The pointlessness of constant self-grading

The pointlessness of constant grading

  • Five-star ratings
  • Gallup polls
  • Followers and social media ‘clout’

We obsess with gauging the temperature of our present reputation. The numbers are public, after all.

The internet is the grandest stage of them all where we endeavor to present our best self. We strive to prove our self-worth, using likes and follows to pepper our egos.

A reputation is never finished. There’s always one more person to attract and appease.

Yet, the perpetual chase of approval remains illusory. There is no need to install an elaborate series of checks and balances on fame’s usefulness.

Our mood, needless the temperament of others, is as fickle as the weather.

Vigorous grading is not good for the person, nor the whole.

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Beware the algorithms

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Six hundred red years ago, there was no such thing as personal identity. Only when people owned mirrors did they start seeing themselves as individuals.

One hundred years ago, all fighter pilot seats were the same size until there became unnecessary deaths. The US Air Force adapted and customized its seating options.

The mass markets ushered in by industrialization standardized our style. The factory mindset kicked in. But then the internet came along and let people shop in niches. The bell curve flattened, and we felt special.

But the algorithms that run the world today have once again undermined our uniqueness.

The machines determine what we wear, listen to, and read.

We have no choice but to partake in an algorithmic world. We get it: There are too many resumes for one job, a surfeit of photos, new music, and so on.

But picking the mathematical best obviates the outlier and the error. It is the spontaneity that makes us human. Context matters.

If we’re already living in a simulation, let’s not be afraid to be random. We know what we like, the rest is thrown at us by optimizing bots.

It’s time to get weird again.

‘Everybody wants to build and nobody wants to do maintenance’

facebook, social media, cambridge analytica
gif by Matthew Butler

“Another flaw in human character is that everybody wants to build and nobody wants to do maintenance,” said Kurt Vonnegut.

Everybody’s wants to start something, but they rarely want to maintain it.

The problem in growing at no costs is that it blinds integrity. Instead of leading by example, the race to the bottom unearths the highest greed.

“The selfish reason to be ethical is that it attracts the other ethical people in the network.” Naval Ravikant

That’s the lesson of Facebook, the so-called ‘behavior modification empire.‘ The social network cut corners on data collection to make another buck. No Facebook, we will not answer any more questions “to help people get to know us.” Replace the word “people” with the attention merchants.

The Cambridge Analytica scandal was the nudge Facebook needed to become more accountable. Seizing the data of others and building on top of it contorts the machinery of morality. Sometimes the genie of innovation has to contain the miraculous.

A plethora of unconsumed content

via giphy

Movies, books, magazines, music, and podcasts. There’s too much content and too little time.

We can try to keep up and multitask or listen to podcasts 2x their speed. But it’s a zero-sum game. The internet never ends. There will always be another Netflix show to catch up on.

Yet we mustn’t fret. We only have so many hours in the day.

An overdose of content. An underdose of time.

Attention competes with sleep.

We spend 18 hours of our day staring at the rectangular glow. How much of that time is consciously doing versus seeking distractive entertainment?

As tech journalist Jonathan Margolis points out, we’re consuming ever more media but not necessarily getting more intelligent. Yet, the sales of physical books are up! Go figure.

Paper just works

bullet journal, bullet journal layout, bullet journal ideas, bullet journals how to start,

Touching is believing. That’s why bullet journals are all the rage. People want to slow down and get everything from their worries, random thoughts, weekend plans, shopping lists, gift ideas, blog topics, exercise schedules etc., all down and out on paper.

Writes Mike Vardy in his piece Why Paper Works:

Paper works because it is only limited by what you’re willing to put on (and into) it. Paper provides an escape from your devices and does so without compromising your ability to get things done. Paper is safe and secure in that it can be both lifesaving and disposable depending on the circumstances. Paper is versatile, compatible and portable. Paper — simply put — just works.


Boring is the new interesting. We can’t think with clarity with candy-colored apps flashing at us tempting the latest scroll.

A simple pen and paper ask for our attention. And we give it.

Longform doesn’t squander our best thoughts the latest social media refresh. The handwritten word complements the learning process.

Digital is where we source the ideas and paper is where we write them down and connect the dots.

When we use analog and digital tools with intent, they tend to complement each other.

The cake server 🍰

Brooklyn-based inventor Joseph’s Machines makes comical DIY contraptions. His latest video shows a chain-reaction machine deliver him a piece of cake. It also includes a baby poking on iPhone, a string of melting butter, and a chandelier.

The video took 3 months to make. Piece a cake!

Joseph’s gadgets are inspired by the cartoonist and inventor Rube Goldberg who built complex, interconnected machines in the early 1900s. Today, people use the expression Rube Goldberg machine. to describe anything convoluted, from machines to politics.

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Rube Goldberg’s Self-Operating Napkin (1931)

(h/t The Loop)

‘The internet’s ownership of words’

Typography Lol GIF by Resort-source.gif
via @resort

The internet owns our words.

Anyone can pull up an old Tweet or Facebook post and show you ‘this is what you said.’ The internet makes permanent the written word.

But such posts are usually “naked and without context.”

Words get lost in time

It’s not that people don’t look at the time stamp; it’s that words get lost in time. They are instantly indexable. They can be copy-pasted with a click, reemerging from the abyss of dormancy.

Writes Peter Pomerantsev in his article “Pay For Your Words”:

“There is a sense that words have slipped the leash. We think we’re expressing ourselves, but actually we’re just leaving a data imprint for someone else to make use of. Whether we write an email, a Facebook message, store content on a Google drive, or type out a text, all of what we write is sucked into a semantic web.”

But a photo lives and dies from the second it’s taken. It’s born with a frozen setting, a time and a place. Our eyes taste pictures with the past, even before we gaze analyze them.

Pomerantsev continues:

“But you can push away from the photo of yourself: it was a younger you, you look different now. Words are different. They feel ever-present, always as if you’ve just said them. It’s harder to disentangle yourself. ‘You will pay for those words’ goes the banal phrase – no one ever says ‘you will pay for that photo’.”

If we are accountable for what we say, why write anything at all if it comes back to bite you? The durability of the written words appears to be riskier than ever.

Inspiration boost patches: You can’t delegate thinking/Offline is the new luxury

Digging these tech-related ‘inspiration boost’ patches from the Asilda Store.

Never outsource your chance to think (i.e. Google the answers). / You Can’t Delegate Thinking Embroidered Sew or Iron-on Patch

Asilda Store You Can't Delegate Thinking Embroidered Sew or Iron-on Patch #quote #think #clothing #fashion #design #embroidery #inspiration
You Can’t Delegate Thinking Embroidered Sew or Iron-on Patch

Never underestimate a good walk in nature. / Offline is The New Luxury Embroidered Sew or Iron-on Patch

Asilda Store Offline is The New Luxury Embroidered Sew or Iron-on Patch #offline #nature #internet #quotes #patch #design #fashion #clothing
Asilda Store Offline is The New Luxury Embroidered Sew or Iron-on Patch

Watch Mark Zuckerberg testify live before the Senate right here

Watch Zuckerberg’s testify live before the Senate right here
(Photo via SAUL LOEB/Getty Images)

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is about to testify before the US Senate. You can expect the hearing to focus on the manipulation of data in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

‘Move fast and break things’

Can Zuckerberg rectify the damage he’s done to digital oil? We never worry about our privacy until its too late.

Watch the privacy theater live below and highlights after the jump. Scroll down for a live viewing of Day 2.

Day 1


Highlights Day 1:


Day 2 — Live Now…


Highlights Day 2:

One giant leak

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gif by @konczakowski

We are lemmings with big network effects. As products, we exchange our data for lost attention, down into a rabbit hole of distraction.

Are we not plankton?

Like plankton, we are the source of food advertisers thrive on. The ocean and other animals reap all the profit. No quid pro quo, a fat frenzy.

Social media has the power to cut through the rational person by spamming their emotions. Weak ties, we are suckers for false news because it’s more exciting and shareable.

We never worry about privacy until it’s too late. The dopamine of messages, like, and ads are damn too intoxicating.

Stay connected while showering

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iPad Mount Clear Shower Curtain Liner Tablet (Amazon)

This shower curtain with tablet and smartphone pockets allow you to shower and stare at your screen at the same time.

Watch, play with or listen to your phone or tablet in the shower. 100% waterproof. Even use your camera. Features multiple phone and tablet sized pockets on outside to hold your device. Different height levels for everyone from tall adults to children. Touch interaction from the inside of the shower or bath, change songs, play games, scroll through the news.

Meanwhile, the phone cone is still waiting for its real-life debut.

(h/t boing boing)

‘Blockchain represents the second era of the internet.’

52 Insights interviewed legendary business strategist and author Don Tapscott about the blockchain. Bitcoin is the archetype, kind of like how email was for the web.

His predictions are always worth listening to:

The blockchain is the second frontier of the Internet:

The way that we view it is that blockchain represents the second era of the internet. The first era for decades was the internet of information. Now we’re getting an internet of value. Where anything of value which including money, our identities, cultural assets like music, even a vote can be stored, managed, transacted and moved around in a secure private way.
And where trust is not achieved by an intermediary it’s achieved by collaborative cryptography through some clever code which is why Alex and I call it the trust protocol. Trust is native to the medium.

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Illustration by 52 insights

The blockchain benefits the stagnant middle class:

We do have a prosperity paradox today, that for the first time in history our economies are growing, but our prosperity is declining, we have growing wealth but a stagnant middle class, the only solution to this problem is the so-called redistribution of wealth taxing the rich and distributing the wealth.  We believe what blockchain enables is a redistribution of wealth that is through blockchain we can create a more of a democratic economy where we a priori distribute the wealth through peoples direct interaction with the economy.

Creatives will get their cake and eat it too:

We can ensure that creatives of value are more fairly compensated, so songwriters who have had their revenue destroyed by the internet can now post music on the blockchain and because of a smart contract your music is now protected by intellectual property rights. So those are just a handful of ways where we can create a more democratic economy in the first place.

The blockchain is future of the economic order where everyone owns their own virtual identity, all backed by ‘cryptographic proof.’ But will blockchain empower more equality or unfold into data exploitation as the FANG (Apple, Google, Facebook, and Amazon) have done to round one of the internet?

Cross your fingers. 🤞

What does it mean to be me?

Sociologist Erving Goffman believed that all human interaction was a theatrical performance. In his most famous book The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, Goffman called his analysis the study of  “Dramaturgy.”

Dramaturgical analysis is the idea that we present an edited version of our selves when we meet others in person.

All the internet’s a stage

The internet, of course, adds a new layer of complexity to Goffman’s perspective. If social media is edited real life, then our dramaturgical action is the physical extension of it. We are no less authentic online than we are in person.

Goffman’s theory builds on American sociologist Charles Cooley’s ‘The Looking Glass Self’ theory. In 1902, he contextualized the individual:

“I imagine your mind, and especially what your mind thinks about my mind, and what your mind thinks about what my mind thinks about your mind.”

Keep in mind that people didn’t even think of themselves as individuals before the spread of mirrors in the 15th century.

We juggle identities online and off but each of us has a fixed character. It is our friends and family members and Google that know our truest self.

 

Zeynep Tufekci: We’re building a dystopia just to make people click on ads

Are we selling our souls for ads?

Technosociologist Zeynep Tufecki seems to think so. The Cambridge Analytica-Facebook debacle demonstrates the Wild West of data exploitation.

Facebook can’t pin the blame on the machine-optimizing algorithms. It’s humans who are responsible for managing the equations and policing validity.  A recent study also proved that it is humans, not bots, that spread fake news.

Data is the new oil

Even worse, says Tufecki, the precedent sets the stage for those in power to leverage data to their own advantage:

We’re building this infrastructure of surveillance authoritarianism merely to get people to click on ads. And this won’t be Orwell’s authoritarianism. This isn’t “1984.” Now, if authoritarianism is using overt fear to terrorize us, we’ll all be scared, but we’ll know it, we’ll hate it and we’ll resist it.

But if the people in power are using these algorithms to quietly watch us, to judge us and to nudge us, to predict and identify the troublemakers and the rebels, to deploy persuasion architectures at scale and to manipulate individuals one by one using their personal, individual weaknesses and vulnerabilities, and if they’re doing it at scale through our private screens so that we don’t even know what our fellow citizens and neighbors are seeing, that authoritarianism will envelop us like a spider’s web and we may not even know we’re in it.

Tufecki paints the picture of a haunting dystopia at our doorstep. And it’s the social networks, which started off so benign that may be opening the maw of hell.