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 […]

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 […]

Trent Reznor on musicians addressing politics

I was doing press with somebody in the mid-90s, and they made an argument that stayed with me: that I have influence, and that it’s my job to call out whatever needs to be called out, because there are people who feel the same way but need someone to articulate it. And I think about […]

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 […]

We are a plastic society

We have become a plastic society, with celebrities (not leaders) running the world stage and ‘geniuses‘ creating culture. While social media gives everyone a microphone, it also permits mediocrity to rise up to the professional level. When these influencers take public responsibility, they can further colonize large parts of our mind. To echo Hannah Arendt […]

The oppression of speed

According to German critical theorist Hartmut Rosa, accelerated technological developments have driven the acceleration in the pace of change in social institutions. Noticeable acceleration began more than two centuries ago, during the Industrial Revolution. But this acceleration has itself accelerated. Guided by neither logical objectives nor agreed-upon rationale, propelled by its own momentum, and encountering […]

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 […]