Endless spin

Illustration of naked woman in wheel of fortune

When the mind gets overstimulated, it floats in a sea of indifference. Hyperactivity stuns the moment in exchange for immediate gratification. We consume and forget, like a goldfish.

Screens monopolize attention, the same way TV, books, and other forms of media put us in a trance. The difference in smartphone starting is the surge of variable rewards delivered into the thumbs. We refresh and spin the wheel again, awaiting the next like, follow, retweet, reply, or instant message.

Spinning around like a ping pong ball in a wheel a fortune, the pause kills the excitement of anticipation. The moment is over, boredom sweeps over until we go for another whirl.

gif by @ilkafranz


The Great Unbundling Of Facebook


Om Malik on the recent movement away from Facebook’s centralized way of doing things:

You can see this cycle through the entire history of the commercial Internet. The original web was so sparse (but also so slow to navigate) that Yahoo was started as a guide of worthwhile sites because it wasn’t easy to flit among web pages. Yahoo’s directory proved popular, and sensing opportunity, the company added all sorts of new features: search, chat, email, stock tickers, sports, news, personals, e-commerce, and photos. By the late 1990s, Yahoo had become the grand aggregator, its pages as cluttered as a Canal Street stall. This created an opening for Google, with its bare-bones home page that held only a search box and company logo. With the rise of broadband, which made it easy to jump around, the web became disaggregated and brought with it focused, functional tools such as Skype and YouTube.

Fast-forward to today and replace ­Yahoo with Facebook. Facebook showed us the value of aggregating all of those small chunks of information, including photos and status updates, that we wanted to consume on the now dynamic and interactive web. That single string of updates, known as News Feed, was a brilliant product that powered the company’s rise from 2006 to 2011. Then along came Instagram and its peers, born for a generation that doesn’t know how to live without an always-on connection. They facilitate new online behaviors that have been invented for a world of touch and mobile. These apps were designed to be great at just one or two things. The tech world had swung back to being simple, lightweight, and fast—at precisely the same time that Facebook feeds were becoming so bloated and complicated.

Yep, it’s cyclical. And this is also why Facebook is now working to unbundle its own services, to distance itself from the cluttered mess it has become — before it’s too late.

Time to crumble


Creativity does not always need to hang on a museum wall; smartphones can display art too.

— Gillian Tett, “The Art of Big Data