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Culture News Tech

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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Culture Life & Philosophy News

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.

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.

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Arts Nature News

Free the animals 🦁🐘🦓

The design for Animal crackers just got an update.

Due to mounting pressure from animal rights group PETA, Nabisco removed the cages from its iconic cracker box. The updated version shows the animals roaming free.

The redesign of the boxes, now on U.S. store shelves, retains the familiar red and yellow coloring and prominent “Barnum’s Animals” lettering. But instead of showing the animals in cages – implying that they’re traveling in boxcars for the circus – the new boxes feature a zebra, elephant, lion, giraffe and gorilla wandering side-by-side in a grassland. The outline of acacia trees can be seen in the distance.

Said PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman:

“The new box for Barnum’s Animals crackers perfectly reflects that our society no longer tolerates the caging and chaining of wild animals for circus shows.”

This is the first significant redesign since Nabisco launched the crackers in a 1902 partnership with the now-defunct Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey circus.

“New look, same great taste.”

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The original design
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Culture News Politics & Society

Coping with the cesspool of news

There’s a certain smugness people get in ignoring the news. Congratulations, you have no idea what’s going on! But I like to stay informed. I’d prefer Walden with Wi-Fi. 

While most of the stories are flotsam, sometimes that one little insight can make the biggest impact on your train of thought.

The trick is to stay informed without being overly consumed. News hoarding is not a sport. No one needs the full details of a celebrity wedding. You might as well go catch some flies!

All you need to know about some events is that they come and go. And they all get archived. As a preventative, you can let your mind jettison the glut of all future reporting related to that event to the bin.

Ignore what is unnecessary

If you tried to digest everything, your brain would explode. Analysis begets paralysis. Instead, you should be deliberate in what it is you want to feed your neurons. Voluntary attention captures what’s necessary and ignores the rest.

The internet’s algorithms and 24/7 news beg for attention. No matter how many attention-seeking missiles it launches, don’t poke back. Instead, observe, read and listen lightly as coping mechanisms in building immunity against propaganda.

Dipping in and out, buoyancy remains uninvolved without feeling uninvolved.

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News Social Media Tech

“Real journalism matters”

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nudd_2018-Jun-06 1

nudd_2018-Jun-06

The medium is the message. And while some of those media messages may stick, most lack substance. Look closely.

“Real journalism matters.” Pics via Columbia Journalism Review.

(h/t @nudd)

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Culture News Video

The world’s most expensive coffee is 💩☕

The world’s most expensive coffee (aka brown gold) is shit, literally.

In other strange coffee news, scientists made a broccoli powder you can dump into your coffee. A broccoli latte sounds nutritious.

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News Tech

U.K. schools dismiss the traditional clock face

The U.K. is eliminating analog clocks from student classrooms because kids can’t read them.

Says one professor from the Times Educational Supplement newspaper:

“It is amazing the number of students I am coming across in year 10, 11 and in sixth form who do not know how to tell the time. We live in a world where everything is digital. We are moving towards a digital age and they do not necessarily have analogue watches anymore and they have mobile phones with the time on.”

Of course, kids in the UK can’t be the only ones who need digital clocks to tell time.

Generation thumbs in the USA can’t seem to either, as Jimmy Kimmel highlights in the video below.

Just as Google replaced the 3 x 5 index card, the iPhone silenced the tick-tock. At least adults and children can agree on one thing about time: it never stops.

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Culture News Productivity & Work

Millennials are turning their apartments into “house jungles”

Hilton Carter keeps 180 plants in his house. Apparently, he’s part of a millennial trend that’s obsessed with houseplants.

From The Washington Post:

Others prefer the term “urban rain forest” or the cutesy “jungalow.” In this aspirational landscape, outlandishly and photographically lush is ideal, and filling your home with plants is “urban wilding.” In less enlightened times, we probably would have just called it “decorating.”

The obsession helps generation thumbs bring a little outside, inside.

Writes Tovah Martin, the writer behind houseplant books The Indestructible Houseplant (Amazon) and The Unexpected Houseplant (Amazon): “One of the first waves of houseplants was after the Industrial Revolution.” The move to cities compelled folks for more greenery, and albeit, oxygen.

“I think the current cycle has a lot to do with people hunkering down. A houseplant is therapeutic. It gives you something to nurture.”

PS. If you want to take care of your own houseplant, Amazon has a whole bunch on sale.

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Culture News

Central Park to go car-free this summer

NYC Central Park car-free

New York City’s mayor Bill De Blasio announced today that Central Park will be car-free starting this June.

The artwork says it all: humans are hard-wired for nature.

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News Social Media Tech

Blame the humans, not the bots, for retweeting false news

Gif of people wearing different colored hats and other clothing

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.

gif via Ryan Seslow