Everything is sampled, including your DNA

It's in our DNA to cut and paste, to sample from each other and to let our ideas have sex.

The internet is the largest cut and paste machine. It begs for recombinations, a collection of stuff we can remix and make feel like our own.

Like a Tumblr page, we decorate our personalities with originality. But everything from our interests to our blood develops from outside sources like an amalgamation of sounds.


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Planning unscheduled time

Guess what? Your mind still works even when it's doing nothing. The reason great ideas come to you in the shower is that your brain's bored and relaxed. #time #productivity

Guess what? Your mind still works even when it's doing nothing. The reason great ideas come to you in the shower is that your brain's bored and relaxed.

If you want to shake out even more ideas, therefore, it behooves you to disconnect more often. Instead of wasting cognitive energy at screens, just sit there with no stimulation other than a pen and pad.

Author Neil Gaiman says the only inspiration you need to write a book is absolute boredom. You'll be amazed at how the ideas start to connect when you decide to do nothing, unmoored from the stickiness of technology.

Taking your foot off the gas in the pursuit of dullness takes deliberate practice. You've been trained to do a lot more with continuous partial attention, but at the cost of engaging deeply on one particular task.

Busyness often gets confused with checking email, swiping left and right, and other screen-obsessed habits that never let you get out of your own head. Once you're more mindful of how you spend your waking time, you'll start to appreciate moments of boredom. Magic happens in an “unexpected state.”


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‘History is a GIF loop’

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gif via US National Archives

This scene looks all too familiar. The people obtained their own social media microphones and became the source of news, stealing the thrown from the professional media who lost credibility creating and curating our news. How could the New York Times et al. predict the Presidential election all wrong?

But the new class of information gatekeepers is irresponsible, publishing news that's false, rendered credible by the spread of it by our very own President-elect who of all people should be the arbiter of the facts.

So who should we believe — the news, the people, or the bombastic influencers who tweet themselves to hegemony? In today's world, you have no choice but to create your own original opinion. Unfortunately, most people will adopt perspectives from the highest power. In a controlled democracy a la Russia and Turkey, the people at the top shape the views of their constituents.

‘History is a GIF loop,', a rerun of its past so that people can experience all the hopes and self-destruction for themselves. The mistakes are there to be learned again.


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Forget what you heard

For many people, Facebook is their sole newspaper. One of the primary roles of a newspaper is to validate events rather than spread false rumors.

But fake news runs rampant on the platform because anyone can post it without consequence. Facebook does nothing to validate sources, especially since it fired its human curators and replaced them with an algorithm that amplifies noise, true or false. Twitter is equally culpable.

Should we believe anything on social media platforms? Probably not. But the press isn't exactly trustworthy either. It also has an agenda, that which revolves around whichever drives the most site traffic and clicks.

Misinformation and lies are at the root of chaos. Even the smartest people can often be the most gullible, duped by comedians faking death.

If marketers are liars and social media is edited real life, people must also interpret the news with a grain of salt. Doubt everything.


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Get back to work

Open up a new tab. Check Instagram, Facebook, and then Twitter. Format-shift and grab another device. Open up the Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter apps.

Rinse and repeat. 🔁

Your success relies on how well you can sustain focus while ignoring your distractions. However, this doesn't mean you should quit social media cold turkey and throw your phone into the ocean.

Just like you can't snack all day, you can't chew on voyeurism and your own likes and retweets all day either. Like Vegas, social media is your time to lose, even if it's a bunch of fun.

Get back to work!


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Beyond filters

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Nobody uses filters anymore like they used to. The overall consensus seems to be that #nofilter is just fine. But it's also partly because people are better editors — mobile apps like VSCO and Instagram offer free toolkits that make it easy to adjust contrast, exposure, and saturation. You can also tweak the strength of the filter; a feature VSCO had all along, and Instagram has since copied.

Filters aren't dead, though; they're just evolving to meet visual means of communication and an appreciation for aesthetic. When Snapchat introduced facial lenses, users wanted to make their images more personal and playful. Meanwhile, Prisma's popularity demonstrates the appetite to revert photos into pieces of art.

Smartphone users and social media enthusiasts love to dabble in photography. Having a good eye is not enough. Your images won't stand out in the feeds unless they provide interesting context or are reimagined enhancements of reality.

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If you're into new presets, be sure to download the limited edition Distortia Preset Pack from VSCO. Released to celebrate the company's 5th anniversary, you can “reimagine the boundaries of color with these presets, created for unconventional looks and customizations.”

And while you're at it, play with the with Mars effect of the Nike Sportswear filter as well.

Long on filters, or presets, whatever we call such special effects.


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The Snapchat bandaid

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Hold it vertical! (image via Samuel Zeller)

Just make it look like a Snapchat. All social networks are becoming extensions of Snapchat, a medium that once stood on its own.

Snapchat introduced the next text messaging obsession: video consumption. Now, Instagram, Facebook, and WhatsApp all have skin in the mobile messaging video game. YouTube is also trying to become more interactive and personal.

People don't necessarily love Snapchat. They love the idea of Snapchat because it serves a desire for quick and raw ephemeral sharing. Snapchat is a delivery system, just as we associate fast shipping with Amazon Prime. That's why it's easy for other networks to replicate Snapchat's modern features and the ride the wave of mainstream smartphone instant communication. However, it's not so easy to compete against a market leader. There's no evidence to suggest that the emergence of Instagram Stories have crimped the use of Snapchat.

But when others copy your style, you pivot. Snapchat is wise to pivot into hardware with Spectacles, a more useful social version of Google Glass that intends to record moments rather than act as a computer for the eyes. It's no surprise that Apple is considering making its own pair.

At first, they ridicule you; then, they emulate what you do. Snapchat was once a different medium. But now that its features are expectations, can it keep its platform fun enough to hang on to the fickle smartphone user?


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Boredom is a skill

Boredom is a skill. Doing nothing is the only way to avoid losing time. Because when you're turned off, you're turned on, reactivating and reconnecting memories of the past.

Reflection is at the heart of thinking. We don't know what believe until we produce our own thought. Until then, our opinion is always stolen from someone else, solidifying in the echo chambers of social media.

We often demonize inaction but in today's hyperconnected world, going offline is exactly the panacea we seek. Boredom is more fragile than the immediate pleasure of attention. Focus is the only way to protect against the cracks of distraction.


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