David Bowie predicted Internet-enabled dystopia in 1999

In a 1999 interview with the BBC, David Bowie foresaw the internet’s impact on music and society. The walls between artist and fan would be broken down, but the era of echo chambers and fake news would break internet culture itself.

“We are living in total fragmentation…I don’t think we’ve even seen the tip of the iceberg. I think the potential of what the internet is going to do to society, both good and bad, is unimaginable. I think we’re actually on the cusp of something exhilarating and terrifying.

Is there life on Mars? Yes, it’s just landed here. I’m talking about the actual context and the state of content is going to be so different from anything we can envisage at the moment. With the interplay between the user and the provider will be so in sympatico it’s going to crush our ideas of what mediums are all about.”

Tech’s promised utopia is just beginning to release the unimaginable. But that’s not all:  check out what these kids in 1966 predicted about today’s world.

Advertisements

Musical rollercoaster 🎶

Emotions ebb and flow like the notes and bars in a classical music rollercoaster.

We can visualize the sine wave of any chorus. Music imitates the whimsical nature of life. It gives us an inkling of how the world works. Said Alan Watts:

“The physical universe is basically playful. There is no necessity for it whatsoever. It isn’t going anywhere. It doesn’t have a destination that it ought to arrive at. But it is best understood by its analogy to music. Because music as an art form is essentially playful. We say you play the piano, you don’t work the piano.”

Take a look at how it was made:

Your vocation chooses you

We all start out with a dream, a goal of someone or something we want to emulate. We keep that dream close, putting up bedroom posters and memorizing phrases that propel us to keep pushing toward our goal.

But then something else happens along the way? The creative gods tell us to do something else instead.

“The grind is not glamorous.”

Casey Neistat wanted to be a filmmaker, another Spielberg that entertained the masses. But he didn’t have enough money nor resources. So he chased the dream for ten years and succeeded: he entered Cannes and won some awards etc. until one day he realized he was pursuing the wrong end. “Fuck it,” he said. “I just want to make internet videos.”

See, when we hunt down goals, we usually get redirected to something else that’s more personal. Technology broke down all the barriers to traditional creativity, production, and distribution. YouTube is Neistat’s movie theater.


Check yourself before you wreck yourself

Sure, imitate at first and get really good — everything is practice. But we shouldn’t forget to reflect and dive deeper into a passion that excites us the most. As Jim Carrey said, ‘your vocation chooses you.’

Don’t fight what’s natural even if no one else is doing it yet. Give in to the original inclinations and push onward.

Are we living in a computer simulation?

Perhaps what we see isn’t what we get. Instead, life is just computer code and humans are information.

So does a simulated life mean that we can live forever? Says theoretical physicist James Gates: “If the simulation hypothesis is valid, then we open the door to eternal life and resurrection and things that formally have been discussed in the realm of religion. As long as I have a computer that’s not damaged, I can always re-run the program.”


We are conscious automata

If our lives are predetermined and robotic, surely there’s a way to confuse the puppeteer? MIT cosmologist Max Tegmark offers some sage advice:

“If you’re not sure at the end of the night whether you’re simulated or not, my advice to you is to go out there and live really interesting lives and do unexpected things, so the simulators don’t get bored and shut you down.”

To bear with uncertainty is to be certain that there remains chaos undulating in the computer code of cosmos.

Experiments in pink + orange

What’s interesting about distortion is that ordinary photos or videos can instantly become more interesting. VSCO has some excellent filters for converting your photos into different looks.

While my favorite is still the Nike Sportswear Mars-like filter, I love the pink, blue, and orange effects as part of the VSCO D-series.

All photography is in the edit

When you experiment with visuals in post-production, you never know what you’re going to get.

Running through the Alps

For runner Joe Grant, freedom is the rhythm of effort colliding with focus. The ability to unthink and just do it sets him free.

“When your mind lets go of things and attentiveness is not forced…that’s when you tap into a feeling of freedom.”

It can be challenging to tame the incessant honking from the monkey mind, especially when we’re roaming ahead with no destination in mind.

But we can achieve flow, moving like water over rocks in stride with the magnetic forces of the land.

Here today, gone tomorrow

All gifs/videos by Wells Baum

Standing in Grand Central Station reminds us of the temporariness of life, that what’s here now can be gone in a flash.

We should be dubious of ephemerality, especially in the internet world where things get consumed and promptly forgotten. Good feelings are equally fleeting; they ascend and descend like a sine wave.

Instead, the overall wager should be on long-term serotonin rather than one-off surges of dopamine.

Here now, gone in an instant

Better to find our feet in the urban wilderness rather than orbit around a flock of sheep. In the hierarchy of happiness, stillness plays the long game by persisting through noisy places.

Sean Parker: Facebook exploits a “vulnerability in human psychology”

Social platforms are casinos, and likes, replies, comments, shares, etc. are the poker chips. We are addicted to social currency on top of our psychological desire to solve for loneliness.

The main reason I blog is to get away from the hyper-activeness and dopamine-hitting fast food of social media, so I can slow down and gather my thoughts.

How often do you get stuck in the ludic loop?

How to practice effectively

giphy (20).gif

Everything is practice. Practice is everything. “Practice is the repetition of an action with the goal of improvement.”

Biologically speaking, practice strengthens the neural tissue, specifically the fatty substance myelin which enhances the runway for brains to communicate effectively with the muscles.

The 10,000-hour rule of deliberate practice doesn’t necessarily guarantee improvement. The training needs to be effective. Below are four tips for ensuring that quality meets quantity.

Tips on how to practice effectively

1 — Focus on the task at hand. Minimize distractions like TV and social media. Put your smartphone on airplane mode or throw your phone into the ocean.

2 — Start out slowly and then increase the speed of repetition. Raising the pace builds up the likeliness of performing the task correctly.

3 — Practice frequently with allotted breaks. Professionals practice 50 – 60 hours per week.

4 — Practice in your brain by reinforcing the skill with your imagination.

A 3,900-mile journey on the Trans-Siberian Railway

What is it about train journeys that make us feel more alive than taking a plane or riding in the car?

For one, trains are part of the environment. Like snakes, they can weave in and out of nature. They go unimpeded into mountains, cities, forests, and slither by oceans.

There’s no better way to see the world than riding the train.

It gives us a chance to paint the world with our eyes. Each blink of an eye flashes novelty, like scrolling an Instagram feed into life. 

Trains are just what we need in a dizzying mobile-first society. They give us a chance to slow down, but at the same time light up the brain with curiosity and compel us to see more, do more, and appreciate the beauty of our surroundings.

PS. I took the train from Seattle down to Los Angeles once, not quite the length of Moscow to the Far-East on the Trans-Siberian Railway, but undoubtedly a memorable one. It was an excellent time to reflect on my own life’s journey and to take pictures. I wrote a semi-fictional book about the trip earlier this year, which you can read for free right here.

Streams as anti-structure 🏞️

Photo by Wells Baum

The structure of a stream lies within its anti-structure, the unpredictable and chaotic movement of its flow; fresh water slithering over rocks, persisting downward all the way into the mouth of the river.

Streams can only perform their function if nature permits such fluidity, the human renter backs off, and it swims unimpeded; flexing a dynamic energy so essential to the information Earth collects.

Seen and heard 🔉

All photos, gifs & videos by Wells Baum

Support my blog

Your support goes a long way: for every contributed dollar, I can keep the blog running and continue to provide you interesting links.

$1.00

Learning to see again

Video by Wells Baum

Once Paul finally sat down, he made an effort to scan his body and feel his feet touch the floor. He stretched his head back to gaze through the skylight. The combined light and shadow of the glass-sheathed car danced around him like a carousel. The ambient shapes of silence put him in a trance. The plane thousands of feet above looked like a butterfly who’s wings froze to the shutter of the camera in the eye. He regained his focus, this time shuffling his feet to swirl around in the chair, searching, not for anything in particular but anything unusual.

The above is an excerpt from the chapter Learning To See Again from my book Train of Thought: Reflections on the Coast Starlight. You can buy a copy or read it for free below.

Buy at Amazon

Download free

Please let me know your feedback on the book on Twitter. Which chapter or line is your favorite? What would you have liked to read more of? Just send a tweet to @bombtune or email me at wellsbaum[at]gmail.com. I’d love to hear from you!

 

Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset
Photo by Wells Baum

 

Are You Lost In The World Like Me?

We reach for the phone to find ourselves. We’d rather outsource our frustration and boredom to a widget than deal with our anxieties directly.

The mobile phone makes it easier to cope (read: ignore) the world going on around us. It’s easy: we just don’t pay attention; plus, we can crush dissent with our own filters. But echo chambers confirm prejudice.

There’s chaos in the cosmos, disorder in peace. If we can’t tolerate ambiguity, then we’ll succumb to the fickleness of weather patterns.

Perhaps the lost are found, the only ones looking up.