Leave it to the experts

We’re all created equal but we’re not all experts.

Experts are the hedgehogs, the servants; they do one thing well. They’re indispensable like doctors. Yet, the internet came along and unleashed a free for all of know-it-alls.

Our friends and family members, even ourselves, opine on subjects where we have voice but no mastery, not even of the fundamentals. We’ve given people a microphone, a platform, and they produce garbage, demonstrate ignorance, and bask in mediocrity.

Says Tom Nichols in his new book The Death of Expertise: The Campaign Against Established Knowledge and Why it Matters:

“Having equal rights does not mean having equal talents, equal abilities, or equal knowledge. It assuredly does not mean that ‘everyone’s opinion about anything is as good as anyone else’s.’ And yet, this is now enshrined as the credo of a fair number of people despite being obvious nonsense.”

We need practicians. We need the ideas. But we really need people we can trust. It’s no surprise that our experts are usually the ones with most humility and eagerness to learn.


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Are we still alive?

Are we still alive? #dogs #water #ocean #science #pets #brains #philosophy

Somewhere upon the way of evolution, humans lucked out. We developed language. We had hands that allowed us to manipulate our environment.

A bigger brain doesn't make you smarter or more conscious. Neanderthals had larger brains than humans, so too do dolphins and whales. But the former died off, and the latter remain confined to water.

Meanwhile, humans built intricate tools. Says American neuroscientist Christof Koch, “human civilization is all about tools, whether it’s a little stone, an arrow, a bomb, or a computer.”

Given the advancements in technology and artificial intelligence, we may be too smart for our own good. By developing tools to think and for us, we're outsourcing our neurons and developing a kind of robotic consciousness.

Humans are turning into broken machines.

Our jobs make us feel important and shape our identity. What are people going to do when they no longer have to work and have bundles of free time? Most of us will procrastinate and lounge while others will want to play like children with crayons again.


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Algorithms ignore the outlier

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The problem with algorithms is that they remove the outlier. The things that shape you are usually outside your normal scope of interest.

Read Take algorithms with a grain of salt

Algorithms have become a modern way of sifting between mass populations and mass consumption — hello Spotify and Amazon recommendations. What algorithms miss, are the plurality of outliers. People and tastes are exceptional.

Read A world that runs on algorithms


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Newsletter: In search of micro-moments 👫

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web gems

  1. Seinfeld: “If you can walk to work or take your bike on a daily basis, I think that’s just about the coolest thing that there is.” It was National Walking Day this week. Studies show that walking is more powerful than meditation. Author Rebecca Solnit wrote a fantastic book on the history of walking.
  2. Receiving likes, comments and shares on social media all strike the right neurological notes. Here is your weekly article on how smartphone addiction is ruining your mental health.
  3. Issac Asimov wrote nearly 500 books in his lifetime. Warren Buffet says he spends hours a day reading in his office. The message is clear: go offline. But here's why I think toggling between moments of multitasking and single-tasking yields benefits.
  4. Love and science: The warmth of everyday greetings makes you healthier, says Professor Barbara Fredrickson in her book Love 2.0: Finding Happiness and Health in Moments of Connection. She calls them “micro-moments.” Watch her Tedx video.
  5. Do you prefer smart watches, Kindle books, Spotify streams OR the telltale “tick-tock,” the fresh smell of an unopened book, or the surface noise of vinyl? In the case of books, price may be a more significant factor to their durability than the threat of their digital counterparts.
  6. Phillip Kremer's faceless portraits are still freaking me out, in a creative genius way. Jess Mac's Tumblr is also a riot.
  7. Quotes I'm chewing on:

“I’ve got a theory that what you hear influences – maybe even determines – what you see.” – Paul Theroux

“The earth laughs in flowers.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

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digging in the crates

  1. After teasing his new track ‘X22RME‘ two weeks ago, Actress is back with another dark, grinder of a single. ‘Dancing in the Smoke’ sounds as Actress sees music, as bits of data, and the hypnotic loop and accelerating orchestral keys allude to our electronic ‘future,’ a vocal that punctuates throughout the track. | LISTEN
  2. Objekt is Berlin-based electronic producer TJ Hertz. Joining the avant-garde composer Actress, Hertz also excels in future, data-driven music. | LISTEN to ‘Needle and Thread
  3. Eric Lau is a London beat maker known for his work with an array of hip hop artists like Oddisse, Lupe Fiasco, and Guilty Simpson. His newest solo record Examples is a collection of bouncy head-nodding instrumentals. | LISTEN to ‘Re-Lax
  4. Flashback: Mos Def Feat Black Thought & Eminem | WATCH ‘The Cypher'

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A History of the 3 x 5 Index Card

Index cards were the first search engine, pre-Google. #history #tech #web #facts

Before Google archived the web and made everything searchable there was the 3″ x 5″ index card used to classify “every known animal, plant, and mineral in the world.” By the 19th century, libraries used index cards as the standard way to store books.

“It's amazing how much the information revolution we're still living in can be traced back to a simple 3″ x 5″ piece of card stock.”

Read How the Humble Index Card Foresaw the Internet


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Newsletter: Social media divides democracy 😔

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web gems

  1. “Mindfullness needs a redesign.” I'm reading Rohan Gunatillake's new book Modern Mindfulness so I can learn how to better use technology to help me relax on-the-go.
  2. How do you define war? “If civilization has an opposite, it is war. Of those two things, you have either one, or the other. Not both.” A warning of words from Ursula K. Leguin's 1963 novel The Left Hand of Darkness
  3. Design creates function. As Austrian architect, Hermann Czech writes, “The ‘function’ does not precede the design, but is always only mediated in the design.”
  4. The idea of what Ray Kurzweil calls ‘mind uploading' isn't as far-fetched as it seems. Read ‘Your animal life is over. Machine life has begun.’
  5. Creator's dilemma: “We’ve made it easier than ever to make stuff, and harder than ever to make enough money to live.” Creatives are fucked. And it may be too late.
  6. “It’s such an American thing that nothing is real until it’s on television.” – Tom Nichols. As Charlie Brown says after looking into the dark sky: “Let’s go inside and watch television. I’m beginning to feel insignificant.”
  7. Thinking about this: Social media divides democracy

digging in the crates

  1. Rapper lojii and beat maker Swarvy are a hip-hop duo currently based in Los Angeles. Their collaborative album Due Rent debuted on the Fresh Selects label, responsible for acts like Iman Omari who’s track Kendrick Lamar sampled in his stunning performance at the 2016 Grammy’s. Similar to ‘Omari’s Mood,’ the track ‘outchea…’ is a short track which boasts a horn sample but gets the added layer of lojii’s smooth lyrics. | LISTEN
  2. Kelly Lee Owens is a London-based electronic producer. Her eponymous debut album pairs together deep techno vibes to balearic beats and drifting vocals. ‘Bird’ is one of the highlights of this fantastic album. It fades in at the 1:45 mark. | LISTEN
  3. Rebecca Foon is Saltland, a Montreal-based cellist. Her newest album A Common Truth features a well-rounded mix of classical music, gentle electronica, and floating vocals. The track ’Forward Eyes II’ is one of the more ethereal tunes on the album, strung out in cello, violin, and a looping instrumental synth. | LISTEN

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67 million viewers

“It’s such an American thing that nothing is real until it’s on television.” – Tom Nichols

It doesn't matter what books we write or discoveries we make. People only remember us if we appear on TV. In Tom Nichols' case, succeeding on on Jeopardy superseded his professional accolades as a published author, foreign advisor, and professor at Naval War College.

Television is magic. It informs large audiences that we exist. That's where talents like Will Smith established their brand. But TV also generates the antithesis: it makes stupid people famous.

The Kardashians pollute the news with their meaninglessness. The President too is a product of the mass marketing machine that is TV. The tube amplifies our status, but it rarely legitimizes the importance of work. Just ask Professor Robert Kelly whose video will forever be remembered as the poster parent for those who work from home with kids. And yes, online is an extension of TV, including YouTube, SnapChat, and Facebook Live. The future of storytelling is pervasive and persuasive video.

Like a social media following, appearing on TV lends instant credibility. Fame is forever tied to visual media. What's universally more important though is what we build with our bare hands off-screen.


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Social media divides democracy 

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Social media divides democracy by allowing people to filter their own world and ignore the stuff they don't agree with.

Disagreement is the pulse of an open society. The more ideas we throw out there and discuss, the more likely we are to land on the most advanced solution.

Facebook killed openness and smothered curiosity along with it. One way to rebuild healthy dissent is through more democratic design.

In his new book, Harvard law professor Cass Sunstein proposes that Facebook should have ‘serendipity buttons' that reveal the opposite side's viewpoint with a click.

We are the sum of our parts, easily driven into stagnancy and sidedness through closed worlds. Nothing evolves through repetition. Variety yields results.

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