Paper phone experiment & things that made last week

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Google goes back to the future with its paper phone experiment. Its an interesting commentary on the questionable benefit provided by smartphones. Google seems to be partly convicted. The paper phone experiment goes back to device prototyping. Handsrping founders used to carry around a block of wood in the shape of the PDA that they wanted to build. I was also thinking about Dan Greer‘s views on complexity in technology and what he might have thought of the paper phone experiment.

One-legged man’s Hallowe’en costume is the Pixar table lamp.

General Magic was a much storied, but ultimately failed technology company. This documentary about it looks epic on the trailer. You can stream the full documentary here.

Here is question and answer session from the Silicon Valley premiere of the documentary.

General Magic came up a device that Sony manufactured for AT&T. It was a PDA like the Apple Newton, but designed around connectivity. It had a built in dial-up modem. It had vCard type functionality that allowed you build up your address book from your email contacts over time.

Really interesting things here:

  • Techno-optimism needs to be tempered but still hopeful as an outlook
  • Ease to get to market now compared to back then
  • Technology industry is at an inflection point in terms of it does for mankind. As an industry it needs to get a better understanding and course track to go for a more positive future
  • The relative infancy of UX allowed for more trial and experimentation of visual elements

Here are some users talking about how they use the General Magic device.

DuckDuckGo launched a ‘terminal styled interface which I quite liked. You can try it here


It isn’t only retro cool but pretty useful, and works really well on a computer that is using a dark mode theme to its operating system.  

Elena Botelho discusses how the characteristics of successful CEOs differ from the popular narrative