Identifying what matters

The brain is an empty void. It waits to remember until we give things meaning. Otherwise, it clings to the instincts of the amagdyla for its main sensory perception.

Thankfully, our brains are large processors. It knows that survival depends on exchanging information with others. Information is quid pro quo.

But the problem with oral communication is all the selling. Through rhetoric and persuasion, one can rise to have incredible influence. This is, unfortunately, how we got the Kardashians. We make stupid people famous.

Modern life narrows down our perceptions. Praising others, let alone mimicking them, makes us blind to our own self-worth.

The thrill of knowing is internal. It reminds us that we are more interesting than the role society gives us. Nothing means anything if we can’t float with nature and find the question.

We, the data

Dissolved into data, we produce a feast of trackable interactions.

They are the editors as much as much we are the authors. While we create everything, they produce nothing, yet the internet still owns our words.

The attention merchants munch on the aggregate and peel off the niches into targeted prey.

Our eyeballs are the oil, primed, pumped, and then exhausted into tanks of consumption.

Monetization of the ego starts at birth, built for entertainment in the first place. We make, make, make until we are over-marked and sold to the highest bidder.

How algorithms destroy personal taste

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Taste comes from an amalgamation of sources. It assumes that we’ve dabbled in both good and bad, and actively seek to find new things to recommend.

But in this algorithmic world, taste gets delivered. Whether it’s the next Spotify song or someone to follow on Instagram, we adhere to the machine rather than following our own interests.

Algorithms may save you time but they inhibit the authentic discovery process of sampling. Should we choose to navigate on the basis of originality, we are all well-equipped with own unique perspectives and taste buds.

Say it with me: I enjoy what I enjoy regardless of its potential for receiving likes, going viral, or being found acceptable by an algorithm.

Say it with me: I also do not deny that I am implicated, inexorably, in the Generic Style of my time.

Read Have Algorithms Destroyed Personal Taste?

Variations on a human theme


We’re all variations on a human theme, containing multitudes.

Some of the variations are more versatile than others. The brain’s wiring is more amenable to uncertainty than chasing exactitude.

The rare breeds prefer to keep the ball in the air, playing the piano with no end in sight. Time is constant, and so is their search of novelty.

But every person is their own ‘CEO of Me, Inc,’ for which the fractions of uniqueness are the great equalizer.

Difference is always celebrated. The theme, yet, remains immutable. That is until the cyborgs take their course.

Going first is not as bad as you think

No one wants to take the first piece of dessert because of the chance it’s been touched. People prefer the pieces in the back. The same goes for the first milk carton at the grocery. Why grab the first one we can see presumably untouched versions inches behind?

No one wants to sit in the front of the classroom because it increases our chances of getting called on. We prefer to sit in the back, hiding like a needle in a haystack.

No one wants to be the first to dance at a gala. But everyone starts dancing as soon as one couple makes the first move. People feel more comfortable in conforming when they can blend in.

Who wants to be first? No one, typically.

No matter how much we obsess with primacy, most people fear to take that first step. People desire success, but they refuse the extra attention that comes with it.

But being first can become normal quickly. The jitters fade after we decide to dive in. We halt the mind’s exaggeration and imaginary fears.

So that piece of cake is just as fresh. Buying the first carton of milk makes it taste no different than the rest. Sitting in front of the classroom is as equitable as the back. And taking that first dance becomes a pleasant rhythm everyone else wants to mimic.

No one actually cares about standing out as much as we think!

There’s no harm in being the first to make the leap. As opportunity dries up, hesitating to the end can even be more uncomfortable

The longer we wait, the worse it gets. In some cases, it’s better to go first and get it over with than fueling a sense of doubt.

The fate of click-bait

At the heart of the web’s self-destruction is contagious media: crazy cat pics and the entire Buzzfeedification of the internet.

Every site, even reputable ones, raced to the bottom because celebrity sideboob and stupid human and pet tricks drove clicks.

Writes Tim Wu in The Attention Merchants:

“Contagious media is the kind of media you immediately want to share with all your friends. This requires that you take pleasure in consuming the media but also pleasure in the social process of passing it on.”

“Contagious media is a form of pop conceptual art” in which “the idea is the machine that makes the art (LeWitt, 1967) and the idea is interesting to ordinary people.”

The clickbait craziness spawned an albatross of more ridiculous news, some of it fake news. As Zeynep Tufekci says in her TED Talk, “We’re building a dystopia just to make people click on ads.”

And now we’re living with the repercussions of confused algorithms and companies like Facebook and Twitter avoiding responsibility.

A cartoon by @lisarothstein. #TNYcartoons

A post shared by The New Yorker Cartoons (@newyorkercartoons) on

 

We are psychologically vulnerable to social media games. If we want stupid, we’ll get stupid. And anything that requires some thought and effort will fade away.

Nigeria’s World Cup kits are 🔥

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In an interview with Fader Magazine, Nike FC’s Design Director Pete Hoppins says the Nigeria kit was actually the easiest one to design:

Nigeria was actually the easiest! That’s everyone having fun. We worked closer with the players and the Nigerian federation to make that happen. The hardest were Brazil and England, just like always. It’s got to be a yellow kit and a white kit, respectively. You have to deliver that. Otherwise, you’ll be shot. [laughs] How do you move those forward every two, four years? Especially when you’re trying to innovate the performance. We’re not just going to add things to the kits for the sake of it.

What Nigeria is hopefully going to allow us to do in the future is show that some of the more traditional teams that if you are willing to be creative in the partnership, you can ultimately have something more culturally relevant that connects with the youth.

Read How Nike turned Nigeria’s World Cup kit into a fashion phenomenon

‘Podcasts are the audio of our time’

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gif by @hoppip

“Podcasts are the audio of our time. They can be beautifully produced, as good as a good book, and perhaps they will supersede radio. But there’s something about the knowledge that countless others are listening to the same thing as me, at the same time as me, that can’t be replaced. When I listen to radio from other time zones, I am reminded that I do not move through times of day but rather they move through me. Somewhere in the world, it is always far too late to be up listening to the radio”

Read On The Radio, It’s Always Midnight

The design of the classroom from 1750 to today






The Design of Childhood: How the Material World Shapes Independent Kids by Alexandra Lange 

The design of the classroom is a technology, and you can interpret that in a lot of different ways. Architects can make that look more, and less, typical. But the point is the instruction, the interaction in the classroom, not that it looks more like a circle or more like a square or whatever else.

(via NPR)

David Bowie commemorated in Japanese woodblock prints

From Spoon and Tamago:

David Bowie, who passed away in 2016, had a very special connection – some may even call it a “love affair” – with Japan. He originally developed his affinity after taking an interest in Kabuki and was heavily influenced by the exaggerated gestures, costumes and make-up. He later went on to work with fashion designer Kansai Yamamoto on many iconic costumes, as well as with musicians like Tomoyasu Hotei and the filmmaker Nagisa Oshima. In a sense, the love affair has come full circle and now a project has been announced to immortalize David Bowie in the form of ukiyo-e woodblock prints that depict Bowie in elements of kabuki.

(h/t Open Culture)