WIRED UK Sep / Oct 2018

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United Kingdom
Conde Nast Publications Ltd
6 期号


creating wired

ROAD TO NOWHERE Photographer Matjaz Krivic travelled to South America and China to photograph the lithium miners working to meet demand for the rechargeable battery market. “I found a driver who was brave enough to drive me 150 kilometres to the Salar de Uyuni [“Uyuni Salt Flats”] and leave me there overnight,” he says. “There is absolutely nothing there except chinchillas and giant cacti. It was a full moon when I visited – I was running around taking photos all night, the adrenaline kept me awake. And I actually heard the sound of silence, the quiet loudness of the Salar. It was magical. And the next day, my driver arrived three hours early because he was worried about me!” AFTER THE REVOLUTION Anastasia Taylor-Lind photographed the Ukrainian revolution in 2014 (this picture was…

it’s time for tech to disrupt business again

When the academic W Brian Arthur arrived at Stanford in 1982, he found its proximity to the energy of the nascent technology centre of the world much to his liking. A polymath, he had trained as an engineer and mathematician specialising in algorithmic theory. He also possessed a skill set less commonly encountered in the Valley: he was a gifted economist. At the time, one of the great battles of the home electronics market – Betamax versus VHS – was ongoing. Betamax was the superior videotape format, but over time it had become increasingly clear that, either by strategy or some unpredictable series of events, VHS was beginning to dominate the market. Within a few years, it was impossible to find a Betamax-formatted film in a video store: VHS had triumphed,…

rainbows: 90s anti-fraud tech

Europay, Mastercard and Visa (EMV) chips protect your payment cards against fraud. But before EMV, holograms such as the flapping Visa dove were the first line of defence. NYC-based photographer Steve Simon zoomed in 160x on an old Mastercard, to the point where a five from the 16-digit credit-card number had broken into the hologram. This created a “stress fracture” prismatic effect, which Simon mirrored in post production. So, why didn’t holograms last? Vendors were supposed to check the 3D image – but most didn’t bother; EMV chips need a PIN and are also verified electronically. Secure, but not as pretty. stevesimonphoto.com…

netflix’s plan for world domination? local and global

Netflix is taking Hollywood. In 2017, the once DVD-only rental company started moving 1,800 staff into a towering 14-storey office on Sunset Boulevard, California. The glass-clad building sits on the lot of Sunset Bronson Studios – the site of the original 1919 Warner Brothers studios where the Looney Tunes cartoons were produced. Another 500-person Netflix office is due to open on the other side of the lot this autumn. Inside the building, meeting rooms are named after Netflix shows and equipped with giant wall-mounted TVs. Kitchens are stocked with free snacks and meals. But despite the Silicon Valley touches, the office is more Hollywood than tech bro. Once past the security barrier, valets scuttle from a Netflix-branded gazebo to take incoming Teslas to an adjacent multi-storey car park. A giant poster…

how netflix customises what you watch

A/B TESTING Todd Yellin, vice president of product, says the company runs 250 A/B tests each year. These present subscribers with two slightly differing experiences to see how they respond, varying from changes to the way the Netflix player looks to the mechanisms by which people find shows. Around 100,000 people are randomly selected for each test, with another 100,000 used as a control group. LANDING CARDS Netflix creates multiple landing cards – the images that are displayed as viewers scroll through shows – for all of its titles. Yellin says the next experiment will likely involve A/B testing of multiple versions of auto-playing trailers. RECOMMENDATIONS On average, a person views 40 to 50 titles before they pick what they’re going to watch. Perhaps the biggest personalisation in Netflix is the rows of recommended shows…

dataviz tech’s first line of defence? apply for a patent

Eager to keep competitors’ hands off their latest inventions, technology firms are racing to file new patents in greater numbers than ever before. “If you look at the grant and applications in the US, they are totally dominated by tech,” says Larry Cady, senior analyst at IFI Claims, a company that collects and analyses data on patent applications. “Anyone making a smartphone, they just file a tremendous number of patents.” Of the 20 companies that filed the most patents in 2017, only two – both automotive firms – fall outside the technology industry. Why the rush? Partly, it’s defence against future lawsuits. “Companies know they’re going to get sued,” says Cady, “and one of the strategies they’ve developed to deal with this is called defensive patenting.” If one company with a…