Hannah Pearson
By on July 5, 2014 in Recommended
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The thinking drone’s pick of longform: July 5

This week, the thinking drone’s roundup has gone all tech – well, kind of. Read up on Amazon from two different perspectives, both as the giant taking a shot at Hachette and a logistical wonder, explore what the future holds for libraries and find out just why tech companies put such stock in jazzy interiors. Finally, our last pick is Google poised to take over from Apple’s skeuomorphism (we had to look it up too).

1. Exploring a 1.2 million sqft fulfilment centre which makes Amazon a giant

A Rare Peek Inside Amazon’s Massive Wish-Fulfilling Machine – Wired – 16 June 2014 – Marcus Wohlsen

But thanks to its ambition, Amazon has also put itself in a position of constant peril. The retailer has created the expectation that it will indeed have everything. Shoppers take for granted that Amazon will have what they want. The only time they notice is when Amazon doesn’t. “The biggest failure you can have is not to have what they’re looking for.”

2. Is it Amazon or the future crushing book publishing?

Citizen Bezos – The New York Review of Books – 10 July 2014 issue – Steve Coll

“Bezos kept pushing for more” and suggested that Amazon should negotiate with small publishers “the way a cheetah would pursue a sickly gazelle.” This remark—a joke, one of Bezos’s lieutenants insisted—yielded a negotiating program that Amazon executives referred to as “the Gazelle Project,” under which the company pressured the most vulnerable publishers for concessions. Amazon’s lawyers, presumably nervous that such a direct name might attract an antitrust complaint, insisted that it be recast as the Small Publisher Negotiation Program.

3. What libraries should be

Library as Infrastructure – The Design Observer – 9 June 2014 – Shannon Mattern

Now we are seeing the rise of a new metaphor: the library as “platform” — a buzzy word that refers to a base upon which developers create new applications, technologies and processes. In an influential 2012 article in Library Journal, David Weinberger proposed that we think of libraries as “open platforms” — not only for the creation of software, but also for the development of knowledge and community. Weinberger argued that libraries should open up their entire collections, all their metadata, and any technologies they’ve created, and allow anyone to build new products and services on top of that foundation.

4. What does the blurring of work and play at the office mean?

Tech Aesthetics – Aeon Magazine – 3 July 2014 – Kate Losse

Tech-company digs have gone from the spare offices of the post-1999 crash to increasingly bespoke spaces that are becoming emblems of a new gilded age – much like San Francisco’s expensive real estate or the infamous private buses ferrying employees of Google, Facebook and Apple (among others) from their homes in San Francisco to their offices in Silicon Valley.

5. How Google is going to change the design world

Google Is About To Take Over Your Whole Life, And You Won’t Even Notice – Fast Company – 1 July 2014 – Mark Wilson

Google’s wonder paper also makes their interface more approachable. But it’s not just an allusion to our physical world. It’s more an explanation of what is happening when windows suddenly appear or disappear behind our screens. It’s as if Google is reverse engineering magic tricks the industry has used for years to render interface, showing us the strings so that these animations make sense.

Have you come across any fascinating tech longreads this week? Let us know in the comments below.