Recent quotes:

Alexa: Amazon’s Operating System – Stratechery by Ben Thompson

In short, Amazon is building the operating system of the home — its name is Alexa — and it has all of the qualities of an operating system you might expect: All kinds of hardware manufacturers are lining up to build Alexa-enabled devices, and will inevitably compete with each other to improve quality and lower prices. Even more devices and appliances are plugging into Alexa’s easy-to-use and flexible framework, creating the conditions for a moat: appliances are a lot more expensive than software, and much longer lasting, which means everyone who buys something that works with Alexa is much less likely to switch

Drop your voice to win the debate ... hmmm

In the first of two experiments, 191 participants (ages 17 to 52) individually ranked the importance of 15 items they were told they might need to survive a disaster on the moon. They then worked in small groups on the same task. The researchers videotaped these interactions and used phonetic analysis software to measure the fundamental frequency of each utterance. They also looked at "how one person's answers converged with the group's final answer" as another way to measure influence, Cheng said. The study participants and outsiders viewing their interactions tended to rate those whose voices deepened between their first and third utterances as more dominant and influential than participants whose voices went up in pitch. None of the subjects or the outside observers was aware that the study focused on the relationship between vocal cues and status.

The voices of our habits and addictions

Obsessions, compulsions, addictions, and other "inner demons" aren't the only agents with real power to control and explain our behavior; our brains are host to 'benevolent' agents as well. Our consciences, for example. These are agents that live inside our brains, who are being trained throughout our lives, but especially in childhood, by our interactions with parents, authority figures, and other moral teachers, and by various rewards and (especially) punishments.

A preliminary taxonomy of the voices inside your head

Puchalska-Wasyl crunched the numbers (using a technique called k-means clustering) and found that the participants' descriptions of their inner voices clustered into four distinct categories. Thirty of them fell into the category of "Faithful Friend" and were associated with strength and unity and positive emotion; 22 fitted the category of "Ambivalent Parent" and were associated with strength and love, but also ambivalence or negativity to the participant's irresponsible ideas; 32 matched the "Proud Rival" category, showing pride and self-confidence combined with a lack of closeness to the participant; and finally the remainder fitted the description of "Calm Optimist" – a relaxed interlocutor, characterised by low self-enhancement, little emphasis on contact with others, but in a way that participants perceived positively.

Poetry inscribes humanity

“Poetry’s work is to make people real to us through the agency of the voice. . . . When people are real to you, you can’t fly a plane into the office building where they work, you can’t bulldoze the refugee camp where they live, you can’t cluster-bomb their homes and streets. We only do those things when we understand people as part of a category: infidel, insurgent, enemy. Meanwhile, poetry does what it does, inscribing individual presence, making a system of words and sounds to mark the place where one human being stood, bound in time, reporting on what it is to be one. In the age of the collective of mass culture and mass market, there’s hope in that.”