The UK craft sector isn’t a ‘hipster’ economy. It’s sparking innovation | Rosy Greenlees | Opinion | The Guardian

 

The craft and making sector has created the basis for the disruptive collaboration that led to breakthroughs such as 3D printing, the application of prosthetics in surgery, and the design of the wearable technologies set to revolutionise our clothing. Craft and making can be artisanal but the myth swallowed by policymakers is that it is little more than this. A cute, niche sector. But Britain has quietly built up a £3.4bn making economy, influencing everything from the automotive industry to smartphones. It is also reshaping the way larger brands produce and engage with customers. Companies ranging from Adidas to Ikea have set up design units based on the craft innovation model. Ikea’s Space10 development in Copenhagen, for instance, is specifically based on the idea of collective co-creation. The second myth is that this new craft industry is not an employer, instead being a small ecosystem of makers and curators. Yes, the sector has not given birth to any super-companies yet but neither has the much-vaunted UK tech sector. Instead both have created not corporate monoliths but hundreds, maybe thousands, of small, highly specialised firms that are transforming our economy and the relationship between producer and consumer.

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How managers came to rule the workplace

 

Worse was still to come. Employees at the Telegraph recently discovered heat and motion sensors that tracked whether they were at their desks. There was no warning. Employees simply found the devices on Monday morning. They eventually had to Google the brand name to identify what they were. A memo was issued at lunchtime by senior management stating that the new policy was “to make sure we are making best use of our space in the building”. None of this sits very well with the official knowledge-society narrative. Old-school hierarchies are meant to be dead and buried. Authoritarian micro-managers have no place in industries that need workers to use their initiative, share ideas, be creative and excel at self-management. Flat company structures and autonomy are the future. Back in the 1990s, business guru Tom Peters even heralded the end of management.

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The secret life of a clickbait creator: lousy content, dodgy ads, demoralised staff

 

Viral content and clickbait sites are different to your classic startups. They often don’t raise any money, instead generating massive amounts of capital per day by posting other people’s kitschy videos and images while plastering them with countless ads. Instead of planning for the future and diversifying their business model, most rely heavily on Facebook and adapt only when the social media company forces their hand by changing the algorithms. The worst part about these companies, however, is the emphasis on volume of product – the content – and the lack of emphasis on the wellbeing of the producers – the writers.

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Why rewards can backfire

 

Here’s a story about a man with a machiavellian genius for psychological manipulation. (It comes from the US educator Alfie Kohn, so I’ll Britishise it here.) This man is elderly and lives near a school. Every afternoon a group of pupils subject him to merciless taunts as they walk home. So he approaches them and offers a deal: he’ll give each child £1 if they come back next day to taunt him further. Incredulous but excited, they agree. They return to mock him; he pays as promised, but tells them that the following day, he’ll only be able to afford to pay 25p per person. Still thrilled to be paid at all, the children are there again the next afternoon, whereupon the old man sadly explains that, henceforth, the daily reward for hurling abuse at him will be a mere 1p. “A penny?” The kids are scornful. For such pathetic money, it’s not worth the effort. They stalk off, grumbling, and never bother him again

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Folding bike helmet wins James Dyson design award

 

Resembling an accordion ball Christmas decoration, the helmet can be flattened, while a honeycomb structure, visible when unfurled, gives it strength. “It is one size fits most,” said Shiffer. “These [helmets] are quite sturdy and the honeycomb stalls are arranged in such a way that they can protect the head from a blow from any direction.”

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A ‘listening’ hairbrush and emotional cars: the futuristic trends of CES 2017

 

There are already countless electronic devices that connect and report data to smartphones – activity trackers being the most obvious example – but what is particularly interesting about this year’s CES is the way companies are looking to exploit this idea for financial gain. It felt as though some product developers at the conference had simply wandered around their houses deciding on impulse to implant Wi-Fi into objects. Take the Onvi Prophix toothbrush. It has a camera that streams live video to a smartphone app, enabling the user to see inside their mouth as they are brushing.

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Anti-surveillance clothing aims to hide wearers from facial recognition

 

The Hyperface project involves printing patterns on to clothing or textiles, which then appear to have eyes, mouths and other features that a computer can interpret as a face. This is not the first time Harvey has tried to confuse facial recognition software. During a previous project, CV Dazzle, he attempted to create an aesthetic of makeup and hairstyling that would cause machines to be unable to detect a face.

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From customisation to DIY handbags – how customers became designers

 

Maks Fus Mickiewicz, senior journalist at trend analyst the Future Laboratory, believes this shift to consumer power is only going to get more pronounced. “Fashion brands are realising that to stay ahead of the game they need to move away from imposing their aesthetic on others,” he says. “That’s not how the world works anymore. There’s a new dialogue with consumers.” Mickiewicz says it’s the tech industry that should be studied for next steps. “Technology companies develop software but there’s an openness to it being updated and changed,” he says. “It’s about fashion companies letting go of the idea of the creative genius at the top.” The most fun you’ll ever make? That’s a slogan that could go beyond teddy bears.

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The future of shopping: drones, digital mannequins and leaving without paying

 

The American DIY chain Lowe’s is testing LoweBot, a customer service robot that speaks several languages, helps shoppers find items and provides information on products. First trialled as OSHbot two years ago, it is currently being tested in 11 Lowe’s stores. US electricals retailer Best Buy has Chloe, a robot that is a glorified grabber arm for CDs and DVDs, while Aldebaran Robotics, part of the Japanese telecoms firm Softbank, has created Pepper, a humanoid robot which has been deployed in some Nescafé stores in Japan. Some US shopping centres are even adopting robotic security guards – a cross between a CCTV camera and a Dalek that can detect people who may be loitering in the wrong place and read car number plates in car parks. But it’s not all been straightforward: a robot guarding a shopping centre in California recently ran over a toddler after its navigational scanning systems failed to detect the small boy.

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Michael Gove’s anti-Turner prize tweets are childishly prejudiced

 

do we think that Gove, transported back to the early years of the 19th century, would have been one of those enlightened people who championed JMW Turner, or would he, do we think, have been somewhat more likely to have been bewildered by the controversial painter’s strikingly novel looseness of form and “crude blotches”, to quote fellow artist Benjamin West?

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