Categories
Creativity Video Writing

The fascinating history of the pencil ✏️

“The pencil is a very perfect object,” says pencil obsessed Caroline Weaver in this TED video where she explains the history of the pencil. 

The origin of the pencil goes back to the innovative applications of graphite. Farmers and shepherds used graphite sticks wrapped in sheepskin and paper to mark their animals. 

In 1795, French painter Nicolas-Jacques Conté grounded graphite, mixed it with clay and water to make a paste that was then burned in a kiln to be inserted two cylinders of wood. This is the same method for making pencils we still use to this day!

The #2 Pencil

In the mid-American philosopher, Henry David Thoreau came up with the graphite grading scale for hardness in pencils, most notably the number 2 pencil. Number 2 pencils were thought to be the perfect balance of graphite and color. Conversely, Number 4 pencils were firmer — they contained more clay and thus wrote finer lines. 

Years later, America’s Joseph Dixon is widely credited for using machines to produce the first standard hexagonal-shaped pencils. 

The Attached Eraser and Yellow Pencil

Before the eraser, people used bread crumbs and rubber to get rid of marks. In 1858, American stationer Hymen Lipman patented the first pencil with an attached eraser. In 1889, the World’s Fair in Paris introduced the first yellow pencil called the Koh-I-Noor which had 14 coats of yellow paint with the end dipped in 14ct gold. Showing off the original plain wood grains quickly went out of style the iconic yellow pencil we know today was born. 

What an absolute fascinating video! 

Categories
Creativity Writing

Thoreau: ‘How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live’

#quotes

“How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.”

Henry David Thoreau, [easyazon_link identifier=”1451529791″ locale=”US” tag=”wells01-20″ cart=”y” popups=”y”]Walking[/easyazon_link]

Categories
Productivity & Work Tech

‘Men have become the tools of their tools’

'Men have become the tools of their tools'

Technology is not neutral. FANG (Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Google) not only want to make all decisions for us, they want us to dissolve into all-consuming bots while the machines do all the thinking and making.

Humans are meant to work, not to be hedonistic jobless throwaways. We seek meaning and identify ourselves through our labor. But our biggest misconception is presuming that the job we don’t like also defines us.

The only benefit to people becoming tools is that they open up the opportunity to do what they’re really meant to do.

‘Try not to get a job.’

The artist Brian Eno advises us to ‘Try not to get a job.’ By not working for cash, we can follow our deepest passions, thereby subverting the Sex and Cash theory that says that we must toil in our office cubicles so we can do what we’re meant to do on the side.

“Men have become the tools of their tools,” quipped Thoreau, who was able to leave his job for Walden’s pond because he enjoyed the relief of a big bank account. As Frank Chimeo tweeted, “Thoreau had enough money to go to Walden Pond because he revolutionized production methods at his father’s pencil factory.”

Undoubtedly, there will also be a concurrent emergence of cyborgs, man blended into machines. The amalgam makes not only a brain without a body, but a machine without a soul. What will doing anything mean a world of automatons, a premonition of programmatic and unthinking disaster?

Read more: Our struggle with Big Tech to protect trust and truth

gif via giphy

Categories
Creativity Psychology Writing

Writing vs. blogging

sound of music
Let it all out

If you want to feel like you’re losing, write a book. If you want to feel like you’re winning, blog. With a blog, you can publish every day to get your hit of dopamine. A book is a practice in delaying gratification.

Writing or blogging is a matter of preference. Seth Godin publishes a blog post every day in addition to writing books and working on his altMBA program. Maria Popova is a blogger that specializes in digging through old print books to inspire blog posts but admits that she has no appetite to pen a novel herself.

The most important thing is to write and enjoy the practice, even if your writing never sees the light of day. You should write for yourself anyway. Just don’t write so hard in your turtle shell that you remember to be a human being.

“Those who work much do not work hard.”

Henry David Thoreau
Categories
Social Media Tech

Walking is hard

Walking didn’t use to be this hard because we didn’t think much about it. But now we’re all walking zombies, staring down into our mobile screens. We use our ears and narrow field of view to warn us of impending danger.

Thankfully, designers are creating smart powered pedestrian pavement to save our lives from distraction and tunnel vision.

Walking used to be a sensory experience, a way of thinking with our steps. Now, we just walk for the steps, leaning on Fitbit to validate our activity levels. We replay snaps and photos when we get home to remind us the things we “noticed” on our journey.

“Methinks that the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to flow.” – Henry David Thoreau

We used to walk with books and dream into the blue skies. But now those things are primarily viewed through our digital screens. We’ve sacrificed daydreams for an enhanced reality.

Categories
Productivity & Work Tech

Check Your Pockets

Image via Alex Robert

We feel naked without our mobile device. This isn’t unusual. We also feel naked without our wallet or our purse, or at the most fundamental level, our clothes!

Once something becomes so customary and ingrained into our daily lives, we can’t leave home without it. The phone will become even more indispensable as it converges our wallets, passports, and our house and car keys. The fewer things we have to carry the more worried we have to be when we lose those items.

We’re creatures of habit. We need our phones to participate in modern day society, or we end up out of touch, which of course, might not be such a bad thing.

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