Coping with the maelstrom of news

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It’s hard enough to cultivate awareness. We drown in our own ineptitude to sort and curate the noise. Spiralling out of control, we gravitate to the bite-sized headline.

Lacking interest in context, we are too impatient to go deeper. Like fast food, we consume information and move on, having forgotten what crap we engulfed.

The internet can make your brain swell so big that it squeezes out the need for interpretation. Nothing sticks nor lasts longer than a Twitter trend. Consuming less and understanding more seems to be the only antidote.


A return to trusted sources

In a time of chaos, those that provide structure and synthesis re-emerge. Trusted publications like The New York Times or Wall Street Journal become bulwarks of fact-checked news where we can believe what we read. Meanwhile, confidence in social media sources is sinking.

We can’t call ‘fake news’ to everything we disagree with. Such criticism undermines the credibility of opposing viewpoints that help weed out bias. Curation is still human and analytical; beware the bots.

 

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Drone to the rescue

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via Little Ripper

Lifeguards deployed a drone to save two struggling teenage swimmers stranded in rough seas off the coast of Australia.

This is apparently the first time drone technology carrying a flotation device has rescued swimmers.

While drones are commonly known for selfies (i.e. dronies), Amazon deliveries, firing missiles, and spying but they can also do some good too. The company behind the technology, Little Ripper, developed the drones to monitor sharks for coastal safety.

The drone also recorded the entire event which you can see below.

 

A strange kind of progress

via giphy

A strange kind of progress permeates our world. While technology advances, privacy seems to take two steps back. Social media exploits openness.

While bitcoin promises to disrupt the financial industry to give power to individuals, it smells of chaos and distrust.

Perhaps the new world order takes getting used to. After all, it is habit that puts one to sleep.


But also consider that those obsessed with solutionism — innovating on top of old world problems — can do more harm than good. For instance, Facebook is an around the clock newspaper that misinforms its users every day. A culture of fast-food consumption and ‘breaking news’ outpaces reality, slipping us into inanition.

Problem-solving technologies are bicycles for the mind. However, moving at warp-speed while ignoring the status quo puts our cognition into more fragile territory than ever. Unchecked change is the root of psychological damage.

No longer thinking straight


We are suckers for fake news not necessarily because we want to believe it’s true, but because the world has become so chaotic and polluted with noisy opinions that the possibilities are endless.

The coexistence of anxiety and confirmation bias prevents us from thinking clearly. We are stuck in perpetual worry of the next terrorist attack, natural disaster, and baseless tweet.

Even worse, the facts don’t change our minds. We are ignorantly settled on we think is right and only collect information that solidifies our beliefs.

We reject any proof, having lost our ability to rise above sidedness altogether. Our entire system of beliefs, beliefs about beliefs, are in a state of flux because we’re obsessed with being right.

We’ve lost our ability to pause and reflect, allowing the suck of dopamine to woo our biases instead.

The loop of deception feeds off our inattention. We are trapped in the illusion of knowledge.

67 million viewers

“It’s such an American thing that nothing is real until it’s on television.” – Tom Nichols

It doesn’t matter what books we write or discoveries we make. People only remember us if we appear on TV. In Tom Nichols’ case, succeeding on on Jeopardy superseded his professional accolades as a published author, foreign advisor, and professor at Naval War College.

Television is magic. It informs large audiences that we exist. That’s where talents like Will Smith established their brand. But TV also generates the antithesis: it makes stupid people famous.

The Kardashians pollute the news with their meaninglessness. The President too is a product of the mass marketing machine that is TV. The tube amplifies our status, but it rarely legitimizes the importance of work. Just ask Professor Robert Kelly whose video will forever be remembered as the poster parent for those who work from home with kids. And yes, online is an extension of TV, including YouTube, SnapChat, and Facebook Live. The future of storytelling is pervasive and persuasive video.

Like a social media following, appearing on TV lends instant credibility. Fame is forever tied to visual media. What’s universally more important though is what we build with our bare hands off-screen.

The truth has legs

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  • Alternative facts
  • Fake news
  • Hack journalism
  • Slanted truths
  • Hyberbole
  • Doublethink

We should remain skeptical of any story. The platform always recasts the news in its point of view so the viewer can confirm their own bias.

But to latch on to the trend of cynicism about truths disrespects those digging up the facts.

“The fairest review that any novel of mine ever recorded was one I wrote myself.”

— Anthony Burgess

Criticism is a right, and therefore can be a wrong. But 2 +2 never equates to 5, believe it or not. Some facts are non-negotiable.

Newsletter: Back to basics

web gems

  1. “If a mind was so simple we could understand it, we’d be too simple to understand the mind.”
  2. In Japan, it’s considered a badge of honor to nap in meetings. It’s called “inemuri.”
  3. I’ve stopped Tweeting, but started Instagramming daily and reading again.
  4. It hasn’t even been a fortnight. Please claque. Brian Eno also shared some thoughts. But I think he was overtired.
  5. Bill Domonkos is a hell of a GIF maker. See sharks and this.
  6. Remember to “be the one that you are.” Nietzsche
  7. The SoundCloud generation >>> How Social Media Normalized Mediocrity: Through the Lens of Music
  8. “One should not use the camera as if it were a broom.” – Robert Bresson
  9. Procrastination has negative emotional consequences. We spend more time fretting about getting something done than actually doing it. Why We Procrastinate — And How We Can Stop
  10. Humans want wings.

digging in the crates

  1. Ben Hauke is a beat maker from South-East London. His latest release for house label Church The Rough, Ready, Steady EP features the off-kilter but groovy house jam ‘Take that Blame.’ LISTEN
  2. Throwing Snow is London-based electronic musician Ross Tones. ‘Prism (1)’ is the lead single from his forthcoming album Embers. The track ebbs and flows in kaleidoscopic arpeggios, crunching in a rolling piano to techno synth sensations. LISTEN

3. Paul White is back with some new music on an all new beat tape, Everything You’ve Forgotten. One of my favorite tracks ‘Maori Baby Junior,’ is the kind of downtempo goodness White is known for. LISTEN

4. Continuing in the realm of 2017 beat tapes comes Austin producer Botany AKA Spencer Stephenson with his album Raw Light II. LISTEN

5. Boxwork is South London electronic producer James Wilson. ‘Repertoire Unit’ is the latest single to drop from his forthcoming LP Dive Left. LISTEN

Discover more new music on the bombtune blog. Oh, and here’s my track selects for the Best of 2016, just in case you missed it.

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Tuning out the news

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In today’s age, unfollowing the news will give you a peace of mind. News entertains, it dances with sensationalism and highlights disappointing stories. ‘As it turns out, your hobby of monitoring the “state of the world” did not actually affect the world,’ blogs David Cain in his piece ‘Five Things You Notice When You Quit the News.’

The news is candy for the mind. There’s little currency in meta-truth and more credibility in depth. Books will always be more dependable than the news. The future is apt to repeat the past because people never learned the history taught in books in the first place.

‘If we only care about the breadth of information, and not the depth, there’s not much distinction between “staying informed” and staying misinformed.’

People substitute care with attention, thinking that knowing the latest news on Aleppo shows genuine concern. Their opinions on the issue tip-toe around ideal resolutions without doing anything about it.

‘The sense of “at least I care” may actually prevent us from doing something concrete to help, because by watching sympathetically we don’t quite have to confront the reality that we’re doing absolutely nothing about it.’

It doesn’t matter how well-informed you are because you won’t do anything to ameliorate the situation. You don’t need more news to fill your echo chamber of partisanship; you need to listen with intent.

It’s not even worth consuming the news at all. While that may sound callous, to “remain uninvolved without feeling uninvolved,” can bring focus to the things where you can actually make a difference.

Forget what you heard

For many people, Facebook is their sole newspaper. One of the primary roles of a newspaper is to validate events rather than spread false rumors.

But fake news runs rampant on the platform because anyone can post it without consequence. Facebook does nothing to validate sources, especially since it fired its human curators and replaced them with an algorithm that amplifies noise, true or false. Twitter is equally culpable.

Should we believe anything on social media platforms? Probably not. But the press isn’t exactly trustworthy either. It also has an agenda, that which revolves around whichever drives the most site traffic and clicks.

Misinformation and lies are at the root of chaos. Even the smartest people can often be the most gullible, duped by comedians faking death.

If marketers are liars and social media is edited real life, people must also interpret the news with a grain of salt. Doubt everything.

One too many chips

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Continuous partial attention makes it too easy to snack. Instead of waiting for the main meal, we fritter our hunger away on too many chips and salsa. We’re full before the entree.

Replace chips with social media, and you start to see the excess wear and tear we put on our bodies and minds. We can’t possibly consume all this information and still devour the main meal. It’s like eating all the popcorn before the movie starts.

Unless we plan on taking the food home with us or putting on some extra weight, we better slow down and refocus our attention on why we decided to eat out in the first place.

If you’re going to snack, do it in moderation, so you still have plenty of room left over to absorb the good stuff.

What are you going to do with all that inspiration?

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There’s a consumption period where you read books and articles or impulse-check Instagram or Twitter. Then there’s a thinking process where you take what you ingested and connect things (ideas, concepts, quotes, images, etc.after) to each other.

The doing is the hardest, which is why most people give up after the thinking part. Most creators think their work is original. It’s not; we steal from the artists that came before us.

“Beethoven depended on a Mozart to be a Beethoven. Picasso depended on a Cezanne. Without Michelson, there would be no Einstein” – James Altucher

The attempt to sell our output makes marketing the hardest. If you invent something comparable to the airplane or an online bookstore, be prepared to be misunderstood for a long time.

Not all consumers want to become artists and producers. In fact, the majority of people just want to look and move on. But if you stop once in a while, think about what you learned, you’d be surprised at what you have to contribute.

News makes your brain fat

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via Peekasso

News can be toxic. When consumed in excess, it can make your mind fat like eating fast food. You need to leave space in your brain for thinking, which means you need to reduce cognitive load. Writer and author Rolf Dobelli has spent the last four years ignoring the news.

News is to the mind what sugar is to the body. News is easy to digest. The media feeds us small bites of trivial matter, tidbits that don’t really concern our lives and don’t require thinking. That’s why we experience almost no saturation. Unlike reading books and long magazine articles (which require thinking), we can swallow limitless quantities of news flashes, which are bright-coloured candies for the mind.


If you have a tendency to succumb to the inundation of cheap headlines, consider spending your time consuming slow media instead. Read a book, listen to an entire album — concentrate on the whole rather than snacking on the parts. The news wants to interrupt you and impede comprehension.

In reality, news consumption is a competitive disadvantage. The less news you consume, the bigger the advantage you have.

Part of people’s fascination with the news is to confirm their own partisanship — Republicans watch Fox News and Democrats watch MSNBC. To quote Warren Buffett: “What the human being is best at doing is interpreting all new information so that their prior conclusions remain intact.”

As someone who scans the feeds to pluck interesting things–Twitter, RSS, Facebook, you name it — I see a lot of noise and very little signal. Breaking news is broken news; it clouds the brain with unnecessary knowing and anxiety, made worse by the fact that there’s nothing you can do to influence it.

So slow down. Take three deep breaths and reconsider the urge to know, especially when the news causes you to know less. No news is good news.

How Cities Shape Music Scenes, Madlib/Dilla, Naval Ravikant on Happiness Hacks, and Why Kids Are Opting Out of the Online Public Square, New Tunes and More

Arts & Culture

The Waves: The Brotherhood of Madlib

I met Madlib at Fat Beats in NYC about a decade ago not too long after he had produced “Champion Sound” with J Dilla. Madlib is still the prolific sampler to this day, lacing records of past and present to make dope beats.

“The equipment doesn’t matter, it’s the vibe you put into it. If the music sounds good, music sounds good.”

Bonus Reads:

From Berlin’s Warehouses to London’s Estates: How Cities Shape Music Scenes

Motown, Grunge, Grime, Techno, and Hip-Hop all got their creative energy from their surroundings. The environment constricts creativity, leading to new sounds and movements.

When the Berlin Wall came down, 30% of buildings in east Berlin were empty, says Der Spiegel journalist Tobias Rapp, the author of a book on the city’s clubbing scene. “Techno in Berlin happened in ruins,” he says. “E-Werk was an empty electricity factory. Tresor was the empty bank vault of a former shopping centre. Planet was an empty warehouse.”

Bonus Read:

  • An intriguing read on urban development as it relates to humans and animals: The Human Ratio

These street pigeons we have gotten used to aren’t practical in any sense for the human; they appear to us as an excessive accessory to the urban landscape. They use city squares as pastures; come winter or summer, heat or rain, they stand guard for as long as the sun is high, waiting for alms.


Philosophy & Productivity

It’s no surprise that every other newsletter features a Tim Ferriss podcast. He gets great guests. Star entreprenueur/investor and philosopher Naval Ravikant is no exception. His life philosophy in a nutshell: Be present. Pursue growth rather than busyness. Choose happiness.

”You choose to be happy and you work at it.”


Social Media & Tech

So Long Social Media: the Kids Are Opting Out of the Online Public Square

Look no further than direct messaging apps (WhatsApp, FB messenger, Snapchat) to see where social media is headed. The kids want to be in public but share in private. However, the urge to build your own brand will remain.

..young people are actually transitioning out of using what we might term broadcast social media – like Facebook and Twitter – and switching instead to using narrowcast tools – like Messenger or Snapchat.

Video Is the Web’s Future and It’s a Wonderful Mess

Every social network wants your videos. Videos are a stickier experience than photos and text. The problem is how all these videos display. They’re standardized and high quality on YouTube and Facebook but compressed on Instagram. But unlike the early days of social media, viewers are agnostic about where they watch them.

As more and more people come of age using the web and using technology, uniformity in design and aesthetic isn’t as necessary. Facebook emerged as a service friendly to people who had never used a social network before, and that population is rapidly dwindling. We’re moving toward visual cacophony because we now have the ability to parse that mess easily. That beautiful mess is something to look forward to.


New Music

Episode 79 | Tunes of the Week

  1. DJ Mesh – Winter’s Day
  2. Quit Safari – 000 145
  3. Black Milk – For 4ever
  4. Lord Raja – Red Light District
  5. Junia T – My My My feat. Briskinthehouse

🎵 Listen


Thought of the Week

“You may have “natural” talent, but it’s the practice, failures, and will that made you make it look “natural” when you finally succeed.” – Rusty Redenbacher


Other Cool Stuff


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The Medium

The medium is how something works, how content gets transported, shared, and distributed. The Internet is a medium. Newspapers are a medium. TV, radio, and books are also mediums.

A medium is any platform that connects people together to help facilitate conversation. The medium is the fulcrum for storytelling. But some mediums are more powerful than others. Twitter excels at spreading and goading new movements. That’s why governments are so quick to shut it down. China finds Instagram an equal threat.

The medium is the message. – Marshall Mckihan.

Content is king. But the medium is its BFF.

Social Media Roundup

  1. In the never ending use or news about selfies, Selfie the app gets an official release. Even if the app bombs at least there’s equity in the domain name. Plus, Hyperlapse now enables a front-view camera so people can take Hyperselfies.

  2. Ello is a new social network and making the rounds on Twitter. It apparently signed up 34k prior in just two days. Ello is clean and allows private fabricated names, unlike our dear friend Facebook. I personally have no interest in Ello. I’m already stretched to the limits on other social networks.

  3. Snapchat is killing it with curation. I got to relive Derek Jeter’s last game via Snapchat Live. Snapchat curated content shared to Stories which are for public viewing. A Live feed for the Hong Kong protests could be very interesting right now.

  4. The messaging app wars are heating up. What you use really depends on where you live and how you want to communicate: publicly, in s group, or in private? The overall trend is clear: content must expire.

  5. Here are the optimal times to post on social media. Tumblr is apparently for night owls.