‘Toys are preludes to serious ideas’

Those shiny toys, they give us all the answers and leave little to the imagination. What could unleash creativity like a blank paper does for a pack of gel pens instead turns off the lite-brite of ideas. #technology  #tech #ipad

“Toys are preludes to serious ideas.”

Charles and Ray Eames

Those shiny toys, they give us all the answers and leave little to the imagination. What could unleash creativity like a blank paper does for a pack of gel pens instead turns off the lite-brite of ideas.

Charles and Ray Eames knew about the risks of shiny objects all along.

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The sorcery of screens

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The internet never ends. Mountains of content are piling up as we speak.

The hook is neither in our control or that of technology. We pull the lever, the slot machine spits out a variable reward.

It’s impossible to disentangle ourselves from the mindlessness of a ludic loop. With more data, the machine grows smarter and more manipulative.

But we can’t fault our own blindness, zombie scrolling in the sorcery of screens.

All the while, the trees are abundant, pumping oxygen into nature and encouraging humans to rejoin the broken.

Tethered to the magic of screens, we feed the data distilleries with our oil and reap cheap entertainment pellets in return. There is no quid pro quo. We are competent and conscious only in our dreams, awaiting that return to an archaic form of life.

Dave Eggers: Social media is like snack food

71XgEQwvBjL“It's not that I'm not social. I'm social enough. But the tools you guys create actually manufacture unnaturally extreme social needs. No one needs the level of contact you're purveying. It improves nothing. It's not nourishing. It's like snack food. You know how they engineer this food? They scientifically determine precisely how much salt and fat they need to include to keep you eating. You're not hungry, you don't need the food, it does nothing for you, but you keep eating these empty calories. This is what you're pushing. Same thing. Endless empty calories, but the digital-social equivalent. And you calibrate it so it's equally addictive.”

— [easyazon_link identifier=”0345807294″ locale=”US” tag=”wells01-20″]The Circle[/easyazon_link] by Dave Eggers (2013)

Social media is free fast food that can make your brain fat. As former president of Facebook Sean Parker said about the platform last year: it exploits a “vulnerability in human psychology.”

Knowing it all exists

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The internet reintroduces lost objects. Everything from rare reggae recordings to out of print books finds its way online to be consumed for the first time.

Only physical objects like pieces of art retain their scarcity, and therefore their value. But digitization means one copy makes infinite shelf life.

Sharing bytes of knowledge amplifies the value of the original asset. What's mine is your's, even if your copy is just a jpeg.

Living in digital format ensures permanency and shareability. Mass production begets mass consumption, all without a factory and a warehouse.

The future of work

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The future of work is no work. Workers made of bits instead of human cells will occupy all the jobs. In the case of Uber, for example, “once you take the brain out of the driving, it’s just a person following a map,” explains the author Ryan Avent in his new book The Wealth of Humans.

The digital revolution is the modern day industrial revolution, except you can substitute big data and intelligent machines for human labor. Humans, like washing machines, are too abundant–supply exceeds demand.

People identify with their jobs, even if they hate them. Jobs not only give us a sense of purpose, they fill the day. No one wants to feel useless and bored. So it begs the question: when the machines are doing all the work, what are humans left to do? 

Avent believes the rich will be the only ones to hire human labor, as if humans become cherishable objects like vinyl. Perhaps more people will go into the arts and put on their philosophical thinking caps again–the last ‘metaphysical club' met in 1872. Or will government prop up manual labor like it once did to regalvanize the American automobile industry? Anything is better than twiddling our thumbs. Says Avent:

“It is disappointing to think that we’d have to create make-work for people, but it may be the hard truth.”

The Next Industrial Revolution

Social Media Marketing

Marketing is subtle. It’s the art of selling without selling, manipulating people into checkout.

Subtle selling is supposed to be the catch-all of all social networks. But social media has never shown to successfully convert into sales.

Social networks are vehicles for conversation rather than sales channels.

Would you try to sell something other than beer at a bar?

Social users are more liable to sell something than a brand. Mass marketing, or push marketing, on social media channels does more to inform customers than convincing them to buy. In fact, the biggest fans if located properly can create more awareness than a top-down marketing campaign.

Social media marketing disrupts the traditional purchase funnel because it starts with getting a product into the hands of loyalists who then drive the conversation which increases trial.

Social media is its own unique marketing realm. The customers are the marketers.

7 articles to read this weekend

Every week I link to 7 articles that inspire me to think differently about art, life, productivity, and technology. Inspiration is the fuel that inspires curiosity, creativity, and doing the work.

1. Digital vs Print

I read faster on my iPhone. I read more deeply on the Internet-less Kindle. And I read too hard with paper books. Everyone’s got their own preference; I’d be happy never to touch a newspaper or paperback again. Reading speed and comprehension on ebook vs print ultimately “depends on what you’re reading and why.”

+ Medium: Read more creatively by focusing on the good stuff. If you read the less by focusing on the best sources you can avoid information overflow, argues Sarah Gooding.

2. Art of the Mix Tape

Remember how much effort it took to create an actual mixtape, not just mastering the timing of the recordings but also organizing the sequence is songs. It had to flow. Well, 8tracks has been enabling users to build mixtapes online for years now. And they’re finally getting the kudos they deserve. The mixtape is inherently social which is the key to 8track’s success.

+FastCoLabs: Soundcloud opens up new offices in Berlin and reinvents its app in its latest update.

3. Ike and Tina

Tina Roth Eisenberg (aka SwissMiss) has been one of the Internet’s best side project entrepreneurs. In this video, she reveals her 5 personal rules. My favorite: identify and embrace your superpower.

+ First Round: Spotify’s design lead explains why side products should be stupid.

4. No ‘I’ in Team

Soccer is a team sport. It’s the system and shape that determine success, with exception to few stellar players like Messi and Ronaldo. That’s why teams like Costa Rica and the United States move on in this World Cup and England suffers, argues Simon Critchley.

5. Voicemail is Dead

When’s the last time you actually welcomed a voicemail? As Teddy Wayne so eloquently explains, no one (at least teenagers) leaves voicemails any more; they text instead and call back if it’s important.

6. Trust Your Gut

After enough experience you start to realize where the ball will bounce next. Experience builds more intelligence and better judgement which in turns builds better instincts. The folks at Harvard have the data to back it up.

7. Blogging is thinking

The New York Times is killing a bunch of its blogs. They required a lot of work with little payoff. That’s because people misunderstand what the blog is really about. As Om explains, blogging is a philosophy more than a publishing tool. I like to think of this blog as a canvass that allows me to think and connect the dots.

Sunday Social Roundup

  1. Twitter now enables GIFs just like Tumblr. Tumblr is well known for reviving the GIF format on its platform for creators. But what's this new GIF functionality mean for Vine, which was Twitter's GIF outlet in the first place?

  2. Facebook introduced Slingshot, apparently a Snapchat competitor. The only drawback is that you have to send something in return to view your friends content. I may be old school, but why enforce such a hurdle? Based on Facebook's previous copycat history, this app is also bound to fail.

  3. Facebook is reportedly not cool, again. However, what I find interesting about these teens' perspective is that they're realizing what adults realized long ago, that people want real interactions. Social media is just a way to get there.

  4. There's 250 new emojis going to be added to all phones. Apparently there's even one to express the middle-finger. How far we've come.

  5. YouTube continues to integrate itself into the TV. At which point does YouTube become the new cable. It's already doing the music deal.

7 articles to read this weekend

Every week I like to highlight 7 articles that tie together art, culture, productivity, and tech. Keep learning, stay curious.

Scott Adams Blog: The Pivot

The Internet is a psychology experiment.

It's easy to launch anything on the web: a blog, a business, an album or book. The hard part is analyzing the data to see what's working and identifying and initiating the next pivot.

Action begets action. Do and then learn.

How SoundCloud Changed Music Forever

EDM has evolved in a way that never would have been possible before the internet.

If Twitter is helping popularize soccer in the US, SoundCloud is helping grow electronic music. SoundCloud has been hosting electronic music and its sub genres (drum n bass, dubstep, and trip hop) for years. SoundCloud's validates the the long-tail theory, where music listeners can listen to different niches of music.

Click here to peep my favorite tunes so far this year on SoundCloud.

What language does soccer speak?

“If you’re watching TV and don’t understand the commentary, part of the experience is lost,“

Commentary puts you into the game. It's why most people prefer to watch soccer in their native language. However, there are still a bunch of people that like the English commentary because it offers better play-by-play analysis.

So You Want To Be A Writer? That’s Mistake #1

Take any good piece of writing, something that matters to you. Why is it good? Because of what it says. Because what the writer manages to communicate to you, their reader. It’s because of what’s within it, not how they wrote it.

Your prose is less important than what you have to say. A good point overshadows the rules of writing. Say something interesting and different and readers will like the writing regardless of errors.

Reading: The Struggle

I will go out on a limb with a prediction: the novel of elegant, highly distinct prose, of conceptual delicacy and syntactical complexity, will tend to divide itself up into shorter and shorter sections, offering more frequent pauses where we can take time out

The digital world shortened attention spans which in turn, shortened books. No one reads long books like they used to. Traditional books will just have to be better and more remarkable.

The Internet has a content diversity problem

Likes breed laziness.

Read and write out of interest, not for popularity. You can't blame Facebook for dictating what you want to say. Focus on the interesting and important and the right audience will find you and share with their peers. To entertain or inform?

Cool Kids Lose, Though It May Take A Few Years

“We call it the high school reunion effect…The student who was popular and was running with the fast crowd isn’t doing as great later on.”

Never do what's popular, always do what's right and honest which is in High School is probably unique. Outcasts become the artists and entrepreneurs. It pays to think different.

Sunday Social Roundup

  1. The World Cup started this week and generated in one day more tweets and Facebook banter than the Oscars. The World Cup is also one of the rare times advertisers can actually get through to Millennials.

  2. The New York Times is the beacon of journalism. The problem is that it still depends on print for most of its revenue. But digital changes everything. Think digital first, perhaps social media first like Buzzfeed, and print second.

  3. Self-discovery: In further evidence that Facebook and Twitter are becoming more like each other, here’s the Retweet icon now showing on Facebook posts.

  4. The iPhoneography awards were announced this week. I visited the site and noticed that you have to pay to submit your non-Photoshopped photos. That’s bullshit. How about partnering with Instagram, Flickr, and VSCO using a campaign hashtag for the collection process. I see pics in the VSCO gird every day that are comparable to the winners here.

  5. Social media ads can be obtrusive and immoral, suggesting things and ideas to people that go against their online behavior. Here’s an insightful article explaining why big data is bunk.