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! 

Creativity Writing

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


“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]

Productivity & Work Tech

The tools of our tools

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

Humans are workers, 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 rising automation is that it opens up opportunities to do what people enjoy. 

The artist Brian Eno once offered this prescient advice: ‘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 intend to on the side.

“Men have become the tools of their tools,” quipped Thoreau, who was lucky enough to leave his job for Walden’s pond because he enjoyed the relief of a big bank account. 

As Frank Chimeo once tweeted, “Thoreau had enough money to go to Walden Pond because he revolutionized production methods at his father’s pencil factory.”

The book of nature has no choice but to accept the permanent integration of Frankensteins and robots. 

Those enthusiastic and creative, especially those augmented by brain chips, will still find meaningful work and develop an abstract relationship alongside the programmatic and ultra-productive automatons.