Tag: Technorhetoric

Intimate Technology

Australians Wake Up One Hour Early Due to System Error in Their Mobile Phones

Customers of the Australian Telecom provider Optus didn’t get as much sleep as they’d hoped last week. Due to incorrectly set switching units in Brisbane, some phones in the state’s south-east automatically switched their time zone.

The glitch meant many woke an hour earlier than usual, leaving not just phone customers but whole households unhappy about rising early.

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boeing747_sketch from the sixties

The Golden Quarter

Some of our greatest cultural and technological achievements took place between 1945 and 1971. Why has progress stalled?


We live in a golden age of technological, medical, scientific and social progress. Look at our computers! Look at our phones! Twenty years ago, the internet was a creaky machine for geeks. Now we can’t imagine life without it. We are on the verge of medical breakthroughs that would have seemed like magic only half a century ago: cloned organs, stem-cell therapies to repair our very DNA. Even now, life expectancy in some rich countries is improving by five hours a day. A day! Surely immortality, or something very like it, is just around the corner.

The notion that our 21st-century world is one of accelerating advances is so dominant that it seems churlish to challenge it. Almost every week we read about ‘new hopes’ for cancer sufferers, developments in the lab that might lead to new cures, talk of a new era of space tourism and super-jets that can fly round the world in a few hours. Yet a moment’s thought tells us that this vision of unparalleled innovation can’t be right, that many of these breathless reports of progress are in fact mere hype, speculation – even fantasy.

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Xmas Unwrapped

Ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes of Christmas? Buckle up for an expedition along the supply chain to visit the factory floors and productions lines of our fluffy red Santa hats, shiny baubles, tinsel and fake plastic trees.
Merry Christmas. Ho Ho Ho!

Video by Unknown Fields Division and Toby Smith


Next Nature Emergency Blanket

In 1964, NASA developed a new material consisting of a thin sheet of plastic, coated with a metallic reflecting agent. A thin sheet of plastic coated with a metallic reflecting agent proved resistance to the hostile space environment, large temperature range and resistance to ultraviolet radiation. As a spinoff, this material is now widely used as ‘survival’ blanket in emergency situations or extreme sports, usually to protects its users against forces of ‘old’ nature (cold, heat, rain, wind).

This Next Nature Survival Blanket however, protects against the forces of next nature: drone attacks, electrosmog, internet fail, et cetera.

Concept: Koert van Mensvoort, Hendrik-Jan Grievink
Design: Hendrik-Jan Grievink

The Next Nature Emergency Blanket is especially developed for the exhibition Welcome to the Anthropocene: The Earth in Our Hands at the Deutsches Museum in Munich (Germany) which runs from December 5, 2014 to January 31, 2016.


How Technology becomes Nature

From stone-axes to mobile phones, throughout history people have given birth to a wide range of technologies. Today, it is almost impossible to imagine a world without technology. Every human being on the planet employs technology of some sort, and every human has to cope with technological change at various points during his or her lifetime. Yet, despite our deep-rooted relationship with technology, most of us are still relatively unaware of how new technologies are introduced, accepted or discarded within our society.

In this talk at TEDxGhent, our own Dr. Van Mensvoort shows how technology becomes nature in seven steps and what engineers, inventors, designers and entrepreneurs can learn from that. The talk is based on the essay Pyramid of Technology, which is also available as a booklet + poster.


What Bits Want

Digital bits have lives. They work for us, but we totally ignore them. What do bits really want? Here are the life stories of four different bits.


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Anti-Drone Tent

Sarah van Sonsbeecks Anti Drone Tent is a small construction of emergency blankets that blocks infrared sensing, making it invisible to drones.

Isn’t it ironic. While originally humans started employing technology to emancipate ourselves from the forces of old nature – think of a roof above your head to withstand wind and rain – these technologies over time caused the rising of a next nature. And we now need to emancipate ourselves from the forces of technology.

The Anti Drone tent is currently on display at the Drone Camping at Mediamatic.


Monster Machine Swallows Tree in 15 Sec

They are called excavator mulchers, but that’s an understatement. What they really do is swallow trees. The video is 3 minutes, but you really only need to see the first 15 seconds, which is the time it takes the mulcher monster to consume a 9 meter-tall, mature spruce – starting at the top, landing at the bottom.

The tree that was, suddenly isn’t. Technosphere vs Biosphere: 1-0, it seems. But then you calculate how many trees need to be burned to provide the mulcher with enough energy to swallow one tree. Not entirely cradle to cradle. We wonder if the monster mulchers also do Antenna Tree masts.