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That number may seem small compared to Chicago or Los Angeles, both of which have vacant lots numbers in the tens of thousands, according to estimates. But for a city gripped by a perpetual and worsening affordable housing crisis–and an administration that plans to build 300,000 units of affordable housing in the next decade–it’s large enough to spur a debate around how the city should be handling these vacant spaces.
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Start the new year off right–with insightful books on everything from computer history to animal evolution, chosen by design leaders.

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There’s not much that hasn’t already been said of 3D printing or the predicted revolution that promised to transform manufacturing and put a MakerBot in every home. While the technology continues to evolve, with new applications like cutting-edge medical uses and building-size structures, it has yet to truly overtake industrial production in the mainstream market–though not for lack of effort.
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Now, Ikea will be inviting 20 startups to its campus for a three-month-long Ikea Bootcamp, hoping to incubate the next big breakthrough product right inside its Älmhult campus. Companies need to apply by December 31 to take part in the program, which starts in March 2019.
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Cookies are omnipresent online, and while some browsers block trackers automatically, most of us are followed by invisible eyes everywhere we go on the internet. The option to clear your cache or your cookies is buried in settings, subtly deterring users from cleaning them out.
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Ideo partner Michael Hendrix discusses how design thinking can be used as a superficial tool to make a company seem innovative–even when it’s not.

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Imagine if you were to visualize all of humanity’s connections. It’s a nearly impossible challenge, and two dimensional graphs certainly wouldn’t be up to the task. Even a network graph, a type of visualization that maps out connections in a network, isn’t up to such a large-scale project–since it can’t show how relationships change over time.
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Everything was designed and handmade by Kagan Taylor and Justin Rice, who founded the studio back in 2010 because they loved traditional craft, architecture, and digital design. They tell me via email that they could have never given this project to a regular contractor, so they had to build it themselves.
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In the two years since the election–yes, it’s been two years, somehow–a massive amount of art has been made about politics in America. But a Barbara Kruger piece from 1990, back when Donald Trump was busy bankrupting casinos in Atlantic City, still hits harder.
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With the rise of soft, cloth-coated gadgets, it’s become clear that fashion and interior design are impacting consumer electronics. But influence is a two-way street–and the design language of Silicon Valley is also influencing other design sectors. Take Pantone, which is introducing a new slew of colors, called Metallic Shimmers, for a world obsessed shine and shimmer–and where most of us drop $800 on a new phone every two years.
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That’s the premise of Kano, a DIY computer kit company that today is releasing an update to its successful build your own laptop kit. “We thought, what would be cooler than a laptop you make yourself? A touchscreen laptop you make yourself,” says Kano’s CEO and cofounder Alex Klein. He hopes the touchscreen addition will make Kano’s computers even more accessible and desirable, given that touch is often the first way that youngsters interact with screens, while also inspiring them to build their own tech.
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Imagine unlocking your computer the same way you do a car. That’s right, you have a little fob, and you push the button. And presto! It’s unlocked. (Maybe it even does a little “beep” too. Boy, that’d be great.) Google’s new Titan Key, which I tested this week, is not far from this vision. Developed internally, and now in the hands of more than 85,000 Google employees, the Titan Key has eliminated phishing at the company, according to Google. And now you can buy one yourself for $50.
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It’s easy to forget that the big box store is still young. Even in the relatively short history of U.S. suburbs, it’s a newcomer, spawned in the late 1960s and reaching its apex before the recession in the late 2000s. But within those four decades or so, tens of thousands of warehouse stores and malls changed what the U.S. looks like–a testament to how cheap and easy they are to build (about $45 per square foot, a third of what the average home costs per square foot).
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The world is addicted to cheap, crappy clothes. Thanks to low-wage manufacturing in poor countries and the rise of fast fashion, clothes have morphed from being valuable possessions to disposable items that we chuck out at the end of the season. And, as I recently described in a recent essay, this never-ending cycle of consumption is killing people and the planet.
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