Published in Super8 -

Super8: Eight intriguing articles from October.

Happy Halloween!

Did you know this holiday has its roots in the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, a pagan celebration to welcome the harvest at the end of summer?

To honour those origins, Matt Agar puts the ‘octo’ in October: harvesting the internet to bring you eight interesting articles. Read about spooky AI stickers, learn why you shouldn’t be creeped out by React Components, and trick-or-treat yourself to accessible UX principles for AR design. It’s Super8 in October!

1. Meta introduces new AI experiences across apps and devices.

By now, we’re likely all aware of the generative power of AI and the ways it enables new forms of connection and expression. We know of the potential implications for productivity, intellectual property, and ethics. Still though, it seems there are ever more applications for AI popping up every single day. Meta has recently announced a series of new AI experiences across its family of apps and devices, including advanced conversational assistants, sophisticated in-app image editing tools, and interactive AI characters voiced by Snoop Dogg, Tom Brady, and Naomi Osaka. As ever with AI, there’s plenty of opportunity and cause for excitement, but as the next article highlights, still many challenges to navigate too.

2. Meta’s AI stickers are already causing trouble.

One of Meta’s new AI experiences—based on the Emu AI algorithm, which stands for ‘expressive media universe’—allows people to create custom generated stickers based on prompts. Say you want to send someone a ‘unicorn ninja pizza’ sticker for their birthday? With Emu, you can have some options generated in seconds. Unfortunately, the whimsy is offset by a dark side. Thanks to some questionable safeguards and moderation logic, the brains behind Emu is allowing people to generate unsavoury content involving weapons and nudity. Will the moderation tighten up? Or is this simply one more in the endless series of ethical Pandora’s boxes AI seems to pry open? Only time will tell.

3. Not getting anything done? Try this to-do list hack.

Many people love a to-do list, for obvious reasons. They can help you clarify what needs to get done. They provide a sense of priority. They can help you to manage time and tasks, without forgetting things. But there are equally many reasons why they don’t always work. Firstly, they rely on estimates, which humans are notoriously bad at conducting. Secondly, they invite us to do our ‘favourite’ tasks first, while deferring challenging and potentially important work until later. So what can you do? This piece offers a range of solutions, starting with changing the name of your ‘to-do list’. You’ll have to read on to learn the others.

4. The ultimate low-quality image placeholder technique.

Around 99.9% of pages on the web include at least one image, and for good reason. Images play a vital role in reducing cognitive load and help people to better process and encode information. The median image-weight per page landed at 881KB in 2022, which is more than HTML, CSS, JS, and fonts combined. And while images typically don’t block rendering, it’s important to consider techniques to offer a reasonably pleasant experience while people wait for images to load. One solution? Low-quality image placeholders. Here’s everything you need to know.

5. How to AI.

For many people, the ubiquity of AI is immediately self-evident. The immediate utility of these technologies is perhaps less so. This article provides three practical approaches to deploying generative AI for brands and corporations. They include ‘Operation AI’, where technology is used to gain efficiency in repetitive tasks like transcription, data analysis, and text summarisation. ‘Creation AI’ involves generative writing and image production. Then there’s ‘Transformation AI’, which unlocks perhaps the most potential. What does it mean? Check out the article to find out.

6. Everything I wish I knew before moving 50,000 lines of code to React Server Components.

In this piece, Darius Cepulis answers the following questions: why do Server Components matter, and what are they good for? What are they not good for? How do you use them, how do you incrementally adopt them, and what kind of advanced patterns should you use to keep them under control? By answering these questions, Darius provides a comprehensive overview of whether you should use React Server Components, and how to use them most effectively.

7. AR for everyone: how to build accessible augmented reality UX.

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) offer a series of internationally accepted guidelines to help make products and experiences inclusive for all. While the information WCAG presents is mostly predicated on design and development for products in a flat screen, this article looks at some of the guidelines—and the principals behind them—and applies them to augmented reality. With some useful practical examples and a wealth of insight, this piece will help you to design inclusive augmented reality experiences for people with mobility and dexterity considerations, people with low vision, people who are deaf or hard of hearing, and people with different cognitive abilities.

8. Let it shine: the unexpected benefits of sun exposure on skin.

The sun is life giving. Literally. It plays a vital role in photosynthesis, whereby plants convert light energy into chemical energy, which fuels the production of the oxygen we breathe and is equally life-sustaining for the plant itself. However, for many years, we’ve also been warned of the dangers of sun exposure. There’s little doubt that too much sun increases the risk of developing skin cancer and prematurely ages the skin. But with spring in full force (for those of us in the southern hemisphere) and summer just around the corner, check out the latest research investigating the brighter side of sun exposure.