Mysterious Street Art, Cockroach Emoji, and Weird LinkedIn

Also: psychedelic political branding and walking through Japan

Hi all,

Thanks for reading through 2020! I’ve got some fresh new ideas for 2021, and I’m looking forward to continuing this project.

I have one request for you today: Please fill out this reader survey (5 short questions) to help me get an idea of what’s working best. I’ll wait.

Now, let’s get on with it!


Reading this piece made me want to go for a long walk. It also reminded me that I’d like to visit Japan, and experience the differences between our cultures. I was especially interested in reading about how the author, Craig Mod, structured his use of technology to fully immerse himself in the experience of walking an ancient route.
The Glorious, Almost-Disconnected Boredom of My Walk in Japan | WIRED

It’s not every day that we can remark, “one of the world’s largest collections of prehistoric rock art has been discovered in the Amazonian rainforest” and “tens of thousands of ice age paintings across a cliff face shed light on people and animals from 12,500 years ago[!]” I suggest you have a look and think about life a little bit.
Art discovered in remote Amazon forest | Archaeology | The Guardian

If you feel at all nostalgic for the internet of the 1990s, including the GeoCities aesthetic and whatnot… pay a visit to this excellent website:

TL;DR: “The evolution of Biden's visual language is a glimpse of where political branding is heading.” Joe Biden's Branding Was Both Traditional and Trippy, and It Looks Like the Future of Politics | Eye on Design

Looks like color merchants Pantone were not immune to the depression of 2020 in picking their “color of the year” for 2021… though, there is a bright yellow as well.
Pantone picks two 2021 Colors of the Year: 'Illuminating' yellow, and 'Ultimate Gray'

This may be my favorite news story that I’ve read recently. It involves a caper, pranking a landlord, and street art. I recommend a read of this (short) piece!
Impersonating a Property Owner, a Man Paid an Artist to Paint a Cookie Monster Mural in Peoria. The Town—and the Internet—Have Questions

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@crzjgrdwldiwdc — I have no idea how to call this person! They accurately describe their content as “💜💚 = chip music, Amiga computers, neon stuff, cyber fashion + more.

@whitecalx — This account holder only mentions that they make “Glitch ART". I enjoy their use of colors and the mystery around their identity.


If you want to know about how emojis are added to your phone, check out this piece: The cockroach emoji proposal is a story about texting through the apocalypse

Internet of Things (IoT) devices continue to be deployed to more and more places. This legislation seems to be supported by some folks in the cybersecurity industry, which is good to hear. I believe we’ll be seeing lots more bills about technology, cybersecurity, and such in the near future! IoT cybersecurity bill passed by Senate - Malwarebytes Labs

The increasingly-online Microsoft found itself in hot water recently when users discovered that it was giving individual ‘ratings’ for employees’ productivity in detail. This patent reveal, well, it didn’t help. To their credit, the corporation did change the behavior of the former technology to prevent surveillance of individuals by employers, limiting the tech to more aggregate uses.

Regardless, I think we’ll see some form of ‘scoring’ happening in meetings and online workplaces, soon. Microsoft patents tech to score meetings using body language, facial expressions, other data - GeekWire

This is a pretty impressive scientific breakthrough which seems likely to be further developed for humans: Monkeys See Things That Aren't There With Artificial Vision Brain Implant

If you’re wondering “how likely is it that humanity is targeted by an evil AI like Skynet?” then you should read this piece. Artificial general intelligence: Are we close, and does it even make sense to try? | MIT Technology Review

On the other side of things, whether or not we get “general” AI, we are already using “narrow” AI, aka “machine learning algorithms” to make important decisions around policing, incarceration, freedoms, and now, death. The era of AI assassinations has arrived | The Times

Finally, I’ll link to a writer whose newsletter inspires me, Bruce Schneier. This time he’s considering whether and how we should regulate ‘persuasive’ technologies, and if so, to what extent. Crypto-gram: Should There Be Limits on Persuasive Technologies?


I, for one, am extremely hyped for this dope competition to be added to the OGs. Competitive breakdancing added to Paris 2024 Olympic Games | The Guardian

GTD was a big trend when I started becoming Extremely Online, so this marks the end of an era for me. It’s appropriate to re-evaluate habits and routines at the end of a year and the start of a new one, though! The Rise and Fall of Getting Things Done | The New Yorker

I do enjoy reading about how crime happens, in the abstract and technical senses. This piece adds a dash of geopolitics as well. Fascinating! Special Report: Burner phones and banking apps: Meet the Chinese 'brokers' laundering Mexican drug money

Next up, a guest-post from another email newsletter that I enjoy: “It’s a piece about the weird world of LinkedIn — from celebrity ‘workfluencers’ to the strange social features that feel out of place.” LinkedIn’s Alternate Universe - Divinations

“Jigsaw is a unit within Google that explores threats to open societies, and builds technology that inspires scalable solutions.”

This piece is very lavishly designed and presents some deep analysis about white supremacist communities on the Internet, and how the ecosystem works. Finally they provide some information about effective interventions—interpersonal and technological. The Problem - Violent White Supremacy | Jigsaw

The old Greyhound bus station in Jackson, Miss. The station was the site of many arrests in 1961, when Freedom Riders rode interstate buses into the segregated South.

A fascinating photo-essay that explores “vestiges of racism and oppression, from bricked-over segregated entrances to the forgotten sites of racial violence, [which] still permeate much of America’s built environment.” Hidden in Plain Sight: The Ghosts of Segregation - The New York Times

Well, considering that we learned a few issues ago that the catalog was computer-generated, I suppose it’s fitting to stop using paper too. This lovely piece shows off a few iconic covers from the catalog’s history. The IKEA Catalog is Dead. Long Live the IKEA Catalog.