Weekend Reading: Hurricanes, Long Games, and AirPods

March 30, 2019 • #

Hurricane Season 2017: A Coordinated Reconnaissance Effort

The NSF StEER program has been using Fulcrum Community for a couple of years now, ever since Hurricane Harvey landed on the Texas coast, followed by Irma and Maria later that fall. They’ve built a neat program on top of our platform that lets them respond quickly with volunteers on the ground conducting structure assessments post-disaster:

The large, geographically distributed effort required the development of unified data standards and digital workflows to enable the swift collection and curation of perishable data in DesignSafe. Auburn’s David Roueche, the team’s Data Standards Lead, was especially enthusiastic about the team’s customized Fulcrum mobile smartphone applications to support standardized assessments of continental U.S. and Caribbean construction typologies, as well as observations of hazard intensity and geotechnical impacts.

It worked so well that the team transitioned their efforts into a pro-bono Fulcrum Community site that supports crowdsourced damage assessments from the public at large with web-based geospatial visualization in real time. This feature enabled coordination with teams from NIST, FEMA, and ASCE/SEI. Dedicated data librarians at each regional node executed a rigorous QA/QC process on the backside of the Fulcrum database, led by Roueche.

🧘🏻‍♂️ The Surprising Power of the Long Game

Ever since my health issues in 2017, the value of the little things has become much more apparent. I came out of that with a renewed interest in investing in mental and physical health for the future. Reading about, thinking about, and practicing meditation have really helped to put the things that matter in perspective when I consider consciously how I spend my time. This piece is a simple reminder of the comparative value of the “long game”.

🎧 AiriPods

In this piece analyst Horace Dediu calls AirPods Apple’s “new iPod”, drawing similarities to the cultural adoption patterns.

The Apple Watch is now bigger than the iPod ever was. As the most popular watch of all time, it’s clear that the watch is a new market success story. However it isn’t a cultural success. It has the ability to signal its presence and to give the wearer a degree of individuality through material and band choice but it is too discreet. It conforms to norms of watch wearing and it is too easy to miss under a sleeve or in a pocket.

Not so for AirPods. These things look extremely different. Always white, always in view, pointed and sharp. You can’t miss someone wearing AirPods. They practically scream their presence.

I still maintain this is their best product in years. I hope it becomes a new platform for voice interfaces, once they’re reliable enough.