The rules for drones at Burning Man, and what the Machine Zone means for devs.

So this Sunday Alex, one of our production crew, is leaving for Burning Man. He is an awesome dj and spoken word performer, who'll be performing on the playa. (Check out Spoken Bird on FB , Twitter and the Youtubes!) And thanks to the advance of surveillance tech, it's entirely possible those of us here at the office will be able to watch- if there's a drone flyby!

It turns out that there are now so many drones flying around Black Rock City that Org had to have a summit on drone safety regs.

There was discussion of fire safety rules, spectrum management procedures; wind and elevation. Care for some irony with your irony?

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From the comments, presented without comment:

The RSVP for the Drone Summit, also presented without comment:

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Strange days. In other news of the weird, we love this Atlantic article by Alexis Madrigal about The Machine Zone- an examination of the highway hypnosis created by certain types of online activity.

The article asks what our responsibility is if we design "prescriptively" for this kind of engagement.

Does the software designer have a moral responsibility to build in roadblocks to addictive behavior?

I know that since I got off Twitter and Facebook my "machine state" time on Ebay and Pinterest has simply filled that space.

If Ebay generated popup windows every forty minutes to remind me to take a break and do something non-consumerist, I'd just ask my boyfriend to go on a hacker IRC and find me a plugin to disable them.

My brain wants a certain amount of Machine Zone time, and it will get it.

What Facebook and slot machines share is the ability to provide fast feedback to simple actions; they deliver tiny rewards on an imperfectly predictable

When we start building drouds, will we have an ethical responsibility to build them with timers and puzzles wireheads have to solve to get more brain-stim? Will the inconvenience of acquiring the after-market modded units with unlimited current deter the casual abuser?

Is zoning out on Facebook photos part of the Facebook Depression Effect? As a person who for years daily braved the inconvenience of scoring smack in the East Village, I can tell you that we don't deter addictive behavior by outlawing it or by designing around it. We don't modify unless we're already motivated; you can give your employee a FitBit but you can't make him exercise. (My bf's, from his workplace, is still securely encased in its packaging.)

The Machine Zone has become a place to go to tune out, a place to find the still heart of Not Caring. We protect our anesthetics fiercely- see the 18th Amendment. I agree with Mr. Madrigal that it's a good thing to be conscious of the addictive properties of coercive loops, however. Those of us with addictive personalities who've had to manage our abuse of the things you can't just quit cold turkey (like, oh, spending money) know that awareness is the first tool.

I'd like to see a future where addictive software was rated for its trance-inducing prowess. It's a metric-able thing, as demonstrated by Mr. Madrigal's article. If we can show that Facebook is winning at sucking our time, we surely can slap a Tipper sticker on it.

Bonus: here's a clip of an article on how Facebook makes you depressed with a Facebook engagement popup. I heard you like meta so...