Technology isn’t bad. If you know what you want in life, technology can help you get it. But if you don’t know what you want in life, it will be all too easy for technology to shape your aims for you and take control of your life. Especially as technology gets better at understanding humans, you might increasingly find yourself serving it, instead of it serving you.
Beware that one of technology’s biggest threat is that it undermines your will so you will no longer want what you want. But you can reverse the stakes and like a hammer, use it as a tool for building the life you want.
Awakening is not a thing. It is not a goal, not a concept. It is not something to be attained. It is a metamorphosis. If the caterpillar thinks about the butterfly it is to become, saying ‘And then I shall have wings and antennae,’ there will never be a butterfly. The caterpillar must accept its own disappearance in its transformation. When the marvelous butterfly takes wing, nothing of the caterpillar remains.
It is those who are successful, in other words, who are most likely to be given the kinds of special opportunities that lead to further success. It’s the rich who get the biggest tax breaks. It’s the best students who get the best teaching and most attention. And it’s the biggest nine- and ten-year-olds who get the most coaching and practice. Success is the result of what sociologists like to call “accumulative advantage.” The professional hockey player starts out a little bit better than his peers. And that little difference leads to an opportunity that makes that difference a bit bigger, and that edge in turn leads to another opportunity, which makes the initially small difference bigger still—and on and on until the hockey player is a genuine outlier. But he didn’t start out an outlier. He started out just a little bit better.
Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers
This is a question that requires a very careful attempt at explanation. It’s not zero-sum, but we have grown used to skimming. People like you and me who spend six to 12 hours a day on a screen are led to use the skimming mode even when we know we should use a more concentrated, focused mode of reading.
It’s an idea I call “cognitive patience.” I believe we are all becoming unable to take the time to be patient because skimming has bled over into most of our reading.
The consequences of skimming:
Skimming has led, I believe, to a tendency to go to the sources that seem the simplest, most reduced, most familiar, and least cognitively challenging. I think that leads people to accept truly false news without examining it, without being analytical. One of my major worries is that when you lose the novel, you lose the ability to go into another person’s perspective. My biggest worry now is that a lot of what we’re seeing in society today — this vulnerability to demagoguery in all its forms — of one unanticipated and never intended consequence of a mode of reading that doesn’t allow critical analysis and empathy.
If we never get started, we never get good, and you can’t get good without first being bad. To overcome perfectionism and get started, you need to accept that your first attempts will not be up to your standards. You have to give yourself Permission to Suck.
I published a pop-up book of mechanical paper tech. Expanding out of This Book is a Planetarium’s pages, you’ll find: a stringed instrument, a perpetual calendar, a decoder ring, a spiralgraph drawing generator, a smartphone speaker, and—yes—a constellation-projecting planetarium. With a little tinkering, turning, and futzing: the resulting paper objects actually work! (despite of being made from “almost nothing.”)
The book was designed to showcase the potential of the material world—while making a case for the inherent educational value of lo-fi experiences.
In their clunky way of functioning, the past’s technology served this unacknowledged secondary function to humanity: These objects helped us glimpse—and therefore connect to —the magic of the physical world. By being glitchy and fussy (and by sometimes requiring manual tinkering or duct tape), lo-fi contraptions more transparently revealed the underlying laws of the world to us.
Huxley predicted that the deliberate flood of information, perhaps a more lethal strategy than Orwellian censorship, would dent our interest in reading books, having active opinions, and therefore make us passive.
The internet, of course, puts information distribution on hyper-speed, skipping from one issue to the next. People consume and quickly forget what’s important, all the while externalizing everything onto the screen. We have lost our ability to pay attention, not just because of tweeting politicians but because of screaming merchants.
“The liberation of human attention may be the defining moral and political struggle of our time. We therefore have an obligation to rewire this system of intelligent, adversarial persuasion before it rewires us.”
The former Google strategist has witnessed the intentional creation of distractive technologies that overpower human will so we no longer “want what we want to want.”
The Financial Times book review writes:
In an attempt to invent new linguistic concepts, the author plays with three types of attentional light: spotlight, starlight and daylight, pertaining to doing, being and knowing.
In this respect, Williams admires the free-speaking Greek philosopher Diogenes. One day, while sunning himself in Corinth, he was visited by Alexander the Great, who promised to grant him any wish. The cranky Diogenes replied: “Stand out of my light!” Williams wants a handful of West Coast tech executives to stop blocking out our human light, too.
Perhaps if we regain our detachment from irreality we’ll be able to look back and pinpoint attention distortion with fresh eyes.
Featured libraries include the Sainte-Geneviève library in Paris, France, the all-white Mafra Palace library in Portugal (my favorite), and Trinity College Library, Dublin, Ireland which houses Book of Kells and Book of Durrow.
While mostly in Europe, Listri also captures the Library of Alexandria, once the largest library in the world to the camel bookmobiles seen in Kenya.
A sure way to keep from making static, lifeless drawings is to think of drawing verbs instead of nouns. Basically, a noun names a person, place, or thing; a verb asserts, or expresses action, a state of being, or an occurrence.
I speak often of shifting mental gears and here is another place to do it. The tendency to copy what is before us without taking time (or effort) to ferret out what is happening action-wise is almost overwhelming.
Space is about 100 kilometers away. That’s far away—I wouldn’t want to climb a ladder to get there—but it isn’t that far away. If you’re in Sacramento, Seattle, Canberra, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Phnom Penh, Cairo, Beijing, central Japan, central Sri Lanka, or Portland, space is closer than the sea.
If you look around Pinterest and Facebook groups, you’ll see that bullet journalling is all the rage but what most people don’t know is that Ryder Carroll is the originator of the Bullet Journal Method.
Today marks five years since Carroll introduced bulletjournal.com to the world, helping millions of people like myself organize and prioritize the right stuff in our personal and work lives in the face of the dopamine homing missiles of the distraction age.
I’m happy to share with you that he’s giving away two free chapters from his new book(Amazon) which is out now.
“Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance.”