Instagram tweaks its algorithm to favor fresher posts

gif by Denis Sazhin

Instagram is making tweaks to the algorithmic feed it introduced two years ago. While the social network won’t bring back the chronological feed, it will emphasize newer posts first. You’ll also be able to manually refresh your feeds instead of kicked up to the to while browsing.

From the Instagram blog:

We’ve heard it can feel unexpected when your feed refreshes and automatically bumps you to the top. So today we’re testing a “New Posts” button that lets you choose when you want to refresh, rather than it happening automatically. Tap the button and you’ll be taken to new posts at the top of feed — don’t tap, and you’ll stay where you are. We hope this makes browsing Instagram much more enjoyable.

Based on your feedback, we’re also making changes to ensure that newer posts are more likely to appear first in feed. With these changes, your feed will feel more fresh, and you won’t miss the moments you care about. So if your best friend shares a selfie from her vacation in Australia, it will be waiting for you when you wake up.

I no longer use Instagram like I used to because the feed feels like a disorganized mosh pit. Timestamps are all over the place and my friends’ posts went missing at the cost of brands.

At least now it appears that Instagram is listening, sort of.

I’d still like the ability to create lists like Twitter. I’d create one feed specific to street photographers and another for my closest friends. An ad-less version of Instagram would be a bonus as well, even at the price of a monthly subscription.

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Human rationality and craziness

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The most successful people are both rational and crazy.

As much as robots and artificial intelligence threaten our creativity, there will be some people who cultivate the randomness of thought to continue innovating.

Wrote Jean-Luc Godard: “It’s not where you take things from — it’s where you take them to.”

See the world, not its model

Patterns beg to be synthesized, broken down and encrusted with ingenuity to make something new.

Humans envision the future and work backward, mostly through the freedom of trial and error. They see holes and fill them in with new opportunities.

Folks may never know where they are going, but that is exactly how they get there.

Instagram ‘homogenized our creativity’

Instagram is a clash of sameness: the same travel pics, coffee cup shots, and innumerable selfies. The app ‘homogenizes‘ photography so that all images look roughly the same.

It’s always refreshing to see Instagram users who are trying something different, who are using the platform to explore their creativity instead of posting endless food porn.

Not only are we drowning in photos, the conformity of images is ruining the art of photography.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. There are countless apps for editing your photos and videos to make them stand out from others in the feed. VSCO offers some unique filter capabilities but apps like Hyperspektiv and Photofox transform your photos into something unique by mixing elements of graphics and paint.

Adding interesting captions is another way to differentiate ourselves from the crowd. Tell people what the image is about or give a unique interpretation of what the eye can’t see. Even better, bewilder the viewer and keep them guessing. Like photos, all writing is in the edit.

Give everyone a camera and the stage, and they’ll exploit it just like everybody else. The upshot is a mass experience that mostly dulls expression. Scratch it up, discolor the frame; dare to be different.

More Cliches 🚫

AMERICANS — Indians in American life

Seminoles, Braves, Redskins — Indian culture permeates American life from sports teams to table-top advertising.

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Panorama by Wells Baum

Upon entering the exhibit, there’s a sign titled Indians are everywhere in American life that reads:

 “These images are worth a closer look. What if they are not trivial? What if they are instead symbols of great power? What if the stories they tell reveal a buried history — and a country forever fascinated, conflicted, and shaped by its relationship with American Indians?”

Did you know that Native American Ira Hayes was one of the six Marines raising the flag on Iwo Jima?

video via Wikimedia Commons

The many variations of Native American flags.

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All photos by Wells Baum

Enjoying the silence of GIFs

giphy-downsized-large-1The mind fills a silent GIF with sound.

The flags flickering in the wind, the lightbulb dancing at a Mexico City bar, to the whistle of leaves swinging outside your window.

Living in the distraction era, noise is ubiquitous. Standing still, the decibels around turn up to match the horizon.

But the calmer it becomes, the more you hear.

Silence deafens the external stimuli. In nature, it rings with the the highest volume.

TuRn it up!

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Walden, water, and wifi

Photo by Wells Baum

One day we’re going to miss the powerful silence of the natural world, the way it smells and begs for an inquisition. That’s because “most people are on the world, not in it,” wrote the father of national parks John Muir.

In putting a “fence around nature,” we lock ourselves into a secluded wall of emotional current.

Nature nurtures, it humbles our deepest desires. Because we can’t control the skies, nor the mercurial blob of ourselves, we must give in to nature’s fickleness and beauty.

We’re going to be shocked when we wake up from digital’s second life and realize that becoming also means embracing the evolving whims of those things around us. We are overpowered by the Earth’s forces.

Perhaps naturalist Bernd Heinrich said it best:

“We all want to be associated with something greater and more beautiful than ourselves, and nature is the ultimate. I just think it is the one thing we can all agree on.”

Weathered or not in New York

The weathered we address: What kind of weathered is it?

It contains multitudes.

Graffitied

Exhausted

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Chipped

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Bruised

Split Tourist

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Weather-ed

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Exposed

Repaved

Rushed

….Retrofitted and restored

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Weathered rock or stone, broken glass, ruptured pavement, blinding headaches, winters wear down New York but its city dwellers weather in, on, and through in flexible shifts.

All photos by Wells Baum

 

Remember to frame that vacation photo

Photo by Wells Baum

If you want to remember a vacation, you’re almost better off framing a picture rather than just posting it on your Instagram feed.

According to recent research, owning a physical photo is more likely to encourage someone to share their experience with others. It turns out that digital images are terrible cues.

“Back in the old days, we’d wait until we finished a roll of film and then bring it to the store to get printed. So waiting for the pictures kept the experience top of mind. Then, we’d take the pictures around to our friends one by one (or group by group) and get to share our experience over and over again. Now, we simply post it on social media once and we’re done.”

However, it’s not all digital media’s fault. It’s also our dwindling attention spans driven by the urge to consume what’s next. To echo Om Malik in a recent New Yorker piece: “We have come to a point in society where we are all taking too many photos and spending very little time looking at them.”

Apps like Timehop and Facebook’s “One year ago today” feature attempt to revitalize old posts to conjure up past memories. I personally recommend reviewing “On this Day” in Day One journal, not just for vacation recall but also to gain perspective on all life’s milestones, ups, and downs.

Whether it’s in the form of a framed photo, a souvenir, or relived Facebook post, you can extend any fond memory with subtle reminders.

We never know where we’re going until we get there

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All photos by Wells Baum

We never know where we’re going until we get there. Sprinkles of clues pique our curiosity along the way, our mind attracted to them like a magnet.

Gathering years, we take in ideas, perspectives, and discover insights. The mind hunts for grains in the obvious, the obscure, both in the environment and in other people’s minds. Gathering string, we lace it through the freedom of trial and error.

Propelled by the unknown road ahead, we keep walking through the maze of uncertainty. Thoughts simmer in the back of our minds.

It is the contradictions that always make the journey more interesting. A hesitant radical, we dissect what’s clear and unclear in unquenchable persistence.

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‘It is the visually simple that lasts…’

Photos by Wells Baum

Black and white appears to reduce environments down to their most pedestrian form. Instead, the constriction of two hues compels complexity.

”History shows us that it is the visually simple that lasts, and that the simple always appears to have an ease of execution.”

On Being a Photographer by Bill Jay and David Hurn

The often seen; the often heard. It’s the everyday things that are often the most exciting part of any milieu.

Why do we walk past what is so easily noticed?

We look at things twice 👁📱

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gif by Wells Baum

We look at things twice, once in reality and then with our third eye, the mobile phone.

We take photos to remember, literally cut and paste the external world into our devices to be stored as bits of data.

While an image can be reproduced to infinity, its lifespan is ephemeral. We collect moments wherever go only to be consumed and quickly forgotten.

Images spill into our cameras and out into a vapid Instagram wall while the viewer drowns in abundance, no match for the chaos.

It’s no coincidence that those who stand out are doing the opposite of what everyone is doing by taking a pause.

The view from the street

I ventured into DC this weekend which I often do to whet my appetite for street photography. Little did I know, two events were happening: the Juggalo March and a Latino Festival which ran down Constitution Avenue.

While I snapped many pictures of those folks, what struck me most was this skateboarder flying down 15th street with the entire street to himself. Since the streets were closed off, he had the freedom to ride wherever he wanted. You can also see the newly opened African American museum layered in the backdrop.

gif and photos by Wells Baum

I only skateboarded a few times growing up, but the sport comes with valuable life lessons if you can keep up with it. As Jerry Seinfeld put it:

To learn to do a skateboard trick, how many times do you get something wrong until you get something right? If you learn to do that trick, now you’ve got a life lesson. Whenever I see those skateboard kids, I think those kids will be alright.

Skateboarding is a life’s sport. The skateboard culture ushered in by Tony Hawk and brands like Vans introduced an element of coolness and creativity forever.

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