Friday Faves is our weekly blog series highlighting a few select pieces from the REG team’s reading lists. You can catch up on past Friday Faves on the archive

How to Become Indistractable 


Anne says: I was planning to write about something else this week – then I got distracted by this YouTube video. After all, it was only short – just a few minutes… and… it was about being distracted! Perfect!

This is a fascinating Spotlight video from RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce – UK) that briefly unpacks some of the myths about distraction and technology addiction. The speaker is author, Nir Eyal, a leading expert in addictive technologies. His recent book, Indistractable, explains how we can escape distraction, beat the urge to scroll, refresh and reply and do more of the things we want to do. Yes – I think I’ll be adding that one to my bookshelf (or Kindle).

“Why don’t we do the things that we know we should?”

Eyal says that understanding distraction is a fundamental step towards avoiding it – however, the opposite of distraction is NOT focus! But don’t worry – I’m going to let you watch the video (it’s only 6.49mins) and find out the answers.


Would You Read A Novel Written By A Machine? They’re Closer Than You Might Think


Joel says: Reading our Friday Faves, you’ll easily be able to see that AI technology has come leaps and bounds in recent years and it is finding itself integrated into new industries every week. I’ve read articles in the past talking about how artworks and even music could be auto-generated using algorithmic patterns powered by AI. Now it seems the literary novel industry could see a shake-up thanks to predictive writing technology. 

If you use the Gmail mobile application, you may have noticed over recent months that the app is now capable of suggesting sentences and sign-offs based on your email history and patterns it picks up on as you type. This same style of technology is now being used to generate other bodies of text, and once the systems get refined, who knows? Maybe they could possibly pump out the next bestseller. 

AI systems can be trained quickly and can easily be given a whole database of information to pull patterns out of. The article attached even talks about a software engineer who fed an AI system the text from George RR Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire books to try and generate what the future book could be. While that was a pretty cool idea, I’m more interested in the fact that in future we may all be reading a book written by a faceless AI author whose influences and patterns could easily be based on the works of JK Rowling, Stephen King, George RR Martin or all of the 3. 

Would you read a book you knew was written using AI algorithms? Or do you prefer a more human side to your art?


Smarter Airports 


Helen says: Like many, I love travelling, though I could do without many of the hassles encountered along the way. However, there is hope! Internet of Things (IoT) technology has the potential to provide greater efficiencies, improve revenue through airports and provide customers with an enhanced airport experience. This report gives an insight into the value IoT can bring to airports in their quest to address many of the business problems they face.

Opportunities for airports to benefit from IoT seem limitless. Examples include equipment tracking with automated maintenance schedules to optimise asset use, capturing data through sensors to monitor consumables and know exactly when to top up toilet paper or refill soap dispensers, capturing passenger movement and dwell time to determine the best locations for ad placements, and input buttons for measuring customer sentiment. These are the lower hanging fruit, more complex is a vision for IoT to connect autonomous vehicles and robots to complex airport data, unlocking huge potential for a fully automated ground operation. Access to data through IoT will also be key to achieving that seamless door-to-door experience we all hunger for – yes, travel nirvana.

The report highlights many hurdles airports need to jump over to achieve their IoT ambitions such as safety and security considerations, funding (significant) development and ongoing operational costs, and skilling a workforce for the transition to the new style of work. These challenges and the numerous stakeholders to be considered – retailers, customers, local residents and government – make delivery complicated but airports will need to push on because IoT is seen as key to their future.


This is cool: 5 milestones that created the internet, 50 years after the first network message

Jakkii saysLast week I shared ‘the lines of code that changed everything’, and this week in tech, society and history we have the 5 major milestones that led to the internet as we know it today. The milestones from the article might not be what you expect. They are:

  • 1978: Encryption failure
  • 1983: ‘The internet’ is born
  • 1996: Online speech regulated
  • 1998: US government steps up
  • 2010: War comes online

You’ll notice there’s no reference of the first message sent over ARPANET, for example, in this list of milestones. This is mentioned in the article’s opening, however, where the author explains that, in their view, it is largely the collective impact of decision-making from governments and regulators that have given us the internet as we know it today. I’d even go a step further, and suggest there’s also a collective impact by way of the lack of decision-making, thinking of the many stories, hearings, and general concerns about and around social media – particularly the giants such as Facebook – over the past couple of years.

Whichever way you slice it, these milestones offer an interesting insight into the way the internet as we know it today has been shaped by us – the people and societies who use it every day.


This Week in Social Media

Politics, democracy and regulation

Privacy and data

Cybersecurity and safety

Society and culture

Trolling, extremism and hate speech

Moderation and misinformation

Marketing, media, advertising and PR


Facebook News

There’s so much happening with FB News at the moment that, for now, we’ve popped it into its own section

Facebook’s Libra and Calibra

Sydney Business Insights – Seeing in Colour with Alvy Ray Smith

What is the history of digital colour? How did Moore’s Law shape the future of computer animation? Mike Seymour sits down with Pixar co-founder and lifelong innovator Dr Alvy Ray Smith for a discussion on building businesses from dreams and overcoming roadblocks.

Dr Alvy Ray Smith was a guest of the University of Sydney Faculty of Engineering for the 2019 Dean’s Lecture.


Alvy Ray Smith’s website

Faculty of Engineering, Dean’s Lecture 2019: Alvy Ray Smith

About Ed Catmull – IEEE Computer Society

Ed Catmull’s book on Pixar Creativity Inc

‘Genesis effect’ for Star Trek II – the Wrath of Khan, the first use of 3D CGI used in a movie that was shown to the public

Short film, Sunstone, showcasing pioneering animation techniques

Sequence from TV series documentary, Cosmos

The stained-glass sequence in the Young Sherlock Holmes and the significance of the sequence

From Pencils to Pixels, BBC documentary featuring John Lasseter

John Lasseter

Dance of the Hippos in Fantasia

An explainer on Moore’s Law

AI turns horses into Zebras


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