Permanent voyeurism

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The exhibitionist plays her role and lives up to the internet’s stage of expectations. Like robots, we feign surprise at the latest occurrence of routine deja vu. 
 
We walk into our own cameras to take selfies while we move on camera recorded from CCTV above. Even the faintest nook can’t escape the ubiquitous photograph. The invisible fence amplifies a sea of caginess.



Inspection is self-inflicted

Says director Gus Hosein of Privacy International: “if the police wanted to know what was in your head in the 1800s, they would have to torture you. Now they can just find it out from your devices.”
 
The maw of Orwellian watchability is here, in our pockets and from above. The cameras render us into thoughtless lemmings of time.
 
We are the watched, watching the watchers survey conspicuous lands.
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My favorite tracks from 2017

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“The music you travel with helps you to create your own internal weather.” — Teju Cole

Never to be missed, below are my favorite tunes from 2017. Apologies for the delay.

Best of 2017 🎶

Track Listing

1. Mount Kimbie — Blue Train Lines featuring King Krule

2. Portico Quartet — A Luminous Beam

3. Four Tet — Two Thousand And Seventeen

4. Thundercat — ‘Jethro’

5. Laurence Guy – Laurence Guy – Wichita Falls


6. Kara-Lis Coverdale – Grafts

7. Joe — MPH

8. Burial — Rodent

9. pAS dOO — One Day

10. Kendrick Lamar — FEEL

For prior annual ‘Best of’ compilations, see below:

2016
2015
2014
2013
2012

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Enjoying the silence of GIFs

giphy-downsized-large-1The mind fills a silent GIF with sound.

The flags flickering in the wind, the lightbulb dancing at a Mexico City bar, to the whistle of leaves swinging outside your window.

Living in the distraction era, noise is ubiquitous. Standing still, the decibels around turn up to match the horizon.

But the calmer it becomes, the more you hear.

Silence deafens the external stimuli. In nature, it rings with the the highest volume.

TuRn it up!

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Newsletter: Harvesting human attention

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“Druze man in Lebanon plays football” by Samer Mohdad (via Rabih)

Below is a collection of links I think you’ll find interesting. Watch the world’s first drone rescue after the jump. Enjoy!

Is the Answer to Phone Addiction a Worse Phone? How can we win back our focus in the distraction era? Turn it gray. That’s right: we need to dull our screens to bore our senses. Turning the phone grayscale doesn’t make it dumb, it just makes it less attractive. Writes Nellie Bowles in the New York Times: “I’m not a different person all of a sudden, but I feel more in control of my phone, which now looks like a tool rather than a toy. If I unlock it to write an email, I’m a little less likely to forget the goal and tap on Instagram. If I’m waiting in line for coffee, this gray slab is not as delightful a distraction as it once was.”

Seeking the Lost Art of Growing Old with Intention. The Father of National Parks John Muir once said that “most people are on the world, not in it.” His words must have influenced naturalist and author Bernd Heinrich. The 77-year-old runner who still completes a 6-minute mile remains awed by the beautiful power of nature: “We all want to be associated with something greater and more beautiful than ourselves, and nature is the ultimate. I just think it is the one thing we can all agree on.”

The Subtle Art of Getting Your Work Noticed. When asked how to achieve success, comedian Steve Martin advised to “be so good they can’t ignore you.” The author Cal Newport wrote a book with the same title. But I like the way life hacker Zat Rana emboldens the adage by saying “Be so interesting that they can’t ignore you.” Being good isn’t enough; being interesting and unique is way more memorable.


Book I’m reading

The Attention Merchants by Tim Wu“The game of harvesting human attention and reselling it to advertisers has become a major part of our economy. I use the crop metaphor because attention has been widely recognized as a commodity, like wheat, pork bellies, or crude oil. Existing industries have long depended on it to drive sales. And the new industries of the twentieth century turned it into a form of currency they could mint. Beginning with radio, each new medium would attain its commercial viability through the resale of what attention it could capture in exchange for its “free” content.”

Video I’m watching

Lifeguards deployed a drone to save two struggling teenage swimmers stranded in rough seas off the coast of Australia.

This is apparently the first time drone technology carrying a flotation device has rescued swimmers.

Watch: Drone to the rescue

Thought of the week

“Nothing pains some people more than having to think.”

Martin Luther King Jr.


Thanks for reading. Have a great weekend!
Wells Baum (@bombtune)

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Your support goes a long way: for every contributed dollar, I can keep the blog running and continue to provide you interesting links.

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Drone to the rescue

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via Little Ripper

Lifeguards deployed a drone to save two struggling teenage swimmers stranded in rough seas off the coast of Australia.

This is apparently the first time drone technology carrying a flotation device has rescued swimmers.

While drones are commonly known for selfies (i.e. dronies), Amazon deliveries, firing missiles, and spying but they can also do some good too. The company behind the technology, Little Ripper, developed the drones to monitor sharks for coastal safety.

The drone also recorded the entire event which you can see below.

 

Walden, water, and wifi

Photo by Wells Baum

One day we’re going to miss the powerful silence of the natural world, the way it smells and begs for an inquisition. That’s because “most people are on the world, not in it,” wrote the father of national parks John Muir.

In putting a “fence around nature,” we lock ourselves into a secluded wall of emotional current.

Nature nurtures, it humbles our deepest desires. Because we can’t control the skies, nor the mercurial blob of ourselves, we must give in to nature’s fickleness and beauty.


We’re going to be shocked when we wake up from digital’s second life and realize that becoming also means embracing the evolving whims of those things around us. We are overpowered by the Earth’s forces.

Perhaps naturalist Bernd Heinrich said it best:

“We all want to be associated with something greater and more beautiful than ourselves, and nature is the ultimate. I just think it is the one thing we can all agree on.”

In the blink of an eye…

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Photo by Wells Baum

That’s how subtleties move along, transparent, through the chaos of abundant information for which the likes of Facebook and Twitter sell our eyeballs to the attention merchants.

As John Berger wrote in Ways of Seeing, “seeing comes before words.” Images overpower our digital world. Video maximizes these stitched images. People lose interest in thinking by themselves and using their imagination.

Said color photography pioneer William Eggleston: “Words and pictures don’t — they’re like two different animals. They don’t particularly like each other.”

Showing speaks louder than telling. One can intuit a concept quicker with a visual cue more so than a verbalized one.

The first taste is with your eyes. But what you perceive in your mind’s eye is what empowers an agile interpretation.

The unique shall inherit the Earth

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There are three ways to stand out and be remembered:

  1. Be so good that they can’t ignore you.

  2. Be so interesting that they can’t ignore you.

  3. Be so unique that they can’t ignore you.

Talent is usually enough, but everyone can take a great picture. Technology and the internet leveled the playing field.

Grabbing attention can be fleeting. Remember the digital tenet that new things get consumed and forgotten.

But what cements you in someone else’s memory is acting remarkably daring and different.

In a world of masses, it pays to go micro. But the loopholes in individuality are getting smaller and smaller.

Win back your attention by turning your screen gray 📱⬜👀

The variety of colors on our smartphone screens pop like candy. As advertiser Bruce Barton wrote in his 1925 book In The Man Nobody Knows, “The brilliant plumage of the bird is color advertising addressed to the emotions.”

We tap into Instagram, scroll through a few photos, and return to the home screen to bounce off to other apps. And then we repeat the process again in a mindless fashion.

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After a while, we start to lose all conscious brain power. We fly between apps like we’re hitting buttons at the casino. The variable rewards keep us spinning in a ludic loop. Technology undermines our attention by bombarding our senses with a surfeit of stimuli that lights up like a Christmas tree.


How can we win back our focus in the distraction era?

Turn it gray. That’s right: we need to dull our screens to bore our senses. Turning the phone grayscale doesn’t make it dumb, it just makes it less attractive. Writes Nellie Bowles in the New York Times:

I’m not a different person all of a sudden, but I feel more in control of my phone, which now looks like a tool rather than a toy. If I unlock it to write an email, I’m a little less likely to forget the goal and tap on Instagram. If I’m waiting in line for coffee, this gray slab is not as delightful a distraction as it once was.

Want to give your thumbs a break and regain some attention? Study the instructions on Lifehacker on how to turn your screen grayscale.

Social media companies as old storefronts

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Designs by Andrei Lacatusu

If Facebook’s recent newsfeed changes are any sign, social media is in decay. It’s gone from connecting people to Buzzfeed’s linkbait to a nest of echo chambers where the likeminded and bots spread fake news.

The art done here by artist Andrei Lacatusu provides a metaphor for the chaotic and ruinous state of social media, which appears to be failing like today’s brick-and-mortar stores. While we can expect the social networks to stay in business, they need to spend 2018 rebuilding the public’s trust.

 

Your vocation chooses you

We all start out with a dream, a goal of someone or something we want to emulate. We keep that dream close, putting up bedroom posters and memorizing phrases that propel us to keep pushing toward our goal.

But then something else happens along the way? The creative gods tell us to do something else instead.

“The grind is not glamorous.”

Casey Neistat wanted to be a filmmaker, another Spielberg that entertained the masses. But he didn’t have enough money nor resources. So he chased the dream for ten years and succeeded: he entered Cannes and won some awards etc. until one day he realized he was pursuing the wrong end. “Fuck it,” he said. “I just want to make internet videos.”

See, when we hunt down goals, we usually get redirected to something else that’s more personal. Technology broke down all the barriers to traditional creativity, production, and distribution. YouTube is Neistat’s movie theater.


Check yourself before you wreck yourself

Sure, imitate at first and get really good — everything is practice. But we shouldn’t forget to reflect and dive deeper into a passion that excites us the most. As Jim Carrey said, ‘your vocation chooses you.’

Don’t fight what’s natural even if no one else is doing it yet. Give in to the original inclinations and push onward.

Weathered or not in New York

The weathered we address: What kind of weathered is it?

It contains multitudes.

Graffitied

Exhausted

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Chipped

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Bruised

Split

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Weather-ed

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Exposed

Repaved

Rushed

….Retrofitted and restored

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Weathered rock or stone, broken glass, ruptured pavement, blinding headaches, winters wear down New York but its city dwellers weather in, on, and through in flexible shifts.

All photos by Wells Baum

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Newsletter: ‘8 hours of what we will’

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“8 hours of work, 8 hours of rest, and 8 hours of what we will.” — Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions, 1886

Below are this week’s interesting links and recent discoveries for your weekend reading.

The London Milkman. Photographer Fred Morley staged the famous photo of a milkman walking through the destruction of London after the German blitz during the Second World War. “Morley walked around the rubble of London until he found a group of firefighters trying to put out a fire amidst the fallen buildings, as he wanted that specific scene in the background…Apparently, Morley borrowed a milkman’s outfit and crate of bottles. He then either posed as the milkman or had his assistant pose as the milkman.” While the British government censored images of London’s destruction, it promoted this photo to show the world Britain’s resiliency and evoke a sense of calm.

How to do nothing. It’s not easy to escape the computer screen or leave that portable rectangular glow behind, but disconnecting is becoming indispensable to our mental health. We don’t always need to be switched on. Writes bird watcher Jenny Odell who likes to decompress at the park: “The function of nothing here, of saying nothing, is that it’s a precursor to something, to having something to say. “Nothing” is neither a luxury nor a waste of time, but rather a necessary part of meaningful thought and speech.”

Why You Should Write a Memoir—Even if Nobody Will Read It. According to recent studies, writing your own memoir has various psychological benefits. Whether for private eyes or for public viewing, writing extensively about traumatic events helps you break free from the cage of anxiety. “Psychologists believe that by converting emotions and images into words, the author starts to organize and structure memories, particularly memories that may be difficult to comprehend and accept.”


Book I’m reading

The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman“Here is a fact: nothing in all civilization has been as productive as ludicrous ambition. Whatever its ills, nothing has created more. Cathedrals, sonatas, encyclopedias: love of God was not behind them, nor love of life. But the love of man to be worshipped by man.”

Video I’m watching

Perhaps what we see isn’t what we get. Instead, life is just computer code and humans are information.

So does a simulated life mean that we can live forever? Says theoretical physicist James Gates: “If the simulation hypothesis is valid, then we open the door to eternal life and resurrection and things that formally have been discussed in the realm of religion. As long as I have a computer that’s not damaged, I can always re-run the program.”

Are we living in a computer simulation?

Thought of the week

“If hate could be turned into electricity, it would light up the whole world.”

— Nikola Tesla


Thanks for reading. Have a great weekend!
Wells Baum (@bombtune)

Support my blog

Your support goes a long way: for every contributed dollar, I can keep the blog running and continue to provide you interesting links.

$1.00

From your mouth

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Words signify a consciousness, of which a newborn or pet can only hear. The baby goes on to learn the language of memes and communicates with itself while your dog relies on its own form of internal narrative.

There is some form of mental awareness in all creatures. A body without a brain contains zero working neurons and a dead narrative.

Words are a different animal than pictures, perhaps the most effective at harvesting attention; humans use words to propagandize, market, deceive and spread evil. Said Nikola Tesla: “If hate could be turned into electricity, it would light up the whole world.”


Words are sensory stimulants, carving out emotions for which both the bad and good stuff sticks. “Talk, talk, talk: the utter and heartbreaking stupidity of words,” wrote William Faulkner in 1927.

We invent words because we don’t want to die. Yet it is their existence that poses the most threat to consciousness.