On the future of notifications in AR and the world's first neurotech publication

Friday Brainstorm S2 E9 🧠

Hi friends, happy Friday!

This is a special edition of the Friday Brainstorm newsletter because it’s been exactly a year since the first newsletter was sent out on March 20th last year! 🎉 🍾 🥳

In 1 year — there have been 23 newsletters, we’ve grown to 250 subscribers, and have gotten over 15,000 page views across different channels. This is without any marketing on my end, so I’m excited to see the growth over the next year where I take promotion a little more seriously.

Here’s what I’ll be sharing with you in this issue:

  • a reading list on framing complex ideas

  • the world’s first neurotech publication

  • rethinking notifications on future AR devices

Let’s get into it.


FCI Learning Club — Public Reading List 📚

How might we help readers internalize complex ideas?

This is a question I grapple with regularly when I write content about neuroscience. Over the past year, I've found a number of helpful resources for getting better at communicating complex ideas and I wanted to share them here.

This reading list was originally put together for a learning club I was facilitating, where we had discussions every week for a month (Feb 11th — Mar 8th, 2021).

Now that we're done, I wanted to make a public reading list so that anyone can drop in and browse through the readings we’ve done.

Here’s an overview of the topic areas:

  • using metaphors to deconstruct your ideas

  • using stories to communicate your ideas

  • new mediums for conveying knowledge

  • new mediums for capturing complexity

For each topic, there are main readings as well as further readings to learn more. If you want to get better at communicating complex ideas, check out the reading list.


The world’s first neurotech publication 🧠

Given my interests, it’s probably no surprise that I’ve long been a part of NeuroTechX, the world’s largest non-profit focused on neurotechnology.

Last year, I teamed up with Adam Molnar and Sophie Valentine to launch the NeuroTechX Content Lab — the first publication focused exclusively on neurotech. The idea is to provide members of the NeuroTechX community with editorial support to produce engaging, accessible, and well-researched content.

Our first 5 pieces have just been published — check them out:

  • Nehchal Kaur offers a three part story based on the use of neurotechnology for war and peace-keeping purposes. Read

  • Simon Spichak discusses how grand tech demos and presentations impact our perceptions of neurotechnology, science and medicine. Read

  • Hannah Hare takes a deep dive into how a tiny vascular implant is enabling paralyzed people to communicate again. Read

  • Erin Staples asks what data concerns should we be aware of as a neurotech industry, and what precedent should we be setting with personal data? Read

  • Firas Safieddine looks into how recent advances in neuroscience have significant implications for the field of architecture and urban design. Read

If want to stay updated or are curious about NeuroTechX, sign up for their newsletter!


What I’m writing: rethinking notifications 📱

Last year, I wrote about Facebook’s guiding principles for responsibility innovation around hardware products, including their work in VR/AR:

“The 4th principle suggests that Facebook will put people’s interests over profits, but how realistic is this promise for a company whose business model is built on advertising? How will “put people first” extend to monetizing the platform? What guardrails and protections will there be for advertisements in AR?”

This is a good time to reignite this discussion, because in a series of recent blog posts, Facebook has been sharing the progress they’ve made towards a “contextually-aware, AI-powered interface for AR glasses”.

One of their talking point is how today’s devices (e.g. phones, watches) come at the expense of the interactions with people physically present with us. Instead of forcing us to choose between the two, future devices will let us look up and stay in the world.

To get there, we’ll need to rethink the most disruptive element of modern devices — notifications. What design affordances do we want around future AR systems so that they don’t inherit the shortcomings of today’s notifications?

If you’re curious about these kinds of things, check out the full article I wrote.


I hope you’ve enjoyed this issue of Friday Brainstorm! What got you thinking? Anything to add? Let me know by replying to this email.

—Shamay