Spark 421

Tumblr adult-content ban and LGBTQ youth, dark patterns and airline seating algorithms, e-scooter abuse and the history of the smart home.

Today's internet-connected smart home gadgets actually have a long history, going back way further than The Jetsons' space age dream home. Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino is an interaction designer specializing in the Internet of Things. In her new book, she traces the history of the do-it-all techy home back to the 19th century, and explores what it takes to make a smart home that really works for today.

Say goodbye to NSFW Tumblr! The social network no longer allows adult content. But that's not sitting well with some Tumblr users who came to rely on the site as a safe place for self-expression. Stefanie Duguay is an assistant professor of Communications at Concordia University. She argues that Tumblr's new rules aren't just bad for NSFW bloggers and artists, they're also bad for LGBTQ youth.

Sure it's annoying when you're taking a flight and you're not seated with your family. But what if it's...deliberate? Harry Brignull is a user-experience consultant with an interest in what he calls dark patterns. Those are user interface designs that are intended to trick people. He takes a look inside the algorithms that find your seat.

E-scooters were supposed to make getting around more convenient and environmentally friendly. Recently scooter sharing companies like Bird and Lime are expanding quickly all across North America. So why are so many electric scooters are being tossed into lakes, rivers, and even the ocean? April Glaser is a technology writer for Slate. She wrote a story about the problem called Bird Bath.