Categories
Culture Tech

Nothing is random

Discoverability will forever be twisted in the maw of internet algorithms.

Nothing is ever truly random. We are data’s significant other with a bullseye on our back.

Facebook has been triangulating our data for years, matching our likes with the highest bidder. Designers, copy-writers, and marketers work together to create internet ads that strangle our attention into a click-hole.

So here we are, next up surrounded by the internet of things to feed the system of ads. We invite zero ambiguity — we tell the system what we want, and it reports back.

Look around — we’re well-trained click monkeys forever melting into a spiderweb of Times Square.

Categories
Science Tech

Dancing with the algorithms

We dance with the algorithms, yielding time-saving results. How else are we to discover all these gems in a sea of content? How are we to land on the right words in a swamp of choice?

From Spotify to Gmail’s suggestive text, we accept the computer’s recommendations to curate and speak for us. We allow the recipes to crunch down our tastes and our speaking patterns, essentially doing all the homework for us.

Playlists generate themselves; emails answers themselves. 

Yet, just as humans are poor decision-makers, the symphony of algorithms is also flawed. 

“An algorithm is an opinion embedded in math,” writes Cathy O’Neil in her book Weapons of Math Destruction (Amazon).

The computers and their code are often in over their heads, impractical, and sometimes stupid. Just ask Facebook — it takes a human to quell the dangerous idea virus that is fake news. 

The algorithm, written by humans, also requires human moderation. 

The ultimate balance of power is the intermixing of human neurons with the speed of computer nodes. Connecting humans to computers will supercharge decision-making in a fast-paced world. 

Thoughtless algorithms seem to know us better than ourselves, for now.

Categories
Life & Philosophy

Awareness makes all the difference

With the right instructions, the unfamiliar becomes manageable.

We follow the recipe with the hope that the convoluted reality seeps away into the froth. Directions become one less drain on our cognitive load.

Yet, had we followed our instincts we may not have gotten lost in the first place.

Adhering to Google Maps may lead us off the bridge, submerged into water. Writing with predictive text or auto-correct makes us prisoners of the information universe.

Knowledge is visceral, reality is learned. Shut our eyes on the open road, and we carve our own self-destruction.

Artificial intelligence is there to guide, not to provide all the solutions. One follows the prescribed path of his or her second-brain gadget, all the while gut-checking programmatic veracity. There are consequences for bequeathing all thought to the outer robot.

Awareness makes all the difference in inferring the future. Aliveness never goes full-on auto-pilot.

Keep the eyes on both the donut and the donut hole.

Categories
Life & Philosophy Poetry

Came, saw, and self-conquered

The choir of one conducts an archaeological dig of the self.

What else to expect other than massive truth bombs?

The head is the instruments of instruments, yet it can’t outsmart the amygdala. The prehistoric brain fires on all cylinders.

The inner-narrative searches beyond the mask anchoring down any Shakespearean stage.

The ego has the power to build and the power to destroy. Once undone, there are no lily pads to jump to next.

Categories
Creativity Photography

The vast but empty spaces of Andreas Gursky

German photographer Andreas Gursky’s photograph “99 Cent II Diptych” (see above) was once the world’s most expensive photo.

In it, the Dusseldorf School photographer stitched together a two-part photograph (also called a ‘diptych’) of a vast but empty grocery store in Los Angeles.

Taking another contemporary digitally manipulated view of everyday objects, Gursky’s “Rhein II” sold for $4.3m at Christie’s New York in 2011 — the image became world’s most expensive photo to sell at an auction.

“I wasn’t interested in an unusual, possibly picturesque view of the Rhine… This view cannot be obtained in situ; a fictitious construction was required to provide an accurate image of a modern river,” recounts Andreas Gursky on the work.

The vast but empty spaces of Andreas Gursky
Photo: ‘Rhein II’ (1999, remastered 2014) © Andreas Gursky

However, I still dig the artifice projected in his 2017 high-speed train ride in Tokyo, where he merged multiple photos to give the picture a blurring, hyperreal effect.

Gursky’s “Bahrain I” which reconstructs myriad images of the Bahrain International Circuit racetrack is also one to marvel at — especially for the way its paint-like race-tracks enhance reality.

The vast but empty spaces of Andreas Gursky
Photo: ‘Tokyo’ © Andreas Gursky
Photo: ‘Bahrain I’ 2005 © Andreas Gursky

Regardless of his skill, Gursky tells his students that it’s only because of hours of practice and work that beget his radical intuition.

“People keep trying to find a matrix for the perfect image, but it’s intuition, it’s not something that can be taught.”

Andreas Gursky (via FT)

You can learn more about Gursky’s 2018 exhibition at London’s Hayward Gallery in the video below or right here.

Categories
Life & Philosophy Tech

Life as protest

The revolution is in consciousness — passing and going into aliveness with a jolt of caffeine.

We can fool the brain into thinking that we’re more jazzed up than we are.

But one’s attitude and perspective don’t change overnight. We grow into ruthlessness through restlessness.

The audacity of hope is an oddball talent.

We once looked to religion to save the world. Now, we look at a few individuals who take big chances.

Entrepreneurs want to be gods.

Elon Musk basks in the simulated world’s glory, where he exploits his mental software to rewire predestined code. Always in overdrive, Musk creates endless opportunities to break the mold.

We can control our destiny if we’re crazy enough to believe it.

Categories
Life & Philosophy

Ignoring the inner-critic

We paint from what life gives us. We are the sum total of our experience.

But how often do we underthink our motivation and overthink action? Sometimes, it makes sense to think big and pull the life out of ourselves.

Stop doubting and start doing

The doer is a different breed. Dreams are meant to be followed, broken, failed at, and remixed.

There’s nothing more disruptive than someone chasing a so-called “pipe dream” with consistency and patience.

Why is the inner-critic so afraid to break the shackles and live up to their best?

To doubt is to do — doing is a way of building up courage and establishing narratives.

Categories
Life & Philosophy

Close-meshed holes

With both currents and counter-currents, the sea fits tightly. The chaos is why it works.

The same complex, close-meshed holes occur in just about every advanced, self-persisting object.

The brain is plastic and thereby adaptable, as is the plurality of cultures that melt away into the American identity. New York City learns to relearn every day, making perpetual change a haven of bliss.

When differences bind together, they create new entities. Friction is the original instigator.

Oceans, minds, culture, cities— the graduations of failure grow on top of each other in anti-fragile increments, using a state of regeneration to stem the tide of inertia.

Categories
Life & Philosophy Psychology

Gagging on the dizziness of freedom

Devoid of context, an abstraction so genuine it steers clear the badge of authenticity.

We, meaning-seeking creatures are lost in the dizziness of freedom. We follow an inner narrative only to see it conflict with the ideal stories we tell ourselves.

Dreams are saturated with misleading formulas that destabilize our consciousness. The truth lies between the lines, soaking in the gray space.

We may drink it black or flatten it with white, knowing all along that the coffee is the mere vehicle for imbibing caffeine’s truth serum.

Awake, finally embracing the certainty of being forever lost. We gag on two sips of Americano and spit anxiety back out again.

Categories
Productivity & Work Writing

Writing through sheets of ice

You bought the new notebook, snagged a new pen, and listened to a motivational podcast. You’re ready to do the work!

But two things happen as you start:

1 – You freeze. The thoughts in your head never make it to the tip of the pen. Your brain trips up on its wiring of ideas. Warning!

2 – You get going but know that what’s splurging on paper is crap. You’re producing sheets of melting ice. The writing is ugly, an explosion of everything at once. Such cacophony melts your heart, deadens your spirit.

The urge to quit and give in to the resistance is what smothers dreams. Goal-setting often backlashes when you set the bar too high.  

What if instead of focusing on the goal, you concentrated on the system?

Systems are more powerful than fears because discipline always overrides motivation. 

The real work happens when you sit your ass down at the desk for half an hour and write hundreds of words regardless of the outcome. After all, the more you make, the more you have to play with. 

Writes James Clear in “The case for having no goals in your life:”

“Goals are good for planning your progress and systems are good for actually making progress.”

James Clear

It takes a long time to strike the chord you seek. The rest of the time you’re practicing with the intent to nail it down. All writing is in the edit.

Even poor sentences give you fresh ideas and force you into new territories. Other times it is one edit that makes all the difference.

The muse only works in your favor if you’re willing to be consistent and put in the work. “Remember our rule of thumb,” writes Steven Pressfield in The War of Art, “The more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.”

The rest — the Moleskine notebook, the perfect pen, the dreamy goal — are excuses that trip you up.