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Culture Tech

Nothing is random

Discoverability will forever be twisted in the maw of internet algorithms.

Nothing is ever truly random. We are data’s significant other with a bullseye on our back.

Facebook has been triangulating our data for years, matching our likes with the highest bidder. Designers, copy-writers, and marketers work together to create internet ads that strangle our attention into a click-hole.

So here we are, next up surrounded by the internet of things to feed the system of ads. We invite zero ambiguity — we tell the system what we want, and it reports back.

Look around — we’re well-trained click monkeys forever melting into a spiderweb of Times Square.

Categories
Culture

Discoveries are meant to be shared

One of the best things about finding something first (a piece of music, a new fashion style, an important article) is the feeling that you own it.

Nobody else knows about it (at least from what you’ve seen) which means you can share it and get credit for it as the source.

The Internet is the great facilitator and destroyer of discovery

The paradox of sharing content is that it obviates exclusivity.

When stories get publicized, especially amongst your tribe, they get shared fast and find people who are genuinely interested.

You may detest this rapid absorption. Someone can easily make the content their own with a fresh tweet or blog post. Even a retweet or reblog emulates an original share.

Digital ownership is transient and a bit, socialist — the Internet owns your words.

The thin window for exclusivity in a hyper-connected, social world, can still be a fun challenge for the digger. The curious never stop discovering, always about hunting for the next interesting gem.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if you find it first. You still need to convince others why they should appreciate that piece of content too.

The royal road to exploration is social. You can keep the promise of discovery all to yourself, but the world is colossal, and knowledge is meant to be shared.

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Tech

Everything is sampled, including our DNA

It’s in our DNA to sample, to take existing slices from each other to build something new.

The internet is the largest cut and paste machine. A producer of novelty, it begs for recombinations, a collection of stuff we can remix and make our own.

Like a Tumblr page, we decorate our personalities with originality. But everything from our interests to our blood develops from outside sources like an amalgamation of sounds.

All one has to do is scour Twitter for the latest in curated novelty. When favorite something we like or find interesting, we should feel free to mash it up in new serum, in a new format, shuffling ideas into fresh architectures.

Categories
Culture News Tech

A medium and its message

The medium is the format in which something works. The selection of media predetermines how content gets disseminated and shared.

The Internet is a mass medium. Newspapers are a medium. TV, radio, podcasts, and books are also mediums.

A medium is any messaging mechanism that connects people together to help facilitate communication. The medium is the fulcrum for storytelling including all its characteristics. Marshall McLuhan coined the phrase, “The medium is the message.”

But some platforms are more powerful than others. Audio, argues Alex Danco in his piece “The Audio Revolution.”

Meanwhile, the physical properties of the medium you choose will also influence the temperature of what’s being communicated. A photograph is hotter than a pencil: they both make pictures, but one makes low-resolution sketches and the other high-definition images.

What’s hottest? You might think that the highest-resolution format of all could be visual, typographic or video. But it’s not. It’s audio.

As much as we think visual-first platforms like Instagram and terse Tweets are the most compelling storytellers, it is the distribution of audio and speech that cut straight to the point.

Listening to George W. Bush galvanize firefighters on top the rubble of 9/11 through his bullhorn with these words is practically a pierce in every Americans’ brain.

“I can hear you!” Bush declared. “The rest of the world hears you! And the people – and the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon.” The crowd firefighters and crew responded with prolonged chants of “USA! USA!”

One doesn’t need to see the footage to feel the aura of the speech.

Writes Danco:

Audio is how you communicate what you really mean, straight into ears, headphones and car radios, intimately and directly. Music is good at this, but speech is even better.

Whatever it is that’s being communicated, audio will heat it up.

Your ears understand what’s really being said, and they seek hot content.

There is no content without a medium. If content is king, then the medium is its own eponymous and gargantuan device.

Categories
Creativity Life & Philosophy Social Media

What matters isn’t always popular

If you’ve ever published anything on the web you know what it’s like when all you hear are crickets. No likes, no comments, no reshares.

You think your content sucks because no one’s acknowledging you. But it’s a misconception to sell your work short, especially if it’s your labor of love.

There are 2.1 billion+ people on the Internet. If you’re writing, acting, or sharing your music someone’s going to connect with you. They may be a fan, a teacher, or someone you admire within your scenius. But you’re never going to appeal to everyone.

“The less reassurance we can give you the more important the work is.”

Seth Godin

All social media is based on reassurance. That’s why most Instagram content looks the same. If you want to guarantee success, you’ll share photos of beaches, dogs, selfies, and food.

“We were raised to do things that work.”

Seth Godin

But why not challenge sameness by trying something new? Go for some tension. Err on the side of being vulnerable if it means you get to make the stuff that makes you happy.

Unlike politics, creativity asks that you own up to being edgy, different. People that make change stand up and take responsibility for causing a ruckus.

“The internet could save your life because it’ll keep you from a lifetime of being told what to do.”

Seth Godin

Choose yourself. The rest follows.

All quotes above are from Seth Godin’s most recent presentation. Watch it below.

Categories
News Tech

Automattic (aka WordPress) acquires Tumblr

I used to blog on Tumblr exclusively. But then the community got stale — other users stopped posting cool art and gifs as they gravitated to Instagram.

Even worse, Yahoo acquired the Tumblr platform for $1.1 billion in 2013 and never made any major upgrades to the micro-blogging site other than inserting in invasive and irrelevant ads.

Like Flickr, another great product that went bust under Yahoo’s control, Tumblr dissolved into irrelevancy. The site took a further blow when it banned porn, including artsy content like this.

Don’t get me wrong. I still use Tumblr today but for mere syndication for this blog.

But Automatic, the company that owns WordPress.com, just bought Tumblr from Yahoo for $3 million.

No one’s expecting a revival of Tumblr’s once-creative community but it could signal an effort to get back to the service’s micro-blogging core that made it unique from Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and every other social network.

Wrote Automatic CEO and founder Matt Mullenweg on his Tumblr blog:

The Tumblr team also has some exciting functionality they’re eager to unlock once we close the acquisition officially in a few weeks…

Matt Mullenweg

So let’s see what exciting things WordPress has in store for Tumblr. I, for one, might be rediscovering/reblogging content on there in the meantime.

Categories
Culture Tech

Faulty attention

We cultivate boredom the same way we incubate attention, that is, we latch on to things until we no longer see them. They camouflage into our awareness.

The internet user runs into the cornucopia of visuals on Instagram. Liking becomes desultory, numb to the perpetual sting of dopamine. Are we not entertained?

We are sloppy internet users

But we are also creatures of habit, where behaviors online and off are one of the same. In reality, we visit the same people, talk to the same friends, and share similar viewpoints. Yet, simplicity is often in the sophistication of an opposing view.

Challenges make us reconsider our everyday perceptions. We don’t need to keep refreshing into a ludic loop of variable results. Instead, we need to expect completely different answers. Such novelty is how we stay curious, albeit sane.

gif via Katy Wang


Categories
Social Media Tech

Adding to the pile

Another tweet, yet another Instagram — we keep on adding to the digital morass. Can we archive it all?

Of course, we can.

Google and Facebook are hoarding every little iota of data we create. They own our words, even the ones we put in drafts.

The ephemeral qualities of a pixel are a treasure trove for the attention merchants looking to retarget us with their product offerings.

Data churns into advertising like oil does through a pump. Nobody understands the details but can comprehend the general idea of the scene.

Store and retrieve, so much production, from numb thumbs to naive. We persist in feeding the algorithms with more input it can easily handle.

The pile is infinite.

Categories
Culture Tech

Half bots, half real people

The internet is half bots, half real people. It makes you question whether humans are even evolving or code is the only advancer. #gif #amwriting

The internet is half bots, half real people. It makes you question whether humans are even evolving or code is the only advancer.

Take a scan of Twitter and you’ll hardly notice a difference between man and machine. They both spew the same self-confirming garbage. But even the bots are more random now — arbitrariness used to be a distinctly human trait.

Technology appears to open and close the world simultaneously. And while there’s been lots of good there’s also going to be many things people give up, like understanding and decency. Only the coward hides behind the screen.

Categories
Funny Video

This is what happens when you reply to spam email

For three years, writer and comedian James Veitch answered spam email.

“All I’m doing is wasting their time. I think any time they’re spending with me,  is time they’re not spending scamming vulnerable adults of out their savings.”

In a hilarious TED Talk, he details his thread with one spammer who contacted him about a business deal. Into the second week, James got the spammer to start replying in ridiculous code revolving around candy.

Advises Veitch, if you’re going to reply to spammers do it from an anonymous email to avoid a barrage of even more SPAM.