New Next Now (May 2016)

27 April 2016 | Keep­ing Up with the Trends

Every month, The Nextsens­ing Project pub­lish­es a brief review of some of the many great arti­cles, books, videos, and ideas-in-oth­er-forms that we encounter. The nextsens­ing mind, we believe, is always stretch­ing to see beyond the mar­ket­place hori­zon. Hope you enjoy this mon­th’s edi­tion of…


Sit down, Siri.Vir­tu­al assis­tants are on the rise — and who bet­ter than poets and come­di­ans to give them life? From @washingtonpost, Eliz­a­beth Dwoskin (@lizzadwoskin) reveals that cre­ative writ­ers are help­ing to bring a touch of human­i­ty to the next class of A.I. com­pan­ions. It’s a “hot job” in a hot mar­ket, she says: “at least $35 mil­lion in invest­ment over the past year.” [Read More Now]

Bon appetit! It seems plas­tic is now on the menu… if you’re bac­te­ria. Inter­est­ing arti­cle report­ed by @mental_floss: A team of Japan­ese researchers have iden­ti­fied a strain of bac­te­ria that can break down PET, a poly­mer found in most plas­tics. What could this mean for the envi­ron­ment? Says Michele Debczak (@micheledebczak): “…sci­en­tists are hop­ing their dis­cov­ery could inspire new ways of deal­ing with plas­tic pol­lu­tion.” [Read More Now]

What’s so spe­cial about bit­coin? Dominic Fris­by (@DominicFrisby) explains in an Aeon (@aeonmag) post that it’s all about “blockchain tech­nol­o­gy” — some­thing that is far big­ger than the bit­coin rev­o­lu­tion. Con­sid­er these words from Fris­by: “Just as the blockchain records where a bit­coin is at any giv­en moment, and thus who owns it, so can blockchain be used to record the own­er­ship of any asset and then to trade own­er­ship of that asset. This has huge impli­ca­tions for the way stocks, bonds and futures, indeed all finan­cial assets, are reg­is­tered and trad­ed. Reg­is­trars, stock mar­kets, invest­ment banks – dis­rup­tion lies ahead for all of them. Their monop­o­lies are all under threat from blockchain tech­nol­o­gy.” [Read More Now]

Win­ning for­mu­la. A Boston-based video game devel­op­er is tak­ing the fight to ADHD. “Project: EVO” will teach kids how to nav­i­gate a dig­i­tal world using only the items they real­ly need — a “brain-train­ing” mod­el based on exist­ing research. Denise Roland (@deniseroland) reports that the project has raised $30.5 mil­lion so far, and for good rea­son: “As many as 11% of U.S. chil­dren had been diagnosed…as of 2011 (CDCP).” Good spot­ting by @AlvaroF. [Read More Now]

BORING! San­di Mann (@SandiPsych) in UK’s The Guardian (@guardian) tack­les a ques­tion sel­dom asked. Why, she pon­ders, are we so bored? In her words: “Yet despite the pletho­ra of high-inten­si­ty enter­tain­ment con­stant­ly at our dis­pos­al, we are still bored. Up to half of us are ‘often bored’ at home or at school, while more than two-thirds of us are chron­i­cal­ly bored at work. We are bored by paper­work, by the com­mute and by dull meet­ings. TV is bor­ing, as is Face­book and oth­er social media. We spend our week­ends at dull par­ties, watch­ing tedious films or lis­ten­ing to our spous­es drone on about their day. Our kids are bored — bored of school, of home­work and even of school hol­i­days.” Ouch! Then again, the author wrote a book on the sub­ject and it’s titled The Upside of Down­time: Why Bore­dom is Good. [link] (Thanks @Pocket for spot­ting this one!) [Read More Now]

Bored Workers + Space

No thanks! In 1973, with the Inter­net on the hori­zon, British econ­o­mist Fran­cis Cairn­cross pre­dict­ed the death of the brick-and-mor­tar busi­ness office. Now it’s 2016 and many of us are still com­mut­ing to work. What gives? Accord­ing to Car­lo Rat­ti (@crassociati) and Matthew Claudel (@matthewclaudel) in @HarvardBiz: “We strive for places that allow us to share knowl­edge, to gen­er­ate ideas…and the inter­ac­tion of our minds are vital aspects of work…” [Read More Now]

Save the whales! How does one begin to pro­tect Earth from eco­log­i­cal destruc­tion? Pulitzer Prize-win­ning the­o­rist Edward O. Wil­son has a few ideas. His new book, Half-Earth, prof­fers a rad­i­cal new solu­tion: reserve half of the planet’s sur­face for non-human life. Says Jede­di­ah Pur­dy (@JedediahSPurdy) in @NewRepublic: Wil­son wants us to cast aside “an econ­o­my of end­less appetite for more” and con­vert to one that dig­ni­fies the nat­ur­al world. [Read More Now]

Imag­ine that! High­ly rec­om­mend this post “Make Room for Imag­i­na­tion!” by Gau­rav Bhal­la (@GBInnovation). Won­der­ful thoughts about the need for more imag­i­na­tive think­ing in today’s work­places. Says Bhal­la: “Cre­ativ­i­ty can cer­tain­ly accel­er­ate inno­va­tion, but only after imag­i­na­tion has rewired mind­sets.” Yes. Yes. Yes! His post appears in The Mar­ket­ing Jour­nal (@marketingjour). [Read More Now]

Do you mea­sure up? A Ger­man hard­ware com­pa­ny may have just saved us all a heap of time —and trou­ble. John Wenz (@johnwenz) recent­ly tried out BMI’s lat­est prod­uct: an auto­mat­ed tape mea­sure that rolls out on its own. “Need to mea­sure to that wall over there? Sim­ply let the tape stretch itself across the room.” Neat video, too. Who knew? @PopMech did. [Read More Now]

Not just “old” news. A big change is com­ing, says the Unit­ed States Cen­sus Bureau. Peo­ple aged 65+ will soon out­num­ber chil­dren five years old and younger — a first in human his­to­ry. Via @businessinsider, Ele­na Holod­ny (@elenaholodny) reports: “…by 2050 those ages 65 and up will make up an esti­mat­ed 15.6% of the glob­al pop­u­la­tion…” No doubt this shift will impact every facet of life in the years to come. [Read More Now]

Smart cook­ing. Fas­ci­nat­ing post from @revieweddotcom. The next leap for­ward in microwave tech­nol­o­gy might be upon us — and we have 15-year-old Shahir Rah­man to thank for it. Using a tem­per­a­ture gun and a lit­tle bit of math, the young sci­en­tist has devel­oped a “smart” microwave that can deter­mine the best set­tings for any­thing you want to cook. Says Nick Schmiedick­er (@nschmiedicker): “[Shahir] hopes to be able to include a way for the microwave to detect fires before they start, and iden­ti­fy what food is inside with­out any user input.” [Read More Now]

Stay cool, man. The Inter­net nev­er sleeps, and that means serv­er hard­ware is hot­ter than ever. To keep the tem­per­a­tures down, accord­ing to @nytimes, Microsoft has tak­en the plunge — lit­er­al­ly. John Markoff (@markoff) reports that the tech giant recent­ly installed a data cen­ter hun­dreds of feet down in the Pacif­ic Ocean and “mea­sured an ‘extreme­ly’ small amount of local heat­ing.” Bar­ring any eco­log­i­cal effects, project lead­ers hope the effort will inspire even more inno­va­tion in serv­er tech. [Read More Now]

Branch out, already! Want to win over some new cus­tomers? Per @Entrepreneur, you’ll need to tack­le some new mar­kets. “…[R]eal growth and scale requires attract­ing cus­tomers who are not like you,” says Mar­tin Zwill­ing (@StartupPro), who offers sev­en tips for doing just that. My favourite? “Incor­po­rate social con­scious­ness into your mes­sage.” [Read More Now]


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