This Week in Context – 20140315

Journalists spend a lot of time looking critically at decisions made by politicians, but less so at the complicated formulas that now govern a large share of our daily lives. In Interviewing the algorithm: How reporting and reverse engineering could build a beat to understand the code that influences us, Caroline O’Donovan presents Nick Diakopoulos’s paper ‘Algorithmic Accountability Reporting: On the Investigation of Black Boxes’, and calls for journalists to learn how to report on algorithms — to investigate them, to critique them — whether by interacting with the technology itself or by talking to the people who design them(Questions to us are always welcome at 

Google announced it will introduce an SDK for wearables in two weeks time. With the mindset that no single wearable/watch will rule the world, they want to be open to all kinds of tracking and provide the layer for wearable data. (via Roel)

Scanadu’s Scout will start shipping at the end of this month, said its belgian founder Walter De Brouwer. Scout is a little medical device that fits in the palm of your hand, and enables you to do a medical check up, just by holding it to the front of your head. The first 8000 devices will go to the the people who pledged on the Indiegogo crowdfunding platform. The Scout will be priced at $199. Additionally, Scanadu is working on a throw-away alternative ScanaFlo, which does a urine test. Watch a video interview with Walter De Brouwer about the next generation of quantified self tech here.

Meet 45-year-old Chris Dancy, which Mashable calls the world’s most connected man. He has between 300 and 700 systems capturing real-time data about his life at any given time. He even tracks his dog using pet tracker Tagg. (via Marco De Ruiter) As more and more people are connected, it is important to know what are the digital megatrends driving the ‘Always On’ consumer. (via Frank Maene)

Pew Research collected a glimpse into the future – or at least, expert opinions about it – for Digital Life in 2025. Key terms? Internet of Things, Wearables, Human Behaviour, Ubernet, Daily Life & Personal Health, Augmented Reality, Privacy, Big Data, .. . A great article that comes with some very practical advise: “Make good choices today.” (I have my own theory, and it involves a personalized army of specialised smart agents).

Listening in to the pace of a city is the subject of Tae Hong Park, Johnathan Turner, Michael Musick and Jun Hee Le’s paper ‘Sensing Urban Soundscapes’. Their work addresses the acquisition, archival, analysis and visualisation of sound captures from urban spaces. Hopefully, their work will contribute to urban planning, noise city code development and generally improving the quality-of-life of city inhabitants.

Curious about the State of the Self-Driving cars? Andrew Chatham gave a great overview in his talk on Google’s Self Driving Cars: The Technology, Capabilities & Challenges.

While we’re not there yet, the technical feats of newly introduced safety features are impressive as well. You just wouldn’t believe how much thought & technology goes into a single seat belt. (I only recently realised, when a Mercedes E class seatbelt started to move on its own, tightening up a bit, and sensing just how much it would need to tension up to keep me safe in case of an accident. It’s an odd thing, a car ‘hugging’ you each time you get in.) Anyway, the road from assisted driving to self-driving will be interesting.

MIT researchers set to the task of mapping the emotions represented by animated GIFs. Why on earth would they.. ? Wired explains: “An animated GIF — these days often presented in the form of a “reaction GIF” — can make us laugh, but it can also help convey various other complex emotions, including anger, contempt, guilt or even empathy in an environment that is frequently dominated by text. The advantage of communicating with GIFs, claim the authors of this research, is they can quickly and easily add context in a subtle way that text or emoticons cannot.” Avoid GifGif if you have deadlines looming, otherwise, by all means, have a go.. err Gif. (via Stevo)

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