of the boss and the boss’ boss?

ALSO, this factoid: Bernard Vonnegut (Kurt Vonnegut’s brother) was a chemist who discovered in 1946… cloud seeding. Artificial rain.

Idle thoughts about how we replace keyboards (3 July 2020).

Could I use a swiping keyboard by drawing in the air and having it picked up by a nearby camera?

Ideas for replacing smartphone keyboards with something better – and perhaps something more future facing for augmented reality.

2 years ago

A lengthy ramble through many responses to that FaceTime Attention Correction tweet (4 July 2019).

The latest beta of iOS 13 came out, and there’s a feature called FaceTime Attention Correction which, on video calls, silently manipulates the image of your face so that you’re looking the other person directly in the eye. Which on first blush to me sounded cool (eye contact is good! Maybe?) but on further thought made me do a weird face.

The feature ended up not shipping. The collection of responses is varied and fascinating: concerns from an autistic perspective, excitement about the possibility of deep emotional engagement at great distance, and a prediction from one correspondent that we should come back to: within 3 years you won’t even need the camera to make video calls.

6 years ago

Filtered for coherent narratives (6 July 2015).

Mixtape of the Lost Decade: “evidence is mounting that points to a ‘lost decade’ between what we now remember as the 1970s and 1980s.” Art, toys and music are all rediscovered – a distinct era, the 19A0s.

Also about how modern art was a CIA weapon.

Some good links in this one.

9 years ago

Facebook should make a camera (3 July 2012).

Facebook are interested in camera apps (they have two: their own, and Instagram). They should make the hardware.

This was before smartphones went hard on cameras. 9 years ago! But there are still ideas here that would make sense now: There should be a dedicated ‘photo wallet’ Facebook album, and the front-facing screen should be used for a dedicated showing off function.


If you want the killer feature… Facebook should build on Facebook Chat to support video, and make this camera a video chat device. Hangouts (easy, social video chat) is the stand-out amazing feature in Google+, and Facebook should be looking to compete.

There are current rumours of a Facebook smartwatch with two cameras. Better late than never! Well perhaps.

13 years ago

Operant conditioning, dolphin training, and dating (3 July 2008).

That is: a couple dating should have available manufactured, reciprocal, variable-interval operant conditioning, with a pay-off timed to the artificially produced extinction burst, to trigger mutual addition, and they should be able to buy this in a shop.

Starting with dolphin training, this is a concept for a deck of cards that a newly dating couple can purchase to cause them to fall in love. Which is, uh, only mildly sociopathic as an idea?

SEE ALSO: that famous New York Times article To Fall in Love With Anyone, Do This (2015) which tests a psychological study about a series of questions that, when answered by two strangers, will cause them to fall in love. It’s a good read. If you want to try it yourself, here are the 36 questions.

Personal favourites selected from this week’s On This Day archive spelunking page. This is an experiment to see how to best surface older ideas in the current feed in a meaningful way, and I’m trying it as a regular feature, now every 2 weeks on a Friday. Keep-going/why-not-try-this-instead feedback welcome.

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