Conference week, which means not a lot of time to read cool stuff outside of work. However, sunshine arrived to Paris, curfew is disappearing, and summer holidays are getting closer and closer, so I will call it a win. Let’s start with the links:
So long and thanks for all the fish
You know we are doomed when videogame companies make more sense than universities. Exhibits A and B:
By the way, if you have a little bit of time, the whole Devolver conference on the E3 was sublime:
The hype train was here
E3 finished, and even if the only “bomb” we got was Elden Ring, there was still a lot of cool stuff in many conferences.
There is no more room in here
I am happy to read that the OECD realized that there are less positions in academia than people getting a PhD. Jokes aside, there are some cool insights on how the future could be shaped for this small bubble that many people has no clue on how it works (maybe including many of the ones we are inside of it)
Really packed week, though the topics will feel quite familiar:
There is no place like your smartphone
Quite a nice read that makes you think about how society has changed in so little time. And while it might seem a stupid thing at first glance, I found myself reflected on some of the feelings that the article exposes, like the sensation you have when using a computer or a phone that it is not yours. Also, during the last years that I have been living abroad, I have found that I really need less and less material stuff to feel home, but one of those crucial things are the devices I use to chat with friends and family…
NFTs keep appearing on the news. This week I found that Fox is making a tv show with the excuse of selling stuff (remember Transformers?). The novelty is that now they are not going to sell only toys, but animated .gif and .png files. Let’s see how many trees have to die for this.
The highlight this week, at least for me, was the discussion about the naked banana skin on Fortnite. I cannot help but laugh when I imagine the faces of the people at court. Also, more insight on what is a videogame and what is the metaverse, now with insights from Roblox devs. And last, some ideas on what is really behind this trial.
Really sad to hear that people are starting to do backups of Sci-Hub via torrent. I did not notice that there were no updates to the database since the start of the year (which is a really bad sign). Also this week I saw an interview with Alexandra Elbakyan on why and how she created the site, and the hurdles of doing it. Honestly I hope that Sci-Hub dies only if science gets really open (which is how it should always had been).
This week I’ve seen a lot of stuff in different fields: biology, material science, computer science, tech, art… let’s take a look:
Really interesting read on an experiment that has been in development since 1879. The big question here is: how long can seeds last before not being able to germinate? The answer is more tricky than you might think, because even if today we cannot make something grow, we don’t really know if in some years technology could do it… Anyway, I also liked the mystique going around the experiment, as the number of researches that know the location of the seeds is super small, and they dig out every few years in total secret.
Apple keeps doing movements with regard to user security and the data that other companies have access to. However, many people are actively fighting against it with everything they got. While its early to say, everything seems to be going into a good direction, at least when compared to the crazy habits that we adopted during the last decade. Quite interesting topic here, I will definitely follow any updates.
Amazing video of London during the 30s and the 40s, colorized by means of Artificial Inteligence. You can read more about it in the nice article on OpenCulture.
Paint it white!
New advances in fabrication keep providing materials with better and better properties. In this case, some researchers at Purdue University have achieved a material that reflects up to 98.1% of the sunlight it receives. This is pretty cool when you think about it, as having higher albedo keeps things cooler, which is something we are going to need in the near future…
How a good design can push you to new heights: The Power of Video Game HUDs
Mark Brown released a video this week on Game Maker’s Toolkit, his channel on videogame design. This time he talks about the design of the Heads-Up Display (HUD). Something I really enjoyed is they way he describes how the decisions you make on its design affect not only the way players approach the game, but also how they understand or interact with it. I think there is a really cool concept there that transcends to many different platforms. In my case, they way I design figures for a conference presentation or a manuscript affects the way the readers will approach the subject I try to explain, and thinking about it is key to success. It also highlights that depending on the format, you might need to use different approaches to design, as sometimes what really works for a relaxed read does not work at all for a live talk.
Crazy things happening in the world this week. The header image of this post (well, the one in the header is a copy) was sold for $1.36 million. This NFT stuff still goes over my head, but seems like is something that will stick around, whether it really makes sense to burn energy this way… anyway, all hail capitalism I guess. There have been quite a lot of news on the topic, if you are interested[1,2,3]
It seems we crossed the point of no return in going open-access, but is is not clear at all which is going to be the final model. An interesting debate is ongoing, as many institutions are pushing for making every public research publicly available, but that often interferes with journal publishers. You can read a nice piece on the topic here:
Really cool video by Rick Beato on 20 inventions that revolutionized music. While I would have added some (I cannot believe mp3 and microphones did not make into the list!), the video is a nice take on the history of music.
Get out of here, stalker!
The film that keeps on giving. OpenCulture posted this week a video I did not know about on the history behind the movie. Really interesting.