Berlin before the internet (part 2)

From a Guardian piece about digital exiles in Berlin: Another reference to post fall-of-the-wall berlin as that strange place where the internet did not exist yet: But then, it is the blink of an eye. It’s 25 years since the wall came down. And, in a strange historical collision, 25 years since the world wide web was invented. When I first came to Berlin, the internet didn’t exist and I was still some years away from sending my first email. In a historical time frame, the evolution of digital te…

Online content moderators as canaries of the coming robot apocalypse

While running i listend to a On The Media interview with the autor of the Wired piece on content moderation that was making the rounds this week. After a while the interview addresses the relatively obvious question of why content moderation is still a task that can only be carried out by humans: Brooke Gladstone: I think that one of the things that struck me is that this work demands human beings clued in to American mores and laws. This has to be done by brute force of eyes and clicking finger…

Berlin wonderland

slavin: I remember getting there in 1992 and feeling like I had already missed the main event. Inside my head, the whole period has the quality of dreams, not memories; it was so long ago and the images in my head feel simply too implausible to have been real. i also remember some of this although i mainly remember longing for more of this as i was only able to make it to Berlin in the weekends. what i find most striking tough, is that this was the end of the pre-internet era, recorded only in…

#Firstworldproblems as R&D for solving real problems in the developing world

A while ago i used this space to express my skepticism with regards to delivery drones becoming a major thing in the developed world anytime soon (and also hedged that by pointing to the fact that they may be much more useful and economically viable in developing countries). A couple of days ago i came across an excellent essay (Build cargo drones, get rich) by J.M. Ledgard in which he makes the most convincing case for cargo drones i have come across yet. While his scenario is entirely focussed…

The Homeless house cleaners of the sharing economy

If this NY mag article is to be believed you can hire house cleaners who are themselves homeless via www.homejoy.com a San Francisco based startup that has received $40 million in funding. Guess this says a lot about how out of whack the bay area real estate market is, but that is not what the article is about. Instead it tries to shine light on another issue, namely the fact that many recent startups (many of them falling in the broad (and equally meaningless) ‘sharing economy’ category) offer…

Equipopulous Europe

I am strangely fascinated by this map that depicts the European Union as 28 equipopulous member states (although i would rather imagine this as administrative territories rather than as states): Twenty-eight equally sized European Union Member States, by Alasdair Gunn Of course this is utterly unrealistic as (re)drawing borders has been one of the most destructive activities in the history of humanity. So the only way to improve on the current situation would be to do away with border altogether…

Capital or the erosion of the social farbric of the city

This is the second book i have read this year that has the words ‘capital’ and ’21st century’ in its title. While this smells a lot like free-riding on the popularity of the other book, it is not [1]. Capital by Rana Dasgupta chronicles the last one-and-a-half decades of the Indian capital Delhi. It is a mix between encounters (not in the indian sense of the word) with (moneyed) inhabitants of Delhi, snippets of history and more abstract reflections on the city in an globalized world. It is a f…

Imaginary suburban futures

Friday morning when we left the cab that had brought us and our newborn from the hospital the mail carriers on their bicycles where swarming out around us (we live 3 houses down from a postnl distribution location where the mail for the neighborhood is transferred from delivery vans to bikes). Having spend some of the waiting time in hospital reading Alex Madrigal’s Atlantic feature on Google’s delivery drone programme this made me briefly contemplate if our daughter would grow up to see a world…

You can't invade a country and eat its chicken

Rijsel does the best rotisserie chicken in Amsterdam hand down. Every time a have one of those i am reminded of an interview with a US soldier who served in Iraq in 2006 during the height of the first Iraqi insurgency. In this interview the solider spoke of how he hated paroling the streets of Bagdad in his armored vehicle unable to step out into an urban environment that was considered to be too dangerous for dismounted operations. His contempt for the Iraqi population was greatly enhanced by…