Surprising Translators and Alchemists in Miniature

1 year ago


Text only:

First, we have our first Real Future event at the brand-new and very awesome Kapor Center in Oakland on Tuesday night. It's free: Come!


Second, I'm now Fusion's editor-at-large, which means that for the first time in years, I'll be writing full-time. I'm deliriously happy about it because I've missed writing, I've missed reading, and I've missed doing this newsletter.


And about that: Back in the day, before there was an official Real Future newsletter, I renamed this here personal newsletter "Real Future." Now, there is an Official Real Future Newsletter (go subscribe!), so this newsletter is going back to its original name, 5it. Going forward, this thing should come out 2-3 times a week.


Third, I have a request for this community: Imagine I’ve been asleep for the past 2 years. What has been most surprising in technology? What is a new thing that everyone is talking about that no one was talking about back in 2014? What are the discontinuities? What are the continuities?


Just hit reply and you can tell me stuff. Or come to the event tomorrow night! Or email me: alexis.madrigal@fusion.net.


AND NOW, the links, which are really good today:


1. Considering how a social network shapes what you see in the world is a fascinating and disconcerting experience.


"Twitter has colonized my mind. Almost every day for just under a decade, I have checked the site, have tweeted, retweeted, been subtweeted. My mental map is the frontier surrendered, and Twitter is the empire. To become occupied by a social network is to internalize its gaze. It is to forever carry a doubled view of both your own mind and the platform’s. What beckons initially is what feels like a blank canvas — some empty space onto which one can splash one’s desires. So, like millions of others, I conjured a persona for Twitter, at first modulating myself for the tech- and pop-culture-savvy early users, then later techno-skeptics and lefty cultural critics, and now for the many like me who are just exhausted by the whole thing and make aimless or bitter jokes."


2. You are almost certainly underestimating yeast.


"The more we look at these wild yeasts, the more we find they offer chemical solutions to problems beyond bland beer. Their presence and promise on this planet extend far beyond their physicality. They are surprising translators, and alchemists in miniature."


3. Meet the government's foremost expert on pollen forensics.


"Why, then, is 29-year-old Laurence the only full-time forensic pollen analyst in the United States? It’s not as if he can’t use some assistance. When asked how many cases, ranging from smuggling to homicide, he’s worked on during his three and half years of full-time employment with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Laurence said, 'Oh, geez. Hundreds? At least 160.'"


4. NOAA's guide to building an underwater microphone for listening to whales and dolphins.


"This document provides a guide to building single hydrophones suitable for listening to and recording marine mammal vocalizations or linear hydrophone arrays in which several hydrophones are molded onto a single cable for localizing a sound source. This guide is intended for anyone with an interest in building hydrophones, and no special expertise is required. The hydrophones described below are based on an EC65 cylindrical hydrophone element (EDO Corporation Salt Lake City, Utah) 1 and a lownoise preamplifier. This combination has proven to be reliable, gives a very 'clean' sound (up to approximately 40 kHz), and is excellent for receiving sounds from sperm whales, humpback whales, and several dolphin species."


5. What you get for $50 at China's famed Huaqiangbei electronics market.


"Up until now, we’ve had only the vaguest sense of what volume purchase in the markets was really like. We, of course, were never going to be in the business of buying smartwatches, drones, or SD cards in volume. Or were we? About a month back, Jesse asked friends on Twitter if they’d pay fifty bucks to get a box of random crap from Shenzhen. It quickly became clear that we weren’t going to have any trouble finding customers for this one."


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Surprising Translators and Alchemists in Miniature


5it by Alexis Madrigal
Fairview Park Oakland, CA 94618 USA
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