“It’s not that I’m not social. I’m social enough. But the tools you guys create actually manufacture unnaturally extreme social needs. No one needs the level of contact you’re purveying. It improves nothing. It’s not nourishing. It’s like snack food. You know how they engineer this food? They scientifically determine precisely how much salt and fat they need to include to keep you eating. You’re not hungry, you don’t need the food, it does nothing for you, but you keep eating these empty calories. This is what you’re pushing. Same thing. Endless empty calories, but the digital-social equivalent. And you calibrate it so it’s equally addictive.”
— [easyazon_link identifier=”0345807294″ locale=”US” tag=”wells01-20″]The Circle[/easyazon_link] by Dave Eggers (2013)
Social media is free fast food that can make your brain fat. As former president of Facebook Sean Parker said about the platform last year: it exploits a “vulnerability in human psychology.”
Banksy is back in New York, the first time since his month-long residency back in 2013.
The iconic street artist kicked off his visit with a mural dedicated to the imprisonment of Turkish artist and journalist Zehra Dogan, who’s watercolor painting protests the continued destruction of Kurdish territory by the Turkish military.
The black hash marks represent each of the days since Dogan has been in jail. Turkish authorities incarcerated her last March.
“I really feel for her. I’ve painted things much more worthy of a custodial sentence,” Banksy told the New York Times.
Fresh off The Walled Off Hotel project in Bethlehem where he also teamed up with producer Danny Boyl to put together a film called ‘The Alternativity’, it appears that Banksy is making the Big Apple his canvass again.
“New York calls to graffiti writers like a dirty old lighthouse. We all want to prove ourselves here. I chose it for the high foot traffic and the amount of hiding places. Maybe I should be somewhere more relevant, like Beijing or Moscow, but the pizza isn’t as good.”
Outside parties were abusing stolen Facebook data to develop psychological profiles of voters. The data-mining company Cambridge Analytica was central to the information warfare. They allegedly worked with Russians to stoke fears in the UK and America on immigration and other polarizing issues. So people got fake news and conspiracy theories in their feeds which led to Brexit and Trump.
If data is the new oil, social platforms are the biggest propaganda machines.
Facebook is like an adult video game. People are obsessed with the sensational. And reality pays the price of fabricated events.
‘Move fast and break things’ may be a popular hacker’s motto but it’s shown to breed more carelessness than good. Thankfully, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube are facing up to the truth that while their tools bring us closer together but they also tear the world apart.
The damage has been done. The question now is how will they fix it? Some argue that the crackdown on Cambridge Analytic is just the start. Others like Om Malik are less optimistic. Pumping users and engagement are in Facebook’s DNA regardless of the consequences. Om writes:
Facebook is about making money by keeping us addicted to Facebook. It always has been — and that’s why all of our angst and headlines are not going to change a damn thing.
No artist contained an extra wrinkle in their brain as big as Leonardo Da Vinci. He was a creative genius who combined the disciplines of both art and science to make something new.
Leonardo’s formula: see, contemplate, emulate, remix, and recast.
His undivided mind drove his imagination which led him toward discovery and innovation. He was also a tinkerer, even a procrastinator. Below are some sketches from his notebooks where he noodled on concepts and ideas.
“Learn how to see. Realize that everything connects to everything else.”
“I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.”
Widely known for Obama’s 2008 “Hope” poster, contemporary street artist and activist Shepard Fairey created two posters to aid students with their #NationalSchoolWalkout yesterday. According to EMPOWER, the National Women’s March group that sponsored the march, the campaign drew over 3,000 walkouts all over the country including London.
The students are protesting stricter gun control after last month’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida which left 17 dead.
The posters “Schools Not Warzones” and “An Assault On Our Future” are both free downloads via Fairey’s creative agency, Studio Number One.
“The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.”
Stephen Hawking was a visionary physicist who explored the universe and explained black holes. His 1988 release of A Brief History of Time remains one of the greatest selling science books of all-time.
But was perhaps best known for his remarkable endurance. Doctors gave him two years to live in 1963 after he was diagnosed with motor neuron disease which crippled him. He lost his voice in 1985, only to come back to write and talk via an Intel-powered speaking device. “Quiet people have the loudest minds,” he proclaimed.
Stephen Hawking lived to a remarkable 75 years old, born on the 300th anniversary of Galileo’s death and dying today on Einstein’s birthday. The University of Cambridge celebrated his life with an inspirational montage with a Hawking voiceover.
“People who boast about their IQ are losers”
The cosmos queued him up to be a genius, but also a lifelong comedian. “Life would be tragic if it weren’t funny,” Hawking toldThe New York Times in 2004 interview. He also said that “people who boast about their IQ are losers.”
Fortunately, he left his work for all of us. Just last year he released his 1966 PhD thesis titled ‘Properties of expanding universes’ to the public because he wanted to “inspire people around the world to look up at the stars and not down at their feet.”
There are very few moments in the day when we pause. Instead, we latch onto the sugary obsession of tech and its distractions, awaiting the next shock of dopamine.
But we can have tea with ourselves, going through what our worries and wishes are in the quest for ever-fleeting presence.
Man is more versatile than a machine. Robots are one-trick ponies unable to combine disciplines, like doing the dishes or driving to work, all the while contemplating the color blue. Yet, we too become blinded by linear thinking.
We confuse busyness with productivity. We falsely believe that money brings wisdom while in reality, it cultivates hubris. Humans are smart, agile, but fragile thinkers.
The search for meaning starts with a face-to-face conversation with ourselves to bring life back to our senses. Thinking about thinking verifies that the noise in our head is more than just alive.
Art is where our mind’s eye merges with reality to create a theater inside our head, resulting in the form of a diary. This was especially true for Pablo Picasso.
Picasso was perhaps best known for his practice of public journaling via painting. “My work is my diary. I have painted my autobiography,” he said.
Picasso grasped his inner thoughts and projected them on canvass. His art gave us a peek inside his head, such as his relationship with partner Marie-Thérèse Walter in his formative years.
Art is therapy
Art is an instrument for coping, part mental therapy part expression. Bottling his thoughts without letting them go would’ve driven Picasso insane. Whether it is painting, writing, or playing sports, we exercise our bodies to verify that we’re still alive.
According to research done by data scientists at MIT, it is humans, not bots, which disseminate false news.
The study began with the 2013 Boston bombings when Twitter spread inaccurate rumors about the aftermath of the events.
The three authors of the study then took it upon themselves to dig deeper into the fake news phenomenon by examining tweets of 3 million users from the years 2006 to 2017.
Blame the humans, not the machines
The overarching result is that false news spreads faster than real news because people on Twitter are more likely to retweet novelty. Said MIT professor and researcher Sinan Aral, “We found that, contrary to conventional wisdom, bots accelerate the spread of true and false stories at the same rate. False news spreads more than the truth because humans, not robots, are more likely to spread it.”
Sensationalism stokes retweets. In fact, “false news stories are 70 percent more likely to be retweeted than true stories are. It also takes true stories about six times as long to reach 1,500 people as it does for false stories to reach the same number of people.”
MIT scientists believe misinformation also runs rampant on Facebook but is harder to detect because it lives in the echo chambers of a walled garden: FB groups, private posts, and direct messages (re: dark social). Because of Russia’s election meddling in 2016, both Facebook and Twitter are finally taking efforts to improve their platforms for better veracity detection. Fact-checking is more vital than ever.
Humans are suckers for captivating but erroneous news. Some people even refuse to let go. As Mark Twain so wisely noted, “It’s easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.” The good news is that the truth never expires, even if it takes longer to percolate.