The Future of Videoish Chat

5 Intriguing Things is a curated collection of links that help us think about the future. Subscribe to the daily newsletter.


1. Group video chat is dumb and hard. But group animated GIF chat is... awesome?

"Imagine having a fixed time for recording yourself on camera - let’s say two seconds to capture your actions. But let’s also include the ability to associate it with text. Then you press send. The audience now sees a looping image along with your text. They see it again. And again. They associate the text with the looping imagery. Now think about how effective this is in communicating a moment across to others."

+ The author of this manifesto, Edna Piranha, built the thing described in it: see, but don't overwhelm it. They've got a (small, nice) community over there.

2. Get to know Ernst Dickmanns, grandfather of self-driving car technology

"In Europe, Ernst Dickmanns and his team at the Bundeswehr Universität München demonstrated autonomous control of vehicles. In 1988, the VaMoRs system, a 5 tonne Mercedes-Benz van, could drive itself at speeds over 90 km/h. The European Prometheus project ran from 1987-1995 and in 1994 the robot vehicles VaMP and VITA-2 drove more than 1,000 kilometers on a Paris multi-lane highway in standard heavy traffic at speeds up to 130 km/h. They demonstrated autonomous driving in free lanes, convoy driving, automatic tracking of other vehicles, and lane changes with autonomous passing of other cars."

3. The life-saving simplicity of the triage tag

"As we enter the era of wearable health trackers that beam our biometrics into the cloud, it seems almost quaint that over the last 50 years the triage tag has largely resisted technological upgrades. But the METTAG is a lesson to anyone who develops human devices: the most timeless designs are often the simplest ones. And in the case of triage tags, that simplicity saves lives."


"Internet machine documents one of the largest, most secure and ‘fault-tolerant’ data-centres in the world, run by Telefonica in Alcalá, Spain. The film explores these hidden architectures with a wide, slowly moving camera. The subtle changes in perspective encourage contemplative reflection on the spaces where internet data and connectivity are being managed."

5. On the complex connection between increased fracking in Texas and drug running

"The fracking boom has also been a lesson in unintended consequences: The web of roads that the energy industry has built or paved on once-desolate ranches has created avenues for smugglers to move drugs they've brought from Mexico around the inland Border Patrol checkpoints. The heavy truck traffic in this newly industrialized zone provides chances to stash drugs in vehicles disguised as industry trucks and blend in. That has left law enforcement scrambling to adapt to a radically altered landscape that's now buzzing with activity, including by relying on partnerships with the oil and gas industry."

Today's 1957 American English Usage Tip

bevy. A company, 'properly of ladies, roes, quails, and larks' (COD).

Autonomous Passing