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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
“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 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.
#Zuckerberg starts spewing technical lingo that these senators do NOT understand. It makes him SOUND smart & like he's answering the question. The senators don't want to look dumb by challenging him, so advantage to Zuck.🙄
This was interesting. An older senator wanted Zuckerberg to pay lip service to American exceptionalism. He wasn't interested. Indicative maybe of a broader generational gap—millennials not so moved by such needless piety. pic.twitter.com/wCRdut9nWX
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.
52 Insightsinterviewed 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.
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?
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.
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.
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.