Dream digital

We take the screen for granted, assuming it reveals the real world. But the phone only offers an exterior point of view. Our screens fool us.

We take the screen for granted, assuming it reveals the real world. But the phone only offers an exterior point of view. Our screens fool us.

On the inside, we know our own internal-compass preaches practicality. We can only dunk a basketball in Second Life.

There is no way to replicate the digital and physical worlds, toggling between them to gain second sight.

But we can, as only humans do, continue to project ourselves into the future. 

gif via Popsicle Illusion

Relic of the past

Some carry on, clinging to the optimism of 1994. For many others, 1984 is just getting started.

A combination of elements, a mere idea transforms into something new.

From Polaroid to Instagram, railroad to internet, snail mail to email, what is the future but a remix of stems mashed up and built on top of extant systems.

We introduce new things and promptly forget that they already existed, in the guise of an outdated format.

What is new are the experiences and artifacts. We cultivate a new culture from upgrades in medium. But novelty is not always benevolent.

For instance, once a beacon of hope, the internet went from green fields of opportunity to havens of extreme darkness.

But just as trying to escape demons gives them power, finding little pockets of light sprinkle elements of hope.

Some carry on, clinging to the optimism of 1994. For many others, 1984 is just getting started.

gif via jamopi

Regression in time

Society happens to progress, but if it gives up the ideal efforts it withers. The epidemic of distraction caused by pervasive connectivity only drives the insouciance./ Regression in time

You’re part of an idea. So is every variety of human.

One idea is that democracy is the best form of government. But we can’t hide its flaws. It still allows for bombastic celebrities to take charge.

Humans are also part of nature. We are to climate change what the asteroid was to the dinosaur.

Society happens to progress, but if it gives up the ideal efforts it withers. The epidemic of distraction caused by pervasive connectivity only drives the insouciance.

gif via annasalmi

Paper = slow food for thought

So time keeps on slipping, as technology speeds it up into the future. If you want to slow down time, write a letter. Consider paper.  #amwriting #letters

Like a scarce piece of snail mail, it gets our attention. A story lies within the envelope and thus we feel compelled to spend more time with it. 

But another email augurs the birthing of threads, as it speeds up the time it was suppossed to save. 

In his book Social Acceleration: A New Theory of Modernity (Amazon), German sociologist Hartmut Rosa writes: “We don’t have any time although we’ve gained far more than we needed before.”

So time keeps on slipping, as technology speeds it up into the future. If you want to slow down time, write a letter. Consider paper

gif by lironrash

The adult impulse

It draws us after it, the immediate impact of that sensational rectangular glow. Even without it in our thumbs, we go shoulder surfing looking at the screen of another.

The adult impulse is voyeuristic. We look externally, to see ourselves portrayed in other people. We are good replicas of ourselves.

It’s no wonder we fall victim to other peoples’s dreams, racing to the bottom of conformity rather than pushing the edges. If the self is woke, don’t fix it.

gif via taxipictures

Cultural differences between East vs West, illustrated

In her new book East Meets West (Amazon), graphic artist Yang Liu illustrates the differences between Western and Eastern cultures.
In her new book East Meets West (Amazon), graphic artist Yang Liu illustrates the differences between Western and Eastern cultures.
In her new book East Meets West (Amazon), graphic artist Yang Liu illustrates the differences between Western and Eastern cultures.
In her new book East Meets West (Amazon), graphic artist Yang Liu illustrates the differences between Western and Eastern cultures.
In her new book East Meets West (Amazon), graphic artist Yang Liu illustrates the differences between Western and Eastern cultures.
In her new book East Meets West (Amazon), graphic artist Yang Liu illustrates the differences between Western and Eastern cultures.

In her new book East Meets West (Amazon), graphic artist Yang Liu illustrates the differences between Western and Eastern cultures. From the way people confront a problem, deal with the boss, approach a queue, self-perceive, or talk in restaurants, it’s quite obvious that behaviors range between the two hemispheres. As they say, a picture is a thousand words.

Connecting tiny pieces of information

Connecting tiny pieces

The internet was made for aggregation. The abundance of information is impossible to swallow. So we pluck the highlights, the most useful stems.

If we gather all the data from our environment, we don’t have to do all the work. We puzzle it out ourselves.

Collecting artifacts online is a social experiment, a peer to peer network of bytes of genius. Unfortunately, knowledge can also be used to propagandize rather than do good. There are no limits to floating ideas that can become instantly contagious, like lighting a match.

But suppose cognitive bias does more to spread the plurality of ideas so we can make disparate connections, such as peanut butter and chocolate. The internet is more than just a copy-paste machine.

gif via US National Archives

Coping with ‘the colossal volume of memories’

iwatch hearts

In an interview with the Financial Times, Apple lead designer office Jony Ive points to one of the technological conundrums of our time: balancing ease with excess.

“We have such a high-quality camera with us all the time. But it becomes irrelevant if you can’t actually enjoy the photographs you’ve taken. Even 30 years ago there was always a box somewhere containing hundreds and hundreds of photographs. So this isn’t a new problem. What is a new problem is the sheer degree, the colossal volume of memories that we have recorded, and as important as the recording is the way of enjoying what you’ve recorded, and I think that’s something that’s just an ongoing experiment, and it’s an ongoing creative project for us.”

Smartphones make it too easy to capture and even easier to consume photos. Given the profundity of images, we don’t spend enough time reviewing them.

To quote Om Malik: “We have come to a point in society where we are all taking too many photos and spending very little time looking at them.”

The age of abundance combined with undeterred distraction poses an interesting creative problem that’s more complicated than storing boxes of photos in the attic, never to be seen again.

gif via Mashable

Wear Space is a cubicle for your face

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Panasonic is developing blinders for your face so you can preserve a “personal psychological space.” The company debuted the item dubbed Wear Space last year at SXSW in Austin. Writes the product website:

As open offices and digital nomads are on the rise, workers are finding it ever more important to have personal space where they can focus. WEAR SPACE instantly creates this kind of personal space – it’s as simple as putting on an article of clothing. The device can be adjusted based on the level of concentration you desire, so it adapts to the various situations you’ll find yourself in.

The device also comes with Bluetooth headphones just in case you want to shun the world, office, or coffee shop out even more.

While these look like ridiculous racehorse blinkers, they could actually be remarkable. Until then, I’ll stick to my scientifically optimized music to help me focus.

A pedestal type of person

The best marketers bake their advertising into their work.

Whether you’re an athlete, an author, or a baker, the product speaks for itself. Your trade either breeds trust and gets shared by others or falls at the wayside.

Steve Jobs, Michael Jordan, and Albert Einstein put their money where their mouth is.

But there are of course ways to exaggerate one’s abilities.

David Beckham was a good football player, not great. Karl Lagerfeld is a good designer, but no one amazing. The difference is how these two talk about themselves and strategically elevate their game by raising their awareness platform.

Performance is only half of the story. The other half of the story is what the consumer tells themselves. Buyers acknowledge the artifice but also stand on pedestals they too think they deserve.

They took our jobs 🤖

Hoover catalog in the 1920s.jpg

In the 1920s, Hoover marketed its vacuum not just as a time-saver but as a human energy saver: “Hoover offers the least fatiguing way of cleaning carpets and rugs.”

If a robot wrote this blog post, would you even know the difference?

The future of automation says that robots will displace human jobs. Gmail’s auto-responder already responds to email for you.

Writes Logic, a magazine about technology.

Since the dawn of market society, owners and bosses have revelled in telling workers they were replaceable. Robots lend this centuries-old dynamic a troubling new twist: employers threaten employees with the specter of machine competition, shirking responsibility for their avaricious disposition through opportunistic appeals to tech determinism. A “jobless future” is inevitable, we are told, an irresistible outgrowth of innovation, the livelihood-devouring price of progress. (Sadly, the jobless future for the masses doesn’t resemble the jobless present of the 1 percent who live off dividends, interest, and rent, lifting nary a finger as their bank balances grow.)

I doubt the rise of technology obviates the need for human brains and hands. We are thinking machines while the automatons themselves excel in action, at least for the time being.

The bigger problem seems to be the perception of jobs. Most people allow work to justify their existence when really it’s the things we do outside the office that should make us feel needed. There’s more to life than a paycheck!

South Park they took our jobs.gif

The machines are going to be there like they’ve been all along, helping people get their work done more efficiently. The bots versus brain chasm is a non-zero-sum game.

But if it just so happens that all we do is push buttons all day, perhaps it’ll give us a chance to do other things like making better art.

Wouldn’t that be something?

Angels with dirty faces

If you want to be more optimistic, close your Twitter account. Bad news is addicting. But don’t completely bury your head in the sand. #amwriting

If you want to be more optimistic, close your Twitter account. Bad news is addicting. But don’t completely bury your head in the sand.

No one acts in public like they do on social media. People say whatever they want online because they’re shielded behind a mobile screen.

Go to the grocery and the sick-spitting Twitter weirdo behind you is just another dad buying cereal for his kids.

The internet and reality are two-faced. The shift from avatar to face is terribly inconsistent. The silent truth is to acknowledge the web’s nastiness without dancing to its thoughts.

In other words, don’t take the tweets so seriously.

Does automation make us less human?

Life on auto-reply

How much of our thought process do we want to relinquish to artificial intelligence?

Even Gmail’s auto-replies takes the burden out of typing in two-word responses with pre-populated text likes “yes, great,” “sounds good,” or “awesome.” Soon enough the computers will be the only ones conversing and high-fiving each other.

Just as the painter imitates the features of nature, algorithms emulate human memes. The problem is the tendency to abuse these recipes to avoid thinking altogether. Bathing in such idleness set the precedent for laggard times.

Without thought and action, our memories will starve. When we type, we produce pixels on a screen. Auto-reply forfeits the experience of being there. But such detachment may not be as harmful as we think. 

The symbiosis of man and machine begs for innovation. AI may free up cognition for other more intensive tasks. In other words, having a dependable personal assistant may compel us to do even more great work. 

The only fear of AI is complete human dependence. We need elements of crazy to keep creating. We’ll die off as soon as we stop winging it.

The most fascinating designer on the planet

“The genie is out of the bottle. I’m never going to be niche again. I’m commercial establishment. I would love to be weird and unattainable again. That’s what I wanted to be—to live in poverty but be like Giacometti.” Rick Owens
Photo by Sven Schumann

“The genie is out of the bottle. I’m never going to be niche again. I’m commercial establishment. I would love to be weird and unattainable again. That’s what I wanted to be—to live in poverty but be like Giacometti.” 

Paris-based fashion designer, Rick Owens, when asked about his success.

Be sure to check out the interview plus a profile on Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama in the latest newsletter.