Category: culture

A shed the size of a town: what Britain’s gian…

A shed the size of a town: what Britain’s giant distribution centres tell us about modern life:

Simple as they may look, distribution centres are sophisticated structures. The machinery that moves stuff around is constantly evolving. Their playing field-sized floors have to be exceptionally level, as small unevenness could cause the high fork-lift trucks they use to lean unacceptably at the top. Years of competition have made their structure as spare and economical as can be. Architects such as Chetwoods have to reconcile all this with the wishes of users (who might want something tailored to their needs) and of investors, who will want a structure to be adaptable to future users.It is tempting to say that these buildings make the internet visible, except that their visibility is strictly limited. Sometimes they get into the news when reporters, posing as warehouse workers, bring news of working conditions inside. You can get a glimmer on Google, for example from employee reviews of Primark’s warehouse, which sits like an acropolis on a raised earthwork in Northamptonshire: “they’re treating a people like nothing,” says one in imperfect English; “they beautiful lied on induction how much they cares about worker, don’t believe them.” The buildings, however, remain notably blank, giving almost no clue of their busy inner lives.

Some users and owners are dismissive of press inquiries to a degree unusual in big, public relations-conscious companies. Tesco refused a request to see inside their Dirft base, which was possibly not surprising, but also to answer simple questions, such as: what are its dimensions?

For the writer Carolyn Steel, whose book Hungry City: How Food Shapes Our Livesexamines the relationship of society to food, this secrecy is the antithesis of the more public processes by which food once progressed from field to market to kitchen to plate. “The exchange of food used to bring people together,” she says. “Now the process is designed to exclude the human”. But distribution centres manifest the world we have chosen and had chosen for us, in return for efficiency and convenience, in which a product appears in the home by ever more inscrutable magic.

Their scale and growth are a consequence of the fact that all that physicality and volume that the virtual world displaces has to go somewhere. It’s welcome that architects and developers should try to make something of them and to mitigate their impact with woods, ponds and indeed coloured bands. But, short of a dramatic restructuring of the economic, technical and social basis of the modern world, these uncompromising building types will only become more essential to our lives. The contrast between what was previously thought of as natural and urban landscape will only become more stark.

Digital Human: Series 10, Episode 1 – Sublime

Lunchtime lecture for you guys, with Aaron Bal…

Lunchtime lecture for you guys, with Aaron Balick on the Psychodynamics of Social Media –  just watch out for the opening music if you’re wearing headphones. Learn from my pain… meep.

Digital Human, Series 12, Episode 6 – Shame

Buffet: All You Can Eat Las Vegas Digital…

Buffet: All You Can Eat Las Vegas

Digital Human, Series 12, Episode 5 – Insatiable

NYU Professor Adam Alter: How to Make an Exp…

NYU Professor Adam Alter: How to Make an Experience Addictive

Digital Human, Series 12, Episode 5 – Insatiable

The Skinner Box – How Games Condition People t…

The Skinner Box – How Games Condition People to Play More – Extra Credits:

The Skinner Box – How Games Condition People to Play More – Extra Credits

Digital Human, Series 12, Episode 5 – Insatiable

Your Addiction to Social Media Is No Accident

Your Addiction to Social Media Is No Accident:


On February 9, 2009, Facebook introduced the like button. Initially, the button was an innocent thing. It had nothing to do with hijacking the social reward systems of a user’s brain.

“The main intention I had was to make positivity the path of least resistance,” explains Justin Rosenstein, one of the four Facebook designers behind the button. “And I think it succeeded in its goals, but it also created large unintended negative side effects. In a way, it was too successful.”

Today, most of us reach for Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter with one vague thought in mind: Maybe someone liked my stuff. And it’s this craving for validation, experienced by billions around the globe, that’s currently pushing platform engagement in ways that in 2009 were unimaginable. But more than that, it’s driving profits to levels that were previously impossible.

“The attention economy” is a relatively new term. It describes the supply and demand of a person’s attention, which is the commodity traded on the internet. The business model is simple: The more attention a platform can pull, the more effective its advertising space becomes, allowing it to charge advertisers more. All this might seem a little underhanded, but it’s nothing compared to some of the design features currently showing up on Snapchat. Of these is the one causing the most concern, and uses elongating red lines to display the number days of since two users interacted. According to Adam Alter, this design feature is so effective that he’s heard of teens asking friends to babysit their streaks while on vacation.

“It’s clear here that the goal—keeping the streak alive—is more important than enjoying the platform as a social experience,” he says. “This is a clear sign that engagement mechanisms are driving usage more than enjoyment.”

Digital Human, Series 12, Episode 5 – Insatiable

From The Amaz!ng Meeting 2012, author and ps…

From The Amaz!ng Meeting 2012, author and psychologist Deirdre Barrett examines how “supernormal stimuli” have caused primal urges to overrun their evolutionary purpose.

Digital Human, Series 12, Episode 5 – Insatiable

TEDxKnoxville – Deirdre Barrett – Dreams and…

TEDxKnoxville – Deirdre Barrett – Dreams and Creative Problem Solving

Ok, not strictly realted to this week’s show, but dreams are stimuli , but it’s a bloody interesting talk. 

Digital Human, Series 12, Episode 5 – Insatiable

How Dolby is measuring human emotions to hac…

How Dolby is measuring human emotions to hack Hollywood

So you guys can see in Poppy Crum’s fascinating lab. Movies with tech she’s working on are something I couldn’t get enough of 🙂

Digital Human, Series 12, Episode 5 – Insatiable

The 100,000 Calorie Challenge | BeardMeatsFo…

The 100,000 Calorie Challenge | BeardMeatsFood

Digital Human, Series 12, Episode 5 – Insatiable