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A medium and its message

The medium is the format in which something works. The selection of media predetermines how content gets disseminated and shared.

The Internet is a mass medium. Newspapers are a medium. TV, radio, podcasts, and books are also mediums.

A medium is any messaging mechanism that connects people together to help facilitate communication. The medium is the fulcrum for storytelling including all its characteristics. Marshall McLuhan coined the phrase, “The medium is the message.”

But some platforms are more powerful than others. Audio, argues Alex Danco in his piece “The Audio Revolution.”

Meanwhile, the physical properties of the medium you choose will also influence the temperature of what’s being communicated. A photograph is hotter than a pencil: they both make pictures, but one makes low-resolution sketches and the other high-definition images.

What’s hottest? You might think that the highest-resolution format of all could be visual, typographic or video. But it’s not. It’s audio.

As much as we think visual-first platforms like Instagram and terse Tweets are the most compelling storytellers, it is the distribution of audio and speech that cut straight to the point.

Listening to George W. Bush galvanize firefighters on top the rubble of 9/11 through his bullhorn with these words is practically a pierce in every Americans’ brain.

“I can hear you!” Bush declared. “The rest of the world hears you! And the people – and the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon.” The crowd firefighters and crew responded with prolonged chants of “USA! USA!”

One doesn’t need to see the footage to feel the aura of the speech.

Writes Danco:

Audio is how you communicate what you really mean, straight into ears, headphones and car radios, intimately and directly. Music is good at this, but speech is even better.

Whatever it is that’s being communicated, audio will heat it up.

Your ears understand what’s really being said, and they seek hot content.

There is no content without a medium. If content is king, then the medium is its own eponymous and gargantuan device.

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Business Culture Fashion

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 was.

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

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

Performance is only half of the story. The other half of the story is smart marketing and for consumers, a self-fulfilling truth. As Seth Godin so wisely notes in his book All Marketers Are Liars: The Power of Telling Authentic Stories in a Low-Trust World, “We drink the can, not the beverage.”

Buyers acknowledge the artifice but also stand on pedestals they too think they deserve.

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Culture Life & Philosophy

The flexible tattoo

Beliefs are impermanent. We can put them or take them off throughout the day.

Similarly, we can pull from while simultaneously resisting the sprouts of memes and cultural gestures.

We can switch channels and opt for something more compelling whenever we want.

Change is a kind of freedom.

After all, it’s the individuals that are most exciting, not the masses.

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Culture Poetry Tech

Truth, discarded

Racing to get hack our organic operating system, to render us decision-less at the mercy of marketers and AI.

The feeds are distraction machines that intend to blind our own will. We are complicit in the media manipulation.

It is within these information-rich, consumption-based societies that the heart beats but the brain double-thinks.

As the chaos whirls around is, It rules out nuance and complexity. What we see is what get, the truth discarded.

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Culture Politics & Society Social Media Tech

Face the facts

gif by Falcao Lucas

To weave through a world when there’s no anonymity and everything is discoverable — we are one google away from all the answers.

But it doesn’t matter how much we know. People cognize to fit what they want to believe, regardless of the facts.

We tend to throw all the information we don’t want to hear into a deep hole.

The more we deny the truth, the more it snowballs into a series of lies, rubber-stamped onto black screens of irreality. Call it the disinformation highway.

Upon further reflection, we should be forced to deal with what’s no longer pleasant: the real world.

Disagree with it. Run away from it. But live with the doubt that we could be wrong on many issues. Tribes are meant to be broken.

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Culture Life & Philosophy Poetry

Who will curate the curators?

Who will curate the curators, influence the influencers, or teach the teachers?

Those who marinate the world with their point of view assume their rightness. But the signaler too must too look back in the mirror and reimagine themselves.

The true expert sees reality at arm’s length, merely touching what they know, always learning from others.

Everything we do is a false start

Fragility becomes a strength in the hunt for gathering strings of ideas. Gazing into space, the clusters of stars flash with an impulse that branches forward from moment to moment.

We do best to gut-check each other, with history whispering in our ear.

A shared stimulation keeps the world more interesting and encourages us to make small bets. We need good collective ideas to resume going upward as a whole.

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Culture Life & Philosophy Tech Writing

The promise of internet niches

gif by Jay Sprogell

The promise of the internet was that unfettered access guaranteed a diversity of interests.

At first, it appeared true — the web broke down the masses into a web of niches. The accumulation of distinctiveness created a long tail that when combined outweighed popular trends.

But little by little, those niches turned into popular tribes where everyone started talking about similar things.

The standardization of tastes, political parties, and lifestyles spread like wildfire. Individuality lost out to group-think.

The anarchic mindset requires one to imagine a world not yet in existence. Who would we be without digging deeper and envisioning the non-existent?

Culture attracts sameness. But we can change the default setting. All it takes is reevaluating and encouraging the realm of distinctiveness.

It’s impossible to synchronize all the world’s attention with the nearest click. But life is way more interesting when we instruct ourselves to think different.

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Culture Poetry Politics & Society

Nothing strange about it

via tumblr

Out there, in ideas and intentionality.

She ceases shoulder-surfing and goes off the grid to depart the world of sameness. 

The buoyancy to defend oneself against the easy access of the mind.

“What if our capacity to imagine has been so badly damaged by the information climate of our times that destruction is all we can see?”

John Freeman, Dictionary of the Undoing

Burned out by the illusion of immediacy and convinced that no one knows anything. Once shocking, it was they who rendered it normal. 

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Culture

Alain de Botton — A School of Life for Atheists

On the latest On Being podcast with Krista Tippett, philosopher and best-selling author Alain de Botton talks about his new book Religion for Atheists: A Non-believer’s Guide to the Uses of Religion.

Alain de Botton is an atheist, but his perspective on religion is far more complicated.

Instead of debunking religion in thinking that all pious people are idiots — as some atheists may presume — he shines a light on some of the things where religion excels: in values, wisdom, communions, and “the wonders of religious architecture.” As he says nearly eight minutes in:

“These religions at their highest points, at their most complex and subtle moments, are far too interesting to be abandoned merely to those who believe in them.”

Alain de Botton

His book is therefore not for atheists alone, but for the believers who may find Botton’s perspective reconfirming. Above all, Botton proposes toleration, not necessarily that we agree with each other but we “make space for the stranger” who holds different views and accepts them as is. ‘Developing emotion intelligence’ is at the heart of Botton’s own academy, The School of Life.

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Culture Life & Philosophy Tech

Idleness is technology’s life-force

Flipping through apps like we used to surf through channels, expecting a variable reward but more often getting caught in a ludic loop

Getting hugged in a web of inspiration porn and motivational quotes without actually getting off the computer to do the work is insanity.

The paradox is staring at us right in the face: Having unfettered access to an entire web is a recipe for distraction. 

Contemplating off the grid is free — it’s not a luxury. 

The optimistic expectancy that we can cut the cord and chase real life is a worthy endeavor. Most people can’t resist pushing buttons on the nearest screen, snacking on a perpetual hit of chemical satisfaction. 

Like placating a nagging worry with good thoughts, we tend to technology as an instrument for coping with idleness. But we experience a virtual suck of life beforehand. 

The inability to do nothing empowers the light.