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    Facebook last night published a blog post with an update about some potentially malicious behavior discovered on its platform. According to Nathaniel Gleicher, the company’s head of cybersecurity policy, Facebook was contacted last Sunday by federal law enforcement about certain accounts that “may be linked to foreign entities.”

    Gleicher and his team performed an initial analysis and discovered around 30 accounts on Facebook and 85 on Instagram that “may be engaged in coordinated inauthentic behavior,” according to his post.

    The Facebook accounts, he says, were generally either in Russian or French–the Instagram ones were mostly in English. They all are now blocked, along with the pages with which they were associated. The accounts seemed to vary in content; some focused on political topics, others on celebrities. Facebook says the investigation is still early, but it wanted to provide an update given today’s election.

    For now, this is all we know. Facebook, it seems, is trying to be proactive in disclosing this information. It’s unclear how influential these accounts were, or what kind of role they played in foreign intrusion. We’ll have to wait and see if the company’s efforts to crack down on foreign intrusion has been successful.

    You can read the blog post here.


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    The mysterious space object has fascinated scientists ever since it was observed traveling past the sun last year. Nicknamed “Oumuamua,” the object has an exceptionally odd shape that distinguishes it from most asteroids and comets: It’s a stadium-sized mass with a flat, elongated body that is reddish in color. But now Harvard scientists say Oumuamua may literally be an alien spacecraft sent from another galaxy to spy on us, reports NBC News.

    In a paper to be published in the November 12 issue of The Astrophysical Journal Letters, the researchers say Oumuamua “may be a fully operational probe sent intentionally to Earth vicinity by an alien civilization.” The reason for this is because Oumuamua appeared to actually pick up speed as it passed the sun, suggesting the object could have an artificially built light sail that it fuels itself with.

    However, it seems unlikely that we’ll ever know if Oumuamua did, in fact, have an artificial light sail. The object has left our solar system and is no longer visible even with telescopes. Well, that is, unless Oumuamua pulls a U-turn, in which case whether or not it has a light sail will be the least of our worries.


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    Justin Timberlake’s new book, Hindsight, is essentially a coffee table biography: a collection of highlights of his career from SNL to Suit and Tie. But flip through the pages and you’ll quickly realize the design is good. No offense intended to Timberlake (love you JT!), but you might call it surprisingly good. Did Mom help you with that assignment, Billy? good. Each page is an unexpected delight to the eye, with moments of bold typography and restrained prose.

    As it turns out, the book looks good for a reason: It was designed by the lauded graphic design firm Pentagram, in a project led by partner Michael Bierut and designer Britt Cobb.

    [Photo: courtesy Pentagram]

    “We got called by my editor at HarperCollins, asking whether we were interested in taking this on. And at first she just described it as ‘a book by a celebrity.’ And I was a little bit wary because you don’t know who the celebrity is,” says Bierut. “But when I heard it it was Justin Timberlake, I was enthusiastic . . .  I’ve always really liked his range and willingness to reinvent himself. It seemed like he actually thought about these reinventions much the same way a designer thinks, really considering, visually, how do I present this persona, or, sonically, how do I present these sounds?”

    After a conversation with the celebrity, Bierut agreed to the project. Timberlake met with Bierut and Cobb over two to three studio visits, in which Pentagram inundated Timberlake with options.

    [Photo: courtesy Pentagram]

    “Like with any new client, you go into that first meeting showing creative work, and when I do that, I go in ready to find out, one, what can we learn about the direction we should be pursuing from a design point of view? And two, what kind of person are we working with here?” says Bierut. “This is true dealing with a CEO on a corporate logo. Some people are impatient and like to make a decision really quickly. Some people are decisive. Some people make a decision quickly and are prone to change their mind. Some people don’t like anything on the first pass. Some people like everything, then call you back and say nothing was right. They’re all different ways of reacting to design, which is inherently subjective.”

    As Bierut recounts, he and Cobb laid out a smorgasbord of initial options with countless typographical treatments–all trying to get a feel for what Timberlake wanted. “He looked at it and said, ‘you know, I like all of these.’ And I don’t think he was saying that because he was indecisive. I think he was giving us permission to really play up the contrast you can find in his life story.”

    To capture the breadth of that story–a Memphis-born kid falling in love with music, becoming a boy bander, evolving into a pop star, comedian, and Superbowl halftime show performer–Bierut and Cobb tried to match the tone of each moment with the right typography. Ultimately, the book features 30 typefaces, many of which were pulled from turn-of-the-century woodcuts that have never been digitized but amplify the subject’s relationship to Americana in a historically authentic way.

    [Photos: courtesy Pentagram]

    The approach shouldn’t work, and Bierut is the first to admit it.

    “What I was trained to do, as a book designer, was maybe you’d have three to four typefaces at most–two if you could get away with it–to have a calm, predictable pace from page one to the last page,” says Bierut. “In this case, we took almost every anecdote or episode . . . and kind of treated them as if they were stand-alone works of art in a way.”

    The standout has to be the design team’s treatment of the SNL single Dick in a Box, which was Timberlake’s breakthrough moment as a comedian. Bierut bursts into laughter just thinking of what they did, calling it “the funniest thing Pentagram ever designed.” It’s a simple 1-2-3 list, presented in a modified version of Helvetica, the ultra-rational, informational typeface of our age.

    [Photo: courtesy Pentagram]

    “That’s a layout right out of The Graphic Artist and His Design Problems by Josef Müller-Brockmann. It’s classic International Style design that’s perfectly suited to an Ikea assembly production sheet,” says Bierut. “You reconcile the Vignelli-like austerity of the Helvetica 1-2-3 presentation in contrast to the instructions actually being delivered.”

    Working with so few constraints–while satisfying–presented its own challenges. For instance, Pentagram was concerned that all of that visual excitement and variation might turn the book into an unreadable mess for anyone who tried to absorb it in one sitting. So, to balance the typographic experimentation in the headers, Pentagram set all of the body text in neutral sans serif and kept chapter notations identical. The single big trade-off was color. Originally, Bierut and Cobb used major variations in color throughout, across both pages and type. “Most of that we ended up reining out,” says Bierut, “because it was one variation too far that made everything look chaotic and sort of cheap.”

    All in all, Bierut is still beaming from the project. “It was one of those things where I kept waiting for someone to spoil the fun and it never happened,” says Bierut. “I kept saying to Britt, brace yourself, someone is going to realize this is really happening and say, ‘Are you crazy? You can’t have 30 typefaces!’ But we received encouragement and inspiration from everyone, especially Justin.”


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    The company has said it plans to add an additional 600 Uber Eats staff across Europe, Africa, and the Middle East in an attempt to better take on rival food delivery services such as Just Eat and Deliveroo, reports Bloomberg. A tripling of its staff would mean that Uber will employ 900 people in its Uber Eats division–up from 300 today.

    The Uber Eats division of Uber is becoming increasingly important to the company. Uber Eats currently represents more than 10% of gross bookings for the company–a number expected to rise. But Uber Eats does not have the user base that other food delivery services in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East currently do. If Uber wants to catch up, it’s going to have to staff up so Uber Eats can better compete.

    Besides adding more staff, Uber is also searching for more ways to attract users to its Uber Eats website. Currently, around 84% of all Uber Eats orders go through its app, whereas at rival Just Eat, half of all orders come through its website. Uber is also rolling out additional, local payment methods for its Eats service as well as working to expand the number of “virtual restaurants” that offer food through its service.

    Virtual restaurants are eateries that lease kitchen space, but have no servers or dine-in options. They pop up in areas of a city where food delivery companies like Deliveroo or Uber Eats realize there is big demand. Currently in the U.K., Deliveroo leads in virtual restaurant offerings with more than 400 of them–but Uber Eats hopes to catch up and match that by the end of the year.


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    The social media giant has released an independent report it commissioned to investigate whether the company’s platform had been abused and used to contribute to human rights abuses in Myanmar, CNBC reports. Facebook said the report by the nonprofit Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) found that “a minority of users (in Myanmar) are seeking to exploit Facebook as a platform to undermine democracy and incite offline violence.”

    In the report, BSR said that Facebook had “created an enabling environment for the ongoing endorsement and proliferation of human rights abuse in Myanmar.” Specifically, the BSR report found that failings at Facebook allowed people to persecute Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar by letting them disseminate character assassinations, rumors, and hate speech against the group.

    The BSR suggests Facebook prevents further abuses by adopting a stand-alone human rights policy, issuing human rights transparency reports, and holding a yearly public briefing on Facebook’s human rights strategy and actions in Myanmar.


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    The company announced in a blog post that it has opened pop-up retail shops in nine Macy’s department stores across the country. But the pop-ups won’t be selling Facebook’s Oculus devices or its new Portal smart display devices. Instead, Facebook says the pop-up shops will feature products by “100 of the most-loved small businesses and digital-native brands on Facebook and Instagram.”

    Facebook is positioning their pop-up shops as the bridge between digital online sales and physical retail sales for small businesses. The social media giant says one of the businesses with products on offer at Facebook’s first pop-up stores includes a digital-native business called Two Blind Brothers. The nonprofit makes ultra-soft designer clothing whose sales help fund blindness research. Other businesses include Love Your Melon, Bespoke Post, and Charleston Gourmet Burger Company.

    Facebook’s pop-up stores are now open at The Market @ Macy’s in New York City, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Fort Lauderdale, San Antonio, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. They will remain open until February 2019.


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    If tech investor and lobbyist Bradley Tusk gets his way, you might be able to vote in an upcoming election from the comfort of your own home.

    Tusk, perhaps best known for his work helping Uber battle taxi regulators in cities around the country, sees smartphone-based voting as a cure for the lackluster turnout that has long plagued U.S. elections. Voter turnout in the contentious 2016 election was just below 56%, low by the standards of industrialized Western nations, and turnout is usually even lower in non-presidential elections, such as this year’s highly anticipated midterms.

    “If you can remove as many barriers and hurdles as possible, you’re just going to make a lot more people able to participate,” says Tusk, author of the recent memoir The Fixer: My Adventures Saving Startups from Death by Politics.

    Having few people show up at the polls means politicians are incentivized to cater to the segment of the population that does vote—which Tusk believes is a more polarized group, including elements on both the left and right, than the country at large. “The vast, vast majority of Americans favor an assault weapons ban, but our political system makes it impossible to actually pass one,” he says, to cite an example.

    But voting and computer security experts warn that phones, networks, and the servers that would receive and count digital ballots just aren’t secure enough to guarantee hack-free mobile voting.

    “None of the cybersecurity experts that we work with that work on this issue believe that can be secure,” says Marian Schneider, president of the nonprofit Verified Voting.

    But that hasn’t stopped some pilot programs in electronic voting from getting off the ground. At least 100,000 ballots were cast online in 2016, according to a recent report from Common Cause, the libertarian-leaning R Street Institute, the National Election Defense Coalition, and the Association for Computing Machinery’s U.S. Technology Policy Committee. Some states allow ballots to be uploaded to an online voting portal, and others allow absentee ballots to be submitted by email or fax.

    This year, in a pilot program backed by Tusk, the state of West Virginia is allowing some overseas service members to cast their ballots using their phones. The state has said it expects between 200 and 400 people to vote using an app from Boston voting tech startup Voatz. The app verifies people’s identities using photos of their IDs and faces, then records votes to a blockchain. About 16 votes were reportedly cast in a two-county trial of the program in the May primary.

    Blockchain is no magic bullet

    The blockchain, a digital ledger similar to what’s used in cryptocurrencies, is key to mobile voting, Tusk says. Since a blockchain can be distributed across multiple computers and is designed to be resistant to tampering, it can help keep votes secure and provide a verifiable record similar to paper ballots, proponents argue. And once mobile voting becomes more commonplace, more voters are likely to call for it to be introduced in their jurisdictions, Tusk says.

    “When you show people a much better way to do something that they much prefer, they demand it,” he says. “The reason we were able to mobilize millions of Uber customers to advocate for the company and smart ride-sharing regulations was because it was much better in their minds than taxis.”

    Skeptics say blockchain technology alone won’t be enough to prevent digital ballot-box tampering. Even if the blockchain can securely store votes once they’re received by election agencies, there’s still a risk that they can be tampered with or blocked in transit or manipulated by malware on voters’ phones, they say.

    “Blockchain is no magic bullet,” according to the recent report. “It fails to address many of the fundamental and universal security challenges inherent to online voting, such as voter authentication, client-side malware attacks, denial-of-service attacks, server penetrations, and disruption attacks.”

    Even if the vote-counting system is distributed among multiple computers sharing access to a blockchain, it’s still conceivable that they could all be targeted with election-hacking malware, according to the report.

    “Once the genie’s out of the bottle . . .”

    To Tusk, critics of digital voting are underestimating the risk to democracy of citizens simply not voting.

    “If you don’t fit the underlying problem—the fact that no one votes in the first place—that’s far riskier for the system long-term than the potential for someone to figure out a way to hack blockchain, which so far no one ever has,” he says.

    Tusk has been in talks with other states about digital voting trials and says he hopes to see the system tested for Colorado municipal elections next year. He says he’s not wedded to any particular implementation or tech provider, and hopes to see multiple companies and potentially government agencies developing mobile voting tools. And once voters get a taste of them, he thinks they won’t want to go back to lining up to vote in the local high school gym.

    “Once the genie’s out of the bottle, it’s very hard to put it back in,” he says.


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    This election cycle, a record number of women are running for office, many of them as an act of resistance to the misogyny of the Trump presidency. Women have won an unprecedented number of primary races, with 272 of the 964 candidates running for political office in today’s election are women, and 216 are black, Hispanic, Asian, Native American or multiracial, in fact only 58% of candidates are white men. That’s why some have dubbed 2018 the “Year of the Woman,” echoing the moniker given to the year 1992, which saw a surge in female candidates after Clarence Thomas’s controversial confirmation to the Supreme Court.

    “Everyone keeps trying to define this political moment,” says Liuba Grechen Shirley, who is the Democratic nominee in New York’s 2nd congressional district. “And yes, there are a lot of women who are running across the country. But I think what’s more exciting about what’s happening this year is that there are more everyday, average Americans (running for office).”

    It’s possible the demographics of Congress won’t change dramatically after today’s election—many of the women vying for seats in Congress or in gubernatorial races have stiff competition—but in running and winning primaries, these women have quite literally changed the face of politics. We talked to six women running for office across the country about how they make themselves relatable to constituents who are used to seeing white men in positions of power, and how their background has influenced their platforms.

    Liuba Grechen Shirley, candidate in New York’s 2nd congressional district

    On being relatable:

    I’ve never thought about how to become or seem approachable. I’m just myself. I’m in the grocery store with my two children running in different directions, and I’ll stop and talk to anybody who’s got a question. It was never a strategic decision.

    Politics is personal. Politics is about how you’re going to get your kid to the doctor, how you’re going to put food on the table, how you’re going to pay your mortgage and taxes, and how are you going to make sure that your kid gets a good education. That’s all affected by every person that you elect to represent you.

    On how her background influences her approach to politics:

    There’s very little that fazes moms—parents, in general—because we’re used to multitasking. We’re used to the craziness of our lives. I walk out of an event, and within two seconds, I have my flip-flops on, and my hair in a ponytail. My staff usually want to kill me; they want me to stay looking professional for longer.

    I think the difference is I’m having fun with it. I don’t look at this and think it’s stressful. This is fun, and I’m getting out there and talking to people.

    Jahana Hayes, candidate in Connecticut’s 5th congressional district

    On being relatable:

    There was a line in my primary [campaign]: “If Congress starts to look like us.” And I had to explain that line for three months because I meant a representative of our communities. Our communities are these diverse places where we have all different people who are expected to get along, disagree without being disagreeable, and listen and develop deeper empathy. When I talked to people, it was this clear consensus: “I want a good education for my children. I want clean air and water. I want a brighter future.” Even though we may have gotten to that from different places, we were all looking forward in the same direction. I really just doubled down on the idea that I hear you, and I value your opinion, and I appreciate you; your opinion matters. And I think people had not been feeling like that.

    I think the fact that I was a teacher really resonated with a lot of people. I brought in a lot of the experiences and stories of my students—and the families that I deal with. And I reminded people that while other people are talking about policies and budgets, I’m thinking about the family that’s affected by that policy. Just that human connection is what people are looking for.

    Cristina Osmena, candidate in California’s 14th congressional district

    On being relatable:

    I’m a Republican and I’m wearing the scarlet “R.” So I deal with the stigma and then people meet me, and they’re like “Oh, well there are Republicans that are okay.” People are reluctant to call themselves Republican because it has such a bad brand. But the truth is that I’m the kind of Republican where my values are pretty consistent with people in the district. I’m a social liberal and fiscal conservative. I think I’m the majority politically—it’s just that I have a bad brand. So if [constituents] don’t know me and don’t meet me, they get mad at the brand. But if they read about me and talk to me, I get a lot of feedback that I’m consistent with their values. I’m a liberal Republican, but I could be a conservative Democrat. If the district were 100 people and I could meet every single person, I’d have an easier time winning.

    On how her background influences her approach to politics:

    I can pass for Latino; I speak a little Spanish and campaign in Spanish. And I have Chinese blood. I consider myself a full Filipino, but with about 50-60% of the district, I kind of look like them.

    Part of the thing that I’m trying to do is figuring out: What will it take? How do you need to change in order to become an acceptable brand in the district? There’s a problem with the Republican kind of philosophy, which is okay everywhere else in the country, but really not okay in California. You need to accept identity politics and multiculturalism.

    Adrienne Bell, candidate in Texas’s 14th congressional district

    On being relatable:

    I’ve had a huge amount of interest and success across the board—not just African Americans. It’s all ethnic groups. We all have the same issues. There’s some more challenges in the African-American community, but everybody I’ve talked to wants their children to have a better education.

    It’s time for a change. It’s time for having people in Congress that look different. My friends are not billionaires. I come from a regular background. I come from a neighborhood where growing up, we didn’t have big dreams or aspire to become lawyers or doctors. We just wanted to survive. I have faced a lot of obstacles in my life, and running against someone who’s an incumbent—that’s not even my focus. My focus is really on the people and what they need, such as jobs, better education, housing, and a representative who looks and thinks like them.

    On how her background influences her approach to politics:

    I realized that we need to educate our communities more with civic engagement, to make sure that our residents understand that politics are involved in their everyday lives. So often people say we don’t have time for politics. I was talking to a young man who said he didn’t vote; he didn’t have time because he was starting a business. I talked to him about how politics determines whether or not he can own a business, what school you can attend, if you can purchase a home, and where that home is going to be located. It affects everything in your life . . . [If we] get that education to our people so they become more civically engaged, they become more empowered to change issues that are going on in their community or their city, and that helps better their lives.

    Paulette Jordan, gubernatorial candidate in Idaho

    On being relatable:

    [People] don’t see me as a typical Democrat because I’m not your typical Democrat. I’m a gun-owning, very independent-minded business woman. I definitely have a different kind of message. The language that I’m speaking can really carry across the aisle . . . A lot of conservatives have said, “I’ve been a Republican my whole life.” But they see that I’m offering real solutions, and that I mean it—I’m someone who always keeps my word.

    The [Republican] party has gone far more corporatist. They’ve really left a lot of their people behind in so many ways, and because of that, they’re starting to look for alternatives and align with us. They’re becoming more open to [candidates] like me who are progressive, yet independent and fiscally conservative and offer a different kind of solution.

    On how her background influences her approach to politics:

    We hosted a bilingual event, and I think that was great because people who speak Spanish only normally don’t engage with politics or vote . . . These are good people in Idaho—there’s 80,000 who are bilingual—and they’re often not turning out to vote. This is why it was critical for us to reach every corner of our state and engage people on all levels possible.

    I’m pure Idaho. [People] know I’m a defendant of our land because it’s my heritage . . . I will hold to my word when it comes to conservation of our public lands and our air and water quality. They know that they’re going to have a leader who will stand firm on the frontlines for all the people.

    Deb Haaland, candidate in New Mexico’s 1st congressional district

    On being relatable: 

    Half of our population here in New Mexico is Medicaid eligible. That tells us there’s a lot of folks on the lower part of the income spectrum. I get that. I’ve been on food stamps before. I know what it’s like to piece together healthcare for my daughter and me. I understand what it’s like for a lot of people who are struggling. So I want them to know, yes, I totally understand what that’s like. When I go to Congress, I’m a real voice for you.

    Whenever I’ve worked on campaigns and wanted to get candidates elected, I felt like the most important thing to me was that I identified with them . . . I feel like if I can be transparent and try to have my authenticity come through, that people will identify with me.

    I am who I am. My speech doesn’t change regardless of who I’m speaking in front of. I’m honest . . . In my first ad, one of the lines I used was, ‘I’m 30 years sober.’ I felt like I wanted to be transparent to voters—that’s not something I should hide. But I also wanted people to know that I recognize that addiction is an issue not just in our state, but across our country, and that I care about that issue. I want us to become a better society, and I want people to get the help that they need.

    On how her background influences her approach to politics:

    My dad was a 30-year career Marine. He passed away and is buried in Arlington. My mom is a Navy veteran, and she was a federal employee for 25 years in [Native American] education. I follow my parents’ lead; they were public servants. I got a good dose of that growing up at home. They weren’t really political, but they cared a tremendous amount about our community.

    Congress doesn’t look like our country. It’s going to look a little more like our country after this election because there are more women running and more women of color running. It’s our time to speak up—for our environment, for our public education system, for people who have been sidelined by the billionaire class. Working families out there need a voice, and they need someone who cares about them. That’s what I intend to do.


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    Ikea is more than the world’s largest furniture company these days. It has ventured into everything from fashion to electronics (and all things in between).

    Now, Ikea will be inviting 20 startups to its campus for a three-month-long Ikea Bootcamp, hoping to incubate the next big breakthrough product right inside its Älmhult campus. Companies need to apply by December 31 to take part in the program, which starts in March 2019.

    “Ikea is hoping to find partners that can help with the big challenges in creating a better everyday life at home for people all around the world, now and in the future,” writes Ikea representative Janice Simonsen in an email to Co.Design. “These challenges include ensuring affordability for the many people, connecting with and being accessible for people across the world, and enabling a positive impact on the planet, the people and society.”

    [Photo: Ikea]
    Ikea first announced a similar bootcamp in 2017, but in that inaugural year, partner companies collaborated remotely. Participants represented a wide range of interests, from the Israeli startup Flying Spark, which makes protein from fruit fly larvae, to the Swedish company Mimbly, which makes a water-recycling add-on for washing machines, to the U.K. paint-on-sensor company Bare Conductive, which is currently negotiating a product development deal with Ikea.

    For its second Bootcamp, Ikea seems to be investing more into the program all around after learning from the pilot program. It will invite double the partner startups to be mentored in Bootcamp. And it will provide office space and living accommodations for the companies in Älmhult–as well as cover a majority of travel costs to get there. On top of all that, Ikea is promising not to waste anyone’s time if the program is a bad fit. “The participants will get a first indication of collaboration potential with Ikea after two weeks, meaning they will only dedicate a full three months if there’s a likelihood of partnering with Ikea,” says Simonsen.

    In other words, participating startups better pile all the free meatballs onto their plates as fast as they can–which when you think about it, is important life advice whether you’re visiting Ikea or not.


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    Let’s face it: Everyday business writing can be hard. Facing down a blank page or screen, you want to get your point across to your colleagues or audience, but it’s sometimes a painful process if the words don’t come naturally.

    Fortunately, it’s not necessary to be an award-winning scribe to be an effective business communicator. So, before you write your next email or report, keep these tips in mind:

    Write for the reader, not for yourself.

    It sounds basic, but good writing starts with knowing your audience, yet the most common problem is that people write for themselves, says executive business writing coach Mary Cullen. “We write from our own perspective rather than the perspective of the reader. In business writing, there aren’t that many firm rules because so much of it is contextual, but there is one and it’s this: The epicenter is the reader, always,” she says.

    Write just as much as is necessary, no more.

    While “shorter is better” is a common theme, your audience and the purpose of the document will also tell you how long your piece needs to be, says business communication trainer John Sturtevant. So, if you are writing a summary for someone who’s a “just the facts” type and may get bored with details, keep a short summary with bullet points may be best. If you’re writing a deep analysis for an audience that needs to understand context and details, write accordingly, he says.

    Lose the jargon (mostly)

    Some people write in a much more stiff and formal style than they speak, using lots of jargon. That’s usually not the best way to get your point across, Cullen says. Instead, for most pieces, it’s better to write an a more accessible way, losing unnecessarily stiff language. Never use a long word when a short one will do, she says. That’s not “dumbing it down”–it’s helping people read what you write.

    But Cullen makes a distinction between jargon and useful industry shorthand. “Acronyms are great internally because, I’m using in my industry LMS, learning management system, when my instructors and I talk, we use that term all the time because we know what that means, but we don’t use terms like ‘synergy,'” she says. If you’re using industry terms or acronyms, consider writing out the full name or term, followed by any acronym, then adding a brief explanation of what it is on first reference to expand the accessibility of your text. For example, “We implemented a new learning management system (LMS), a software platform to manage our internal training, in 2018.”

    Pay attention to how you use words

    Loose vs. lose. Accept vs. except. Comprise vs. compose. There are many examples of misused words that can undermine your writing. From the classic Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr. and E.B. White to the more modern tomes like That Doesn’t Mean What You Think It Means by Ross and Kathryn Petras, there are plenty of books and online articles about commonly misused words. It’s worth reviewing your text for possibly misused words, which can undermine your meaning and credibility, Cullen says.

    Also, watch for weak word choices and qualifiers such as “very,” and redundancies (uniquely individual, advance notice, etc.) Passive voice, which makes the object of an action the subject of your sentence, also weakens your writing. You can often spot instances of passive voice in forms of the verb “be,” so do a quick search for forms of the verb and tighten up your writing where you find them. For example:

    Passive voice: The report was written by Fred.
    Active voice: Fred wrote the report.

    Active voice makes your writing livelier.

    Make it easy to scan

    No matter how long your piece is, write it so that people can get the main points by scanning, Cullen says. That means including subheads that tell you what’s in that section, bullet points, bold points to start paragraphs, and the like, she says. This also makes reading your work on mobile devices easier. Cullen recommends keeping paragraphs to seven lines or fewer.

    Use tech tools

    Technology is a great friend when it comes to better business writing. From the spelling and grammar check on your word processor to apps like Grammarly, digital tools are getting better about helping us improve our language, Cullen says. She developed the Jargon Grader tool, which helps find more than 700 overused and jargon-y words. When it reviewed the sentence, “At the end of the day, we’re going to spend our meeting time on blue-sky issues and ideating ways to monetize our deliverables,” it only flagged “At the end of the day” and “monetize” as problematic.

    Read it out loud

    Sturtevant says one of the classic ways to improve your writing is to read a piece out loud. Doing so allows you to hear awkward language, spot typos and punctuation errors, improve flow, and find areas to cut or enhance, including:

    • Am I bored?
    • Am I confused?
    • Do I run out of breath before I get to the end of a sentence, indicating it’s too long?
    • Are there places where the words sound awkward?
    • Am I expressing myself clearly?

    “If I read it to myself, my brain will tell me the word ‘to’ is there. If I read it out loud, I’ll hear, ‘help your employees learn write,'” he explains.

    Enlist an editor

    If you struggle with issues like spelling and punctuation, enlist a colleague or hire an editor or proofreader to help you clean up your document. Of course, it’s not feasible to do this for every email message, but if you have an important report or proposal, having an extra set of eyes on it can help avoid embarrassing mistakes.


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    When Apple released the iPhone X in 2017, it positioned the phone’s characteristic “notch,” the sensors that impinge on its display, as part of the company’s design identity. “You don’t see at it as anything unusual or different, any more than the bite of the Apple [logo] looks wrong to be bitten out of the apple,” Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing, Phil Schiller, told Mashableat the time.

    Jony Ive described the phone as the product of a decade-long goal of creating an “iPhone that is all-display,” implying that the prominent notch was unavoidable. The Google Pixel 3’s own notched design and a slew of other notched Android phones seem to confirm that the design detail was here to stay across the industry.

    Yet over the past year, phone makers in China and Korea have pushed the boundaries of smartphone design in an effort to attain truly edge-to-edge displays. Some of these notch-free designs are radical experiments, and others borrow from the not-so-distant past of flip phones. They suggest that the future of smartphone design is still very much in flux. Here’s a primer.

    Springs, magnets, and motors

    Many of these new phones get around the notch by simply hiding the cameras and sensors in unusual ways.

    The Chinese phone manufacturer Vivo, for example, released a phone called the Nex S with an impressive 91.24% screen-to-body ratio (for comparison, the iPhone X’s ratio is 82.9%). It did so through a simple trick: The selfie camera is contained into a module that pops up from the phone. Meanwhile, an under-the-display fingerprint recognition system works across the bottom half of the screen:

    Meanwhile Oppo, the country’s top smartphone seller, debuted a phone called the Find X. Its designers achieved a 93.8% screen-to-body ratio by even more radical means: hiding the front-facing camera in a motorized mechanism that pops up from the top of the phone at the touch of a button.

    A new phone recently announced by Xiaomi, the Mi Mix 3, has a similar design solution–except in this case, it takes inspiration from Nokia’s old sliding phones. Thanks to embedded neodymium magnets, you can slide the hidden camera up to take a photo, to a satisfying “click” that hearkens back to an analog era. It starts at $475 in China.

    Yet another slide-open phone, the Honor Magic 2 opts for an internal scissor-like spring-loaded device.

    Finally, the Chinese company Nubia, a ZTE subsidiary, takes an entirely different route with a new phone called the Nubia X. The phone nixes the front-facing camera completely, opting instead to add a second OLED screen on the back of the phone. When you want to take a selfie, the phone’s rear display will light up to take your photo with its dual-sensor high-definition camera.

    This particular design move comes with unrelated bonuses–for example, you can set up a low-power face on the secondary display to show you a watch, your notifications, or other custom content when your phone is laying face-down.

    [Photos: Nubia]
    What’s more, eliminating the front cameras and adding a secondary OLED display actually simplifies the phone, which is lighter than the iPhone XS Max (181 grams vs. 208 grams) and has a bigger battery (3800mAh versus 3174mAh). Its cost? Just $473 in China.

    A simpler solution

    Will all future smartphones be outfitted with springs and motors? It seems unlikely. After all, these solutions aren’t perfect. Ideally, there wouldn’t be any moving pieces, which tend to become breaking points.

    Samsung may ultimately be the first manufacturer to solve the notch once and for all. According to rumors, the company’s forthcoming Galaxy S10 will utilize a new type of screen that uses a something called Sensor Integrated Technology. Samsung’s display division showed it to twenty corporate customers last month in Shenzhen, China. According to a photo from the presentation, Samsung’s display division managed to create an OLED display panel that has cameras underneath it.

    We don’t yet know how the technology works, but the display seems to allow cameras and sensors–like an ultra-sonic sensor that can make 3D maps of your fingerprints–to function from below the display. Meanwhile, a sound-on-display technology will produce sound without the need for a speaker grill.

    Is the future foldable?

    If Samsung delivers on these big promises, its notch-less phone will arrive in 2019–but the company may show off another promising display technology that could transform smartphone design even sooner.

    Thanks to foldable OLED panels and hinge mechanism, a new generation of flip phones that unfold into mini-tablets are on the horizon. Next year, we may see as many as five new foldable phones from different manufacturers, including LG, Huawei, and Samsung itself. Apple is also reportedly working on a flexible phone, at least judging from recent patents. Meanwhile, Google and Samsung are working together on a special version of Android to accommodate these new folding phones.

    [Photo: Royole]

    These phones may introduce entirely new ways of designing cameras and sensors into screens, but we still don’t know enough to say exactly what the hardware and software challenges will be. Some phones may fold like a book, with screens on the inside. Others will have screens on the outside. And some, like Samsung’s rumored folding phone, may have a smaller display on their “cover,” which can be used to quickly perform most actions. Inside, a larger display will be used for media-rich applications, like watching movies, playing games, or working on documents and presentations.

    Whatever form the smartphone of the future takes–and whether it conceals its sensors with motors, magnets, folding screens, or simply better under-screen technology–it’s safe to say that we’re steadily advancing toward the sci-fi vision of completely full-screen displays. Perhaps most tellingly, Apple itself is even working on ways to kill the notch. One day, we may look back on the notch as a short-lived design fad.


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    “Hey guys, coming at you this morning with a super fresh face, cause we got crazy news!” said Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the presumptive next representative for New York’s 14th congressional district. She posted this while leaning back in a chair in what looks like her apartment.

    Utilizing one of Instagram’s fun sunglasses filters, she flips her head back every few words to switch to a new set of shades. YOU CAN DO IT flashes on the screen, alongside a camera emoji.

    “The Wall Street Journal’s coming to my apartment to take some photos this morning,” she says. “Aaahhh!”, she adds. “Or this afternoon. Aaahhh!”

    [Screenshot: @ocasio2018]
    Up until her surprise upset win over Democratic Party incumbent and Democratic Caucus Chair Joe Crowley, Ocasio-Cortez, a Bronx native and member of the Democratic Socialists of America, had not been seen in the top five major newspapers in the United States. She has since appeared on the cover of Vanity Fair, been interviewed in Rolling Stone,Interview, and Jacobin, and been attacked on sites like the National Review and Breitbart.

    And through it all, she maintains a strong presence on Instagram, using both the regular posts and the ephemeral “stories” feature first popularized by Snapchat, which by default disappear but which can also be pinned to one’s Instagram user profile. The public image of this working-class Latina woman stands in contrast to that of President Donald Trump and much of his cabinet, white men born into wealth. And if Trump has come to fame with his innovative and emotive uses of Twitter, Ocasio-Cortez is pushing the boundaries of how a future elected official can use Instagram on both the national and local stage.

    “Running for office,” she said during an Ask Me Anything in the midst of her campaign, “I need to make decisions about policy and fashion everyday.” The video shakes, she once again seems to be in her apartment, and she seems to personally be holding the phone in selfie mode. Plastered on the video in white text on top of purple highlight, she’s written the words:

    Running for office means that I have to navigate policy AND my personal presentation. My personal appearance gets commented on ALL THE TIME on the campaign trail.

    [Screenshots: @ocasio2018]
    The questions come in, tackling issues like the #MeToo movement, how networking works, running for office as Latinx, and whether to go to law school.

    “Did you get to see/hear the ‘list’ of politicians to avoid? Or not be caught alone with?” one person asks.

    “I have a list of men in media to avoid,” Ocasio-Cortez responds in text.

    One person sent along a direct message: “So sometimes I worry as a gay Latina woman, how that can impact my ticket for office.” (On top of the post, Ocasio-Cortez has added a sticker of a penguin skiing.)

    “The good (?) news,” she responds in bold white font on top of blue, with a few rainbow emoji sprinkled in, “is that you’re going to get personally attacked no matter who you are – gay or straight. It’s important to have your friends and family around you – helps a LOT.”

    [Screenshot: @ocasio2018]
    American politicians on Instagram and Snapchat are not at all a new phenomenon. As early as 2016, Hillary Clinton joined Snapchat, as did then-First Lady Michelle Obama. Donald Trump, for instance, maintains an Instagram presence with 10.3 million followers, while Ivanka Trump boasts 4.3 million. Up-and-coming progressive leaders like Beto O’Rourke and Ilhan Omar also have strong Instagram presences, as do established Republican figures like Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Lindsey Graham, and Ted Cruz. Many of these posts seem sincere, but written by staffers. Often, they contain the work of professional photographers.

    And alongside professional photographs, Donald Trump’s Instagram literally includes screenshots and remixed versions of his tweets. “It further solidifies Trump’s Twitter as the official voice of the president, along the lines of ‘If you want to get the info on what the president is talking about, head over to his Twitter,'” says Hannah Guy, a postgraduate at Manchester Metropolitan University who’s analyzed Trump’s use of Instagram. “His Instagram is almost like a refrained version of his Twitter; it’s controlled, it looks more official, yet Trump’s ego clearly leaks through.”


    Related: Designing people’s Instagram Stories is now a million-dollar business


    What’s striking about Ocasio-Cortez’s style is just how digitally native it seems. Sprinkled with emoji, cute stickers, hand-drawn illustrations on top of content, colorful fonts, and not a small number of selfie videos, she embraces all the affordances of Instagram. On Halloween night, for instance, she started up a live stream while she prepared ramen in an Instant Pot. As she chopped up vegetables, she answered questions from her followers about her thoughts on politics and the midterms. A portion of the video used the VCR filter, which created a grainy image along with a timecode, and she then posted the results of her meal (yes, it looked tasty), along with a recipe on her Pinterest account.

    Even her bio, stamped with a bright blue check that indicates she’s been verified by the company, also contains other emoji, such as a ballot box to encourage people to vote November 6th, and a money bag alongside the declaration that she’s “No lobbyist.”

    To be fair, her posts do include professional photographs of her and seem to be written by staffers, but others are reposts of fan art, like one by illustrator @kimothyjoy which quotes Ocasio-Cortez as saying in Cooties Zine, one of the early online magazines to cover her, “Ultimately feminism is about women choosing the destiny that they want for themselves.” One snarky post includes a screengrab of Fox News quoting her saying “Get Used to Me Slaying,” to which she responds, “I’d like to thank Fox News” and a laughing emoji.

    In 2012, Facebook acquired Instagram for a total value of $1 billion. The move, which drew headlines for its unprecedented valuation, proved to be a savvy one business-wise. As young people have been moving away from Facebook.com, they’ve been migrating to Instagram. The site is popular with young people of color in urban areas. Many of those people are old enough to vote. Many of them live in New York.

    [Screenshot: @tomilahren]
    It is in this context that we should expect to see more American political leaders and those on the campaign trail to utilize Instagram more and more. And while many maintain a strong presence, it’s Ocasio-Cortez, who would have been 21 when Instagram was released, who’s showing the full range of possibilities.

    Others in politics are no slouches on the site. Fox News commentator Tomi Lahren regularly posts Boomerang videos–an animated GIF-like feature where the video boomerangs back and forth, rather than in a loop–at different parties and public events, along with teasers to her famous monologues.

    Ivanka Trump recently hit the road in Kentucky and Virginia and posted her own Instagram story before staffers took hold. “I am in eastern Kentucky, and I’m looking for some help in Big Sandy,” she said, holding the phone to herself before panning to the view outside. She then posted a Boomerang video of herself opening and closing a book. The text on the video says “Virginia… missing dinner with the kids but I won’t come home empty handed—we found an amazing bookstore!”

    [Screenshot: @ivankatrump]
    Lahren, 26, and Trump, 36, are near contemporaries with Ocasio-Cortez, 29, which may partly explain their facility on the platform. They’ve all rapidly adapted to Instagram’s affordances, and they all contain similar material, but the differences between their forms of self-promotion are equally illuminating. As a wealthy individual so close to power, Trump’s Instagram is filled with professional shots as well as stories. Lahren’s contains mostly selfies, and the commentator’s face and body are front-and-center. Ocasio-Cortez’s Instagram is a more heterogeneous mix of professional shots and selfies.

    These differences reflect their personalities, but perhaps also the level of resources they have access to. As political figures become more prominent, they often rely on professional assistance to curate their media feeds.

    But while journalists and researchers develop clever ways to determine when Trump himself is tweeting on his account, there’s zero ambiguity with a selfie video: The post is coming from the person holding the phone. Minnesota House candidate Ilhan Omar has posted celebratory selfies and videos. Rufus Gifford, another literal reality star turned political candidate, regularly posts selfie videos, and Jane Kim, running for state Senate in San Francisco, often posts her own commentary.

    But candidates can still be effective without running their own account: On the campaign trail, Texan senate candidate Beto O’Rourke let a young supporter take over his account, Florida governor candidate Andrew Gillum uses pinned stories on his profile to cover key issues like gun safety and education, and Georgia governor candidate Stacey Abrams utilizes colorful posts and strong fonts.


    In addition to the groundbreaking posters from her design team and the videos produced for virality, the Ocasio 2018 campaign is showing that an interconnected media strategy–where each post is specifically designed for the platform, rather than cut and pasted to different platforms–can give a candidate an edge among their constituents. This is something reality stars have long understood, as have leaders seeking to build cults of personality.


    Related:War is memes


    As these techniques evolve and show impact, we will see more states and state leaders utilizing Instagram’s full set of affordances to promote, proselytize, popularize themselves–or propagandize. We will see the platform and others like it that emphasize visual communication as the new battlegrounds for narrative contention. Russian propagandists also used Instagram extensively to spread incendiary and false posts during and after the 2016 election, and Facebook recently released data showing that influence operations from Iran focused on Instagram. The Southern Poverty Law Center and Mother Jones have shown that messages from hate groups proliferate on the site. If tools, techniques, and platforms are shown to be influential, we should expect others in power to learn to adopt them for different ends, and the vanishing nature of Stories will inevitably raise questions about accountability and archival records for our public representatives.

    [Screenshot: @ocasio2018]
    For now, however, among all U.S. political leaders on the national stage, it’s Ocasio-Cortez who seems to understand the platform’s media affordances the most. And while it’s difficult to define what authenticity in political communications really means, her online presence could certainly be a case study. She comes across as her most authentic self on the site, a young person in a Bronx apartment with a few fun stickers and a smartphone.

    “So I mostly seem to IG story only on times when I’m taking a break but that’s just because that’s when I have time,” she says in a recent series of posts she titles “Pep Talk,” which she addresses especially to “women, gender expanding people, people of color, working class people.”

    She’s relaxed on a park bench, and the phone shakes more than normal as people walk behind her with grocery bags back to their apartments. The words on her T-shirt are backward, suggesting it truly is a selfie video. It may be ironic to comment on her appearance, but the difference in this video versus her more polished public appearance is striking: she wears round glasses and understated makeup, and her mood is intimate, personal, and personable, as if speaking with a close friend and not 300,000 followers.

    “But I think I’m going to be changing it up a little bit,” she notes. “I’ll probably be here more often.”


    An Xiao Mina (@anxiaostudio) is author of Memes to Movements: How the World’s Most Viral Media is Changing Social Protest and Power. She leads the product team at Meedan, is a cofounder of the Credibility Coalition, and is a research affiliate at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society.

    Ray Drainville (@ardes_ray) is a researcher on iconography and social media at Manchester Metropolitan University and a member of the Visual Social Media Lab.


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    Maybe your current location doesn’t quite gel with your personality. Maybe you want to be closer to family. Or maybe you’re a wanderer, never content to stay in one place too long. Whatever the case, many people find themselves itching to explore new cities. If you’re dreading the job search that will come with it, though, remember: There are other options.

    If you happen to be employed at a company with multiple branches, or if you think your company would be open to the possibility of you working remotely, asking for a transfer could be a great way to accommodate your desire for a new environment while still keeping the job that you love.

    Make no mistake, though–securing a transfer isn’t as easy as simply announcing a move to your employer. To get them on board, you’ll need to think and act strategically.

    1. Do your homework

    When requesting a transfer, research is critical–it makes the difference between coming to your employer with a well-thought-out proposal and an unreasonable demand.

    “Don’t ask for something if you haven’t researched whether or not it’s feasible,” says Erica Perkins, Director, Human Resources Business Partners at Glassdoor. “Find out what your employer policy is on location transfers and (if international) global mobility programs and assignments/expatriation.”

    If you are planning on going international, pay especially close attention to immigration and labor laws.

    “The feasibility and duration of an international transfer depends largely on the type of employment authorization available in the new location, which varies country by country,” Perkins adds. “Know what you’re getting into with respect to an international move, as there are significant differences in employment practices and regulations, as well as tax implications that are important to know before you determine you want to move.”

    Besides the nitty-gritty legal details, you should also consider what else you’ll need to be successful there.

    “For employees considering a role in another country, they should consider the language and culture changes that may be associated with an international move. What additional competencies might you need to be successful there?” says Mark Eckert, Internal Mobility Head at Uber.

    2. Think about it from an employer’s perspective

    For employers, facilitating an internal transfer is often an investment–one that should ultimately pay off for them. So it’s worth thinking about it from their perspective: What factors do they have to take into account before making their decision? And how will transferring you to a different office be beneficial to them?

    “Cost is often top-of-mind for employers when it comes to their internal mobility programs,” Eckert shares.

    In addition, “employers would need to consider 1) is there a compelling business case for the change in office/location, 2) does the employee moving offices/locations provide added benefits to the business (not just to the individual)? (e.g., having the employee work with other teams, cross-pollination, knowledge-sharing, as well as establishing a footprint for that business function in another location, etc). 3) What are the individual benefits for the employee (ability to accommodate a request generates loyalty and is motivational for the employee [which can] help with retention) and 4) Can the employee bring additional value to the business in the new location?” Perkins says.

    Keep in mind that if you have already proven your value to the company, they will be more likely to entertain your request.

    “The first thing a company considers when an employee requests a transfer is how valuable they perceive the employee to be. The more a company wants to keep them, the more flexible the company will be,” says career coach Angela Copeland. “A company would be most interested to transfer an employee wishing to grow their professional skills in a new location. But, if they value the employee, they may also respect their desire to relocate for personal reasons, such as to be closer to family.”

    3. State your case

    With a solid understanding of what exactly a move will require from your employer, as well as what would make transferring you worth their time, you’re ready to initiate the conversation.

    “The best way to effectively state your case is to articulate your ability to thrive and add value in the roles you are interested in, much like how you would if you were searching for new opportunities outside of your current company,” Eckert says. “How does your past experience and technical expertise apply to the new role? What can you bring to the role/team that will make you stand out against other internal and/or external candidates?”

    “Make sure you are clear on the reasons for your request, and help articulate how your move may help improve the business beyond your own self-interest,” Perkins adds. Sensing reluctance on your employer’s end? “Offer to do the move for a mutually agreed trial period if your employer is hesitant to make a commitment,” she suggests.

    Depending on your employer, you may even want to create a formal presentation for them, just as you would for a project at work.

    “The most effective request I have seen for an internal transfer to a new city came from a woman interested to move from Memphis to Dallas. She created an entire presentation to sell her boss on the idea that she could work remotely. Then, the boss was able to use the same presentation to sell the idea to upper management,” Copeland says. “The move worked well for both the employee and the company.”

    4. Set yourself up for success

    If your request is granted, it’s time to start thinking about what you can do beforehand to ensure a smooth transition.

    “Do everything you can to ensure you hit the ground running. Set up time with your new manager and team to start getting up to speed before you leave,” Eckert suggests.

    You may even want to visit your new city and office before you make your move.

    “Before you take the plunge, be sure to tour the new office and the new city. Moving is a big decision. You want to make the right choice the first time,” Copeland shares.

    And if you’re going international, “develop your cross-cultural competency,” Perkins suggests. “Besides honing language skills, study and educate yourself in the customs and culture of your new locale. Important cultural differences can be very subtle (things like how you greet someone, body language, making eye contact, etc.). Don’t make the mistake of assuming that the ‘way you did it at home’ will work in your new location.”

    And if you didn’t get the green light on your request to switch offices? Don’t worry–all is not necessarily lost.

    “Don’t get discouraged if you don’t find a fit immediately. Business landscapes change quickly and so will the opportunities available internally at your company,” Eckert shares.


    This article originally appeared on Glassdoor and is reprinted with permission. 


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    Territory Studio creates the biggest mass market spectacles that can never fit in your pocket. It’s a special effects design studio with a very particular talent, building the futuristic heads-up displays we see in movies like Blade Runner 2049, The Martian, or The Avengers: Infinity War. The company tells Hollywood what the future of computing will look like.

    Now, the firm’s San Francisco arm has released its first real product in partnership with the wearable tech company Huami: A series of sci-fi-worthy watch faces for the recently released Amazfit Verge smartwatch (which runs about $116 in China).

    [Image: Territory Studio]

    The bright, wiry interfaces could have been lifted straight out of Iron Man’s own helmet, with data visualizations firing across the screen like lasers. That was very much by design. “What [Huami] wanted from us was to apply a less restricted approach when it comes to graphics. They wanted to be different [from competitors],” says Marti Romances, a partner at Territory. “They know Apple and Samsung are keeping it very safe… For us, the approach was to do whatever we want. Don’t follow any rules. We can go crazy.”

    The first design is called Rings. It fits your steps, calories burned, and batteries into concentric circles. The second is called Salkan. It sneaks the user’s last six to eight hours of activity into a tiny line graph on the face, condensing a day of activity into mere millimeters. The final face is Spiked. At first, it appears to be beautiful, pink-and-blue nonsense. In fact, it’s a real-time visualization of the left ventricle and right atrium contracting during your heartbeat, gathered from your pulse. It’s data overkill, but Romances views it as a responsibility to bring that information forward to the user. “The precision the [watch] achieves, technologically speaking, [is such that] it’d be a waste if we can’t visualize it somehow,” he says. “We have that information, why are we not playing with it?”

    [Image: Territory Studio]

    Most industrial design and interface design results from the assumption that form follows function; it makes sense that an object is shaped by the way it’s going to be used. Territory operates in exactly the opposite direction. The team comes up with graphics it likes first, then considers how data might be mapped to those visuals. “That way we can disrupt a little bit more,” says Romances. “If you start with restrictions, you’ll never get to the two to three new avenues you can if you start with a different thought process. So let’s start with what we really like, then figure it out.”

    Territory learned to operate fluidly when collaborating with Marvel’s film directors and production managers. The firm needs to find an aesthetic that fits the film’s overall vision first and foremost. Only then can they give logic to the interface they’ve drawn. Yes, it runs counter to how designers usually work, putting the user first, but Romances believes Territory’s backwards approach could eventually lead to UI breakthroughs.

    At a more minute level, Territory Studio’s product work in Silicon Valley better informs its film work for Hollywood, and vice versa. “There’s lots of work we’ve done with products, but it’s always been on the concept phase, things we can’t talk about,” says Romances, alluding to work the company had recently completed for an augmented reality contact lens. “That, to me, sounds crazier than a script from Marvel. But that’s the beauty of it.”


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    The 10,000 employees at Tesla’s California assembly plant may want to hire their own doctors. According to a new report by The Center for Investigative Reporting, in partnership with Reveal, the company’s on-site “clinic’s practices are unsafe and unethical.” What’s more, the supposed medical aid seemed more focused on keeping injuries off the books than helping workers hurt on the job.

    According to Reveal‘s report, when a worker is injured on the Tesla factory floor, “medical staff are forbidden from calling 911 without permission” and if the on-site medics decide it’s bad enough, they may “be sent to the emergency room in a Lyft.” Much more typical, though, is that the worker will reportedly just be sent back to the production line.

    Why would Tesla want to keep injuries off-the-record? Perhaps because the company has stated that its goal is to be the safest factory on Earth. Yet, according to Reveal, it is achieving this in part by “doubl[ing] down on its efforts to hide serious injuries from the government and public.”

    It’s a doozy of a report–well worth a read, as well as great fodder for pro-union arguments (which Tesla has claimed is exactly what Reveal is trying to do). We’ve reached out to Tesla for comment, of course, and will update if we hear back.


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    Just in case you need some good news today, People has finally made it official: Idris Elba is the sexiest man alive.

    The actor and DJ told People that the honor was “an ego boost for sure.” So there you go, it’s barely daylight and we’ve already helped Idris Elba prop up his undoubtedly flagging self-esteem and feel just a little bit better about himself. Doesn’t that make you feel good?

    Want more pics? Head here.


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    What a strange election this has been. Earlier tonight, Fox News made the call that the Democrats will take control of the House of Representatives, a hugely consequential development that means new checks and balances on President Trump’s power. But among plenty of Twitter users, there was a strange reaction to this momentous report from the most-watched cable news network in the country: Many people didn’t believe it.

    Worse than that, many tweeted that they thought the call was an effort by Fox News to purposely de-motivate voters on the West Coast and throw a wrench into the Dems’ winning streak. “I have NO DOUBT that Fox News calling the House for Democrats is a ploy to get California Democrats to stay home,” wrote musician Mikel Jollett in a since deleted tweet.

    Now it turns out Fox News was right. Other networks, including NBC and CNN, have since projected that the House has indeed flipped, but the level of initial skepticism toward the Fox News report speaks to our partisan media split in the age of Trump, where information sources are irreconcilably divided along party lines.

    Fox News’s prime-time hosts—specifically Sean Hannity—have indeed become far too cozy with the president, so much so that the network had to come out and condemn Hannity’s participation in a Trump rally yesterday. At the same time, the network’s news division has always prided itself on staying independent of its bombastic opinion-makers. You may recall that moment in 2012 when Fox’s decision desk correctly called the election for Barack Obama over protests by pundit Karl Rove.

    What’s different now is Trump, who relishes in calling mainstream media the “enemy of the people” while benefiting immensely from the most mainstream media of all: Fox News, whose biggest personalities are the president’s loudest cheerleaders. In retrospect, maybe a little skepticism isn’t a bad thing.


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    It’s already cheaper to build a new solar or wind farm than a coal plant. But when the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing, renewable electricity can still be fairly expensive to store–even though the cost of batteries is dropping. If the world shifted to 100% renewable electricity right now, we might pay more on electric bills.

    A new solution that uses basic physics could cut the cost of storage in half, or by as much as 80% over the total life of the system. It makes it possible for renewable power to be cheaper than fossil fuels all day, every day of the year, everywhere. “Our solution, for the first time, will enable the world to achieve this,” says Robert Piconi, CEO and cofounder of Energy Vault, the startup that developed the new system. Tata Power, the giant Indian electric utility, will be the first customer.

    [Image: courtesy Energy Vault]

    Energy Vault, based in California and Switzerland, took inspiration from the way that some dams store energy–hydro plants pump water uphill when energy demand is low, and then produce energy by turning turbines as the water flows back down. The system works, but only in places where dams can physically be built; dams also harm fish, force people to relocate, and can burst and flood villages.

    Like dams, the new solution–a massive tower, roughly the height of a 35-story building–relies on gravity. But it doesn’t require water. When a wind or solar farm makes more energy than the grid needs, an automatic crane on the battery uses the extra electricity to lift a giant brick, weighing 35 metric tons, up to the top of the tower. “When that tower’s stacked, that’s all potential energy,” says Piconi. When the grid needs power, the crane automatically lowers a brick, using the kinetic energy to charge a generator.

    [Image: courtesy Energy Vault]

    All of this happens almost immediately. “We can have a millisecond response time,” he says. The system’s software takes signals from the grid to automatically control the cranes, which carefully raise and lower the giant bricks while taking into account wind and weather. The cranes lower the bricks at exactly the speed needed to provide electricity continuously.

    It’s cheaper than building giant lithium-ion batteries, like the huge batteries that Tesla has installed in Australia and elsewhere. In part, that’s because the bricks can be made from cement that would normally be wasted. “These materials we’re using are actually materials that you’d have to landfill,” says Piconi. In California, for example, a construction site with concrete debris has to pay as much as $55 a cubic yard to get rid of it. Unlike lithium batteries, building the system doesn’t require a specialized multimillion-dollar factory; the autonomous crane comes from another manufacturer. Mining lithium also uses huge amounts of water and risks toxic leaks.

    In a small town near its headquarters in Switzerland, Energy Vault built a small prototype of the device–72 feet tall, instead of the usual 393. (The system also works at a small scale, but the company is focused on the largest market, utility-scale customers; it’s also less efficient and less disruptive in terms of cost at a smaller scale.) The company is now beginning to build its first units for customers around the world. It’s also in talks with some customers who have been considering constructing huge new dams. “We can do that at a quarter of the cost, without the environmental problems, and have something that would deliver more on the performance side,” says Piconi.

    The solution can scale up quickly. “We don’t need to rely on manufacturing or large investments,” he says. It’s a needed step as more states and countries move toward 100% renewable electricity.


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    San Francisco has 74 billionaires, mostly from tech wealth. But the rest of the city’s 99% are clearly happy to see the super-rich put money toward the city’s yawning income inequality. A majority of them, about 60% of voters, approved a new ballot initiative, Proposition C, that will funnel up to $300 million annually in new taxes on the city’s wealthiest companies to getting San Franciscans off the street and/or keeping them in their homes. Prop C was nothing short of a revolution in how communities view the responsibility of big companies, especially booming tech firms, to care for the cities they both enrich and disrupt.

    Barring speedbumps (such as lawsuits over the required threshold for victory), housing and homeless advocates in San Francisco now have to find the best ways to spend the new resources. “We have a really detailed implementation plan with these broad buckets” of funds, says Jennifer Friedenbach, executive director of the Coalition on Homelessness, which spearheaded the initiative. The four buckets of spending are: 50% for building or acquiring affordable housing, 25% for mental health and addiction services, 15% for rent subsidies and other tenant assistance, and 10% for extra shelter beds and hygiene services.


    Related: The dirty political fight to get tech’s richest companies to give less than 1% to the homeless


    But there are still a lot of details to work out. It will start with extensive fieldwork in the community, says Friedenbach. “We would start going out to homeless folks that have mental illnesses and addictive disorders and really start . . . collecting data from them on their past experience with the treatment to learn what worked, what didn’t work, what kinds of things that they see as their vision for success,” she says. “What kind of behavioral health system really meets their needs.”

    With money and data in hand, Prop C supporters should be well equipped to address problems. And voters who granted them a doubling of funding will now expect results.


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    I sure hope Gina Ortiz Jones is still awake. About two hours ago, her race to flip the House seat in San Antonio, Texas, seemed to be over. The Democratic was running against Republican Will Hurd, who was seeking a third term. Nearly every major media outlet announced that Hurd had won.

    But now things aren’t so clear.

    At around 2:45 a.m. this morning, New York Times’s election site had a big red checkmark over Hurd’s name, but the numbers said something different. With 100% of the precincts reporting, it showed Jones having more votes than Hurd.

    Screenshot from the New York Times‘s live election coverage

    The New York Times isn’t the only one. The Houston Chronicle also declared Hurd the winner. CNN had called the race, too.

    Screenshot from CNN’s election map

    In the time that’s passed, the Times retracted its projection. It also updated the above numbers to show Hurd in the lead once again, but this time not deeming him the assumed winner.

    So what happened? For one, it seems the premature call was first made by the Associated Press, and then other outlets followed suit. The New York Times’s Nate Cohn tweeted this explanation:

    And, indeed, the AP has also withdrawn its call:

    Additionally, the problem seems to come down to a discrepancy with one of the districts reporting. It’s unclear if there were a clerical error or if the votes have yet to be completely tallied. For now, Hurd is back in the lead, but with a margin of only a few hundred.

    One thing this saga surely illustrates is why it’s important for major media outlets to vet their election calls. This sure seems like one decision was made and the rest followed suit. Whatever the outcome, this race should not have been called so early in the first place.

    As the votes continue to be counted, I’ll update this post.


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