Amazon.com’s fulfillment center in Rugeley, England, is a sterile kingdom where the algorithm is king – and humans do their best to perform its bidding. Workers’ every movement is dictated by a tracking algorithm, which can send them on trips of up to 24 kilometers per day on the quest for packages. The silence is total. Workers can be fired for talking, even as smiling cardboard cutouts remind them that “this is the best job I’ve ever had!”.
With zero-hour contracts – and jobs that evaporate from one day to the next – workers are treated more like cogs than humans. According to photojournalist Ben Roberts, who chronicled the Rugeley center in Amazon Unpacked, “the only reason Amazon doesn’t actually replace them with robots is they’ve yet to find a machine that can handle so many different sized packages.” It’s dismal proof that if we don’t domesticate technology, it ends up domesticating us.
Read more at Fast Company.
Remember the Web 2.0 Suicide Machine? That was for those who where fed up with only speaking with their families online, liking their own holiday pictures and spending warm summer days compulsively checking status updates from better, cooler, more successful friends. It’s now three years on, and social media have become an even more inescapable part of our everyday routine. If you’re still in doubt about whether or not to end your Facebook life, there’s now the game of Social Roulette. According to co-founder Kyle McDonald:
“Social Roulette has a 1 in 6 chance of deleting your account, and a 5 in 6 chance that it just posts “I played Social Roulette and survived” to your timeline. […] Everyone thinks about deleting their account at some point, it’s a completely normal reaction to the overwhelming nature of digital culture. Is it time to consider a new development in your life? Are you looking for the opportunity to start fresh? Or are you just seeking cheap thrills at the expense of your social network? Maybe it’s time for you to play Social Roulette.”
I’m waiting for the 21st century version of the Deer Hunter.
Using a screen capture tool and Google’s home page, Marius Budin has created a video that presents the true fears of humanity over the course of a lifetime. By simply typing the phrase “I’m [X] and,” inserting the numbers 10 through 85, Marius reveals humanity’s basest insecurities, which seem to center around pregnancy and virginity. These results are compiled using the closely guarded Google search API which means that these exact search terms have been entered hundreds, thousands or even millions of times before.
It appears that we are often searching for the same answers. It is interesting to note our habitual response is now to search google for answers to life’s existential questions, rather than turning to a qualified professional or even just a friend for help. As with “Deliver us from Digital Bluntness”, this appears to be evidence of a shift in human interaction directly related to technology. In a sense, our fear of judgement means we would rather seek out help from potentially unreliable, unkind or even fake strangers than go to the people we actually know.
With the slogan “when your heart stops breathing, you’ll keep tweeting”, the developers of LivesOn claim that your Twitter account can keep tweeting forever, similar to the way you tweeted, after you die. According to the website, the LivesOn artificial intelligence engine analyzes your Twitter feed, learning your interests and syntax to ‘train’ itself to become an online reflection of you. In contrast to other managers of your social media afterlife, LivesOn mimics your personality to pretend that you never even died. Your followers might not even notice the difference.
LivesOn is developed by Lean Mean Fighting Machine, in collaboration with Queen Mary, University of London. Currently the website allows pre-subscriptions but has not announced an official launch.
Primitive man lived in caves. He used the surface of these caves as a canvas (*) to make representations of the things that surrounded him: animals and hunting, stories of magic and ritual, which helped him to make sense of the world.
Over the years, his cave has changed quite a bit: today, it comes on four wheels and in bright, shiny colors. In their turn, tribes of other cavemen use them as canvasses for their own art. An art which in itself has become more primitive and abstract, or minimal and conceptual if you want. It doesn’t nessecarily want to tell a story, or say something about the world outside the cave. Rather, it seems to refer to the cave itself. Instead of making representations of magic and rites, the creative act itself has become the ritual. Now drive me back to the tribe!
People use 3D printing for various reasons, from toys to surgery to yes, even candy-making. The FabCafé in Tokyo allows you to print a perfect copy of yourself as a gummy candy. Personally, eating something with my exact features would give me a bit of anthropomorphobia!
More pictures after the jump. Story via Fubiz
Web designer Marko Dugonji? has created a website called “Responsive Typography” that alters the size of the text based on your distance from the screen. As a simple working prototype, Responsive Typography shows us some of the untapped potential of physical interactions with soft wear. Imagine moving away from your screen to get a drink and watching as it magnifies the text so you can read your email from afar, or a computer that goes to sleep when you leave a room and wakes when you return.
It’s fascinating to think of computers becoming more responsive to our bodies as a whole, but with the increasing prevalence of facial recognition these interactions could be taken even deeper. If the computer recognized your face was sad, it might change your music playlist to something cheerier, or send your friend a message to give you a call. If it realized you were getting tired, could it tell you when to take a break? Or open the blinds to let in a little more daylight?
Dugonji?’s tool shows the range of untapped design potential that is already built into webcams, and bodes for an exciting interactive computing future.
Imagine what you could do if you had one million Twitter followers. You would be so rich! Now seriously: Are followers becoming an alternative currency? Perhaps, although we are still awaiting the day that you can walk into a bakery and routinely buy a loaf of bread with your Twitter following. Scratch to win. Or if you don’t believe in lotteries, you can simply buy one million twitter followers for only $8295.
Image by Julian Bleecker.
Have you heard of Elephantiasis? It is a disease caused by microscopic parasitic worms that cause a thickening of the skin and underlying tissues. The disease typically occurs in tropical regions, however, as it seems it recently transferred to consumer products.
A delicious Montepulciano in only 6 seconds? This is now possible with the universal Nano wine. All you need is a microwave oven.
In 5,64 seconds at 1000 watt you have a sublime Romanée-Conti. Or create a surprisingly young Mouton-Rothschild 1945 in only 2,34 seconds at 650 watt. The possibilities are endless. The wine contains millions of nano capsules which depending on your mood and taste preferences can be activated by microwaves. Inactivated nano capsules move unnoticed through the body, while the opened capsules alter the taste, smell and color of the wine. Sweet!
During the coming weeks, we will present a selection of our favourite pages from the Next Nature book. To kick the series off, we’ll start with a spread about hypernature; the enhanced version of nature.
Much of the so-called ‘nature’ in our lives has taken on an artificial authenticity. Engineered tomatoes are redder, rounder, and larger than the ones from our gardens. Domestic pets could not survive in the wild, but prosper by triggering our empathy. We have made fluorescent fish, rainbow tulips and botanical gardens that contain species from every corner of the globe.
Human design has turned nature into hypernature, an exaggerated simulation of a nature that never existed. It’s better than the original, a little bit prettier and slicker, safer and more convenient. Hypernature emerges where the born and the made meet. It presents itself as nature, yet arguably, it is culture in disguise.
Note from the editor: This spread is a perfect example of the relation between this website and our Next Nature book. Over the years, we have posted several stories about hypernature, but we never really pinned the term down. The editing process of the book allowed us to study it much better and come to a better understanding of what it is, and how it should be described. Which in return resulted in the thematic sections you can find on this website, like this one about hypernature.
Featured here are pages 124-125 from the book Next Nature: Nature Changes Along with Us. More information about the book can be found here.
Has nature become a fairytale or do we want it to be one? In their installation The Clockwork Forest, artist collective Greyworld seems to opt for the latter.
The work of art consists of a giant golden key attached to a living tree in a forest, giving it a nice theme-park aesthetic. When the key is turned, the tree plays a fairy-tale-ish lullaby and the suggestion of a wind-up tree is playfully evoked. Close your eyes, and you’ll see goblins and unicorns running through the damp forest. It’s magic…
Hello designers and design-lovers! The NANO Supermarket has arrived at the Salone in Milan, Italy. From today (april 18th) until sunday (april 22nd), we will present our speculative products in our mobile supermarket bus posted at the front entrance of Studio Zeta, Via Friuli 26, 20135 Milan, Italy (map).
Wed 4/18: 11 AM – 7 PM
Thu 4/19: 9 AM – 7 PM
Fri 4/20: 9 AM – 7 PM
Sat 4/21: 9 AM – 7 PM
Sun 4/22: 11 AM – 5 PM
From april 17-20, a large deal of the Next Nature crew will be in Milan, Italy. We will bring our lustrous Nano Supermarket to this year’s edition of the Salone Internationale del Mobile and while we’re there we wouldn’t mind giving some rocking lectures slash book presentations. For bookings, please contact us via hendrikjan [at] nextnature [dot] net. We’re looking forward to see you there. Ciao!
Could you imagine yourself having QR-code freckles, or a chlorophyl skin? Dutch artist Marcia Nolte visualises these kind of speculative scenarios in a very non-spectacular yet beautiful way. This Corpus 2.1 series is a follow-up to her earlier Corpus 2.0 series, of which we also featured a stunning image in our book.
In this particular piece of video art, loyal readers of nextnature.net might recognise the building as Zeche Zollverein in Germany, where we organized the Biggest Visual Power Show in 2006. Others might see an antropomorphobic turn on the artistic genre of the tableau vivant baptised ‘The Humping Pact’ and made by artists Diego Agullo’s and Dmitry Paranyushkin’s. A dead industrial space is brought back to life by elementary human interaction in quite a mechanical fashion, an artists fantasy that seems to merge notions of industrial-age cybersex with the idea of the conception of what German techno-pioneers Kraftwerk would call: the man-machine. The subtext: fuck technology?
More information about the artwork here.
Via Teun Castelein
You’re spending too much of your time in the sewers of the internet, planning to pigeon-rank your toilet visits or you’re simply feeling lucky? This peculiar shanzhai’d toilet paper might be for you. Made out of 100% virgin pulp, so no trees have died to whipe your behind.